Tim Singstock, a life long Prince William County resident and former officer in the Army is running to be the Prince William County Public School Board Chairman.
His announcement comes the same week current School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns will not seek reelection.
Singstock lives in Montclair with his family and currently works as a self-employed tax accountant. He attended the County’s public schools while growing up.
“I grew up right here in Prince William County, and I went to Prince William County public schools. I went to Virginia Tech on an Army ROTC scholarship and then served as an officer in the United States Army for five years,” Singstock said.
In addition to his work in the military and tax accounting, Singstock also worked as a defense contractor and project manager assisting the Marine Corps.
For Singstock, the position was one he has been considering for a long time.
“School Board Chairman specifically is something that I’ve been interested in for quite a while and I was contemplating, down the road – maybe in 2019 – perhaps running for the position. So, I was delighted to learn that the opportunity would come sooner in 2015,” he said.
“I feel that my generation has an obligation to ensure that today, these kids are prepared to run America in the twenty-first century,” he said of his motivation to run for the seat, continuing, “I want to serve the community I grew up in.”
He has already received endorsement for his candidacy from Johns, who will complete his term that ends next year.
Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan will also endorse Singstock.
For Singstock, there are two major concerns that need to be addressed by the School Board – school safety and classroom size.
“The [first] issue I’m concerned about, is that I want to make sure that we continue to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our kids. And so the work that I do as a parent and volunteer on the Safe School Advisory Council has kind of given me a passion for school safety,” Singstock said.
One important issue he seeks to address during his campaign is growing classroom sizes, which have been talked about as a major issue in the Prince William County Public School system for several years.
“Another issue that I hear, as I talk to teachers, and I talk to parents [is] that everyone is concerned about crowding, and we have schools above 100% capacity. Part of that needs to be addressed by the Board of County Supervisors, because the development decisions that they make have an impact on classroom size, but on the School Board side, I think it’s a budget issue,” he said.
For him, these issues can both be addressed with good management and living within the allotted county and state education budgets.
“I would like to try and take the resources that the tax payers of Prince William County and Virginia give us, live within the parameters of those resources, and then focus those resources to the greatest extent on the classroom. And I think that’s how we as a School Board can begin to address the issue of crowded classrooms,” Singstock said.
The official launch for Singstock’s campaign will kick off in January. Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 3, 2015.
Scott Jacobs is no longer a member of the Prince William County Republican Committee.
The group dropped him from their member list on Tuesday prior to debate featuring Jacobs and two other candidates hoping to fill the position of Brentsville District Supervisor.
Jeanine Lawson is the official Republican candidate in the race, unanimously chosen to run for the seat at a mass meeting of Republicans earlier this fall. Jacobs failed to meet proper filing deadlines imposed by the committee and was not able to seek the nomination of the party.
Prince William Republican Committee Chairman Bill Card on Thursday described Jacobs as a man who wasn’t active in the county Republican committee prior to his campaign, and as someone who was seeking to take advantage of Republican branding.
Here’s a portion of the story that appeared on Bristow Beat:
…Chairman Bill Card defended the committee’s decision when speaking with Bristow Beat Thursday. He said the decision was appropriate because Jacobs, “violated our trust, and he violated the letter and the spirit of the agreement in which he joined us.”
Card said that although Jacobs lived in Brentsville almost his entire life, he only joined the Prince William Republican Committee this year.
“I didn’t even know Scott Jacobs until January. He came to us seeking our brand. He came to us because he wanted an R by his name,” Card said.
In addition to not meeting the application deadline, Card said the committee was concerned with some of Jacob’s other behaviors such as posting campaign signs before the election board sanctioned such forms of political campaigning.
And, while Jacobs said he embodies Republican ideals, Card disagrees.
“We believe in following our word, and keeping our word, and being honest and upfront with everyone,” Card said.
Documents on file with Prince William County Government state both Card and Jacobs served on the 2012 committee that formulated the county’s strategic plan to guide the community over the next five years in areas like economic development, public safety, and transportation. Those committee meetings took place more than a year before January 2014, the time Card told a reporter he had first met Jacobs.
When asked about his participation in the strategic plan meetings, Card emailed the following statement to Potomac Local:
I went to the initial meeting and one other meeting of that committee. They determined to hold the meetings on Monday evenings. Our Monthly Prince William County Republican Committee meetings are generally held on the fourth Monday of each Month and my Executive Committee Meetings (of the Prince William County Republican Committee) are held on Monday evenings as well.
After missing so many of the initial meetings when I did return for one I found that I was hopelessly behind, and I didn’t return.
If I did meet Jacobs, he didn’t make an impression as I don’t recall.
Jacobs said he sat beside Card at the very first strategic planning committee meeting, and he corroborated the claim that Card missed some meetings.
“We did meet one another there, and he was there for more than one meeting,” said Jacobs.
The Republicans issued a statement to the press Tuesday about Jacobs’s removal from the GOP committee. While he continues to run as an independent, Jacobs said he remains a deeply rooted conservative.
The committee took issue when an audio recording surfaced of a campaign worker making a phone call to a voter in who lives in the district and described Jacobs as a Republican. It was the impetus for his removal from the group.
“This is a company that our campaign called and hired to make phone calls for us,” said Jacobs. “I listened to the phone calls on couple different occasions, they say I’m a Republican, and I am. “We certainly asked [the hired company] to clearly state that I am an independent candidate.”
Voters will go to the polls to decide on who the next Brentsville District Supervisor will be during a Special Election Dec. 23.
Virginia Railway Express extension, commuter bus expansion popular
Metro to western Prince William County doesn’t appear to be a popular idea.
