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Politics

Surovell: Redistricting needed to break partisan gridlock

Four Big Issues No One is Discussing This Election Cycle
Virginians go to the polls in three weeks and if you followed the news cycle, you would think that the next General Assembly Session is going to be all about Confederate Statutes, street gangs, and natural gas pipelines – none of which is accurate. Here are four big issues facing Virginia that have been missing in action this cycle.

Redistricting
Hyper-partisan legislative districts are at the root the partisan gridlock we see today. While the Senate Democratic Caucus drew Virginia’s Senate districts in 2010, Virginia’s congressional and legislative districts were otherwise drawn by Republicans majorities with the cooperation of Republican governor’s in 2000 and 2010. Democratic voters have been crammed into a small number of seats and Virginia’s Congressional and House of Delegates districts are way out of proportion to Virginia’s actual voting.

Virginia’s next Governor will participate in Virginia’s next redistricting process. Ralph Northam and I have repeatedly endorsed and voted for non-partisan redistricting which would go a long way towards voters picking their leaders instead of leaders picking their voters.
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News
‘There are people who shy away from the term politician. I, however, recognize that I am a politician’

Laura Sellers is about to finish her first term as Stafford County’s Garrisonville District Supervisor.

When she was elected in 2013, she rode a wave of blue along with Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. While her margin of victory was less than one percent, turning the map blue in Stafford County is a rarity, and fellow Democrats celebrated the win.

Sellers serves the most developed, most populated portion of the county. And, she want’s to keep her seat.

She’s running against Republican Mark Dudenhefer, who held the seat from 2005 until 2011 when he was elected to serve as a member of the House of Delegates.

Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 7, 2017. Learn the location of your polling place

This election season, we’re asking candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Sellers sent us this email telling our readers why they should vote for her:

When I graduated from North Stafford High School in 2003, I thought my life would take me many places but I never imagined it would bring me right back to Stafford. I grew up a military brat – born on Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City (by a Colonial in the USAF) and my dad retired in 2004 after I had left home. I was born and raised a nomad.

Growing up military gave me an appreciation for different cultures. I love to travel and love to try different food but it also gave me a longing to be from somewhere. My parents were both raised by the US Army. My father grew up traveling the world while my mother lived most of her life outside of Fort Hood, Texas after her father died just weeks after returning home from Vietnam. At the time, they called it “lung cancer” but now we know that it was agent orange. While my family never needed for anything, I always wanted one place to call home. A family house to return to on holidays. Trees that I watched grow over the years. Walls with memories of my childhood – not my childhood and that of hundreds of other families too.

While in high school, I met a man that would change my life forever. We went to college together and then as we grew into adulthood, life took him to the west coast to play professional football. As much as I loved him, I was not interested in living the life of a nomad anymore. I wanted one place to call home so I returned home to Stafford full time and continued my career in intelligence. To this day, he and I remain in contact as we raise our son and I continue working on contract for the Defense Intelligence Agency. (more…)

News
‘I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped’

Russell Harrison is running to the be the next Manassas City Treasurer. This is his second time around running for the office. 

This is his second time around running for the office. Harrison lost by three points to current officeholder Patricia Richie-Folks during a special election held last November. 

This election season, we’re asking candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Harrison sent us this email below: 

I am a nonprofit executive and former Manassas Volunteer of the Year, and I would like to be the next Manassas City Treasurer.   I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped.

The City Treasurer is a full-time professional position.  We need someone who understands how to run an office, understands laws and regulations, and who understands complicated finance and budgeting. We need someone who can lead.

I do and I can.  I am the only candidate with the background to do the job right.

I am currently a senior executive with the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  There I manage a professional staff that I built over the past several years.  My career with nonprofits has spanned over 20 years and includes earning my CAE (Certified Association Executive), the highest level of professional certification in the nonprofit world.     (more…)

News
Zach Galifianakis film ‘Democracy for Sale’ will be shown at Woodbridge NOVA campus

The film “Democracy for Sale” will be shown at two screenings in Woodbridge.

The film stars comic Zach Galifianakis, a North Carolina native who travels to the state to examine political districts and redistricting. The screenings will take place at the Lakeside Theater at the Woodbridge Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College at 4 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017.

