Your Local News Fix in Prince William, Manassas, and Stafford, Va.




Reynolds wants to improve Dumfries transportation

Helen Reynolds is running to keep her seat on the Dumfries Town Council. 
Reynolds says transportation is an important issue for the town. 

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Dumfries residents will head to the polls May 3, 2016 to elect new members to the Town Council.
We sent a questionnaire to Reynolds, and all other candidates seeking office in Dumfries. Her responses are below: 


Earlene Clinton on Quantico: ‘There is no effective communication system here’

Earlene Clinton seeks to keep her seat on the Quantico Town Council. 
She says the town needs more events, and is in need of a better communication system for the residents. 

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Quantico residents will head to the polls May 3, 2016 to elect new members to the Town Council, and Mayor.
We sent a questionnaire to Clinton, and all other candidates seeking office in Quantico. Her responses are below: 


The 6 things Quist reviews before making a decision for Occoquan

Elizabeth “Liz” Quist seeks to keep her seat as Mayor of Occoquan in the May 3, 2016 General Election.

Quist won the seat in 2014 running unopposed. She replaced Earnie Porta who last fall went on to mount an unsuccessful campaign for Occoquan District Supervisor on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. 

Quist served as Vice Mayor prior to serving as Mayor on the Occoquan Town Council.

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We sent Quist a candidate survey as part of our Project: Election series. Here are her responses: (more…)

Drakes’ big issue in Occoquan is manageable growth

Jim Drakes, 52, is an incumbent on the Occoquan Town Council, and he’s running in the May 3, 2016 General Election to keep his seat. 

The Northeast Pennsylvania native says he’s enjoyed his time in the riverfront town, and that the Occoquan River should be utilized more so than it is already.

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We sent Drakes and all candidates running for office in Occoquan for the General Election a survey as part of our annual Project: Election coverage. Here are Drakes’ responses:  (more…)

Torres: Occoquan needs more events, more traffic safety enforcement

Jonathan Torres, 32, is running to become the next Mayor of the Town of Occoquan. 

He’s running against incumbent Mayor Liz Quist.

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Torres said traffic is an issue in the tiny riverfront town. And so is taxes and businesses, according to the candidate. 

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Torres as part of our annual Project:Election series for the upcoming May 3, 2016 towns elections in Prince William County. Here are his responses: (more…)

Chris Morris says Haymarket Town Park a priority

Chris Morris hopes to keep his seat on the Haymarket Town Council.

Voters elected him back in 2014. They will head to the polls again on May 3, 2016, for a General Election for Haymarket Town Council. Morris is one of eight candidates seeking a seat on Town Council, including incumbent Mayor David Leake.

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We sent a candidate questionnaire to the incumbent Morris and posted his responses below. (more…)

Brewer: Dumfries needs to finish infrastructure projects, stimulate tax relief

Charles Brewer is running to keep his seat on the Dumfries Town Council.

He is one of five candidates seeking a seat on the Town Council. Voters will head to the polls May 3, 2016 to cast their votes.

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We sent a questionnaire to the incumbent and he responded with the following statements: (more…)

Manassas Democrats to caucus for convention delegates

The Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee (MMPCDC) has scheduled assembled caucuses on Monday, April 18, at 7:30 pm to elect delegates and alternates from both cities to the Virginia 10th Congressional District and State Democratic Party Conventions. Caucus participation–including eligiblity to run for election as a delegate or alternate–is open to all registered voters in the respective cities of Manassas and Manassas Park who sign a standard Democratic declaration form. (more…)

Lovejoy reelection bid focused on Manassas City’s economy

Ian Lovejoy was born to a working class family in rural Appalachia. He became one of the first members of his family to attend college, at Concord University in southern West Virginia, where he graduated summa cum laude.  

Lovejoy spent summers working as a camp counselor and youth mentor, invaluable experiences that helped shape his life forever.  Lovejoy became Concord University’s first Rhodes Scholar Nominee.  He later graduated from Virginia Tech Graduate School,, ultimately teaching at Radford University before entering the private sector.

While possessing a background in research and data analysis, Lovejoy found his true professional calling in positions of organizational leadership–in particular serving seniors.  Lovejoy was Director of Operations of WSR Solutions, a national medical equipment company.

Government ID’s for all Virginia residents

In August of 2014, I organized a Hispanic Town Hall Meeting in Hybla Valley.  I spent the first hour going over issues with constituents.

Then, I asked attendees for feedback – what was their #1 issue?  Lack of government identification.  Attendees said that they and their friends and family were weary of obtaining ID’s from Maryland or not having them at all.

