Councilman Bridge Littleton ramped up his mayor campaign Monday night with a meet-and-greet event that drew about 100 supporters to the town’s community center, a week after he was endorsed by Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27).
“This whole town is a special place,” Littleton said during his address to the crowd. “It’s our responsibility that we pass it on to the next generation.”
Littleton pointed to four actions that he would like to tackle—emphasizing the town’s utility system, economic development, town financials and building relationships with other local government.
In highlighting the utility system and how important and complex it is, Littleton noted that the current high user rates only pay for 70 percent of the system, while the other 30 percent comes from taxes, town reserves and borrowed money.
He also emphasized the importance of attracting new businesses to the town and helping current businesses thrive through a cooperative marketing program. “That is a hard, hard issue,” he said.
Another talking point Littleton touched on, and a key part of his campaign, was to increase the town’s strategic reserve requirement from 20 percent of the annual budget to 100 percent to prepare for rainy days, since revenue has exceeded expenses throughout the past three years. “That to me is what the job of responsible government is,” he said.
Pointing to the fact that 65 percent of the town’s revenue currently comes from tourism, Littleton said that this would be the first place to take a hit in the event of an economic downturn. He said that if this revenue flow decreased by just 17 percent, the town’s financials would be in the red.
The last topic Littleton discussed was relationship building. Specifically, he said that he has been working to help the town build better relationships with the county Board of Supervisors, since it holds the power to decide what gets built around the town limits.
Littleton also thanked Mayor Betsy Davis for leading the town since 2006, to which Davis received a standing ovation.
“I’m not going to ask for your vote on May 1,” Littleton said to the room full of supporters. “What I’m asking for is your trust.”
Littleton is part of a three-candidate mayoral race that also includes Vincent Bataoel, chairman of the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, and 20-year Councilman Mark Snyder. It is the town’s first contested mayoral race in 26 years.