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Lingamfelter asks Governor to delay revoking gun permits

A Republican state legislator is urging Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to delay the revocation of reciprocal agreements Virginia has with 25 states on whether to honor their concealed handgun carry permits.

Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter of Woodbridge made the request in a letter this week to McAuliffe.

“Given the fact that the State Police has told me that they have no records of any out-of-state individual with a concealed carry permit committing crimes in Virginia, I think a few months’ delay hardly represents a threat to our citizens,” Lingamfelter said.

His letter comes a month after Attorney General Mark Herring announced that beginning Feb. 1, Virginia would no longer recognize concealed handgun permits from 25 states, including North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. (more…)

Metro extension, guns issues on Surovell’s docket

Last week, the 2016 General Assembly gaveled into action and I became your State Senator for Virginia’s 36thDistrict.

New Committees
The Rules Committee assigned me to three committees. (1)  The Local Government Committee considers legislation addressing land use, zoning and local government.  (2) The Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee has jurisdiction over the safety net programs, prisons, alcoholic beverage regulation and childcare.  (3) The General Laws and Technology Committee examines bills affecting homeowners associations, gambling, professional occupation regulation, procurement and the Freedom of Information Act.  Each of these has jurisdiction over issues  critical to the quality of life in our area.

Blue Line Extension and Multimodal Transportation
Interstate 95 is one of the most congested commuter corridors in the United States. In light of the congestion and the need for more high-quality development and employment, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors endorsed the concept of studying the extension of Metro’s Blue Line from Springfield through Lorton, Woodbridge and Potomac Mills to Quantico.  I have introduced legislation to direct the Department of Rail and Public Transit to conduct a multimodal study for this and U.S. 1 south of the Occoquan so we can plan for the next 25 years. 

As our highways become more clogged and as bike lanes and pedestrian facilities are incorporated into our infrastructure, it is important to encourage drivers to respect other users.  Many states have enacted “vulnerable rider” laws to create heightened penalties for drivers who seriously injure pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and others while distracted.  I have introduced a bill to create a Class 1 misdemeanor for injuring a vulnerable user while distracted. 

Homeowners’  Rights
Over the last two years, I have helped to push back on the growing power of homeowners’ and condominium owners’ associations (HOA’s). Some Northern Virginia localities improperly require property owners to show HOA approval before they issue a building permits.  I have introduced legislation to make clear this is prohibited. 

Helping Our Hispanic Community
In August, 2014, I hosted a Hispanic Town Hall in Hybla Valley.  The number one issue raised was difficulty in obtaining a driver’s license or government identification.  Therefore, I have introduced legislation to allow people to obtain a temporary license if they can establish that they have been living in Virginia for one year and have either filed a Virginia tax return or been claimed as a dependent on another Virginian’s tax return.  Fifteen other states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, have passed similar legislation. 

At the request of Prince William County Public Schools, I have introduced a bill to require Virginia schools to use a recognized English language proficiency assessment exam for children with limited English proficiency, as an alternative to the 11th grade Standards of Learning English reading exam.  This is a fairer way to measure student achievement and will ensure that test scores in high schools with large ESOL populations are not affected by recently-arrived students. 

Firearm Violence Prevention
During my discussions with the State Police about concealed weapon permit (CWP) proposals, we became aware that CWP’s are automatically revoked for felony convictions, protective orders and other criminal offenses.  However, for people who have received inpatient mental health and/or inpatient drug treatment after their CWP was issued, permits are not automatically revoked.  I have introduced a bill to require automatic revocation.

Second, I have put in a bill to prohibit mentally ill people who are prohibited from possessing a firearm from also possessing ammunition.  Today, mentally ill people can have as many bullets as they want – just no guns.

Third, I have re-introduced my 2014 legislation prohibiting individuals on the Terrorist Watch List from obtaining a CWP or purchasing a firearm.  In 2014, the House of Delegates leadership would not give the bill a hearing.

News
Surovell to replace Puller in Virginia Senate

surovell

 

Democrat says Prince William County changing politically, remains bellwether of state politics  

Scott Surovell will replace the long-serving Virginia State Senator Toddy Puller.

Puller served in the Senate since 1999, and seven years in the House of Delegates before that. The Democrat will retire this year.

Surovell is the Democrat who campaigned against Republican Jerry Foreman, the Mayor of Dumfries. It was the first bid for state office for Foreman, while Surovell has already spent the past five years in as a Fairfax County representative in the Hosue of Delegates.

The 36th District is a Gerrymandered District made up of portions of southern Fairfax County, eastern Prince William County, and northern Stafford County. Surovell won the race by 21 points overall. He also won the majority of precincts in Fairfax, and Prince William counties, while Foreman won the majority in GOP-heavy Stafford.

“Prince William County is the battleground for Virginia…Prince William County is where the future of this state will be decided,” Surovell heralded in his election night victory speech. “Prince William County is changing, we’re starting to show people what Prince William County stands for.” 

Foreman issued this statement on his Facebook page:

Elections are always hard fought, win or lose you always pray those folks that win…have our support and prayers for guidance. As Mayor, I have the firm belief and commitment that I will work with elected officials that represent our area. This will continue.

Foreman won reelection as Dumfries Mayor in 2014. It’s a job he’ll keep for two more years.

Surovell campaigned heavily on the issues of title car loan companies out of business. Keeping a watchful eye on Dominion Virginia Power as they work to close coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Station outside Dumfries was another campaign issue.

And the ever-popular expand Metro to Woodbridge appeared once again as a campaign trail issue. Only this time the idea is catching on, and a rail extension study is supported by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Surovell will be sworn into his new role in the Virginia Senate in January in time for the next General Assembly session January 18. Surovell credited Democrats working together, using a joint campaign office in Woodbridge, and literature listing the names of Democrats running for local office as some the keys to his victory.

News
Dudenhefer going back to Richmond to represent Stafford, Woodbridge

Mark Dudenhefer is going back to Richmond.

The one-time Republican Delegate for the 2nd House seat, which includes portions of Stafford County and Woodbridge in Prince William County, beat Democratic Challenger Josh King by a narrow margin of 102 votes.

Dudenhefer was elected 2nd District Delegate in 2011 but lost the seat to Democratic Delegate Micheal Futrell in 2013. Futrell opted not to run for reelection to the seat and instead mounted a failed Primary Election bid for the 29th District Senate seat in Prince William County won Tuesday night by Democrat Jeremy McPike.

Dudenhefer and his wife, Kay, released this statement:

“This campaign was about our region having a voice in Richmond on the issues that matter most – fixing transportation, improving schools, and creating jobs. With your help, we were victorious tonight and I’m honored to say I’ll be your voice in Richmond.

Kay and I are thankful for the time and effort all our volunteers and supporters put into the campaign. We will be forever grateful.

Thank you also to Josh King for running a spirited campaign.

Together, we will address and solve the challenges that exist in our communities, and I’m humbled to be Delegate-elect for the families of Virginia House district 02.”

