2019 Chesterfield candidate questionnaire

Below you’ll find the responses from each candidate for Chesterfield Board of Supervisor that filled out our public transportation candidate questionnaire. Out of the 10 candidates running across five districts, we received five responses spanning five districts. Chesterfield County will vote for Board of Supervisors on November 5th. You can check your voter registration status and register to vote on the Department of Elections website.

If you are a candidate and would like your answers included below, please send an email to info@rvarapidtransit.org as soon as possible!

1. A 2018 study from the Partnership for Housing Affordability found that Chesterfield County lacks adequate affordable housing for seniors. As our region’s population grows older, and more and more County residents begin to age in place, what will you do to ensure that older residents living in Chesterfield County, who may not be able to drive, can stay in their homes longer while accessing the services they need to thrive?

Kevin Carroll (Matoaca): As studies like these bring awareness to the age wave, we must evaluate and manage future development with this in mind. We can take advantage of infill development to build low cost homes. These are parcels that already have the needed infrastructure in place in developed areas. Zoning should allow Accessory Dwelling units. These self-contained dwellings on the same property as a standard single-family home provide another option for families. Chesterfield County provides transportation to older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals with our program “Access Chesterfield” provided by Owl, Inc . The Midlothian Corridor plan lends itself to multi transit options for seniors to remain independent and active. I look forward to considering more areas for seniors like the newly approved Summit at Magnolia for our aging population.

Debra Gardner (Clover Hill): As a Baby Boomer I understand first hand the importance of being able to age in place. As a Supervisor, I would be proactive in implementing diverse policy options to address the senior affordable housing issue. As mentioned in the Senior Housing Study I would advocate for multi modal options of transportation. Public transit may not be the best option for seniors. I would advocate for alternative forms of mobility using public private partnerships with community based nonprofits, taxi companies and other paid transportation companies. I would expand the County's Supplemental Transportation Programs Access Chesterfield and The Owl.

Jim Holland (Dale): We are continuing to approve many types of housing in Chesterfield's Dale District.

Murti Khan (Bermuda): The reality is that Chesterfield has a population that is aging fast. A variety of public transportation options are needed to deal with the problem. Affordable buses in the right places will be a start. In addition, we need to look at other public transportation options.

Shajuan Mason (Matoaca): I would conduct a needs assessment to determine whether adequate housing for the elderly is a need for the Matoaca District. I would further inquire from our neighbors their feedback regarding this issue. If it is determined that there is a need within the Matoaca District then I would ensure that the proper research, collaboration, and funding sources are explored.

Javaid Siddiqi (Midlothian): I would like to look at discounting rates for all disabled citizens as well as all Medicare and Medicaid participants. I would also like to increase walk-ability and have adequate structures in place at bus stops such as covered stops and benches.

2. Both the Northern Jefferson Davis Special Area Plan and the Midlothian Community Special Area Plan encourage productive development along the County’s major job and retail corridors. How do you see the role of transit in serving Chesterfield’s new and existing job and retail corridors?

Kevin Carroll (Matoaca): As stated, a variety of transit option should be available for our community. Linking affordable housing options to jobs is a key consideration. This would allow public transit to be an affordable and viable option. Keep in mind that online purchases have hurt our brick and mortar small business but, has helped those who are not as mobile in our community. We have a high density of homes and business’ in the western part of the district and will continue to grow. Public transportation could be considered.

Debra Gardner (Clover Hill): I see that transit can have a significant role in these two areas of the County connecting citizens to jobs, retail and other services both new and existing. These two areas of the county are of the highest density which is conducive to transit. In the Jefferson Davis area transit can provide the role of providing mobility to lower income citizens and blue collar neighborhoods. Transit can also improve the environment by creating less passenger miles off the roads, save gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions.

Jim Holland (Dale): We are planning for Transportation on Jeff Davis Highway with GRTC. In addition, we are using a Uber type system to help our citizens.

Murti Khan (Bermuda): Chesterfield is currently hurting economic growth by having less public transit accessibility than surrounding localities. Helping communities access public transportation is one of the biggest parts of my campaign platform. The county must get citizens better access. Citizens need to get to work so they may make incomes they were not able to make before. Citizens also need to be able to get to stores and shopping centers so they have more options to buy products at cheaper prices than before. Access to transit in job and retail corridors helps with these things. This will be good for businesses, people, and the community as a whole. It furthers economic growth. Government investment in public transportation is much better for the economy when comparing that investment to speculative economic development projects in the private sector that the government currently invests in.

