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Seefeldt endorses Porta: ‘Let this eagle fly’

On November 3, I will be voting for Earnie Porta for Occoquan Supervisor.  

He has the experience in municipal finance, the proven leadership skills in government as Mayor of Occoquan and the right priorities and ideas for addressing our challenges in education, transportation, economic development and environmental protection.  

I believe Earnie will be a creative, energetic representative whose vision and listening skills will serve us and the Board of County Supervisors very well.  Please join me in letting this eagle fly.

Kathleen K. Seefeldt is a former Occoquan District Supervisor and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman.

Cuccinelli: Mike May deserves to be our next Commonwealth’s Attorney

As the former Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I have worked with Commonwealth’s Attorneys throughout the state. And as a resident of Prince William County, I strongly support Mike May to be our next Commonwealth’s Attorney – our local prosecutor.

When considering the candidates for Commonwealth’s Attorney, the most important thing we should look for is a leader whose judgment we can trust. We need someone of even-handed temperament who will be firm, fair and transparent in all circumstances.

During his time as both a trial lawyer and public servant, Mike has demonstrated these qualities time and time again. He works at a respected Virginia Law Firm, where he represents clients in complex litigation, family, employment, and criminal matters. He has tried jury and bench trials and has been selected by his peers as among Virginia’s “Legal Elite” three times.

As a Member of the Board of Supervisors, Mike has earned our trust. He has fought to protect taxpayers. He worked with his colleagues to improve transparency; to protect our quality of life; and to ensure a safe community. Mike has not been afraid to stand up to the special interests and take the tough votes, and I know he will stand up to protect our families as our next Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Mike’s opponent has done some good things for our community during his 47 year tenure, but it’s clearly time for a change. When considering who we can trust as our next Commonwealth’s Attorney, it is fair to consider the public record of both candidates.

Although an experienced prosecutor, separate federal courts recently ruled that Mr. Ebert intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence (evidence supporting innocence) and choreographed witness testimony in the death penalty case of Justin Wolfe. In ruling on this case, Federal District Court Judge Jackson described Mr. Ebert’s conduct as “abhorrent to the judicial process” and overturned the conviction.

The Federal Appeals Court upheld the lower court ruling, finding that Mr. Ebert’s suppression of evidence was “entirely intentional” and called his explanations “flabbergasting.” These are factual findings by independent courts. Mr. Ebert has stated that he disagrees with the rulings, and that he is confident that the defendant in that case will be convicted on retrial once again. That may well be true. But even if another prosecutor convicts Justin Wolfe, that means that Mr. Ebert’s behavior would have gotten a murderer off the hook absent Wolfe’s retrial by another prosecutor – doing the job that Mr. Ebert should have done right in the first place.

Imagine the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that will have to be invested in re-doing something that could have been done properly the first time – not to mention the constitutional violations the courts found, which are perhaps more troubling. Mr. Ebert and his political circle also have a long and disturbing history of bringing or threatening criminal charges to damage political candidates with whom he disagrees or who dare to challenge Mr. Ebert’s friends and allies.

When it comes to deciding whether to prosecute someone in our community, politics should play no part, and while Paul Ebert has failed that test, I am confident that Mike May will decide every case on its own merits – ignoring politics, as he should. Mr. Ebert’s cases are part of the public record and you should review them yourself as you consider your choice.

After you review the backgrounds of both candidates, I hope you will join me in supporting Mike May for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Mike May will protect our neighborhoods and keep our families safe; he will modernize the office and make it more transparent; and, he will actively engage our community to enhance public safety and crime prevention. Mike May is a leader we can trust. It’s time for a fresh perspective, so please join me in voting for Mike May on November 3.

Ken Cuccinelli served as Attorney General of Virginia 2010-2014 and is a Prince William County resident. 

Voter supports May after family child sex abuse case

Letter to the editor 

I am writing to express our support for Mike May for Commonwealth Attorney.

I believe it is time for Prince William to change leadership and move forward. In the past two years we have had the unfortunate need to deal with Paul Ebert’s office. The experience was extremely upsetting to the children (victims) and my entire family for the lack of support for them and us during this horrible time.

In order for victims to receive victims assistance there have to be charges pressed on the abuser. We have fought for going on two years with no answers as to why this abuse is not considered enough for prosecution and requested information as to why the one case that was charged was not processed correctly and the abuser walked out a free woman due to a technicality.

The entire case felt like a comedy of errors including the warrants for the abuser’s arrest being posted to the victim’s front door. We fought for six months to get charges pressed and it took another two for the arrest warrants to get to the proper location.

All the while the children are being harassed in multiple Medias because they felt no need to issue a protective order for a minor child who was sexually assaulted. I still have no words for the disrespect and just plain horrible treatment of this child at the hands of Ebert’s office.

We continue to request answers, request an phone call from Ebert himself as to why the other child is not worthy of facing their abuser, why these children had to get unplugged from everything in order for us to protect them, and most of all how do I explain to these kids that police are on their side when they feel betrayed by the system that was supposed to protect them.

The abuser still lives in this area and worked in a private daycare. We inquired to the county and since they were not convicted and the other charges have not been filed we are not able to stop this issue. Yet another failure to the children of Woodbridge.

It is time for a change, time to elect someone who has a fresh pair of eyes and is willing to listen to our concerns and protect our children. Our children are our future and this kind of law enforcement is leaving our children vulnerable to abusers and allowing the abusers to walk the street. Our family will be voting for change. I hope you all do too.

