Editorâ??s Note: Six names will be on the November 3 ballot running for Culpeper County Board of Supervisors. Two of those are uncontested: Steve Walker, East Fairfax, and Alexa Fritz, Salem. Two races are contested and we will be profiling those: Incumbent Sue Hansohn is challenged by Richard Dykes in the Catalpa District while incumbent Chairman Steve Nixon is challenged by Gary Deal in the West Fairfax District.
Name: Gary Deal
Place of Birth: Warrenton
Education: Two Years College
Employment: 24 Years VDOT, Currently – 15 Years with Loudoun County Government
Civic: Planning Commission Member, Past County Recreation Committee Member, Coaching & Mentoring Youth Sports, including Tennis and Basketball
Awards or recognition: Many athletic awards and achievements, Loudoun County leadership
Length of time living in Culpeper: All my life
Why are you seeking elective office?
I want to serve the community that has been my home for all my life, by representing and helping my fellow citizens of West Fairfax. My district is filled with wonderful people. I will represent the community as a whole of course; but my highest priority is ensuring that the citizens of my district will see improvements and a higher quality of life by designating me to act on their behalf, with their vote on Nov. 3. Iâ??ve never run for office but I truly believe I can make a positive difference in their lives by implementing my initiatives; and I will be as consistently present and accessible in my district as I am nowâ??after Election Day. The citizens of my district deserve someone who will make them the number one priority. We need our local government to really reach out more to our people and establish meaningful relationships of mutual trust and respect.
Name and explain three priority items you wish to see for the county?
1.) More Citizen Involvement: I am focused on what I can do to make our community better; â??issuesâ? that are real and will make a difference right now. I want to establish a great relationship with all of our citizens, in which they feel comfortable contacting me with issues in their neighborhood, giving me feedback on how things are progressing… or just simply to chat.
2.) Two community areas are not currently thriving but should be: Recreation and Economic Development. We have certainly accomplished a great deal downtown, and I’m proud to brag about our community to out-of-town visitors. But I am passionate about lobbying for a far greater recreation program. Many people know me from tennis and my competitive spirit in the 1980s. I intend to bring that spirit forward to try and help especially our kids, working adults and seniors. I will work hard to partner with private entities like the YMCA, Boys Clubs and Girls Club to establish great facilities here, including grants and contributions. But I also understand and respect sentiment about the taxpayer burden for such facilities. So we need to be creative and use feasible incentives to leverage private entity involvement, such as public-owned lands. We can do this, and we all need to do this to remove idle time, build self-esteem and a passion for life that flows from sports, art, music, and crafts. I will lobby hard for a gym to be open by next summer for our youth to be used as a temporary community center. I will also push for more activities and leagues by next summer and keep everyone abreast transparently of my effort.
3.) Oversight and greater creativity with the Capital Improvement Plan. The current CIP forecasts spending $146 million dollars in the next four years. Most of this expenditure is associated with building two new schools and renovating several more, along with the airport. I do not believe we need two new schools. What we do need instead is smart renovation and creative additions to our existing schools, competitive teacher salaries, and annual recognition support for our fire and rescue personnel.
What is your vision for potential growth near Catalpa along Rixeyville Road and the proposed Outer Loop since the Water and Sewer Service Area is in close proximity?
We just modified the five year Comprehensive Plan and added some commercial area to the convenience center in Catalpa. I believe that the outer loop should be a limited access bypass corridor that will allow our citizens to travel and commute from 229 and north and south in a timely manner. In my opinion limited access will ensure that potential. We do not need traffic lights which now cost a quarter of a million dollars each, too many stop signs, and multiple entrances to slow our traveling public down.
What do you propose to increase economic development and where do you see that happening and what kind of development?
With my experience I can be a huge asset in our community economic development. Most say that in order to lure business and industry to our community we need to figure out who we are and develop a good plan before we start. I generally agree with that, but we have a tendency in our local government to â??defer, defer, and defer.â? We need to reach out and be more proactive right now. Our ED staff needs to work like they are on a commissioned base pay scale and to think right now. I am against any new change proposing residential growth in my district. I would like to spur commercial and industrial growth directed toward our Village Centers of Brandy/Elkwood and Clevengers Corner, and along the Route 666 interchange, and more rapidly expand our existing technology area. ED is simply proactive matchmaking and removing hurdles as we continue to improve our image. We offer more than neighboring communities because of our central location, rail access, air access, and road network access to major jurisdictions. We need to have our zoning ordinance, construction standards and application processes work to enhance ED. Cold-calling is not completely the answer. We need to work closely with the Governorâ??s Office and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and associations like the National Association of Office and Industrial Parks. We need to build credibility and establish relationships with realtors and business brokers nationwide. We need to dramatically improve our web resources and printed materials, and ask ourselves â??how are potential customers finding us?â?? If they search Washington D.C. are we coming up as an option for their business? We need to negotiate better, and I am an expert at this. We need to better market our successes, amenities, and the community of which we are rightfully so proud. We need to consider changing our titles in how we market our zones, i.e., â??industrialâ? to â??business,â? which is more appealing. We all need to get used to saying, very confidently and very often, what has become my personal motto: â??Culpeper is the better choice!â?
What is your opinion about purchasing town-owned property (the old police station) across the street from the courthouse to expand the courthouse?
Our town and county governments seem to be working together a little better now, but we really need to change from a reactionary group of elected officials to a proactive group with a vision. For example, our jail overcrowding issue has taxpayers funding approximately $800,000 each year in fees to outside agencies to house the inmates.
What is your opinion about holding a referendum to move the courthouse outside the town limits possibly to the county-owned 40-acre tract along Rixeyville Road near Catalpa?
I am totally against moving our courts and courthouse to the county. The Courthouse is in my district and is a symbol of law and justice with significant history. Our downtown area is vibrant now and relocating our government that supports our downtown revenue and businesses would be devastating. Growth over the next 25 years is projected to be minimal and the costs to relocate the court facilities and associated infrastructure would be a tremendous burden to the taxpayers. Our community is not large enough for two court systems and the highest and best use for the current courthouse is a courthouse so selling the facility and establishing a synonymous market value would be tough, unfeasible, and a waste of taxpayer money.
What is your opinion about exempting small farmers currently facing county machinery and tool taxes?
Many large tract farms have been partitioned into smaller farms over the past 25 years and the ability for farmers to negotiate incentives with our local government is important to their survival. Our farmers work hard logging many hours at 6-7 days a week. Most struggle to make ends meet and we need to find other venues to dig at to generate tax revenue other than our farmers. Our county is 90 percent rural and agriculture and I would like for us to maintain that status in concert with smart and balanced economic growth.
What is your position about Culpeper joining a regional jail and the financial impact of joining a regional jail?
I do not know enough about this subject yet, and would need to learn much more about it before I can render an opinion. I do know that we are contemplating a pre-trial process which is projected to relieve our inmate population.
Would you support creation and funding for a county police department similar to departments in Prince William and Albemarle counties?
I would support creation and funding for a county police department if it turns out to be in the best interest of the citizens and taxpayers of our community. However, I would first need to see much more information related to both the pros and cons of such a transition.
What is something that most people do not know about you?
Most people donâ??t know that I was raised in Culpeper in the West Fairfax District, on Dog Hill/Monticello Ave. My family and many relatives lived there and some still do. My dad built the house at the corner of Monticello and 1st Street.