Albemarle Supervisor – Rivanna District Representing Keswick
1. Bea in 100 words or less, tell us something about yourself:
I am a native Virginian from a military family. I have a Bachelors and a Master’s Degree and I had a long professional career as a teacher, principal and director of 24 elementary schools before retiring. I also served on my local city council for 20 years and on the planning commission for 4 years prior to that. I served on an air quality management board that focused on reducing the effects of air pollution. I also was on a transportation board that dealt with finding solutions to traffic congestion as well as on an organization of localities that found effective and economical ways of providing fire and police services. So, I feel that I bring a lot of experience in working on solutions to many of the same issues that the Board of Supervisors are tasked with.
2. Why are you running for Supervisor?
I received a call from our current supervisor, Norman Dill, back in November and was asked because of my qualifications if I would be interested in serving on the County Board of Supervisors – and I said I would be. It does take a lot of time and fortunately I have the time, experience and energy that is necessary to effectively serve the citizens of Albemarle. I want to address the significant affordable housing issue in the county that affects a wide variety of citizens, including our growing senior population. I want to work on solutions for our transportation issues. I strongly support continued improvements to teacher compensation and investment in our school system.
3. What are your priorities for Albemarle County and its residents?
The primary issues on my platform are preserving the rural areas, education, transportation, planning for climate change, affordable housing, and sustainable growth.
4. What are your views on education?
I spent many years as a teacher, then a principal and finally a director of 24 elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I am very supportive of teachers and believe we must ensure our teachers are compensated enough that we continue to attract the best qualified individuals. I would want to make sure that the County funding allocated for the School System addresses the needs of our students and that there is a plan to make sure the programs to give additional assistance and opportunity where needed is provided.
The recent ProPublica report is a wake up call that we as a community need to solve the problem of equity in our schools. Not all families come with the same resources to provide extra advantages for their children but they all want the best education possible.
5. How do you think the County can make it more affordable for Albemarle residents to buy their own homes? Would you support a
permanent affordable housing fund as a line-item in the budget? Should the County purchase property and other real-estate to re-sell to low-income residents?
I advocate property tax reimbursements for affordable housing projects to make them more attractive to build. Developers should sign performance agreements that keep the units affordable for 30 years in exchange for the property tax reimbursements. I favor the formation of an affordable housing fund governed by policies that allow the county to buy affordable housing when it becomes available in order to keep and increase existing affordable housing stock. The fastest growing segment of our population is seniors. As our County population ages, it is critical that we ensure our lower or fixed income residents, which includes seniors, have reasonable and adequate options for housing.
6. What suggestions do you have for solving the County’s transportation problems?
In the urban ring, we must move the transportation system to the next level. Working with the City, UVA and JAUNT, we need to expand our coverage, especially in our growth areas. We also need to promote and expand Rideshare opportunities in rural portions of the County. Implementing the use of smaller buses that run more frequently on a regular schedule is an efficient use of resources and is economical. More long term, complex solutions such as capital improvement projects designed to alleviate congestion and continuing to expand multimodal commuting opportunities in the urban portions of the County must also be addressed.
7. What do you think of the County’s “new economic development plan” whereby County funds are used to lure new businesses to locate in the area?
It is a common practice to incentivize the relocation or startup of businesses to an area seeking to expand its tax base, and so these practices are not unique to Albemarle County. An example of how Albemarle County can work with community partners to provide desirable accommodation for business is ensuring a trained and skilled workforce in the County, by supporting Albemarle County Public Schools, PVCC’s Network2Work, CATEC, Piedmont Workforce Network, and the City of Charlottesville’s GO workforce training programs. Another example of a partnership is with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Habitat for Humanity on the redevelopment of Southwood, originally a privately owned, low-income mobile home park which was in a severe state of disrepair. The partnership has included $2.25 million in grants from the state, and this community-based project will ultimately create a mixed income, mixed use development that can serve both the residential and business population.
