Name: Ryan Yates Lawson
Education: Studied at WCC
Last job held: Ameriprise Financial
Why are you running for office?
I have greatly enjoyed my first term as the East Wytheville District Supervisor. I feel like I have had great success, but my work is not done. I want to continue the things that I have started and will continue to work hard for not only East Wytheville, but all of our great county!
Discuss your qualifications to serve on the board of supervisors. How do you view the role of a supervisor?
I feel that I am qualified to serve another term on the Board of Supervisors based on my success the first term. Since being elected in 2017, I have had the opportunity to be the voice of East Wytheville in many important decisions for our county. It has not always been easy and its very time consuming, but I have loved every minute of it. I feel that I have put the time and work into what it takes to be a great supervisor.
What issues are important to folks in your district?
Right now, the folks in my area are mostly focused on new school construction. With Scott Memorial and Spiller both being in East Wytheville, I get a lot of questions about what our plans are in conjunction with the School Board for these projects. Especially since our economic development announcement of Blue Star, and the jobs it will create, there have been many questions regarding the sizing needs of any new construction. We are currently in the early planning stages of building a new middle school on the George Wythe campus, with a start date of 2022. Spiller Elementary plans should follow.
What issues are important to the county as a whole?
Issues involving the county as a whole are similar to the issues in my area. Economy, school construction and infrastructure are issues for the entire county. The BOS is extremely pleased by the announcement of Blue Star; however, we don’t want to stop there. We have additional openings in the Industrial Park that need to be filled. I will always vote for and support any action that makes common sense when discussing our school systems. At the top of the list of my platform four years ago was the school system and that has not changed. I want the best for all of our county schools. Also, we cannot forget infrastructure which is going to be vitally important when industries such as Blue Star come to our county.
How do you see the future of the Apex Center? Will you vote to spend additional money on the center? Why or why not?
I’m not sure of what the future will be for the APEX Center. There are still many lingering problems surrounding the center, therefore I do not plan to vote on additional funding for it.
What issues are on the horizon that Wythe County needs to get in front of?
As chair of our Fire and Rescue committee, I see firsthand the needs of our fire departments and rescue squads. I believe that we need to make some big financial decisions, in order to provide staffing to certain areas. No one likes to hear the term “paid staff” for a volunteer fire department, but Wythe County citizens deserve to have great emergency services available to them at all hours of the day. Volunteers are hard to find during certain hours. Our rescue squads also need additional support. We are on the right track to provide this have already been successful with the purchases of new gear, trucks, and other items, but there still is a lot of work to be done.
What is Wythe County doing right?
Wythe County has done a lot right. We have worked hard to keep tax rates low, while providing funding for so much. Just to name a few- water projects, building projects, economic development projects, the broadband project, infrastructure projects, etc. Projects and items big and small, there are too many to name, but we have a lot to be proud of. Wythe County has so much going for it. We are very lucky to have a great administrator, Mr. Bear, a great assistant administrator Mr. Hankins, a great board, and top-notch staff, who ALL work tirelessly to ensure Wythe County is the best it can be.
In what areas can Wythe County improve?
I would love to see Wythe County utilize its blueways a bit more. I am currently working on a grant funded project to install a couple of boat ramps along Reed Creek. This is an inexpensive way to provide a place for our citizens who enjoying floating or kayaking to enter and exit the water and will also include parking. I always hear people say, “there’s not much to do around here”. This is one way that I feel I could personally make a small impact on that.
Are you willing to raise taxes to fund educational needs and facilities? Do you think the school board should consider consolidating some schools?
I have always been a big supporter of funding our excellent school system. We did have a small tax increase for the renovation of George Wythe High School. If we must present another tax increase to the citizens of Wythe to provide required funding, then I will support that, but the plans are not to raise taxes unless it is absolutely required to do so.
I do not think that school board should consider consolidation.
What does the county need to prepare for the arrival of Blue Star-AGI?
We have worked hard for months in preparation of this new, very large industry. We are currently working on sewer, water, and wastewater needs to support it.
What industries would you like to see recruited to this area?
I would like to see industries like Blue Star come to our area. They will provide secure, excellent paying jobs that will keep our young people here in Wythe County and not moving elsewhere to find quality work.
What businesses would you like to see developed?
One of the top 20 business needs across the United States are those containing skilled workers. I would like to see homegrown businesses that specialize in electricians, plumbing, welding, masonry, etc. I would like to see Wythe County business owners fill contracts in these areas as opposed to companies outside of our county.
What changes to the county – taxes, land use, education, etc. – would be required to better recruit?
Our tax rate is still one of the lowest in the surrounding area and this is something that the BOS is proud of. Our educational system is excelling in all areas as well. Our schools are some of the best in the state and our local community college has excellent opportunities to learn in many fields at an extremely low cost.
I feel Wythe County is ready and able to recruit businesses now to our area and we proved that with Blue Star.