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Support for O’Brien and moving Fluvanna forward
As former superintendent for Fluvanna County Public Schools from August 2010 to January 2017, we faced significant challenges when a last-minute decision by the Board of Supervisors to approve the advertised tax rate of 68 cents was reduced down to 59 cents. This forced $2 million-plus of cuts in our school system and put us in a financial tailspin for several years. We cut salaries, closed two schools, opened a new high school with a compromised budget, cut resources​ for our teachers and implemented a reduction in force resulting in deep cuts to our staff and consequently to our programs for our students.

​The following year Tony O’Brien was elected running on restoring funding to schools and bringing water to Zion Crossroads. In the subsequent four budget cycles, Tony was unwavering in his support for the schools and fought for additional funding for capital improvement projects including fiber to the schools, additional technology for students and teachers and a new roof for the middle school. But even with his support, several key needs were still left unmet and passed into future years.

Tony O’Brien’s opponent suggests that he can show the same level of commitment while cutting taxes. This will be nearly impossible to accomplish. I have participated in the budget process and understand that quality services in our community require an investment in the future. Cuts and unfunded mandates by the state, increases in health insurance, modest 1 percent to 2 percent salary increases, and important maintenance projects, such as the $1.6 million roof replacement of Carysbrook Elementary create ongoing pressures to the budget. These needs will not be met with a flat budget and certainly will not be addressed through a budget with cuts. Tony understands this and his push for economic development is key to creating a sustainable tax rate for Fluvanna. Our community needs bold leadership that seeks to provide quality services through responsible decision making.

My husband and I support Tony O’Brien – for the future of our community.

Gena C. Keller, former Fluvanna superintendent
Lawrence E. Keller

Stewart understands our schools
Any new member of a governing board has a steep learning curve, but Shirley Stewart is already well on her way up that curve. Since announcing her candidacy in May, Stewart has used every opportunity available to understand the issues that the teachers, students, and administration face to make and keep Fluvanna one of the best school systems in the state. She has attended every Board meeting and seminar, met with school and county administrators, and toured every school. Along the way, she’s asked well-thought-out and pertinent questions that show a solid grasp of the issues facing our schools today.

Stewart has already spent several years becoming acquainted with Fluvanna schools through her work as a University of Virginia Curry School of Education student teacher supervisor. In a recent tour of the career and technical education (CTE) classes at the high school, her questions showed a critical understanding of curriculum, awareness of budget limitations, and a long-term perspective of how our CTE programs can expand. Stewart clearly values collaboration between the schools and the community, as shown by the “Farm-to-School” program she created as a principal in Vermont. Creative initiatives such as this will serve our students and our county well as we take steps to expand our local economy, and a Board member who understands the worth of our CTE classes will be invaluable.

Stewart brings to the School Board a solid background of 30 years in education as teacher, assistant principal and principal as well as awareness of the most recent developments in curriculum and teaching skills being taught to the newest teachers. It is a natural next step for Stewart to take on the Board’s work of creating the policies that govern the school system and of developing a budget that will address the needs of students, teachers, and staff. Stewart understands what makes education effective, from the bottom to the top, and hopes to use her expertise as the Rivanna District School Board representative. Please give her your vote on Nov. 7.

Carol Tracy Carr
Rivanna District School Board representative

A big thank you to Rob Bell
A big thank you to Rob Bell, our delegate, for helping us with our waste water problem. After many phone calls to Aqua Virginia I was getting nowhere. I have an in-ground pool in our yard. Due to hot weather we had to fill our pool many times and as you know, when you use their water, there is a sewer charge. Over several weeks 13,000 gallons of water was needed. I told them that the pool water does not go into their sewers; it evaporates. The pool is not hooked up to our sewer system. After Mr. Bell got involved Aqua Virginia changed their attitude. Two days later we received a phone call from a vice president of the company. He told us there would be no charge for the sewer waste water for those two months. They did the right thing thanks to Mr. Bell stepping in.

