Herald 2022 Candidate Q and A — Farmville’s Ward B Race

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

As we move into mid-October, early voting has already started and for those who want to wait, it’s less than a month until Election Day. With that in mind, we’re reaching out to candidates in all contested races across our coverage area, asking them to answer several questions. Each candidate in a race receives the same questions and the same amount of time to send answers in.

In this edition, we’re focusing on the race for Farmville’s Ward B seat. There is no incumbent in this race, because currently Brian Vincent holds the seat. He’s giving it up to enter the race to be Farmville’s next mayor. As a result, we have two new candidates.

Adam Yoelin has been a resident of Farmville for the past 10 years. He and his wife Ann, a Longwood associate professor, have brought back two important homes from disrepair and filled them with their family and love.

Yoelin has been a citizen of the Commonwealth for over 20 years. Before that he lived and built a successful brewpub/movie theater in Asheville, NC. He’s spent much of his life traveling the country, meeting people and making friends. For the last 15 years Yoelin has been in Property and Asset Management. He has a dog named Emma and recently learned how to weld at Southside Virginia Community College.

Rhodes Martin is a Farmville native and a University of Virginia graduate. Martin is a Farmville resident who works out of the Lunenburg Farm Bureau office in Kenbridge, and has been employed by Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance for 15 years. Martin’s great, great-grandfather, R. J. Martin, was a town council member from 1923-32 and his great-uncle R. J. Martin, Jr., served on council in 1948-49.

1. What is the biggest challenge facing Farmville and how would you address it?

Adam Yoelin: I believe the biggest challenge facing Farmville is the higher cost of living brought on by the unprecedented inflation we’re experiencing. Prices are going up and up for all the goods and services our Citizens rely on for daily living. Additionally, it is harder to save for the future. In times like these, I believe our greatest strength comes from within. There are several organizations dedicated to offering a helping hand to members within our community. Notice I said “helping hand” not “handouts.” It’s been my experience while working at some of these organizations that most of the people who come in are just missing the the mark by a little bit. Almost all of them have jobs, or are caregivers for their children or senior family members. It’s just that living paycheck to paycheck leaves them a little short at the end of the month. And it’s getting tougher. We need to come together and build up these places of community support. As the Ward B Council Member, I will work with the Mayor and the other Council Members to make sure that as food and gas prices rise, the families in Farmville will not sink.

Rhodes Martin: The biggest challenge for Farmville is attracting and retaining residents who are meaningfully engaged in the community. This problem is not unique to rural small towns, but Farmville has special characteristics that can be leveraged to make it thrive. As a member of the Town Council, I would work collaboratively within the Council and with other entities to build economic growth and community engagement. Specifically, economic development and supporting small businesses is critical to the overall success of the town. Progress has been made in this area and I would work to continue to create a bustling small town community where people want to come to live, work, and play.

2. Over the last decade, we’ve seen Farmville’s population decline. How would you reverse that trend?

Rhodes Martin: I see so many young adults who grow up in Farmville and move away because of the lack of opportunity here. As someone who grew up here and returned after college, I know the benefit of strong community ties and the importance of attracting and retaining young adults in Farmville. I would work to reverse that trend by taking steps to provide more jobs and housing opportunities for young professionals and their families.

Adam Yoelin: I think Farmville’s is doing a good job and going in the right direction towards growth and sustainability.

It’s just that these things take time. It’s very similar to growing trees. All of these amazing hundred year old trees in our town didn’t happen overnight. Someone long ago put those seeds in the ground and watered them and cared for them and a gave them a chance to grow. The seeds we are currently planting are in education, useful modern infrastructure and Town utilities and services. If we want Farmville’s population to grow, we have to give people a reason to stay and also give people a reason to move here. I think we should be asking folks who have moved to Farmville, what made them move here? Why do they want to live here, work here and play here? What we decide to do to bring new residents in will also naturally benefit our current community members. I think there are 3 things we should continue to focus on. Schools, safety and services.

3. Current or planned projects will help improve broadband around town. What are other infrastructure improvements the town needs?

Adam Yoelin: I think that the water systems in our Town are in need of some serious updating. I’m happy to see the current Council moving to address that problem. I’m also concerned about the flooding that occurs in some of the lower lying areas around South and Virginia streets. As a town we are long overdue in resolving that issue. Internet and electrical cabling should be moved underground for both safety and aesthetic improvements. If the new speed cameras work well on Griffin Blvd. The town would be well served to place them along some of our other busy streets. Finally, Ward B has quite a few sidewalks and stairs that need to be repaired or replaced to make accessibility easier for our residents and visitors.

