Virginia voters in Patrick County’s Dan River District will have a choice in this year’s election for a seat on the county board of supervisors, due to Jane Scales Fulk tossing her hat into the ring.
Fulk filed last week just before a deadline to challenge incumbent Roger Hayden, who is seeking his third four-year term as supervisor for an area covering the Ararat, Claudville and Willis Gap precincts.
“After much prayer, I reached a decision to run for the position of supervisor for the Dan River District,” Fulk disclosed in announcing her candidacy that is focused on making the county government more proactive on issues including jobs.
“Also, I was approached by several citizens in my district and encouraged to run for this office,” she added. “I have hopes of being able to promote more forward movement in my district.”
Average people “struggling”
In identifying economic development as her campaign priority, Fulk believes the present leadership is not devoting enough effort to creating employment opportunities for citizens in need.
“You’ve got to have something that pays a living wage for these people,” the candidate said Thursday in pointing out that service-industry positions such as those at fast-food restaurants aren’t filling the bill.
“People are working three and four part-time jobs just to live,” added Fulk, 65, who resides on Ararat Highway with her husband Mike.
“Your average people are struggling.”
Fulk, a 1978 graduate of Surry Community College and a 1995 graduate of Gardner-Webb University with a B.S. in business administration, says more creativity also needs to be injected into the county’s economic-development process.
“There’s got to be something that we can bring in,” Scales said, acknowledging that it is unrealistic to expect the return of textile jobs that before being outsourced once provided area families with a decent living.
She said one possibility is technology-oriented employment, or maybe the attraction of distribution centers to the county, which relates to an increased emphasis today on consumers obtaining products through Internet sources. “They have to ship it from somewhere,” the office-seeker reasoned regarding the need for strategically placed distribution facilities.
“Not everybody goes to college,” Fulk added of the need for alternatives.
She stressed that the key to economic development must involve exploring a wide range of possibilities rather than going down “one alley.”
More also needs to be done by the county government in “actively soliciting some businesses,” according to Fulk, whose own work experience includes Renfro Corp., Lowes Foods, Roses and serving as co-owner of Ego Hour Beauty Salon.
Most recently, she spent 35 years as the judicial assistant to the Circuit Court judge of Patrick County in Stuart, before retiring in 2014.
“I feel I have a well-rounded perspective of different people and different job positions.”
Fulk said Patrick County’s economic-recruitment process has been static in recent times.
“We haven’t had an active economic-development person for a year,” she said, “and we’ve just got a new person on board — I would like to work with her and see what we can get.”
Don’t rely on taxes
In the absence of revenue sources such as industries that contribute heavily to the county tax base, it is a tendency of local government to simply look to increasing levies to generate funding.
“I do not favor raising taxes to pay for our programs,” Fulk stated regarding her position. “I want to encourage the county to look toward promoting more economic growth as a means of garnering county funds instead of putting dependence on personal, property or any other type of tax on its citizens — I want to keep a balanced budget.”
The ability of Patrick citizens to be taxed is about maxed out, Fulk believes, which is affected not only by lack of jobs but growing numbers of elderly people on fixed incomes.
“You can’t just keep raising taxes to generate money,” the candidate said.
In addition to taxation and economic development, Fulk is interested in transportation needs, including wanting to see as many roads paved and upgraded in the district as possible.
“If feasible, I would like to see our pay scale for educators and law enforcement move into a competitive position with adjoining communities,” she further mentioned.
Fulk believes she understands the needs of the Dan River District.
“I have lived in Patrick County for 62 years — only moving a mile from where I was born, after marrying my husband, Mike Fulk, a native of Surry County.”
She has been a member of Ararat Volunteer Rescue Squad since 1993, and an EMT and CPR instructor since 1996. Fulk presently is the squad’s secretary.
The Fulks also joined the Ararat Ruritan Club in 2016.
Jane Fulk serves as trustee and secretary/treasurer at Hunters Chapel Assembly in Ararat, which she attends and has been a member of for 53 years.
“My wish is to improve the lives of the people in my district and the county of Patrick,” she concluded.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.