King keeping with traditional voter turnout in the 2nd District, the Democratic candidate won the majority of precincts in Prince William while Dudenhefer won overwhelmingly in Stafford County.

News
Voters keep Stewart, Anderson to replace May on Prince William Board of Supervisors

stewart, prince william, supervisor

 

Incumbents keep jobs at county courthouse 

Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart At-large will return for his 9th year on the Board in 2016.

The Republican beat out Democrat challenger Rick Smith for the county’s top job by 14 points, with nearly 57% of the vote. Stewart gained the national spotlight in his early days on the Board of Supervisors for his stance on deporting illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.

At a debate between Stewart and Smith on Oct. 1, Stewart said he’s softened his approached, and learned its a better way to get things done in the county. Under the Republican, the county has invested more than $1 billion into improving transportation, placed more funding for police officers, and opened two new libraries in the county.

Stewart took to social media and posted a photo of he and his family, and thanked his supporters.

Stewart was first elected to the Board in 2006 to serve as the Occoquan District Supervisor and was elected Board Chairman the following year. Stewart won re-election as Chairman in 2011.

andersons

Republican Ruth Anderson was elected the new Occoquan District Supervisor, beating out former Town of Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, a Democrat by eight points. Anderson is the wife of Delegate Rich Anderson, who ran unopposed for his re-election bid for the House of Delegates.

Ruth Anderson replaces Mike May, who decided not to seek reelection to mount a bid for Prince William Commonwealth Attorney. May was defeated by Paul Ebert, who has held the position since 1968.

May posted this to his Facebook page:

The results are all in, and sadly, we came up short by just a few percentage points. The journey we have been on for the past year has been extraordinarily rewarding. I could not have imagined the huge outpouring of support, friendship, and love that we have received from people all over Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Amelia and I will forever be grateful to the hundreds of people who have helped us both in large ways and small during this campaign. You have all been a blessing to us.

I congratulate Mr. Ebert on a victory well won, and wish him the best in his new term in office. As I finish out these next few weeks as a member of the Board of County Supervisors and beyond, I look forward to finding new ways to serve our great community, and to seeing each of you again.

With Anderson’s election to the Board, the re-election of Republican Maureen Caddigan, of the Potomac District, and Democrats John Jenkins, of the Neabsco District and Frank Principi, of the Woodbridge District, the political make-up of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will remain the same: Five Republicans and two Democrats.

Supervisors Marty Nohe, Coles District, Peter Candland, Gainesville, and Jeanine Lawson, Brentsville — all Republicans — ran unopposed and will keep their seats.

Caddigan’s Democratic challenger Andrea Bailey lost her bid to unseat the long-serving Republican by 535 votes. Democrats say it’s a sign of a shifting political makeup of the Potomac District, which includes Montclair, Southbridge, and Dumfries and Quantico towns.

Principi remains cemented in his heavily Democrat-leaning Woodbridge District, defeating Republican challenger Steve Chapman by 32 points.

While Pual Ebert remains Prince William’s Commonwealth Attorney, Michele McQuigg will keep her job as Clerk of the Court. The Republican beat out attorney Jacqueline Smith, a Dumfries attorney, by a narrow margin of four points.

Sheriff Glen Hill also ran unopposed and will keep his job guarding the Prince William County Courthouse.

News
New chairman, faces elected to Prince William School Board

Ryan Sawyers is the new Chairman of the Prince William County School Board.

The Democrat won in a three-way race between the Republican-endorsed Tim Singstock and Independent Tracy Conroy. With 37% of the vote, Sawyers beat Singstock by two percentage points, and Conroy by 10 points.

“I am thrilled with last night’s results and humbled by the support from my family and friends. Both of my opponents ran strong, passionate races and I commend them for their hard work in their campaigns. They clearly showed they care about our school system and how it impacts families.

Now the work begins. I look forward to working with our newly elected School Board and Board of County Supervisors to improve Prince William County Schools,” Sawyers posted to his Facebook page.

Singstock had the endorsement of outgoing School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns, who is stepping down from the Board. Conroy is known for her vast knowledge of the workings of the school system and had the endorsements of outgoing Neabsco District School Board representation Lisa Bell, and former School Board members Lucy Beauchamp and former Chair John-David Allen.

There will also be a big change for the Potomac District School Board seat. Newcomer Justin Wilk beat out incumbent Betty Covington, who had served on the School Board since 2003 and has spent a lifetime as an educator and principal in the Prince William County Public School System.

Republican endorsed Willie Deutsch will replace Dr. Micheal Otaigbe, who is stepping down from the Coles District seat. Deutsch won the seat over his two challengers Reggie Henderson and Bill Reeder with 41% of the vote.

With Lisa Bell stepping down from the Neabsco District School Board seat, Diane L. Raulston will take her place. Raulston won the election with 71% of the vote over challenger Joseph George.

In the race for the Occoquan seat, there was a six-point difference between winner Lillie Jessie and 2nd runner-up John Gray. The incumbent Jessie beat out two challengers to keep the seat, including Gray and Prince William County school teacher Karen Boyd.

Representatives from the Brentsville, Gainesville, and Woodbridge districts, Gil Trenum, Alyson Satterwhite, and Lorree Williams, respectively, ran opposed and will keep their seats on the Board.

News
Lingamfelter vows to focus on education funding, maintain state taxes

Scott Lingamfelter was first elected Virginia’s 31st House District seat in 2002. This year, the Republican is defending that seat from Democrat Sara Townsend. 

The district encompasses portions of Prince William and Fauquier Counties.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Lingamfelter and he sent us the responses below: 

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PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Lingamfelter: The top three issues that face our community are: (1) jobs and the economy, (2) quality schools that provide a safe and secure environment, challenging learning, top notch teachers, and accountability to the public, and (3) the safety of our community, which includes a reliable transportation infrastructure that keeps us moving safely and reliability, as well as neighborhoods that are free of crime where our kids can live in safety.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Lingamfelter: Jobs and the Economy: The best way to help jobs and the economy is to elect conservatives like myself that fight higher taxes and burdensome, job-killing policies. I have consistently voted for balanced budgets; voted for the most recent budget that produced a $536 Million surplus; voted to cut $7 Billion in waste; voted to keep Virginia taxes among the lowest in the U.S. My opponent, however, supports raising the sales tax, the gas tax, regional taxes and the largest ($3.5 Billion) tax increase in Virginia history, as well as expanding a broken Medicaid system that will cost us $2 Billion. All of this will kill jobs and our economy.

Education: Being married to a career teacher has helped me be very aware of the needs we have in education. I have a record, not empty rhetoric, to show what I have actually accomplished. I worked to improve teacher pay, reform the SOLs, grow virtual schools, eliminate burdensome red tape, and voted for $31 million in school security. I will build on this record.

