Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Debate for Midlothian Supervisor Tommorrow Night

The Midlothian District candidates for the Board of Supervisor position will scare off Thursday, November 1st (Thursday) at 7PM at Midlothian HIgh School.

Donald Sowder (R-incumbant) vs. Dan Gecker (I)
current Midlothian Planning Commissioner

Rematch of the 2006 special election where Sowder defeated then Democrat Gecker by about 1,600 votes

Sponsored by Chesterield PTA and Chesterfield Business Council

Format: Candidates will answer questions submitted before the debate and compiled by the sponsors

Goal: To draw 150+ voters to the debate

School Board candidates will also square off at the event as well.


Perry DeMay said...

Thanks for the notice, I hope to see you there.

Perry DeMay
Candidate for Sheriff

Anonymous said...

This is a bit off topic, but how do you explain to independents that normally follow a conservative political path and want to protect the quality of life they have spent their lives building in Chesterfield County, that a candidate who runs from their party affiliation, promotes the backing of liberal teacher and firefighter unions, uses a NoVa (non-local) publishing house to produce and send out all her mailers with money from local businesses that prosper from growth, wants to expand the school beyond pre-K(at $7000 per child not including subsidies),.... just might be blowing smoke when they promise to lower your taxes AND fix the transportation crisis?

Is it a promise or an empty campaign pledge to claim "she will not approve any zoning case that compromises our infrastructure and natural resources and that negativley impacts those who already reside here.".... when it is prodevelopement businesses funding her campaign? Very few of the smaller developers have the scale to proffer roads and schools, so where does that leave them? You know, the ones that live next door and their child is on your team.

I have to ask, how do you "Lower Taxes by stopping the out-of-control increases in assessments." A supervisor cannot change state law that requires assessments to be valued at 100% of market value. The only way to do what she is promising to do is to so negatively affect the value of your home that the market value drops. Drying up the zoning process will only create more demand for existing homes and drive their market value up, say like San Francisco. The only way I can see her fulfilling this pledge is to simultaneously approve every zoning case that comes before the board and not spend another dime on schools or roads. That my friends will lower your assessments! If you are confused but still want your assessments lowered, vote for the Bermuda District Democratic candidate with the blue signs and the colorful mailers.

Bill Garnett said...

I attended the debate and my count was 89, including participants, those running the debate, and some assorted politicians that showed up. I would guess there were only about 60 actual Midlothian district residents that showed up who were the actual audience. In a district of about 60,000 residents -- that would be one out of a thousand who showed an interest in attending this debate.

And I predict attendance at the polls next Tuesday will not fare much better – I’m estimating a 25 to 30% turnout of eligible voters countywide.

AlterofFreedom said...

Thank you. I to felt it was just short of 100 people.
I am sorry I did not get a chance to speak with you afterward. I did get a chance to have a brief conversation with Perry Demay outside before the forum.
More today to follow on Sheriff race, School Board and Supervisors.


Anonymous said...

The Supervisor race is too close to call. Last night did not really help me either way determine who to give my support.
The School choice is even harder. Mr.Finkbeiner is obviously a well schooled communicator and has been involved in politics for quite some time on various levels as he articulated, but I just wonder if thats what the Board needs at this juncture. I am just not sure.
I think Carpenters efforts in different levels of community involvement speak volumes but again this one is hard to make a determination simply over just last nights performances.
I am leaning now, however, Sowder for the fact he delivered what he said he would in his first year and Carpenter because she seesm to have been a dedicated advocate for our children. I plan to do a little more digging this weekend before casting a vote either way Tuesday.

Bill Garnett said...

TO: Anonymous,

If you have no trepidation about the governance of Chesterfield County and think things today are hunky dory and see no dark clouds on the horizon, then you may want to stay with the Republican controlled board. However, if you realize that the world is moving exponentially while the county governance is moving linearly; if you have a depth of hindsight, to see that westward migrating low income families (mostly black and Hispanic) will inexorably overtake the county pushing middle class families (mostly white) into Amelia and Powhatan; if you think that the residential and commercial growth does not have commensurate and appropriate infrastructure; if you think that there will not be high paying jobs available in the county for the next generation of graduates – then you may reconsider voting to maintain the status quo.

I personally think the current board is ill equipped to manage balanced growth in the county, as well intentioned as they may seem.

