One candidate promises change and another hopes to bring vast experience if elected in November in the first Carroll County election since staggered terms took place.
The November 5 election in Carroll County will feature candidates for the Board of Supervisors and the Carroll County School Board in the Fancy Gap, Laurel Fork and Pipers Gap districts. Only two of those races will be contested as Robert (Robbie) L. McCraw will face incumbent Republican Dr. Tom Littrell in the Pipers Gap District on the Board of Supervisors and past school board member Phillip W. Berrier challenges incumbent Joey D. Haynes for the Fancy Gap District seat on the school board.
Running unopposed for the Board of Supervisors will be Phil D. McCraw in Fancy Gap and Joshua A. Hendrick in Laurel Fork. Unchallenged candidates for the school board are incumbents Brian E. Spencer in Pipers Gap and Sanford (Sandy) Hendrick in Laurel Fork.
McCraw said he’s had many people ask him to run for public office over the years, but the time is right now that both of his children, Drew and Mandy, are out of school. He said he does not have issues with Littrell, the current supervisor in his district, but he is running because he believes he can make positive changes for Carroll County.
“I just think it is time for a change. I think the people of Carroll County deserve more than what they are getting right now,” McCraw said. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me to do this. That is a big factor, people asking me why I didn’t do it. I’ve put it off over the years, but have more time now than when the kids were in school. God put it in front of me and I kept turning from it and turning from it, but I just couldn’t say no to it anymore.”
McCraw is running as an Independent candidate, he said, because he didn’t make the decision to run for office until after the primaries had already been held. He believes Carroll County needs a more open government, something he wants to help change, if elected.
“I think I can make a difference,” McCraw said. “We deserve an open government and we deserve a lot better for the people in our county. I just don’t think there is enough openness in our government as it is. Maybe less government would be a better way to phrase it. We deserve it and I am looking forward to it.”
McCraw and his wife Debbie have been married for 29 years and have lived in the Pipers Gap community that entire time. He has been a member of Blue Ridge Baptist Chapel Church, where he serves on the Deacon Board, for 33 years. McCraw is also a member of the Hillsville Masonic Lodge, a member of the Galax Lions Club, is active in Relay for Life with his church, and is a vital part of the wrestling program in Carroll County. He’s been employed for the past 14 years at Lowe’s Hardware in Galax, where he is a Pro Sales Specialist.
“A lot of people are having issues within the county, and I am not going to be a yes man to conform,” McCraw said. “I want to do what is right and best for the county as a whole and not a select few. I just don’t agree with everything being done behind closed doors.”
Berrier seeks a return to the school board, where he served two terms as the Fancy Gap representative from 2004-11, including a stint as Chairman in 2007. Berrier has been a teacher, principal and businessman in the Fancy Gap District for many years.
“And I would like to serve again because I am the best qualified candidate running for the position. I feel that we have the best school system in Southwest Virginia; however, our prestigious school division will soon deteriorate if we do not have quality leadership with a vision for the future,” Berrier said. “We cannot sit on our hands and twiddle our thumbs while our children’s education suffers.”
Berrier said Carroll County and the State of Virginia both need to oppose the common core curriculum dictated by federal bureaucracy. The curriculum will eliminate creativity, innovation, and quality teaching, he said.
“And we will surely lose control of our educational system. Is that what we want? I don’t believe it is,” Berrier said. “We get 10 percent of our funds from Washington, and the Feds want to control 80 to 90 percent of our decisions. I say never!”
Berrier believes he is the right candidate to help move the county’s schools forward during “perilous times.” He plans to do that with a conservative philosophy of a small government that will not break the budget or cause major increases in taxes. He also wants to ensure St. Paul School stays a vital part of the Cana community.
“I have expressed my opposition to the movement of the sixth and seventh grades to the new middle school in Hillsville. I would have never supported such a move had I been on the School Board,” Berrier said. “This will diminish St. Paul’s importance in shaping our young student’s lives in the manner desired by the parents of the Fancy Gap District; and, this will place a hardship on these parents as they travel up and down the mountain to middle school. I believe that we need to maintain our community schools. I do not believe this movement is what the majority of the people want; this has been pushed on them by the powers in control.”
Berrier said he will always stand up for the schools in the Fancy Gap District to be certain they receive a fair and equitable distribution of all funds allocated to the schools.
“Never will I permit our schools to be shortchanged or discriminated against. Never will I allow our schools treated differently than any others,” he said. “I will always listen to you, the parents and teachers, about matters that concern our children. Never will I represent a faction or group who has ulterior motives; and, never will I be a part of a board that works secretly to make decisions that should be debated out in the open. And, I will represent everyone fairly be you rich or poor, employer or employee, politically connected or the low man on the totem pole. I will treat everyone fair and square without any prejudice; and, my door will always be open to listen to your concerns. These are the reasons I am running again and seeking your support in November. We do not need four more years without representation.”