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2015-10-14 / News

GOP’s Bickford takes aim at board’s lone Democrat

By Jim McConnell
STAFF WRITER


Bickford Bickford Regardless of the outcome of next month’s elections, 2016 promises to be a time of significant transition for the county Board of Supervisors.

The board’s longest-tenured member, Art Warren, is vacating the Clover Hill District seat after holding it for the past 24 years.

Dan Gecker, who has represented Midlothian on the board since 2007, has decided to step aside whether he wins or loses the race for the 10th District’s seat in the state Senate.

When they go, the two men will take with them more than three decades of institutional knowledge and local government experience – a leadership void that local Republicans believe Cliff Bickford can help fill.

“Dale District residents, Chesterfield citizens and our surrounding neighbors deserve thoughtful leadership that is focused on problem-solving for better future,” said Donald Williams, chairman of the Chesterfield Republican Committee. “Cliff has the vision, skills and commitment to do just that.”


Holland Holland Bickford lost to Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland by 10 percentage points in 2011, but he’s running again and confident that he’ll topple the Democratic incumbent this time.

“Change is inevitable,” Bickford said during a local GOP fundraiser last week.

The people of the Dale District have a decision to make. Do they want to engage with the change that’s happening or get left behind?”

Bickford, a conservative, said that one significant change he’d bring to the district is a different philosophy about the size, scope and core purpose of local government.

Holland was one of three supervisors to vote last year in favor of a 1-cent increase in the county’s property tax rate. Holland also voted for a fiscal year 2016 budget that included $15 million in new revenue from rising property tax assessments, rather than offsetting at least some of that revenue with a corresponding reduction in the tax rate.

Reminded that each of the last two county budgets were passed by a GOP-controlled Board of Supervisors, Bickford declined to speak for fellow Republicans Warren, Steve Elswick and Dorothy Jaeckle.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that [the board] raised taxes last year,” Bickford said. “The facts speak for themselves. To suggest otherwise is almost insulting.

“The big red ‘R’ by my name means something to me. I’m not just about slash and burn, but as a conservative, I believe solutions lie in limited government and lower taxes.”

That’s music to the ears of Dale District resident Carolyn Bunda, who moved to Chesterfield from New Jersey 18 years ago and doesn’t want the county to be overrun by the “northeast spending disease.”

“I’ve seen what happens when government grows out of control, and you end up with an oversized bureaucracy,” Bunda said. “I’m not willing to see us lose what makes Chesterfield a great place to raise a family.”

The question, at this point, is whether there are enough Dale District residents who share Bickford’s vision for the next four years.

According to state campaign finance reports, Bickford held a sizeable fundraising advantage heading into the final two months of the race. As of Aug. 31, he had raised $11,466 to $3,985 for Holland.

But Bickford doesn’t need to be reminded that he ended the 2011 campaign with a $9,500 fundraising edge and still couldn’t crack 45 percent at the ballot box.

Knowing that voter turnout for the off-year election is expected to be sparse, Bickford has launched an aggressive ground game in an effort to get his supporters to the polls on Nov. 3.

“One of the things that has been different this time is I have much more name recognition,” he said. “People know who I am. I just hope they hear my message.”

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