Jessup, Walls run for town council seat

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Sulphur Springs ward voters going to the polls May 4 will have the choice of casting ballots for Frieda Jessup or Billy Walls Sr.

This is the only contested race in Hillsville, where two candidates are vying for the same seat on town council.

Voters can return to office Jessup, who was appointed to fill the vacancy created when former representative Bill Tate was elected mayor two years ago. Or, they can select Walls, the co-owner of B&T Garage.

Two other unopposed candidates are seeking re-election to their posts — Tate, as mayor, and Laurel Fork ward representative Greg Yonce.

Frieda Jessup

Having participated in governing Hillsville for the last two years, Frieda Jessup said things are going smoothly — as shown by the town being able to avoid a tax increase while the challenging economy continues.

She calls her time on council her "two learning years."

Some of her reasons for running for the office remain the same as when she volunteered to fill the rest of Tate's unexpired term.

Jessup and husband Bill have five children and eight grandchildren who need to be able to make a living.

"Bill and I are pretty well set, but what about our grandchildren and our children?" she asked, rhetorically. "They're looking at some tough times."

She hopes to work on economic development issues, if elected. "Look at getting new businesses in here and keep the old ones that we've got," Jessup said. "Manpower, we've got plenty of that, [people] ready and willing to work."

She likes the mix of citizens serving on town council and those serving as the department heads now, and noted that she works well with these other Hillsville officials.

"It's not a one-person effort," Jessup said. "Right now, there's a good bunch together."

Good leadership will be important in the next four years, because Hillsville will face new challenges — such as the new annexation effort that's coming up in 2011.

Jessup, a lab technologist for 20 years at Twin County Regional Hospital, has also been involved with volunteer rescue squads and served as a squad treasurer.

She has served as the town's representative on the Mount Rogers board of directors.

Jessup wants to continue to listen to citizens' concerns and work on their issues.

"I'm basically going to make the decisions to better the town and for the citizens," Jessup said. "It's not just because I want it — it's for the citizens' interests."

Billy Walls Sr.

"Mainly the reason I've tried [to get elected to council] is to get in there and help the citizens," explained Sulphur Springs Ward candidate Billy Walls Sr.

His intention, if elected, is to collaborate with officials in the state and federal government — such as 9th District U.S. Representative Rick Boucher and 10th District General Assembly Del. Ward Armstrong — with the goal of bringing more economic development opportunities to Hillsville.

Working together would improve the chances of getting industry to come in and provide jobs to the citizens.

"That's my number one priority — to do my best to get some industry in here, so people have work to go to," Walls said.

He understands that he'll just be one person on council, and it takes at least three council members to get any initiatives approved.

Walls promises to work with his fellow council members for the good of the town, because all Hillsville residents are in it together.

"I'll give it 100 percent to make Hillsville a better place to live in," Walls said.

It's likely the economy will have to improve before the town could start any new initiatives, such as providing a recreational area for youth, he acknowledges. That could be an effort that would improve the relationship between the youth and the police department, because it could provide a good place for young people to go.

Walls has co-owned B&T Garage in town for seven years.

He has run for town council in the past and is running this time because he feels compelled to try and help his neighbors.

"This is a good little town," Walls said. "I'd just like a chance to see if we can make it a little better."

He encouraged all registered voters to go to the polls for the municipal elections.

"Just remember to vote on May 4th, whether it's for me or my opponent," he said.