I am John Lowry, candidate for Board of Supervisors for the Samuel Miller seat. The election is November 3rd.
As I made my announcement speech in April, I expressed the legs to a platform stool as core issues – Quality of Life in Albemarle, Education and Transportation. Clearly voters would like to keep Albemarle a great place to live, work and retire in. We love our rural landscape. Education of our children is the best single investment we can make. We need to do what is best for our children. The recent decision by school administration staff to keep neighborhood schools open shows the county has both its head and heart in the right place. For transportation we need solutions so that we may move around and through the county better. We need plans and the means to fund them.
I realized, as I ran through this list, there was more to “why me?” than issues alone. Ultimately the choice to the voter is who offers the best chance for both leadership and vision. The Chinese proverb is that vision without leadership is a daydream and leading without vision is a nightmare. Through experience, education and study, my goal is to offer both vision and leadership. I have positioned myself for several years to be able to run for and, if elected, fill the Supervisor position. I elected not to represent either political party. I expect that neither of the other candidates will mention party issues in their essays. The Board of Supervisors mainly deals with only local issues. I am happy not to have to have a party have a call on me. My professional experience was in finance. I believe I am the best choice to help manage budgets and offer creative finance ideas to the county. In volunteer work I have participated for decades in many worthy causes. Working with others helps me understand our community. I also have government experience. I am now the Chair of the Economic Development Authority for Albemarle County. The EDA issues bonds in the name of the County but backed by the debtor (county has no credit risk) for low-interest rate capital. Borrowers in recent years have included Monticello (for Mont Alto and the new Visitor Center), Martha Jefferson Hospital, Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge and the county itself (for 5th Street office building and new fire station). These loans among other things created jobs in Albemarle. Also I served on the Joint Airport Board six years during the time when the new Airport was built. I served as Board Chair. Because of my government experience I know many of the county workers and they know me—I believe we work well together.
Going through this list might at least have piqued the reader’s interest in trying to decide for whom to vote. There is more. Each of the three candidates will promise to work to keep the rural character in our county. I think I can explain how we can better plan to keep the county rural in the decades to come. We already have Land Use now for more than two-thirds of the county. Actually, for over three decades we have had more than a majority of the 474,000 county acres in Land Use. We already have Conservation Easements. Albemarle County is a leader in working with Virginia Outdoors to get land under legal covenant not ever to have development rights used. Where the county could use help is in broadening our tax base so that property taxes do not rise so high that more land owners will have to choose between holding onto land or selling to pay taxes. What the County of Albemarle does not have is an Economic Devel-opment Office. We do not have a director of economic development, no departmental listing, no web page not even a telephone listing for economic development. One wonders why? My own survey of 24 municipalities as peers to Albemarle revealed every one of them had an EDA. For national and Virginia races economic development is high on everyone’s list. Economic Devel-opment means businesses in the Growth area that create jobs and revenue for the county. Ironically, most of the growth is designated for the north part of the county, not Samuel Miller (and mostly not White Hall). The growth area is a tax base waiting to happen. My mission is one of inclusion—if we create jobs we give the means to those who would like to afford a home a paycheck for a mortgage payment. We use the growth area for what it was intended instead of preaching exclusion which is “protecting” us from others. By sharing we actually create more for all. I would help those who wish to better themselves by creating opportunities—jobs—that will allow them to achieve their goals.
Last summer the county hired a Virginia Commonwealth group to tell us how to better ourselves. One of the three main suggestions was to have an economic strategy to better our tax revenues. If we only raised our business contribution by half, from a stable 13% to less than 20%, we could increase county revenues by $20MM. That is equivalent to 10 cents’ tax relief from property taxes. These figures are not my figures but from those who were paid to tell us how to be better. I second the motion. Two weeks ago Moody’s Investor Services released a study projecting recent peak values in real property would not be seen again in Virginia until the early 2020’s. If this is the case, we should be looking for ways to have resources available to pay for the services we have become accustomed to in Albemarle.
