by AnnGardner Eubank and Jackie Nunnery
The Rappahannock Record is conducting written interviews with candidates in contested races for local office in the November 2 election. The Irvington mayoral candidates—Gabe del Rio and Julie Harris—were asked the same five questions. Their responses are in alphabetical order.
As mayor, what direction would you take in terms of updating the town’s comprehensive plan? What are some of the major issues you would focus on?
del Rio: The first and most important aspect of this process is gathering the input and wishes of the community. This is why the pending survey is so important, and I encourage everyone to take the time to have your opinion counted! Comprehensive planning is a process of information gathering and planning for the delivery of the community’s will, not any individual, including the mayor or other elected and appointed officials. I would work to ensure that town council and the planning commission have all the analysis, facts and resource options well-presented and summarized for consideration and community review. My goal is for our governing boards to make the best-informed decisions on priorities, timing, and commitments to the community.
There are a variety of projects that have been discussed in the community, including permanent restrooms on the commons, a new playground, facilities for the market and other events, initial phases of sewer infrastructure, the TriWay Trail and a possible new town hall. It will take the citizenry’s input to determine where we turn our focus and over what period. As mayor I will work to keep us all aligned to our common goals and timelines. Additionally, I would seek to honor our town’s history in any planned architectural elements while leveraging grant sources wherever possible. Tapping into grant funds will allow us to preserve and support what we love with the least cost to residents.
Harris: The key step in updating Irvington’s comprehensive plan is a quality and inclusive survey of the town’s full-time residents, part-time residents, business interests and tourists. Then, any revisions should accurately reflect the survey opinions. Comprehensive plans are ways for town residents and businesses to move forward together and effective plans are the result of good listening. One of my platform commitments is to promote community-supported projects and this is especially important given Irvington’s need for capital planning and the recent hiring of a municipal financial consulting firm. What do residents and businesses want and what are they willing to pay for? And by what means will they pay for it? These are important questions that should be asked as we go forward revising our comprehensive plan and future direction.
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