CRAIG COUNTY – In next week’s Nov. 8 election, Craig County voters have the opportunity to choose new members of the board of supervisors or to re-elect current ones in two districts, as well as a choice between an incumbent Republican and a Democratic challenger in the Virginia House of Delegates race.
Voters in specific districts can re-elect three members of the Craig County School Board whose seats are up this year and who have no opposition. Four of the five Constitutional officers are up for re-election this year and have no opposition.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Candidates in contested races are:
• Craig City seat, Board of Supervisors – incumbent Fred C. Craft and challenger Donnie E. “Porkey” Fisher. In the Potts Mountain District, the contest is between incumbent Jennifer Durling and Carl David Bailey.
The two men running for the Virginia Senate in the 23rd District, which now includes Craig County, are incumbent Stephen D. “Steve” Newman of Forest, and Democrat Robert W. T. Short Jr. who lives in Bedford County.
Others on the ballot who have no opposition are:
• House of Delegates 8th District, Gregory D. Habeeb, a Republican who lives in Salem;
• Craig County Commonwealth’s Attorney Thaddeus R. Cox, Sheriff Clifford A. Davidson, Commissioner of the Revenue Elizabeth C. Huffman and Treasurer Jackie Myers Parsons.
• Supervisor candidates running unopposed are Albert Keith Dunbar for the Craig Creek District. The incumbent, Helen Looney, is not seeking re-election.
• School Board – Sue S. Bostic for the Craig City District; Jennifer Fisher McPherson for the Craig Creek District, and Dawna Clephas McDowell for the Potts Mountain District.
Two candidates are running two directors’ positions on the board of the Soil and Water Conservation’s Mountain Castles District. They are John H. Eakin Jr. and Ann G. Harrell.
See individual articles below on board of supervisors’ candidates in contested races.
– Meg Hibbert
Board of Supervisors
Carl Bailey would like to see more job opportunities in Craig County. He grew up in here and graduated from New Castle High School in 1968 before leaving to get a job.
Bailey moved to Ohio, where his brother, Virgil Bailey, was a construction painter. For 31 years Carl Bailey lived and worked in Ohio, north of Cincinnati.
Bailey is running against incumbent Jennifer Durling for the Potts Mountain District on the Craig County Board of Supervisors in next Tuesday’s election.
The Vietnam veteran moved back to Craig in 1999 “to marry my high school sweetheart, Patsy Abbott.” They are still married.
He lives in the Red Brush community in John’s Creek, and Bus 15 for Craig County Schools. Bailey is a foster parent and over the last 10 years, has had 34 foster children. Currently, he has four who range in age from 2 to 20 years.
Bailey’s parents are stepfather Burley Day and the late Hattie Day of John’s Creek.
The 62-year-old said he likes to be involved. “I was local union president of the United Paperworkers International Union when I lived in Ohio and worked for International Paper,” he said.
When asked what he believes Craig County elected leaders could do better, he said, “They need to try to get some kind of employment in the county.” He said he would like to see “them get silk screen printing or some kind of business going.”
– Meg Hibbert
Jennifer Durling is seeking a second term on the Craig County Board of Supervisors representing the Potts Mountain District because she wants to continue getting additional services for people who live in her district.
Despite mobility issues and an oxygen tank that is always with her, Durling has never let adversity or inconvenience slow her down.
Her opponent in the Nov. 8 election is Carl David Bailey.
Thanks to Durling’s efforts, residents on John’s Creek and Dick’s Creek now have high speed Internet, she said, and Paint Bank should have it in place by summer.
And even residents on a segment of State Rt. 621 will get a piece of that pie, thanks to former Congressman Rick Boucher who was able to get stimulus money earmarked for the project.
When Craig County was scheduled to get minimal funding to help combat Gypsy moths, Durling said one of her constituents called her about it and she went to work on it.
“Basically all it took was a phone call or two to the right people to get the increased funding,” Durling said. “A lot of times all it takes to get something done is to make someone aware of the problem.”
Durling has not only been instrumental in getting issues solved that would help county residents with everyday problems, she has also negotiated the termination of two contracts that have been a tax burden on the county for years, she said.
One was Fairview Homes and the other an industrial park in Pulaski County that has never been developed. However, because Craig County was a shareholder in both, the county has been putting out roughly $20,000 a year to help fund them with no benefits whatsoever, according to Durling.
