The Timberlake District in Campbell County will see two newcomers to local politics vying for a spot on the board of supervisors this fall.
Justin Carwile, 30, and DD Gillett, 61, are running for the open seat in the only contested Campbell County supervisor race this year. Both espouse a passion for the local community and a commonsense approach to local government.
Incumbent supervisor Susan Hogg is not seeking reelection, according to Campbell County Registrar Kelly Martin. Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 2.
According to Martin, all candidates currently are registered as independents. Several candidates for local office, including Carwile, are seeking the Republican nomination from the Campbell County Republican Committee.
Carwile was born and raised in Campbell County and has five generations of family still living in the area. A Brookville High School graduate, he earned an engineering degree from Virginia Tech and currently works as a process engineer with Lynchburg-based composites manufacturer Hanwha Azdel.
He said he was driven to run by the political “situation” emerging nationally during the past several years and a concern individual freedoms and rights are being threatened.
Citing the “rise of BLM and Antifa” and “some of the chaos” that comes from individuals in those groups, as well as perceived threats to Second Amendments rights and COVID-19 mandates that imposed regulations on churches, businesses and individuals, Carwile said he wanted to represent the people in his district from the perspective of someone who has grown up in the community.
He hopes to ensure the representative sitting on the board would give Timberlake residents a voice and represent their “wants and needs” at a local level.
Gillett, a retired nurse and president of the Timberlake Homeowners Association, said her work within the Timberlake neighborhood has driven her to seek even more involvement in local politics.
She and her family have been living in the county off and on since 1984 and moved into the Timberlake neighborhood in 2005. There, she made it her mission to take on a decades-old issue that has plagued the community since the 1990s — the formation of a Timberlake Watershed Improvement District that could accrue the means and funds to dredge Timber Lake. This is an ongoing effort to save the lake from decades of damage and compounded sedimentation.
After years of work, the dredging process currently is underway, and through that experience — both the complicated process and hefty pay-off — Gillett said she was driven to see if she could “make a difference at the next level.”
Gillett worked as a nurse for 35 years, and since has retired. But this November, Gillett, her husband and another business partner recently bought the Timberlake Tavern in the district and, as new business owners, are working to restore the event center to its full potential.
Carwile acknowledged there is only so much the board can do at the local level but referenced the county’s Second Amendment sanctuary resolution approved in November 2019 as an example of a local effort that can signal the county’s frustrations on a larger scale.
However, he has a number of focuses locally, as well: ensuring county schools are receiving proper support, keeping taxes low while simultaneously growing the tax base, supporting local economic growth and broadband expansion.
He also named support of public safety and first responders as a major priority and wants the county to have strong individuals in office who will “stand in the gaps” and alongside law enforcement.
Carwile is a member of the Campbell County Militia, which he said focuses on civil and community service, and firearm safety and education. The county militia formed in early 2020 following approval of statewide gun control legislation.
Gillett said she wants to use “common sense” to look at issues that go before the board of supervisors and work as a team to address the needs of the Timberlake District in the same way she addressed the desires of her neighborhood.
Citing “all of the energy” drawn from so many concurrent county and state organizations to form the Watershed Improvement District and implement the dredge, she hopes that same energy can be utilized in local politics, working to “progressively address issues” and “turn things into a reality.”
She grew up in Buckingham County, which she said was a rural community that relied on “solid, honest, hardworking people” — the approach she hopes to take on the board. With experience getting things done in the community, working with and around countless hurdles and restrictions, she said these are skills she’s ready to implement countywide.
Carwile said Campbell is a community that has given him so much, and with a heart for service and a desire to make a local impact, he hopes to represent the voice of the community.
“No matter where I go, I cannot wait to get back home,” he said. “Campbell County is just an amazing, family-focused place, full of opportunity for anybody.”