The three candidates seeking to be the next Brentsville District Supervisor said bringing the heavy commuter rail service west from Vienna is a non-starter.
“I don’t know why we’re talking about metro; It’s not in the strategic plan so I don’t think it’s a good use of time to even talk about it,” said Eric Young, a Democrat.
His Republican opponent Jeanine Lawson agreed.
““I do not want metro to Prince William County,’ said Lawson to an applauding audience. “We have better transportation solutions than Metro.”
A better idea is to expand Virginia Railway Express service to Gainesville, as well as increase the number of commuter buses on Interstate 66, the candidates said.
“If we can put more buses on the road, that is a great solution before extending VRE to Gainesville,” said Scott Jacobs, an independent.
All three candidates spoke about improving transportation in western Prince William at Tuesday night’s Brentsville District Candidates Debate, organized by this news organization in partnership with Bristow Beat. Each seeks a seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors vacated by Wally Covington, who is now a county judge.
The Bi-County Parkway, a skeleton of a hotly-debated road project in 2013 that would link Interstate 95 in Dumfries to Dulles Airport via Manassas, was once again a part of the discussion.
“Brining high paying jobs to district, if we’re really going to make that happen, we need to provide thoroughfares that don’t exist,” said Jacobs, who called the parkway a “value proposition and said businesses outside Prince William are watching and waiting to see if the highway will be built before deciding to relocate to Prince William.
The highway as it’s proposed would use the existing roadway of Route 234 from where it begins I-95 and ends at I-66. The road would be extended through a portion of Manassas National Battlefield Park, and also would connect drivers to Dulles Airport.
Lawson called the proposed highway a “developers road” and said there “is no study to prove the Bi-County Parkway would bring economic development.”
Lawson said a better use of regional transportation dollars would be to improve the interchange at I-66 and Route 28 in Centreville.
“Study after study does show the congestion is still east-west. If you fix that Route 28 interchange on the curve, that will alleviate a lot of the north-south traffic on Route 28,” said Lawson.
There are plans to add two new express toll lanes in each direction on I-66 similar to what will open on I-95 in Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford counties next week. The plan also includes express bus service.
Young claims traffic at Dulles Airport is diminishing, however, does say the airport is important to the region’s economic growth.
“If we want Dulles Airport to be a part of our economic growth engine we’ve got to tie in somewhere…soon,” said Young.
Voters who live in Prince William County’s Brentsivlle District will head to the polls Dec. 23 for a Speical Election to decide who will win the open seat. Click here for more information about the election, if you are eligible to vote, and where to vote.
Brentsville District Board of Supervisors candidates debate
The candidates differentiated themselves early on the in the debate. However, on the issue of broadening Prince William County’s light commercial tax base, it was easy to see how much all three agreed.
Jeanine Lawson, Eric Young, and Scott Jacobs submitted to questioning Tuesday night at the first and only scheduled Brentsville District Candidates Debate organized by this news organization, in partnership with Bristow Beat, and hosted at Linton Hall School.
Voters who live in the district will head to the polls Dec. 23 for a special election to choose a new county supervisor following former supervisor Wally Covington’s resignation from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Young, a Democrat and political newcomer, said he had not and will not accept any money from commercial or home developers. Many blame developers for overcrowded classrooms and clogged roadways.
“I don’t work for them,” said Young.
Jacobs, an independent, disagreed, and has accepted money from real estate developers.
“The developers are the real risk takers in the community. I don’t know why everybody frowns on that. Just because you take a contribution from someone in the development issue doesn’t mean that you’re their patsy,” said Jacobs.
The Republican Lawson said she accepted campaign donations from two developers. If elected, she said she would work to roll back developers’ influence in local government.
“The developers are not these evil people – they’re business people. They deserve a seat at the table in the dialogue of development, but they certainly don’t deserve to be the chair at the table of discussion, and that where they’ve been,” said Lawson.
Prince William County has the largest number of students per classroom in the Washington, D.C. region. Packing so many students into one room inhibits learning, said Young.
Lawson placed blame on developers for overcrowded schools.
“The overzealous development has created the crowding problem in our schools. We need more managed growth and to stop rubber-stamping all development that comes down the road,” she said.
Jacobs said paying teachers a higher salary is the most effective tool to not only decrease class sizes, but to attract and retain high-quality educators to the region.
‘Economic development is not working’
Where the candidates had their differences, all agreed the county needs to attract more large commercial businesses. The place for them, all agreed, is the Innovation Business Park in the Brentsville District.
“Economic development is important, but what we’ve been doing to attract new business in the targeted industries…it’s not working,” said Young. “We’re going after businesses that don’t want to be here because we don’t have a value proposition for them.”
Jacobs called for more involvement from the Board of Supervisors in the county’s office of economic development.
“We need to out there an incentive these large businesses… we need somebody that can get in there and get these business centers on the right side of the fence and deal make with these folks,” said Jacobs.
Prince William has been largely successful in luring retail businesses, including a new Cabelas store that is slated to open soon in Gainesville.
“Retail growth is not going to pay the mortgage bills. It’s not going to get you off 66. We’ve got make better efforts for high-paying job growth in the Innovation Business Park,” said Lawson.
The polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23. Click here to get more information to see if you are eligible to vote in this Special Election and where your polling place is located.
Campaign for Board of Supervisors a first for Scoggins
Donald Scoggins will toss his name into the hat seeking the Republican nomination to be the next Occoquan District Supervisor.
Scoggins will seek the seat to be vacated by current Supervisor Mike May, who announced he’s running to become the next Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney. Scoggins will face competition from fellow Republican John Gray who also wants the seat, and the results of a June 9 Primary Election could be the deciding factor which man will go on to run for the seat in November.