At the beginning of last session, I was approached by Virginia New Majority and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACALAO) about working together to bring this issue forward.  I introduced Senate Bill 390 that would have allowed the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a temporary driver’s visitor’s driver’s license to anyone who (1) resided in Virginia for one year, (2) had filed a Virginia tax return or been claimed as a dependent another Virginia tax return and (3) paid a $53 fee.  These licenses would be conspicuously marked with language stating “NOT FOR FEDERAL USE” so it is clear that they are not compliant with the Real ID Act. 

Similar legislation has now been passed in over twelve states: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Illinois, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Washington.  Other states are considering it.  Why is this legislation a good idea?

Reason #1 – Reducing Accidents 
New residents do not know the rules of the road.  According to the DMV, in other states where this has been implemented, over 80% of applicants fail the driving test and need to retake the test.  Having informed driver’s is good for everyone.  Data from California showed that people without driver’s licenses were three times more likely to cause a fatal accident.  The states with the longest record of providing licenses to all residents have experienced nearly a 100% larger drop in traffic fatalities than the nationwide average.  This legislation will save lives.

Reason #2 – Reducing Hit and Runs 
States adopting these measures have seen significant reductions in hit and run accidents.  Analyses by AAA have found that 41% of hit and run drivers lack a driver’s license and that unlicensed drivers are 66.36 times more likely to be hit and run drivers.  When people do not fear prosecution they stop and collisions are dealt with appropriately through our system.  

Reason #3 – Lower Virginia Insurance Premiums
More insured drivers means risk spread among more people, fewer accidents with uninsured drivers, and lower premiums for everyone. 

Reason #4 – Increase Interaction With Law Enforcement
Residents with government ID are much more likely to interact with law enforcement whether it’s for car accidents, domestic violence or to come forward as witnesses for other crimes.  Government ID means greater civic participation. 

Reason #5 – More Tax Revenue
There are an estimated 400,000 people who would benefit from this.  If 80% of estimated eligible Virginians sign up, Virginia will collect $1.7 million in new licensing fees per year.  If each new licensed driver claims $35,000 per year in taxable Virginia income, they would pay an additional $1,755 of state income taxes per person or a total of $561 million per year of new tax revenue.  If 200,000 new auto insurance policies are purchased for $1,000 per year, it will result in $225 million per year of new auto insurance premium tax revenue. 

Reason #6 – Provide All Virginians A High Quality of Life
Licenses allow people to enjoy a healthy quality of life.  Licenses mean being able to take children to soccer games, drive to work, get a bank account, or get to the doctor.  

The Way Forward
The legislation was supported by the McAuliffe Administration and the DMV has assembled a working group including representatives from law enforcement, the immigrant community, faith groups, driving safety groups, criminal defense, courts, chambers of commerce, taxation, human trafficking, and local governments to come up with consensus legislation.  

Hopefully, next year, this legislation will pass so that everyone living in Virginia can enjoy a healthy quality of life.  If you have any feedback, please send me a note at   

Controlling litter and blight a priority for Ellis

Theresa Coates Ellis is a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and has been lived in the City of Manassas since 1987.

Ellis is a graduate of George Mason University with a degree in Business Communication. She is the founder of Tackle Management Corp, a company that provides local businesses aid in regards to public relations services. Her strengths encompass a skill set of Management, Marketing, and Public Relations. Besides being known as a businesswoman, Ellis is a mother of seven children and is very active within the community.

Ellis currently serves as a member for the Manassas Regional Airport Commission, the MCPS Education Foundation Board, and the President-Elect for the Bull Run Rotary Club. Additionally, she is a Sponsor and Founder of the Community Connection Network (CCN) Manassas City Public School and is a George Mason University Community Speaker. (more…)

Jonathan Way supports structured tax incentives for city businesses

Jonathan L. Way seeks a new term as a Manassas City Council member.

He’s been a City Councilman for nine years and currently serves as the Vice Mayor. Not to mention, Way has been a city representative on three regional government boards and on the Virginia Railway Express and Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission bus system.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a Bachelors of Science  in Marine Transportation and has a Masters in Science in Industrial Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Way is also a member of the NRA, the Grace United Methodist Church, and was previously a Rotary Club officer for 5 years.

Way is on the ballot for the Republican Primary Election on May 21 at Metz Middle School in Manassas.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Way and he sent us the responses below: (more…)

Good news: Virginia has a state budget

I am typing these words of good news on the night of Friday, March 11th, on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates in Richmond. We just adjourned the 2016 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly with approval of a bipartisan two-year Virginia state budget. The good news: The budget is balanced, cautious, sensible, and doesn’t increase taxes or fees.