Andrew Rutkowski
Lake Monticello

What plan?
As a senior director of professional services and a project planner for an IT company that serves some of our largest government institutions, I like plans. Perhaps that is why I am so deeply disturbed by Mr. Darrell Byers’ campaign and empty rhetoric. As near as I can tell his platform is best described as, I can do everything Tony O’Brien does, but you need not worry about paying for it. Why, you might ask? Well, he will tell you his plan after he wins.

When I work on the steps necessary for a successful implementation, I look for talent, experience and proven results. Would I hire a guy with no experience, who has no qualifications, expertise or apparent interest in the work and expect to succeed? Of course not! Simply put, if you don’t consult with the people closest to the problem, how can you possibly know the answer? This is called discovery.

Byers claims he has spoken with a municipal financial expert. Interesting choice of words. Why would he not say, “I have spoken with county staff, school administration, constitutional officers, and department heads and they all agree we can achieve my plan?” Yes, he claims he can pay for a new radio and water system, can increase salaries, repair and replace aging infrastructure like buses, firetrucks, roofs, and HVAC systems, address unfunded state mandates and cuts, adjust the budget for inflation and cut your taxes? Why? Because he has a plan, and he does not need experts to advise him, experience, training, nor understanding of the job. Yes, he will explain it all to you after he gets elected.

If I hired that guy to lead a project, I would not expect to keep my job, and Fluvanna certainly can’t expect to succeed.
William Campbell
Lake Monticello

O’Brien follows through on promises
Darrell Byers apparently has no understanding of the budget whatsoever. Fluvanna has the lowest rate of government spending per capita of all surrounding counties. The Fluvanna County budget has always been bare bones and does not even keep up with inflation let alone normal increases due to growth and expansion.

Fluvanna County has a reputation of doing the bare minimum, just enough to meet the essential requirements. The Board has skimped and cut back on schools and other county services. There has long been a history of lack of vision and a preponderance of narrow-minded thinking.

We finally have a few forward-thinking supervisors – thanks to Mozell Booker, Tony O’Brien and Mike Sheridan – who are dragging our county into the 21st century, improving our schools, bringing public water for homes and businesses and focusing on economic development to bring jobs to our area.

Has Byers even bothered to visit schools? To speak to the teachers about their challenges? To speak with anyone involved with finance at the school or the county? If he bothered to do even minimal research he would realize what he is proposing will not work in Fluvanna County. He is playing by Washington’s tired old handbook. Fluvanna needs real solutions, not buzz words and stupid catchphrases.

I want to see our Board of Supervisors make a commitment to long-term solutions and create a vision for the future to make Fluvanna reach the excellent potential it certainly has. I am so excited about the changes we have made, the potential we have and the growth and development coming to Zion Crossroads.

Tony O’Brien is a proven leader who follows through on his promises. We can’t afford to go backwards!
Barbara O’Brien
Barbara O’Brien and Tony O’Brien are not related.

Staiger gives 100 percent

I would like to take a moment to give you my impressions and thoughts regarding Dr. Linda Staiger and her candidacy for a seat on the Fluvanna County School Board.

I have known Linda for almost five decades. She is a rock-solid person of great character, erudition, compassion and concern for all of those in her midst, including persons, animals and a true patron of the “living world” that surrounds her (as reflected in her concerns as a volunteer doctor for the community at large and in her flowing artworks).

Linda was at her core a simple country girl, born to a farmer and a loving mother, who built her life, step by step, brick by brick, into a formidable and highly-respected orthopedic surgeon. I have known her throughout her travels in life, having been a fellow student with her at the University of Virginia, served as her legal counsel for many years, and have shared a friendship that has endured overtime. Linda continues to rediscover and re-identify herself as she charges forward through life in her latest community service quest. I am proud and honored to know her. She is a wonderful person and a true role model for those who unnecessarily face self-doubt based upon their humble beginnings. It’s not only about how far you went in life, but also from where you began.  Linda began in the Virginia public school system.