8. Do you support the County’s Climate Action Plan?
The County is still months away from formulating a Climate Action Plan, so we will have to see what the finished product looks like, but one of my biggest concerns is Climate Resilience, which involves actions that a community can take to protect its population and physical assets from destructive forces associated with Climate Change, such as flooding, more frequent and severe storms, drought, etc. This includes public safety as well as land use. For example, we want to be sure we have sufficient, well trained public safety resources available and a really good emergency system in place. This is something we really need to address, and in particular, a County-wide Enhanced 911 address and information system for providing citizens with correct addresses and road names, which includes assigning and installing address markers, road and street signs as necessary, and maintaining the database for the system. With regard to land use, flood plain locations are changing, and we need to be able to identify and adapt to those changes.
9. Bea, what are the biggest threats to Keswick and how would you address them?
Keswick is well known for its rural character and it is important to ensure it remains that way. County programs that help to ensure the preservation of our rural lands include the Agricultural and Forestal Districts designations and the Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program. The Districts are rural conservation areas reserved for the production of agricultural products, timber, and the maintenance of open space land as an important economic and environmental resources, and can provide the landowner with land use taxation benefits. The ACE program was designed to provide a financially attractive way for lower income landowners to protect family farms in Albemarle County and their unique open space resources. I strongly support these successful programs that help to preserve our farms, forests and natural beauty for today and for future generations.
About the Candidate:
Bea LaPisto Kirtley is a Virginia native and a retired educator who wants to represent all the residents of the Rivanna District on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. She and her husband, Ben, along with their two rescue dogs live in Keswick, where they bought land in 2005 and built their home.
Bea was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, where her father was stationed in the Army. Growing up, the family moved to a variety of locations with her father’s military transfers. “While my dad was Army, my oldest brother decided to join the Navy – which is why we moved to San Diego after Dad retired! California provided myriad opportunities for me – both professionally and in servce to my community and the region as a whole.”
Before retiring, Bea was a teacher, principal and director in charge of 24 elementary schools and her husband is a retired deputy sheriff. Bea also served on her local City Council for 20 years and 4 years on the planning commission. Other boards where she served include being the president of an organization for fire and police services that worked together to provide better services at a reduced cost for cities. She was on the Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (serving 14 million people), which works to reduce air pollution. “I was always cognizant of the balance between cleaning up the air and working with the various industries to do so – looking for a common sense approach. You can only do that by listening to both sides of the issue.” She also served on a local council of governments, whose main mission was local transportation issues – something she considers urgent in Albemarle County as she listens to the needs of the residents. “It is imperative that we have a regional approach to solving our transportation issues – working with CAT, JAUNT and UVA, to improve services. “I’d like to see the use of smaller buses that run on a more frequent schedule.” Bea believes improving public services, whether it is transportation, fire, police, affordable housing – all of these are regional issues and working together with our community stakeholders can provide improved service at a lower cost. “Being fiscally responsible is an obligation of all elected officials – that’s good governance.”
“One of my goals is to ensure excellent educational opportunities for all our children and to support our teachers to make that happen.”
Climate change planning is another area of focus for Bea, especially with regard to climate resilience, which addresses the planning required to ensure, to the extent possible, protection of assets and citizens. “We need to address our region’s climate change impacts in a way that ensures we have public safety programs in place for the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. For example, storms are increasing in frequency and severity, and so people need to be prepared for issues such as flooding that is greater than we used to see.”
“I am issue oriented and listen to both sides of any issue before making a decision.” A case in point is Bea’s interest in working with the local Farm Bureau. “I recently met with citizens who are serving on the Albemarle Rural Advisory Committee and are also members of the local Farm Bureau and we discussed their knowledge regarding farming, agriculture and forested areas – and they offered to the County their free advice and expertise. I offered to be the liaison.”
“A common sense approach to governance with practical solutions that will focus on the issues – that is what my experience has taught me. I don’t engage in drama and negativity – there is important work to be done and my priorities are there.”
Bea has not been idle during retirement – serving our community as a CASA volunteer, helping fundraise for the Hospice of the Piedmont Keswick 5K Race, member of 100 + Women Who Care (fundraising for local nonprofits) and the League of Women Voters.
For more information or to know more about Bea, please visit her website: BeaForAlbemarle.com