The League of Women Voters in Prince William County first told us about the film showing in Woodbridge, which is one of the multiple screenings for the film across the state. The series of screenings is being made possible, in part, by The Virginia Civic Engagement Table is affiliated with State Voices.

Here’s more in a press release: (more…)

News
Makee is the GOP replacement candidate in Virginia House District 2

STAFFORD — He doesn’t have big political aspirations, but he stepped up to be the GOP’s man in a pinch.

Michael Makee (pronounced Mackie) retired as Naval Commander after 20 years and is the Republican replacement candidate in Virginia’s House District 2. The 47-year-old Naval Academy graduate stepped in after Laquan Austion dropped out of the race on Friday.

Makee moved to Stafford with his wife two years ago and is the father of six children ages 12 to 24. Mary Kathleen “Katy” Makee has been his wife for 25 years. He serves on the Stafford County Utilities Commission and is the treasurer of the Stafford County Republican Committee.

This is his first run for political office.

“I don’t have big political aspirations,” Makee told Potomac Local. “I understand the military side of how the government works, and now I will learn how the state and local side of the government,” said Makee. (more…)

News
Updated: Dove to hold fast in 11th District race

Exclusive

A source tells Potomac Local a replacement for Laquan Austion could be Jeffery Dove, who is now running for congress.

Austion today dropped out of Virginia’s Hosue District 2 race in Prince William and Stafford counties. Dove is running against Democrat Gerry Connolly (D-11 Fairfax, Prince William) who has held the job since 2009.

Dove is running against Democrat Gerry Connolly (D-11 Fairfax, Prince William) who has held the job since 2009. He has yet to comment for this story.

Last year, Dove took to Twitter and showed interest in the House District 2 seat, which serves residents in Prince William and Stafford counties.

From Dove’s Twitter page:

If Dove becomes the candidate, he would face Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy in the House District 2 race. Foy is a public defender and professor at Northern Virginia Community College. 

She issued a statement Friday afternoon after Austion dropped out of the race. 

“I would like to thank Laquan Austion for stepping up to run. I will continue to work to earn the votes of all of my neighbors in the Second District. I will fight to expand Medicaid to 400,000 more Virginians, protect funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health care, end the school-to-prison pipeline, and find solutions to our broken transportation system. I have devoted my entire life to public service — fighting for the voiceless as a public defender and foster mother — and hope to serve all of the Second District as Delegate.”

The HD2 race has been an eventful one this year. Republican Mark Dudenhefer in January made a surprise announcement stating he would not seek reelection for the seat.

In June, Democrat Josh King requested a recount following a close Primary race with fellow Foy, who won the recount by 12 votes.

Updated: 

Jeff Dove will stay the course in the 11th Congressional District race. 

He sent Potomac Local this statement: 

“While I am honored that the many Republicans have put my name into the mix for this seat,  I am currently laser focused on making life better for the people of the 11th Congressional District.”

 

 

News
Laquan Austion drops out of House District 2 race

STAFFORD — Republicans in Stafford and Prince William counties are looking for a new candidate for House District 2.

Laquan Austion dropped out.

“Laquan Austion is withdrawing his candidacy for the Second House District effective today. We appreciate his willingness to run for office and serve. We have already started the process of recruiting a strong candidate that will give voters a clear choice in November.”

Austion came under fire this week when the Richmond Times-Dispatch learned the candidate provided false information to voters on his LinkedIn page, and to Potomac Local about his education. Austion claimed to have a Masters Degree from The George Washington University that he didn’t possess.

The report also stated Austion purchased an Audi automobile but never made a payment, A court case in this matter, as well as another debt were dismissed because Austion was not able to be located, according to the Times-Dispatch story. (more…)

News
Woodbridge voter office future uncertain, again

WOODBRIDGE — A voter office in Woodbridge could once again be headed for the chopping block.

The Prince William County Electoral Board is prepared to be hit once more with rent fees from the Virginia DMV.

In March, the state asked for 14 years of back rent in the amount of $31,200 for a voter registration office inside the Woodbridge DMV Customer Service Center on Caton Hill Road. The office is also used as an absentee in-person voting center in the weeks leading up to November General Elections.

“We’ve been there rent-free for years,” said Prince William Electoral Board Secretary Keith Scarborough.

After the March notice, there were fears the only voter registration office on the eastern side of Prince William County would close. The closure was averted when DMV officials backed off, and county officials were told they had at least one more year to operate in the building.