As a member of the 22-member House Appropriations Committee (HAC), I have been engaged since December with crafting the budget, along with two other Prince William County legislators, Del. Scott M. Lingamfelter (R-31st) and Del. Luke M. Torian (D-52nd). I serve on three HAC subcommittee (Public Safety, Transportation, and Higher Education), so I had a hand in developing these three parts of the budget.

Here in bullet fashion are the highlights of the budget we approved Friday night:

– It was passed by large margins in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in both houses of the General Assembly.

– It was completed early, permitting the General Assembly to adjourn one day early, saving taxpayers $25,000.

– It is balanced, fair, and cautious. Unlike the federal government, we build the budget like you build your family budget, with common sense and without gimmicks.

– It doesn’t increase taxes or fees.

– It represents a spending decrease of 5% over the last 10 years, when adjusted for population and inflation.

– It funds the core functions of state government from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018.

– It eliminates state liabilities, reduces borrowing, and makes one-time investments rather than long-term spending commitments.

– It funds investments in economic development to grow businesses and create jobs.

– It invests $73M more for K-12 public education than Gov. McAuliffe proposed, for a total of $900M.

– It includes $36M for Cost to Compete for school employees in Northern Virginia (a budget amendment that I co-patroned with several of my PWC colleagues).

– It includes $100K for the VaSTAR (Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program) computer rehab program administered by PWC Schools (a budget amendment for which I was Chief Patron).

– It invests $78M more for higher education than Gov. McAuliffe proposed.

– It includes $114M for operations and maintenance at colleges and universities and $48M for undergraduate financial aid to hold the line on tuition increases.

– It includes a 2% teacher pay raise, a 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees, and a 3% pay raise for state employees and state police.

– It deposits $605M in the state rainy day fund to raise the balance to $845M in two years as a hedge against the unforeseen.

– It funds the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) at 100% of the Board-certified rate (two years early). It repays VRS $189.5M owed from a funding deferral in 2010 (six years early).  

While this is a lot of information, it’s not all-inclusive, so go to the state budget website for details:

No budget is perfect in every respect. This budget is no different in that regard, but the bipartisan, bicameral way in which it was approved says that it is a sound spending plan. We have a second crack at improving it next January when we can offer amendments during the 2017 legislative session of the General Assembly. In the meantime, I sincerely thank our neighbors for the privilege of working on their behalf in crafting the state budget.

I’ll be back home with Ruth and on the job in Prince William County the week of March 14th, and I look forward to getting back to the rigors of community life. Although the General Assembly session has ended, my duty to you has not. If I may assist you or your family in any way, please don’t hesitate to call or email.

I’m easily reached at or at our legislative district office (571-264-9983). My legislative aide, Ryan Galloway, is at If your need is urgent and can’t wait until the next business day, please call my Woodbridge home at 703-730-1380. We’re here for you.

Many thanks for the privilege of serving you and your family at home and in Richmond!

Over $210 million in new funds coming to the 36th District

The last week of the 2016 General Assembly session brought a flurry of activity on some of our most difficult bills, along with approval of a state budget.  In this column, I will detail highlights in the final budget affecting our area.  Next week, I will report on other important budget items.  In the near future, I will cover some of the more important legislation that we considered and the fight over the state Supreme Court.  I will also let you know about my eight bills the Governor has signed or are awaiting his signature.  
The legislature approved a final budget, including two of my amendments.  First, I advocated for an additional $100,000 to fund the Virginia Star Program which provides refurbished computers to low-income, public school students.  Prince William County’s public schools are using this program extensively in the U.S. 1 corridor.  The final budget includes my complete request.
The new budget provides significant new funding for K-12 education over the biennium: Fairfax County, $87 million; Prince William County, $93 million; and Stafford County, $24 million.  Given that our local schools are hundreds of millions per year behind, it is now up to local governments to fund their share.
Second, my proposal to boost appropriations to fund court-appointed attorneys passed.  Virginia pays $120 per district court misdemeanor and between $445 and $1,235 for felonies, depending on whether they are “non-serious” or punishable by more than 20 years.  
Lawyers can apply for waivers from these fees, but the court runs out of money every year in the spring.  The General Assembly approved an additional $900,000 over the biennium.  In jurisdictions that do not have public defender offices, such as Prince William County, these funds are critical to meet our Constitutional obligation to provide counsel to low-income people.  This is the first increase in appropriations since the waiver system was adopted.  
We also approved $7.5 million in funding for Phase I improvements for Widewater State Park in Stafford County.  This will provide the only public water access to the Potomac River in Stafford County along with event facilities and ultimately campgrounds and cabins.  I was pleased to help  Delegate Mark Dudenhefer who has been working on this for years.
My biggest disappointment was the failure to expand Medicaid, a change that could bring the state $40.5 million in federal funds per year, 800 jobs and healthcare to about 10,000 people in the 36th District.  Sadly, politics continues to hold this up.
It is an honor to serve you in Richmond.  Please email me your feedback at  