Aubrey McNiff lives in Woodbridge.

Quantico mayor urges voters to choose Mike May for Commonwealth Attorney

Letter to the editor 

I barely know Mike May. I have only met him briefly three or four times. I couldn’t tell you if he is married or if he has any kids. I don’t golf with him. Never been to his house. Never watched a football game with him.

In fact, I don’t know much about his record as a public servant. But I am encouraging everyone I know to vote for him to be the next Commonwealth’s Attorney for Prince William County because of what I know about Paul Ebert.

Over the past few years I have had two specific encounters with Paul Ebert that I think are very telling. The first was in 2010 when a former mayor and town council of the Town of Quantico hosted an unbudgeted tax payer funded music festival with a price tag of $108,000 and only collected $4,000.

The event lost over $103,000 dollars. Contracts over $10,000 have to go through a bidding process. The contract for this event was a “sole source” arrangement with a friend of a town resident.

After the event I contacted Paul Ebert and asked him to look into the event on the grounds that state and local contracting laws were not followed. I also asked him to look into whether there were any grounds for holding the mayor and town council responsible for their negligence in wasting tax payer money.

His answer? He implied that I was a jilted candidate seeking some sort of political revenge because I had lost the previous mayoral election in May 2010. No “I will look into it.” No calls to the town treasurer for more details. Nothing.

The second encounter was after I became the Mayor of the Town of Quantico in 2012. One of the many things we had to fix was our police department.

After I initiated an external audit the Virginia State Police were contacted and completed an investigation. When the audit and the ensuing VSP investigation were completed it was determined that several police service weapons were missing as well as at least $1,200 in cash and an unspecified quantity of drugs were missing from the department’s evidence lockers.

The Virginia State Police stated it would be Paul Ebert’s decision on whether to seek charges against the responsible parties but he had decided not to do anything about it. Again nothing from Paul.

After numerous emails and phone calls I actually made an appointment and met with Paul Ebert in his office in Manassas. I can tell you it was one of the most discouraging meetings I have ever had with a public official. I pressed him for an explanation on why he was not enforcing the laws he was elected to enforce. Nothing. He just sat back in his comfortable chair and smiled.

Paul Ebert has gotten too comfortable and needs to go. Which brings me back to Mike May. When asked, Mike has expressed to me that he would have handled these situations differently, and I believe him.

I will be voting for Mike May to represent me and my family as the next Commonwealth’s Attorney of Prince William County and you should too.

This post is submitted by Quantico Mayor Kevin P. Brown.

Betty Covington will focus on smaller class sizes

Letter to the editor 

Potomac District School Board Member Betty Covington is a proven leader with considerable experience.

Betty has served as a teacher, principal and School Board Member.   With this background and an institutional memory for the evolution of our school system, Betty serves the County well in this, our most important responsibility as parents.  

Betty’s goals are to bring down class sizes, provide a strong basic skills program that will include phonics based reading, support for pre-k and all-day kindergarten, and advocate for technical and vocational education.  

Betty will also stand for character education, citizenship and patriotism in the curriculum.  

Please consider voting for Betty Covington on November 3. 

Submitted by Kevin M. Raymond, of Woodbridge 

Bailey will help Prince William County homeless population

Letter to the Editor

I have had the pleasure of observing, first hand, how hard Andrea Bailey is working to study the important issues facing Prince William County as she seeks a seat on the Board of Supervisors.

She understands that changes are needed in the way the county board operates to get things done for our students, our senior citizens and our homeless population, among others.

She knows we need more local jobs and businesses to ease the lives of our residents who spend long hours commuting to jobs outside the county.

Mrs. Bailey is a successful executive and community leader who is eager to serve the residents of her district. I urge voters in the Potomac District to cast their votes for Andrea Bailey on November 3rd. 

Widening I-66 inside the Beltway will take place – if necessary

Letter to the editor

Virginians deserve a healthy public discussion about how best to improve our transportation system. But that discussion must also be grounded in fact, not political rhetoric.  Unfortunately, the leadership of the House Republican Caucus is engaged in a campaign of misleading and flatly incorrect information on the McAuliffe administration’s proposal to improve I-66 inside the Beltway. So in the interest of good public policy, here are the facts.

Fact 1: Despite unfounded claims to the contrary, dynamic tolling on I-66 will reduce congestion.

In 2013 the McDonnell Administration released a study on reducing traffic congestion in the I-66 corridor. It was the third such study in 15 years.

The study stated that dynamic tolling and multi-modal improvements could move 40,000 more people a day through the I-66 corridor, which is equivalent to 10 additional interstate lanes in the morning and another 10 in the evening.  The proposal would increase travel speeds from today’s low of 5 miles per hour to a more reliable pace of 45 miles per hour or faster.

The tangible congestion alleviation benefits this proposal will generate have led the Fairfax and Loudoun County Chambers of Commerce to express support for the proposed improvements.  We are working collaboratively with Fairfax, Arlington and Falls Church on the proposed project. Just recently the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board approved adding this project to the region’s Constrained Long Range Plan.

Fact 2: The McAuliffe’s administration’s proposed changes will only add more choices for I-66 commuters without impacting current HOV commuters.

If you currently carpool through the corridor, you will ride free as you always have. If you are a solo driver who used to have to exit I-66 and take secondary roads to and from work, you will now have the option to pay a toll and remain on I-66 all the way into the city. Despite the disinformation political opponents are disseminating, tolling would only be in effect during peak hours, and this proposal offers more drivers the option of a fast and reliable trip without impacting current HOV commuters. 

