Q1. You grew up in Warren County and have lived there all your life. What is it like to serve on the Board of a county where you have such deep roots?
Tony Carter: Having lived here my entire life with the exception of attending Lynchburg College, it has been a great experience. Having seen the progress that has occurred over the past 30 years and being a small part of it, has been very rewarding. We are fortunate to have many community minded people here. That includes the locals as well as our newcomers. Being able to merge the different perspectives into a positive outcome is what makes our county a great place to live.
Q2. Prior to your service on the Warren County Board of Supervisors, you served for seven years on the Front Royal Town Council. What made you decide to run for office? How did your Town Council service prepare you for working at the county level?
TC: Serving on the Town Council was my first foray into local politics. A lot was accomplished during that time and we had a good relationship with Warren County, particularly in bringing jobs and business to our area. However, one of the deciding factors for me to run for County Supervisor, was to work with our school board to improve our school infrastructure. We were in desperate need of new facilities and the previous boards had always put this out for referendum which would ultimately fail. The first board I served on worked with the school board to develop a 20-year needs study for new schools. And we implemented it.
Q3. You’ve been in public service since 1994. What are some of the major changes you’ve seen in your time in public life? Has your approach to leadership changed over time?
TC: In some respects, the issues are the same as they were 20 years ago, it just seems that they have become more pressing. It’s always a challenge of meeting the different needs of diverse constituencies. Growth is the major factor that drives all other issues. We have the same growth concerns that many localities share. We compete with our neighbors in attracting and keeping well-qualified employees whether it’s teachers, law enforcement, fire and rescue, etc. Balancing the need to provide good services without burdening our taxpayers becomes on ongoing challenge as well. I think that one major change that we have all seen in the last 20 years that has impacted everyone is the growth of the internet and social media. Everyone has unlimited access to all sorts of information and our constituents have become more understanding as to what occurs in local government and the impact it has on their lives. I don’t think that my approach has changed. I have always tried to understand the issues before me and listen to differing points of views before rendering a decision and hopefully, this has served my constituents well.
Q4. In your view, what are the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Warren County in the next 10 years?
TC: The County and Board have prioritized economic development to replace the loss of the Avtex Fibers manufacturing facility (once the largest employer and taxpayer in the region that closed in 1989) and catching up on infrastructure needs of the community over the past 15 years. New economic development included the recruitment of the Sysco distribution center, the Dominion Power Plant, and the Riverton Commons and Crooked Run shopping centers. Infrastructure improvements include the construction of a new high school, renovation of our junior high school to a high school, renovation of our old high school to a middle school, construction of a new middle school, expansion of our park system out into the County, completion of a new regional jail, public safety building, and health and human services complex. We have been able to accomplish all of this while keeping our tax rate competitive with our neighbors in the region. With those projects behind us, we really need to work to address how we compensate our employees, including our teachers, to stay competitive and ensure that we can maintain a quality workforce. To accomplish this, we need to continue to build our economic base to generate additional revenue without overly taxing our property owners.
Q5. What are the “must-do” activities for a first-time visitor to Warren County?
TC: As the gateway to the Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, no trip to the area would be complete without a visit to the park and associated trails and our quaint downtown area of Front Royal. Other amenities include both the north and south forks of the Shenandoah River, the Appalachian Trail, the Shenandoah River State Park, Skyline Caverns, local wineries and breweries, and playing at one of the six golf courses in our community. Warren County sits just an hour down Interstate 66 from our nation’s capital and has so much to offer, whether visiting for a day or a week.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle