IRVINGTON—Town council elections will be held May 1 in Irvington, Kilmarnock and White Stone.
In Irvington, five candidates are running for three seats on council. The candidates are Mary Cary “Cay” Bradley, Jackie Y. Brown, Albert D. “Tripp” Bugg III, R. Wayne Nunnally and B.W. “Bonnie” Schaschek.
Candidates recently were asked to respond to four questions. Their replies follow:
Give a brief bio of your qualifications to serve on town council. Why are you running for office?
Bradley: I am running for town council to work with the residents to preserve our town’s special heritage, protect its environment and enrich its future. I chose to move to Irvington as I value a community in which we know one another and the walkable feel to the town. We have started conversations discussing what makes Irvington unique, and the characteristics residents would like to retain, but more we need to continue those conversations.
I was a member of the Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee (ABLC) for my neighborhood in DC. I served on the ABLC while we were considering requests that would have expanded an emerging bar/restaurant area that was surrounded by homes. Our conversations focused on balancing the “new” vision of H Street and the “old” vision of H Street. I was also president of my condo association. We worked through contentious relationships between the condo board and the residents by taking deliberate steps to ensure frequent communication both ways. We were successful enough that we passed the first special assessment in the 20-year history of the association to address structural issues with the garage.
Brown: I have lived in Irvington since 2003. I have owned and operated a business for 38 years; 16 years in Kilmarnock. I served on the board of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, four years as vice president. I served on Kilmarnock’s Main Street Committee responsible for the transformation of the downtown. I am currently the longest serving member on Irvington’s planning commission.
I am running for office because I would like to restore public service to public offices by listening to constituents and representing their interests.
I do not support leadership that “actively ignores” the residents and believes that the comprehensive plan—which is not a “community supported vision”—gives them a mandate to do so. The comprehensive plan, as required by our charter, serves as a tool for planning: it is not a mandate.
Recently, the pattern in town “planning” has been reactive to “emergencies.” The focus has been on special interests over those of the majority of our citizens: our neighbors who have invested time, energy and their life savings in their homes and our community. We need to run our town in a way that honors and protects their investment and lifestyle.
Bugg: I have been in the Northern Neck since I was 5 years old. I grew up here and now after college and law school, I am back working as an attorney and partner with Rumsey & Bugg, P.C. in Irvington. We moved to Irvington in 2009 and since then I have gained extensive knowledge of Irvington’s unique charm, appeal and the importance of preserving these assets for generations to come. Professionally, I represent clients throughout The Commonwealth of Virginia in state and federal courts at all court levels and intend to utilize this unique set of skills in the preservation and advancement of the quality of life for the people of Irvington. I am running for town council because I care greatly about Irvington, its residents and its future and believe that I will diligently perform all council responsibilities in the best interest of the town and its residents.
Nunnally: Current member of the town council and have served two terms. I am widely known.
Schaschek: Before retiring to Irvington, I worked for financial institutions in a technical and senior management/officer capacity for over 45 years. I am running because I feel much of current town council has lost sight of the fact that they are supposed to be representatives of the people and the priorities for the town need to reflect the resident’s priorities, not their own. My platform consists of Transparency: by limiting closed sessions; Communications: more interactive web use, community committee involvement; and Fiscal Responsibility: Capital projects over $30,000 need the majority of the resident voters acceptances. We should stop current taxes until an acceptable financial plan is established including detailed description of the project, implementation tasks, estimated costs per phase, ongoing maintain/support costs, impact on current taxes and approved by the majority of Irvington residents. Finally, there also needs to be a review of all existing ordinances before new ordinances are voted on.
What is your position on a planned unit development ordinance for Irvington? If passed, what form would you like to see a PUD take?
Bradley: I believe the town residents have spoken very clearly—they do not want a planned unit development or planned residential district. As a member of town council, my responsibility is to represent the perspective of the town when I am voting on any proposals.
I encourage the town—government and residents—to have a conversation about the vision of Irvington to inform future discussions and decisions. A well-defined vision of Irvington including characteristics to preserve or enhance could support future discussion about potential changes to ordinances.
