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Currituck Candidates Forum

Visions differ at Currituck forum

By Cindy Beamon

Staff Writer

Daily Advance

Friday, October 1, 2010

KNOTTS ISLAND — Candidates for Currituck County commissioner offered different visions for the county’s future Thursday night at a meet-the-candidates forum in Knotts Island.

One candidate viewed the county as a conglomeration of communities. Another emphasized Currituck’s rural nature. The differing views overlapped in some ways, but each offered a glimpse into the candidate’s perspective as November’s general election approaches.

During the forum hosted by the Knotts Island Ruritans, candidates for the District 3, District 5 and at-large seats on Currituck County Board of Commissioners were given two minutes each to describe their vision for Currituck.

District 5 incumbent Janet Taylor said she values the rural nature of Currituck after moving from Virginia Beach 21 years ago. Taylor said she would like to see the rural aspect of Currituck preserved and believes the county’s rewrite of the Unified Development Ordinance will support that effort. The UDO would allow farmers to create subdivisions with smaller lots so that more open space is available for farming. In addition, Taylor said the county needs to set the standard for development so that high standards are maintained.

David Palmer, a political newcomer vying for the District 3 seat, said each section of Currituck is different from the other and needs to be developed differently based on its unique characteristics. The county could maintain a unified standard down Caratoke Highway, suggested Palmer, but each section of Currituck needs to be given tools to develop its individual qualities.

H.M. “Butch” Petrey, another political newcomer for the District 3 seat, said his vision for Currituck entails listening to the concerns of people in each community. Each community is different and has different needs, and it is important for board members to listen before developing plans, he said. Petrey said he supports the county’s UDO rewrite, which he believes will help set the standard for new development.

Marion Gilbert, seeking elected office for the first time, said community involvement will be a key to opening up fresh ideas and keeping residents in charge of their future.

Gilbert, a contender for the District 5 seat, said protecting the quality of life in Currituck is one of her top priorities.

Gene Gregory, 16-year incumbent running for the at-large seat, said the county needs to prepare for the future by providing the infrastructure needed to support new business and residential growth. The county’s UDO rewrite should help specify what type of services are needed so that schools, fire and rescue, water, sewer and other county services will be available to local residents, he said.

At-large candidate Paul Martin, who is seeking a return to the Currituck board after losing his 2006 re-election bid, sent a message that he was unable to attend the meeting because of a scheduling conflict.

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