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Endorsement: Jessie Barksdale for Board of Supervisors Chairman

This is a weird way to start 2016, but I feel this endorsement is needed to keep Pittsylvania County on the right track. Only the seven elected members of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors will vote on this decision, but county residents can make their feelings known to their supervisor before the vote happens.

Pittsylvania County is emerging from a four-year period where the Board of Supervisors could easily be described at “dysfunctional”.  All seven members of the previous version of the board deserve some criticism for some stupid decisions that cost Pittsylvania County money and reputation, but some members deserve way more barbecuing than others. Here at SouthsideCentral, we have a long-term memory and things don’t fall off our radar quickly. Pittsylvania County has a new chance at continuing the progress that eventually came out of the previous four years, and we believe that Jessie Barksdale is the person to lead that effort.

We can start off with the Board of Supervisors’ futile effort to preserve the “prayer issue”. Most legal sources quickly determined that the board was never going to win their case against Barbara Hudson & the ACLU. The county lost every round of the court case and finally capitulated once they realized that the last court decision sealed the issue. Tim Barber’s statement on the prayer issue was singled out by the federal court judge as proof of why the permanent injunction was needed. Although Barber’s determination was sincere, it led to Pittsylvania County having to pay over $70,000 in legal expenses to the ACLU. Barber’s determination would have been good for a private citizen spending their own money, but it was unacceptable for an elected official using taxpayer money. There’s still an aroma of resentment to Hudson for her successful efforts, and we certainly hope that will be eliminated in the future. Hudson sued the county and she won. It’s time for that part to be over.

Four years ago, Brenda Bowman switched the “balance of power” away from the southern part of the county with her support of the board members from the Callands-Gretna, Banister & Staunton River district. This left Coy Harville (Westover), Tim Barber (Tunstall) and James Snead (Dan River) on the losing end of 4-3 decisions for the first time in a very long while. Harville, Barber & Snead were finally able to switch the loyalties of Jerry Hagerman over to their side and they moved back into power. In an immediate act of retribution, those four voted to eliminate the county’s economic development office and fire Brenda’s husband Ken. Quite frankly, Pittsylvania County hasn’t yet recovered from those people’s childish actions. The county had to resort to having Greg Sides do the economic development job starting from scratch. Sides did a great job with the cards he was dealt but he was overwhelmed by the job, so I’m not putting any blame on him. Jerry Hagerman re-switched sides again and returned Bowman to the chairmanship and things started to improve.

Brenda Bowman quickly allied with Jessie Barksdale and Barksdale immediately showed his strengths. Barksdale became a strong yet quiet face and voice of moderation. He was able to keep Harville, Snead and Barber in check while restoring credibility to Pittsylvania County. Barksdale became well-respected by local, regional and state government as the person who was trying to get the county back on track. Brenda Bowman was also an integral part of that process.

So now it’s time to elect a new chairman at the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors organizational meeting on Monday. The question is who will lead the board and be the spokesman for the county’s efforts over the next year. We believe that the choice is clear. With the departure of Brenda Bowman, we totally believe that Jessie Barksdale will continue Bowman’s efforts to keep the county’s progress moving strongly. We also feel that Elton Blackstock will continue to be an excellent vice-chairman.

Pittsylvania County needs a strong leader who doesn’t make decisions that handicap the process. Pittsylvania County needs a strong leader who’s conservative on finances and doesn’t make decisions that overtly waste taxpayer money. Jessie Barksdale is that person.

SouthsideCentral gives Jessie Barksdale our highest endorsement and we strongly urge all members of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors to elect him to the chairman position. We also strongly encourage all county residents to contact their elected member of the board and tell them to vote for Barksdale as board chairman.

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