By Keenan Willard
The two candidates running for the open Walker’s Creek seat on the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors both describe themselves as conservative—Jay Lewis as a “fiscal” conservative with deep ties to the community and Richard Kopp as “a Conservative Republican with Traditional Values.”
The two spoke about their respective visions for the future of the county at the Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum in Lexington on Tuesday night.
Albert “Jay” Lewis Jr. is the son of the incumbent A. L. “Buster” Lewis and is not running for re-election on the Rockbridge County school board. Kopp is the longtime owner of a County Line Collision, an auto body shop, whose profile in the forum program said he was an NRA member with “a strong belief in the Constitution” and the Republican nominee.
The two answered questions along with candidates for several other local government positions in front of a crowded room of constituents at the Hampton Inn—Col Alto.
The questions posed to the two candidates ranged from their plans for increasing economic prosperity in the county to what their priorities will be if elected.
“Walker’s Creek is a diverse and significant district, with two of the highest trafficked interstates in the country running through them,” Lewis said. “One priority is we need to continue our efforts to fully support public education.”
Kopp put his emphasis elsewhere.
“Walker’s Creek needs farmers. We need young people to become farmers,” Kopp said. “I would like to see a path for our kids to be able to go into apprenticeships or technical schools as an alternative for everyone going to college.”
Both candidates espoused a commitment to improving the economy in the district in their responses, with Kopp stressing the need for the creation of skilled labor jobs in the county, and Lewis emphasizing the importance of supporting existing businesses.
One question to the candidates was about the possibility of introducing high-tech manufacturing jobs to the county, specifically involving drones.
Lewis said that plan is in place for the Career and Technical Education class at Rockbridge County High School to begin instructing students in drone construction. The question took Kopp by surprise.
“I do not know anything about drones. I do not know if we have people who could fill that type of work if they came here,” Kopp said. “I think Amazon is looking for a place.”