I thank the Crozet Gazette for asking for this short essay. Were I invited to write again I might mention social services, day care and environmental issues. See http://LowryforAlbemarle.com for more information. Email me at [email protected] with questions. Please vote for me November 3rd.
I was born and raised in Lexington, Virginia, attended public schools there and graduated from Lexington High School in 1961.
I was graduated from Hampden Sydney College (B.S. Psychology) in 1965 and MCV (now VCU, B.S. Pharmacy) in 1968. My family and I have lived in central Virginia for 39 years, 31 of those years in North Garden. I have worked at UVA Hospital Pharmacy, serving as a staff and senior pharmacist since 1970, and retired in 2004. My wife Pat has taught school in Albemarle County schools for 37 years. All three of our children were educated in Albemarle schools, and two of them live in the county.
I was involved in building playgrounds at Red Hill Elementary, coaching soccer (10 years) and baseball (2 years), and served as president of the Red Hill PTO (’88-’89) and as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission for Albemarle County Education in the 21st Century (’90-’91). In 1994 I was appointed by Sally Thomas to the Albemarle County School Board, and was elected in 1997 for a second term. In 2002 I was appointed by the Supervisors to the C-A Commission on Children and Families, serving for six years, the last two as Chair. I have also served on the School Board’s Health Advisory Committee for four years, last year as Chair.
I have been a member of the Cove Garden Ruritan Club for 25 years, participating in many charitable and service activities, and serving as treasurer and president in the 80s and 90s. I have also been a member of the Democratic Party Steering Committee as Chair for the Samuel Miller District the last five years. I feel strongly that bipartisan cooperation is imperative in our state, national, and particularly local politics. I learned in my years on the school board, that wherever you land personally on the political spectrum, effective government happens if you are willing to compromise while maintaining your principles.
Two other organizations in which I am involved are the African-American Teaching Fellows Board, which recruits and supports students who will eventually become African-American educators in our local schools; and the Community University Research and Service Partnership (CURSP), which en-courages students at UVA to become engaged in research and service in our community.
A number of people have asked me why I would want to become a member of the Board of Supervisors, and the answer is that we have richly benefited from our life in Albemarle County and I feel an obligation, as well as a desire, to give back to the place we call home. I’m running because I want to help make Albemarle County an even more wonderful place for this and future generations. It’s as simple as that!
As a practical, common-sense person, I realize that we still have challenges in our community in the areas of education, growth, rural protection and wise land use, affordable housing for our workforce, addressing near-gridlock in transportation, returning our business community and employment to a healthy vitality, ensuring for decades a clean plentiful source of water from our own watershed, encouraging the utilization of local products and services, which protects the family farm, and maintaining our clean, healthy environment and quality of life.
In education, Supervisors must support the School Board in their endeavors in the following:
- Eliminating the achievement gap
- Expanding pre-K education with state and federal assistance
- Enhancing healthy alternatives in nutrition and exercise
- Providing world language and International Baccalaureate opportunities
- Recruiting and retaining the very best teaching professionals with salaries commensurate with our peer communities
- Promoting shared use of our schools, athletic and library facilities.
As to affordable housing, we should promote this at least for our own workforce, especially teachers, fire/rescue and police. This also would include the elderly, homebound, and disabled, as at The Meadows in Crozet.
In addressing growth, I am cognizant that SMART growth is not a negative thing. I support development in the presently zoned urban ring, but I am not persuaded we should revisit a change in that zoning. I am a passionate advocate for the rural legacy which has been vouchsafed to us for generations. We should protect the family farms and ensure their economic vitality by encouraging the use of local foods in our homes, schools and institutions. By protecting farming as a viable enterprise, we will be protecting our own beautiful clean water and air which would suffer from rural development. We should also expand the ACE program and maintain the current LEGITIMATE land-use tax relief program which also protects undeveloped rural land and farms.