Reliable Transportation Infrastructure and Community Safety: I have worked hard to create a more reliable and safe transit system in Northern Virginia. Through my leadership, we have restructured our financing of road projects to push more money toward local highway and road maintenance our communities use every day— the same roads our kids use to get to school. It is easy to propose sweeping mass transit projects, but not at the expense of properly maintaining what we have now. A smarter, new and more economic approach to moving people is Bus Rapid Transit, which will cost far less than expanding the Metro system which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Finally, in public safety, I chair the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee. I have been a crime fighter since the day I was elected. My opponent has falsely asserted that I have not supported efforts to combat child predators. I supported $13.8 Million to support the State Police Internet Crime against Children (ICAC) Task Force; $3.7 million to stop child predators; a recent boost of $1.2 Million (again) to the ICAC; $8.2 Million for Child Advocacy Centers, and many other laws to fight these vile perpetrators. I have a proven record and the politically-inspired falsehoods can’t alter that fact. I will continue to be a staunch supporter of anticrime efforts.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Lingamfelter: From my perspective, its best summed up in my vision for Virginia: Virginia must lead the way in protecting the Constitutional rights of all of our citizens, the vitality and prosperity of our families, the growth and success of all businesses, and the safety of our communities. I will do that by (1) pressing for bold reform in Virginia, (2) continue to insist on balanced budgets, (3) seek innovative improvements in transportation and education, (4) enhance public safety in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities, (5) press for audits of all of Virginia’s agencies and divisions to ensure efficiency and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, and (6) work to provide businesses in manufacturing, agriculture and energy the greatest consideration and opportunity to prosper and grow in Virginia.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Lingamfelter: As someone who spent his life in public service, as a soldier for 28 years—both in war and peace–and now as a senior legislator in the General Assembly, I have a lot of experience that benefits our community. I will be the senior member of the Appropriations Committee in northern Virginia, which is very important to our region and county as we ensure that we get our fair share of the tax money we send to Richmond back for our roads, schools, and communities for public safety and alike. Experience is key in this election and I am blessed to have that experience.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Lingamfelter: Citizens of our community are not only well informed, they are smart, too. My opponent thinks they are not so informed, but I have spent 15 years at the doors of the people I represent. I know them personally. They know me and I can assure you that they are more informed than my opponent may understand. To be sure, they have not been fooled one minute by the false and negative campaign she has run since July of this year. People don’t want the name-calling, the falsehoods, the negative campaigning. They want a positive vision for Virginia, selfless service, and devotion to the work and they know I bring that to them.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Lingamfelter: The biggest mistake a legislator can make is to think that he or she is entitled to a seat in the General Assembly. This seat belongs to the people of the 31st District and one mistake I have never made is thinking that it is somehow “my seat.”No, it belongs to the people of this district and them alone. And yes, I have made mistakes in policies and bills I have voted for in Richmond. I call these the “laws of unintended consequences” where we didn’t think things through as we should have. And when I make such a mistake, I listen to people and go back and fix it. That’s called “owning up.”

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Lingamfelter: The motto that I have followed since Day one of my service to the people of the 31st District in the general Assembly is this. Promise Made – Promise Kept. The two biggest casualties of modern politics are accountability and authenticity. I have tried to address the first in my service to this community by showing up on the doors steps of my constituents to be accountable to them. But just as important as “showing up” is being who you say you are and doing what you say you will. I am an authentic conservative who will represent this community with commonsense conservative policies and values that people look for in a leader. For that reason, I earnestly ask for your vote on November 3.

News
Townsend says better education, jobs, transportation is focus of her campaign

Sarah Townsend is making a run for public office to represent the 31st District in the Virginia House of Delegates. 

The district encompasses portions of Prince William and Fauquier counties. The seat is held by Republican Scott Lingamfelter.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Townsend and she sent us the responses below: 

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PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Townsend: Prioritizing our schools and education system Promoting good paying jobs in our communities Improving transportation and reducing traffic congestion.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Townsend: Education – As a teacher I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of increased high-stakes testing. We need to reduce the number of standardized tests so our children receive quality classroom time and are not just taught to a test. Improving education can’t be just be rhetoric. We need more people with teaching experience in Richmond advocating for our students.

Jobs – We need to recruit high tech jobs to our area, promote apprenticeships and connect our local businesses with community college so that people have the proper skills to compete for 21st century jobs.

Transportation – We should extend the blue line to Prince William County, extend VRE options, promote tele-commuting, and increase job growth in our community so less people have to travel to Fairfax and DC for work.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Townsend: My job is to be a voice for constituents in Richmond and work to solve issues they face daily. Unlike my opponent, I’ll be willing to compromise to get things done if it benefits my district.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Townsend: I grew up in Prince William County and Fauquier County, which are the two counties within my district. I served as a middle school teacher and professional development instructor and seen first-hand the successes and the changes that are needed in our educational system. I’m also not an entrenched, partisan incumbent politician, like my opponent is.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Townsend: I believe the average citizen could be better informed, as between the horrible traffic in our region and people working hard to raise their families, there often is not enough time in a day to focus on what is happening in our government. My opponent has abused his power in Richmond, often killing important legislation that would keep our communities safe, like protecting our kids from online sexual predators, without even allowing a vote. I would make myself more available both in the district and in Richmond. I would provide regular updates to constituents and work to make sure legislation is approved or vetoed in the light of day, so that everyone can be aware of what is happening.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Townsend: I have made mistakes in my life, but no major mistake that I am aware of.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Townsend: I hope to earn their vote because I’m not an entrenched incumbent. I was raised to vote for the person, not the party. In January I witnessed our legislators in Richmond, and how many, including my opponent, prioritize their own interests and partisan agaenda, instead of what’s best for their district. I’ll work with Republicans and Democrats to actually get things done and stand up to anyone who gets in the way.

News
Ebert touts experience, first-time achievements in Commonwealth Attorney reelection bid

Paul Ebert is running to keep his job as Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney. It’s a job that he has held since 1968, making him the longest-serving and most experienced top prosecutors in Virginia. 

Ebert’s opponent is Micheal C. May, who currently serves on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. 

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Ebert and he sent us the responses below: 

 

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PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Ebert: As it pertains to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, a major issue facing the citizens of Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park is always a safe community in which to live, work and raise our families. Due to ever evolving technological advances, we must remain vigilant in protecting citizens from cyber-crimes. This takes training, expertise and experience to know how to prosecute complex computer-generated based crimes. Crimes involving the elderly present unique challenges as these victims are vulnerable and abuse may go undetected due to ailing health.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Ebert: I will continue to provide effective and fair prosecution of criminals and defend the rights of their victims. I and my Assistants have the experience and judgement to determine the merits of a case as well as how best to present the case before a judge or jury in order to obtain a just result. As crime evolves, so must the prosecution of crime, and during my tenure, innovative “firsts” have been achieved in many areas.

Some of these include: • First cold hit DNA prosecution • First prosecution under terrorism statute • First to get a first degree murder conviction for a child who was shaken. • First to use Animal DNA in a case of felony animal abuse. • First to add a therapy dog to help child victims feel more comfortable in court. • First to prosecute a fraudulent expert witness in a murder case for perjury even though he had been qualified to testify in seven other states. • As a result of that prosecution, first to start an Expert Witness Database. Now the state has taken it over. • First to have multiple assistants receive the prestigious Von Schuch Award for outstanding prosecution and service to our county, the Commonwealth and community. Still the only office to have three assistants currently serving who have received that award.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Ebert: The role of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Assistants is to do justice. They must do what is fair and what is just depending on the specific circumstances of each individual case. In making this determination, the prosecutor must look at a number of factors.

