Belman Wants to Make Stafford More Business Friendly, Improve Transportation Infrastructure
– October 14, 2013 12:03 am
- Age: 56
- Political Party: Independent
- Running for: Stafford County Board of Supervisors
- District: Falmouth
- Opponent: Valerie Setzer and Mary Bohmke
- Profession: Century 21 Adventure
- Title: Real estate agent (1987-present)
- Education: National Business College
- Degree: Associate’s degree in business administration (1978)
- Family: Three sons: Robert Jr., Alex, Christian
- Other: Stafford County School Board (8 years)
- School Board Chairman and Vice-chairman
- Helped initiate adopt-a-classroom program
- Member, Fredericksburg United Methodist Church
- Member of the Massad Branch YMCA Board of Director
Robert Belman, former school board member of eight years, is running for the open Falmouth seat in this November’s General Election. He says his experience serving as a school board member and desire to work for the county independently of a political party will make him a valuable representative of Stafford.
“I wasn’t talked or coerced into running. I’ve always wanted to give back to the community and I think I have the pulse of the people,” says Belman. “People know who I am and I am accessible to people. I’m not representing any political party, I’m representing the people.”
Belman participated in the initiation of the Adopt-A-Classroom program in Stafford County, which is a service that joins donors with teachers to help provide funding for supplies for the classroom.
“The opportunities are unlimited when you create partnerships between your communities in your schools,” says Belman. “When we signed on to that program we had a lot of ties to different businesses in Stafford County. With the schools, you get the people into the schools to see what they need and create opportunities for expansion in the future.”
Another area that Belman says he would like to see improvement in is the relationship between the school board and the board of supervisors.
“The partnership right now between the school board and the board of supervisors is the worst I’ve ever seen and when you have this bad blood between the two boards it doesn’t benefit the residents of Stafford County at all,” he says. According to Belman, the school board and board of supervisors need to learn to respect each other and communicate effectively, especially when it comes to budget planning.
“It’s not the county’s money, it’s not the supervisor’s money, it’s the tax payer’s money. The elected school board members and supervisors have to understand they represent the people,” he says. “My experience on the school board shows that I can bring more to the table than anyone else in the race for the district because of my service on how we need to work with the school board.”
Belman says if he is elected as a supervisor, he will fight for the issues important to the county’s school board as long as the two boards are working together. Belman says the supervisors and school board members need to work together to understand the tax implications behind any budget request.
“The school board seems in the last 4 years to give lip service to teacher pay as a priority. You can’t give lip service to wanting to pay them an increase and not do anything in your power to get that increase,” says Belman.
“If you really want (the board of supervisors) to get serious about how to fund the daily operations of the schools, then the school board has to get serious about how the money will be spent.”
“Businesses want to locate in an area that has good schools, affordable housing for its employees and that has other businesses that can draw the employees to shop and work in,” says Belman. He says bringing in more businesses to the southern end of the county will help promote economic growth.
“It seems now that everybody’s working to bringing economic prosperity to the northern end of the county and the southern end of the county gets looked over,” says Belman.
However, he says that this continued development has implications for transportation in the region.
“When you bring more people in (the county), you have more people on the road. We should try to locate those business in an area that already has the ratification infrastructures in place,” says Belman.
He refers to the infrastructure of major roads, such as with Butler road, US Route 17 and the I-95 interchange. Additionally, Belman says if he is elected, he plans to work to make improvements to the Falmouth and Chatham bridges.