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Politics

GOP Leaders Request Special Session on Medicaid Expansion

The Virginia Capitol in Richmond. (Photo: KJ Mushung)

RICHMOND, Va. – Just three days before the Virginia General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn, Republican leaders in the House of Delegates have proposed a special legislative session to debate Medicaid expansion.

The House and Senate are less than one-tenth of one percent (or $26 million) apart from compromising on a two-year, $96 billion state budget agreement, but GOP leadership reinforced its position Tuesday that Medicaid Expansion does not belong in the budget bill.

Majority Leader Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said the commonwealth’s local governing bodies need budgeting information by Saturday’s deadline, and urged the General Assembly to pass a clean budget and reconvene at a later date to discuss Medicaid Expansion as a separate issue.

“We need a solution at this point, and our solution is to call for a special session,” Cox said. “We (House Republicans) have been clear that (Medicaid Expansion) has no business being apart of this process … Let’s free the hostage (the budget) and do what’s right for our schools, teachers, college students and first responders.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has publicly refused to sign a budget bill that does not include some form of Medicaid expansion, and the Democratic Senate has yet to budge on its plan to provide up to 400,000 additional Virginians with health coverage under a private provider known as Marketplace Virginia.

On Tuesday, House Democrats fired back at the Republican proposal for a special session, insisting the idea is a delay tactic and that the GOP is at fault for the government impasse.

“It’s very clear that a number of folks on that (Republican) side of the aisle have just been saying no to basically everything,” House Minority leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said. “’Just say no’ isn’t a policy, (it’s) a recipe for a government shutdown.”

Toscano refused to address Cox by name on the floor and said Democrats wouldn’t consider a special session without assurance the time would be used to work out the details of Marketplace Virginia or some other form of Medicaid expansion.

“We (House Democrats) agree with the gentleman (Cox) from Colonial Heights,” Toscano said in reference to avoiding a government shutdown. “But we can’t leave $1.7 billion on the table. We can’t discuss a budget without including this money.”

As members of both parties continue to point fingers across the aisle, one Republican legislator suggested the GOP has differences within its own caucus.

Delegate Thomas Davis Rust, R-Herndon, said Tuesday he doesn’t agree with House Republican leadership on all details of potential Medicaid expansion, but Rust did agree the legislature’s top priority should be passing a state budget on time.

“We can’t afford to go home Saturday without a budget,” Rust said. “And I think the fact that the two have been tied together is very detrimental to Virginia.”

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas, went one step further, suggesting that Democratic President Barack Obama is “falsely taking credit” for federal deficit reductions. He said it’s the states like Virginia rejecting Medicaid expansion that are responsible for lowered national deficit projections.

A joint budget conference committee containing six delegates and seven senators has until Saturday to come up with a compromise before the session is extended. If an agreement isn’t finalized by July 1, the state government will shut down until terms can be negotiated.

 

Candidates File for Town Elections, Get Names on Ballots

Updated March 31, 2014

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – Election season is heating up for the four towns in Prince William County.

The towns of Dumfries, Haymarket, Occoquan, and Quantico will all vote for mayors and Town Council members. Votes in Occoquan will select a new mayor after current Mayor Earnie Porta announced his will not seek a new term.

Here is the list of candidates who will have their names on the ballot come Election Day May 5.

Names appearing on ballots in each of the Prince William County Towns’ Elections as of March, 31, 2014:

Dumfries Haymarket  Occoquan Quantico
       
MAYOR MAYOR  MAYOR MAYOR
       
Gerald M. Foreman II (Incumbent) David M. Leake (Incumbent) Elizabeth A. C. Quist

Kevin P. Brown (Incumbent)

       
Willie J. Toney Josh M. Mattox   Iris Ross Tharp
       
TOWN COUNCIL  TOWN COUNCIL TOWN COUNCIL TOWN COUNCIL
       
Gwen P. Washington (Incumbent) Steven C. Aitken (Incumbent) Tyler C. Brown Peggy L. Alexander (Incumbent)
       
Derrick R. Wood (Incumbent) Matthew E. Caudle J. Matthew Dawson Earlene D. Clinton (Incumbent)
       
Kristin Forrester (Incumbent) Milton J. Kenworthy (Incumbent) Joseph E. McGuire, Jr. (Incumbent) Sammoto Yomosa Dabney
       
Cydny Neville Christopher S. Morris James A. Drakes Tom E. Davis
       
  Joseph R. Pasanello Patrick A. Sivigny (Incumbent) Mary Lou DiMarzio
       
  Pamela L. Swinford   John L. Hallman
       
  Kurtis W. Woods   Albert R. Gasser, Jr.
       
  Nicole V. Zimnoch   Russell V. “Rusty” Kuhns (Incumbent)
       
      Virginia Macfarlan (Incumbent)

 

All interested candidates have until Monday to file their paperwork to the Prince William County Office of Elections to have their name appear on the ballot.

Here are a few other notes about the upcoming elections:

The Town Elections will be Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

The deadline for candidates to submit all the required paperwork is 7 pm on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

The last day to register to vote in the Town Elections is Monday, April 14, 2014.

Absentee voting begins Friday, March 21, 2014.

The last day to request an AB by mail is Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

The last day to vote AB in person is Saturday, May 3, 2014. DMV and the Main office will be open all day (8 am – 5 pm and 9 am – 5 pm, respectively).

 * Louis Parino failed to submit the required paperwork to the Prince William County Office of Elections and did not qualify to have his name listed on the ballot. 

Sunday Hunting Bill Expected to be Signed into Law

RICHMOND — Weekend hunters in Virginia may be able to enjoy more hunting opportunities if Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs a law lifting the traditional ban on Sunday hunting within the commonwealth.