Linda’s unique thoughts and perspectives allow for her to keenly and quickly sense the essence of a problem or issue, while her engaging personality and willingness to work with others brings about elegant solutions and a resolve to create a dynamic for cooperation and agreement. Linda would be beneficial and of service to the School Board or to any other organization or public service entity to which she engages her time and services. One more thing about Linda: Once she commits, she gives 100 percent all the time and every time. The citizens of Fluvanna County will be well served by Dr. Linda Staiger should she prove successful in her bid for election to the School Board.
Edward S. Garcia, Jr., Esquire
Virginia Beach O’Brien supports schools’ success
Fluvanna can be very proud of the success of its schools, and Tony O’Brien has been an important partner in that success.

For the past four years our schools have been fully accredited, our on-time graduation rate is now at 97 percent, and our recent graduates’ SAT scores surpassed both the state’s and the nation’s overall average. Achievements like this are only possible with solid collaboration between the Board of Supervisors (BOS) and the School Board, and O’Brien has consistently shown how much he values excellence in education.

O’Brien’s support of the Munis accounting system for both schools and county has given citizens the transparency they need to understand the county’s finances. O’Brien recognized the need for a robust capital improvements plan budget that is now addressing the schools’ needs for ongoing maintenance as well as the students’ and teachers’ requirements for technology to keep our schools competitive. His technical expertise in networking and strong support for Fluvanna’s fiber project will not only ensure better broadband for schools and county offices, but also provides infrastructure that can eventually provide broadband to the broader population. O’Brien’s votes have also enabled the School Board to provide salary increases that recognize the value of our staff and to fund the critical positions of school resource officers, psychologists and counselors.

The schools’ budget has already been pared significantly, and compliance with state and federal requirements leave little room for cutting. But those who promise lower taxes without offering a clear plan to bring in more revenue from other sources will inevitably look to reducing the schools’ budget, which will undercut their current success. O’Brien understands the importance of our schools to the future of Fluvanna, and his four years of experience as supervisor give him a solid basis for making the critical decisions facing the BOS for promoting economic growth, further developing Zion Crossroads, and providing the schools with the funding they need to excel.

Tony O’Brien knows where we’ve been, where we need to be in the future, and has a plan to get there. Vote for O’Brien Nov. 7.

Carol Tracy Carr
Rivanna District School Board representative

Francis Stevens is not good for 65th District
I was not only surprised but appalled at the behavior of Candidate Stevens at the recent Candidate Forum at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

Not only did the candidate make a statement in support of abortion while professing his adherence to the Catholic faith, but he also acted like a child when asked his opinion of President Trump. No statement on the issues at all, he just made fun of the president’s hair. His physical appearance and then he had the audacity to call the president a racist. Think about that. Make fun of someone’s physical appearance and then call them a racist.

Francis Stevens is certainly not someone who should be considered to represent the people of the Fork Union and Columbia areas of Fluvanna County.

Robert (Bob) Harris
Lake Monticello

Promises matter
I was honored to serve the citizens of Fluvanna for over 18 years as sheriff and deputy sheriff. I have been in law enforcement for over 27 years. I have seen Boards come and go and countless votes that failed to make the difficult choices to ensure Fluvanna’s success, in the name of fiscal conservatism. This election gimmick is always diluted to lower taxes.

True conservatism lies in making smart, careful investments that demand results that generate growth, reduce unnecessary expenses, and ensure competitiveness. These investments require commitment and vision.
I have participated in countless budget sessions where the calculations and adjustments were made on a white board, furiously reworking calculations to make adjustments up or down based on members’ or department requests. More recently budget sessions were laid out on sophisticated spreadsheets with each department submitting scrutinized budget requests and capital improvement changes that were negotiated and verified. This preliminary process provides the kind of transparency that allows for solid decision making by the Board. Only after the budgets were paired down and staff works tirelessly does the Board begin a 10-14 week process to finalize the budget by setting priorities and making choices that eventually result in the tax rate being set and advertised. Anyone who claims that the budget is not carefully scrutinized is clearly misinformed about the process.

