Local businessman and anti-pipeline activist Mike Carter will challenge Rocky Mount District Supervisor Charles Wagner in the November election.
Carter, 58, has lived and operated a business, Carter’s Fine Jewelers and Gifts, in Rocky Mount for 30 years.
This will be Carter’s first run for office.
“I’m running on new voice, new vision,” he said. “I think the county needs to maybe have a businessperson’s perspective on county politics.”
Carter will face Wagner, a veteran supervisor who is in his 20th year of service on the board. He is also the board’s vice chairman. Wagner announced in March he will seek re-election.
Though Carter is involved with pipeline opposition group Preserve Franklin, previously serving as its chairman, he said the Mountain Valley Pipeline will not be his primary campaign issue.
Carter said he is “not at all opposed to Franklin County getting natural gas,” and never has been. He just doesn’t believe the pipeline is the best way to do so.
There are other ways, Carter said, to bring natural gas to the county without encroaching on the land of citizens and putting the county’s waters, particularly Smith Mountain Lake, at risk.
Carter said he’s a strong supporter of education, and would like to see the new career and technical education center come to fruition.
One of the biggest ongoing projects facing the board of supervisors is the new 550-acre business park. Carter said if the right kind of businesses are recruited and the park is “citizen friendly” rather than industrial, he believes it will be good for the county. Carter said he’s encouraged by the plans he’s seen thus far, which include various public amenities and green spaces. He did, however, say the roughly $11 million the county paid for the land seemed excessive.
Carter believes his background in finance would be an asset to the board. In addition to running his business, Carter also sits on the board of Patrick Henry Community College, where he serves on the finance committee, and is the chairman of the local BB&T board.
“I have a strong understanding of finance and taxes and what it takes to run a business and how to be conservative and still make things work,” he said.
The candidate said he also wants to ensure the local government is transparent.
“I would like to see more citizens’ input in decision making. I think a lot of decisions are made without really listening to the constituency,” he said. “And if I’m elected my voice is going to be for the people, it’s not going to be for Mike Carter.”
Aside from the Rocky Mount District, voters in November will elect supervisors for the Boone and Snow Creek districts, currently represented by Ronnie Thompson and Leland Mitchell, respectively. Mitchell will seek re-election, and Thompson has not yet announced whether he will pursue another term on the board.