House Bill 1237, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, passed the General Assembly and now is in the hands of the governor. A similar bill, Senate Bill 154, is expected to pass the General Assembly later this week.

Both bills would allow for Sunday hunting of deer and wild animals only on private property. Hunting would be prohibited, however, within 200 yards of a house of worship.

Although seen as a bipartisan bill, some lawmakers did not approve of lifting the ban on Sunday hunting.

Delegate Thomas Wright, R-Victoria, said the bill will act like a Christmas tree in the legislature, a bill that allows for amendments, like ornaments, to be added on to over time.

Wright predicts the General Assembly gradually will chip away at some of the restrictions in the current bill to eventually make hunting on Sundays equitable to any other day.

“This time it was just private land and still hunting, Wright said. “In the future I think there are going to be other bills amending this bill allowing eventually … the same hunting like on any other day of the week.”

Forty other states do not have prohibitions on Sunday hunting, according to the Coalition to Lift State Bans on Sunday Hunting. Only Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia have kept these laws intact.

Both Wright and Gilbert are regular hunters in the commonwealth. Gilbert told Capital News Service earlier this month that the legislation is meant to counter a decline in hunting license purchases in Virginia.

“Virginia has such a strong hunting heritage that we thought this would be a great opportunity to attempt to reverse that trend,” Gilbert said. “The high-powered rifle season for deer is only two weeks long. So if you’re a hardworking person, you really only have two Saturday’s in which to engage in that activity all year. This would simply give you a couple extra days to enjoy a sport you love and be able to put food on the table.”

McAuliffe could not be reached for comment.

Students Won’t Be Able to Hire Attorneys to Fight College Suspensions

The Virginia Capitol in Richmond. (Photo: KJ Mushung)

RICHMOND — A bill was killed this week that would have allowed students to hire attorneys for representation when dealing with university disciplinary actions after officials at Virginia public universities expressed concern about multiple problems the bill would pose.

House Bill 1123, introduced by Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrolton, would have allowed public college students or student organizations to hire an attorney if faced with more than 10 days of suspension or expulsion. The bill also would have allowed students to take their cases to circuit court after exhausting all college-level judicial affairs options.

At the circuit court level, the bill would have allowed accused students to seek repayment for their tuition and court fees from their college. The bill was tabled in a subcommittee of the House Education Committee.

Brent Ericson, director of George Mason’s Office of Student Conduct, expressed concern that the bill would have made student conduct hearings too similar to court.

“We work in an educational model, and we want to get to know our students,” Ericson said in an interview with George Mason’s student-run news outlet, The Fourth Estate. “Would that ever happen with someone speaking for you? It takes it from an educational process into a procedural criminal one.”

Virginia Commonwealth University Dean of Student Affairs Reuban Rodriguez, Ed.D., agreed with Ericson.

“One of the main reasons why public institutions were opposed to (the bill) was that it’s been clearly defined through various court actions — including the Supreme Court — that the intention is for student judicial hearings not to be similar in any way, shape or form to a court hearing,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also said student hearings would have lost educational value if they were made more similar to a trial.

Title IX requires that colleges take immediate action to address allegations of sexual harassment. Rodriguez expressed concern about how HB 1123 — if passed — could have made victims of sexual harassment more intimidated by a university’s more court-like student hearing process. Rodriguez thinks that because of that intimidation, victims would be less likely to come forward as they would feel disadvantaged.

“Most people who are not attorneys believe that when attorneys are involved, it creates a more adversarial setting,” Rodriguez said, “not only for the victim, but people involved in the hearing feel more tension … and feel like they’re in a situation where their expertise is not present because they feel overwhelmed because they have to interact with a fully licensed professional attorney.”

According to the Virginian-Pilot, Old Dominion University’s Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Michael DeBowes “suggested Morris’ bill would create a more adversarial process than is in place on many campuses.”

Rodriguez also expressed concern about the cost of the bill to universities, saying that more staff would need to be hired, among other expenditures.

The bill’s impact statement projected that Virginia’s five largest universities (University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Old Dominion University) would need additional full-time attorneys on-site.

The Office of the Attorney General estimated that the cost of these full-time attorneys would total nearly half a million dollars annually. This money would have come from tuition and fees.

North Carolina is the first state to have a law similar to House Bill 1123. The “Students and Administration Equality Act” was passed in August 2013.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education supported the bill in the subcommittee hearing.

“FIRE is obviously disappointed the bill was tabled this session,” said Joe Cohn, FIRE’s legislative and policy director, “but (we are) thrilled that Delegate Morris brought this issue forward and, in doing so, made sure that delegates in Virginia now know that the current system on most of Virginia’s campuses of disciplinary proceedings just isn’t working fairly.”

Anderson, Barker Holding Town Hall Today

Virginia State Senator George Barker and Delegate Rich Anderson meet in Lake Ridge to discuss legislative priorities for 2013. [Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

Two local elected leaders will hold a town hall this morning at the Prince William County Government Center.

Democrat State Senator George Barker and Delegate Richard Anderson will meet together at 10 a.m. to discuss what’s happening in the state legislature during this General Assembly period in Richmond.

One of Barker’s bills deals with mental illness and would require a patient who has been served with a detention order, and self-admitted to a mental hospital, could be brought before a judge who could order mandatory outpatient treatment for their illness if there is evidence to show the patient has not taken their treatment seriously.

Another bill would prohibit minors from using tanning beds at private facilities. Those ages 15 through 17 would have to have written consent from their parents before they could climb inside a tanning bed.

