Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Carter Turner files as an Independent for Board of Supervisors

Carter Turner challenging "Butch" Church for Board of Supervisors seat.

Carter Turner, 41 filed as an Independent to run for the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Catawba District. He walked out of the administration building promptly at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and explained his reasons for running.

“At the local level party affiliation gets is in the way,” said Carter. It’s all about building trust and working together. “It is not to work for party – it is to work for people,” he said. His incumbent opponent Chairman “Butch” Church is also an Independent though he was elected as a Republican.

Even before Turner ran against and lost to then Delegate Morgan Griffith in 2009 Turner became interested in public service. He was successful in stopping the asphalt plant planned near a school. “The seed was planted then,” said Turner. Industry in that area should be kept to the south side of 460.

He will focus his campaign on efficiency, effectiveness and streamlining spending. “I really am fiscally conservative,” said Turner. Decisions in recent years have “raised a red flag” and “spending taxpayers money is a sacred trust,” he said. As an example he cited the Green Ridge Recreation Center which he believes does not serve all the people of Roanoke County and saying “that kind of thing should have been a referendum.”

The problem Turner has with Slate Hill (now named South Peak) is the period of time the developer has before he starts paying taxes. Typically in the past it has been three to five years but this is twenty years. He worries about the precedent it sets. It could work out to be “a real windfall” but he sees it as risky though he said he favors public/private partnerships.

He would contrast with Church and be more cautious in spending. Even as a teacher himself “being overworked and under paid” he would not have given the $500 bonuses to teachers in the middle of a recession. “There is too much economic uncertainty,” said Turner.

Turner said that Church voted against moving the asphalt plant to its current location that he considers better suited though it came closer to his own home. “I don’t know what [Church’s] vision for the county is,” said Turner. He questioned Church’s thinking on the “smart” placement of industry in the county – his only concern is what will get him votes.

Turner placed a high emphasis on being accessible to constituents. He sees frustration in the community in getting phone calls returned and communicating with constituents. Twelve years is a long time to serve and a representative can become complacent.

Turner explained that effective representation is especially needed in the Glenvar area. “Glenvar has historically been the industrial waste zone of the county … that just does not make financial sense,” he said. It is the closest part of the county to Virginia Tech and Glenvar can be made an extension of the corridor and not just a place to dump industry. “That is the most prudent financial way to use the land,” said Turner.

He is prepared to work with every board member to make things happen. His website will be up and running soon (TurnerForSupervisor.com) and he will put information about his campaign on a new facebook page.

Turner is an Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religious Studies at Radford University.

He is a native Virginian and grew-up in Salem, VA and lives in Campbell Hills in Roanoke County with his wife, Karen, and daughter, Callaway 12.

Turner is a 1987 Graduate of Salem High School, and he was a member of the 1986 Regional Championship football team and the tennis team. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in History and earned an M.A. from the Iliff School of Theology, and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from the University of Denver.

Press release:

Roanoke County, Virginia — May 4, 2011 — With a commitment to effectiveness and efficiency, and the belief that it is time to go beyond politics and partisan bickering, and because Roanoke County is not Washington and cannot be run like it, I am today announcing my independent candidacy for the Catawba District’s seat on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

Leadership today is not about tenure – how long one has served – but about how well. Leadership today is about working for the common public good with common sense. It’s about making a difference instead of another speech…it’s about cutting red tape instead of cutting a ribbon…it’s about listening to people who pay so much for gasoline, electric power and the burdens of taxation that their American dream is only a dream of yesterday. This generation of leaders has to answer to the realities of a new day.

I favor zero-based budgeting to ensure that County expenses are justified for every budget cycle…we cannot pay tomorrow just because of history and precedent. I favor purchasing strategies that reflect inter-department cooperation, producing savings from across-the-board cooperation and scale. I strongly oppose a real estate tax increase, and will fight to ensure assessments are fair and consistent.

I favor an educational system that is vital—including one that uses the direct experience of retired leaders in the classroom. Business experience, military leadership, and civic leadership all represent lessons to be taught. There is no greater priority in our community than the education of our children, and I am fully committed to supplying the resources our teachers need to do the job effectively.

My own experience includes the inspiration received from effective teamwork in opposition to a proposed asphalt plant. The right to breathe quality air cannot be for sale. We cannot compromise air, water, safe roads, and green spaces for eternal “development.” 