“I’m going to run as a Republican. I’ve been a Republican for over 50 years, and I’m not going to change now,” said Scoggins.
He’ll also face competition from Democrat and former Town of Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta whom he calls a “formidable” opponent.
“I know Earnie Porta,” said Scoggins. “I respect him as a candidate.”
A Vietnam veteran, former real estate broker, and soon to be retired federal employee, Scoggins has his eye on how Prince William County develops. The Occoquan District on the eastern side of the county is nearly fully developed, but whoever wins the seat will have a say on how the largely rural western side of the county grows.
“I want to make the rural crescent is maintained as much as possible, and I want to make sure we don’t overburden he taxpayers with over development,” said Scoggins.
On transportation, Scoggins said the county needs to reevaluate its priorities and decide what road projects need to be funded. In the face of a looming transit funding crisis where the funding of some projects could be delayed, Scoggins some project may have to be removed from the books.
“Instead of doing everything that is planned, we have to look at what the numbers are, and we need to bring in staff and make educated decisions,” said Scoggins. “We can’t do everything, so maybe we have to lower our sights on what can get done given the current economic climate.”
Scoggins has been active in several non-profit organizations to include the Prince William Committee of 100, and has been a Prince William GOP Committee member for the past four years.
Scoggins has been married for 32 years. He has two adult sons, one who graduated from Virginia Tech and the other from University of Michigan.
John Gray will seek his party’s nomination to be the next Occoquan District Supervisor.
If elected, the Republican would replace Mike May who announced he would seek the job of Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney.
Gray ran against Prince William County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, At-large in 2011 as an independent and lost. Since that election, Gray has remained an active participant in local politics.
He’ll likely face competition from within his own party as Don Scoggins said he will run for the Occoquan District Seat. Democrat and former Town of Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta will also run for the seat.
Gray works as a CPA. Naturally, the top issue facing the county residents is taxes, he said. While he won’t run on a platform of lowering them, he does propose placing a cap on the amount of property taxes collected.
When property assessments come in and they’re higher than what they’ve planned on them being, [the county] collects more revenue in the form of real estate taxes,” said Gray.
Higher teacher pay
His fix: factor in the amount of over-collected taxes from last year into the coming year’s budget. That would result in a tax decrease for residents, said Gray.
Teacher pay is another top issue Gray said his campaign would focus on. Prince William teachers don’t make enough, he said.
“We’re getting what we’re paying for,” said Gray, noting Prince William County is falling behind when it comes to living wage increases to attract and retain qualified teachers in the county’s public schools.
The Board of Supervisors is the county’s taxing authority but does not have a say on how the county’s School Board spends their funds. If elected. However, Gray said he’ll keep a close watch on the construction of the county’s 13th high school.
“I’ll make sure we don’t spend our money on things like a school pool and a black box theater that doesn’t improve the quality of our childrens education,” said Gray.
He referred to the county’s 12th high school, now under construction off Route 234 near Hoadly Road. It will have an aquatics facility and black box theater, and with a price tag of nearly $100 million, it will be one of the costliest high schools ever to be built in Virginia.
Picking a fight with Peacor
Gray would also immediately pick a fight with Prince William County Executive Melissa Peacor, if elected.
“I don’t like the direction she’s leading the county. Every time she needs something funded, [the Board of County Supervisors] find some fund to do what she wants,” said Gray.
He cited the $12 million cost to bury power lines on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge to complement a the road widening effort funded by the state. The burial costs were not factored into the current budget approved by the Board of Supervisors in April.
The funds allocated for the power lines burial came from a reserve fund dedicated for transportation projects, and the recommendation to bury the lines came not from Peacor but from the Board of Supervisors, which asked for her professional recommendation on how to proceed, said county spokesman Jason Grant.
Its important to also note Peacor works at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors, added Grant.
Don Scoggins will challenge Gray for the seat, and the challenge could lead to a Primary Election on June 9.
The General Election will be held Nov. 3, 2015.
Gray has been married for 43 years and has lived in Lake Ridge for 28 years. He is a Marine Corp veteran, and has served as president of the Lake Ridge Property Owners Association.
Transportation key to Dudenhefer’s campaign
Mark Dudenhefer seeks to reclaim his seat in the House of Delegates representing Stafford and Woodbridge.
It will be Dudenehfer’s third time running for the seat, one he held for one term after being elected in 2011. He later lost to Delegate Michael Futrell in 2013.
The Republican and former Chairman of the Stafford County said transportation will be a key issue during his campaign to reclaim the seat.
“I left office two years ago, and there were a lot of transportation projects that were fully funded and moving forward,” said Dudenhefer.
Since that time, however, some projects in Northern Virginia were placed under review by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond. The Board pulled some a portion of funding away from the some projects and moved into a special trust fund until a state-level review of projects was complete, following the election of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Dudenehfer said the planned construction of a $184 million interchange at Courthouse Road and Interstate 95 in Stafford County will do wonders to move the region forward. A total of $5 million was pulled from the project and placed into the trust fund, and fewer funds means that work to build commuter parking lot slated to be built as part of the project won’t happen unless officials at the county level can find new sources of funding.
The interchange is one of 30 projects under review. The project lies just outside the 2nd House District that encompasses a portion of northern and western Stafford County, and a portion of Woodbridge in Prince William County. Dudenhefer says transportation is a regional issue that is larger than the concerns of any one politicians’ district.
“I fought very hard to get the new HOT lanes extended from Dumfries to Garrisonville,” said Dudenehfer.
He lobbied Transurban, builder of the new EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95, to build two lanes – one more than was originally planned – when extending the current HOV lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road. The new lanes are scheduled to open this month.