Fact 3: Travel times on parallel routes will either improve or stay the same. 

Studies show dynamic tolling will manage traffic more efficiently on I-66 inside the Beltway and parallel roads. In fact, this proposal will reduce traffic on parallel routes heading to DC in the morning, by offering more solo drivers the choice of paying a toll and staying on I-66.

VDOT has conducted a detailed analysis that shows no impacts on parallel routes, meaning that drivers who take Route 50 can expect roughly the same travel times in 2017 as they can today.

Fact 4:  Toll revenues will be used to help move even more people through the corridor.

Studies reveal that dynamic tolling itself is a mechanism for managing congestion and reducing travel times – and every cent from that tolling on I-66 will be used to even further reduce congestion in that corridor. This is a self-financing project and will not take funding away from other transportation improvements.

Again, contrary to what House Republicans have conjured, it would be against the law to use those revenues for bike paths in the woods or road improvements in other parts of Northern Virginia or the state.

Since the state will own and operate the facility and collect tolls, excess revenues will not go to the profit of large corporations.  All monies will directly benefit the corridor to enhance motorist through-put.

Fact 5: Widening I-66 inside the Beltway will take place – if necessary.

It is the Secretary of Transportation’s job to ensure that transportation funds are spent wisely. In the case of I-66, that means implementing the most cost-effective solutions first, before we consider spending over $100 million to perform even a limited widening of I-66.

The Governor’s proposals for I-66 will better manage traffic flow at a fraction of the cost of widening the road. We owe it to taxpayers to exhaust low-cost solutions, but, if after 5 years, vehicles are not traveling at free flow on I-66 during rush hour, then toll revenues will be used to widen the road.

Fact 6: Doing nothing is not an option.

Opponents of the Governor’s proposal for I-66 have a host of complaints. What they have yet to put forward are facts to back those claims, or real ideas for moving Virginians through the I-66 corridor more quickly. I am confident that this plan meets the transportation and political realities of this corridor – and that allowing campaign gamesmanship to block progress is not an option.

Aubrey Layne is the Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Caddigan fights for parking, wider roads, additional lanes, environment

Opinion 

I just had to reach out to you about County Supervisor Maureen Caddigan. 

As a resident of Prince William County for over 10 years, I’ve watched her operate in a very positive and consistent manner.  Always professional and personable; she may not have the answer you want to hear, but she’ll always be honest and share the “greater good” picture with you. 

My first encounter with Supervisor Caddigan was when I was a Marine.  We worked together to bring needed road upgrades to the southeastern portion of the county due to the significant growth aboard the Quantico Marine Corps Base.  That growth was due to the new Criminal Investigative building.  It was a result of 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) directive and would result in 3,000 new jobs to our area.  She fought for parking, wider roads, additional lanes, and the environment.

Just last Monday I saw Supervisor Caddigan’s work again.  This time it was for the groundbreaking and naming ceremony for the Ali Krieger Sports complex at the Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Potomac Shores. 

It was apparent that this was a project that Ms. Caddigan had planned and provided key leadership for the negotiations with land owners, developers, school officials (both private and public) and the Prince William Soccer Club (PWSI).  These field are needed for our children and sports activities.  Simply put, this complex will be the best in the area and will help increase the value of local resident’s homes. 

We are blessed to have many great public servants in Prince William County, but none of them better than Maureen Caddigan.  

Jim Longi is a resident of the Ashland community in Prince William County. Maureen Caddigan is running against Andrea Bailey to keep her seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. 

Prince William Police Association supports Ebert

The Police Association of Prince William County, Inc., is pleased to announce that we endorse Paul Ebert in the upcoming 2015 elections.

This endorsement is for his commitment to the citizens of Prince William County and his support for the police officers of Prince William County. 

We look forward to continuing our work together in the future.

Editors note: Incumbent Paul Ebert is running for Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney against Michael May.

Mike May would change hiring process in Prince William Commonwealth Attorney’s office

Opinion 

This November 3, we will have an election for the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney is the lead elected prosecutor of felony crimes in Virginia. Working with 22 assistants, the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney helps ensure justice for our community.

The current incumbent is Paul Ebert who has held the position since 1968. The 77-year-old was first elected to the position at the age of 29. Yet a lot has changed since 1968.

For example, the average cost of a house was about $14,000 and the average income was $7,800 in 1968. The price of gasoline was 34 cents per gallon and the hourly wage was $1.50.

The year 1968 was also an historic year for America. It was the year that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, it was the year that Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, and it was the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law.

And almost half a century later, the issue of race and justice is still at the forefront of many American cities and communities, particularly in recent months. Our local community has definitely changed tremendously since 1968. Prince William County has drastically changed from a sleepy farm community to the 2nd largest county in Virginia and one of the most economically and ethnically diverse large counties in America.

In fact, our county is a majority-minority community, meaning there are more ethnic minorities that make up the majority of the population than do Caucasians. African-Americans make up 21 % of the county and 13% of the City of Manassas. Hispanics make up 22% of the county and 31% of Manassas. Asian-Americans make up 8% of the county and 5% of Manassas. This diversity makes our community unique and special.

We represent the full fabric of our nation, as we fuse our cultures under the American banner of freedom, peace and opportunity. At the same time, there are challenges that we face.

For example, in many communities of color, there is pronounced distrust of law enforcement. As a result, our entire criminal justice system must confront such challenges proactively, rather than passively sitting by before reaching out to affected communities.