Rhodes Martin: Broadband is a critical need in the town not only for residents, but also to support attracting businesses and economic growth. The town’s aging infrastructure needs attention to support the overall wellbeing of the town. The current council has projects on their radar and is accessing federal funds. I would work to support these projects while being a good steward of taxpayer money. Additionally, other considerations are improvements to parks and recreation facilities and outdoor spaces.

4. The current council is looking to change Farmville’s town charter. In addition to the ones being discussed, are there any changes you’d like to make?

Rhodes Martin: The Farmville Town Charter is in the process of being updated. This process includes legal guidance and public feedback. I would work to engage the public throughout the process and act in my role by listening to the public feedback and making decisions in the best interest of the town. I would continue the work of the current council so as not to delay the process.

Adam Yoelin: After reading the new Town Charter, I find it more streamlined and specific. It’s a modernized document that more closely resembles Town charters around Virginia and the nation. I recommend revisiting it every 10 years to make sure we’re staying consistent and still meeting the needs of the current and future population within the Town of Farmville.

5. What role does Longwood University play in the town’s future?

Adam Yoelin: The Town of Farmville and Longwood University are inseparable. As such it’s critical that both the Town and the University are aligned in their co-equal plans for development and growth. Currently Farmville’s relationship with Longwood University is the best it’s ever been. I will work hard as a Council Member to maintain honest and optimistic lines of communication while representing Ward B’s interests as one of the closest neighborhoods to the school. I applaud the efforts that Longwood’s administration has made in helping Farmville grow while also growing the campus. The buildings that have been constructed and renovated, the new innovation hub and the amazing LCVA for their art exhibitions and children’s programs. These are seeds that will bear fruit for years to come. Did I forget to mention The Big South Championship? Nah, I didn’t. Go Lancers!

Rhodes Martin: Longwood University is critical to the future success of Farmville. As a small town, Farmville is lucky to have the population and jobs that Longwood provides. The Council and Longwood need to maintain a strong working relationship to support mutually beneficial visions for both Farmville and the University. The growth and success of Longwood University directly affects the town and the residents in a positive way. The SEED Innovation Hub and Small Business Development Center are two examples of how Longwood provides valuable services to the community that are future-focused. Longwood is a valuable partner for accessing federal grants that directly benefit the Town.

6. What can Farmville do to better market itself to the rest of the Commonwealth and beyond?

Rhodes Martin: We are currently strong in this area with multiple organizations that are focused on “getting the word out” about all of the activities and unique places to visit in Farmville. We should continue to make a name for ourselves as not only a great location to visit, but also to live. We need to continue with the current partnerships and create new partnerships to advertise Farmville as a tourist destination and also a great place to live.

Adam Yoelin: Farmville should continue to develop our web presence. We have a great opportunity to build on the Heart of Virginia Festivals new date while the students and parents are in town. We should continue to grow our existing relationships with other Counties and State Parks creating programs that involve our neighboring communities throughout Virginia. I think a good example of cross-consumer promotion is Greenfront’s website. When people visit the website, they see the abundance of fine furniture available along with suggestions on what to see and do in and around Farmville. We can create more of these public/private partnerships to help our town grow and thrive. I think the creation of a full time grant writing position for the town would pay for itself by taking advantage of the many state and federal grants available. Finally, we should continue to think strategically with our end goal being the long term success of the Farmville community for generations to come. Consistent forward progress, even incrementally, should be the Town of Farmville’s path moving forward.

7. What is your vision for Farmville? How would you like to see it change in the next 5-10 years?

Adam Yoelin: Hopefully, a thriving community where young graduates from Hampden-Sydney and Longwood can find meaningful work and call Farmville home. Additionally, I would like to see a more walkable and accessible environment within the Town limits. Adding a variety of housing options can also make Farmville a more desirable location. Finally, I envision Farmville being a community that is safe and has more amenities to offer for retired adults.

Rhodes Martin: As a lifelong resident, my vision is to create a vibrant small town. In the next 5-10 years, I want to be in a town that continues to grow and thrive without losing the small town feel. I envision a plan for growth that is strategic, intentional, and grounded in public input and civic partnerships. I want to see the Town become stronger and cohesive while maintaining its small town charm. I want to see more young people stay and return to Farmville to raise families like I have. I want to give back to the community that raised me. Farmville’s Rhodes Lead to Success!