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Williamsburg Landing residents had a chance to hear their James City County Board of Supervisors candidates, incumbent John McGlennon (Roberts) and challenger Heather Cordasco, square off in a private forum a week before the candidates meet for a public debate.
More than 50 residents of Williamsburg Landing attended the forum Wednesday morning, which was held in the retirement community’s Alvin P. Anderson Auditorium.
Michael Fox, assistant to the president and chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Visitors at the College of William & Mary, served as the moderator.
Fox challenged the candidates to defend their views on the tax increase, power options and transportation projects. He also posed questions from Williamsburg Landing residents, which ranged from opinions on land preservation to the most recent book the candidates had read.
When asked if the tax burden was high enough for citizens, McGlennon said it was necessary to achieve the “real objectives” of the community, while Cordasco said a strategic plan should have been approved before a tax increase, later arguing that devising a strategic plan is the most important issue for Roberts District voters.
“You must have your strategic plan. You must have your tactics and then you decide what your tax increase should be,” Cordasco said. “I simply would have waited.”
In his rebuttal, McGlennon said holding out for the strategic plan was not an option, as stormwater projects and capital improvement projects for Williamsburg-James City County Schools needed to be funded.
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the strategic plan to adopt the budget,” McGlennon said. “We needed to address critical priorities right away.”
Both candidates agreed Dominion Virginia Power’s proposal to build power lines over the James River would not be their preferred option to provide electricity to the Peninsula. They also advocated for the value of transportation projects, such as the proposed Skiffes Creek Connector and improvements to the Route 60 corridor, to the quality of life for Roberts residents.
However, McGlennon and Cordasco distinguished their prospective contributions to the Board of Supervisors according to their experience on the board. While McGlennon emphasized his institutional knowledge as an asset, Cordasco said she would bring a “fresh perspective” and new ideas.
The candidates were also at odds about improvements in Grove during McGlennon’s time in office. Cordasco suggested Grove had not “changed very much” since redistricting made McGlennon the Grove supervisor, while McGlennon argued he had expanded the focus of stormwater initiatives and brought more recreational services to Grove.
Steve Montgomery, president and CEO of Williamsburg Landing, said the forum made the candidates more accessible to residents, who care about issues like the tax increase and the county’s water supply but may not be able to attend meet-and-greets or forums outside the community.
“We just thought it was time to bring it in,” Montgomery said.