Q1. You were a firefighter for 30 years before serving on the Board of Supervisors. What do you think are the most pressing issues in public safety at the local level?
Jim Crozier: I believe managing expenses while providing a highly trained fire & rescue workforce is without a doubt number one. In order to do this, we have to work closely with our sheriff’s office to assist them in their mission. We also must strive to find a sustainable volunteer workforce in our volunteer fire companies by assisting with recruitment and training so that we can integrate all of our services for the benefit of all our citizens. I believe funding will be the biggest challenge as public safety costs continue to escalate.
Q2. It’s often said that working as a first responder is like being part of a family because of the strong relationships and trust the job builds. How do you approach building relationships as an elected official?
JC: I try to approach this much in the same manner, with a team approach. It is very important for everyone to remember that local government is here to serve our constituents, not to grow empires and serve ourselves. Cultivating good interpersonal relationships is key to good service delivery and long-term cooperation.
Q3. You also served on the Economic Development Authority before running for the Board of Supervisors. What are your economic development goals for the County?
JC: We as a county need to maintain the focus on our economic development plan for the Germanna Wilderness Area as a benefit for the entire county. What this will do is allow for other areas of the county to maintain the rural atmosphere that so many enjoy. In doing so, we will be able to maintain individuals’ taxes at lower rates and capitalize on increased retail, commercial and industrial growth.
Q4. Orange County has made a significant local commitment to ensuring affordable broadband access in rural areas. What are some of your lessons learned from that project?
JC: One must always be open-minded in anything to do with new initiatives, broadband being a true example. Whenever you deal with a project like this, there are many hurdles, ranging from easements to technology constantly changing, which truly changes from day to day. You must listen to constituents, contractors, tech professionals, and even nay-sayers. You must constantly visit the reasons that you are doing a project like this, because many times people work very hard to put roadblocks in the way to sidetrack your progress. With all the previous being said, anything worth doing is not easy.
Q5. Orange County recently hosted VACo’s Region 7 meeting at Montpelier, the home of James Madison. What are the other must-see places for a first-time visitor to Orange County?
JC: Once again James Madison’s Montpelier. Historic Downtown Orange, including James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage. The Market at Grelen, which includes trails as well as pick your own vegetables and fruits. Historic Downtown Gordonsville, including the Exchange Hotel and Civil War Museum and the stores of downtown Main Street. Orange County Wineries, including Barboursville, Horton Vineyards, Reynard Florence Vineyard, Honah Lee Vineyard, Hammerstone Cellars, and Chateau Merrillanne. The Germanna Foundation, including a visit to the ruins of Fort Germanna.
Q6. In your view, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Orange County in the next ten years?
JC: The work to intelligently develop our Germanna Wilderness Area Plan in the Route 3 corridor while maintaining our rural western side of the county. Continuing the build-out of our rural broadband network. Managing public safety expenses while providing the best possible quality services to our constituents. Expanding our Digital Citizens Initiative is something else that will help continue positive engagement.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle