- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Four candidates for Bedford City Council — three incumbents and one challenger — spoke before a nearly empty room last Wednesday night at a forum sponsored by the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.
Those who attended the event, held at Central Virginia Community College’s Bedford facility, barely outnumbered the candidates.
Steve Rush, a retired law enforcement officer and currently a Bedford realtor and an incumbent city councilman, stressed his knowledge of the community.
“I’ve lived in and around the city all my life,” he said.
He defended Bedford’s real estate tax rates as being fair and reasonable and also defended the city’s reversion agreement with the county.
“I came to the conclusion that reversion was the right thing to do,” he said.
He said reversion will bring in an extra $5 million per year from the state to county schools for a period of 15 years. This is because the county will get the city’s local composite index (LCI) which the state uses to determine how it distributes education funds.
Looking at past performance in office, Rush said that the city has kept real estate taxes fair and reasonable. Furthermore, “we enforced the contract with the county school board to keep Bedford Primary School open,” Rush said.
Skip Tharp has been on Bedford City Council since 1992, with a two year break in the late ‘90s. Tharp spoke in favor of reelecting all four incumbents.
“I think the four incumbent members should be reelected,” he said. He said that this is needed to “keep a steady hand on the throttle of city government” as Bedford reverts to town status.
Stacey Hailey, one of two challengers seeking a seat on city council, said that he would bring new ideas to that elected body.
“I think I would bring a whole lot of new ideas,” Hailey said. “I want to be your voice, I want to be the voice of the people of Bedford County.”
Hailey has served as a member of the Brookneal Town Council and the Campbell County airport authority. He has been a member of the Bedford Volunteer Fire Department.
Bob Wandrei spoke last, noting that he’s used to being the last on a list, as his name begins with a “W.”
Wandrei has lived in Bedford since 1968.
“Yes, I was born in Massachusetts but I had the good sense to marry a Virginia girl,” he said.
Wandrei said he plans to continue to pursue sound fiscal policies and cut costs where costs can be cut without cutting services.
He got to Bedford about the time when Bedford became an independent city and said that resulted in years of litigation. Wandrei said that, with reversion back to town status, he didn’t want to see the mistakes of 1968 repeated.
“What we wanted was to sit down with the county and negotiate an agreement that would be beneficial to the county and the city,” he said.
One benefit to the city, according to Wandrei, will be secondary water supply with the merger of the city water and sewer department and the Bedford County Public Service Authority into a merged water and sewer authority.
“I think we all [the incumbents] accomplished a great deal for the city,” he said.