Brown: I think a PUD is an inappropriate concept for rural communities; they do not have the jobs or the infrastructure to support it. Irvington does not have the financial, technical, nor staff resources to manage the resulting large development proposals. I am opposed to this PUD because it could likely result in suburban, cookie cutter development that will detract from the charm, uniqueness and historic character of Irvington.
Modest growth is inevitable and critical for the long term viability of our community. We must focus on maintaining the historic integrity of the village while implementing smart growth strategies that can be managed within our resources. I believe we can best serve our residents by remaining sensitive to growth while providing a place where people will want to live today, tomorrow and for generations to come.
I have carefully reviewed the citizens survey, met with groups and with individuals about their vision for Irvington. It is very clear that the community is united in opposing accelerated growth. We want to retain our human scale and do not want growth that taxes the infrastructure and threatens the quiet and safety that we prize so highly. It is frustrating and puzzling to witness the apparent unwillingness of public servants to explore alternative ideas more in keeping with our citizen’s wishes.
Consequently, I have written an alternative to the PUD: Proposed R-3 Zoning Classification which can be reviewed at www.town.irvington.va.us. It allows for a creative and innovative design approach that complements the rural and historic character of Irvington. It does not increase density. It promotes connectivity and suggests that “open spaces” can be agricultural in nature, promoting the continual existence of the vineyard, an asset to our community and a reminder of our historic past. Such agricultural spaces can be preserved in a variety of ways including through the Northern Neck Land Conservancy.
Bugg: I side with the majority of citizens of Irvington who rejected the PUD proposal in November, 2017. I agree with the conclusion that any higher density ordinance should be very carefully examined in every regard. The PUD that was previously rejected by the citizens of Irvington presented a potentially disastrous result that would be contrary to the overall charm of Irvington as a community. I believe that PUD designs are often unsuitable for rural communities, therefore, not appropriate for Irvington. That said, an alternative plan that is more uniquely suited for Irvington and developed with the input and consideration of the planning commission, town council and the citizens of Irvington could certainly be a positive addition. I agree that any developer of such a neighborhood should focus on the site characteristics, environmental and design issues in order to get results that reflect the history and personality of our town. As many as 400 town houses on the proposed 20-acre site certainly does not complement Irvington’s inherent qualities. Continuing to attract homebuyers and economic growth is very important to Irvington’s future. However, again, any such growth must be kept consistent with the town’s unique appeal.
Nunnally: Against it. I hope that it is not passed.
Schaschek: I would like to go on record as opposing the proposed Irvington PUD ordinance. My husband and I retired to Irvington because of the rural environment, the historic points of interest, the charm of a small town and a relaxed life style. The proposed PUD ordinance with it’s housing density levels jeopardizes the small town feel and does not maintain the goals as stated in the Irvington Comprehensive Plan, “To protect existing real estate assets and maintain the Irvington Village atmosphere.” The PUD will turn a rural village into an urban town in direct contrast to the wishes of the Irvington residents as stated in the survey and will destroy the Irvington we enjoy today.
For the few that want and that feel lower cost housing and town house living will bring people to the area I strongly disagree. There are no significant jobs available, the current infrastructure can’t support the PUD, traffic through town is already an issue and the public schools have a less than acceptable rating for families concerned about their children’s education. I also feel our current properties values will be in jeopardy because of the PUD.
What is your position on Irvington’s town tax? Do you believe it is necessary? Do you support the tax at its current rate?
Bradley: The town should be fiscally responsible, which includes ensuring the Town has sufficient income to cover anticipated and unanticipated costs but does not collect more money than necessary. From attending town council meetings, I know the budget committee was going to do some long-range planning. I am open to considering changes to the current tax, provided there is a long-range plan in place that both provides funds for unanticipated costs and supports some level of fiscal investment in our town.
Brown: I think we all want to support our community. My objections to the tax are based on the lack of a published cap and certain uses for which our dollars have been spent over the past year.
