By Coleman Martinson
The Natural Bridge district and the South River district for the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors are up for election on Tuesday.
Two candidates are running for each seat. A previous Rockbridge Report story described the Buffalo district race, where five candidates are competing for the seat that will be vacated by John Higgins.
Cathleen J. Archer is challenging incumbent R.W. “Bob” Day for the South River district seat.
Andrew Ryan and David McDaniel are both running for the Natural Bridge district seat. The incumbent, David Hinty Jr, is not running for re-election, but has announced his support for McDaniel.
The board of supervisors is an elected position. Supervisors are currently paid $5,500 per year plus health care and transportation benefits, according to the county administrator’s office.
The board voted to increase its pay starting Jan. 1. The new salary will be $12,280 per year, according to county documents, a 123% increase.
The Kerrs Creek and Walkers Creek seats will be up for re-election in 2021.
The following are from interviews conducted by the Rockbridge Report.
David McDaniel (Natural Bridge District candidate)
David McDaniel has served on the Rockbridge County School Board for two terms. Now he’s vying for a seat on the Board of Supervisors.
“I believe in public service and helping the community,” he said. “I’m trying to be involved and give a voice to those in my community. I’ve accomplished some goals on the school board and I thought it was time for change.”
He said that economic development is huge for him, and that he wants to help the county grow.
“When you look around at the neighboring counties, they all seem to be growing and Rockbridge is not,” he said. “We [need] to work to find a niche that can attract a business to our area and bring jobs and opportunity here.”
Expanding the tax base will help with this growth, he said.
“You have to evolve to grow. If you want to stay the same, it could cause issues,” he said. “I’m just trying to be more proactive in marketing the county and take full advantage of the resources we have at our disposal.”
After eight years on the school board, McDaniel said that there are a couple of issues in the county, especially with the school system and its athletics.
“We don’t have athletic fields or gymnasiums or adequate space for our youth to compete in sports,” he said.
Andrew J. Ryan (Natural Bridge District candidate)
Andrew J. Ryan said he never saw himself as a guy to run for public office, but now he’s vying for a seat on the Board of Supervisors.
“Right now, there’s a tremendous need,” he said. “Sadly, there’s only two people that are actually interested in it.”
Ryan, 41, is running for the Natural Bridge district and wants to help the county stay as secluded as possible.
“I like Christian values and it seems like the larger government has taken Christianity out of everything,” he said. “To be fair, I’m not saying that I’m against anything else, but the lifestyles in this area are not [the same as] in California. If everybody here is getting along, I think we need to leave it alone.”
Ryan grew up in the county and worked in a paper mill right after high school. He eventually become a millwright. He took a diesel mechanic program school and now runs his own shop. He said he thinks his background gives him a different point of view.
“I’m not a law school graduate, by no means,” he said, “but I have a pretty good perspective on the ways that we do things here.”
Bringing jobs to the county is important to Ryan. He said he wants to support high school graduates after school.
“When I got out of high school, there were a number of factories and jobs in this area,” he said. “I would like to be able to have more opportunities for the kids [who] graduate high school.”
Cathleen Archer (South River District candidate)
Cathleen Archer, 59, is running for a seat on the Board of Supervisors because she thinks he business experience can benefit the county.
“There is no job description for the board,” she said. “I view the position as being responsible for the business of the county. I think that a person with a good, solid business background with budgeting and managing people, conflict resolution and contract negotiation would be an asset to the county.”
Archer said that she wants to focus on economic development if elected.
“The county should be looking at drawing small businesses [and] larger businesses [in] to expand the county’s tax base,” she said. “If we don’t continue to grow the tax base, citizens may need county services.”
Archer holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Rider University and an associate degree in business administration from Mercer University. She worked in human resources for the Wall Street Journal for 21 years before she moved to the county. She now owns a bed and breakfast in Fairfield and has lived in the county for almost four years.
Education is also a priority for Archer. She said that higher education doesn’t just mean college.
“We should have the resources available at schools for children to get the resources so that they can begin to learn and become much more educated so that they can succeed,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with people learning a trade. The students coming out of high school who are not going to go to college should have an opportunity to get some training.”
R.W. “Bob” Day (South River District candidate)
R.W. “Bob” Day is the only incumbent in all three of the Board of Supervisors’ elections this year.
He was appointed to the seat in January after Ronnie Campbell was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2018.
Day, 67, said he’s always been involved with the county and enjoys helping people. He was the Rockbridge County sheriff for 20 years and retired from the position in 2012.
Day is from Raphine, and he now lives in Fairfield. He has an associate degree from Blue Ridge Community College.
If he is elected, Day said he wants to see the county’s internet service improve.
“I think that’s very important,” and said. “Moving forward, I think we’re getting [improvement], but I’m certainly in favor of anything that [the board] can do to help that process.”
When looking five or 10 years ahead, Day said the county needs to focus on bringing in new things but still look at the past.
“I’ve told some people that I describe myself as a progressive conservative,” he said. “We certainly have to be looking ahead at new things coming and move in that direction. But we have to be cautious and look at what we are.”