Anderson submitted a bill that would require a more clearly defined process of how to remove human remains from construction sites when they’re found. The measure comes after Prince William County school officials this past summer found human remains on the site of the soon-to-be-built 12th high school near the intersection of Va. 234 and Hoadly Road. Those remains will be reburied on a different plot of land on the site where the new school will be built, according to a December School Board resolution.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m., will be held inside the Board of Supervisors Chambers, and is open to the public.

 

Occoquan’s Porta Won’t Seek Fifth Term as Mayor

Porta

OCCOQUAN, Va. – Mayor Earnie Porta has decided he won’t seek reelection after nearly seven years on the job.

The popular Democrat announced today there are new things in life that we wants to occupy his time with, though there was no indication that he would seek higher office in a local or state seat if one were to become available.

Porta could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

Here’s his statement he made to constituents:

With the deadline for filing for town elections approaching in March, I wanted to let everyone know that I will not be seeking a fifth term as Mayor of the Town of Occoquan this May. After making a careful and realistic assessment of other commitments and obligations, as well as of personal and professional goals, I have concluded that I simply would not be able to devote for another full two-year term the time, effort, and focus that I think the people of Occoquan deserve.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Occoquan’s Mayor over the past eight years, and I am very grateful for the generous support received during that time from residents, businesses, staff, visitors, and the many friends of the town in Prince William County and other areas. I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together. We have, I believe, provided a solid foundation on which future councils can build. Over the remaining five months of my term I will do my best to continue to work diligently on Occoquan’s behalf. Thank you all again for the privilege of serving.

Occoquan holds its Town Council elections in May. The mayor serves a two-year term.

Porta has become known for his knowledge of the town, and is an outspoken advocate for the Occoquan River and the natural features of the small town.

When the Ballywhack Creek flooded in 2011 after torrential rains poured for days, Porta was seen on the streets of the small town assisting business owners and directing traffic.

Torian’s Bill One of Several Proposed Reforms

RICHMOND, Va. – Among the flurry of ethics reform bills being proposed throughout the Virginia General Assembly is Senate Bill 212, which would remove Freedom of Information Act exemptions for legislators and their aides.

The new FOIA bill, which is part of an ethics package authored by Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, would remove Delegate Tag Greason’s, R – Potomac Falls, House Bill 1639 less than a year after its approval.

HB1639 also is known as the 2013 General Assembly FOIA Exemption Act. The measure officially added legislative aides to the exemption list of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.

Currently, General Assembly members and legislatives aides are exempt from Virginia’s FOIA act, which means their working papers and written correspondence are unattainable for public viewing. Petersen said SB212 would increase accountability in the Virginia legislature.

“We need as much transparency as possible, and then people can make up their own minds,” Petersen said. “(FOIA) has an incredible influence on people because it makes you realize, ‘Hey I’m under scrutiny at all times.’”

House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, announced a bipartisan agreement pushing forward a plan for ethics reform. This proposed legislation come following a financial controversy surrounding former Republican Gov. Robert R. McDonnell.

“The (FOIA) exemption has been broadly interpreted, and it’s now used for everything,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. “Anything that narrows that scope and keeps things in check is a good thing.”

Delegate Luke E. Torian, D-Dumfries, patrons House Bill 689, which would require legislators and lobbyists to file financial disclosure reports semiannually rather than annually. Along with the rest of the ethics legislation, the bill’s stated goal is to prevent another controversy by aiming for more government transparency.

“We just simply want to let the citizens of the commonwealth know that we’re operating with a tremendous level of integrity,” said Torian, one of an increasingly large group of bipartisan House members involved in ethics reform.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as governor this past week, while McDonnell faces federal and state investigations regarding gifts received while in office. The Justice Department said in December a decision for or against indicting McDonnell could come as late as February.

Petersen said in the current culture there is a symbiotic relationship between donors and politicians.

“It may be that way in every government, but I think right now it’s more pronounced in Virginia because you have unlimited gifts, unlimited donations, and the transparency is minimal,” Petersen said. “It’s all self-reporting.”

Gibson Running Again, Starts Drive to Unseat Gerry Connolly in November

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Mark Gibson will run again for the 11th Congressional District that includes portions of Prince William and Fairfax counties.

An independent, this will be Gibson’s second run at unseating Democrat Gerry Connolly whose been in office since 2009.

More in a press release:

Mark Gibson, an independent candidate for Virginia’s 11th Congressional District (VA-11), began his ballot petition drive today, the first day permissible under Virginia law. Gibson finished the 2012 election with the most votes among non-major party candidates; he says voter encouragement and an underperforming Congress prompted him to run again.

“I received a lot of compliments and inspiration from voters after the last election,” Gibson said, “and the dissatisfaction with Congress and the major parties is at least equal to that of 2012. More and more voters identify themselves as independents. I hope to build on the attention independent voters gained in the last election.”

Gibson will need to collect 1,500 signatures from 11th District voters by early June.

Though the Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) has not yet finalized its candidate information bulletins for 2014, all forms and rules from the 2012 election remain valid through July 1, 2012. In addition to presenting ballot petitions to SBE, Gibson will submit completed forms for his declaration of candidacy and certification of candidate qualification. Filings to the Federal Election Commission and U.S. House Committee on Ethics will follow along with the establishment of a principal campaign committee.

Gibson has lived in Fairfax County since 1997. He serves as CEO of an IT firm. He is a native of the Washington, D.C. area.

During the last campaign cycle, Gibson worked to get out the vote early by announcing his campaign in April 2012.

Voters will head to the polls again in November.

 

Lawson Seeking Brentsville District Seat in 2015

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Jeanine Lawson will try again in Brentsville in 2015.

The Republican who ran against sitting District Supervisor Wally Covington during a GOP Primary Election in 2011 announced this morning she once again will seek election to that seat in 2015.

