Unannounced: Thomas mum on election plans

Are four terms enough for Sally Thomas?

While word on the street this year has been that four-term Supervisor Sally Thomas will not run for re-election this year, she's not quite ready to say for sure.

"I'm going to wait until the budget is over," says Thomas. (Albemarle's supposedly pared-to-the-bone budget will be finalized April 8.)

Thomas was first elected to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors as a write-in–- yes, a write-in!–- candidate in 1993 for the Samuel Miller District, and she has subsequently run unopposed.

Thomas has a long history of growth-control measures that have made her popular among environmentalists and suburban farmers. However, she ignited a furor last year with her chairmanship of a task force that was going to study dredging the Rivanna Reservoir. Her group finished its work by asking for recreation and other narrow-purposed dredgings, but Charlottesville City Council–- which owns the reservoir lands–- treated her report as D.O.A. by insisting upon water supply dredging.

Independent John Lowry, a retired Wachovia executive, has a website that indicates he's running. Thomas concedes that she's had some inquiries from potential candidates interested in her spot.

"There are at least three Democrats," she says. She also acknowledges "a very weak rumor" of a possible Republican candidate for the district that includes Ivy and North Garden, and cautions, "Even the Hook shouldn't put credence in it, but let me know if you hear anything."

Former Albemarle School Board member Madison Cummings, a Democrat, confirms that he will run for the supe seat. "Obviously, I've been thinking about it," he says. But Cummings declines to say when he will announce, other than "soon."

And there will be at least one Thomas in the supes race. Charlottesville Press owner Rodney Thomas, a Republican, takes on incumbent David Slutzky for the Rio District seat.


Run Sally run. Your leadership is needed. Thanks for all or your time and thoughtfulness on the many difficult issues Albemarle faces.

Please Sally, "Run away" this time. We need a change.

Oh god, why do these BOS races have to be SO painful? First we have the disastrous Slutzky versus Rodney "I'll bend over for any developer" Thomas. (Please read the link above on Rodney and acquaint yourself with his politics...)

Who knows what assortment of scoundrels will run for Thomas's seat. Hope it'll be someone with more spine, but who also isn't in the pockets of their wealthy developer buddies.

Ms. Thomas has done a fairly good job though I would have liked to see more questioning when it came to county spending, especially when the cash was flowing, since we now have the burden of supporting some of the overhead created.

As for slutzky vs thomas...i'd like someone with more sense & thought taking on slutzky. someone like slutzky who chooses to ignore e-mails and communications from citizens doesn't deserve the time of day. I believe Wyannt learned that first hand.

If asked I will run. My first objective will be to freeze spending and taxes and hold the budget neutral for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. No longer will the budget reflect 15% yearly increases based on expected real estate tax revenues as has occurred in the past five years but will be capped at no greater than a 5% increase per year and those increases will have to meet metrics based on increases in county population and students. I will make it more costly for a developer to buy a farm and break it up while at the same time will make it easier for a family farmer to subdivide a lot for a family member or to sell in order to preserve the homestead. I would push at the state level to have a homestead tax exemption of $50,000 on primary residences that could not be changed locally and for a cap on future increases in real estate taxes on primary residences of no greater than 3% per year. I approve this message.

County Farmer demonstrates the axiom that for every complex problem there's a simple solution; and it's usually wrong and makes the problem worse. So, let's see. For farmers like him, he'll make it easier to subdivide and sell lots (how does one "prove" he's preserving the "homestead?"). And, if the growth that occurs includes more students and more people, how will he fund schools and police and fire & rescue? He plans to freeze budgets for two years, then basically cut them through his proposal for s state homestead "exemption", and then drastically limit future tax increases to 3%.
The comment DID appear on April 1, so it must be an April Fool's joke.
If not, it's inane.