As an African-American female, I was very interested to hear from the respective candidates for Commonwealth’s Attorney as to their views on these issues at the recent debate sponsored by the local NAACP. The contrast between the candidates could not have been more dramatic. When asked about the distrust between communities of color and law enforcement and what could be done about it, Mr. Ebert essentially stated that this was not an issue and if there were any problems, to call him.

Unfortunately, this kind of complacency demonstrates just how out-of-touch Mr. Ebert has become after 47 years. It is no longer enough to sit passively and wait for issues to arise; it is time for our criminal justice system to actively engage with our community. We need a proactive leader to address the challenges of today’s Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

This complacency is also reflected in Mr. Ebert’s hiring practices. For example, despite our diverse population, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney has not changed to reflect the diversity of the community it serves. Of the 22 Assistant Prosecutors under Paul Ebert, only one of them is an ethnic minority.

And Ebert has no plan or strategy to diversify the office. In fact, Mr. Ebert does not even publicly advertise available positions—so even if a qualified attorney of color wanted to apply for a job, he or she would not know where to look. In contrast to the complacency of 47 years of incumbency, Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May has a proactive plan to address the issues that confront today’s community.

His agenda includes opening the hiring process so that all qualified attorneys can compete for the opportunity to serve our community. Mike May’s top criteria will be competence; not political loyalty. By opening up the hiring process and actually advertising open positions, we will get a more diverse applicant pool and that will inevitably make the office more reflective of today’s community. .

It’s time for a fresh perspective in the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney. Mr. Ebert has enjoyed a very long 47 year history in this position, but it’s time for change. It’s time to bring the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney into the 21st Century. On November 3, join me in supporting Mike May for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Rick Smith says sitting Prince William Board of Supervisors Chair too close with developers

Opinion 

Since moving to Dale City in 1978, residential growth in our community has been a constant.

When I arrived, our population was less than 140,000 residents. Today, we’re over 440,000 people and counting.

Some believe that we’ve grown too quickly, while others disagree. But the pertinent question isn’t simply how many people reside within our County – it is whether or not growth has been managed appropriately with respect to the infrastructure needed to support our growing population.

Among the responsibilities belonging to the Board of County Supervisors, managing growth is perhaps the most important. Managed appropriately, residential growth can be beneficial. Left uncontrolled and it can have disastrous consequences on our quality of life.

During a recent debate, my opponent for Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors Corey Stewart and I were both asked if we believed that accepting campaign contributions from developers created a conflict of interest and if either of us had accepted such contributions. I shared that I had received one small contribution from a close friend who is a retired police officer and now a real estate agent.

I also shared that I do believe that it creates a conflict of interest. Stewart initially dodged the question, but he eventually shared that he “unashamedly” accepted contributions from developers.

When he first ran for Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in 2006 against Sharon Pandak, Corey Stewart pledged to control residential growth. He predicted that uncontrolled growth would lead to overcrowding in our schools, congestion on our roads and insufficient public safety infrastructure to support our growing population.

He ran on a platform that asked voters to vote for him and “make a developer mad.” He even called on his opponent to return a campaign contribution from the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, saying that it created a conflict of interest. And, dare I say it, Corey was right.

Since then, Stewart has accepted over $1 million in campaign from real estate developers for his campaigns for Chairman and an unsuccessful bid for Lt. Governor. He even received, and kept, contributions from the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association in 2011 and 2014, the same organization whose donation he demanded Sharon Pandak return.

And from the dais, he’s approved rezonings and new housing developments on behalf of his contributors, even in instances where county planning staff and/or the Planning Commission have recommended denial. He’s consistently proven the fact of the very conflict of interest he predicted in 2006.

And the impact on our quality of life has been just as predictable. Our county government is responsible for providing, through our investment, the infrastructure needed sustain our community at a level that provides an acceptable quality of life and makes us an attractive destination for new businesses.

But because Stewart has allowed residential development without the commensurate investment in our schools, public safety and other critical areas, our quality of life has diminished. Our schools now boast having the largest student to teacher ratios in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. We invest significant less per student than surrounding jurisdictions and pay our teachers inadequately. We have fewer sworn police officers protecting us per capita today than we did four years ago.

And despite diverting $1.3 billion in local tax dollars to transportation projects that should have been paid for by Richmond but have been required by uncontrolled residential growth, commute times for Prince William County residents are actually longer today than they were in the year 2000. And make no mistake; these deficiencies have had an adverse effect on our ability to attract businesses that offer high-paying jobs.

The average salary for jobs in Prince William County is now $46,000. In Fairfax, it’s $82,000. Worse, we’ve not only fallen behind Stafford and Fauquier Counties, but wages in our county are increasing at a slower rate. In other words, we’re losing ground.

The strains on our infrastructure, our schools, public safety and roads, were and continue to be predictable. And self-inflicted. Had Corey Stewart lived up to his promise of controlling residential growth and ensuring that it paid for itself instead of adding to the deficits we currently have, out quality of life in Prince William County would be far better.

Instead, he willing chose to put the interests of his contributors ahead of ours. Stewart believes that it’s his job to “cut deals” with developers. But the important question is who does he represent at the negotiating table.

As your Chairman, I’m committed to representing the people of Prince William County first. I’ll certainly work with developers. But I won’t support any new development and rezoning application that adds to our infrastructure deficit.

I’ll listen to planning staff and the Planning Commission, giving their input on the impact of development the importance it deserves. Most importantly, I’ll listen to you. This is our community. And each and every one of us deserves an equal say in how we move forward.