As to the presently constituted Community Water Plan, I support it wholeheartedly, with the possibility of prn or entepreneurial dredgings of the Rivanna Reservoir in the future, if indicated as economically feasible by the dredging study.
In the area of transportation, I would like us to consider any alternative to the automobile that’s available, from biking trails and sidewalks to commuter trains from Charlottesville to Crozet and the Valley to enhanced mass transit in the urban areas and to the rural areas (e.g. JAUNT) to coordinated lights at Farmington and Ednam and a roundabout at Owensville, Morgantown and 250W. All these will come to fruition with determination and assistance from state and federal authorities. Places 29 and parallel roads to that artery will help to prevent gridlock; also grade-separated interchanges at Rio and Hydraulic may be necessary. Finish the Meadowcreek Parkway and keep the Eastern Connector as a possibility.
Finally, the recovery of our damaged economy and return of full employment is our greatest responsibility. However government can prime the pump and support local entrepreneurship should be attempted. The support of local goods and services and promoting small businesses, even home businesses, should be paramount, because it is widely acknowledged that these entities provide the engine for economic recovery and long-term sustainability. There should be the acknowledgement that public-private partnerships can be positive if properly managed.
I was born and raised in the Charlottesville area. My great-grandmother’s name was Meadows and she lived on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My grandfather’s last name was Dean. They were all displaced by the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’ve had the privilege of calling this area home all of my life. I have traveled extensively and I can honestly say that there is no place more beautiful than Albemarle County. I attended local schools, from elementary to high school, and met my wife Rena during our university years and it was love at first sight on my part. It took a little convincing for her, but a month after our first date we were engaged and got married five months later. We have five children, all of which attended Meriwether Lewis, Henley and Western Albemarle. We have thirteen grandchildren, many of which will attend those same schools.
Our family business was started in 1912 by my grandfather. My father, Leroy Snow, took over the family business in the late 30s and actively ran the business until the mid 1970s at which point the reins were turned over to me. I have been green since before it was cool. In fact, I have a green thumb all the way up to my elbow. I started working in the family business when I was old enough to hold a water hose. I was driving a tractor when my feet were long enough to touch the pedals. A big part of being green is mitigating the effects of growth. Good examples of this are the trees that we planted on the downtown mall and along West Main Street. I have planted trees from the Rotunda to Covesville to Ivy and most anywhere else in our county.
- Former PVCC Instructor—taught landscaping and gardening
- Virginia State Agricultural Council for 10 years. We funded the farmers’ market in Carroll County for local farmers to sell their crops. I feel a farmers’ market in Albemarle would benefit the community.
- Albemarle County Archi-tectural Review Board. This board deals with zoning, land use and subdivisions. My tenure on this board uniquely qualifies me to serve on the Board of Supervisors.
- Past President, Rotary Club
- Board of Directors, American Heart Association
- Boy Scouts of America Committee
- Church, Community Leader
- Businessman for 35 years. I learned to listen to my customers and employees. Employees have great ideas if you ask them. The customers of the Board of Supervisors are the taxpayers and the employees are the county staff.
I want to control wasteful spending and ensure all tax dollars are captured by using zero-based budgets, and distinguishing between wants and needs. I want to audit local and Internet sales tax revenues from the state and approach the state on its transportation responsibilities. I will work with the School Board to ensure that schools are properly funded as well as with an advisory group of parents and teachers. I have supported our southern elementary schools and believe that the concept of community schools needs to be protected.
We need to maintain the beauty and quality of life in Albemarle County. As we limit growth to the designated areas and encourage green easements, we preserve the beauty of our county. Addressing water storage is important, and I believe listening to the citizens of our county, as I did to the customers of my business, will help us solve this and many other problems.
This is the first time that I have run for public office. I care about this county, and I want to give back. We need to do the right thing for our children and grandchildren. I feel this will be accomplished by listening to the facts and applying common sense to make sound decisions.