These include the facts of the crime itself, injuries to a victim, credibility of witnesses, statements made by the accused and any witnesses, the criminal history of the accused, and the impact the conviction and sentencing will have on everyone involved, including the accused. A prosecutor must determine which circumstances mandate harsh treatment and which call for leniency in any particular case.

In order to make these determinations, it is necessary to have perspective and experience. The Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney is the highest law enforcement official in Prince William County. The Commonwealth’s Attorney position is above that of the Chief of Police.

The Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office prosecutes everything from petty crimes, including Trespass, Petit Larceny, and Reckless Driving, to the worst and most violent crimes, including Robbery, Rape, and Murder. They prosecute in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, the General District Court, and the Circuit Court in front of both judges and juries.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Ebert: I have dedicated my entire career to serving as the People’s Attorney in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. I first started as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney where I gained the needed experience to later become the chief prosecutor.

The field of criminal prosecution has become very specialized and complex, especially in today’s time. I have transformed this office into one of the most widely respected and effective in the nation. When a state senator was charged with embezzling funds from a youth civic organization in Chesterfield County, local officials disqualified themselves and asked me to prosecute the case. The senator was convicted.

When a former circuit court judge in Norfolk was charged with pistol-whipping a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, local officials disqualified themselves and asked me to prosecute the case. The former judge was convicted.

When two domestic terrorists left a trail of bodies from coast to coast and for weeks terrorized an entire region of the U.S., U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft asked me to prosecute the case. John Allen Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to death.

There are many ‘firsts’ that have taken place under my watch. My record speaks for itself.

As the Commonwealth’s Attorney, I guide and advise the staff, and prosecute cases. I am nationally recognized for prosecuting some of the most complex and horrible crimes. This is not an on-the-job training kind of position. The People need to have someone with the expertise, knowledge, and experience who can handle the complexity of this job.  

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Ebert: As it pertains to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, I have always had an “open door” policy in order to communicate with our citizens. I am out in the community every day and interact with individuals and groups. Within the bounds of legal ethics and the preservation of victim and witness safety, I will continue to do so.

In addition to my work in the community, my assistants serve as faculty at NVCC and GMU and volunteer to advise other colleges about criminal justice curriculum. They teach kids dance, work with 4 H, volunteer to do Wills for Heroes, work with the homeless, volunteer at animal shelters, lecture to judges, doctors, social workers , nurses, sexual assault and domestic violence counselor and publish articles on all topics in criminal law.

Our office has a member serving with the Division of Forensic Science who recently received the most prestigious “lifetime accomplishment award”, and also serves on the Boyd Graves Conference Committee to review and publish the Rules of Evidence in Virginia, among many other law enforcement organizations.

We are active with many community groups and often talk about topics concerning safety. My office worked with the Sheriff’s office to bring Rape Aggression Defense to the community by hosting it at the courthouse. We serve on many advisory boards including Shaken Baby Prevention. Inc, National Animal Cruelty Advisory Board, Legal Advisor to Virginia Police Canine Association.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Ebert: An old saying in the law is ‘If you are not making mistakes you are not trying cases”. When you try thousands of cases, things are not always going to go your way, and you sometimes reflect on whether you should have done something differently.

Litigation is the most stressful area of criminal law. You are often required to make decisions under pressure and hindsight is always 20/20.

Like everyone, I have made mistakes, but never one I didn’t learn from and correct. This has played a large part in shaping my judgment over the years – the kind of judgment that only comes from experience and integrity, two of the attributes which I believe are critically important in this election.

My experience, unparalleled in Virginia history, began when I started my career as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and has continued to grow every day that I have had the honor of serving the citizens of this jurisdiction as their Commonwealth’s Attorney.

That experience has allowed me to oversee one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in the state through extensive growth and change. But one thing has never changed: my commitment to keeping this community safe. But prosecuting is also about using your judgment to recognize when others have made mistakes and to know when they deserve a break.

There is no way to create a “formula” to prosecute criminal cases; it takes experience and judgment to know when and how someone deserves another shot. I do not make the same mistake twice and do not tolerate others doing so. But except where someone has intentionally hurt someone else, I have always been willing to consider giving people a second chance.

And I have instilled that principle in all of my Assistants, nearly a dozen of whom have gone on to become very fair judges on all levels of court, including the Virginia Supreme Court. It is also why my office and I are known throughout the state and nation as one of the toughest but fairest prosecutor’s offices – the type of Commonwealth’s Attorney that the citizens of Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park deserve.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Ebert: I am a proven leader. Working together with the excellent police departments we have, families have been kept safe. Criminals have been prosecuted. I am blessed that many have come out to support me during this campaign, including the Prince William Police Association, and Virginia Benevolent Police Association, many community leaders and elected officials, as well as many other Commonwealth’s Attorneys. With great humility and appreciation, I believe it’s because I have earned their respect and they know that I can get the job done. I am not a politician, I am a career prosecutor. That is what is needed in this office.

News
Shaw vows to ‘work across the aisle’ to fight I-66 tolls

Don Shaw is running to unseat the long-serving Robert G. “Bob” Marshall in Virginia’s 13th House of Delegates District. 

Shaw first came onto the local political scene last year when he announced he was running for Brentsville District Supervisor, to fill a seat vacated by Wally S. Covington who became a judge at the Prince William County Courthouse. Republican Jeanine Lawson went on to win the race.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Shaw and he sent us the responses below: 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Shaw: 1) Transportation – We have some of the worst traffic in Northern Virginia. Commute times increase every year, and our elected officials have done nothing to reduce them. 2) Education – We have the largest class sizes in the Commonwealth and our children’s education suffers because of it. 3) Property Rights – Dominion Virginia Power has proposed overhead power lines in a residential area not designated for transmission lines.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

 

Shaw: 1) I will work to ensure full implementation of the 2013 bipartisan transportation bill. I will work across the aisle to fight against any effort to impose tolls on I-66. Working families shouldn’t have to pay an additional $85 a week just to get to work. I will advocate for real solutions to the traffic problems on Route 28, I-66, and US-29 including alternate modes of transportation such as bus rapid transit, extending VRE to Gainesville/Haymarket, and studying the feasibility of extending metro to our area.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

 

Shaw:  Voters trust that the people they elect will do two things: 1) show up to work, and 2) advocate for their interests. The first requirement is fairly simple; when there is a vote or a committee meeting, we expect our elected officials to be there. If they don’t show up, it’s impossible for them to advocate for their constituents’ interests.

