The race for the Floyd County Board of Supervisors got more interesting last week with the return of former Courthouse member Jerry Boothe, who is running for third possible term in the seat he retired from in 2009.
“To be honest, I miss public service,” Boothe said in an interview Friday. “I like serving our residents. I also think we need more open communication between the board, the schools, and the public.”
Boothe said he is responding to requests from citizens of the Courthouse district to return to the post currently held by Case Clinger, who is also chairman of the board. Clinger beat former Floyd Town Manager Mike Maslaney for the post in 2009 and this race will be the first challenge he has faced at the polls since then.
Clinger became a central figure in budget debates between the Board of Supervisors and two school superintendents — Terry Arbogast and Kevin Harris — and came under scrutiny when his Pizza Inn restaurant was found to have overcharged customers for sales taxes they did not owe. Last year, he opposed Locust Grove’s reappointment as vice chairman of the board.
Such issues kept social media sites like Facebook buzzing with comments about the board chairman.
“I’m not running against any person. I’m running for the job,” Boothe says. Besides his tenure on the board of supervisors, he ran as an independent for the Virginia House of Delegates against Republican Charles D. Poindexter and Democrat Eric Ferguson. Poindexter won.
Although he served on the board before as a Democrat, and later switched to the GOP, Boothe resigned from the the party and is running as an independent this time around and says he wants to see help increase accountability by county government.
“Transparency is important, especially when it comes to local government,” he added. “It is also important for the board of supervisors to let constituents know why a new ordinance might be needed, why new taxes may be necessary and why the county is moving in new directions.”
Booth said he is concerned when decisions are made by appointed county officials instead of those elected to represent the people.
“It is supervisor’s job to make the tough decisions,” he said. “Those decisions should be made by the people selected by the voters and not an appointed official or volunteer body.”
He cited a dispute between the board and the county planning commission over proposed changes in the family subdivision ordinance that led to dismissal of the longtime board chairman.
“Questions should be answered on how that was handled,” he said.
He also said he wants the board to more clearly define the role of volunteers in the county rescue squad, where the bulk of calls are now handled by paid staff.
“The volunteers built that squad,” he said. “They need to have support.”
Boothe said he will be meeting with residents of the Courthouse district and discuss issues with them between now and the general election in November.
“I hope to explain the need for more communication and a need for government to listen to the requests and needs fo the people,” he said. “I’ve done this job before and hope I can do it again.”
As with candidates for local offices, I hope to film each candidate before the election in November and let them lay out why they are seeking the job and discuss their positions fully and freely. Boothe has agreed to be filmed and I will offer the same opportunity to Clinger.
We will be watching and examining this developing race over the summer and into the fall before the general election.
(Updated with additional information)