Throughout Virginia, 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts are tasked with doing just what their name implies: conserving soil and water. They are staffed and governed by boards of directors.

On the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District Board — which covers Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson counties, and the city of Charlottesville —there are 12 members. Two directors are elected every four years from each locality, and two directors are appointed.

There are two Virginia Department of Elections-certified candidates for two open seats representing Louisa County on the board. Carolyn Daughters and Stephen Lucas are both incumbents; Daughters has served since 2020 and Lucas since 2019.

Collectbritain designed a questionnaire based on over 200 responses we received to a voter survey. Lucas provided answers, Daughters did not.

Can you explain what the job of a director of the Soil and Water Conservation Board is and what you have learned about the role since your appointment?

Stephen Lucas: Soil and Water Conservation District directors are elected to insure that local, state, and federal programs address local soil, water, and other natural resource concerns. To do this, directors keep up with environmental developments within the district, and assist SWCD staff with setting priorities and directing resources to meet goals set in short- and long-range plans.

Carolyn Daughters: Did not provide a response.

There are two candidates for two open seats to represent Louisa County on the board. Many of these elections are uncontested or don't have enough candidates. Why do you think people don't run for these roles?

Lucas: In spite of our best efforts, the public doesn't know what we do and its importance. These positions are filled by volunteers willing to commit a considerable amount of time to keep up to date on developments, attend committee and board meetings, and deal with local governments. In addition, becoming a candidate involves going through the election process, which is time-consuming as well. While most residents in the Central Virginia area are concerned about environmental issues, few are willing to dedicate themselves to taking leadership roles.

Daughters: Did not provide a response.

What do you think is the most pressing concern for conservation in your district?

Lucas: One of the SWCD's goals is encouraging farmers and other land users to voluntarily improve the environmental impact their land has on the water quality on the streams and rivers close to them, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The Commonwealth of Virginia has entered into regional agreements to meet goals that address problems in the Bay and its tributaries. My concern is if we do not achieve these goals, voluntary programs may become mandatory.

Daughters: Did not provide a response.

Do you have any certifications or qualifications for this position that you want voters to know about?

Lucas: I have a Bachelor's of Science in agronomy from Virginia Tech, and have worked in the natural resources field (for the federal government and privately) for nearly 40 years. My wife and I own and operate a beef cattle/timber farm in western Louisa County.

[Editor's note: Agronomy is the science of soil management as it relates to crop production.]

Daughters: Did not provide a response.

More about the candidate for Soil and Water Conservation Board

Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here's more about how to get election results.

  • Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar's office.
  • Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
  • Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
  • Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
  • Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
  • Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.

Need to know if you're eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.

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