By Patrick McCarron and Neil Haggerty
Both incumbents held on to their seats on the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.
Rusty Ford was reelected to the Kerrs Creek district seat, beating Chris Green by 5 percentage points.
Buster Lewis of Walkers Creek won by less than 3 percentage points.
Challengers Chris Green, of Kerrs Creek, and Rich Kopp of Walkers Creek both said the Board of Supervisors has not done enough to bring economic development to the county.
Ben Swisher, current chair of the Rockbridge County School Board, was also challenging Ford.
Incumbents generally have an advantage in elections, but Green and Kopp had support from two groups that are active in local politics.
Green and Kopp decided to run as Republicans, even though local elections are nonpartisan in Virginia. And both also ran with support from the Rockbridge Tea Party.
Retired Army Col. Robert James, a political science professor at Virginia Military Institute, said Rockbridge County traditionally votes conservative, and the Rockbridge Tea Party has been “very vocal” in local elections.
Ford, 63, says his track record in Rockbridge County will help secure his place as the Kerrs Creek supervisor.
He has served two terms on the board, for a total of six years. Supervisor terms are four years, but Ford’s first term was only two years because the county decided to stagger Board of Supervisors elections. That means that every two years, there will be elections for either two or three seats on the board.
Ford’s opponents said he hasn’t done enough to bring economic growth and improve the schools in the county. But he cited the Maury River Middle School consolidation and expansion as one economic improvement he helped with. He also mentioned his work to create conservation easements that keep property owners from subdividing land.
He said he hopes the county will add a piggyback landfill on the property of the current landfill.
He also said he wants to continue with the plan to hire a professional head of the county’s Fire and Rescue.
Ford was born and grew up in Rockbridge County. He is a 1975 graduate of Yale University.
Ford is a retired public school teacher and a cattle farmer.
Lewis, 75, says there is more that he would like to do as a supervisor in Rockbridge County.
Lewis responded to criticism from his opponents by saying that his work with the Maury River Middle School consolidation and the county’s monetary support to the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. are two positive steps.
Devil’s Backbone has created 24 full-time and two part-time jobs since the county provided property for the brewery.
Lewis said he wants to continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce to come up with a business recruitment plan.
He said that taxes would have to go up if the county wants to continue to provide responsive fire and rescue services.
Lewis started Jefferson Florist & Garden 40 years ago. He is a graduate of the University of Texas.