Friday, November 13, 2009
The last seven months have been quite a journey. Last Tuesday we lost the election, but in my eyes it was a tremendous success given the exceptionally high standards that we brought to the race and the Blacksburg community. The Mayor, Councilors, Councilor-elects, and countless community members have shared with me the gratitude they feel for the honor and energy our campaign brought to the table. It is said that we raised the bar for elections in Blacksburg. After the results got in last week, I stood up to speak to the Council-elect and their supporters about how their passion and devotion has inspired me over the course of the campaign. Before I could get a word out, however, they honored me with a standing ovation. I feel truly blessed to have been so recognized and would like to share this ovation with those who contributed to our campaign.
My deepest gratitude goes out to those contributors. Every handshake, every minute volunteered, and every cent donated—from every smile to every word of encouragement—I am indebted to all of you because without this support, our campaign would not have been possible. I would especially like to thank Kyle Gardiner and Graham Owen for their contributions, which considerably enhanced the quality of our campaign. Their devotion, skill sets, and countless hours of hard work allowed our campaign to maintain the high standards to which we held ourselves. They were nothing less than the arm and leg of this campaign.
Ever since making Blacksburg my home, I have aimed to make a positive difference in our town. I am proud to be a community organizer and am greatly appreciative of the incredible feedback I have received in this time, especially in the last few weeks. My friend, Chris Cox, honored me by devoting a column in the Collegiate Times to the campaign and what we strove to accomplish. In his own words, he states that, “The belief that one can make a difference is called efficacy… Bryce Carter deserves my vote because he does not need to be convinced of his own efficacy—he lives it.”
I will continue to devote myself to the Blacksburg community, striving every day to benefit the lives of fellow citizens. Recently I have been placed on a subcommittee of the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Protection and Sustainability. In addition, I have been working on the Blacksburg Climate Action Plan, in which we’ll be laying out a roadmap towards the reduction of the town’s emissions. By the end of this semester, I intend to finalize the creation of a Student Advisory Committee that will work directly with the Town Council and the Town and Gown Relations Committee. In the first months of 2010, I will lead community events such as a joint effort between Virginia Tech and Blacksburg to participate in Earth Hour. I will also explore the resources necessary to upgrade the town’s website utilizing new interactive technologies that will promote direct democracy from the comfort of your own home.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their support; we couldn’t have done it without you. I now invite you to join me in working to make Blacksburg a stronger, more cohesive community as we move into the future. Indeed, this is just the beginning.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I trust Bryce; and I believe that he will help us grow smart, build our economy, protect our resources, and help reflect the demographic balance of our town. Consider him as fresh eyes and new energy on old issues."
“Bryce Carter represents a new breed of campus leadership -- mature, engaged; hard-working; and, above all, well informed. He outshines candidates twice his age…”
"Bryce Carter displays an impressive level of knowledge in both municipal planning and fiscal management. Bryce has the skills and dedication to make Blacksburg an even more Special Place."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Collegiate Times: Candidate Bryce Carter's efficacy evident in his work
Christopher Cox, regular Collegiate Times columnist
The greater part of my last fall semester consisted of running the Virginia Tech chapter of Students for Barack Obama. My role called me to spur others to political action, which is superficially recognized as bothering a lot of people to vote.
I found the inspiration to bother so many people from the sincere and still-believed truth that I could make a difference among a cacophony of opinions, distractions and individual pursuits.
The belief that one can make a difference is called efficacy. Efficacy, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the power to produce an effect. It is manifested in the way people spend their time, which, because we’ve created the cultural “work week,” can be measured.
It’s easy and convenient to not believe in your own efficacy. If you don’t believe you have it, you don’t have to feel responsible for the outcomes of your efforts or how you spend your time.
My organization’s efforts last fall — alongside many other politically active groups in Montgomery County — registered more than 6,000 voters. Many of these voters were students, and some were casting ballots for the very first time. We are now in a very unique position as a student body to politically engage with the community in which we spend the majority of our time: Blacksburg. We make up more than 60 percent of the Blacksburg population and have no voice on Blacksburg Town Council.
We have a chance to change this on Nov. 3.
I have a close friend who has a profound and fundamental knowledge of his own efficacy. His efficacy is rooted in years of activism as a student and community organizer, and he is emboldened with unique experiences in regard to addressing issues of equity, community and environment. His name is Bryce Carter, and he’s running for Blacksburg Town Council.
I had the opportunity to listen to all the town council candidates at the SGA-hosted debate last week — and it became clear which of them have a working knowledge of the concepts of “sustainability” and “community.”
With the specter of “urban growth” thrown around among the candidates, I find solace in my knowledge of Bryce’s experience as an advocate for “smart growth” and his commitment to cooperation in producing change. An example of such a commitment has manifested in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, which he helped draft as a leader of the Environmental Coalition.