Bailey would fight for progressive values on Prince William County Board of Supervisors

This November, Prince William County has the opportunity to elect the individuals who will lead our local and state governments.

When choosing a leader, we all want to make sure we select the very best qualified person for the job which is not an easy task. It is for this reason that when we became aware of Andrea Bailey who is a Deaconess at a local church, highly educated, a small business owner with an extensive Human Resources experience, a military spouse, and advocate for family values with deep ties to Prince William County the Democratic Party requested that she run for office.

We knew upon coming into contact with her that she would use all of her knowledge and experience to immediately improve the quality of life for all the residents of Prince William County. She understood that we as citizens needed someone to champion our causes and fight for Progressive values at a time when we have been under attack, and Andrea Bailey agreed to be that champion.

Once Ms. Bailey committed to campaign to be the Potomac District Supervisor, she quickly proved herself as a formidable politician by successfully defeating her opponent in the primary by winning 70% of the vote on Election Day.

This victory earned her the respect and support of many state and federal politicians including Lt. Governor Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Congressman Gerry Connolly in addition to a host of locally elected leaders including Delegate Scott Surovell and Supervisor Frank Principi.

In addition to electing this one of a kind candidate, we have an opportunity to make history in Prince William County by electing a highly qualified African American woman on our County Board of Supervisors for the very first time in more than 150 years in a majority minority county.

Once elected, Ms. Bailey would further cement her place a role model for young women and children of color all over the Commonwealth and even this nation.

Unfortunately, there are some well-seasoned Democrats in Northern Virginia who have a working relationship with Ms. Bailey’s opponent. It is because of those relationships that these individuals have elected to formally endorse the other individual in this race.

While we have nothing but respect for the service these individuals have given to our community, they do not speak for the Democratic Party. Sadly, these individuals have placed personal self-interest above progressive values and what is best for our community.

On Nov. 3, 2015 join us in making history by casting your vote for the Democratic-endorsed candidate Ms. Andrea Bailey.

Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney supports Ebert for Prince William Commonwealth Attorney

Opinion 

I write to publicly endorse Paul Ebert’s candidacy for Commonwealth’s Attorney of Prince William County. 

I have served as a prosecutor in Alexandria for fourteen years, the past two as the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney.

As a young prosecutor, I had the pleasure of attending several conferences at which Mr. Ebert spoke. His humility, intelligence and integrity were immediately obvious.

He shared a number of the trial tips he had learned over his lengthy and distinguished career and was happy to serve in the role of mentor to the younger prosecutors in attendance. As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I have had the opportunity to see the respect and admiration other elected prosecutors have for Mr. Ebert. Simply put, when Paul Ebert speaks, his colleagues listen.

I know firsthand that being the elected prosecutor for a jurisdiction as large as Prince William County is a difficult job. It is not a political position – it is a career and a calling where experience and judgment really matter. 

Throughout his career, Mr. Ebert has fought the good fight for the citizens of his county, holding murderers, rapists and other violent felons accountable so that the citizenry might feel safe in their homes.

The citizens of Prince William County are lucky to have as fine a public servant as Paul Ebert prosecuting on their behalf. I am honored to publicly endorse his candidacy.

Bailey would bring racial diversity to the Prince William Board of Supervisors

Opinion 

Andrea Bailey is running as a Democrat for the Board of County Supervisors for the Potomac District.

This District has the largest African American population in the entire county and is a majority minority district.

Andrea is a small business owner, a long-time resident of the county, and highly qualified for this position.

The racial makeup of the Board of County Supervisors is currently all white. Not a single minority is representing Prince William County – one of the most diverse counties in Virginia.

Andrea has received support from Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Congressman Gerry Connolly, two prominent Democrats in Virginia. But on the local level, her campaign is being undermined by establishment Democrats, including Toddy Puller (outgoing State Senator), Chuck Colgan (outgoing State Senator), Hilda Barg (former Board of County Supervisor), and Supervisor John Jenkins, who are all throwing their support behind the current Republican in this contested seat, Maureen Caddigan, simply to maintain the status quo.

The decision to endorse a Republican candidate over a well-qualified African American female candidate in your own party is absurd. It seems pretty clear that Democratic values and principles matter much less to these individuals than their personal relationship with Caddigan.

Caddigan has not done a good job representing the voters of this district. The schools in the District are under-funded and development projects are completely mismanaged. Andrea should not have to “take a back seat” to these cross-party shenanigans. Instead, she should be encouraged and uplifted, particularly by members of her own party.

More importantly, the will of the people who live in the Potomac District, which is overwhelming Democratic, should not be thwarted. I’m urging all voters in the Potomac District to support Andrea Bailey on November 3.

The Board of County Supervisors needs fresh ideas and new perspectives, which Andrea will bring. More importantly, the Board needs to look more representative of the people who live in our county. Prince William County voters must not let the desire of a few dictate the will of many.

May says he will offer more transparency if elected Commonwealth Attorney

Opinion 

As a Member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, I have strongly advocated for transparency in our local government.

Any elected official who is given the opportunity to serve holds the position as a public trust on behalf of the citizens who elected him or her. It is accordingly an elected official’s duty to be open when making decisions on behalf of the community and make sure that citizens understand how and why such decisions are being made.

The Board has made some great strides in this area over the past eight years. For example, we have reformed our budget to make it easier for citizens to follow the process and provide feedback. We have amended our local financial disclosure requirements to ensure that not only Supervisors are providing financial disclosures, but also key staff and appointees to Boards, Committees and Commissions who may have financial interest in matters upon which they may exercise influence.