"I will make it more costly for a developer to buy a farm and break it up while at the same time will make it easier for a family farmer to subdivide a lot for a family member or to sell in order to preserve the homestead." (emphasis mine)

As Democracy pointed out, I'm not sure how you are going to draw that distinction. Typically developers buy the land from some farmer, and then develop it. So, if a farmer sells off a few hundred acres to preserve the homestead then there's nothing really to keep Hurt, Wood, or others from purchasing it and developing it. Any attempts that have been made to constrain rural development have been attacked by the Farm Bureau as lowering property values or restricting property rights.

Equal protection basically says we can't give one person the right to subdivide, and then deny someone else to do the exact same thing in the same place. So, anything that ordinance that constrains developers must constrain farmers too. There wouldn't be farmers without land to farm.

If you really wanted to protect farmland then you'd push for TDR and/or a downzoning of the rural area. Protecting farmland means protecting it for the next generation too. If there's an easment, then even if a farmer fails, then another farmer can try again with a different business model. If the farm fails and becomes a development, it will never be farmland again.

Spineless Sally needs to retire and go kiss some more Monacan Indians. She's an empty suit. She's not a "developer lover" like Thomas, but she has shown no gumption when it comes to dealing with developers. I

In this case, the devil you don't know has to be better than the devil you do!

Betty, it sounds like you are bitter. I admit Thomas has shown us she loves proffers and concrete a little bit too much.

I'm not sure what native americans have to do with this? are you anti-native americans?

While I do think she could have taken a tougher stand on issues like downzoning the rural area, TDR, and meaningful reform of Land Use, I think she has been an advocate for rural protection. In fact, she's been attacked pretty fiercely by property rights advocates for her positions. From their position, she's been anything but easy on them.

One thing we do know is that she, along with the other Supes, thinks it's just fine to zone historic properties Light Industrial. After all, "we need the industrial land..." Doesn't matter one bit to her that there have been people living in those homes for generations who are desperate to preserve them as residences.

Just tell the people it's downzoning and you don't like that, right Ms Thomas. Just turn your back on it and it will all go away, right?

THDW & D-mo; First of all you guys don't seem to realize that the rules and costs to develop a lot for a developer vs. a farmer for a family division right are different. There are current proposals before the board to increase the fees dramatically per lot for a developer and less dramatically for a family division right which is a good start but in all likelyhood will be lobbied out by the developers. Secondly, the great state of Florida has all these tax provisions that I recommend in place currently, but still finds a way to maintain tax revenues. I believe the state should promote and support its permanent residents instead of trying to tax them off their property. There is always tobacco, and alcohol and gas guzzling vehicles as well as other vices that can be used to raise tax dollars not to mention those industries that pollute the environment. The fact is that our liberal ever growing government has an insatiable appetite for tax money to grow government and to fund pet projects in order to satisfy egos and to insure their own legacy. There is so much waste in government spending that with fiscal responsibility there are adequate funds available to do the job. Do you think that the county or city population or number of students have been increasing by 15% per year to justify the 15% increases per year in the local budgets? No way. Have the additional services or capital projects that this money has been used for been so vital to the health and well being of our community with one example being replacing the bricks downtown? Do you think that city residents should be made to pay more for water for using less? By the way, I would dredge and vote against the damn dam which will require the destruction of pristine woodlands. Yes, I believe in individual and landowners rights that our constitution protects and I am against growing government for the sake of growing government.

County Farmer, the problem here is that Family Subdivisions are meant for just that, family. It was set up so that you could divide a piece of land and give it to one of your kids. So, it couldn't (And shouldn't) but used to "sell in order to preserve the homestead". Once you are doing that, you're "developing" not unlike Charlie Hurt but just on a vastly smaller scale, and should then be subject to traditional subdivision ordinances.

Now regarding wasteful spending, a vast number of people who are not farming get land use taxation. It seems clear to me that this is the biggest waste in government spending that we have. We need to remove land use taxation for people who are not actively farming anything, and require those people to get an easement if they want the tax break. Simply owning a forest, or letting someone cut your fields twice a year for hay shouldn't qualify large wealthy landowners to receive massive taxbreaks. That was never the intent of the program.

Fix that one problem and you could lower everyone's taxes in the county significantly.