The second requirement is a bit more complex. Advocacy includes creating a business-friendly environment that brings high-paying jobs to the district; reducing the burden of commuting and increasing the funds available for a quality education. A delegate has a responsibility to foster a welcoming, inclusive climate for all constituents.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

 

Shaw: I have dedicated my adult life to service to others. I spent a career in the military training and mentoring Soldiers and Airmen; serving my country for 20 years in the enlisted ranks, retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant. I learned about loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage and internalized those values at an early age.

I served as a senior manager in the Department of Defense for almost a decade where I worked to reduce costs and supported the relocation of a combat support agency to Fort Belvoir on time and on budget with no loss of mission capability. My division was recognized as the best of more than 85 DoD organizations in 2012.

I am the Chief Enterprise Architect at a veteran-owned small business, where we advise and support government organizations working to do more with less. We help connect strategy with implementation while identifying gaps and reducing unnecessary duplication.

So in addition to my educational background where I studied government administration and policy, I’ve been in government. I’ve seen what works and plan to put that experience and knowledge to use in Richmond.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Shaw:  Yes, the average citizen has a good fundamental understanding of government. However, if you were to ask the average citizen in the 13th House District who his or her Delegate is, the majority would not know. I place a high priority on communication and will hold regular town halls at times convenient to the constituency as well as establish a rigorous communication plan that includes electronic and print media and constituent outreach programs.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

 

Shaw: We are all human and all make mistakes. What’s important is to learn from those mistakes and to use those moments as opportunities to become a better person.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

 

Shaw: I have a proven track record of leadership in the military, the federal government, and in the private sector. Leaders show up. My opponent missed 723 votes in the past 4 years and skipped 52% of his committee meetings in the 2015 session. He doesn’t chair any committees and has even estranged members of his own party. That’s not leadership. Leaders work across the aisle. Politics is the art of the possible, not intransigence. Leaders are chosen to make the hard decisions, not the politically expedient ones.

 

News
I-66 tolls, Haymarket power line at center of Bob Marshall reelection campaign

Robert G. “Bob” Marshall is running to keep his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. 

The Republican has held the seat since 1992, and has a reputation for being one of the most outspoken members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Marshall and he sent us the responses below: 

Find your polling place

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

 

Marshall: 1. Exorbitant Tolls proposed for I-66.

2. 110 foot high electric power towers proposed for residential areas never slated to have electric lines on their property.

3. Addressing traffic on Route 28 through Manassas Park and Yorkshire, from Manassas to Fairfax County line.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

 

Marshall:  1. I will introduce a budget amendment to prevent Governor McAuliffe from imposing $17/day ($4,000 a year) hot lane tolls inside beltway

2. I will join a lawsuit to prevent construction of an overhead only power line and remove tax incentives for data centers which seek to locate outside of industrial areas that already have required infrastructure.

3. Continue to appeal to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, to the Prince William County Supervisors, and the General Assembly money committees to allocate funds to improve Route 28 by reversing the middle lane during rush hours to provide an extra lane for traffic.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Marshall: My job entails going to bat for constituents, representing them before state agencies as I have done for the past 24 years, soliciting their input for legislative proposals, etc. I keep in mind the people I represent in every vote I cast in the General Assembly, asking myself, “How will this affect my constituents?” I see my role as advocating for tax payers, not cozying up to special interests.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Marshall: My expertise consists of 24 years of experience serving as 13th District Delegate in the Virginia General Assembly. My background researching major public policy and legal issues has given me the ability to quickly understand legislation.

My past experience as a teacher helped me with public speaking skills, listening, answering questions, and relaying information to citizens. I have a record for promoting transparency and accountability in government.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Marshall: I send out newsletters and other letters to inform the people who live in the 13th District of important issues. For example, I have been trying to let the people know about the proposed hot lane tolls on I-66.

I have actively worked against the proposed electric power towers in western Prince William. I publicize my cell phone (703-853-4213) so that citizens can reach me readily. I walk door-to-door as much as possible to meet voters and answer questions they may have.

 

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

 

Marshall: Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes help you learn valuable life lessons.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

 

Marshall: I say what I mean, I do what I say, and even people who may disagree with some of my positions know they can trust me. 

News
Jessie: More rigorous courses, access to advance courses needed for all students

Lillie Jessie is running to keep her seat on the Prince William County School Board. She’s represented the Occoquan District on the School Board since 2012.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Jessie and he sent us the responses below: 

 

Find your polling place

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Jessie: 1. College-Career readiness for all students including students in specialty programs and from low-income, diverse neighborhoods

2. Overcrowding/class size by finding the needed space to build schools; especially on the eastern end of the county where schools have as many as twelve trailers in one school

3. Treating teachers as “professional experts” by providing competitive salaries, more career level opportunities and providing teacher coaches whose primary responsibility is to support them rather than participate in the dismissal process

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Jessie: 1. Career/College Readiness: Provide more rigorous courses and access to advance courses for all students. Reduce the achievement gap. Create a Pre-school College Career mission of “Beginning with the end in mind” (Covey).

2. Hold the Board of Supervisor’s to it’s word of providing land for building new schools on the eastern end of the county, relooking at proffers and considering school space availability in its rezoning.

3. Follow what research says about high performing schools which includes being paid as a professional which may require us to relook at that shared revenue plan, Secondly providing coaches or master teachers to assist teachers instead of using central office supervisors who are limited in number and participate in the dismissal process at times.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Jessie: Our number one responsibility is to ensure that all students learn at a high level. Provide oversight of the school system and its budget and personnel. Write, amend or create policy and the ensuing regulations that support the forementioned. Work with the superintendent and his staff to ensure that we provide a safe, orderly and high student learning environment.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Jessie: High performing Title I (low income schools) Supervisor (Supervisor of the year) for ten years. Principal of a Title I school for twenty years. National Professional Learning Model School Nationally recognized for closing the achievement gap. Internationally recognized High Flying School for Youth at Risk Appointed by the Governor to the Standards of Learning (SOL). Innovation Committee Nationally published education author.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Jessie: No I do not. In fact I am not sure they are aware of this election. I plan to continue my work with local community organizations, and invest more time with parents. I write a column for the the Old Bridge Observer. Those articles have been well-received by the community. I would like to conduct more informational meetings, especially when it comes to understanding the need to balance the use of assessments in the school.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Jessie: My biggest mistake was under estimating the ability of a young patient early in my career. I did not believe that he could learn to read and when I look back, I watered down his curriculum. Another teacher came to this then institution for children with severe and profound handicaps and taught him reading skills I did not think was possible. That was forty years ago. It changed my expectations for learning. I am not just an advocate of high expectations for all students, I have been given an opportunity to redeem myself by seeing students not expected to learn, not only learn but learn at high levels.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Jessie: 1. I did not run for this position because of my interest in a higher office. I have and can have an positive affect on student learning.

2. I have had a plethora of experience that makes me more than qualified for the position (Educational leadership, budget, policy development, etc.)

3. Character traits I possess include being persistent, insistent and consistent when it comes to high levels of achievement and/or overcoming barriers.

4. I am a student of the research. I know that we are not competitive with other countries and that the rubric should not be how we compare to the State but how we compare to the “World.”