If you attended the debate are you satisfied with Don Sowder abstaining on important votes? Do you really think in the year he was there that he should take so much credit for Watkins’s Landing and Cloverleaf Mall? Do you support his view that the board not be increased from five to seven members?

I spoke with Mr. Sowder after the meeting. I had sent him two emails – and he had not responded to either, although he contended in his remarks on stage that “accessibility” was on of the four principles he was running on. He told me courteously that he was swamped with emails and could not deal with each one individually. He is retired. Yet Dan Gecker not only responded to the same two emails in depth, he requested I (someone he did not know at the time) meet with him and he spent an unhurried hour discussing issues that I was interested in. I like Don Sowder as a person. But I am fully convinced that Dan Gecker brings far more to the board. Dan is extremely bright, has uncommon humility, knows the county inside and out, has both perspective and vision, and I think he will bring a balance to the board that has been too tilted to “growth is good and the consequences will eventually take care of themselves” attitude.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think you can blame Donald Sowder for the Republicanesque conclusions the previos comment alluded to.
I hope you are not saying that Gecker has never abstained from a vote on the PC....he has.
Gecker plays the game very well. He blames Sowder for the developers influence and his perceived voting record with regard to zonings and then refuses to consider impact fees or raising the proffers on those very same developers. So which is it Dan? You say you do not want the citizens to pay anymore undo taxes but you will not increase the developer proffer system we have now in place, so if growth does not pay for growth how are YOU gping to change anything from a financial standpoint. Fact is, your not.
The Planning side to be sure is something Gecker and maybe Durfee may be skilled but how are they going to adapt to the changing economies of scale when it comes time to re-surface our roads, build our schools, eliminate trailers and address the potential shortfalls in the disability fund.
What is his stand on illegal immigration? Where does he plan to get the revenues neccessary to pay for updating services if he is not going to increase property tax or hold developers more accountable?

To say that Sowder raised our taxes is political spinning and furthermore it was the School Board who determined to move forward with funding the pre-k (none of which is in Midlothian) over than of employing 18 teachers and bus drivers. Sowder may have voted to remove the original funding but it was the School Board that determined the outcome not Sowder.
I had thought highly of Gecker until the last two mailers. Sowder delivered what he set out to do in a short term and based on Gecker's lack of answers concerning solutions to problems see no reason to abandon Sowder now.
The last thing we need is someone who is great at pointed out the troubles but has no solutions. I do not think we can hold a man who has been in office less than a year for some axe someones got against the so-called rooted Republican influence of the Board. Lest you forget Barber was a Democrat and had the support of the majority of the community.

For that matter, Ed Barber was against Watkins Center and Sowder WAS involved as soon as he took office on that one. He can take some credit on delivering that to Midlothian while Gecker supported it two years ago all the way up until after last years election and now this year all he has is talking points on the planning. So was Gecker for it or against it? Or maybe he abstained?

Bill Garnett said...

TO: Anonymous,

Let me ask you something. Are you the same person who posted anonymously earlier in this thread? Or are you a different anonymous person? Why do you assume you can carry on a conversation from the dark shadows and not be considered a coward? Who are you who is so willing to attack others from behind the veil of anonymity?

In any other public discourse, you would be the one under the sheet, the one with their voice altered, the epithet from someone faceless in a crowd. You sir are a coward – an unabashed sniveling, weakling of a person who cannot come out into the light of day and take responsibility for your statements and your accusations. You are making statements about real people, accusations about real people – this is not a schoolyard game.

J. Scott can set the conditions for his blog – but I would hope he would join in an effort to stop this cowardly unattributed sniping.

AlterofFreedom said...

Again, I will respond here.

Anonymous posting is certainly allowed and endorsed on this blog.

There are many reasons why someone may want to remain anonymous but the fact remains it is an option before them. many of the people who read this blog are County or State employees like teachers and PTA friends and in my view I do not believe that the risk in todays political climate is worth it to such an extent that I demand their identity. I prefer to keep the dialogue of various views going regardless. I do not expect everybody to be a Patrick Henry.

I am absolutely against any hate speech whatsoever against individuals or groups on any thread, whether folks identify themselves or not. Fortunately, our discourse here has never warrented such action nor do I see anything on this thread that would either.