During this time in office, Dudenehfer supported a study of extending Metro to Woodbridge. He also sided with then Gov. Bob McDonnell on a landmark transportation bill that was to raise some $880 million for new transportation funding.
While those estimates have fallen short due to, in part, declining fuel prices, Dudenhefer said someone needs to hold Richmond accountable for how much money is spent, and on what projects are funded. If elected, he’ll look into what has stalled construction of a new bridge at Route 123 and Route 1 in Wooodbridge that was supposed to provide better access to the developing Belmont Bay neighborhood.
Stafford, Prince William vote differently
While he’s made no official announcement, Futrell will seek a seat in the Virginia Senate, according to an official with the Virginia House Democrats. Futrell lives in the 29th District, the seat of retiring State Senator Charles Colgan who has served in Richmond since 1976. Two other Democrats, Atif Qarni and Jeremy McPike, have both announced they will compete for the seat.
The chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee said it has has new candidate to run against Dudenhefer who will officially announce in January.
In 2013, Futrell won the election with over 1% of the total vote. He relied heavily on Democratic voters in Prince William to carry him into office.
The split between voters in Prince William and Stafford counties couldn’t have been more apparent. In Prince William, Dudenhefer scored just 34% of the vote while in his home County of Stafford he won 64% of the vote.
The Republican admits he’ll need more votes in Prince William County this time around to win.
“I failed to get out in Prince William last time,” he said. “I’m going to get out and be on the door steps and talk about the issues that are important to residents.”
“Stafford’s issues are a bit different that Prince William’s, and I don’t think the two sets of issues conflict with each other, and you can deal with them mutually,” added Dudenehfer.
Prince William Democrats identify new candidate to replace Futrell
After one term in the House of Delegates, Michael Futrell will run to replace the retiring Charles Colgan, who is currently Virginia’s longest-serving Senator in Richmond.
A new Democratic candidate that been selected to replace Futrell will make his official announcement in January, said Prince William County Democratic Committee Chairman Harry Wiggins. The unnamed candidate lives in Woodbridge, has been active in the committee, and will soon retire from his job at the Pentagon in Arlington.
Republican Mark Dudenhefer, whom Futrell unseated to win the 2nd District seat, is has told fellow Republicans he will seek to retake the seat but has made no formal announcement. Dudenhefer said that Futrell called him last night and told him he would not seek reelection in the 2nd District.
“What you learn quickly when you start doing this is people try to dictate what your schedule of things is before you even have a chance to think about them. This is not about me, this is about the people and we’re trying to do the people’s work,” Futrell told Potomac Local on Tuesday night.
He did not say when he planned to make an official announcement that he would seek the Senate seat.
“I’ll send you an email when I decide to do it,” he said.
Futrell will enter an increasing crowded field among fellow Democrats who want Colgan’s old seat. Atif Qurni and Jeremy McPike have both sought office before, and will compete for the nomination of their party for the Senate seat.
Colgan, a Democrat, is the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate and served in the office since 1976.
Court must approve election date
A special election will be held March 17 to decide who will replace Councilwoman Kristin Forrester.
The long-serving Dumfries Town Councilwoman stepped down from the governing body last night. She will take a new Federal Government job overseas.
The council will appoint someone to fill the Council vacancy. The appointee will hold the position until a special election is held to select the permanent council person.
The March 17 date was chosen because it is 56 days prior to Virginia’s June 9 Primary Election. Candidates who wish to replace Forrester must now go into the community and obtain at least 125 signatures, that will later be verified by the Prince William County Voter Registrar, to have their name included on the ballot.
Some council members, including Forrester, wanted to allow whomever is appointed to serve until May 2016.
“It will give my replacement time to work with the council, give time to give input for to the council rather than just sitting up here for a couple weeks,” said Forrester.
But Mayor Jerry Foreman and Councilman Cliff Brewer said an election is needed sooner than later.
“By us appointing someone, we’re taking it out of the citizens’ hands. We need to put this back in the citizens hands and let them decide who they want on this council,” said Brewer.
“If we wait until May 2016, the person will fill this seat will fill it for 18 months. If we ask our citizens and say ‘hey give us you resumes, we want to know who is interested in this position’ and then turn around and select someone for 18 months, that person is serving for half a term and I think the citizens should be the ones selecting that, not the council members,” said Foreman.
The court must approve the March 17 special election day. The Town Council is expected to appoint an interim Council member in January.
‘Ethics reform needed to restore public trust in Richmond’
Jeremy McPike fell short by just 288 votes in his bid to unseat the long-serving Scott Lingamfelter from the Virginia House of Delegates. There were a total of 22,833 votes cast in the 2013 contest.
McPike said he built a “strong coalition” of voters during that campaign who recognized him as the person who could help bring ethics reform to Richmond, as well as help move Prince William County forward in areas such as transportation and education.
Not giving up the fight, McPike will officially announce his candidacy to fill the 29th District Virginia Senate seat vacated by Charles Colgan, the Senate’s longest-serving member since 1976, and its President Pro Tempore. The district includes all of Manassas and Manassas Park and a portion of Prince William County.
“The ethics reform that we seen go before our governor don’t go far enough. Zero gifts to politicians need to be the standard to restore public trust in Richmond,” said McPike.
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell were convicted in September on 11 of 13 counts and nine of 13 counts, respectively, of taking $177,000 in loans and gifts from then Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. On Monday, a federal judge acquitted Maureen McDonnell on one count of obstruction of justice but refused to toss out charges against the former governor. Both now face years in prison.
McPike also wants to reform how political districts are drawn and bring an end to gerrymandering. He says both political parties use big data, just as large corporations use to find their customers, to draw political districts – “cramming” a large number of Republicans into one district and Democrats into another.