News
McCullough: Expanding Medicaid would provide health insurance to thousands of Virginians who need it

Kyle McCullough is running to unseat Jackson Miller in the Virginia House of Delegates 50th District. 

The District encompasses the City of Manassas, and a portion of Prince William County.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to McCullough and he sent us the responses below: 

 

Find your polling place

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

McCullough: Health care, income inequality and school funding.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

McCullough: Implement the Medicaid expansion. Raise the minimum wage. (I advocate a graduated increase, so an employer can pay a trainee the Federal minimum for a few months before the higher State minimum kicks in.) Restore school funding to at least pre-recession levels — adjusted for inflation and student-population growth.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

McCullough: To represent the people of the 50th district – to promote their values and best interests in the governance of the state.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

McCullough: I think that my main expertise is my life experience. As a father and middle-class resident, I have some idea what it takes to raise a family in this area. And, while this is very hard to document, I think I have above-average empathy for people who are in different situations than my own — which I think is the most important qualification for a would be Representative, Delegate or Senator.

I think a lot of that comes from my upbringing. My mother was a speech therapist who worked with children with very diverse backgrounds. My father was the County Manager of our county who worked to serve the interests of people with a huge range of backgrounds.

And I grew up in a neighborhood and school district where most people did not have the economic or social advantages that I did. I spent a year in China, where I learned the value of good government by witnessing the lack of it. Less important, but still worth mentioning, as a computer programmer with a background in engineering, I have pretty good problem-solving abilities.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

McCullough: No, I don’t think that most people are. I have made two-way communications a priority in my campaign; anyone can easily reach me either at KyleForDelegate@gmail.com or at 703-686-4804, and I reply to all polite inquiries. And I try to keep people posted on the issues through my web page and social media. I’ll certainly continue and expand on that if elected.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

McCullough: Well, I didn’t take fundraising seriously enough, early enough.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

McCullough: They should vote for me because I take their needs and concerns seriously. When I am campaigning, I tell people what I think are the biggest issues facing the General Assembly, but then I ask what are their issues, what do they believe should be our biggest concerns.

I have made the Medicaid expansion the central issue of my campaign because it is the issue that compelled me to run. Providing health insurance to thousands of Virginians who need it, adding tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic stimulus are all important; but equally important is why we are turning it down, when doing so gives no benefit whatsoever to the state.

The inescapable conclusion is that the legislators who are refusing to let Virginia have those benefits believe that doing so benefits their party. I would never do that. I would never place narrow partisan advantage ahead of the needs of my constituents.

News
Reprinting Prince William election ballots could cost thousands

It could cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix misprinted election ballots in Prince William County.

Five candidates on the ballot for the November 3 General Election will not see their listed as they requested them. Many of the candidates use and requested shorter versions of their name to be listed on the ballot. They’re getting their full names instead.

Here’s what was requested and what voters might see instead:

Mike May

May

Mike May (Commonwealth Attorney candidate) will be listed as Michael May

rick smith

Smith

Richard “Rick” Smith (Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman candidate) will be listed as Richard Smith

Steven “Steve” Chapman (Prince William County Board of Supervisors Woodbridge District candidate) will be listed as Steven Chapman

Earnie W. Porta, Jr. (Prince William County Board of Supervisors Occoquan District candidate) will be listed as Earnest Porta, Jr.

Chapman

Chapman

Gerald “Jerry” Foreman (36th District Virginia Senate candidate) will be listed as Gerald Foreman

Prince William County Electoral Board Secretary Keith Scarborough said each of the affected candidates submitted the proper form to indicate how they wanted their names listed on the ballot, but the mistake happened anyway.

Porta

Porta

“It wasn’t a space issue, it was our office when filling out the paperwork, messed up those forms,” said Scarborough. “…we made a mistake, obviously.”

The form included 28 spaces for candidates to fill in their names. It’s not uncommon for candidates to want their full names listed on the ballots, along with more common nicknames placed in quotation marks.

Foreman

Foreman

The upcoming General Election will be the first in Prince William County where paper ballots will once again be used at all voting precincts. New laws forced the county to get rid of electronic touchscreen machines and convert back to using machine scanners that tally votes when a paper ballot is inserted into them.

Prince William County struck a deal with Hart Invercivic, an Austin, Texas-based company that makes the voting machines. It also agreed to print all the ballots needed for the first five elections, starting with the upcoming November 3 vote, as part of the purchase agreement.

Scarborough said the ballots must be printed by that company and cannot be printed locally. The cost to reprint the ballots could range between $80 and $100,000, he added.

The Prince William County Electoral Board will meet Wednesday night to discuss their options, which include reprinting ballots, or placing signs at polling stations noting the names of the five affected candidates and displaying them as intended.

Candidates we talked to say the situation is unfortunate, but they don’t plan on asking for a reprint.

“The truth of the matter is, I don’t want to cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to reprint ballots. I wish it would have been done right but I understand these types of things happen,” said Earnie Porta.

“There’s overcrowding in classrooms, and traffic issues, so there are other things the taxpayers money would be better spent on.” said Steve Chapman.

News
King: We continue to underpay our teachers and they are forced to go elsewhere

Josh L. King is running for the Virginia House of Delegates 2nd District seat. 

The seat is currently held by Micheal Futurell who opted not to run for reelection to the seat.

King faces Republican Mark Dudenhefer, who held the seat from 2011 to 2o13.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to King and he sent us the responses below: 

Find your polling place

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

King: 1. Education- I am running because my daughter and six other autistic students spent the past school year without a teacher. This story is far too common in our public schools. Some schools in Eastern Prince William County are packing nearly 40 elementary students into a classroom. We need to start the hard work of fixing this problem today.

2. Transportation- Traffic is a perennial campaign issue, I would be lying if I said electing me or anyone else would solve the issue overnight. We need to face the reality that the HOT lanes have failed to reduce traffic and are at best a short-term solution.

Wider roads are fine but we all know that more lanes quickly means more lanes where we are stuck in traffic. We need to work toward metro in Prince William County, more VRE trains, and other mass transit options.

3. Jobs- The national capital region is one of the best regions in the country to live and work but I believe there is more that can be done to create jobs where we live. With the threat of a government shutdown averted for a few months, as a region we need to recognize that we can’t count on the federal government as an employer the way we used to.

We have a very talented work force here in Prince William and Stafford counties and I think the region would be very attractive to companies specializing in the high tech fields. We need to make sure we encourage that growth with special tax zones, credits, or other deals. We must also continue to make investments in STEM education, so these new industries have an educated workforce ready to go.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

King: Education- We need our fair share from Richmond plain and simple. The state contributes less per student than in 2009 but somehow still meets the SQL requirement. The burden of making up this very real short fall has been left to counties and in turn taxpayers. I believe there is also a teacher retention problem as evidenced by what happened to my daughter’s class.

The biggest problem is that we continue to underpay our teachers and they are forced to go elsewhere. There is currently no requirement to track and report teacher retention to the General Assembly and Governor. I think the first step to solving this problem is to understand what is happening in our schools.