That said, I must admit that I do have issue with someone who would call someone a "coward- a sniveling, weakling of a person" based on voicing an opinion that may be opposite of their own.

I gather the offense is not posting anonymously but the fact that the post was counter to someones beliefs regarding the matter of issues. The politics of personal attacks should never stand.

So I will be the mediator here,lets take alook.

Have the mailings from Friends of Dan Gecker stated Don Sowder "has never once voted against developers"----YES. The mailers accuse Don Sowder of never voting against developers.

Did Dan Gecker vote against both the impact fee proposal and raising the cash proffer system?

YES last night Dan Gecker stated he was against impact fees that would only bring in a portion of the required funds over ten years and he did not feel the residents should be faced with that expense. He also stated the proffer system was broken.

As to Growth paying For Growth and alternatives?
No one has communicated in either campaign how the neccessary funds or revenues would be garnered without impact fees or a raise in proffers. Donald Sowder mentioned last night he felt that the liklihood that the BOS would endorse the impact fees that the Planners voted down was "likely"

Dan Gecker's mailer states he "has a plan to put us back in charge" and further states he would require "developers to mpay their fair share of their impact on our infrastructure". Currently that is through the Cash Proffer System which Gecker did not support raising above the current $15,600. So not sure how aspect gets us very far.

Accussation by Friends of Gecker that Don Sowder raised county taxes on homeowners?
Gecker last nght stated that he "felt" that Don Sowder raised taxes because he did not go along with the .94 cent proposal for taxes and aligned with the .97 cent compromise which was lower than the 1.04 previously taxed. Don Sowder came back with the fact it was the highest reduction in tax rates in county history. Further examination of this lies in your view of assessments. If you feel that the Supervisor is responsible for the rise and rate of assessment level than you may align yourself to the belief that Sowder was a willing participate in rising tax bills. I do not believe however you will find many that are in that camp. Market value has risen in Chesterfield in given other localities in Virginia it was behind the curve for much of the 90's in this area and it finally caught up with the county. The State as well requires these assessments be aligned with prevailing market values. Furthermore, Dan Gecker endorsed the rate of .95 cent before the compromise of .97 was inacted by the BOS.

The School Board issue?
Donald Sowder did endorse the line item veto of 750,000 from the budget of the SB that was to be directed to pre-k in the budget. He addressed his rationale as that of the response of constituents on the issue and the fact that Midlothian would not receive such funding.

Did his vote cost the school system 18 teachers?
Yes & No. Yes he supported removal of 750K , but if you listened to the SB candidates you would have heard how they feel that their budget is their responsibility. They decide what is to be funded. In the end, the SB favored funding pre-k "targeted" not "universal" over hiring teachers and bus drivers. Again the direct the funds provided by the BOS.

Trailers? What has either candidate done to address this issue? Niether has proposed how to face up to this problem other than to say "planning" must be better.
Niether address the future uses of Clover Hill HIgh School (the old one) when the new school comes on line.
The point I believe that was trying to be made is how can the poor planning be put at Sowders feet in this race entirely, when Dan Gecker has been part of the same process for longer as a Planning Commissioner under Ed Barber and now Sowder. Opponents can make the case that it may have been better after Sowder won last years election that Gecker should have stepped down. I do not support that view, but many in the county have that view given the fact they campaigned against one another.

Watkins Center issue?

If I recall and I may be wrong I think Mr. Barber did oppose it. Don Sowder has endorsed it as a "key economic engine of the future" for the County and supported the zoning. Furthermore, if I recall and I will have to consult Mr. Gecker on this but he was in favor of the planning and zoning as it came on line, except in the area with regard to the retail component. I think he was hoping for more of a commercial quadrant. He also raised an issue concerning the sewers that I had not heard before.

So in looking at the post I am not sure what it is entirely is being objected to here. The case can be made on either side of these issues and much of it is left of to the individual to determine where they come down.

I to believe that Mr. Sowder has lived up to what he stated he sought to accomplish in 2006/07 session. The question however is whether that will be good enough for the future direction we want to take the County.

There is an accessibility issue as demonstrated by Bill Garnetts post regarding his experiences. Dan gecker has commented on this blog and I thank him for that. There is no doubt concerning his passion for the County.

I saw him just today out in the community pounding stakes along Robious Road raising a big campaign sign going into Tuesdays face-off.

By the way Dan that was me who honked.