“Voters should be creeped out because [political parties] know who voted for what, down to the decimal point, and then use that information to determine how they will vote again,” said McPike.
The Democrat says he wants to continue in Colgan’s footsteps. The retiring Senator is credited with bringing million of dollars in funding for local transportation projects.
“I commute one hour each way every day,” said McPike. “We need to continue to fund road improvements on Route 28, I-95, and Route 1, but do it in a way so that it does not cut into education.”
To increase revenues in state coffers, McPike said he is in favor of repealing a state tax credit used to entice filmmakers to make movies in the state.
“The data show there is no payback for the tax credit,” he said.
McPike will compete against fellow Democrat Atif Qarni for the seat. Qarni unsuccessfully ran to unseat Delegate Bob Marshall, losing by 498 of the 17,429 cast in the 2013 contest.
McPike is from Dale City where he currently lives with his wife of 14 years, Sharon, and their three girls, ages 13, 9, and 6, all who attend public school. By day, McPike works as the Director of General Services for Alexandria and manages city real estate, facilities, vehicle fleet, animal shelter, and farmers market.
He also serves at the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department Station 10 on Dale Boulevard in Dale City, where he’ll make his official campaign kick-off announcement at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Three seats on the Manassas City Council were up for grabs last night.
Marc Aveni, a Republican incumbent, kept his seat with 24% of the vote.
The biggest vote getter of the night was Sheryl Bass with 30% of the vote. Bass returns to the City Council after being the first woman ever to serve on the will now sit on the City Council when she was appointed in 2008 to complete a term that ended in 2010. She also served on the city’s School Board prior to her 2008 appointment to the council.
Ken Elston was the only Democrat to pick up a seat on the City Council on Tuesday. He won 23% of the vote beating out fellow Democrat Patricia Richie-Folks by two points.
Elston is the director of George Mason University’s School of Theater and ran on a platform of greater economic development for the city.
Manassas Vice-Mayor Andrew L. “Andy” Harrover and Steven J. Randolph decided not to seek reelection to the council. Both will complete their terms that come to an end Dec. 31.
Republicans maintain control of two big Virginia House Districts
Rob Wittman will return to Washington for his fourth consecutive term.
The congressman represents Virginia’s 1st District to include Prince William and Stafford counties, as well as counties in the eastern portion of Virginia stretching to Williamsburg.
Wittman handily defeated his opponent Norm Mosher, a Democrat, who was a first-time political candidate this season.
“The top three issues when I return to Washington are military readiness… the second is to get our economy cranking and then there’s many other opportunities to do other things, to get our budget under control and government out of the way, to make sure we’re doing things to reach across the aisle to get things done,” said Wittman.
Wittman beat Mosher handily across the state with 63% of the vote. The vote tally resulted in a 28 point spread between the two candidates.
Riding a Republican wave into office, Wittman said he looked forward to working in a GOP-controlled congress.
“By having a republican senate and a republican house you’ll have bills come through on both sides of the aisle and people willing to work together to get things done. It’s going to be telling when we look at what the president is going to do,” said Wittman. “He is going to come and meet with us and try to make things happen?”
Wittman and his supporters gathered Tuesday night at the Globe and Laurel restaurant just outside Quantico.
Voters in Virginia’s 10th District to include western Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park sent also sent a Republican back to Washington. Barbara Comstock, a Virginia State Delegate, will replace retiring Rep. Frank Wolf, who has held that office since 1980. With 57% of the vote, Comstock beat challenger Democrat John Foust, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
The former Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax, Prince William, easily won the congressional district. He first won the seat in 2008, and the district includes most of eastern Prince William County. Connolly won the day with 57% of the vote, 17 more points than his opponent.
The much-watched race of the night was for Virginia’s Senate seat, which remains too close to call despite Warner claiming victory in the race with a slim 49% to 48% lead over Republican Ed Gillespie.
Iraq, Ebola, Jobs Top Voter Concerns, says Congressman
In the world of telemarketing sales, there’s an old saying “smile and dial.”
In politics it’s called a phone bank, where campaign supporters fill a room, sit side by side in close quarters, dial voters and ask for their vote.
And on Sunday a house in Montclair, it was Congressman Robert Wittman (R, Va. – 1) making those phone calls. This is his fourth campaign in an effort to keep his job representing Virginians from Prince William County to Williamsburg, an unusually diverse political district.
This election, voters are asking about him questions about the down economy, like they did during his last election season in 2012, but also about the conflict with ISIS in Iraq and the Ebola outbreak that has made its way to the U.S.
“There’s much more international flavor to what the election issues are this time around. During the last election, the issues were ‘what are we going to do about the economy, what are we going to do about jobs?” All of those things are still on people’s minds but they are now equal to issues like national security,” said Wittman.
The Republican is facing first-time candidate Democrat Norm Mosher. The two faced off last month in Manassas for their first debate where Wittman touted said more needs to be done to unclog this area congested highways, and Mosher warned voters of the real threat of global climate change and its effects on the Virginia coastline.
In 2012, Wittman won over his Democratic opponent by 15 points. This go round, he’s sticking to the same conservative points that resonate with his base like Obamacare, reforming the tax code, and that the government spends and owes too much money.
Tim Singstock opened up his home on Sunday for about 10 volunteers who all sat with cell phones in hand, in front of laptops using a special software used to track phone calls, and asked voters to cast their ballot for Wittman.
“These are my friends this is for my family. If I want to promote my family and do what’s important to them, I have to take care of my country,” said Singstock, who recently formed the conservative group Potomac GOP.
