Senate Candidates Offer Alternatives – Bert Dodson

Published 6:09 pm Thursday, October 27, 2011

FARMVILLE – Democratic candidate Bert F. Dodson Jr. made a stop in Farmville on Friday, October 14 while campaigning for the 22nd District State Senate seat. Although from Lynchburg, he's no stranger to the area. Earlier this summer his campaign opened an office on Main Street.

The General Election is Tuesday, November 8 and Dodson is running against the Republican candidate, Tom A. Garrett Jr., for the newly created Senate seat.

When asked how he will work to begin to attract new businesses to the area and create new opportunities in the diverse District, Dodson touched on education.

“Education is primary,” he said. “It ties in with opportunities in relation to economic development. I mean it just ties into…increased access to rural broadband which is needed in localities.”

A private-public partnership, he added, is what is needed in most of the rural areas of the District.

“That's one thing I've known in my life is job creation,” he added, while mentioning his family-owned business.

Dodson is president and CEO of Dodson Pest Control, a Lynchburg-based company that employees more than 500 people.

“Except for Lynchburg and the Town of Farmville, I've heard every locality say increase access to Internet,” he said. “And it's similar to electricity a number of decades ago. The last mile concept-How do you get the last mile of Internet? Internet is just so important and rural counties will even fall behind if you don't have better Internet access. Companies are not going to locate to an area with poor Internet access. Why would they?”

When asked about funding for this endeavor, Dodson said, the partnership would be funded by incentives.

“Where some people think it might take five or 10 years to build out an infrastructure such as this,” he said. “But what happens is you have to find, if the partnership is there, you have to 'incentive-ise' private utility companies to expand their access.”

The 22nd District includes part of the City of Lynchburg, and part of Louisa County. It also includes the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, and Prince Edward.

Dodson attended Virginia Tech and the University of Richmond School of Business, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in May 1976. He also served on Lynchburg City Council for 12 years.

Dodson and his wife, Theresa, have four children and six grandchildren. He is a member of the Quaker Memorial Presbyterian Church where he serves as an Elder.

Dodson's Farmville office is located at 104 N. Main Street-the number is (434) 305-8808.

If elected to the 22nd Senate seat, one of Dodson's goals is to permanently open a Farmville office.

“That would be a local presence where citizens of Prince Edward, lower Cumberland, Buckingham, and eastern Appomattox could come to and meet with me and my staff,” he said. “This wouldn't be done until after the General Assembly…but by having a central point it would be good as far as a contact. It would be a lot easier than having to drive up to Lynchburg.”

Touching back on education funding, budget cuts and the ending of stimulus funding, Dodson noted that he also supports the recent Virginia School Board Association's (VSBA) resolution in support of public education.

The resolution states, “none of the $544.8 million fiscal year 2011 budget surplus has been proposed to be allocated to K-12 public education.”

The resolution also requests that the Governor “allocate a fair share of the $544.8 million fiscal year 2011 budget surplus to K-12 public education, to begin to restore funds cut from K-12 public education in fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011.”

“I fully support that initiative,” he said. “…We don't need any more cuts to education…It's kind of frustrating.”

When asked to name where he'd begin to work to trim the state budget or offer ideas about making cuts, Dodson said, “No department or agency should be eliminated but we can deal with redundancy of services. I know in the City of Lynchburg we've used IT massively to reduce personnel over the years. The more and better technology you have in any government agency, the less need you have for personnel with the benefits. Through attrition, as people retire, you don't have to replace people over a period of time. And you become more efficient in delivering the services. The government is a service. It delivers a service…”

Public safety is another of Dodson's goals.

“There is a lot of need as far as public safety and public education,” he added.

An important concern that seems to be on everyone's mind is the lack of transportation funding in Virginia.

Dodson also touched on this area and said that this solution involves a “strong bi-partisan agreement on how to deal with the transportation issues…”

“You can't as individuals, either Republican or Democrat, stick out their neck and suggest ways to deal with the transportation fiasco that will be upon us in a very few short years,” he said. “…It's got to be leadership by both parties in both chambers to deal with this massive issue and that ties in with economic development.”

Dodson also noted that the state is losing jobs because of “its transportation issues.”

“And a lot of our roads are unsafe,” he said. “I drive throughout this 22nd District.”

In regards to legislation in the upcoming General Assembly, if elected Dodson noted that he will work to reach out to the local governments.

“I would reach out to the local governments in the new 22nd District” he said, “to see what legislation, and elected bodies, like the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors and the Farmville Town Council and see what they would want. What legislation they feel-the majority feels like. They have agendas and to see what they feel would be more necessary rather than me come up with some great idea. Some people go to the Assembly and think they have this great idea…I'm a blank board and I'd rather people give me information and ideas-be a listener rather than a talker.”