A former supervisor is trying to get back on the county board. He is running for the Jamestown District seat against a project manager who is seeking his first elected office.
Lane Construction senior project manager Tom Phillips is running as a Republican. He is opposed by Democrat Jim Icenhour, who served as a supervisor from 2006-13.
Current Jamestown District representative and Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Onizuk is not seeking re-election after his term ends Dec. 31.
The board is comprised of five members. This year, two seats, Jamestown and Powhatan, will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Here is how Phillips and Icenhour line up on the issues:
Icenhour said he is running to help the county combat the challenges associated with the area’s projected population growth. The University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service projects the county's population will grow from 73,147 in 2017 to 86,142 by 2020 and 136,736 by 2030.
Icenhour said the developable lots in the Stonehouse District should be used for new housing.
“The number one issue is growth,” Icenhour said. “One of the biggest problems we face going forward is how we pay for the infrastructure.”
Icenhour said if elected, he would look for different ways to raise revenue besides raising property taxes.
Phillips said the number one issue in the county is public safety.
“I believe there are deficiencies in EMS,” Phillips said. “I’m going to work diligently and collaboratively with the board to address this.”
Phillips said he believes more ambulances and more fire stations are needed.
Phillips said County Administrator Bryan Hill should be directed to “shift funding” to better fund public safety.
“Savings have been identified twice already: first at the time of the tax increase and again when Sue Sadler proposed a 1-cent decrease in the rate,” Phillips said. “We should consider those options, asking first which priorities merit being ranked ahead of public safety. Very few will meet this standard. By taking that approach, we’ll find more than enough funding available to improve response times and make our county safer.”
For fiscal year 2018, the county allocated $225,000 more to public safety — including animal control, Fire EMS, emergency communications, emergency management, police and sheriff operations — compared to the 2017 fiscal year, according to the county budget. The fiscal year 2018 budget also funds two new full-time police officer positions, and the department is budgeted to receive $235,000 more than it did in the previous fiscal year.
Long-term water supply
The two candidates have differing views when it comes to the county’s search for a long-term water supply.
Phillips has a 12-point plan for solving water issues, which includes evaluating the use of Cranston Mill Pond.
Restoration Systems LLC and Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Land Trust LLC want to draw 8 millions gallons from Cranston Mill Pond each day and sell that water.
Phillips said he would not support contracting with Newport News Waterworks as a long-term water supply solution.
County supervisors will have to decide by July 2018 if they want to continue contracting with waterworks. If the county decides to continue, it will cost $33 million in 2019. The county would also have to spend $15 million to connect to waterworks lines.
“I think we ought to negotiate with them,” Icenhour said.
Icenhour said negotiating with Newport News would be the most cost-effective option.
“Newport News demand has dropped off and it has excess water that they would probably like to sell,” Icenhour said.
Phillips said he is concerned about retaining business in the county.
“There’s a clear problem in the retail industry,” Phillips said. “We need to closely monitor what businesses are coming into the county. I want to look toward a market study to improve business in the county.”
Phillips said he wants to increase the manufacturing industry’s presence in the county, which he says will bring jobs.
Phillips said James City and York counties, as well as Williamsburg, need to work together to attract new businesses.
As a fiscal conservative, Phillips said he will look for ways to avoid tax increases.
Icenhour said he will make financial decisions that keep two things in mind: maintain the county’s AAA bond rating and provide services that citizens expect at the least cost to the taxpayers.
Meet the candidates
Family: Wife, Linda, and two daughters
Education: U.S. Air Force Academy
Work: Retired Air Force officer and retired Delta Airlines captain
Family: Wife, Nadia, and three daughters
Education: Virginia Tech
Work: Project manager
Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.