As we head into election season proper, we’re taking a look at the four contested races for seats on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Yesterday, we introduced the two Scottsville District candidates. Today, we hear from the Rio candidates: Incumbent Republican Rodney Thomas and Democrat Brad Sheffield.
- Party: Republican
- Age: 69
- Occupation: Charlottesville Press owner
- Government experience: Albemarle County Planning Commission, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
- Party: Democrat
- Age: 39
- Occupation: Assistant directof of JAUNT
- Government experience: No elected office
Q: What needs to be done to improve transportation in the increasingly dense core around the city? How does the planned Western Bypass play into that?
Thomas: As the area’s getting denser, bus transit will be a more viable mode of transportation, as long as the stops are more frequent. We got Route 11 put on Rio Road—we needed that really badly for a long time, another bus on that route, and we finally got CAT to do it. I’m a big fan of the Meadow Creek Parkway, and of course I’m one of the bad boys on the Bypass. I ran on that. That’s not anything new. I just think it needs to be done, not for Lynchburg, for Charlottesville-Albemarle.
Sheffield: There’s a lot of deficiency in the road network in the area. Curbs and gutters, stormwater management issues—we just don’t have a lot of those things in place. Look to areas like Commonwealth Drive, where stormwater systems are blocked up, destroyed by snow plows, and there’s a lack of sidewalks. [As for] the Bypass, I don’t know what can be done a Supervisor’s level. I don’t believe anything can be done at this point. As a planner…my frustration lies in that the county is not planning either way. If it’s going to get built, what are the impacts of it on growth patterns, land uses? What’s going to happen areas being bypassed, commercially and residentially? If it doesn’t get built, what are we going to do to satisfy needs that residents have clearly identified? For me it’s more about how we are preparing for either scenario, not about being for or against it.
Q: What do you think are the three most important issues facing Albemarle right now?
Thomas: Schools, transportation, and the county budget.
Sheffield: Finding transportation solutions—not just building new roads, but alternative transportation solutions for the growth area like expanding the transit system to make it more frequent and more reliable. The rural areas—focusing on reducing traffic and minimizing the impact of traffic, focusing on improvements that need to be made, continuing to grow, protecting what’s already there. Third is infrastructure—it’s important that as we’re moving forward, we’re paying attention to how to maintain everything we’re developing.