And we have sought to more actively engage the community in the decision-making process through allowing public comment at Citizen’s Time even when such comments can be lengthy and, sometimes, less than flattering to us. Transparency is something we should strive for in all facets of government, and this includes our criminal justice system.

To be sure, there are certain aspects to the system that prevent full transparency. For example, we have to protect the victims and witnesses of crime.

However, we can make needed reforms that continue to protect these individuals while also ensuring fundamental fairness and the safety of our community. First and foremost, we have to be firm and fair in every case and ensure transparency in all criminal prosecutions.

The federal courts recently rebuked the incumbent for withholding evidence of an accused criminal’s innocence – in a capital murder case (death penalty), no less. The case was overturned and now this individual may be released into our community due to the incumbent’s failure to follow the law. In the interest of transparency, you can read the case right here: (https://casetext.com/case/wolfe-v-clarke-2).

This case is not all that surprising when considering the outdated discovery practices that the incumbent routinely employs. In fact, the incumbent was actually warned to be more transparent during the review of his signature case – that of John Allen Muhammad. In that case, the federal court thankfully determined that the lack of transparency did not affect the outcome of the case and upheld his conviction. Yet the Court’s concern about his lack of transparency was evident. You can review this case here: (http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/080013.P.pdf).

As you will see, in questioning the incumbent’s discovery practices, the federal court stated “Let it be clear that we by no means condone the actions of the Commonwealth [Mr. Ebert] in this case. As a matter of practice, the prosecution should err on the side of disclosure, especially when a defendant is facing the specter of execution.”

These warnings have never been heeded and the outdated practices continue to this day. In fact, we have now seen a conviction overturned because of them. In describing the incumbent’s actions in that case, the federal court stated that they were “not only unconstitutional in regards to due process, but abhorrent to the judicial process.”

This behavior does not reflect our community’s values. Yet the incumbent still refuses to change his practices and states that he “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling, even though it was upheld by the Federal Appeals Court. See Appeals Court Ruling: (http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/Published/116.p.pdf).

These are the same federal courts that will be reviewing the next capital conviction. And we will see more convictions overturned if we do not reform the way things are done. The bottom line is that we have to modernize.

A “win at all costs” attitude is dangerous in the modern criminal justice context. We should demand that all of our leaders honor their oath to uphold the Constitution, even in cases where someone is alleged to have done something terrible, like murder. Moreover, as we have seen, the courts who will review these cases favor transparency in the prosecution process anyway, so even if a conviction is secured, it will be short-lived as it must withstand the scrutiny of the appeals process.

In short, hiding evidence to get a conviction is wrong and makes our community less safe. I respect the incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney. As I have stated publicly, he has done some good things for our community during his 47 years in office and I appreciate his service.

However, our community has changed dramatically during this time – so too have the criminal justice system and the demands of the position. It is time to modernize the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney and make it more transparent. 

Singstock only candidate to provide class size reduction plan

Opinion 

There is only one candidate running for Chairman of the Prince William County School Board with a concrete plan and a price tag to reduce class sizes.

That’s why I’m supporting Tim Singstock for School Board Chairman. We can finally understand specific targets and a specific price tag for reducing classroom sizes. Tim’s plan will allow us to discuss the solution as taxpayers and families while empowering both our School Board and our County Supervisors to work together to achieve positive outcomes for our children.

While no other candidates have assigned a price tag, Tim has already provided a vision and an action plan. He’s well prepared to lead an important and necessary public dialogue about our schools and their priorities. With each phase of class size reduction costing $4.2 million, Tim’s leadership will keep us engaged and informed. This will be absolutely essential when it comes time to make decisions between other programs and class size reduction.

Another aspect of Tim’s proposal is the degree to which smaller class sizes will help to improve teacher morale. Teachers are highly dedicated professionals who will be energized because they will spend more time teaching and less time managing behavior.

Tim’s plan begins class size reduction in the middle schools as they have the highest average class sizes (31.5) in both Prince William County, and also in the surrounding Washington Area Boards of Education. Under Tim’s leadership, I am fully confident the School Board will make fiscally responsible decisions to direct funding into the beginning phases of his class size reduction program.

Our children will be better served and better educated in smaller class rooms. At-risk students will stay engaged throughout middle school; this will reduce high school dropout rates. Tim’s plan will have a measurable impact on our children in Prince William County.

As a taxpayer I appreciate knowing how a candidate’s plans will utilize our tax dollars to make a difference in the community. Tim is a tested leader and an experienced collaborator. I’m confident he will produce the results that Prince William County families deserve.

Please join me in voting for Tim Singstock, our next School Board Chair on November 3rd.

Daniel A. Varroney lives near Dale City, Virginia. 

Marshall concerned over I-66 toll plan

VDOT recently released their “preferred” plans for the Transform 66 project both inside and outside the Beltway.

I have serious concerns about both proposed plans and encourage the citizens of Northern Virginia to learn more about these plans and voice their opinions to VDOT both through the Transform66.org website and at the upcoming meetings.

The Transform 66 plan for inside the Beltway is proposed to begin construction in 2016 and will convert all lanes of I-66 inside the Beltway to HOV-3/Toll lanes during peak hours in both directions.  The estimated tolls could be as high as $17/day which would be over $4,000/year for citizens who use these lanes.  I have numerous concerns but the main one is that these tolls will not be used to add new lanes to I-66 inside the Beltway but rather the funds will be turned over to an unelected board which will use the funds to build bike paths and expand bus services.  The soonest VDOT would even consider adding another lane inside the Beltway would be approximately 10 years from now. 