Covington won the Primary Election by five points in 2011, but this time Covington’s political aspirations aren’t so clear as many have publically hinted, including Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, that Covington would like an appointed judgeship at the Prince William County Courthouse.

Lawson lives with her husband in the Brentsville District and has two children, one of them she notes as a sophomore at Patriot High School. She says she has remained active in the Republican Party both locally and at the state level by participating in several campaigns since her Primary loss 18 months ago.

In an email to supporters titled ‘I’m in,” Lawson is quick to point out her concerns for the proposed Bi-County Parkway that would link Interstate 95 in Dumfries with Dulles Airport by way of the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

“This proposed road alignment raises a lot of concerns and I believe our state and local government should spend our taxpayer funds on more meaningful transportation solutions,” Lawson penned in her email.

Here is more what she stated in the email:

So why am I running again? Because I remain very committed to our community.

We learned from the 2010 census that PWC grew 43% from 2000-2010 with Brentsville District alone growing at 102%. Well, as we know, with all these new residents come serious demands to our infrastructure and that has lagged behind. Therefore our students attend schools well over capacity, sitting in traffic has become a way of life, and normal levels of service provided by local government are under achieved. Also, two-third of our workers commute outside the county to their jobs, and taxpayers continue to watch their property tax bills climb. We can do better!

Some of my vision for Prince William County and more specifically the Brentsville District includes:

* School Capacity and Class Size Reduction: We simply cannot build public schools fast enough to keep up with the growth. Currently, there are tens of thousands of additional homes approved to be built countywide. And to make matters worse, our class sizes are at the highest state allowed numbers. I am committed to working with Mr. Gil Trenum, (and honored to have his endorsement) Brentsville representative to the PWC School Board and his colleagues to bring resolution to this problem. Our kids and teachers deserve better!

* Attracting Business Growth: Clearly, we need to shift our focus to attracting business job growth which will also result in a healthier tax base. Right now, less than 20% of the county’s property tax revenue is from commercial and/or industrial property. It is the BOCS who is responsible for voting to rezone business property to residential property. This trend needs to stop. We need to do a better job of marketing our County’s assets to the business community. Virginia is known to be a very business-friendly state. We must take advantage of that, our location to our nation’s capital, and the high quality of our skilled work force. This is a trio of rare assets to many localities across the nation. We can do better because of these!

*Conservative Fiscal Policy: PWC has the highest tax rate in Virginia when you include the real estate tax rate and other levies. I expect all levels of government to be wise stewards of the people’s money. Property owners have watched their tax bills climb and the County’s five year plan calls for tax increases for each of the next five years. We can do better!

*Meaningful Transportation Solutions: As I stated earlier, I am committed to continue the fight against the infamous Bi-County Parkway. Property rights are under attack from VDOT’s over-reaching power grab, the historic Manassas Battlefield will forever be changed, local road closures will wreak havoc on our secondary roads, the Rural Crescent character and policy will be compromised and hundreds of millions of tax dollars will be wasted to serve one special interest group. We can do better!

Lawson joins another early announcer Republican Terrance Boulden who will seek the job of Woodbridge District Supervisor in 2015. Lawson also made a bid to supporters for donations as, at last count in June, she had $2,115 cash on hand.

Sellers Takes Stafford Supervisor Seat, Takes Garrisonville for Democrats

121813-sellers

121411 StaffordDecides-Graphic-600x600-bNORTH STAFFORD, Va. – After two elections in 2009 and 2013, long-time Stafford resident Laura Sellers was sworn in on December 10, as one of the newest members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. Filling incumbent Ty Schieber’s seat in the Garrisonville district, Sellers has big plans for her time on the Board.

Graduating from North Stafford High School, Sellers earned her Sociology degree from North Carolina State University. In 2009, she had returned to Stafford County and chose to run against then Garrisonville District Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer.

Sellers recalled a conversation with her parents about how many Stafford races go uncontested, that sparked her interest in running for the Board seat.

“That’s crazy; why would we have any races that were uncontested? That’s really why I decided to run back in 2009. There should never be a race that is uncontested because it keeps an incumbent honest – so I learned the issues, really educated myself,” Sellers said.

While Sellers did not win the seat against Dudenhefer, she made a commitment to run again in 2013.

“When I lost in 2009, I said ‘I’m going to stay on top of the issues,’” she added.

It was the change to her game plan during the campaign that made the difference in helping her to win the seat during this year’s General Election on Nov. 5. She turned a historically red Republican magisterial district in Stafford County to Democrat blue.

“I was more strategic this time. I’m the former Chair of the Stafford Democratic Committee, so I had an understanding of where the Democrats sat. I volunteered on a lot more campaigns here locally in Stafford, and I had finished all of the coursework for my Master’s degree in Social Work, so I have a really good understanding of public policy,” Sellers said.

And while recent Virginia elections have shown trending for more Democratic support, with Obama’s Virginia wins in 2008 and 2012, and the recent gubernatorial race with the election of Terry McAuliffe, Sellers does not believe that this sweep of support for her party helped her during the campaign.

“It helped in knowing where Democrats sat, but Obama didn’t win Stafford. Locally, it’s just a very different race than at the national level.”

To Sellers, one key strategy she implemented during the campaign was working on her bipartisan interactions with voters, and looking at the common ground they shared, instead of their differences; something she worked on in her role at the Department of Defense, working with openly conservative colleagues.

“In social work, we say there’s a time called a ‘learning moment’ and there’s a moment when you just move on,” Sellers said.

Despite being new to the Board, Sellers plans to act as a strong advocated for the Garrisonville District, making it a priority for the district to have a strong voice.