“I think the call for rent was a ‘get out’ message,” said Electoral Board Chairman Robin Williams.

If it was, the election officials have few places has few places to go. The Board on Wednesday wrangled not only with finding what to do about the Woodbridge DMV site but also to find a new site to serve the western end of Prince William County in the growing Haymarket and Gainesville areas. (more…)

News
Republican in Prince William, Stafford House race falsely touts Masters Degree, apologizes

STAFFORD — Laquan Austion replied to a Potomac Local candidate survey and listed a degree he doesn’t have.

The Republican seeking to replace Delegate Mark Dudenhefer in Virginia House District 2 in Prince William and Stafford counties told readers he obtained a Masters Degree from The George Washington University.

On Tuesday, his campaign manager Kurt Lofquist told Potomac Local via email that Austion doesn’t have the degree but is pursuing one. Austion obtained a Bachelors from Drew University in New Jersey.

The admission follows a Richmond Times-Dispatch story that first broke the news, and reported Austion is not currently enrolled in classes at GWU. (more…)

News
Kaine continues healthcare tour in Manassas

MANASSSAS — Tim Kaine came to the Independence Empowerment Center in Manassas on July 28 to discuss healthcare, and the to discuss the health care needs of individuals with disabilities. 

The day after Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, Kaine issued this statement to Potomac Local in an email:

Through last night we were considering a drastic rewrite of the Affordable Care Act, some versions of which were going to dramatically cut Medicaid, which could greatly harm over 100,000 disabled Virginians. So I wanted to come here – because even though we, thank goodness, averted a catastrophe last night on the vote—we still have to find a way to work together to find improvements. While I’ve traveled the Commonwealth talking to Virginians, I have heard a lot about the importance of the Medicaid program at different phases of life whether it is for children or seniors or working age disabled adults. Now that we are through those repeal efforts and have stopped dramatic cuts to Medicaid, we need to sit down and work together to come up with solutions. I have a bill in that I think would reduce premiums. I have other colleagues that have bills in that are about cost control or access. We need to just get those bills on the table, debate, listen to one another and especially hear from the public. And if we do, we can pick the solutions that would make folks’ lives better, not a repeal that would hurt people.

News
U.S. 1 widening yields many benefits for the community

On August 3, 2017, the Federal Highway Administration is hosting a ribbon cutting to commemorate the widening of U.S. 1 through Fort Belvoir. The project’s completion is an important milestone for our community and has broad ramifications.

When I first ran for office in 2009, I stated that improving U.S. 1 was my number one priority. U.S. 1 is the spine of Mount Vernon, Lorton, Woodbridge, Dumfries/Triangle and Eastern Stafford’s central nervous system and a critical driver of not just transportation, but also access to employment, recreation, retail businesses and restaurants. U.S. 1’s fate can mean revitalizing area schools and housing and can enhance our overall quality of life from Stafford County to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

When the 2005 Base Re-alignment and Closure (BRAC) transfers to Fort Belvoir were announced, many people justifiably had concerns about the impact of adding 15,000 new jobs and a billion dollar hospital to a densely-populated and congested area. Widening U.S.1 through Fort Belvoir happened because of a decade of work by former Fairfax County Supervisor Gerry Hyland and, my old boss, Congressman Jim Moran, who has said that this was the last earmark Congress ever approved. In some circles, earmarks are disparaged,but we would not have this improvement or an expanded Woodrow Wilson Bridge without earmarks. (more…)

News
Roem gets ‘Trump bump’ after transgender military ban

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Virginia House of Delegates candidate Danica Roem can thank the president for an increase in campaign donations.

Roem is Virginia’s first transgender candidate and is running against Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince Wiliam, Manassas Park). 

From an email from Danica Roem: 

I’m excited to announce we raised $112,974.21 from 820 donations in July. That’s more money than even House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R) raised during the last reporting period, June 2-30 ($112,311).

In fact, the number of donations we received exceeded the total number of donations received by the top 18 Republican fundraisers from June combined.

Just on Monday, July 31, we received 135 donations totaling about $6,692, entirely from donations between $1-$250. That’s 108 more donations than Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) received from June 2-30 combined and about $2,000 more than he raised that entire month.

We’ve outpaced Del. Marshall in fundraising from the four communities that make up the 13th District – Manassas, Manassas Park, Gainesville, and Haymarket – from the greater Prince William County area, from the state and across the country.