The Transform 66 plan for outside the Beltway is to convert the existing HOV lane to a 24/7 HOV-3/Toll lane and build another lane in each direction which will also be HOV-3/Toll.  No additional regular use lanes will be built.  Again, I have multiple concerns.  Making the lanes HOV-3 and disallowing Hybrid users from using the new lanes will almost certainly put more vehicles into the regular lanes.  It is also unfair to citizens who made decisions about where to live and what vehicles to purchase based on the current rules.  At a minimum current Hybrid owners should be grandfathered. 

Additionally, these new lanes on I-66 outside the Beltway will be tolled 24/7 which will reduce the number of regular use lanes available during off-peak hours because currently drivers can use the HOV lanes during non-HOV hours.  Lastly, it seems likely that VDOT will also take the existing shoulder lanes that are available for use during peak hours to build the HOT lanes which again, reduces the number of regular use lanes.  

Again, if any of these plans concern you I encourage you to contact VDOT and attend the upcoming meetings.  There will be a meeting at Piney Branch Elementary School, 8301 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136 on October 21, 2015 from 6:30-8:30PM. 

Dean Fetterolf wants to reduce class sizes in Stafford County

Dean Fetterolf is the candidate of choice for the Rock Hill Seat on the Stafford County School Board.

I’m honored to be endorsed by the Stafford Education Association.

I value education, having earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Florida in 1983. I have lived in Stafford for nearly 22 years and my two children are Mountain View graduates.

Serving as Chair of the Finance and Budget Advisory Committee from 2007-11 and on Budget and Compensation task forces I understand the budget.

I gained respect for the impact on families serving on a 2009 Redistricting Committee. Serving on the Capital Improvement Committee taught me about where and when new schools are needed.

To Improve SCPS we must: 1. Reduce class sizes. It is the most effective way to improve the learning environment. SCPS has the 4th highest K-7 student teacher ratio in VA, up from 6th. That doesn’t include the 55 positions unfilled by the $8.3M budget mistake.

2. Improve Compensation. Replacing and retaining qualified teachers is difficult. Stafford teachers earn $4000 less than nine comparison districts. Paraprofessionals earn $9,000 less than those in Fredericksburg. Stafford ranks 79th out of 132 districts in per pupil funding.

3. Offer Program Parity. The middle school redistricting grievance filed in court taught us that the quality of a child’s education should not be left to chance or depend upon the neighborhood in which they live. I agree with Dr. Benson. We need a “school system” not a “system of 30 schools.”

4. Recover the Impact of Development. Why does a county with the 9th highest median household income in the country continually struggle with funding smaller classes and better pay? It’s the $30.5 million and growing debt service for new schools and renovation due to decades of poorly planned and under-proffered growth. The developers must start paying their fair share.

I ask for your support on November 3rd. Vote for Dean Fetterolf – a new face, a new direction – Moving SCPS forward.

Mike May says experience as trial lawyer, Occoquan Supervisor has prepared him for Commonwealth Attorney

With less than thirty days before the November 3rd Election, Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park have an important choice to make when it comes to who will lead the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney for the next four years.

I am asking for the chance to serve you in this important role. As you consider your choice over the next several weeks, we will be issuing weekly policy letters detailing my positions and plans for the office.

I hope that these will help you to better understand the issues and why it is so vitally important that we bring a “FreshPerspective” to the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney. Please feel free to share these letters with your friends, neighbors and colleagues.

As a Member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors for the past eight years, I have helped manage, oversee, and set policy direction for the Prince William community; particularly in the area of public safety. We have made some great progress. We have added over 100 police officers during my time on the Board, including adding school resource officers to every middle and high school; we have worked with our federal law enforcement partners to ensure that illegal immigrants who commit crimes in our community are reported to ICE and removed from our streets; and, we recently funded a body worn camera program for all Prince William County police officers to better protect those officers and the community they serve.

Despite the fact that the Board of Supervisors has been a full-time commitment for me, I have also maintained a successful legal career during my time in public service. As a trial lawyer in private practice, I have tried cases before judges and juries throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have practiced in multiple areas, including criminal law, family law, employment law, and complex litigation. No matter the case or the subject matter as issue, however, I am always very well prepared and ready to do the best possible job for my clients. In fact, I have been named “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine three times (most recently for 2015) in recognition of my efforts and reputation among other lawyers in the Commonwealth.

And I am ready to bring these legal skills to bear in service to our community. In short, I care deeply about our community and I care deeply about my clients—and I want to combine these two passions in further service to you as your Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney serves as the top prosecutor for Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park. It is one of the most important positions in the government because the power to take one’s life or liberty is the most awesome power that government can wield. The ultimate check on that power thus appropriately rests with you—the citizens. Accordingly, the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney establishes the policies that reflect our community’s values, and ensures that his or her staff and assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys serve the citizens in a manner consistent with those values.

The job necessarily requires oversight, management and legal skills. The elected Commonwealth’s Attorney must ultimately ensure justice for our community. I realize I am taking on a tall task in challenging an incumbent who has held the position since 1968. To be sure, he has done some good work for our community in the past.

However, our community has changed dramatically in the past 47 years, and we need new leadership to tackle the challenges of today, as well as those challenges that await us in the future. With your support, we will protect our neighborhoods and keep our communities safe; we will modernize the office and make it more transparent; and, we will actively engage our community to enhance public safety and improve crime prevention.

