The Floyd County Board of Supervisors is comprised of five members that represent the five electoral districts of the county. The Board oversees the county budget, levies tax rates, and adopts and enforces local ordinances, among other responsibilities. Board members serve four-year terms and are elected on a staggered schedule every two years. This year, Chairman Lauren Yoder is up for reelection from the Locust Grove district, Joe Turman from the Burks Fork Distrct, and Linda Devito Kuchenbuch from the Little River District. Both Yoder and Turman are unopposed on the ballot, while Kuchenbuch is facing a challenge from Republican Tim Sulloway. The Floyd Press spoke to both Kuchenbuch and Sulloway about their campaign for Little River District seat.
Linda Devito Kuchenbuch
If you ask Linda Devito Kuchenbuch, she’ll tell you she’s not a politician—she’s a public servant. Kuchenbuch has lived in Floyd County for 36 years, and raised her three children here along with her husband, on a 23-acre farm near Pilot. She’s a full-time realtor, but is also involved with several local organizations, such as the Floyd Initiative for Safe Housing, the Public Service Authority and the Tourism Council. She also finds time to emcee local events and announce the play-by-play for basketball games.
Kuchenbuch is the incumbent running for the Little River District seat on the Board of Supervisors this year. She is running as an Independent, in contrast to her Republican opponent. She explained that she’s on the ballot as an Independent because, “For me, this local level of governance, of public service, is truly non-partisan. I am representing everybody in the Little River District.”
Kuchenbuch announced her candidacy early, last time she ran in 2015. She launched her campaign in 2014, and she said what motivated her was being truly focused on local issues affecting Floyd County. She also said that running for Board of Supervisors was something she considered for years before taking the leap. “Service to the county in which I live is an extremely important part of who I am,” Kuchenbuch said. “I think within the first four years of us being out here, I wanted to run.”
Kuchenbuch is an advocate for citizen involvement with the Board. She said, “Anybody can reach out to me—about their road, trash collection, school funding. Anything that is concerning them about the county.” She encouraged people to speak during public comment, or to reach out to County Administrator Terri Morris to be placed on a meeting agenda.
In an interview with the Floyd Press back in 2014, Kuchenbuch said that the county needed “better management of its affairs,” particularly with respect to the budget. Setting the budget each year is one of the primary responsibilities of the Supervisors. Asked whether she felt budget management had improved during her first term, Kuchenbuch said, “I think that right now, with the group I’ve been privileged to serve with…we have good management of the budget at this point.” She continued, “County residents may not know that we spend a good part of the year going over every single line of the budget…It does come down to single line items sometimes.”
Kuchenbuch said that both on a personal level and in her role as a public servant, she is extremely budget-conscious. She said everyone on the Board is “very aware of how we spend the taxpayers’ money.” In considering her first term on the Board, Kuchenbuch cited stable tax rates as an accomplishment. “We’ve kept our tax rate at a level that all of us can afford. We have a wide range of income levels in this county and we must be extremely aware of the burden that increasing taxes can have.” Even when asked to look back on her past four years, Kuchenbuch praised the Board for “working hard to keep looking ahead.”
She outlined the recent growth of the county and potential economic implications of that growth. “We have an increase of people moving in, just because they’ve heard what a great place it is,” Kuchenbuch said. “We have to be mindful of how that impacts us. We have to be cognizant of growth…in the short-term and the long-term.” Kuchenbuch said that “the entrepreneurial spirit of Floyd County citizens is a wonderful asset to our community,” and so the Board of Supervisors, along with the Economic Development Association, should focus on bringing “the right kind of employment” opportunities to Floyd County, and on supporting home-grown businesses like those found in the Innovation Center.
According to Kuchenbuch, one of the primary responsibilities of the Supervisors is to keep the citizenry safe—and she feels the Board made good gains on that goal during her first term. She said the Board helped fund and secure new fire engines, new ambulances, and that the Supervisors “made a conscientious effort to modernize the fleet of Sherriff’s cars.” She said she is running for reelection because over the past four years, “I feel that I have represented everyone.”
Tim Sulloway is the challenger running for the Little River District spot on the Board of Supervisors. He “married into Floyd,” he said, and has lived in the county for the past seven years. He has two children at Floyd Elementary, and currently works full-time in the hospitality industry, which he says has lent him valuable experience for a potential term on the Board. “The real focus on listening, and dealing with customers on a daily basis and following through on what they tell me,” Sulloway said, has prepared him for this new position.
Sulloway explained that he conceives of the Supervisors as “a voice for the county,” and said that he was inspired to run because “the Little River district needs somebody who is going to be the eyes and ears for everybody in the district, and who has long-term investment into the county.” On some of his campaign signs and materials, Sulloway has listed “safe roads and bridges” as a priority for his potential term. He said this is an issue of particular concern in his district, although “it’s definitely a whole county issue.”
“Without those roads and bridges coming back and forth, you’re just hurting the county,” Sulloway explained. He said if he earns a spot on the board, he would “listen to each one of those concerns and go to self-evaluate (the issue) as well,” then bring his findings before his colleagues on the board. The Supervisors are responsible for bringing these concerns to VDOT as well, he said.
Sulloway repeatedly emphasized the role of the public schools in Floyd County, and said “I definitely feel (the schools) are a well-worth investment for taking care of our future Floydians.” He called the school system “vital” and said that the schools need the resources to train students for trade fields, since the “work needs are changing” in Floyd County.
A primary way that Sulloway has distinguished himself from his opponent is by running as a Republican and publicizing his views on more national-level social issues such as abortion and gun rights. Sulloway’s campaign materials state that he is “pro-life” and will protect “gun and property rights.” The Board of Supervisors has no jurisdiction over issues like abortion access or gun ownership, but Sulloway said the relevance of his stances on these issues is that “it speaks for the character of me.” He said, “A lot of it has to deal with the character of a person, and who you’re going to get. Is it somebody who’s going to be trustworthy? Is it someone who believes the same way that you do?”
In summarizing his goals for the Board of Supervisors, Sulloway said the board should seek to “keep Floyd, Floyd.” Asked to elaborate, he said, “Floyd is in a development phase, and we need to continue to develop to keep Floyd alive. However, we don’t want to over-develop by killing the culture of Floyd.” He said the thing people love most about Floyd is the small-town atmosphere and the sense of community, and those things should be maintained.
Sulloway said the key to keeping Floyd’s culture consistent is evaluating what kinds of businesses can and should come into the county. “A lot of it deals with big business and things like that,” Sulloway said. “There’s places that have vacant buildings, and those can be redeveloped…it’s allowing that to happen, and (asking) what fits for Floyd without changing it? It’s a case-by-case situation, necessarily,” he said.