Dudenhefer Calls for Long-term Improvements in Transportation, Education
– October 15, 2013 12:14 pm
- Age: 60
- Political Party: Republican
- Representing: Prince William and Stafford Counties
- District: 2
- Opponent: Michael Futrell
- Originally from: New Orleans, Louisiana
- Profession: Virginia House of Delegates, 2nd district (Second term, 2011-present)
- Profession: Contractor with the Army Corps of Engineers (2012-present)
- Previous Profession: Stafford County Board of Supervisors, Garrisonville (2005-2011)
- Education: Louisiana State University
- Degree: Bachelor’s degree in economics (1974)
- Education: Tulane University
- Degree: MBA (1988)
- Education: University of Phoenix
- Degree: Master’s degree in computer information systems (1999/2000)
- Family: Wife: Kay; Three children: Chris, Rebecca, Emily (deceased in 2004); Four grandchildren
- Military: U.S. Marine Corps (30 years)
- Retired as Colonel
- Other: Founding member, Colonial Forge High School PTSA
- Motivational Speaker, Partnership for Safe Teen Driving.
- Board member, George Washington Regional Commission
- Board member, Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
- Board member, Quantico Growth Management Committee
- Board member, Fredericksburg Regional Jail Authority
- Board member, Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Authority
- Board member, Central Rappahannock Regional Library Board.
Mark Dudenhefer, Republican delegate representing the 2nd Virginia house district in Stafford and Woodbridge, has participated in major legislative changes since he was first elected in 2012. He is being challenged by Michael Futrell (D) for the 2nd district seat, which includes Prince William and Stafford counties.
This past session, he is responsible participating in the passing of legislation that helped give teachers raises, veterans more opportunities, as well as initiated “Gwyneth’s Law,” which was inspired by a woman named Gwyneth Griffin who passed away in July of 2012 after going into cardiac arrest at her middle school.
“One particular piece of legislation that I carried and spent a lot of time getting passed was a requirement for school teachers to receive CPR training and for high school kids to have CPR training as part of their graduation requirement,” says Dudenhefer.
He says, if reelected, he will continue to focus on areas such as transportation, education and the economy.
Dudenhefer says there are many improvements that are in progress or on the agenda for the near future that will greatly improve transportation issues in the Northern Virginia region. After losing his daughter Emily in 2004 to a car accident in Stafford, Dudenhefer became determined to advocate for safer transportation in the region.
“One thing I learned early on is that I ran (for delegate) thinking I was going to fix all transportation problems by building more roads and widening the roads we already have,” says Dudenhefer. “You find out very quickly when you’re dealing with those problems that it takes an ‘all of the above’ approach. We need to fix the roads to make them more efficient and help with the flow of traffic but we also need to study and invest in mass transit.”
Dudenhefer refers to two studies that he says will be useful in determining what more needs to be done to fix transportation in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Education is conducting a study of the U.S. Route 1 corridor in Fairfax and Prince William Counties to determine what improvement approach will be most effective. Dudenhefer says he hopes to expand this study to cover more area.
Additionally, Dudenhefer says he supports another study proposed by Gerald Connolly, (D-Fairfax, Prince William) which would explore transportation alternatives.
“I have endorsed Congressman Connolly’s efforts to get a congressional study on the entire Route 1 corridor and that we’ll look at, amongst other things, the metro extension,” he says. “We need to start talking about that. It is many years down the line because it takes many years of planning and negotiating and it will be very expensive, but this is a long-term possible solution.”
Dudenhefer says while Virginia has one of the best rankings in education, there is always ways to make improvements. He says Virginia should invest more in teacher salaries, training and performance in order to ensure they are “the best of the best.”
“I voted for the pay raise that most of the teachers in the Commonwealth received, but I think at the state level there are some areas of Virginia that aren’t as rich as Fairfax County or Prince William or Stafford, so they struggle with funding and bringing in good teachers,” he says.
Dudenhefer supported legislation signed by Governor Bob McDonnell last session that will provide a letter grade based on performance for schools in Virginia.
“(The legislation) is particularly beneficial to parents who want to know whether their school is performing at a high level,” he says. It will add pressure to local school boards to improve those particular schools. You have to build some kind of consensus that what you’re doing is fair otherwise it will fail. You have to listen to the educators; you have to listen to the parents and the school boards.”
Dudenhefer says that Virginia has some of the best schools and universities in the country. As a member of the Higher Education Subcommittee, he says it is important that Virginia strives to get more people college educations.
Further, Dudenhefer says Virginia not only set an example for other areas, but can learn from them. As a native of Louisiana, he says there are quite a few differences in the school systems. While he says Virginia’s schools tend to perform better than those in Louisiana, Louisiana can teach Virginia some things about education as well.
“In some of the areas (of Louisiana) where the public schools have failed miserably for generations, there are now charter schools, and the same kids are excelling,” he says. “We should always be open to looking at what other people do that is successful.”
Dudenhefer says he is not a fan of the Affordable Care Act, which has been fought by Republican legislators and thus has not yet been expanded in Virginia.
“Medicaid by itself needs to be revamped, revised, and updated,” he says. “We would expand Medicaid to 400,000 more people on the fact that the federal government is going to give us almost 100 percent the first year and then 90 percent thereafter, and they’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar they give.”
“We are going to hurt many more people than its going to help. And the people that are paying for it are the ones who are going to be hurt the worst.”
He says that representatives from the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have created a commission and are observing and working on Medicaid reform before making the decision to expand Medicaid in the state.
Dudenhefer says regardless of what position Virginia holds, they are always in the top tier among the best business states. However, he says, the reason Virginia has not been able to secure the top spot in recent years comes back to transportation issues.
“If you go to any of the chambers of commerce and you ask that they’re business and growth is being inhibited by the traffic problem,” he says. Once transportation issues are addressed, he says, there will be more opportunities for employment.
Additionally he says that Virginia is an ideal area for small business creation, but the level of bureaucracy involvement inhibits Virginia’s creative potential.
“The best incentive we can give a small business is to get government out of the way,” says Dudenhefer. “I think we would see some dramatic improvements.”