“There are issues that need to be addressed in the district, like, our fire station – Station 14. We need a full fire station instead of a modular and a temporary building, which is planned for 2018; I would like to work with the Board and the County to find a way to move that up,” Sellers said.

Herring Keeps Win in Prince William After Recount

Herring

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – Democrat Mark Herring won Prince William County after a recount of ballots cast in the county. The finding reaffirms the initial vote count completed following the statewide General Election on Nov. 5, but with some slight changes.

More in a press release from the Prince William County Office of Elections:

Prince William County’s Recount Officials completed the recount for the Commonwealth’s Attorney General’s race for all county precincts on Tuesday, December 17 at 3:30 p.m.

The only precinct that had a change was the absentee precinct. The county’s 77 regular precincts had no changes. The unofficial recount numbers are posted on the Office of Election home page. The final outcome is expected to be announced by the Richmond Recount Court by this Friday, December 20.

In a recount, Herring won more votes over his Republican opponent Mark Obenshain, 52,121 to 44,173, respectively.

On the first count in November, Herring won Prince William County by 52,109 votes to Obenshain’s 44,163.

Jurisdictions across the state have been ordered to recount the election ballots after the November results for the Attorney General’s race were too close to call. In late November, prior to the recount, the Washington Post declared Herring the winner of the race.

Obenshain won Stafford County with 56% of the vote in the November General Election. A recount was compelted in that county yesterday and we’re working on bringing you the results.

Herring won both Manassas and Manassas Park in the November General Election.

Congressman Wolf Won’t Seek Reelection

MANASSAS, Va. – Congressman Frank Wolf is calling it quits after 33 years in office.

The long-serving congressman, who represents portions of Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties, announced his decision not to seek reelection on Tuesday.

He released this statement:

“I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. I thank my constituents for giving me the privilege of representing them in Congress for 34 years.

“As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family. My passion for these issues has been influenced by the examples of President Ronald Reagan, former Congressmen Jack Kemp and Tony Hall, Chuck Colson, and the life of 18th century Member of Parliament William Wilberforce.

“I want to thank the many excellent former and current members of my staff who have helped me serve the people of the 10th District. I am also grateful to my wife, Carolyn, and my family, who have faithfully stood by me all these many years.”

Republicans now must decide who they will run to fill Wolf’s seat.

Last week, Fairfax County Supervisor Mark Foust announced he is running to represent the 10th District.

 

Haymarket Mayor Censured, Withholds Information

Updated

HAYMARKET, Va. – Mayor David Leake was censured this morning in an special meeting of the Haymarket Town Council.

The censure stems from Leake withholding the names of two town employees. It appears those employees could be in trouble, though town officials are mum on who they are or what they might have done.

“Absolutely, It’s a very serious situation,” Leake told Potomac Local News when asked of the severity of the situation regarding the employees.

Prior to the Town Council’s vote to censure Leake for withholding the names, a special committee comprised of Vice Mayor Jay Tobias and Councilman Steven Aitken was formed and was charged with investigating personnel issues involving the two town employees.

Leake said the committee is not qualified to conduct such an investigation, and added he’ll only release the names of the town employees to a third-party investigator brought in on the council of the town’s hired attorneys. 

“Town council members handling the investigation…it’s out of their league and it’s out of their professionalism… it’s just not the right way to go,” said Leake.

Additionally, Leake said he is looking into overturning both motions made at today’s special town council meeting. The first: to create the investigative committee wtih Tobais and Aitken, and second: to reverse his censure. The Mayor said the town charter allows the mayor — who is not allowed to vote — to cast a veto by making his case in writing and presenting it within five days of the council’s vote.

Tobias made the motion Monday to censure Leake. When reached for comment, he said little about the investigation noting only that officials are looking into personnel maters, and added “it is certainly possible” the committee’s investigation could yield information on the good doings of the two town employees in question.

The censure comes after Mayor David Leake in October moved to censure and fine Tobias after he was charged with public intoxication at the town’s annual Haymarket Day.

Elected Leaders to Appear, Take Questions at Eastern Prince William County Town Hall

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Some of the Delegates from eastern Prince William County headed to Richmond next month for the annual General Assembly lawmaking session will take questions from voters next week.

More in a press release from Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William, Fauquier)

The General Assembly Delegation from Eastern Prince William County will be hosting a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, December 19th at 7PM at the Coles District Volunteer Fire Department- 13712 Dumfries Road, Manassas, Virginia 20112.

The evening will be an opportunity to hear directly from legislators about their priorities during the upcoming 2014 General Assembly Session and take questions from those in attendance.

For more information, contact Andrew Clark at 703-580-1294.

Foust Challenges Wolf in Virginia’s 10th District

A Fairfax County Democrat is making a run for Congressman Frank Wolf’s seat in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.

Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, representing the Dranesville District, has challenge and the Republican Wolf for a seat he has held since 1981.

More in a press release:

“Like so many Virginians, my life has been shaped by opportunities that were forged through hard work, but the reckless and irresponsible politics of Washington are holding Americans back from achieving our country’s promise of this opportunity,” said John Foust. “When Congressman Frank Wolf shutdown our nation’s government, it became clear just how out of touch Congressman Wolf’s dysfunctional agenda is with the values of Virginia families who want Congress to stop standing in the way of solutions at every turn. Whether it was balancing six budgets while still delivering quality services to residents or expanding full day kindergarten county?wide, in Fairfax I brought Republicans and Democrats together, worked hard, and got results – and it’s exactly this problem solving leadership that I’ll bring to Congress.”

Foust was elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2007 and unseated Republican Joan DuBois for the job. A once practicing attorney focused on construction law cases, Foust has since transitioned from his law practice and focused full time on his duties as a member of the Board of Supervisors.