“All of the legal work has been done but we are still in negotiations with lawyers to work out the details,” Durling said, “but I do look for it to be approved.”
She has been key player in initiating a mass transit feasibility study for that includes Craig County. In December a meeting will be held here in the county to discuss the results of the study and to get input from county residents.
Some other important plans are still in the dialogue stage, Durling said. She hopes to help bring them to fruition if she gets to serve a second term. One is to bring vocational training programs to Craig County similar to what is available in Botetourt, and the other is a program to train people for jobs they could do at home.
“There are good jobs out there that people can do at home,” Durling said, “and there is funding available to do it.”
Although Durling has been instrumental in initiating many worthwhile projects, she said, “Even though I might facilitate a project, it takes the whole board to approve it and get it done.”
The 59-year-old Pott’s Mountain supervisor has been known to call her constituents fairly often to see how they felt about certain issues.
“I am running to represent the people, not myself,” Durling said. “I would really like to serve a second term to follow through on some of the projects I have helped facilitate.”
– Gwen Johnson
Fred Craft is seeking a second term as supervisor for the Craig City District even though he believes elected officials shouldn’t stay in any position forever, because “you really just get broken in and familiar with all the internal workings of the county during that first term.”
Craft and challenger Donnie E. “Porkey” Fisher are running for the seat in the Nov. 8 election.
During the four years he has been on the board, Craig County has has maintained a balanced budget without a tax increase except in 2007, he pointed out.
“The first year I was on the board we increased taxes by 2 cents in order to help balance the school budget at that time,” Craft said. He also said that tax increase helped prevent the layoff of teachers in 2008. “Since then we have balanced the county budget three years in a row.”
He continued: “Facing challenges is an ongoing thing for the Board of Supervisors because we are such a small county when it comes to population. With the National Forest taking up 55 percent of our land, this gives the county a much smaller tax base to work with than most of the surrounding counties,” Craft said.
Craft, who said he has spent a lifetime helping the schools, emphasized he takes pride in the improved working relationship that has come about between school personnel and the board of supervisors, and he pledged to continue to strive to keep that in place.
Another asset Craft brings to the table is his 36 years of experience working with the Virginia Department of Transportation. Although retired, he still speaks the VDOT language and is able to advise the county on various projects. “
Rural addition fell through the cracks until I got on the board,” Craft said. “I talked my colleagues into reactivating it because people want roads and segments updated and brought into the system.”
Craft was quick to add that any accomplishment he has made could not have been done without the support of the entire board being involved. “When you become a member of a governing body that means you work together with your colleagues. As a body you plan and try to forecast what needs to be done to improve public services and to be a good steward of the tax payers’ dollars,” Craft said.
“A person running for office has got to want to do things for the benefit of the people and the county as a whole and not come with an agenda,” Craft added. “You have to consider the impact of your every vote.”
– Gwen Johnson
Donnie Edward “Porkey” Fisher, who is seeking the Craig City seat on the Craig County Board of Supervisors, wants to get more people to take an interest in what their local elected officials do.
He is running against incumbent Fred Craft, who is seeking re-election to a second term.
“If I am elected to the board of supervisors one my goals would be to get the people of Craig County to take an interest in what is going on and start attending board meetings,” Fisher said. “By doing this citizens would be able to express how they feel about an issue before supervisors vote on it.”
Another of his ideas which he believes would be helpful to the board as well as to citizens would be to allow citizens who can’t make it to the meetings would be for citizens to write a letter to the board expressing their feelings or concerns. It could be sent to the Board of Supervisors in care of the County Administrator’s office and opened at the board meeting, he said.
“It’s not always easy for working parents with school-age children to get to meetings because of their involvement with their kids in sports and other activities outside of school,” Fisher said. “Some people work evenings or have other obligations that would keep them from attending the meetings but they might still have some input that would be valuable.”
“I want to serve on the board to help the citizens of the county,” Fisher said. “If a person has a problem whether he is in my district or not and he comes to me, then I would want to see that his problem is taken up with the board if that is the right place, and if it isn’t, then try and get him to the proper place for help in solving it.”
Fisher was born and raised in Craig County and has lived here most of his life except for the four years he served in the United States Coast Guard, he said. Today Fisher still spends most of his time working. He owns D&D Auto and Towing on Rt. 311 in New Castle.
“I’ve been at this 27 years,” said Fisher, who has grown children as well as grandchildren.
– Gwen Johnson