Incumbent being challenged in Dan River District

Tom Joyce Staff Reporter

October 31, 2013

Editor’s Note: This year’s election lineup in Virginia includes a race for the Dan River District seat on the Patrick County Board of Supervisors between incumbent Roger Hayden and challenger Tom Bishop.

The Mount Airy News has posed the same set of questions to each candidate for responses so citizens can gauge their qualifications and stands on key issues in Patrick.

Polling locations in the Dan River District include the Ararat Ruritan Club building, Willis Gap Community Center and Claudville Community Building.

They will be open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registered voters in Patrick County also have the option of in-person absentee voting on Saturday at the office of the county registrar in Stuart, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

That service is available for those who have a need to vote absentee, such as being out of the county on Election Day, or who are disabled.

Voters are required to show a form of identification, such as a driver’s license, but a non-photo type — a voter ID card, for example — also can be presented.

Name: Tom Bishop

Age: 70

Address: Old Orchard Road in the Claudville-Dry Pond community.

Occupation: Retired in March as executive director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce, a position he held for seven years. Previously, Bishop was general manager of Brintle’s Travel Plaza in Surry County for five years.

Education: Has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance.

Previous Political Experience: This is his first try at an elected office.

Family: He and wife Connie have been together about 47 years. They have two daughters, Lisa and Lena, who reside in Dunn, N.C.

Question: Why do you want to serve as a county supervisor?

Answer: I’ve been involved in volunteer work in churches, with civic clubs and non-profits and I enjoy that kind of thing and believe I can contribute something worthwhile to my community.

Question: What do you offer the citizens of the Dan River District and county?

Answer: There are two major things I’d like to speak to there. First, I’d like to spend a lot of time promoting the Dan River District and its farms, greenhouses, its local businesses, its historic sites and the tourism attractions. I’d really like to promote them and hopefully gain new businesses in our community. I conducted similar marketing efforts when I was with the chamber and I think I can continue in that vein and maybe benefit my community.

The second thing is, I’d like to spend a lot of time to improve the financial operations of county government with particular interest in cost control and savings. We’re a small county with a limited industrial base and we have to manage our finances wisely. My business background includes working with both a large corporation in an information technology capacity and with a small business.

Question: What would be your top goal if re-elected?

Answer: I’ve already mentioned trying to promote the district and trying to bring cost savings. With my work experience in business, I think that I’m qualified to serve as a county supervisor — where a lot of the decisions are finance-related.

Question: Other than jobs, what do you see as the biggest need in Patrick County?

Answer: We certainly need to grow small business and to continue to advance tourism, which is a big part of our economy, and to keep our farms and our orchards and our greenhouses alive, because those are very critical to us. We have a small manufacturing base and we want to see that continue, but if we can add to these rural operations I think we can really help our economy, including tourism.

We have attracted people to our county from outside the state because of our environment and quality of life — just being a great place to raise your kids — and I think we should continue that. We have a lot of open land where people can come in and build homes and enjoy the quality of life that we have.

Question: Local voters also will decide in this election whether a 4 percent meals tax should be imposed countywide. What is your position on this?

Answer: I’m not for that tax, primarily because if a church or civic club has fundraisers, after the third one they have to start collecting taxes. If we could relieve this, it would be different, but state law requires that. The issue on the ballot also contains no statement about how this money would be used, such as keeping the real estate tax down. But the supervisors have not made this commitment — the meals tax is not targeted for any particular thing.

Question: In politics, there is often an over-emphasis on the negative. What do you consider the best thing about Patrick County and how can the local government enhance or maintain that?

Answer: We have a great quality of life, we have a great school system and we have festivals and events galore, along with scenic views. These are all positives for the county and I hope to be able to promote our county and the Dan River District. In my campaign, I’ve tried to stay positive about the current board of supervisors and my competitor and focus on what I would like to do to help. We have so many great things to promote over here in Patrick County.

Question: What is the main thing you would like voters to keep in mind when they make their choice for Dan River District supervisor?

Answer: I think that my experience is very, very important. My background fits well with the supervisor’s job due to working with both a large industry and small business, along with non-profits, which the chamber was, and churches and civic clubs. The focus of my experience has been finance and marketing. Whoever is elected will be thrown right into the county budget process and my business experience has prepared me for dealing with the financial questions. My involvement with people has been a big part of my background, just getting out and mingling with the people in the community. You support the community with your behavior, such as how you purchase goods. I’m supportive of small business with my own personal buying power as far as that goes.