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News
Updated: Kaine cancels visit to Haymarket

From Senator Tim Kaine:

Tomorrow, July 28, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees, will travel to Haymarket and Manassas to discuss the health care needs of servicemembers, veterans, and individuals with disabilities in Virginia. In Haymarket, Kaine will visit Serve Our Willing Warriors, a non-profit organization that serves as a retreat for wounded servicemembers to reconnect with their families during the healing process, to meet with the Willing Warriors founders, staff, and volunteers and discuss the needs facing veterans who have suffered from injuries in service.

In the afternoon, Kaine will tour the Independence Empowerment Center, a community-based, non-profit organization operated by and for people with disabilities, in Manassas. Kaine will participate in a roundtable discussion with the executive director and members of the Center to hear their concerns about Senate Republican plans to slash Medicaid. In Virginia, Medicaid provides health care to more than one million Virginians – including 186,000 people with disabilities. On Tuesday, Republicans voted to open debate on their health care bill that would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their insurance.
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Surovell: Voluntary background check system is a failure

In 2016, the General Assembly enacted a legislation requiring the Virginia State Police to staff gun shows and be available to conduct voluntary background checks upon request by private, non-federally licensed gun sellers as part of a broader compromise on concealed weapon permits. The law has been a total failure.

The legislation required the state to spend $300,000 to hire three new Virginia State Police employees to be present at all gun shows. What have we got for our $300,000?

In January, The Daily Press reported that as of January 1, 2017, one person was denied a purchase at 41 gun shows after thirty-nine checks. (more…)

News
Foy wins HD 2 recount in Prince William, Stafford

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Jennifer Carroll Foy is the winner in a recount in the 2nd House of Delegates District. 

The Democrat will move onto the General Election where she’ll face Republican Laquan Austion for the seat. 

The district encompasses eastern Prince William County and a portion of northern Stafford County. 

From a press release: 

Jennifer Carroll Foy captured the Democratic nomination today for House of Delegates District 2 (HD-2) by 14 votes, after election officials recounted every ballot cast in the June 13 Democratic primary. 
 
“I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to serve the residents of the Second District, and want to thank Josh King for running a terrific campaign. We won the primary election by running an inclusive, people-centered campaign that engaged thousands of voters in face-to-face conversations,” said Jennifer Carroll Foy, Democratic Nominee for House of Delegates District 2. “I am excited to continue earning the votes of Stafford and Prince William County residents by sharing our vision of a Virginia that works for all of usPeople in the Second District deserve top-quality public education with fairly paid teachers, access to affordable health care, and solutions to our broken transportation system. I have devoted my entire life to public service — fighting for those who need a voice as a public defender and foster mother — and hope to serve you as Delegate.”
 
District 2 is one of the top targeted red-to-blue House of Delegate districts this year. Republican Delegate L. Mark Dudenhefer (HD-2) announced he was not going to run for re-election and Hillary Clinton won the district by 56%. Democrats came within 125 votes of defeating Del. Dudenhefer in 2015, and Democratic turnout is expected to be even higher this year with the gubernatorial race and record turnout in the Democratic primary this June. (more…)

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Stewart wants Kaine’s seat: ‘The era of the kinder, gentler Republican is over’

WOODBRIDGE — After narrowly losing his bid to be the Republican nominee for Virginia Governor to Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart has his eyes on the U.S. Senate. 

Specifically, Stewart seeks to unseat Democrat Senator and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Multiple reporters descended upon Stewart’s home in Woodbridge on Thursday when he made his campaign kick-off announcement. Just before, Stewart sent a press release to reporters that contained these statements:

“As an obedient servant to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Tim Kaine is the leading obstructionist against Trump’s America First agenda,” Stewart opened. “Virginians and citizens across the country need a fighter representing them in D.C. who will stand up to and defeat the smug Washington elites.”

“This last election proved that Virginians want a fighter who will stand for them. The era of the kinder, gentler Republican is over.”  

“Virginia needs a U.S. Senator who will work to fund the border wall, fix our tax code, repeal Obamacare, and get government out of the way so Americans can get back to work,” Stewart said. “That is why today, I am announcing as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia.” 