Jobs and transit are two issues that I think tie together closely. Many of us commute because our jobs are not in Prince William County, myself included. Stafford County has a better job-to-resident ratio but still has a lot of commuters too. I believe that the ultimate solution to our job and transportation problem lies with extending metro.

A recently released report by Metro indicates that nearly half of the regions jobs are within a half mile of a metro station. In the short term I think we need to look at our tax code and ways that we can incentivize Virginia businesses to place offices closer to where their workers live. We should also look at ways to improve VRE and bus service so commuters have more confidence in the mass transit that is available.

I know Metro won’t get here over night but it is important to note that while the Silver Line took 30 years to plan, actual construction only took six years. If we aggressively complete the studies and planning I believe we can have a metro line in Prince William County sooner than many people think, but this will require hard work and compromise on the part of elected officials. During my time in Iraq, the only thing that mattered was getting the job done. I had to work with people of all stripes to accomplish our mission and that is the attitude I will bring to Richmond.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

King: I believe that a legislator’s first job is to listen and represent the best interests of their constituents. That means being available to them, understanding their lives, and working tirelessly to solve their problems. I think too often politicians forget that we have a government by, of, and for the people. I believe that working together we can do great things.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

King: I will bring a willingness to find a way to get things done for the residents of Prince William and Stafford counties. I know why education, transportation, and j

obs matter.

I live in Woodbridge with my wife and three children. My two school age kids attend River Oaks and Potomac Middle school respectively. I commute to work in Fairfax County like so many others. My wife and I love the home we have here. I love taking my kids to Stafford County on the weekends.

There are so many great things about this area and I want to ensure we are even better. I also bring an expertise in law enforcement and veterans issues. Having served as a combat soldier in Iraq I know the needs of our returning veterans. I know how to help make sure we have career and education services in place to transition our veterans. As a Deputy Sheriff I work to help make sure we maintain a safe community.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

King: I believe that the average citizen is as informed as they can be about local government. My local PTA has a parent engagement issue because so many parents can’t make it back from work for a 7 p.m. meeting. I think the issues is that people simply don’t have the time to be as engaged as they would like to be. They are probably stuck in traffic somewhere trying to get home.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

King: Fortunately, I have not been in public life long enough to make mistakes. I hope I don’t break this streak. 

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

King: I have spent my life in service this country, Virginia, and our community. I believe serving our area in the House of Delegates is another extension of that service.

In the Army we never cared if someone was a Democrat of Republican. You worked together to get things done, and I will bring that same attitude to Richmond. That is a lot of potential allies in reducing class size, fixing our transportation system, and attracting jobs not just to Prince William and Stafford counties, but across the commonwealth.

 

 

News
Skoloda would evaluate operation of Stafford Court Clerk office

Seketta Z. “Zee” Skoloda is running to be the next Clerk of the Circuit Court for Stafford County.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Skoloda and he sent us the responses below: 

Find your polling place

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Skoloda: Ensure the highest quality of service. Update technology and training. Improve accessibility.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

SkolodaEstablish a transition team to evaluate the operation of the office. Seek the input of the court family including on staff personnel. Network with neighboring Clerk of Court Offices. Reach out to other Stafford administrative offices where similar improvements and upgrades have been instituted.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Skoloda: The Clerk of the Circuit Court is a constitutional officer elected to an eight-year term. The clerk’s duties are twofold: to administer the Circuit Court’s judicial proceedings and serve as record keeper for the county.

The Clerk’s Office is reflective of our county, our government and our democracy. It is a repository of our county’s records; marriage licenses, business names–trade and fictitious, deeds, judgments, jury summons, and other records. The office of the Clerk of Court is the face of Stafford County to those who seek this information.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Skoloda: Among the attributes I will bring to the office are honesty, integrity and a passion for customer service and accuracy in our records management. I have experience with the Virginia Court System as well as with Maryland and the Federal System.

I have risen to positions of leadership and have experience supervising, training, budgeting and administering in very related fields. My experience includes: Child Support Enforcement Case Worker in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D. C. Commonwealth of Virginia’s Division of Forensic Science Laboratory. Magistrate in Virginia’s 15th Judicial District.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Skoloda: I feel the average citizen believes that he or she understands the workings of local government, especially if that citizen is an active voter. Making sure that understanding is correct is best accomplished by transparency and accessibility. I will ensure that the level of customer service provided is friendly, competent and professional. I will maximize the use of technology to enhance access to needed records.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Skoloda: Everyone makes mistakes, but the mistakes are experience too. Mistakes have effected me as education and training has effected me. Learn, adapt and improve and of course, remember what your goals are.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Skoloda: Stafford County has grown in the last eight years. It has grown tremendously in the last twenty years and it will grow even faster and different in the next few years. I will lead an office that stays attuned to the need for an accurate and complete repository of our important records and documents while meeting the current demands and planning for the future challenges.

 

 

News
Stewart, Smith disagree on BPOL tax but friendly on nearly everything else

stewartsmith2

What was an issue that once defined Prince William County as a contentious place for immigrants to be is no more.

An audience member at a debate Thursday night with Democrat challenger Rick Smith, and Republican Prince William County Chairman At-large Corey Stewart asked the incumbent if immigration was going to be an issue.

Stewart won national media attention in 2007 when he lead an effort to have police check the ID of every suspected illegal immigrant in the county.

“We’ve got to move on,” said Stewart. “We’ve implemented a policy that targets those who commit crimes, and we’ve turned many criminals over to [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement], crime is down, but we still have a way to go.”

Instead of checking every suspected undocumented migrant, it is the policy to check the immigration status of anyone arrested and charged with a crime in Prince William.

Stewart sold himself Thursday as an older, wiser politician who has learned to be a better leader since elected to the Board in 2006.

“When I first came into office I was out there throwing bombs and a lot of things, but I’ve learned that in a community as diverse in Prince William County you learn to work together to get things done,” he added.

The debate between Smith and Stewart was amicable, as the two men seemed agreeable on issues on education, taxes, and in investing in transportation infrastructure to bring more business to the region to spur economic development. Both say they want more high-paying jobs in Prince William and fewer people leaving the county to find work.

stewartsmith1

 

“We’re being passed up by Fairfax and Loudoun, and Stafford Counites for higher jobs with higher average paying salaries,” said Smith.

The Democrat said he had heard many complaints from small business owners an expensive and prolonged the permitting process with the county’s zoning office. Smith promised a local government that would be more business friendly.

He also advocated getting rid of the county’s Business and Professional Licensing tax, or BPOL tax, which is a tax collected on gross receipts after a business reaches the $300,000 gross receipts threshold. Smith said the county needed to work with Richmond lawmakers to find alternate sources of revenue to replace monies generated by the tax.

The tax generates $23 million annual for the county and abolishing it overnight would mean the average tax bill for Prince William residents could rise as much as 5%, according to Stewart.

“We’ve worked over time to increase the threshold, so BPOL doesn’t hit small businesses so hard… over the couple years will work to increase the threshold to half a million dollars,” said Stewart.