Singstock invited the congressman to his home for the 90-minute phone-a-thon. After the election, he hopes to keep the members of his group active by focusing on issues facing local government.
“We need to learn about local issues if we are going to be effective, so that means turning off Fox News, putting down the Wall Street Journal, and engaging in local media like Potomac Local, talking to our local elected officials, visiting them and holding them accountable…,” said Singstock.
MANASSAS, Va. – In Thursday’s night’s 1st Congressional District forum, Republican incumbent Rob Wittman put his knowledge and seven years of congressional experience on display to get across his conservative viewpoints.
The newcomer and challenger, Democrat Norm Mosher, said the event was his first public campaign forum, and it showed as Mosher stuck to a script of Democratic talking points.
The Prince William Committee of 100 held the candidates forum, which was also to include Independent Gail Parker who did not show. The event was moderated by Dr. Steven Farnsworth, Professor and Director of Center for Leadership and Media Studies at Mary Washington University.
Crisis in the Middle East
On the topic of how do deal with ISIS, the group calling itself the Islamic State, the opinions of the two candidates differed.
“ISIS must be destroyed,” said Wittman. “Extremisms, in all nations, it’s a chance to stand against this type of treachery that should be wiped out…the focus of these groups is to wipe out everyone who doesn’t believe in their narrow view of the Quran, and I know there are many in Islam that don’t believe in that.”
Mosher called on strengthening relationships with countries around Iraq and Syria, where the ISIS movement has taken a stronghold.
“We upset balance of Iraq when we invaded,” said Mosher. “I would like to see stronger role by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and a stronger relationship with Turkey and Egypt. What’s going on is just an extension of 1,400 years of religious warfare. We can’t put boots on the ground in that region without being seen as an occupier.”
On the topic of children coming across U.S. borders illegally, and illegal immigrants who have been here for years, Mosher said deportation is not an option.
“There aren’t enough buses in the world to deport 12 to 14 million illegal’s who are here in our country. They’re here and they’re contributing to our culture,” said Mosher. “We should focus on a wall south of Mexico to stop countries from sending children here that we have to deal with.”
Wittman said a mix of physical barriers, and increased use of technology will do more to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across the U.S. southern border. He also called for tightening the visa program in the U.S., calling for increased enforcement and finding those who have overstayed their welcome.
Questions turned to money, taxes, and to whether or not the national minimum wage should be raised, which currently sits at $7.25 per hour in Virginia and varies by state.
“Min wage should be wage. When you have companies making their labor plans with the assumption their employees will go on government assistance is shameful,” said Mosher, who suggested $10.10 per hour would be an acceptable minimum wage.
“When you look at information from the Congressional Budget Office, which found that if the minimum wage was raised, 1 million jobs would be lost. The real issue we need to address is finding the jobs people need to move into after leaving minimum wage jobs,” said Wittman, who also advocated for more career and technical education.
On corporate tax reform, Wittman said companies should pay less corporate taxes and should not be penalized for sending jobs over seas. Mosher fired back and said while the coporate tax rate may be 38%, only about 12% is actually being paid due to tax evasion.
“…you can’t change the tax code until all the loopholes are stopped so we actually know what were getting for national revenue,” he said.
On healthcare, Mosher is a strong supporter of Obamacare while Wittman said it has failed to launch. The two agreed, however, on two specifics of the Obamacare plan – allowing adults age 26 and under to remain on their parents healthcare plan, and for guanrateeing health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
Of the most important issues facing Virginia, Mosher said climate change is already affecting coastal towns in eastern Virginia in the 1st District, as well as impacting the coastal City of Norfolk.
Wittman said improving the road system so more businesses can get goods to market faster is key to bettering the region.
“Mass transit is part of the solution, but ask anyone that transacts business or delivers goods — they’ll tell you have to have roads and major corridors to get goods to market,” said Wittman.
Voters will have their say as to which candidate will represent them when they go to the polls Nov. 4.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – When Wally Covington steps down, don’t expect Brentsville to have a voice any time soon.
Covington, who serves on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, was confirmed today for a new position as a Prince William General District Court Judge, according to the woman who is running to replace him.
Here’s a statement received by Potomac Local from candidate Jeanine Lawson:
Today, Brentsville Supervisor, Wally Covington, was confirmed as a Prince William County General District Court Judge by the Virginia General Assembly. Per Virginia law, Supervisor Covington will have to resign his position on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. On Wednesday, October 1 at Patriot High School starting at 7:00 p.m. the Republicans will hold a nominating meeting to choose their candidate who will run in a special election to fill the Brentsville District seat.
Covington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The job as judge was a position the county supervisor said he was seeking, and there were several comments made by his fellow Board of Supervisors members during public meetings about Covington taking the bench – a job he cannot hold while serving as supervisor.
Covington was awaiting action from Virginia’s General Assembly, which met today in a special session to approve a new budget that essentially clears the way for his ascension to the bench.
When he steps down, that will leave a vacancy on the Board. A special election will need to be scheduled no sooner than 45 days, but no longer than 60 days after his resignation.
And that means it could be at December or January before Brenstville has a supervisor again. That’s because of a law unique to Prince William.
“The law only applies to Prince William Supervisors. We call it the Michelle McQuigg law,” said Prince William County Electoral Board Chairman Keith Scarborough. “When Michelle was elected [to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1998], there was a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors, and she wanted a particular person to be appointed, so Michelle went to Richmond and wrote a law that only applies to Prince William Supervisors that states when there’s a vacancy, you can’t appoint an interim person.”
This differs from the county’s elected School Board that in recent years has appointed two interim candidates, in the Occoquan and Woodbridge magisterial districts, only to have them unseated in a later special election.
