Marymount Graduate, Mara Sealock Hopes to Put Political Education Into Play as Aquia Supervisor
Mara Sealock, (D-Aquia) running for the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, is not the average candidate As a 21-year-old graduate of Marymount University, Sealock represents a stark contrast from her opponent, current incumbent since 2010, Republican Paul Milde III.
Sealock says that she found out about the open seat from Alane Callander, chairwoman on the Stafford Democratic Committee. She says she had worked with the committee before, volunteering at primaries and attending board of supervisor meetings.
“I started talking to people about the things I’ve learned while getting my degree in political science and a lot of the issues that came out within the county (were the same),” she said. “I spoke to Alane Callander and she told me the Democratic seat was open so I decided to go for it to reach out to the other voters in the community.”
Sealock works over 65 hours a week between two part-time jobs. At the age of 16, she graduated from Hayfield High School in Alexandria and immediately enrolled in classes at Marymount University. Her experience leads her to focus for her campaign on areas of education, government transparency and employment development.
Sealock says her educational background and ability to appeal to the younger generation will serve as an advantage in the upcoming election.
“I know the schools within Stafford are experiencing major issues with overpopulation and financial support through the county,” says Sealock. “Being younger, I feel I could appeal to the younger voters and I could get an insight of what is going on in the school system and actually speak to the ones that are involved in it and using it.”
Sealock says education is important to her because of her experience and close ties within schools. She says she hopes to improve the relationship between the school board and board of supervisors in order to be able to effectively tackle the major issues.
“I graduated high school at 16 and went straight into a university. Education is important, not only for students, but for society,” she says. “I know that students who aren’t in school are more likely to commit crime and so forth so if there’s more focus on school and it is more important community-wise, then the students will receive a better education and Stafford County schools can move back up on a regional ranking.”
“On the board of supervisors right now there’s a lot of back and forth about the transparency and how the citizens aren’t aware of the issues going on,” says Sealock. She refers to two issues that are being discussed on the board- the “Waste to Energy” plant, a proposal to allow power generating facilities on government-owned property in Stafford, and the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR).
TDR was envisioned as a solution to limit development in areas where it would be least desirable and place it in areas with the infrastructure necessary to support growth.
Proponents hope it will help to preserve land and private property rights and target development in the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. However, those who oppose the litigation argue that is flawed, restrictive and doesn’t allow for efficient citizen input. Sealock says that the program could have consequences for the entire county.
“To me, it ties into the schools because as Stafford is developing, the contracts are coming in really fast and that will add to the overpopulation in the schools because families are going to move with their students,” she says. Additionally she said, because the program removes the rezoning process for the Courthouse area, it will lead to a lack of standards, proffers and citizen input.
“I feel that it’s not a conservation program, and the supervisors are looking at the financial benefits, and not at what is best for the citizens right now,” she says. “With the development proposals coming in at the rate they are at now, things could only get worse.”
Employment and Economic development
Sealock says with the economy as weak as it is right now, it’s almost required that one has a degree to get any type of recognition. This area hits close to home for Sealock, who says she has been working her way through high school and college to help her family make ends meet.
“My mother is unemployed and has been searching for a stable job for two years. She was a stay-at-home mom when my father passed away,” she says. “From then on, my brother and I picked up jobs through high school and college to help. Now as she continues to look for a job, being older without a college degree, it’s hard.”
She says she will promote a bottom-up approach for those that have the capacity to hold stable jobs, but may not have the ability to show that with a piece of paper.
“Being young and looking at it from a different perspective, I think it is important that people get out there and start somewhere to get where they want to be.”