What all the candidates did have in common during the debate was a reverence for Bryce’s ideas.
Bringing the town of Blacksburg Web site to Web 2.0-standards and setting up a Student Advisory Committee to provide input in town decision-making are just two of Bryce’s initiatives that have quickly been picked up and espoused by all the candidates.
I know very few other people as committed as Bryce to serving the student community and Blacksburg in the pursuit of our common goals, and if our values can be measured by how we spend our time, the position of town council member wouldn’t even do Bryce justice.
Bryce’s commitment to public service and his willingness to engage with others, no matter how outwardly friendly they may be, or whether their values align with his own, is evidence enough for me to fully support his endeavors in this election.
More importantly, I am thoroughly convinced Bryce Carter deserves my vote because he does not need to be convinced of his own efficacy — he lives it.
Bryce is an example of who we all hope to be within our academic fields and among our communities: respected leaders who spend their time and commit their efforts to serving their friends and families without sacrificing their values.Perhaps living our efficacy is the only way to learn how to make our envisioned hopes and dreams real. You’ll never know your own power unless you choose to exercise it.
The campaign is getting down to the wire now and we would love all the help we can get--especially on election day! If you would like to help the campaign please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blacksburg Town Council Candidate
Monday, October 26, 2009
Since arriving in the fall of 2006, I’ve come to know the citizens of Blacksburg and the surrounding region. The kindness and eagerness to say hello to each other shows what a great community we are in and gives hint of how much more we can become as we grow. I am an avid environmentalist and have been involved with the Environmental Coalition at Virginia Tech for four years. I was at the first meeting with President Steger for what would become the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan. As a community organizer, I’ve worked with many students and citizens to involve them in local, state, and national lobbying efforts. I’ve organized events big and small from panels with opposing groups to being a central organizer and recruitment coordinator for the statewide conference, Virginia Power Shift 2008 in which 400-500 youth from across the state came for. I was awarded the Gwin-Parker-Gwin community service award for my efforts for that conference.
As the only undergraduate student running for Blacksburg Town Council, I have been reaching out to the student community through the creation of a Student Advisory Committee within the Student Government Association to serve as a voice of students between Town and Gown. I am on the Town and Gown Relations Committee and was invited by the Mayor to serve on Mayors Task Force on Climate Protection and Sustainability. I am eager to continue the expansion of my engagement once the intensity of the campaign subsides next week.
I am passionate about our community because I feel that it is truly is a special place. While there are certainly issues that need to be collaborated on in our community, I have seen firsthand the compliment diversity serves in forming our community. I’m excited to live here because there is always something new to learn and engage with. The fall is a great time to enjoy the vibrant football season and have delight at a morning bike ride down the colorful Huckleberry Trail. The winter, while certainly windy and chilly, is a good time to enjoy a good game of pool and beer (or hot chocolate) with friends Downtown or to see a movie at the Lyric. The spring, in an overnight burst, is an overwhelming reminder of the mountainous beauty our community resides in. Finally, there is the tranquility of summer, where free afternoons invite you to the New River and evenings lure you to your porch to enjoy company or read a good book.
In regards to my employment after the election, I am lucky to have been presented with a variety of opportunities from local non-profits, environmental businesses, educational programs, as well as graduate school. I am devoted to making a positive difference in our community and am eager to continue the expansion of my engagement for years to come.
Let us bring together our resources and passions to help better serve the needs and desires of everyone in our community. The Blacksburg Comprehensive Plan is a great guide of how we can grow as a community in the next several decades. The future we pursue must be a sustainable one, and sustainable practices compliment community development. Whether we’re talking about the potential at the Blacksburg Middle School, or the future at First and Main, or taking our government on-line through web interactivity, or actively engaging students to have a voice in governance and the future of Blacksburg—let’s work together in making this the community we all want it to be.
I feel privileged to call Blacksburg my home, and look forward to what the future holds.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
There are a lot of factors to consider regarding a proposal of a big box retailer such as a Wal-Mart. I certainly support Ordinance 1450 and subsequent Ordinance 1509, which requires a special use permit for any retailer store over 50,000 square feet. I believe these ordinances encourage the careful consideration of how such a project will affect both the economics and character of the Town of Blacksburg as the proposal moves through Council.