New budget emerges from Senate

This week, the seventh of this session of the Virginia General Assembly, both the Senate and House of Delegates are considering the state’s two-year budget. After each house passes a budget, a joint conference committee resolves the differences.
The Senate budget has good news and bad news.
Good  News
Revenues have increased more than expenses for the first time in seven years, offering opportunities to address unmet needs.  The Senate Budget makes significant investments in education including an additional $80 million for Fairfax County, $32 million for Prince William County and $22 million for Stafford County over last year’s appropriations including $16 million for a program called “Cost to Compete” which is supplemental funding for high-cost areas like Northern Virginia to pay teachers and support staff.  The plan also includes a two-percent salary increase for all elementary-secondary school teachers.  
The budget increases funds for our state colleges and universities by $223 million, increases student financial aid and limits tuition increases to three percent.  The Senate budget has about $1.4 billion in construction projects, including $350 million to modernize the Port of Virginia, construct college buildings and renovate state park facilities. 
It adds over 800 “waiver” slots due to the closure of Virginia’s training centers and an additional 400 new slots for adults with developmental disabilities so they can receive needed services. 
The Senate budget begins the closures of Virginia’s Juvenile Detention facilities, adds 11 new mental health positions in probation offices and provides $2.5 million for mental health pilot projects in our jails.  It also funds one new General District Court judge position in Prince William County and one Circuit Court spot in Stafford County.
The Senate budget includes my amendment to increase funds for court-appointed criminal attorney by $1.2 million, the first increase since the program’s inception. 
It also includes funds to keep down costs at Dulles Airport and to begin planning the widening Interstate 66. 
Bad News
A major disappointment to me is the omission of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposed Medicaid expansion, to provide health care to more low-income and disabled people.  Rejecting Medicaid and the available federal funding represent legislative malpractice, but the votes simply are not there to pass it.
Second, the budget fails to fund three desperately needed Fairfax County judgeship positions – Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.  Fewer judges means more delays in access to justice.
Unfortunately, the Senate budget also cuts capital improvements to Widewater State Park. This desperately needed project would create the only public access to the Potomac River in Stafford County.  
I am working hard to pass a budget that addresses our needs and to get my bills passed by the mid-March adjournment.  Please share your views and suggestions at 

Electronic textbook bill moves to House of Delegates

As we pass the mid-point of this General Assembly session, many bills are moving.

After a 30-minute debate, the Senate approved my bill prohibiting the use of electronic textbooks in public schools without a plan to provide school broadband and digital devices to every student required to use an electronic textbook.

Virginia’s constitution requires that every child receive a free textbook. On the floor, I argued that without home computers, electronic textbooks create a two-tiered education system for the haves and the have-nots. Senators Adam Ebbin and George Barker joined me in stressing that even Northern Virginia’s schools have significant low-income student populations who face disadvantages in the classroom without their own devices. The bill now moves to the House of Delegates.

Also, the Senate passed, 39 to 1 my legislation to reverse recent anti-sunshine Virginia Supreme Court rulings. Last year, the Court held that if one sentence of a government document is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the government can withhold an entire document instead of simply redacting the sentence. My legislation requires disclosure to the public of the text of the document that is not redacted.

Additionally, the Court held that government officials’ decisions to withhold documents are entitled to “great weight.” My legislation requires judges reviewing FOIA responses to look at government officials’ decisions in an unbiased manner. The House of Delegates passed identical legislation 99-0 and it will be on the Governor’s desk by the end of the week.

Around 100 people attended our town hall meetings this weekend in the Mount Vernon and Lee areas of Fairfax County. The number one concern raised was public school funding. Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget has $54 million in new funding for Prince William County and $15 million for Stafford County. The House and Senate budgets come out this weekend and will likely include additional funds.

We also heard concerns about Potomac River oil spills and coal ash pollution, skyrocketing college tuition, protecting women’s reproductive rights and strengthening mental health services. People voiced support for driver’s licenses for undocumented Virginians and anger about voting restrictions.

This week, we will debate the state budget. To share your view, please email me at

It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

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