He is married to his wife of 30 years, Dr. Marilyn Jerome for 30 years. They

have two sons, Matthew and Patrick, who both are recent college graduates.

Foust in a press release touts his work to improve traffic along Va. 7 and schools:

…as chairman of the Board’s Audit Committee, vice chairman of the Budget Committee and chairman of the County’s Economic Advisory Commission. He worked to expand full day kindergarten to the entire county and fund widening of Route 7 to ease congestion for commuters, amongst numerous other accomplishments.

 Virginia’s 10th Congressional District spans western Prince William, western Fairfax County, and Loudoun County.

Governor-elect Vows Ethics Reforms

Virginia Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe accepts the “Blueprint Virginia” economic plan presented to him by Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Barry DuVal, on the right. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that he would push for greater transparency and ethics reforms in state government.

McAuliffe spoke to a roomful of journalists after a panel discussion on political journalism ethics and political finance and gift-disclosure organized by the Associated Press.

The Northern Virginia businessman said he “would be inclined” to “issue an executive order” to waive the fees currently charged to citizens and journalists requesting government documents under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Under the federal FOIA, federal officials can waive the often prohibitive costs of a public records request if it pertains directly to the public good, but the state does not.

“It’s the first I’ve been asked this question,” McAuliffe said. “I think it’s a great idea. I will take it back and talk to my transition team about it.”

He said he was not aware that Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act lacks a provision to allow fees to be waived if the FOIA request is in the public interest.

Echoing President Obama’s campaign slogans, McAuliffe said he would set a new standard of “transparent, accountable, state government that is beholden only to the taxpayers who fund it.” He added, “Virginians should never have to question who their leaders are putting first.”

The best way to ensure political transparency, McAuliffe said, is to issue an executive order limiting gifts to politicians to no more than $100, increasing penalties for violating current disclosure laws and eliminating conflicts of interest; however, McAuliffe did not offer details about how the order would achieve those ends.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, said his almost-daily talks with outgoing Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell often extend into weekends, facilitating what he called “the smoothest transition ever” as he prepares to take office.

In spite of their talks, however, McAuliffe said he knew only as much as the newspapers have reported about the federal investigation of McDonnell’s relationship with a dietary-supplement manufacturer.

McAuliffe spoke to about 50 journalists at AP Day at the Capital. The event, held at the Richmond Times-Dispatch offices, was organized by Virginia AP Managing Editors, the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association and the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Also speaking at the event was Republican Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas. He said not all secrecy is bad, citing the 1776 Constitutional Convention that took place behind closed doors without public oversight.

Marshall said people behave differently when they know they’re being watched, and limiting gifts to $100 would “force political activity underground.”

Marshall said a “no gifts” policy would lead to prosecutions for unreported golf tips, information and special discounts; for example, getting a car at half price because of a person’s status as a politician. Marshall said whether a politician received discounts is “not in the public interest.”

McAuliffe Makes Transportation Pick, Replaces Connaughton

Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe has selected his Secretary of Transportation, who will replace current transportation chief and former Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton.

More in a press release:

Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe on Friday announced his selection of Aubrey Layne as Secretary of Transportation at the Norfolk International Terminal.

Layne, a resident of Virginia Beach, has been a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board since 2009. The selection of Layne as Secretary of Transportation signifies McAuliffe’s commitment to tackling the transportation challenges facing the Hampton Roads region and the entire Commonwealth, as well as his continued efforts to put together a bipartisan administration focused on working with members of both parties to strengthen Virginia’s economy.

“Aubrey’s experience in statewide transportation planning and in the private sector give him valuable perspective on the pivotal role that transportation planning, construction and maintenance play in creating an environment where businesses can locate and thrive,” said Governor-elect McAuliffe. “He will be a Secretary of Transportation for the entire Commonwealth, and together we will work to find bipartisan, statewide solutions to growing our economy, creating more jobs here, and improving the quality of life for all Virginians.”

Layne added, “The Governor-elect has made a more modern, efficient transportation system a principal goal of his administration, and I am ready to take on that challenge and hit the ground running to do what we need to do to improve our transportation infrastructure.”

Both Governor-elect McAuliffe and Secretary-designate Layne also commended Governor McDonnell and the bipartisan legislature for passing the transportation funding package earlier this year, noting that it was a major step forward in making the necessary improvements in Virginia’s transportation system.

Connaughton lives in Triangle and was appointed Virginia Secretary of Transportation by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell after he won the seat in 2009. Prior to serving in Richmond, Connaughton was elected to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors in 1999 and again in 2003 where he served as its chairman until 2006.

For the first and only time during his tenure as secretary, Connaughton addressed a Virginia County Board of Supervisors in August when he told the Prince William Board a proposed Bi-County Parkway would be used to carry light cargo between Dulles International Airport and Interstate 95.

Rocked by ‘Uncivil’ Campaign, Anderson Keeps Seat

DALE CITY, Va. – Richard Anderson will keep his seat representing the 51st House District that encompasses much of Prince William County. But he says it comes at a high price: a loss of civility in Virginia politics that “dates back to Thomas Jefferson.”

The Republican beat out his challenger, Democrat Reed Heedleston, by eight points on Tuesday. He was first elected to the office in 2009 and ran unopposed in 2011.

This election cycle the Heddleston campaign and Virginia Democrats mailed several disparaging, and downright nasty mailers to area homes that depicted caricatures Anderson drinking while wearing a Hawaiian, as well cartoons of Anderson taking special interest money, and limiting access to women’s healthcare.

The fliers were false, said Anderson. And the attacks tried to tie him national issues like the recent government shutdown, driving the conversation way from local issues, he added.

