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. We’ve already introduced the Scottsville and Rio district candidates. Today, we hear from the two vying for the Samuel Miller District seat: Incumbent Republican Duane Snow and Democrat Liz Palmer.
- Party: Democrat
- Age: 58
- Occupation: Veterinarian
- Government experience: Rivanna River Basin Commission, Albemarle County Service Authority Board of Directors
- Party: Republican (incumbent)
- Age: 68
- Occupation: CEO of Snow’s Landscape and Garden Center
- Government experience: Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Rivanna River Basin Commission, Albemarle County Architectural Review Board
Q: How are the challenges facing the rural community different from those facing the urbanized parts of the county?
Palmer: It’s a big challenge to keep the rural areas rural while making sure they can make a living, and also as people use their land, to make sure we’re continuing to protect the natural resources. A lot of people are moving into the cities, and we need to make sure we have jobs and economic opportunities for them.
Snow: There are problems that are unique to both the rural and the urban ring. These issues are dealt with on a case by case basis, such as cell towers, zoning issues, trash burning, and noise.
Q: What do you think are the three most pressing issues in the county right now? Do you think it’s important for the county to preserve its small, rural schools, or should Albemarle be considering Buckingham’s model of a consolidated primary school?
Palmer: Keeping rural areas rural while supporting citizens’ efforts to make a living. There’s a lot of pressure there. We need to protect quality of life for people in rural areas, and also protect natural resources for now and future generations. Moving forward with our schools, making sure we have the most excellent education for our children that we can have. The third one would be to improve quality of life for our urban dwellers. There are a lot of people moving into cities, and we need to make sure we have jobs and economic opportunities for them, and make sure that they have a good urban experience.
Our small schools are very important to quality of life in small rural communities. A lot of people move there just to have their children in those schools. So I’m in favor of keeping rural schools open. Buckingham has fewer people—we probably have five times the population in Albemarle County. We also have a larger land mass. Children in the southern portion [of Albemarle], if we consolidate our schools, would have to travel for an hour or more. That’s not right, and it’s not a good educational experience for a young child to have. I think the school are jewels. They’re very important to the quality of life.
Snow: Issues that are common to both [rural and urban] areas are schools, taxes, and roads.
Over the past four years, we’ve maintained the funding the county schools have needed and kept open our small rural schools, despite the severe economic depression. The tax burden for the average County resident has gone down every year. As far as roads are concerned, we are making progress on the Hillsdale Connector, the widening of 29 to Hollymead, the additional on ramp to the 250 Bypass at Best Buy, and a Bypass to the north which will eliminate 15 traffic lights.