Quist Only New Mayoral Face in Prince William’s Towns
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — In the wake of Tuesday’s town elections in Prince William County, much is still the same except in Occoquan.
That’s where Mayor-Elect Elizabeth A.C. “Liz” Quist will replace the retiring Mayor Earnie Porta, whose during his six-year term became the biggest cheerleader for the tiny town on the Occoquan River. He’ll most likely seek higher office during a later election.
Quist, a tax accountant, says she’ll champion issues like financial responsibility, as well as creating an operating budget that isn’t so dependent upon revenues generated from the town’s two highly attended spring and fall craft fairs.
“We’re a growing town, and we’ve got a great staff that’s put together, and it’s time we polish our procedures that we have in place to make sure they’re efficient,” said Quist.
Part of that new staff is Town Manager Kirstyn Barr who was hired earlier this year. And, serving as town crier over the past few years has been an email newsletter distributed by Porta – something Quist said she may try to replace but will never be able to duplicate.
“Earnie has done a lot of set us up… we’ve got a strong council, now…we have to make sure that we work together,” said Quist. “There will be some changes and people with feel that after having the same leader for six years, but I hope people won’t have to feel a huge shift.”
While Quist ran unopposed, the mayors of Prince William’s others towns of Dumfries, Haymarket, and Quantico all had candidates looking to unseat sitting mayors. All of the challengers failed.
In Dumfries, Gerald “Jerry” Foreman will hold onto his seat, after briefly dropping out of the race on April 1 before jumping back in, beating Vice-Mayor Willie J. Toney by 87 votes.
“This is a message from the voters telling the council members work with the mayor by saying ‘this is the mayor we want, you gave us a choice, and we’re telling you which mayor has the vision and which mayor which mayor is going to move us forward,’ and they’re telling the council move… and work with the mayor,” said Foreman.
All of the incumbent council members – Gwen Washington, Kristen Forrester, and Derrick Wood – will keep their seats after two write-in candidates – Cydny Neville and Christy Hart – failed to get enough votes to unseat them.
Mayor Kevin Brown will keep his seat in Quantico, beating out former Mayor Isis Ross Tharpe by 46 votes of the 146 that were cast on Tuesday.
“I believe the outcome of the mayoral race shows that the people in town have recognized the progress made over the past two years and approve of the direction the town is headed in,” Brown wrote in a prepared statement.
Brown applauded residents for re-electing Vice Mayor Russell “Rusty” Kuhns, and noted he was surprised voters installed the husband and wife team of Councilwoman Peggy Alexander and Councilman-Elect Lucian G. “Alex” Alexander on the dais.
In Haymarket, Mayor David Leake will keep his seat despite being censured by his fellow councilmembers several times over an internal investigation involving the town’s police chief. He beat out challenger Josh Mattox by 68 of the 264 votes cast on Tuesday.