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Independent County Supervisor Candidate Takes Issue With Opponent’s Claims

Carter Turner

by Valerie Garner

On May 4 Carter Turner filed as an Independent to run for the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, Catawba District. In an interview at the time Carter said, “at the local level party affiliation gets in the way … it is not to work for party – it is to work for people.”

Turner, 41, is an Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religious Studies at Radford University. He ran as a Democrat against then Delegate Morgan Griffith in 2009.

In a phone call Tuesday, Turner said he never entertained running under a party label. He believes that overly-rigid party affiliations hinder collaboration and problem solving. “We treat our political party loyalties like sports teams – with the only goal “defeating the other party,” he said. Turner vehemently contended that “it is not a game; these are problems that impact peoples’ lives and they need to be solved.”

Turner explained the importance of communication and listening to others. “As an Independent, I feel I can better facilitate this kind of environment.”

Turner said he believes in a local government that focuses on core missions like public safety, education, job growth, and health. He’d “take a very diagnostic approach” to the county using data driven facts to prioritize needs.

Revitalization of west Roanoke County is one of Turner’s main focus areas. “Glenvar’s equal proximity to downtown Roanoke, that includes VT Carilion Medical School, and Virginia Tech will largely define its future. If the Board of Supervisors continues to view Glenvar as the county’s industrial waste zone, we’ll miss our opportunity to attract the high paying, high-tech companies that need to be in Virginia Tech’s and Carilion’s orbit and bring revenue to the county,” he said.

Turner spearheaded the asphalt plant fight in Glenvar to prevent it from defining the district as an “industrial waste zone.”

“Had the Board rezoned the old Salem Water Treatment Plant to ‘Heavy Industry’ so [the Adams Construction] asphalt plant could be put there, the entire corridor would have quickly followed and 460/11 would have become a tunnel of industry causing further air pollution,” said Turner. He claims that Glenvar school air quality is in the bottom 25th percentile in the nation and the plant would also have reduced the surrounding property values.

“The increased industrial pressure coming from the impending intermodal site in Elliston makes it crucial that the county has a clear vision for Glenvar’s future,” he said. He believes keeping heavy industry to the south and away from neighborhoods, schools and retirement communities is paramount.

Turner explained that it doesn’t include keeping all heavy industry out of Glenvar entirely. After Adams Construction withdrew their petition for the treatment plant site, Turner and the Citizens for Positive Growth worked to find what they believed to be a much more suitable location.

Turner takes issue with Butch Church’s claim in The Roanoke Star-Sentinel July 22 article [Church Ready To Fight For Fourth Term As Supervisor] that Church “stopped [the asphalt plant] in its tracks.”  Turner says that the Citizens for Positive Growth is entirely responsible for galvanizing community support against the plant being located next to the Glenvar schools.

Turner’s opponent, incumbent Independent Board of Supervisor Chairman Joe “Butch” Church, voted against the second site. “If Mr. Church couldn’t support that site, can he be expected to support any business development in the community?” asked Turner.

Glenvar’s future depends on openness to responsible economic development and “I don’t see that openness with Mr. Church,” said Turner.

Community pressure led to English Construction/Adams pulling their petition for the location that was next to the schools. It never came to a vote and Turner wonders how Church could “stop” something that never came to a vote.

The second location for the asphalt plant was already zoned “Heavy Industrial” and was on the south side of Rt. 460/11, leaving room for more suitable commercial endeavors to the North.  “This site was a perfect site for an asphalt plant,” said Turner.

 Turner disputed Church’s claim that he had a role in finding the second location. “When the petition to build on this site came to the Board of Supervisors for a vote, Church voted against it,” he said.

“While Mr. Church would like to take credit for protecting the Glenvar schools, the only thing he can take credit for is attempting to stifle much needed responsible economic development in our community,” concluded Turner.

Church and Turner will also face a third candidate in November, Republican David Drake. Board of Supervisor members Church and Ed Elswick both shed the Republican label to become Independents while Charlotte Moore, elected as a Democrat, also shed her party label.

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