GRETNA — Vernon Moon, a Gretna businessman, farmer and long-time champion of public schools, announced his candidacy today for the Callands-Gretna District seat on the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.
Moon, 67, will challenge incumbent Jerry Hagerman in the Nov. 3 election. Hagerman, a retired sheriff’s investigator, is running for his second term on the board.
Both are independent candidates.
All seven supervisors’ seats are up for election in November. Supervisors typically serve four years, but will switch to staggered terms with the 2015 election.
Supervisors elected in the Callands-Gretna, Banister, and Dan River districts will serve two-year terms with the remaining board members serving four.
Elections will continue every two years with all members serving four years.
Supervisors’ terms will mirror the school board, which switched to staggered terms in 2011.
In addition, county voters will elect a sheriff, commonwealth’s attorney, clerk of court, treasurer, and commissioner of revenue.
Voters also will fill seats in the General Assembly. State senators Bill Stanley and Frank Ruff are up for re-election along with delegates Les Adams and Danny Marshall.
The filing deadline is June 9.
As owner of Gretna Tire Company for more than 40 years, Moon holds an advanced degree in accounting from Virginia Tech, where he graduated in 1970.
After working several years for the international accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, Moon returned to his hometown of Gretna to raise his family and enter business with his uncle.
“I’ve become increasingly concerned about the direction of our county,” Moon said. “We are entering a critical time of stagnant economic development combined with the conclusion of the tobacco settlement payments to farmers. That coupled with next-to-no economic development paints a bleak picture.”
As a cattle farmer and member of the Pittsylvania County Agricultural Development Board, Moon hopes to see opportunities for innovative farming activities.
“Using our rich land wisely and profitably is a natural boost to the economic energy we so desperately need,” he said.
“What we must do is focus closely on our county’s assets and consider all the ways we can make the most of what we have. That’s where progress begins,” Moon said.
“I’m running because I believe that my experience in business and finance can make a difference in guiding the county through these challenging times.”
Moon already has endorsements from business leader Dallas Riddle and cattle farmer George Winn.
“This is the best news for our county I’ve heard in a long time,” said Riddle, founder and chairman of RACO. “Vernon Moon will give us the vision and leadership we so desperately need on our board of supervisors.”
Winn, member and former chairman of the Pittsylvania Agricultural Development Board, said Moon is an outstanding candidate.
“As a long-time farmer and businessman, Vernon Moon has a deep understanding of the importance of agriculture to our county, especially in the northern end. We all need to get behind him to be sure he’s elected,” Winn said.
In announcing his candidacy, Moon cited the crushing effect of the millions in school bond debt the county took on more than 10 years ago. Not enough effort has been put into paying off this debt, Moon said.
“This creates an uncertain future for our children and grandchildren who will face the obstacle of this mounting debt,” he said, adding that the county is paying about $600,000 each year in interest on the school bonds.
“Our choices are clear,” Moon said. “We can raise taxes and/or slash county services. Or we can get serious about bringing new economic energy to the county to help us with debt reduction and services.”
On community development, Moon cited the tremendous strides Gretna has experienced in recent years, noting the presence of the Hampton Inn, the Centra hospital complex, Gretna Theatre, McDonald’s, Family Dollar, Lavalette House, Gretna Little Theatre, and the Junction Shopping Center.
“If you think about it,” Moon said, “these assets were developed not by committees but by ordinary citizens who cared deeply about their own town and used their creative energy and commonsense to make these things happen. This is what we need all over the county.”
Moon is married to the former Diane Bennett of Gretna, who worked in the county school system for 38 years as a teacher, school psychologist, and special education supervisor.
Before retiring, she served nine years on the executive board of Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services and six years on the state board of the Virginia Academy of School Psychologists.
The Moons have two daughters and three grandchildren.
During the past 25 years, the Moon family has hosted 20 foreign exchange students from 11 countries.
He is a founding member of the Gretna High School Football Booster Club and serves as treasurer of Gretna Youth Sports.
In 2008, Moon was honored as Gretna’s Citizen of the Year, and in 2012, the board of supervisors presented him with a plaque recognizing his contributions to youth and high school sports in Gretna.