Shajuan Mason (Matoaca): The Matoaca District is the biggest District in Chesterfield County. We have seventeen precincts. The District is extremely diverse. There are very rural areas in the District and areas that mimic a small city (like northern Virginia area). One cannot use the "one size fits all" approach when determining the role of transit in the Matoaca District. I would solicit the feedback from our neighbors and conduct a needs assessment regarding the role of transit in the Matoaca District.

Javaid Siddiqi (Midlothian): Transit is only one part of serving Chesterfield's new and existing job and retail corridors. We need to make sure we have housing and economic development that is accessible to both the routes and the stops. We also need to align frequency of routes so that citizen/ employer needs are adequately met so that it is a trusted, reliable and convenient means of transportation.

3. The pilot program to bring bus service to the Route 1 corridor is an important step in bringing public transportation to Chesterfield County and an important first step in building out the Chesterfield portion of RVA Greater Richmond Transit Vision Plan. Where and how should the County next expand public transportation?

Kevin Carroll (Matoaca): Public transportation should be expanded to areas where the population density would support the program. This will connect people to jobs and provide convenience to community amenities. Infrastructure improvements such as roads, parking locations and bus stop locations will be needed to make it safe and convenient for bus stops. The Midlothian corridor, Jefferson Davis highway corridor and the 360 corridors all have potential.

Debra Gardner (Clover Hill): It would seem that the Midlothian Area would be the logical choice if the proposed Midlothian Area Plan is approved. The vision of the plan is to make Midlothian more dense and walkable both of which is conducive to transit.

Jim Holland (Dale): It should expand to John Tyler Community College and Petersburg at VSU. We should also expand to the County Complex. We should also cover all major corridors, Midlothian, Hull Street and Iron Bridge Road.

Murti Khan (Bermuda): As of now, there is no guarantee from the current supervisors that the pilot program will continue once the grants expire in a few years. Supervisors are already talking about exit strategy (as seen in Chesterfield Observer articles). As someone who has much of route 1 in my district, I am not convinced that the pilot program has been set up to succeed. We need a guarantee that the program will continue once the grants expire. In addition, we need affordable transit systems that go across the turnpike, up route 1, to the Chesterfield courthouse, to community college campuses, into the city, and other places where it is lacking.

Shajuan Mason (Matoaca): In reference to the Matoaca District, I would solicit feedback from our citizens and conduct a needs assessment and then determine the next step regarding public transportation.

Javaid Siddiqi (Midlothian): I see the next opportunity to expand the route system at the city line from Chippenham Pkwy to Chesterfield Towne Center.

4. This past General Assembly session, Southwest Virginia joined Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia in creating a dedicated funding stream for transportation. Both the Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia regions levy a regional 0.7% sales tax for transportation projects, but only the latter region requires a portion of that revenue be set aside for public transportation services like rail and buses. Would you support a regional funding stream for public transportation in metropolitan Richmond? If so how should the region use this new funding source to invest in public transportation?

Kevin Carroll (Matoaca): The decision to raise taxes lies with the people. However, I am not in favor of raising taxes for this issue because Chesterfield has dedicated funds tor transportation. Chesterfield County is the most populous county in the region. If we pass a regional sales tax, I fear Chesterfield residents will pay the greatest portion for public transportation that entire region would benefit from.

Debra Gardner (Clover Hill): Yes I would support a funding stream for transportation. Use of the funding stream should be diverse and decided with community input.

Jim Holland (Dale): Yes, I will support a regional funding stream and it must be used for buses and rail. We have funds for Transportation from the car tax I voted on in 2015.

Murti Khan (Bermuda): I would be open to having a revenue source for transportation. I think Cash Proffers would be a good place to explore for this sort of revenue. That being said, my view is that the reason public transportation hasn't succeeded is not because of lack of available financial resources. I believe it has been a mentality problem. I was quoted in the Chesterfield Observer in April saying the following: “‘We hear about a bus route that will cost $800,000 or maybe $1.2 million and people will say we can’t afford that. Well I’ve got news for you: We have a more than $700 million budget,’ Khan said. ‘I believe we can make public transportation very efficient, but we have to make it a priority. That is what the community has asked for.’”

Shajuan Mason (Matoaca): As a member of the Board of Supervisors for the Matoaca District I would confer with my neighbors to solicit their feedback regarding the need for public transportation. I would ensure that our neighbors have the proper information in order to make an informed decision. If it is determined that there is a need for public transportation than we would explore the various streams of funding.

Javaid Siddiqi (Midlothian): I am a strong proponent for regionalism. We need to look at economies of scale. Our mindset needs to be that we are all in this together, so that we can drive down cost and increase efficiencies. Historically, Chesterfield County has not been regarded as a regional partner. My candidacy will bring regional cooperation to the table as we look more and more ways to develop partnerships.