“The Clinton and Obama ideologues have controlled Virginia for too long, and it’s time to turn Virginia red again,” Stewart said, “and no weak-kneed Republican is up to that task,” Stewart asserted. “I will be the fighter the Republicans need to defeat the Democrats in Virginia.” 

Stewart is the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large, a role he’s served in since 2007. Stewart did better than political pundits in Virginia expect during his June Primary race against Gillespie and Virginia Beach Senator Frank Wagner, losing out to Gillespie by just over one percent.

 

 

News
Surovell: It’s time for local governments to invest in early voting

In Virginia, we have elections every year.  This year, we even have three including a special election for school board on August 29 and then elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and State Delegate on November 7. 

Turnout in our state and local elections plummets. In my experience, a large reason is that voting takes precious time away from jobs and families and given Northern Virginia traffic, time is at a premium.

That’s why I have been encouraging everyone to vote by mail. Most people do not realize how easy it is and most people also do not realize they are even eligible.  If you work outside  your home county, if you cannot stand in line for long periods, are an out of town college student, on vacation or leaving the county for ten minutes on election day, a first responder, or have a commute and workday longer than eleven hours, you can vote early by mail. 

Last year, over 34,000 Prince William and Stafford citizens either voted early in-person or voted by mail.  In Fairfax County, over 120,000 voted early.  There is no reason that should not happen every year and in larger numbers. (more…)

News
Randall running for Garrisonville School Board seat

From a press release: 

Today, Bart Randall formally announced he would seek election to the Garrisonville District seat on the Stafford County School Board. After having filed the proper paperwork and qualified for the ballot, Randall is turning his focus toward the campaign. 

“We must focus on the success, safety, and security of our children and preparing them for a bright future. This includes keeping class sizes low, supporting our teachers, and ensuring our children have the resources to learn.”

Bart Randall and his wife Carolyn live in the Hampton Oaks neighborhood of Stafford and recently celebrated their 30th anniversary.  They have two adult children, including one who graduated from North Stafford High School. Randall retired from a 24-year Navy career in 2009, ending his tenure as a Master Chief with over ten years serving at sea. During his time in the Navy, Randall earned an Associate of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and two Master of Arts degrees in Human Resources Development and Human Resources Management. Randall has been involved in the Stafford Community volunteering as a baseball coach, in Boy Scouts, and at his church.

News
Vannoy completes paperwork, is Democratic nominee for commissioner of the revenue

Alonita Vannoy is the Democratic Commissioner of the Revenue candidate in Manassas. 

Following a June firehouse primary where she won her party’s nomination, Vannoy had yet to complete her initial campaign paperwork filing with the city’s General Registrar’s office.

“Ms. Vannoy successfully filed all required candidate forms with the City of Manassas General Registrar on or before June 12.  We submitted our certification of Ms. Vannoy’s Democratic nomination for Commissioner of the Revenue on June 14.  She will be listed on the ballot for the November 7, 2017, general election in the City of Manassas,” stated Allen Muchick, of the Manassas and Manassas Park Democratic Committee. 

Manassas General Registrar Susan Reed confirmed she had the paperwork on file.

Vannoy tells us via email: 

“I am honored that people came out to vote for me.  They had the confidence to elect me to be the Democratic Nominee for the Commissioner of the Revenue.  I am going to let the people of Manassas get to know me.   I also will show them the kind of Commissioner of the Revenue I will be. I am going to do everything I need to do and I’m going to win.   As a native Virginian, this Commonwealth is very special to me.  I am dedicated to serving Manassas City.”

Vannoy will run against incumbent Commissioner of the Revenue and former City Mayor Douglas Waldron, on the Republican ticket.  (more…)

News
King wants recount in 2nd District race in Prince William, Stafford

A total of 12 votes separates Democrats Josh King and Jennifer Carrol Foy.

Voters in Virginia’s 2nd District, in eastern Prince William and northern Stafford counties, went to the polls Tuesday to choose which Democrat they want to represent them in the fall General Election.

“Upon official certification by the State Board of Elections, the Josh King campaign will request a recount to assure every vote is counted accurately. The accurate accounting of ballots is the cornerstone of American democracy and we intend to ensure that principle is upheld in this election,” said Anthony Fragale, Josh King Campaign Manager.

The campaign went on to thank King supporters in the same statement.

Virginia law permits a recount if a candidate is apparently defeated by not more than a one percent margin. 
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