New Pittsylvania County supervisor pledges to put people over politics

Robert M. Tucker Jr. — Pittsylvania County’s newest supervisor representing the Banister District — pledged to put people ahead of politics and personal issues in a brief swearing-in ceremony Friday morning in Chatham.

Tucker was selected to fill the position left vacant by the resignation of Vice Chair Jessie Barksdale in September. Barksdale cited personal reasons for stepping down.

A judge tapped Tucker after the board of supervisors weren’t able to reach an agreement. This followed a turbulent few weeks of tense meetings and infighting.

Barksdale’s departure left the board with only six members who appeared to be split into two camps with Chairman Vic Ingram, Darrell Dalton and Tim Chesher making up one voting bloc and Bob Warren, Ron Scearce and Tim Dudley comprising the other side.

Tucker, a lifelong resident of the county, is the senior pastor of Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church and the general sales manager at Berglund Auto Group in Lynchburg, the county reported earlier this week.

“I look forward to serving with the board,” he said, noting that he’s heard from “most” of the members.

Tucker also cited choppy waters of the board of supervisors while speaking after he took the official oath of office Friday.

“I understand there’s a politically charged environment we live in…” he said. “However, I think I bring some value to the board in terms of bringing people together and creating a harmonious relationship among the board of supervisors.”

He acknowledged a learning curve as he embarks on the transition to a board member, but he promised — referencing his management abilities and skills — to put people over politics and policies, saying residents are the “greatest resource” of the county.

“I think it’s important that we put people ahead of our own personal issues and innuendoes and suspicions,” he said. “One thing that I think is critically important is the fact that we have to learn how to actively listen to one another.”

The newest supervisor pointed to the importance of tapping into the position of other people’s views.

“I think I told the NAACP that it’s no accident that God gave man one mouth and two ears,” he said, eliciting a chuckle from those gathered Friday morning. “So we should listen twice as much as we speak.”

He then tackled a perception the position is a “swing vote” in the 3-3 aligned board, a view he doesn’t hold.

“I told people I don’t see it as a swing vote,” he said. “There are areas where we can compromise in, there are going to be issues wherein everyone is not going to agree, however it is important we have to have the fortitude to stand on our morals and our principles and to do what’s right. And that’s what I want to do going forward.”

Tucker, who graduated from Gretna High School and received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from what is now called Averett University, will serve until a special election in 2023. The winner of that election will fill the remaining years — 2024-25 — of Barksdale’s term.

“This is a great day for all of us, in more reasons than one,” Ingram said. “Oh behalf of the citizens of Pittsylvania County, your constituents in the Banister District, and the board of supervisors, we welcome you.”

The next board of supervisors meeting is slated for Nov. 15.

“We are just absolutely delighted that you have joined our team,” Ingram also said. “I think you’ll be such a compliment to our board.”

Article by Charles Wilborn