Scarbarough says he’s working to change the law authored by McQuigg, who now is the county’s elected Clerk of the Court after being elected to the position in 2008, and hopes to have action in the coming General Assembly session in January.
Lawson is a Republican who also faces Realtor Scott Jacobs, who is also seeking the seat. Lawson concluded her press release with this statement:
“I’d like to congratulate Supervisor Covington on his judicial appointment. I look forward to having the opportunity to represent the residents of the Brentsville District and my campaign is in position to run a strong race in the upcoming election. I will continue to share my plans for balanced growth, responsible spending, and quality of life issues with the voters of the Brentsville District.”
MANASSAS, Va. – In a little corner of Downtown Manassas new campaign headquarters opened Monday night.
It’s a joint election office for Senator Mark Warner who is seeking reelection, and for John Foust, a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member hoping to replace outgoing Congressman Frank Wolf (R, Va.-10). Both Foust and Warner are Democrats and at their Manassas election headquarters supporters wore t-shirts, stickers, and hats as if the two men were unto themselves a professional football team.
“Oh, this is very nice, very nice,” said Marilyn Foust, the candidate’s wife as she took a first look at the office at 941 Main Street, next to Philadelphia Tavern. It’s one of several new Foust campaign offices that have opened across the 10th Congressional District, which spans from McLean – where Foust calls home – to Manassas, Manassas Park, west to Frederick County.
Supporters greet Foust at the door with applause, and he shakes each ones hand as he walks in. When he makes his way to back of the room to stand in front of a giant sign with his name on it, he’s surrounded by Manassas Park City Councilwoman Jeannet Rishell, as well as other Democrats who hope to make a name for themselves as they seek offices on the Manassas City Council.
In this campaign’s cross hairs is Barbara Comstock, who also lives in McLean and is a Republican delegate in Virginia’s House of Representatives.
“Comstock has put on a mask of moderation for this race,” said Rishell. “…we can see from her voting record she sides with the GOP agenda.”
Wasting no time throwing punches, Democrats labeled their opponent as someone who would take away a woman’s right to choose, someone who voted against landmark transportation reform in Virginia, and someone carries an “extremely partisan” record in Richmond.
“We have Republicans on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors but we know how to work together and compromise to get things done,” said Foust.
Comstock was attending a fair in Loudoun County today and was not immediately available for comment, a campaign spokeswoman said. The Republican has been endorsed by several in the GOP including Republican Delegates Richard Anderson, Tim Hugo who represent Prince William County, Jackson Miller, of Manassas, as well as members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and School Board.
The Democrat also brought up guns and said he owns them, but supports limiting gun purchases to one a month.
“Sensible gun safety measures are something we should all support, especially with all of the school massacres as of late,” said Foust.
So far, Foust has outraised his Republican opponent Barbara Comstock by about $100,000, with a full campaign war chest of $1.1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Those at the office opening on Monday said this open seat election is a way for the party to gain control of a district that has been a Republican stronghold.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Candidate Mark Gibson came up short just 43 names.
News of Gibson being kicked out of a farmer’s market in Dale City while attempting to collect signatures appear on the November ballot made waves earlier this year. He was eventually back to the market with the proper permits, but in the end we learned he didn’t have enough valid signatures to get his name on the ballot, and now he is calling it quits.
The Independent sought to unseat Democrat Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax, Prince William) who has been in he House of Representatives in 2009. This was the Fairfax businessman’s second run at the federal seat.
Gibson, like all candidates, must get enough qualified signatures and present them to the office of elections to be able to have their names listed on ballots in polling booths during the General Election.
Gibson told Potomac Local he also collected signatures at various other events, including a festival in Vienna where he was able to pick up quite a few. Gibson today issued a press release that contained this statement:
Of the 302 disqualified signatures, about half were from outside the District – primarily from areas that were formerly in the District prior to the 2012 Congressional redistricting. Other voters were disqualified because the general registrars in the counties of Fairfax and Prince William as well as the City of Fairfax could not identify a signature as a registered voter from the 11th District.
And, with that Gibson has decided to bow out of the race, telling Potomac Local in an email “I would have to be a write-in and I just don’t see that as effective.”
He also included this quote in his press release:
“We had a small dedicated group of community volunteers collecting ballot petition signatures, but it just wasn’t enough,” Gibson said. “And the demands of my day job this year meant that I couldn’t devote the time necessary to make this bid a success.”
Gibson is a U.S. Government contractor and the chief operating officer for a Fairfax-based small business.
Candidates need 1,000 qualified signatures to appear on the ballot and most of them, like Gibson, submitted more than necessary in case some names don’t check out. He was just 43 qualified names short of meeting the requirement.
Gerry Connolly will seek reelection, but Republican challenger Suzanne Scholte, Green Party candidate Joe Galdo, and Libertarian Marc Harrold are all running against him.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A bi-partisan town hall meeting quickly turned to debate over Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
State Senator George Barker (D-Fairfax, Prince William) and Delegate Richard Anderson (R-Prince William) on Wednesday night got an earful of opinions from Prince William County residents who support or oppose growing the federal healthcare mandate, known as Obamacare.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2013 campaigned for office on a plan to vigorously expand Medicare in the state only to come up short after the General Assembly session that concluded earlier this year. The move would have put Virginia on a list of states like Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. that are already expanding their Medicare programs.
Under the law, the U.S. Government will cover 90% of the costs in the early years and then phase down the number of dollars they provide in later years. Some have likened Medicare expansion to Social Security funds which some fear may dry up.
“I’m worried that in 10 years from how the burden to pay for all of this will fall on the State of Virginia, and I don’t like the idea of borrowing money from the Federal Government to pay for this,” a man said.
