After Thursday’s Roanoke Tea Party meeting, many who would normally or in some cases always vote Republican are saying they support Democrat Benjamin Shepherd as Supervisor from Vinton in this week’s election.
Democrat candidate for Roanoke County Supervisor from Vinton, Benjamain Shepherd, participated in the debate event scheduled by the Roanoke Tea Party last Thursday. He spoke to the group and answered questions openly for 45 minutes.
Republican Jason Peters failed to respond to the invitation to participate, so members of the Roanoke Tea Party as well as Hollins Supervisor, Al Bedrosian, who also attended asked Shepherd questions based on the policies of Current Vinton Supervisor, Jason Peters, has supported in his time on the Roanoke County Board.
For many years, conservative Republicans, members of the Roanoke Tea Party, and local libertarians have accused Peters, who campaigns on Republican principles of voting like a democrat. Peters’ failure to support the republican principles and the Republican Creed which he campaigns on led to their support of Harry Griego, who was Peters’ challenger in the June Republican Primary.
Examples of the principles in question are, debt reduction, violations of property rights with government forced central planning and regulation, and the creation of taxpayer funded government internet service, the Broadband Authority, which now competes with legitimate local businesses who provide internet service and contribute millions to federal, state and county revenue.
When asked, Shepherd said he believes government must have debt to operate and grow the local economy. Peters has claimed to have reduced the debt in his time as supervisor, but that claim is false. In May of this year, Peters voted to increase the debt by 36 million dollars. Supervisor Bedrosian has accused Peters of attempting to trick the voters by using the pre-vote financial figures to make the debt reduction claim. We investigated this claim and with materials provided by Roanoke County, found Bedrosian’s accusation to be factual.
Property rights activists in Roanoke County have fought Peters’ policies of forced central planning and regulation of privately owned and publically acquired properties in Roanoke County for years. When asked about this issue, Democrat Benjamin Shepherd said he supports these government planning efforts. Some examples given were the current 419/Tanglewood project being planned and Explore park. Critics believe property owners should be free to control their property and not be forced into these plans nor be “bribed” with public money to agree.
Shepherd did agree on the issue of the chicken ordinance and confirmed he would have supported it because he sees the nuisance side of the question but said, “im not thrilled with being limited to six (chickens) and not being able to have a rooster.”
Another contentious issue discussed was Roanoke County’s entry into and expansion of the Broadband Authority which the county has poured millions of dollars into so far with no end in sight. Peters was an unapologetic supporter of this policy and Shepherd would be as well. Shepherd, like Peters, sees the Broadband Authority as a vehicle that will provide economic expansion and jobs in Roanoke County’s future.
While Peters’ policy positions may be the same as his democrat challenger, many of their personal beliefs on how a representative should behave could not be more different.
In support of the Broadband Authority, Peters falsely claimed its purpose was to provide high speed internet to areas not currently served. A claim easily disproven by the very service maps Peters referred to during the board meetings where the Authority was discussed. To date, no service lines have been built or are planned for residents or businesses that do not currently have broadband service available. Shepherd was asked about this and said he agreed with the critics and said “if we are not serving the undeserved, then why did we even get started?”
While Shepherd and Peters both agree on pay raises for County employees saying he believes county employees should get “reasonable” raises, Shepherd agreed with Peters’ critics that the closed door secret hiring practice Peters supported during the search for the current County Administrator was wrong and said it needs to be “an open kind of sunshine process.” Peters, as well as most of the County Board, claim HR policies and legal issues are why residents must be kept in the dark about who will run their county.
On Tuesday, November 7, voters in Roanoke County’s Vinton district will be able to choose between these two Candidates. Because of Peter’s “liberal Democrat” policies and Shepherd’s promises to conduct himself as an honest representative of the voters, many unlikely “suspects” say they support Democrat Benjamin Shepherd as Supervisor from Vinton in this week’s election.