In looking at the overall benefit of such a project to the town, it is important to not only include tax revenue for the town, but to also consider the externalities of such a project. The 5% sales tax from any retailer is split so that 4% goes to the state and 1% goes to the county to be allocated by population in schools. The amount Blacksburg receives will be the same whether you shop in town or in Christiansburg. Now let’s say a ‘smaller Wal-Mart’ holds $10 million total property value, similar to what the South Main Kroger shopping center was valued a couple years ago. At a $.22 per $100 assessed value, this would produce $22,000 in property tax for the town. The real significant revenue for the town will come from the Business, Professional, Occupational License Tax, or BPOL tax. This tax is based on the yearly income of a retail business at a rate of $.20 per $100 gross receipts for retail if they make over $50,000. While the Wal-Mart in Christiansburg makes $100 million gross per year, the incoming Sam’s Club and potential Blacksburg Wal-Mart (or any other big-box retailer) will cut into that revenue. So let’s go with the idea of a ‘smaller Wal-Mart’ making around $30-40 million in this market (a typical Wal-Mart makes $50-$60 million). This means a Wal-Mart’s BPOL tax revenue for the town would be around $60,000 to $80,000, making the total income for Blacksburg, at maximum, approximately $100,000. This final amount would only make up 0.37% of our total general budget.
In tough economic straights an added $100,000 to the budget is alluring, but we need to consider the cost of the externalities. If a big-box retailer were to be approved the area is bound to see increased congestion, crime, and pollution that will require town resources to resolve these problems. With a potential location being next to an elementary school there is further concern in this regard. The surrounding neighborhoods will also need to put up with the negative effects of such a development including noise and lighting which will result in lower property values and lower income for the town. Businesses across town that are unable to compete with a big-box store may fail and result in the loss of even more tax revenue for town and the loss of character of our community. Such failures may require significant town investments to revitalize resulting depressed commercial areas. At the end of this estimate, the town may only be benefiting by the tens of thousands of dollars, if even that.
If a big-box retailer proposal were to reach council, I believe there should be very careful deliberation and reasoning throughout the decision making process that maximizes public input and collaboration. This is especially important in looking at how in the short and long term such a project will affect the town. With the information I have seen I do not believe a Wal-Mart fits the character nor the economic need of the Blacksburg community, but I am certainly open to deliberation of such a project and the will of the community I intend to serve.
As I mention in the video above, you can read the master plan of the planned redevelopment of Fairfax Boulevard from a series of strip malls to store front community-centered development here: http://www.fairfaxva.gov/Boulevard/VisionSummary.pdf.
Friday, October 16, 2009
I encourage you to watch the whole thing, but if you're in a hurry you can jump to my segments: 6:20, 35:00, 43:24, 1:15:00, 1:23:40, 1:41:20.
Expect a detailed post on smart growth in the next day or two.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I apologize for the lack of updates. As you might imagine things are moving along quite swiftly with just three weeks left until the election. Expect a blog post sometime in the next week about my experiences and opinion's regarding "smart growth" along with one or two other fun tidbits as well. If you are interested, there are many volunteer activities with the campaign that you can sign up for through this survey. If you'll like a campaign sign, you can fill out this survey as well.
In case you missed it, I encourage you to check out the first of two parts of the League of Women Voter's panel discussion that was hosted on the 5th. You can watch it here.
Also last Tuesday the Young Democrats at Virginia Tech hosted their first installment of their Town Council Candidate speaker series. I speak on my background and previous involvement and touch on issues including raising the student voice, recycling downtown, community-oriented development, big-box stores, sustainability, and my intention to stay in the Blacksburg community for years to come.
See for yourself:
Monday, September 28, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Representing the Student Voice
With voter registration quickly coming to a close on October 5th, the power of the vote should be emphasized with students here in
There are tremendous possibilities to engage students with the Town of
Currently there are ten candidates vying for four seats on Town Council, including myself as the only undergraduate student. I encourage every member of the community to learn more about all the candidates and consider the issues that matter most to you. Talk to your friends and classmates and together get registered to vote by October 5th. You can drop off your registration forms at the SGA office on the third floor of Squires. On November 3rd, make your voice heard and vote!
Undergraduate, Humanities, Science and Environment
Public Open Discussion - Saturdays at the Blacksburg Public Library
September 19: 8:30-10:00pm
September 26: 4:00-6:30pm (canceled)
October 3: 8:30-10:00pm
October 10: 8:30-10:00pm
October 17: 4:00-6:30pm
October 24: 4:00-6:30pm
November 1: 1:00-5:00pm
Students for Bryce Carter - Mondays in Jamestown Room, Squires
August 13: 6:00-7:00pm
September 7: 6:00-7:00pm
September 14: 6:00-7:00pm [Room 345]
September 21: 6:00-7:00pm
September 28: 6:00-7:00pm
October 5: 6:00-7:00pm [TBA]
October 12: 6:30-7:30pm [Norfolk Room]
October 19: 6:00-7:00pm
October 26: 6:00-7:00pm
November 2: 6:00-7:00pm
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I hope everyone enjoyed Steppin' Out! It was a pleasure to discuss the campaign in detail with many of you and I thank those that have offered to help out with the campaign, we'll certainly be in touch soon!
