A crowd has formed for three available seats on the Franklin County Board of Supervisors. Seven candidates are on the ballot, one running unopposed and the remaining six competing in contested races. That number is not large enough to compose even a third of the Democratic presidential field, but it provides ample incentive for voters to make their way to the polls Tuesday.
Turnout typically sags in local elections unless presidential candidates top the ballot. Less than half of Franklin County’s registered voters cast ballots in 2015 but the share shot up to nearly three-fourths for the presidential election a year later, according to state data.
This is partly a product of national politics as reality television, but home is where the impact is. Beyond the boundaries of Franklin County, supervisors’ names are little known. Inside the county line, however, they are of unique importance. These are the people who could help shape Franklin over the next four years:
Blackwater District: Facing Ronald Mitchell Jr., Cline Brubaker, 75, seeks his third term. Both are independents. Brubaker has been reliably conservative on taxes in a county with one of Southwest Virginia’s lowest rates. He describes it as his “mission to raise tax base and not tax rate.” Mitchell, 35, a landscaping business owner and political newcomer, mirrors that approach: “I never want to see taxes go up.” Both candidates favor expansion of career and technical education and development of Summit View Business Park.
Gills Creek District: Bob Camicia opted against seeking re-election. Lorie Smith, 57, is running as a Republican against independent Rick Smithers, 52. Smith has served one term each on the Waynesboro City Council and School Board. President of the Smith Mountain Lake Association, Smith won her Waynesboro council term in 2006 competing against a conservative bloc, then lost subsequent bids in 2010 and 2012. She pledges growth in Westlake and Union Hall and improving supervisors’ relationship with the school board. The owner of a concrete foundation business, Smithers is a political neophyte. He plans to advocate for schools and says investment in Summit View should halt at some point if the project is unsuccessful.
Union Hall District: Tommy Cundiff, 68, an equipment hauler for Boone Tractor, seeks his second term, opposed by first-time political candidate John Hinkell, 49, an Army National Guard veteran. Cundiff vows to bring public water and broadband to unserved portions of Union Hall, build a public park with a beach and help get the new Glade Hill fire station running. While Cundiff is an advocate for the business park, Hinkell proposes what he calls a “strategic pause” to reevaluate the project.
A third incumbent, Tim Tatum, is unopposed in the Blue Ridge District.
We will not endorse candidates. We heartily endorse voting. We further suggest that while talk of the 2020 campaign dominates the airwaves, this election is one that matters. To those committed to casting ballots, we say: Hear, hear! To those on the fence or under a rock, we say: Take part!