I support the current tax level if the monies are used to implement a shared community vision. I would expect a well designed and communicated plan before money is spent. I support a town referendum for large expenditures. And I support lowering the rate or eliminating the tax if the surplus exceeds a pre-established rainy day fund level.
Bugg: I believe that the town currently has sufficient funding to explore the possibility of a tax reduction. Taxes were implemented as a necessity to a degree. However, given that issues the Town was facing seem to be alleviated, the need for a tax is diminished. Accordingly, I do not support the tax at its current rate and believe that a tax reduction is appropriate.
Nunnally: Against it. Totally not needed. No and I do not support it at any rate.
Schaschek: I am opposed to the tax, which was evident at the last election when promoting the ‘No Tax’ vote. Do you believe it is necessary? Until the Town establishes a five-year financial plan, approved by the residents, the tax should be put on hold. Currently there is well over $300,000 in the town’s bank accounts to support operations. Do you support the tax at its current rate? No, the ordinance has no limits and can be changed by the council as stated in current ordinance §34.32. “The town’s real estate tax rate may be changed by the town council during any fiscal or calendar year pursuant to Code of Virginia,§§ 58.1-3010 and 58.1-3012. Pursuant to Code of Virginia §58.1-3007, any such proposed increase in the town’s real estate tax rate shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the town at least seven (7) days before the increased real estate tax rate is implemented and the citizens of the town shall be given an opportunity to appear before, and be heard by, the town council on the subject of such increase.”
What is your vision for the town in 10 years, for example, commons development, public boat ramp?
Bradley: My vision for Irvington would preserve our town’s special heritage, protect its unique environment and enrich its future. I see the Commons as an opportunity to support the community in interacting with each other in formal and informal ways. I anticipate the Commons will be a combination of open green space, enhanced by additional and deliberate landscaping and additional physical resources such as a new town office, a visitor center and public restrooms. The issue of public water access will be a thorny one for which we need a lot more information—do residents prioritize this issue? What type of water access is desirable? What are the costs—both upfront and ongoing? What are the liabilities and risks of having public water access?
Brown: What Irvington is like in 10 years depends entirely on the decisions we make in the coming year. We are clearly at a turning point. I am energized to see so many residents taking time to attend public meetings. We will not agree on everything, but it is clear that we value our community as it is now.
Most people do not realize that towns have immense control over their own destinies. Their vision for their community is protected by law when it is clearly spelled out. If they do the admittedly hard work of defining a community supported vision, setting goals and writing ordinances, they have the final say in creating their futures. We must begin this work now.
In my opinion, Irvington is a very special and unique community. I value its historic designation and its rural character. We have something great to work with. I would be honored and privileged to work with our residents to define a community supported vision and support that vision with actions that will preserve what we value as we face the upcoming challenges of future growth.
Bugg: I have a vision for Irvington to continue to embrace its history and remain the small town we all love while developing certain assets to make it even better. For example, Irvington is largely lacking in its public water access. We are a town that is mostly surrounded by water but is entirely void of any type of public water access. I believe a quaint boardwalk or something similar that encompasses a lovely place to dock, dine and hear music would be a great asset for Irvington. In terms of the Commons, the continued use of this area is necessary to the life of the town but I believe that it can also be improved. While the gazebo is often adequate for the needs of the town, I believe a bigger stage with a developed park-like area with well planned walking paths and play areas for citizens of all ages would be a great improvement.
Overall, I envision continued growth for Irvington which mirrors its charm as a unique village in the historic Northern Neck for years to come.
Nunnally: It is my desire that the town remains a quiet and undisturbed community of quality homes and kind people yet maintaining different opinions.
Schaschek: The ambience of Irvington is it’s ‘historic rural town’ feel. It should be maintained for future generations. Improvement to the commons should be limited to the needs of the residents and the promotion of tourism. There is no need for a public boat ramp, tourists coming by boat might want to stop in at the Tides, or dock at Gaskins with a minimum donation, all are within walking distance to the town.