White Hall candidate forum

DAILY PROGRESS FILE

Democratic incumbent Ann H. Mallek and Republican challenger Steve Harvey, candidates for the White Hall District seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, appear at a forum in Crozet.

{child_flags:top_story}Mallek, Harvey present choice for White Hall

{child_byline}By ALLISON WRABEL

awrabel@dailyprogress.com | (434) 978-7261 {/child_byline}

On Tuesday, voters in Albemarle County’s White Hall District will have a choice between two candidates for Board of Supervisors for the first time since 2007.

Republican Steve Harvey, outreach director for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, is running against incumbent Democrat Ann H. Mallek, a part-time teacher and farmer.

Mallek, who has been on the board since 2008, said she decided to run for a fourth term because she wants to continue working for the people of the district.

Harvey said he was driven to run by the county’s 2018 consideration of the stormwater utility fee; his experience with the county’s building permitting process when he started to build his home; and the most recent tax rate increase.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said of the April vote for a 1.5-cent real estate tax rate increase.

The stormwater utility fee, which has been called a “rain tax,” has repeatedly come up throughout this election cycle.

In April 2018, the Board of Supervisors decided to fund the county’s water resources program out of the budget instead of through a stormwater utility fee. An official vote was not taken.

Harvey, who does not support any fee, said he has heard from many farmers that the rain tax would have ruined their farms and caused them to cease operations.

Mallek said the board had asked county staff and others to look at different ways to fund stormwater utility projects, which is why the fee was proposed.

“The study that was done on the stormwater utility fee was to determine the most fair and impact-related way to gather money to fund a program which has been ongoing for six years,” she said.

Mallek described the formula that was ultimately brought to the board as “so burdensome” to people in the rural area, and “completely out of whack” with the actual effect rural area properties have on stormwater.

“I will not bring back the rain tax,” she said.

When asked about how he would fund capital projects for the county, Harvey said he would not support a tax rate increase at this time.

“No, until the revenue-sharing agreement gets renegotiated,” he said. “We’re already sending $15 million [to Charlottesville]. We don’t need a tax increase.”

Mallek said she would support dedicated tax increases for specific capital projects, such as the courts or schools.

She also spoke about public-private partnerships that have been implemented — such as the Barnes Lumber redevelopment project owners putting up a road funding match instead of the county — and said the county needs more businesses to rely less on residential tax revenues.

“Just in the last year, more than $20 million is being invested in bricks and mortar improvements of the Woolen Mills, for example, for WillowTree and other tenants to move into that wonderful old historic factory,” she said.

Mallek said one of her top three priorities is to have better implementation of the county’s Capital Improvement Program, which is part of the county’s budget and includes a one-year capital project budget and a five-year plan for capital projects.

“... So that the county is providing the infrastructure needed for its neighborhoods to go along with the growth, which is coming,” she said.

She said she also wants to make sure county management “continues to be excellent,” citing the AAA bond rating of the county and government management awards.

“This, to me, indicates that the taxpayers are really protected and their tax money is protected and used well,” she said. “We are a strong county, and I want people to appreciate that and feel good about that.”

Mallek said she also wants to work to expand job opportunities, particularly career-ladder jobs.

“We have many residents who are working hard and living in poverty and we have to have jobs that are available that will also have training so people can improve their skills and move up in their responsibilities and the kinds of jobs that they have, in hopes that they will better be able to take care of their families,” she said.

Encouraging expansions of local businesses is the best way to do that, Mallek said.

Harvey said his top priority is to avoid any kind of tax rate increase.

“That’s going to mean being a more economically friendly environment,” he said.

He called the county’s current economic development strategic plan, Project Enable, an “excuse to hire 40 more county staff members,” and said the county should reform its Architectural Review Board and remove regulations that are “sending businesses other places.”

Harvey said he wants a more efficient government.

“There’s got to be so much waste in the budget that can be stripped out,” he said. “And then not adding more to it until the infrastructure problems are solved.”

When asked how the board would balance the needs and wants of development area residents with rural area residents’ concerns, Harvey said there isn’t a conflict between the two areas.

“If we don’t regulate more harshly against the farmers, that’s not going to negatively impact the people that live in Crozet, and if we improve infrastructure in Crozet, that’s only a bonus for the people that live in the rural parts of the community,” he said.

Mallek said avoiding any dramatic change in residents’ tax bills is the most important thing to try to do, “so that people have a chance to plan when an increase is essential.”

“There are certainly differences in the services available in the rural area versus the growth area, and those are choices people make,” she said.

Broadband, police and school buses are important services in the whole county, she said.

“We really do need to encourage all of our partners to put in the fiber and broadband all throughout our rural areas in order to achieve that extra communication level,” she said.

The Scottsville District and the Rivanna District seats on the Board of Supervisors are also up for grabs Tuesday. Find coverage of those races in Saturday’s Daily Progress.

{child_related_content}{child_related_content_item}{child_related_content_style}Bio Box{/child_related_content_style}{child_related_content_title}Steve Harvey{/child_related_content_title}{child_related_content_content}

Age: 35

Hometown: Lived in more than a dozen locations with the Army, including Earlysville

Residence: Earlysville

Education: Bachelor’s in business, University of Notre Dame

Occupation: Outreach director for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District

Experience: Eagle Scout; U.S. Army veteran; American Legion Post 74

Personal: Married, three children

{/child_related_content_content}{/child_related_content_item}{child_related_content_item}{child_related_content_style}Bio Box{/child_related_content_style}{child_related_content_title}Ann H. Mallek{/child_related_content_title}{child_related_content_content}

Age: 69

Hometown: Albemarle County

Residence: Earlysville

Education: Bachelor’s in zoology, Connecticut College

Occupation: Part-time teacher and farmer

Experience: Current member, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors; member of numerous boards, committees and commissions

Personal: Married, two adult daughters

{/child_related_content_content}{/child_related_content_item}{/child_related_content}

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