And then there were two.
Independent candidate David Rhodes has dropped out of the race for the Rivanna District seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisor, leaving fellow independent candidate T.J. Fadeley as the lone opposition to Democratic incumbent Bea LaPisto-Kirtley.
“Instead of splitting the vote, I was happy just to back off and let T.J. go for it,” Rhodes told The Daily Progress.
Rhodes and Fadeley both believe they share similar values and a similar platform. Rhodes said he wasn’t particularly interested in running for office, but he felt the Rivanna District should have more than one name on the ballot.
“I just like T.J. as a person,” he said of his decision to drop out. “He seems like a good guy with common sense.”
Both Fadeley and Rhodes expect that with Rhodes out of the race more voters will consolidate behind Fadeley.
“David didn’t want to see the race go uncontested. I decided to step up on behalf of my family, friends and business,” Fadeley told The Daily Progress. “We’ll see if I can get in there to make county policy a little more palatable for everyday, normal people.”
Fadeley identified himself as fiscally conservative and socially libertarian. His top priority, he said, is to rein in spending in the county, which he feels has grown too much in recent years.
Fadeley said taxes in the county are too high and pointed to his family-owned car dealership, Free Bridge Auto Sales, as valuable experience.
“Reading a budget is something I’ve done for over a decade,” he said. “I think for the position I’m seeking that’ll go a long way.”
One of the reasons Fadeley said he decided to enter the race was high property taxes. He said that issue has resonated with voters when he’s knocked on doors.
LaPisto-Kirtley said Albemarle’s property tax rate has remained the same for the past five years. People are seeing an increase in their property tax bills not because of the tax rate, but because of the cost of assessment.
“When you buy or sell a house, the assessment is done by an independent body. We’re no different,” she told The Daily Progress.
The county has no say in the price of assessments. Because federal interest rates went up in 2022, so too did the cost of assessments.
“Which of course increased your taxes,” she said.
While Fadeley classifies himself as fiscally conservative, LaPisto-Kirtley described herself as “fiscally responsible.”
She noted that the county is building three new schools over the next five years and has invested in its parks and the fire department.
The fire department now has full-time staff five days a week, volunteers on the weekend, a new fire truck and a new ambulance.
“People in the Rivanna District want service,” she said. “They want the county to be responsive and be able to help them and provide services, and that’s what we’re doing.”
LaPisto-Kirtley said she is running on her record, including new soccer fields at Darden Towe Park, investments in Biscuit Run Park and the decision to close Free Bridge Lane.
The latter, she said, is being used by speeding drivers as a cut-through.
“We’re turning it into a greenway promenade for residents, cyclists, runners and walkers who enjoy our parks in a tranquil setting along Rivanna River.”
Fadeley said he feels that the Board of Supervisors needs to do a better job of communicating with taxpayers.
“It would be nice to hear from the county as far as how they plan to spend our money,” he said. “They generally don’t get any type of knowledge on that, they just see increases in daily expenses.”
LaPisto-Kirtley, however, said that she takes pride in responding to the concerns of residents.
“I listen to both sides of the issues,” she said. “If they call or email me they usually get an answer that day. But my objective is to do what I can do for all the residents of Rivanna and also Albemarle.”
LaPisto-Kirtley, who has served one term on the board, will try to stave off Fadeley’s challenge in the general election this November.