Earlier today Ken Boyd had stood in front of microphones and TV cameras and promised to walk more. It was part of the kickoff for the Local Motion program, encouraging Charlottesville and Albemarle citizens to exercise. Right now, Boyd is already making good on his promise. He walks along the side of the road in his Key West neighborhood, checking off addresses for each of the houses he’s visited. He’s been walking for more than an hour, and he’ll continue until the sun goes down.
Most of the people he meets on the street, either driving or walking, already know him. For the past four years, he’s served on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. His children grew up in this neighborhood, and many of the people he talks to have kids that grew up alongside his.
But there is still work to be done. Boyd says he and supporters have been knocking on doors since last summer and have already hit more than 3,000 homes. One of the most immediate issues, he says, is the county’s projected budget shortfall.
“We’re either going to have to do some belt-tightening, or we’ll have to look at raising taxes,” says Boyd as he approaches another door. “I’m more inclined to look at some belt-tightening first. We need budget reform. We’ve needed to do that for a long time. I’ve been advocating that for some time, and I think the Board has got a majority that realizes we’re finally going to have to do that.”
He rings the bell and a woman appears. Boyd rolls into his front-porch stump speech. “Hi, I’m Ken Boyd. I’m a neighbor of yours and also your Board of Supervisors representative. I’m up for re-election and wanted to see if you have any questions.” She doesn’t. “Good,” says Boyd smiling. “Well, I hope that means I’m doing a good job, and you’ll decide to re-elect me.”
Boyd has been on the Board, and for the last year served as chair, during a time when a number of big development projects have come before it. The biggest, of course, is Biscuit Run. The project serves as a bellwether of growth in the county to both sides, pro- and anti-growth.
“[The Biscuit Run developers] did everything that we as a community asked them to do,” says Boyd. “When someone does that, I would have a tough time turning down a project like that. It met all the standards.”
While Boyd has been on the Board, the county has added around 8,300 jobs, he says. Boyd points to the economic growth as something he’s proud of. As for the population growth, Boyd’s all for it.
When asked if the county can keep growing at its current rate, he says, “I hope it does. Because last year we grew less than 1 percent. People don’t realize, but we’ve been declining in percentage-growth rate. Actually, it’s about 50 percent the level it was when I took office.”
The sun’s starting to dip below the tree line, and Boyd steps up on another front porch. A man answers and it quickly becomes apparent that these two know each other.
“I’m out politicking today,” Boyd says. “You’re still in my corner, aren’t you?”
The man, Dave Matt, assures him that he is, and they stand on the porch and share a couple of quick chuckles.
“He might be the first Republican I ever voted for,” says Matt. “We really appreciate what he’s done for the community. I’m a hard-core Democrat, but I’ll probably vote for him. Ken’s been a good advocate for our subdivision and his district in general. I can’t think of a good reason to vote against him.”
Both men laugh again. “When he said he was going to vote for me [last year], that really made my day,” Boyd says. “There’s quite a few people like him, and I’m really appreciative of that. We don’t really have anything to do with party politics.”
“Yeah,” Matt says, “and I even agree with what you say sometimes.”
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