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BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
To the casual observer, the two candidates for the Board of Supervisors in Culpeper's Salem District special election seem to be at opposite ends of the political spectrum.
In reality, however, Alexa Fritz and Sanford Reaves agree on more issues than they care to admit.
Both, for example, say they champion property rights and will strive to keep Culpeper County as rural as possible.
And neither believes that the county's traffic impact fee ordinance, at least as written, is good for Culpeper.
Both candidates also have deep religious convictions. Reaves is a Baptist minister while Fritz is a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher.
Reaves is a Culpeper native. Fritz and her firefighter husband moved to Culpeper in 2002.
Where they seem to differ most is in political affiliation. Fritz, 44, is fiercely Republican while Reaves, 57, is independent.
"I'm people-driven, not party-driven," said Reaves. "I am an independent candidate."
Fritz, on the other hand, makes no secret that she is a protege of Tom Underwood, who resigned in April after taking a job in Chicago, creating the Salem District vacancy.
"I think [Tom and I] have the same viewpoint," Fritz said.
If elected, Fritz intends to take on one of the issues Underwood fought against--the traffic impact fee ordinance that came into effect last July 1.
That ordinance places a one-time fee on homebuilders and businesses, with the money going to road construction.
Culpeper County was the first jurisdiction in the state to enact the controversial ordinance that also forces new businesses to pay fees based on the amount of traffic they are estimated to generate.
"I'm against traffic-impact fees, said Fritz, noting that the ordinance has raised very little money because, "We're growing at less than half of what [officials] projected."
Reaves said he is not so much against the residential fees as he is the commercial aspect of the ordinance.
"Over a 30-year period, that impact fee is very minimal for someone building a house," he said. "Too often these developers build subdivisions and then get off scot-free."
Reaves, however, said he does not favor slapping big fees on businesses that might come to Culpeper and add to the tax base.
"My goal is to minimize the tax impact on the citizen and to attract new businesses," he said.
Reaves is a long-standing member--and currently chairman--of the Culpeper County Planning Commission. In addition to his role as a minister, Reaves also operates Sanford and Sons, a cleaning and janitorial business.
He ran a close race against Underwood last November in the Board of Supervisors' Salem District election.
Fritz, who resigned as president of the Founding Fathers Republican Women to run for supervisor, is seeking public office for the first time.
"I want to keep Culpeper rural but not take away our rights," said Fritz, who is a real estate broker by trade. "I'm big on property rights."
"I want to preserve the Culpeper we know today," said Reaves.