I first met Tony O’Brien when the county went into near chaos after “conservative” Board members advertised an 11-cent rate increase (due to the high school debt) then set the rate at three cents above the existing rate, forcing all departments to scramble and cut already scarce resources and setting the county back.

To have a true understanding of the budget, one should be engaged in the workshops and sessions, which provide a broader scope of the impact of the promises that can enhance or set back services. This is true for being visible and engaged as a citizen and certainly as a candidate. Tony will make the tough choices, honor his promise of stronger public safety and bring real change to Fluvanna.

Ryant Washington
Former Fluvanna County sheriff

On the right track

As the owner of a thriving practice in Troy I am excited about all the changes the county has made over the past four years. New construction and business on Route 250 can be seen popping up, and this is just the start. I see patients from all over the world and I want them to see the full potential of Fluvanna, just as I did when I moved here 15 years ago. We have so much to offer and it is really refreshing to see dedicated leadership with a vision for the future. I understand water will be in Zion Crossroads within 18 months. What a difference that will make for Fluvanna and my business. I thank and support Mr. Tony O’Brien for his instrumental role in bringing change to Fluvanna.

Christina Henderson Paxson

You won’t regret a vote for Stewart

To paraphrase an old song: “If you knew Shirley, like I know Shirley,” you would vote for her to serve on the Fluvanna School Board from the Rivanna District! I know Shirley as a neighbor and as a former colleague at Monticello. All of my experience with Shirley has been very positive; getting to know her has convinced me that she has the experience and perspective to serve students, teachers, school staff and administrators, as well as taxpayers in a collaborative and professional way.

As a colleague at Monticello, I watched Shirley deal with thousands of visitors. She was always professional, upheld the core values of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and still was able to respond to the many competing needs and requests of countless visitors. She is a consummate professional. Shirley’s experience as an educator helped her see solutions where others saw problems. 

Our county needs School Board members that are interested in working together to find solutions to the problems that all schools face. Shirley Stewart brings her experience as a professional educator, a professional administrator, and a collegial team player to the challenge of leading our schools into the future. In short, we need Shirley Stewart. Please vote for Shirley; you will not regret it.

Susan Seehaver
Lake Monticello

Columbia race raises essential question
I have met and talked with both Columbia District School Board candidates: Andrew Pullen and Linda Staiger. Pullen seems down to earth. He answered all my questions. What you see is what you get.

When I asked Staiger what she thought about a controversial high school issue, she tap danced and refused to comment. When I reviewed her resume, two things struck me. First, despite what she would have you believe, she has limited medical teaching experience (never taught residents or physicians) and she has no significant executive level administrative experience. Regardless, these don’t make her a traditional educator. Second, she tied herself to the University of California, San Francisco whose culture is well known. In the local campaign, Staiger has tied herself to “Indivisible” groups that promote controversial social issues. With this background, it is not hard for me to connect the dots.

In contrast, Pullen has significant teaching and administrative experience. He tutors high school students. As a fireman, he developed and implemented an entry level program for firefighters with learning disabilities. He is certified as Instructor Level III (the highest rating) and in this capacity, he has taught hundreds throughout the Commonwealth for over 10 years. As a local fire chief, Pullen has considerable supervisory and administrative experience in training, maintenance, scheduling and budgeting. He is a successful grant writer and has obtained outside funding for needed firefighting equipment, thereby saving local taxpayers.

Pullen is a longtime county resident with a child in the school system. If he loses, he will continue to serve Fluvanna County in numerous capacities: Chief of Kents Store Fire Department, high school academic tutor and mentor, and congressional political director for a congressman. If you call 911, Chief Pullen will be there.

The upcoming Nov. 7 vote boils down to one essential question. Do you want Fluvanna’s school  system focused on social issues and the promotion of “Indivisible” group agendas or do you want it more focused on educational policy and the promotion of traditional and rural American values?

For me, the choice is obvious: Vote for Pullen.

Dr. Bill Hughes
Kents Store