Anderson’s harshest critics, including the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, have given him grief over not supporting the landmark transportation reform passed this year that will allocate nearly $1 billion in transportation funding. Anderson has long maintained the higher sales taxes in Northern Virginia in Hampton Roads that were apart of the package were not good for Virginia families during the current recession.

Upon his return to Richmond, Anderson says he still plans to work with Democrats to find solutions to the state’s problems but has been shaken by this campaign.

“Of anyone of the 100 members [of the Virginia House of Delegates], I have demonstrated an ability of reasoning with others and doing so in a civil way… but now I have reached across the aisle and this time, instead of bringing my hand back, I brought back a bloody nub,” said Anderson. “It will heal pretty damn fast, and lets just say when I go to Richmond they will be dealing with a renewed, fortified Airman who spent 30 years in uniform, one who will bring that skill set to ensure we don’t have the McAuliffe, Clinton, Washington- based scorched earth, smash mouth politics that comes into the political culture in Virginia.”

The 51st District encompasses much of Prince William County, making it a target for the Virginia Democratic Party.

Running unopposed in 2011 hurt Anderson’s name recognition during this election cycle, he said. Anderson and his fellow legislators will return to Richmond on Jan. 8.

Futrell Wins Dem-Heavy Prince William, Unseats Dudenhefer

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – Michael Futrell will hold his first political office come January.

He unseated Republican Incumbent Mark Dudenhefer on Tuesday night and will be come the next man to represent Virginia’s 2nd House District. Futrell beat his opponent with a narrow 1.4% win.

With a political district that straddles Prince William and Stafford counties, Futrell won his seat thanks to the 10 heavily democratic precincts in Prince William County were he garnered 66% of the vote. As he has in the past, challenger Mark Dudenhefer won the majority of the 11 heavily Republican districts in Stafford County which round out the second half of the district. But it was not enough to carry him to victory.

Futrell says he’ll make it a priority to reach out to those in Stafford who did not vote for him.

“I don’t think I would call it the biggest upset of the night but I do think it was a well-deserved win,” said Futrell. “We’ve seen the numbers, and now we need to go forward and represent the entire district.”

Futrell overcame a challenge early on in the campaign when the text of his website was found to mirror that of another elected Democrat in Charlottesville. Over the summer, Futrell came under fire after he admitted he had not filed his taxes during the previous three years for his non-profit organization Make The Future that mentors area children.

He added he was surprised that the campaign took a negative turn, and that he is now looking to put differences aside and focus on transportation, education, and issues involving military members and their families, he said.

Outgoing Dudenhefer was the first to be elected to serve the 2nd District after it was created in 2010 following Virginia’s decennial redistricting process. In statement Tuesday night, he said he would continue to serve the state.

“We focused on the issues and what was important to Stafford and Prince William. I have been honored to represent these fine people for two years, and appreciate all the support I received, not only these past few months campaigning, but also legislating Richmond,” stated Dudenhefer.

Prior to heading to Richmond in 2011, he served as the Chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

 

Futrell Calls for More Voices in Shaping Area’s Future

This Michael Futrell first time seeking political office and he hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Mark Dudenhefer on Election Day.

Futrell, a Democrat, seeks to represent the Virginia’s 2nd House District which includes portions of eastern Prince William County to northern Stafford County. Dudenhefer was the first to represent the district when it was created in 2011 following the state’s decennial redistricting processes.

Futurell says his leadership within the local Democratic Party, his work on the non-profit he founded “Make the Future,” and his business experience as a pharmaceutical sales representative would make him a natural leader.

Transportation

A key issues in the 2nd District is transportation. Both Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 run directly through the heart of the district, and many of its residents rely on these two roads to get them to work, school, and to play each day.

Futrell has called for the expansion of Metro rail from Springfield to Woodbridge, which would allow for more cars to be taken off area streets, he said. Sidewalks are another key to his transportation vision: the area needs more of them, he said.

He’s also eyeing more opportunities in public transportation to move more people around the entire district.

“There’s not one bus that runs between Prince William and Stafford County, and that is one thing I will look into – how to move more people between these two rapidly developing areas,” said Futrell.

Business and jobs

Much of his focus on transportation also says a lot about his policy on businesses. U.S. 1 must be improved in order to attract and sustain new businesses to the corridor.

While improvements are well underway and new shops are opening at places like Marumsco Plaza in Woodbridge, and U.S. 1 is being widened in two places in Woodbridge, he says business owners and community leaders need a stronger voice.

“We’ll invite business owners and community leaders to a newly created district council to hear from them, and to determine the jobs of the future and what development is needed here. We want include everyone to make sure we are bringing the development to the area,” he said.

Obamacare expansion 

When state legislators this year approved landmark transportation reform, with it came an planned expansion of Medicare in the state. Some conservatives, including Republican gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccienlli have called for cutting back the Medicaid expansion.

Distancing himself from his opponent, Futrell supports it.

“This is a law that has already been passed and its something that we are going to pay for, so why not expand it,” he said.

His opponent says Medicaid, and by extension the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) needs to be revamped, revised, and updated, and has called for a review of it before the program is expanded in the state.

Education

Also following the legislative session this year, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell signed into law a measure that gives a letter grade to schools – A through F – to rate their performance. Futrell is not a fan of this grading system.

“If you give the school an overall failing grade, it doesn’t give them much encouragement to improve,” he said.

Futrell spend a year as a school teacher in Ohio before moving to Virginia to become a pharmaceutical sales rep.

