Candland Fails to Change Board Rules
– January 14, 2014 7:30 pm
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Board of Supervisors six, Peter Candland zero.
Prince William County officials today voted down six attempts by Supervisor Candland, who represents the Gainesville District in the western portion of the county, to change some policies and procedures upheld by the governing body of more than 400,000 county residents.
The largest of the six, Candland proposed a measure that would require all of the board’s votes be taken during an evening session to start at 7:30 p.m. This would allow time for commuters to travel back from their jobs in Washington and the surrounding area’s to attend public board meetings, he said.
Currently, the board takes up issues and holds votes during both its 2 p.m. sessions regularly scheduled on Tuesdays, and during a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday session, if one is scheduled. Officials said land-use issues – which tend to be the most controversial – are normally taken up at night.
“When I see there are only two people here [during Tuesday’s afternoon session] to me, the big reason, it screams people are at work,” said Candland. “People are taking care of their kids and people are busy.”
The supervisor himself said he regularly takes vacation time from his day job to attend regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meetings.
The current board meeting schedule differs from years past when, prior to 1992, the Board of Supervisors used to conduct business at 10 a.m., said Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins. A growing population and changing constituents’ needs prompted leaders to change the meeting times.
Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who supported Candland, urged county officials to ensure all of the more controversial issues be taken up at night.
Others argued that holding only the votes at night, but discussing an agenda item during the afternoon session, would mean residents would miss out on the context of the discussion had by board members.
“Most of the stuff we do with regard to the business of the county during the day is, frankly, not all that titillating,” said Chairman Corey Stewart. “All that stuff, if we move it to the evening session, all that does is push land-use cases and the other stuff where there is a lot of public interest…back to 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”
Another measure to extend citizens’ time from 30 to 45 minutes each meeting – the period during each board meeting where residents can speak their mind – also failed. Stewart admitted he sees no reason to limit citizens’ time and has never done so.
Other measures regarding when official information is made available to board members and the public, and a motion to create a section on the county’s website to allow residents to comment on current agenda items also failed.