By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
If the newly elected candidates are to be believed, and there is no reason not to, county government is in for some big changes. The Board of Supervisors will, come January 6th, swing from a 4-2 margin that supported the liberal Chairman Marvin Moss on virtually all key issues, to a 4-2 against that philosophy.
Chairman Moss lost his bid for reelection to a second full term to newcomer Shawn Kenney, a conservative. The Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) Political Action Committee provided Mr. Kenney with a campaign contribution. Kenney will join newcomer Joe Chesser who ran unopposed. Incumbent supervisor Don Weaver rolled over his opponent, Keith Smith, whose company owed substantial back taxes to the county. Mr. Smith also received a campaign contribution from CAAR.
Throughout the campaign, the issues focused on accountability, transparency, communication, and fiscal responsibility. Controversies over the new high school — and the debt it incurred – coupled with the controversy over the James River Water Authority (JRWA) were too much for Moss to overcome. He lost by just 53 votes (out of 981) but sources have suggested that a sizeable amount of his base sat out the race. Voting in the Columbia supervisor race declined by over 13 percent from his last election, while the vote for governor dropped by just seven percent.
The School Board also had a large turnover with three new members, two of which defeated incumbents. The issues primarily were the same as in the supervisor races with little campaigning regarding the quality of education offered to Fluvanna children.
The first meeting of the lame duck Board of Supervisors occurred on November 4th, with only one passing reference to the electoral upheaval. Supervisors agreed to fund the JRWA an additional $20,000 in operating costs and also were briefed on an upcoming Comprehensive Plan amendment: a new chapter on fiscal responsibility.
Supervisors also were told that they would receive a briefing on refinancing the school bond debt at their next meeting. The staff has been monitoring interest rates with a view toward refinancing almost since the bonds were issued at a blended rate of just under six percent.