The two men also talked about education, and repeatedly recognized Northern Virginia Community College (the debate was held at the college’s Manassas campus) and George Mason Universtiy for educating young people, and for helping to attract the types of science and technology companies that want to hire young talent.

Smith was the only candidate of the night who received applause when he said more funding is needed for K-12 education.

“The education I got in the late 70s and 80s in Prince William County schools, and the education my older kids got in the late 90s, and early 2000s is much different than it is today,” said Smith. “We’re teaching kids to remember facts, but we’re not teaching them to tell us why they matter.”

Stewart touted investments in infrastructure, especially paying for the widening of Route 1 in Woodbridge and Interstate 66 between Gainesville and Haymarket.

“On transportation by far, nobody is close to being second, we have invested more than Fairfax County, and we’re the only county in the commonwealth with our own road building program,” said Stewart.

Stewart also touted some $20 million in new spending to build parks, libraries, and other government projects that he said would attract more high-quality jobs to the region.

This debate was sponsored by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and Northern Virginia Community Collage Manassas Campus. It was moderated by Krysta Nicole Jones, founder and CEO, Virginia Leadership Institute.

This was the second meeting of the two men, following a debate in September held by the Prince William County Chapter of the NAACP. A thrid and final debate will be held at Congregation Ner Shalom, accross from C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 10.

Voters head to the polls November 3.

News
Occoquan District School Board debate set for Monday, Oct. 5

Jessie

Jessie

Candidates for the Occoquan seat on the Prince William County School Board will meet for a debate hosted by Potomac Local on Monday, October 5 at 7 p.m.

The seat is currently held by Lillie Jessie, who was elected to the chair in 2011, beating out Republican Micheal Wooten. Two challengers are running against Jessie: John Gray and Karen Boyd.

110811 John Gray

Gray

Boyd

Boyd

The debate will be held at Occoquan Elementary School located at 12915 Occoquan Road in Woodbridge.

Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser will moderate the debate. The event is held in partnership with the Prince William County Democratic Committee and the Prince William County Republican Committee.

The candidates were briefed on the format of the debate as follows:

— Candidates will be introduced to the audience
— Short bios for each candidate will be read
— A candidate will be asked a specific question
— The candidate will have three minutes to respond
— An opposing candidate will have three minutes for rebuttal
— A new question is asked of different candidate and process repeats

Potomac Local will accept reader-submitted questions that may be asked of the candidates during the debates.

The event is open to the public.

Campaign literature and signs are only permitted outside of the building and must be removed upon event conclusion.

News
Senate candidates for the 36th to debate Oct. 8

Surovell

Surovell

foreman

Foreman

Candidates Scott Surovell and Jerry Foreman for Virginia’s 36th Senate district will meet for a debate hosted by Potomac Local on October 8 at 7 p.m.

The candidates are hoping to fill the seat of long-time retiring incumbent Senator Toddy Puller, and will debate local issues concerning Prince William, Fairfax, and Stafford counties.

The debate will be held at the Dumfries Community Center located at 17755 Main Street in Dumfries. 

Potomac Local is sponsoring the event, in partnership with the Prince William County Democratic Committee and the Prince William County Republican Committee.

The candidates were briefed on the format of the debate as follows:

— Candidates will be introduced to the audience
— Short bios for each candidate will be read
— A candidate will be asked a specific question
— The candidate will have three minutes to respond
— An opposing candidate will have three minutes for rebuttal
— A new question is asked of different candidate and process repeats

Potomac Local will accept reader-submitted questions that may be asked of the candidates during the debates.

The event is open to the public.

Campaign literature and signs are only permitted outside of the building and must be removed upon event conclusion.

News
Chapman will seek exception to use smaller sites to build schools, more gas tax funding for region

The Woodbridge District in Prince William County is one that is undergoing massive redevelopment.

Once one of the first major areas in the county to grow, new developments, and redevelopment along the Route 1 corridor are bringing in not only new residents, but new businesses like the Apple Store that are locating to the region for the first time. 

Steve Chapman won a June Republican Primary Election, and was selected by his party to face incumbent Democrat Frank Principi.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Chapman and he sent us the responses below:

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PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Chapman: Traffic, overcrowding in schools/failing test scores, customer/constituent services

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Chapman: Traffic- 1. Better timing of lights

2. Stronger voice to get Woodbridge our fair share of the new gas tax

3. Improved communication- Regular progress updates- town hall, email and web

4. Champion- Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances-better roads, schools and ball fields before approval of new housing developments Over Crowding- Woodbridge is two elementary schools behind. Currently, the school board requires 20-acre site for an elementary school to be built.

Woodbridge does not have the sites this size available but there is several 15 acre sites. I would ask the school board to make exceptions in order to use the smaller site. Currently Belmont, Potomac View and Featherstone are on similar smaller size sites.

Further, I would work with local community groups and churches to solicit volunteers and mentors to help children with their school work to raise test scores. Little things mean a lot.

As I’ve knocked on over 4,000 doors neighborhood by neighborhood I have heard concerns and frustrations about the little things that negatively affect Woodbridge’s quality of life and diminish our property values. Taking care of the little things like finish walking and bike paths that have been promised and not completed, more policing in hot spots, add speed bumps and stop signs where there is excessive speeding. enforce spot blight laws, increase funding for neighborhood services will establish trust, pride and make our community stronger, safer and more prosperous.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Chapman: I see it as an opportunity to build and shape a community to positively impact the lives of my neighbors. I see the Supervisor job as chief cheerleader for everything good; chief communicator for news, updates, and events; chief helper, vision caster, and advocate for hard-working people.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Chapman: My passion and heart is for improving the lives and perception of Woodbridge. As a small business owner for 21 years I know service, I know listening to customers, I know working together and collaborating to get things done.

As a communications major in college I know the importance of regular, active communication with all stakeholder. Woodbridge is blessed to have many cultures but it lacks a sense of community. Ive helped create community with my Rotary Club and with my annual community easter egg hunt, we want to bring Woodbridge together.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Chapman: I will have regular open office hours, monthly newsletters, quarterly town hall meetings, attend HOA meetings, website with a work in progress status update so citizens can see where we are in the progress on specific projects. This will bring accountability and also show our achievements. My intention is to engage the community more so they will be more involved in our progress.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Chapman: I have not been elected so I don’t have public life, that said, I admire public officials that know they are not the smartest guy/girl in the room, work with others to get the best ideas, and are hard, focused workers to get things done.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?

Chapman: I agree people are tired of politics and tired of politicians. Their is no place for partisanship when it comes to local office. Partisans divide, they choose winners and losers, haves and have nots.

We look at small, petty bickering and the lack of progress in D.C. and Richmond. People want leaders, they want someone who cares. I have fresh ideas and lots of energy to improve my hometown. My view of leadership as I am the chief servant.

I am the type of leader who has always challenged status quo, a tireless worker who has brought people together, listened to them, built consensus and utilized their God given gifts to unleash their potential. If people want the opportunity to create a community, get involved and make a difference then they would want to vote for me.

 

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