Bill Garnett said...

TO: J. Scott,

I certainly respect your right to set the rules for your blog. I also can see your point. I have allowed anonymous posting on my blog when it is civil, but I hold my nose. And I realize my reaction may seem over the top. It is an issue that has been coming to a boil with me, and it is not this anonymous poster so much as the legions of anonymous posters who inhabit this new medium. No credible newspaper allows anonymous letters to the editor.

I don’t expect everyone to be a Patrick Henry. But I would more respect an argument that free speech is a freedom only so long as it is expressed and protected. I fail to see that Socratic debate, presentation of facts, and the use of logic would be a detriment to any person in the county. If such would cause discrimination against any (County or State employees like teachers and PTA friends, etc.), then it is that discrimination that should be dealt with. Is this the civic values these teachers would teach our kids – to post anonymously?

If civil and open debate is now to be compromised so that unknown forces can subvert discussions by making anonymous assertions (and often overwhelming legitimate and open posters), then I wonder where we are headed.

The Internet and blogging is still in its relative infancy, but having a code of conduct that promotes open and civil discourse with posters identified would seem to be a better policy.

Anonymous said...

I feel compelled to comment on one of the earlier posts. Marleen Durfee has no business in the same sentence as Dan Gecker on planning issues. Dan has forgotten more about planning than most planners will ever know, he is gifted with vision. Marleen Durfee has never understood planning. She repeats what she has heard, like a puppet but doesn’t understand land use whatsoever. I think it does a disservice to Mr. Gecker to suggest otherwise.

Anonymous said...

That last comment seems to be a glowing portrayal concerning individual who has sat and reviewed and or approved the largest growth agenda in the history of the County.
The people of Matoaca would never endorse him as a Supervisor. Good luck Midlothian.

Anonymous said...

How much progress would the County be making on the growth front if it were to be represented by Miller-R, Warren-R, Gecker-D, Durfee-I and Hart-D.
Just think of how many deadlock votes there would be if someone chose to abstain from a vote. How much progress would that be?

Anonymous said...

The answer to the previous question is zero.
If the people voice opposition adn actually bring themselves down to the meetings on Nov. 14 over illegal immigration and Nov. 28 for impact fees and get involved that is what could change some things. Merely voting and walking away from it all solves nothing. There is talk concerning developers influence every election and it never goes away and people need to realize it is because after the election they will simply shift their focus on whoever is in office and influence them while the public is asleep.
The next Board will be Miller,Warren,Tubbs,Sowder and the Bermuda race between Hart and Jaeckle is a tossup. So much for the grassroots independent push. Even if one should win are not they all really Democrat at the core anyway?

Anonymous said...

Remember the "shot across the bow" posting when Mrs. Jaeckle beat Jack Wilson?

Mrs. Jaeckle may be proudly running under the Republican banner, as opposed to Mrs. Hart's attempt to distance herself as far away from her DEMOCRATIC endorsement as possible, but remember that Mrs. Jaeckle and supporters had to form a grassroots revolt within the party to first, not continue support for Dickie King and second, to not accept the party choice of Jack Wilson as being any better regarding our desire to deal with growth issues from a homeowner/taxpayer perspective versus the old boy pro growth/pro profits perspective.

The only reason the Bermuda District race is as close as everyone imagines is that few people have paid close attention to Mrs. Hart's own campaign inconsistencies. Her campaign literature clearly reveals contradicting philosophies that can not possibly work. She has so far managed to obfuscate these glaring contradictions under the banner of opposing growth but, without any real plan to correct the existing infrastructure problems, much less future ones.

Anonymous said...

So are you in agreement that the race is indeed a "tossup"?

Its perfectly acceptable to point out the difficulties in someones campaign, but iis this not a factor that may be making this race close?

Both sides of this race have significant grassroots efforts. You do not get where they are in Bermuda without knocking on doors.

Bermuda is probably the most unique distrcit in realtion to the others in Chesterfield. It lags behind in the number of expansive developments and the people of that area may heed may that are seeing in Matoaca or evenm Dale recently to be very concerned that their area may be the next target of developers.

Anonymous said...

not that it matters, but I predict:

Anonymous said...

Miller (easily)
Warren (easily)
Tubbs/Hastings (tossup)
Jaeckle ( by less than 100 votes)
Gecker (by less than 300 votes)