Others challenged Anderson and Barker to expand Obamacare in the state and provide insurance for some 350,000 or more that otherwise do not have access to it.
“Governor McAuliffe campaigned on the issue and it’s not like he changed his mind,” said Barbara Paceiejewski, of Lake Ridge.
The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) was established last year to find a way to move forward on healthcare expansion in the state, but Barker said the commission is now dormant and has not held a meeting since April.
“The commission is no longer functioning. They’ve had lots of meetings, and a lot of information has been passed around, but there’s been no solid discussion on the matter,” said Barker.
Barker supports the expansion and says Virginia is already paying into the federal healthcare system but, since the state will not expand the program, does not recoup the tax monies given to the feds. Anderson does not support the current plan to expand healthcare in the state and cited worries about the national debt.
“I’m concerned about one number: $17 trillion – our national debt. I know work as been done to improve the deficit but I’m worried about the overall budget and how we’re going to pay for this program,” said Anderson.
With Democrats still pushing for expansion, Republican House of Delegates William J. Howell said late Wednesday the General Assembly will return to Richmond for a special session in late September to once again take up the issue. That session will come after McAuliffe is expected to announce his plan to expand the program in the state.
Both elected officials also talked about their legislative successes during the annual General Assembly session that wrapped up earlier this year.
A bill from Barker allows U.S. servicemen and women just back from deployment more time to have their car inspected in the event their inspection expired while deployed. Another allows employers hit by current hard economic times to reduce the number of hours worked by employees to two to three days a week, allowing them to collect state unemployment benefits for days not worked. By reducing hours worked, it prevents a company from having to fire trained employees only to have to hire and train new employees when business picks back up, said Barker.
Anderson was able to pass a bill that requires background checks for small in-home daycare providers in an effort to make daycare providers safer.
“Had background checks been done on some previous in-home daycare providers, certain daycares wouldn’t be allowed to operate, and parents wouldn’t have entrusted their child to a problematic daycare,” said Anderson.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Local legislators will hold a series of town hall meetings beginning tonight.
The meetings will both be held in Woodbridge, tonight at the Prince William County Government Center’s McCoart Building at tomorrow night at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building.
Here’s more in a press release from Virginia Delegate Richard Anderson:
JOINT HOUSE-SENATE LEGISLATIVE TOWN HALL: This Wednesday, July 9, 7-9pm, Del. Rich Anderson (R-51st) and Sen. George Barker (D-39) will host their annual post-legislative session town hall in the chambers of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors at the James J. McCoart Government Complex, 1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, VA. This is an official, bipartisan event that Del. Anderson and Sen. Barker traditionally host each year after the annual legislative session. They will discuss the session, look ahead to future sessions, and answer questions from attendees.
1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT TOWN HALL: This Thursday, July 10, 7-9pm, Congressman Robert J. Wittman will host a “Congressional District Town Hall on Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases” at the Dr. A. J. Ferlazzo Government Complex, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, Woodbridge, VA. The meeting will be in the Locust Shade Room and will address the warm-weather dangers of tick-borne diseases.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – For those who don’t have a valid photo ID: you’re going to need one to cast your ballots at polling places in Prince William County in coming elections.
The Prince William County Office of Elections says several types of photo ID will be accepted:
For future Virginia Elections, voters must present one of the following acceptable forms of photo identification when voting:
- Virginia Driver’s License
- DMV-issued photo identification card
- United States Passport
- Employee photo identification card
- Other government-issued photo identification card
- College or university student photo identification card (issuer must be an institution of higher education located in Virginia)
Registered voters who do not have an acceptable form of photo identification may visit any local voter registration office for a free ID beginning July 1, 2014. Prince William County locations include:
- Office of Elections, 9250 Lee Avenue, Manassas, VA 20110
- Woodbridge DMV, 2731 Caton Hill Road, Woodbridge, VA 22192
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – The balance of power and influence in Richmond’s General Assembly could shift away from Prince William County.
President pro-tempore of the Virginia Senate Charles Colgan, D-Va. 29, Manassas, Prince William, will told the Gainesville Times he’ll retire at the end of next year, what will be his 40th year in the senate. The 87-year-old said he won’t run for office again.
“The challenge for the rest of us is to fill some very big shoes for a man who is not very tall,” said Sen. George Barker, D-39th – Fairfax, Prince William.
During his “highly effective” career, Barker says Colgan made strides in Prince William by winning transportation funding for major congestion-relief projects. Colgan continually points to the interchange at Prince William Parkway (Va. 234) and Va. 28 in Manassas as a big transportation funding win for the county.
Serving on the appropriations committee, Colgan has also been credited with bringing funding for Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) which has two campuses in the county (one of the buildings at NOVA’s Manassas Campus is named after him) and funding the Prince William Campus of George Mason University.
Corey Stewart, the Chairman of Prince William County’s Board of Supervisors, lives in the 29th District and has long been rumored to run to replace Colgan. He told PotomacLocal.com he won’t seek the Senate seat when Colgan leaves, opting instead to remain in Northern Virginia to run his law practice.
Stewart does take issue with the way State Senate districts are currently drawn, as Prince William has five different State Senators who represent the county.
“We were carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey with the redistricting of 2o10, and as a result Prince William County, together with the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, is approaching a half-million people and we should have two-and-half senate seats, said Stewart.
The redistricting process occurs every 10 years with new political districts slated to be drawn in 2020, the political districts changing with the growth of population in the state.
Virginia House Majority Whip Delegate Jackson Miller, R-50th, Manassas, disagrees, and said five State Senators can be a good thing. “It work both ways. Instead of having two senators in Prince William we have more, and all want to represent their districts the best they can,” said Miller.