The West Main St. corridor should be a source of pride. It stands in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Parkway and represents a natural doorway to the Valley. Designating Glenvar as the County’s primary industrial zone is not the best use of land, and makes little financial sense for the County. We must have clarity to envision a smart, well designed district, and resolve to bring it to fruition. 

The home place of the Valley should be safety…from highway safety to security against vandals and crime. We need to protect and preserve the qualities that really mean “life and liberty” to Americans. Leadership should make this very clear—crime does not pay in Roanoke County. Those who break into homes steal far more than material things—they take peace of mind and belief in the integrity of a community. 

We can become an All-American model…for “America” is not some far-distant place of marble and marvels; it is here in the daily life, challenges, and opportunities of a region guarded by mountains and by values. 

I will bring the value of active listening; I will be personally available throughout the district; I will hold forums to receive public perspectives; I will work as hard as any supervisor in Virginia. As a university teacher and as a parent, I recognize that biography is the best lesson of all; we have a chance to leave a legacy of respect and of results; that’s why I am standing for this office… and working now for a new day in Virginia’s Roanoke County.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2011, Elections, Politics, Roanoke County Politics

Tags: , ,

Comments (8)

Newt

May 4th, 2011 at 8:06 PM    


Mr. Turner is a fine person, no doubt. However, his initial campaign points demonstrate a certain lack of understanding of what’s going on, especially with education. He seems uninformed about the reason why bonuses are about to be given to teachers. First off, the bonuses are not $500; they are $500-$2500(capped).

The money for the bonuses comes directly and expressly for teacher salary increases, benefit assistance, and/or position funding from THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. The money can be used for NO OTHER PURPOSE.

The real issue here is how the money was dispersed here in Roanoke County. Mr. Carter may not understand that the County and the Schools are essentially two separate budgetary entities interlocked into one. The school budget dwarfs the county budget, yet the county supervisors supersede the school board in taxing and budgetary authority.

Over the past few years, the county and the school board have struck a 50/50 revenue sharing deal. This agreement has generally served both very well. When times are good and money is rolling in, it’s split 50/50. When times are bad and money isn’t rolling in, the cuts are shared 50/50.

In this case, however, the money that was used for the bonuses came from the federal government and it was expressly earmarked for teachers. However, the county brokered a 50/50 deal with the schools. Thus, the schools had to give back money from other categories to meet the 50/50 requirement. So all county employees will share in the teachers’ windfall this year.

As a teacher, I can attest that this one-time bonus is great. We haven’t received a pay increase in three years. Yet inflation has crept ahead of us yet again. Yet even with the great news of a bonus, our big problem here is that the money was awarded in the form of a bonus and not a salary increase. Therefore, the county is off-the-hook for any long-term obligation to VRS. That’s great for the county, but not so great if you are a career teacher looking for the highest three years in which to base their life-long benefit. A true salary increase would have really helped.

I think that Mr. Carter is a promising candidate, but he needs to understand that Mr. Church has made himself accessible to me and my teacher organization. In short, he has taken the time to politely listen to us while not always agreeing with us. I appreciate that about him.

Carter Turner

May 4th, 2011 at 9:34 PM    


Newt,

I appreciate you sharing your opinion.

I’d like to clarify a couple of things. My opposition to “raises” for teachers and other county employees was refering to the raises given last December. This money was not part of the stimulus bill but resulted from benefit overpayments. I completely support the upcoming raises that are part of the stimulus package. It’s my understanding that this money is specifically designated for teachers, and will be given to other localities if not distributed here.

Carter Turner

May 4th, 2011 at 9:41 PM    


I meant “bonuses” not “raises.” Sorry … it’s been a long day.

Newt

May 4th, 2011 at 11:16 PM    


Carter,

I appreciate your quick response. I certainly bear no ill-will toward you and am very pleased that you are running. I also need to ‘proof’ my statements more carefully. Of course, you are not “Mr. Carter”; you are Mr. Turner. My apologies.