I look forward to sharing more specifics as to this agenda in the coming weeks as you make your final decision. If, however, you have any questions, comments, concerns or ideas in the meantime, as always, please feel free to contact me. 

Michael C. “Mike” May is running against Paul Ebert for Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney. 

George focusing on retaining teachers, hearing residents with and without children in public schools

Opinion 

Less than a month to go and what should a candidate be most concerned about? Getting out to meet as much of the public as possible? Leaving literature when you go door-to-door and no one is home? Where to place my campaign signs so they are not removed or damaged? Many of these concerns headline my campaign, but the Number 1 concern is – How can I ensure that the voters know who I am and what I am all about.

My name is Joseph George, a resident within the Neabsco District, and I wanted to introduce myself to the public. I am a husband of almost 15 years and a father of three wonderful daughters that are currently in their last year of their particular schools (Woodbridge Senior High School, Woodbridge Middle School, and Minnieville Elementary).

I have previously been either a PTO/PTA President or Vice President at Woodbridge Middle School or Minnieville Elementary, as well as either the Chairman or Vice Chairman for Minnieville Elementary’s Principal Advisory Council. In the 2010-2011 school year, I was on all three boards, as the PTA Vice President at Woodbridge Middle School, PTA President at Minnieville Elementary, and Chairman for Minnieville’s Advisory Council (a position I currently still hold).

Additionally, I have been active as a coach for the local softball leagues that my daughters have played in (Prince William Lassie League from 2008-2012 and Prince William Girls Fast Pitch Softball from 2013 to this Fall Season). All the while, I have worked within the Intelligence Community for the Department of Defense (21 years of experience), currently holding the position of Supervisory Criminal Investigative Analyst for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.

I do not consider myself a politician or know the “dos and don’ts” of being one. I am a dedicated father that sees an opportunity to take what I have learned at my local schools and athletic fields, and expand them throughout the Neabsco District.

Bill Hosp, the President for the Prince William Federation of Teachers, indicated that the group endorsed my campaign because of “his enthusiasm for the job and because of his past involvement in parent groups at his children’s schools” which many of the teachers and staff I have come across would agree with.

My top priorities as a School Board Representative are: 1) Ensure that we are providing the best education for all of our students, 2) Attempt to keep the most capable teachers within our School District, 3) Ensure that our District members, both parents and tax payers without children in the School District anymore, have a voice on decisions made that impact spending, and 4) Get our communities and businesses involved with their local schools

Every decision will be made with the benefit of the students in mind and I am the type that can work with just about anybody, regardless of political viewpoints. I appreciate Mr. Brower and the PWC NAACP for hosting all of those debates last month, but I felt the panel-style format did not help showcase my viewpoints over my opponent, especially since there was no time for rebuttals, as debates typically have.

What I hope will happen is that a local community group (Dale City Civics Association, Neabsco District Democratic Committee, etc) or news outlet (Potomac Local, InsideNoVA, etc.) would be willing to host a debate for my opponent and myself, so that we can both respond to questions that are of a concern for Neabsco District citizens. Since I feel that I am the best candidate for the students, teachers, administrators, and citizens of the Neabsco District, I am open to a debate, so that there will be little to no doubt with the rest of the voters. Less than a month to go.

Joseph George is running for the Neabsco District seat on the Prince William County School Board.

Gar-Field High School student supports Steve Chapman for Woodbridge Supervisor

Opinion 

At 18, I don’t understand the complexities of politics. It seems to me that a profession that should require the best of man, attracts the worst qualities in man, power hungry, egotistical, selfish.

They call themselves leaders but they use words that divide us. It doesn’t make sense, so why should we be engaged and pay attention?

I don’t think it’s just younger people, I think people in general are tired of politics and tired of politicians. While most politicians may seem the way I described, I think there is someone different in Woodbridge, Steve Chapman.

I volunteer at the front office for a local organization. In the spring, a guy came in with lots of energy. It was Steve Chapman, he was always friendly, remembered my name and would chat for a few minutes whenever he would stop by.

I later learned he was running for Woodbridge Supervisor, my first question was, What is a supervisor and what do they do?

So next time he came in I asked him. He responded with enthusiasm.

“It’s a position that can bring the community together, Supervisors deal with the items that impact your life every day: schools, taxes, traffic, fire, police and development,” he said.

He then shared with me a couple stories from people he met at their doors, and “how a caring supervisor could help improve their quality of life.”

Chapman said that he has to work hard for these people because they deserve better than what they are getting.

Then Steve asked me “What did I want to see changed about our community?”

As a senior at Gar-field High School, no one with any kind of authority had ever asked me my thoughts on matters of significance. I thought, then I told him “I just don’t think people my age feel like they could make a difference”

He followed by asking if I wanted to help him get Woodbridge moving and help get the word out?

I have, I’ve joined Steve in knocking on doors and working at events and also help do some data work. To be honest, I’m a little surprised at the trust he has placed in me, I think Mr. Chapman sees the potential in each of us and wants to bring that energy together to benefit all of us.

That’s the belief that younger people like me need, someone to believe in them, someone to give them a chance so they can make a difference.

It’s been about six months since I first met Steve Chapman, I’ve worked with him, he’s got lots of energy, he listens, he cares, he’s very optimistic and is committed to working hard for all of Woodbridge. Please join me in supporting Steve Chapman for Woodbridge Supervisor November 3.

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