Also don't forget to come out to the Easy Chair Coffee Shop from 7-9pm THIS THURSDAY to hear me talk about my background experience, speak about details of the campaign and have an open discussion about the issues. Click below to join the Facebook event.
Campaign Field Organizer Graham Owen and myself holding up a filled recycling can in front of our Steppin' Out Booth.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
As you will hear many times, the foundation of my campaign is based on two pillars: sustainability and community. I believe that we must pursue sustainability to meet the local and global challenges ahead and I believe that working with and empowering our community is the key to developing collaboration to find creative solutions to these challenges. Stay tuned to this blog for specific examples of how the campaign will work to address the challenges that our community faces today.
I know it is essential to listen to what are your concerns regarding issues in your neighborhoods and of town policies. Within the next week I'll begin knocking on front doors and reach out to each of you to provide an opportunity for you to have a direct voice for this campaign that I intend to take straight to council. I'm looking forward to talking with each of you directly about what issues matter most to you.
In the mean time, here is a great article I recommend you read from the Roanoke Times to explore the contenders for Blacksburg Town Council.
Town Council Candidate
The Roanoke Times: July 19, 2009
A crowded field of candidates
Blacksburg Town Council contenders say they will canvass the community and use online tools to generate voter interest.
BLACKSBURG -- Candidates for town council say their strategy on reaching voters this year will include Facebook and face-to-face conversations.
That's just a couple of the methods they will use to set themselves apart from a large group of council hopefuls.
Ten people are running for four open seats in the Nov. 3 election. Susan Anderson is the only incumbent on the ballot -- the two other incumbents, Al Leighton and Tom Sherman, decided to not seek re-election -- while incumbent Mayor Ron Rordam is running unopposed.
The council seats are voted on at-large.
Last year, the council voted to change elections from May to November of odd-numbered years in hopes of boosting turnout significantly. This fall will mark the town's first November election.
The candidates include Virginia Tech students and employees, a design engineer, a retiree and active volunteer, residents with experience working on town boards and a former council member.
The youngest candidate is Bryce Carter, who turns 21 in August, while the oldest is 72-year-old Frank Lau.
Some of the campaign issues from the candidates include promoting smart growth, preserving green space, enhancing downtown, attracting businesses, enticing young professionals to live in the area, working with Virginia Tech and local municipalities, and ensuring open, accountable government.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Editorial: Tech youth could give back to townEditorial Board
If they haven't already, those paying attention to Blacksburg local politics will notice two young candidates vying for Blacksburg Town Council votes.
Michael Sutphin, 24, is a writer with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a 2006 Tech communication graduate. Bryce Carter, 20, will be a senior majoring in humanities, science, and environment. Both will attempt to represent nontraditional town council demographics: youth and recent status as a Tech student.
The question is whether they should.
Some Blacksburg natives refer to the students as a tide that ebbs and flows. This hardly makes them sound like integrated members of the larger Blacksburg community. So, is it really fair for students or recent graduates to take up as much as two-fifths of the decision-making body for the town?
Consider that voters aged 18 to 29 have steadily increased their voter turnout and more than half of the demographic participated in the election last November. On Monday, Tech passed the Climate Action Commitment resolution, a plan with its roots in the student-led environmental coalition. The college-aged and recently graduated are getting more and more accomplished.FULL STORY
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Two young residents aim to give Town Council Hokie viewpointSara Mitchell, Editor-in-chief
Record numbers of Virginia Tech students stormed the Blacksburg voting booths for the 2008 presidential election. This November they'll have the chance to check the names of two fellow Hokies.
Michael Sutphin, a 2006 Tech graduate, and Bryce Carter, a rising Tech senior, are both on the ballot for Blacksburg Town Council.
The two began campaigning for one of the four council seats available in the coming election.
Carter, a 20-year-old humanities major and former vice president of the Tech Environmental Coalition, was inspired to form his candidacy when Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam spoke this spring to students about making a difference in Blacksburg.
"The way he was talking, it really inspired me," Carter said. "Here I am on the campus community and why not take the next step? That's when it clicked for me."
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Roanoke Times: May 2nd, 2009
Tech student announces bid for council seat
Bryce Carter said he wants to encourage college students to get more involved in local government.
A supermajority of Blacksburg Town Council seats will be up for grabs during the town's first November election this fall, and a Virginia Tech student is the first newcomer to formally announce plans to campaign for one of them.
Bryce Carter, 20, said he wants to work to help college students become more invested in the community while also working with residents and town leaders to promote smart development and alternative transportation.
"I see so much potential here for us going in the right direction," said Carter, a junior at Virginia Tech.