Loss for Conservative E.W. Jackson Could Spell Win for Senate Republicans

E.W. Jackson speaks at Republican nominating convention. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

RICHMOND, Va. – While Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli duke it out in the gubernatorial election, another race is being fought more quietly – one that could have a deciding effect on Virginia’s legislative system.

Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam is facing Republican preacher E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor. But GOP officials may be smiling even if Jackson loses, as polls predict. That’s because Northam would have to give up his seat in the now-evenly-divided Virginia Senate – opening the door for Republicans to capture an outright majority in that chamber.

Northam holds a 16 percentage-point lead over Jackson, according to the Roanoke College Poll. The survey, released Wednesday, showed Northam at 48 percent and Jackson at 32 percent. (The remaining respondents were uncertain or did not answer. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.) Previous surveys by The Washington Post/Abt SRBI and Christopher Newport University also gave Northam double-digit margins.

If Northam wins on Tuesday, a special election would be called to fill the seat representing the 6th Senate District, which includes parts of Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore.

Norman Leahy, author of the politically conservative blog “Bearing Drift,” said the potential vacancy in the Senate is something neither party should take lightly.

“I would hope that both parties have been thinking about this for a long time. They would be fools not to,” Leahy said. “If a Republican were to win Northam’s seat, which I think is possible, it would drastically change the way the General Assembly works up until 2015, when the next Senate election is held.”

In Virginia, the lieutenant governor presides over the 40-member Senate and casts tie-breaking votes in that chamber. Bill Bolling, the current lieutenant governor, has been able to capitalize on that role because of the 20-20 party split in the Senate.

If a Republican wins Northam’s seat, the numbers would tilt 21-19 in favor of the Republicans.

“Republicans in the past have used Bolling to help organize the Senate and cast votes in their favor. If that seat is taken by a Republican, they would have an outright majority, and the lieutenant governor would be nothing more than a figurehead role,” Leahy said.

He said a shift in the balance of power could upset McAullife’s ability to govern if he were to win.

“If he [McAuliffe] wins and the Senate goes Republican, we would have a Democratic governor with an all-conservative legislative body. It would be very hard for Terry to get things done,” Leahy said.

Northam isn’t the only statewide candidate potentially vacating a Senate seat. Both candidates for attorney general – Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain – are state senators.

VCU political science professor John Aughenbaugh predicted there will be two Senate seats vacated.

“I think McAuliffe is going to win the governor’s race, Northam lieutenant governor and Obenshain attorney general. That would mean special elections would be held for both Northam and Obenshain,” Aughenbaugh said.

Obenshain has a slight lead in most polls, although the Roanoke College Poll put Herring ahead. If Obenshain wins and must vacate his Senate seat, it wouldn’t have dramatic political ramifications, Leahy said.

“Obenshain represents an area that is pretty conservative. I highly doubt that a Democrat would have the opportunity to win that seat,” he said.

When a Senate or House seat becomes vacant, the governor calls a special election. Leahy said those campaigns can pose a challenge for political parties and candidates.

“These elections happen in a very compressed amount of time. They take place during an absolutely terrible time for a political race – right around the holiday season,” Leahy said. “Running that race is going to be tough for either party, but I know the Republicans are going to put everything they’ve got into winning if Jackson loses.”

The 6th District seat that Northam holds has voted both Republican and Democratic. From 1941 to 2000, the seat was held by a Democrat. But from 2000 to 2008, Republican Nick Rerras represented the district.

While Leahy believes the seat is up for grabs by either party, Democratic Delegate Algie Howell disagreed. Howell has been a delegate since 2004, representing some of the same parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach as Northam. He doubts a Republican will take the seat.

“Anything is a possibility; it depends on who runs and how strong the candidate is. The district he [Northam] is in leans Democrat, so I don’t see a chances of Republican winning as that great,” Howell said.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, also said he is optimistic a Democrat would win Northam’s seat.

“His district is a good Democratic district. I know at least two great candidates for that seat – Lynwood Lewis and Paula Miller,” Petersen said.

Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, Prince William, also said he is confident in the Democrats’ chances to retain the 6th Senate District seat.

“I don’t think Ralph would have ran for lieutenant governor if he thought there was a strong chance a Republican would take his seat,” Barker said.

What makes the lieutenant gubernatorial race so interesting, Leahy said, is Jackson’s rise to the position. He has never held elective office and came out of nowhere to win the Republican nomination over six other candidates at the party convention on May 18.

“At the convention, Jackson’s people showed up, and they stayed through all of the ballots and won. I don’t think anyone was as surprised as him when he won the nomination,” Leahy said.

“Now he has to run a campaign he has never run before. His only prior experience was getting just over 4 percent of the votes in the U.S. Senate race. He’s like the dog who caught the car. Now, what’s next?”

Before his nomination, Jackson was relatively unknown, but he has made a name for himself with comments like, “The idea Obama is a Christian is laughable.”

So how did Jackson win the nomination? Was it because of dedicated supporters, or was there something going on behind the scenes? Leahy said he believes ulterior motives could have factored into the nomination.

“I don’t think he was set up on purpose to lose to Northam to open up his Senate seat. I doubt the Republicans are that smart,” Leahy said. “What I do think could have happened was the other candidates were spiteful that Jackson won the early rounds of the convention and threw him their support with the mindset ‘If I can’t have this seat, no one can.’”

Ultimately, Leahy said it is hard to predict anything when it comes to special elections. Past voting patterns and the specific district can only tell so much.

“If you look at history, some trends seem to be true. They work until they stop working. With a Democrat in the White House, Virginians assume the next governor will be a Republican, but it may not happen,” Leahy said.

“It all comes down a party’s ability to get people out in a low-turnout election. It puts both parties to a test stand. A candidate stands as good a chance as anybody in those elections.”

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