I’m glad to know that you were referring to the bonus we pushed through back in Dec. 2009. That was a difficult fight. You have to really understand the times. Teachers were being asked to ratchet up their time and effort with no compensation. Teachers were being held as scapegoats for the failure of a system that wasn’t and isn’t failing here. 150 education employees had been eliminated mostly through attrition. Morale of my colleagues was at an all-time low. It was a dark, dark time.

That $500 meant a lot, a lot more than $500. It brought us (educators) together and really helped us make it through that time.

Since then, the times have continued to bang on us. With the 2014 NCLB deadline looming (100% pass rate ), every teacher is on edge. We know the reality of our daily job…and it’s obvious to us that the federal government, which imposes the majority of the regulation, is out of touch. How is it possible to reach the impossible?

We hear the whispers in Richmond from those who want to strip away our pension benefits. We see the locality stepping up more and more as the state retreats in its support for education year after year. It’s a frustrating time to be in my profession. In fact, informed estimates are that over 50% of all teachers in this country will retire or leave the profession in the next five years. I’ll be one of those.

Yet, despite the stress, sub-par pay, or lack of professional respect, I am buoyed each day when I step into my classroom of third graders. I love those children.

The current Roanoke County budget includes another bonus for teachers this year. As I alluded in my previous post, this money is federal stimulus money and must be spent on teacher salaries, benefits, or positions. In addition to the bonus, teachers will receive a 2% increase in pay to compensate for a 5% increase in contract time next year.

I look forward to talking and meeting with you as you develop your campaign.

Thom Ryder (aka Newt)

Carter Turner

May 5th, 2011 at 10:31 AM    


Thom,

Thanks so much for your honest testimony.  Dispite disagreeing about the 2009 bonuses, please be assured that I understand the challenges, frustrations, and absolute joy that comes from our profession.  

I teach at the lowest paid public university in the state.  The majority of my colleagues in my college are paid at the bottom tenth percentile of our benchmark schools.  I teach a 4/4 load, nearly double the number of courses taught each semester by my counterparts at Virginia Tech.  And the vast majority of my students taking my classes are doing so for general education credit which means they’re not very excited about the material from the start.  But like you and so many others of us on the front line, I do it because I love those moments when the sparks of learning fire, when a student grasps an idea that changes how he percieves himself or his world, and because I deeply believe in the value of a life-transforming education.  We do this job because of our commitment to these children, period.  It is very disheartening when those who know nothing about education, know nothing about the obstacles we face (including underfunding by our own government) point the finger at us and claim we’re responsible for every failure in society. It’s infuriating, maddening, and outright wrong.

I was at the board meeting in 2009 and  certainly felt the desperation you described.  If I’m fortunate enough to be elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will do everything I can to provide our teachers with the support and resources needed to do the job.  I’m part of the teaching fraternity and always will be.

I look forward to meeting you in person and continuing our discussion.

Sincerely,

Carter

Newt

May 5th, 2011 at 9:01 PM    


Thanks Carter. Well said.

Cyndi

May 14th, 2011 at 9:47 AM    


Carter:

As a Roanoke County native and taxpayer, I share most of your views as written in the Roanoke Star-Sentinel, May 13-19, 2011 edition. I have always wondered about the fact that the Green Ridge Center was never a referendum. Although a nice facility, I question the decision to use taxpayers’ money for this purpose in the middle of a recession. How was the property acquired? Does the County have some arrangement with Adams Construction Company for additional land adjacent to Green Ridge, and what are the plans for that property? There have been many rumors circulating about hotels, restaurants, etc., and as a homeowner in that neighborhood, I’d like to know what other plans Roanoke County has made without informing the public. I heard nothing about Green Ridge until the building started going up! On a personal level, I don’t like the increase in traffic the center has caused on an already heavily traveled road.

I probably don’t share all of your views on asphalt plants. I grew up in Roanoke County in close proximity to an asphalt plant. I later returned to this neighborhood and built what I hope to be my final home. The asphalt plant is still operating, and I don’t mind the occasional smell or the truck traffic. You accept these things in order for your community to prosper. In fact, I would rather have the asphalt plant than some of my neighbors. Some areas of Roanoke County need to lose the “not in my back yard” mentality if they want our communities to offer opportunity long-term for our children and future generations.

I wish you luck with your campaign – I believe the Board of Supervisors needs some new ideas and input from a fiscal conservative. I do, however, have one question – You were previously a Democrat?


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