The incumbent supervisor for Spotsylvania County’s Salem District ran unopposed for his second term in 2015.
But this year, Paul Trampe has a challenger in Deborah Frazier.
Both candidates are running as independents.
Trampe, who first won the seat in 2011, has years of experience as an economist, the past 17 for the Defense Logistics Agency, which manages supplies for the military as well as other federal agencies and allies of the U.S.
Frazier is the principal at Chancellor Middle School, and has also been a special education teacher. She has served as the president for the Virginia Association of Elementary Principals and the National Board of Principals. While she hasn’t run for public office before, she had to run campaigns for both positions.
“I have been a leader in the community for a long time, not only as a principal, but as a mentor,” she said. “I want to serve the community.”
Education is her “passion” and one of her top priorities. Her other top priorities include public safety, transportation and economic development.
Trampe’s top priorities are education, keeping taxes low and public safety.
While he has voted against county budgets that included tax hikes, Trampe pointed out that he has supported the school system as a supervisor.
He has proposed his own county budget the past four years, with the board passing one of them. That was the only budget in the past four years in which there was no tax increase.
Trampe said his proposals included equal or more funding for schools without raising taxes.
“We can help the schools without raising taxes,” he said.
One thing he said he wants to do if re-elected is push for local access for special needs students who can’t attend mainstream schools. Some of those local students have to travel to a specialized school in Richmond.
Frazier believes the board has said the right things when it comes to supporting the school system, but the supervisors haven’t fully supported the “needs.”
“If you’re giving the bare minimum, how can you keep up?” she said. “Investment in our children is what we need.”
Among her top priorities is a push for universal pre-kindergarten.
Frazier added that she would bring some “civility” to budget talks between the supervisors and school officials, which in recent years have often been contentious.
Listening and “helping solve problems” are “gifts” she would bring to the board, Frazier said.
She wants to focus on increasing pay for school staff as well as other county workers, including fire and rescue employees.
Frazier said she would make sure to reach out to county residents to see what they want and whether they would agree to raise taxes, if needed, for education and other priorities.
Trampe doesn’t want the county to revert to the first decade of this century, when he said the county “real estate tax was increased by a total of 33 cents above the equalization rate and businesses were leaving in droves.”
He said that between 2010 and 2015, there were no tax increases, and the county was able to lure in more businesses.
The supervisor fears the county is reverting to the tax increase approach. He wants to avoid that.
Both candidates cited public safety as a key priority for the county. This has been a concern for county officials, as fire and rescue workers and Sheriff’s Office employees have been leaving for better pay in other localities.
“I want to make sure our first responders aren’t spread too thin,” Frazier said. “They need to be valued. They put their lives on the line.”
She noted that the board has addressed the issue by voting for a new pay plan for public safety, but “they need to follow through.”
Trampe said the county has made strides improving fire and rescue coverage by increasing paid staff at county stations.
“We’ve really built that department to the envy of our neighbors,” he said.
He added that retention is key to keeping public safety working well, and said the board addressed that by approving a new pay plan, which he said will be implemented Jan. 1.
He also pointed out that the board approved school resource officers in all Spotsylvania public schools, adding that the county was the state’s first jurisdiction to do so.
Transportation is another priority for both candidates.
Trampe said growth in the county is shifting to the east side of Interstate 95, which could create problems the board will need to deal with.
He also is promoting a reverse commute option, in which government jobs would be moved from the north to the county, as a way to address road congestion caused by commuters.
Trampe said he helped convince the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission board to include the reverse commute option in its long-range plan.
Frazier said the transportation infrastructure isn’t keeping up with development in the county. She pointed out State Route 3 and Interstate 95 congestion not only makes it tough to get around, but creates unsafe driving conditions.
Plans should have been established long ago, she said. Frazier said one way to address the issue is to do a better job including transportation planning with development in the county, because more homes create more traffic.
She thinks the county could benefit from more transit options.
Frazier also thinks the county’s growth has ignored affordable housing. She added that many residents—including police, fire and rescue workers and teachers—struggle to find homes and apartments they can afford.
She thinks the county can do better in “human investment.”
One way to do that, Frazier said, is by creating better job opportunities in the county.
“Economic development is huge for me,” she said.
Frazier added that many “parents are struggling and have to work multiple jobs.”
The latest campaign finance report posted by the Virginia Public Access Project shows Trampe has raised more than $9,700 this year, on top of $21,880 he already had in his campaign coffers. His remaining balance is $18,408. Frazier raised $11,494 and had a balance of $10,279 at the end of September.