Burks Fork District Supervisor Joe Turman has been involved in county government for 40 years and said he is “still learning.” His civic education will continue for at least two more years, as he takes the helm of the Board of Supervisors as its newest chairman. Turman was nominated by Indian Valley District representative Justin Coleman during last Thursday’s reorganization meeting, and approved by his fellow board members unanimously.
“I’m not going to do it on my own, I want y’all’s opinions,” Turman said, in reference to his role as chairman. Later in the meeting, Turman expanded on these thoughts, saying, “I’m just here to referee and keep things running as smoothly as possible … Each of us is elected to represent each district. We need to represent them as best as we can, and give them equal say.”
Turman previously served as vice-chair under former two-term chairman Lauren Yoder. Turman was elected to the Board of Supervisors in an uncontested race in 2011, then reelected after facing two opponents—Democrat Kerry Underwood and independent candidate Michael Schumann—in 2015. Turman also previously ran—and lost—in a race for Soil and Water Conservation District Director, and served as a deputy sheriff.
Outgoing Chairman Yoder has served on the Board of Supervisors for eight years, and was elected to his third term in November. Yoder has said he intends for this to be his last term on the board. He has served as chairman for four years.
It is not unusual for public servants who aspire to higher office to first serve on their local Board of Supervisors. Del. Nick Rush, who was recently reelected as Floyd County’s representative to Virginia’s state legislature, served on Montgomery County’s Board of Supervisors for 12 years, or three terms, prior to seeking the 7th district seat in the House of Delegates. Yoder said in the short term, he’s looking forward to “spending more time on the farm and growing the farm,” now that he’s relieved of chairman duties. “But maybe one day,” he added.
Reflecting on his last two years as chairman, Yoder said he’s most proud of “the relationships I’ve worked on between the county and town, School Board and Economic Development Authority.” He said “some of the results aren’t visible yet, but I feel like there has been a real base set for school improvements and economic development.” Recently, the county government has worked with the School Board to approve plans and funding for two major projects—equipping all county schools with air conditioning, and beginning work on the Collaboration and Career Development Center at Floyd County High School.
Yoder also said that serving on the board, but not as chairman, will allow him to play a “different role” than before. Yoder described himself as a “fiscal conservative” who could weigh in during budget time, “rather than feeling the need to bring everyone together,” as he did while chairman. Yoder credited much of the board’s success over the past two years to County Administrator Terri Morris. “I can’t express that enough, how much I appreciate you,” Yoder said.
Yoder nominated Courthouse District Supervisor Jerry Boothe to serve as vice-chair, and he was approved by his four fellow supervisors. Boothe abstained from the vote.
In other business, the Board set its meeting times for the coming year. After some discussion, the supervisors decided to keep meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m., and the fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m. Several appointments to various local commissions were renewed. As the incoming chairman, Turman took Yoder’s position as the legislative contact for the Virginia Association of Counties, on the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Area Consortium Board of Directors, and on the joint committee of the county, town and school board.
The Supervisors will next meet Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 8:30 a.m.