Republican candidates for the James City County Board of Supervisors campaigned for fiscal responsibility and encouraged a more business-friendly climate during a town hall meeting Wednesday night.
Incumbent supervisor Mary Jones (Berkeley), Williamsburg-James City County School Board Vice Chairwoman Heather Cordasco, and newcomer Sue Sadler presented their platforms and took questions from an audience of more than 60 people Wednesday at the James City County Recreation Center.
Sadler, who is running against incumbent Jim Kennedy for the Stonehouse seat, said accountability and transparency are “huge issues” for her and she would be a “steadfast vote for protecting the rights of citizens.”
“I want to be a voice for common sense in the decision-making process in James City County,” Sadler said. “I will stand up for the citizens and their rights in fighting for smaller, more accountable local government.”
Cordasco, who is running against incumbent John McGlennon for the Roberts seat, said she would bring positivity and energy to the Board of Supervisors. She said she wants to bring her perspective as a school board member and the civility of the school board meetings to the position.
“I wanted to move to the other side where I can interpret the budget and help to shape some of the things that will affect our students and their parents,” Cordasco said.
Mary Jones, who will face challenger and school board member Ruth Larson in November, focused on cost-saving efforts the supervisors have made but criticized previous boards for spending millions to preserve the county’s environmental resources rather than strategically set aside land for economic growth.
“You don’t grow the economy by growing the government,” Jones said. “We need to prioritize spending and that will really strengthen if we broaden and expand our tax base through a free enterprise system.”
Candidates responded to questions ranging from stormwater to branding. The candidates that agreed making James City County more business-friendly and establishing an identity also need to be priorities.
“We’re known for saying ‘no,’ no to new businesses, no to new ideas,” Cordasco said, recalling an observation of Richmond’s branding. “I decided that was something I would like to see changed.”
Jones added that a business-friendly James City County was also a priority when she ran for office in 2011 but said people continue to tell her they feel the county is “hostile” to business.
“There is something wrong if that is still occurring and that is why it’s important to have consistent leadership that is interested in solving problems,” Jones said.
Additionally, all three candidates support repealing the 7-cent increase to the real estate tax rate, which was approved earlier this year for fiscal 2016.
“Had we identified our priorities in our budgets, taxes would not have needed to be increased,” Sadler said.
Current Board Chairman Michael Hipple (Powhatan) attended the town hall and said while he is willing and ready to work with any of the candidates who are elected, he said he was wary of Cordasco’s approach.
“I think Heather brings a lot of energy but with that there is also a concern of ‘I’ll tell you how to do it right,’” Hipple said. “There is proof that, for the past year, we’ve been doing it right.”
He added that the current board of supervisors is working “better than it has in a long time” and that he would like to see the board “stick together.”
All candidates for the Board of Supervisors will square off during a forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Legacy Hall in New Town.
Before that forum, the League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area is hosting a meet-and-greet with candidates at the James City County Government Complex at 7 p.m. Oct. 15. All candidates will be in attendance.