Politics

Howell raises $165K in first quarter for delegate primary race

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 11.34.58 AMSpeaker Bill Howell, long-time incumbent delegate in Virginia’s 28th district has raised more than three times his primary challenger, former Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Stimpson.

According to the State Board of Elections, Howell has received $165,738 in contributions this quarter. Stimpson has raised $46,135.

“The numbers are pretty one-sided. Howell has raised a lot more money than Stimpson,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

Farnsworth stated that for Stimpson, raising a comparable amount of funds during the primary is going to be paramount.

“Money is a really important issue for a challenger especially. Challengers really struggle to get their name out in primaries. And so successful challengers need to raise a significant amount of money to participate in a primary contest that generally calls very few voters to the polls,” said Farnsworth.

In the past, Howell has faced few primary challengers or serious opposition for his delegate seat, and this large amount of fundraising shows that he is taking Stimpson seriously as a challenger.

“The main thing that Howell’s fundraising advantage shows us is that he is taking this challenger very, very seriously. One of the consequences of Eric Cantor’s defeat in the primaries last year is that Republican incumbents are very careful not to be surprised by challengers…It’s clear he sees himself having to work much harder in this contest than in previous ones. A lot more door knocking – a lot more signs in town,” Farnsworth commented.

The Republican primary between Howell and Stimpson will take place on June 9.

Maureen Caddigan likes Jerry Foreman

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Type “Maureen Caddigan” into search.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

OK, done?

Look down the page and you’re sure to see our headline: “Maureen Caddigan to Dumfries Mayor: I don’t trust you.” I wrote that story back in 2013.

In the story, Caddigan reacted to words Foreman spoke during a televised Dumfries Town Council meeting. He claimed she didn’t thoroughly represent the views of town residents on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, on which she sits.

For years, the two bickered back and forth over town issues. Other members of the Town Council, including Foreman, also took Caddigan to task over issues like improving traffic flow on Route 1, the town’s main thoroughfare.

But no more, as the two appear to be getting along these days. And we think it’s only fair to write about this newfound truce to appease the Google search gods.

We normally don’t write about political endorsements. There are so many of them, with so many candidates vying for so many different local offices. As for us news writers, there are so few of us.

Caddigan is running to keep her seat on the Board of Supervisors, and Foreman is running for a seat in the Virginia Senate in Richmond.

In fact, the bickering is so five minutes ago, Caddigan fully endorsed Foreman.

Keep Reading…

Closing Governor’s School would be a mistake, say parents, teachers

CGSlogo_600pixels

It wasn’t on the agenda, but the issue of whether or not to close a location of the Commonwealth Governor’s School in Stafford was the central topic during the citizen comments period of the county school board meeting April 14.

Stafford County Public Schools hired a firm to conduct an efficiency study of district operations in November 2014. That report, which the Stafford County School Board recently received, recommends the closing of one of the three sites for the Commonwealth Governor’s School within the county. There are a total of six Commonwealth Governor’s School sites in the region, but the study focused only on Stafford’s sites, which are at Colonial Forge High School, North Stafford High School and Stafford High School.

The speakers at the school board meeting contend that the report is flawed and contains multiple inaccuracies. 

The efficiency study was done by Evergreen Solutions LLC, of Tallahassee, Florida. Stafford County budgeted approximately $100,000 to conduct the study. 

“Stafford County Public Schools understands that, in order to succeed in this mission, in the face of continuing economic constraints impacting operations and management, the school division will have to be even more effective and efficient than ever before,” stated the report on why the study was conducted.

The report also stated that approximately 27,000 students are currently enrolled in the county’s public schools, which consists of 30 schools and has approximately 3,750 members on staff. It also listed operating expenditures of over $272.9 million.

The report claims that eliminating one CGS site will save more than $680,000 a year. Keep Reading…

Republican primary candidates release their plans for Virginia’s 2nd district

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.24.11 AMOn June 9, two candidates for Virginia’s 2nd House district – former delegate Mark Dudenhefer and Tim Ciampaglio – will be facing off in a Republican primary for the delegate seat.

The incumbent, Delegate Michael Futrell, is currently running in a three-way Democratic primary for the 29th senate district, and will not be seeking re-election.

In order to establish their viewpoints prior to the primary, Ciampaglio and Dudenhefer have both announced their plans for the district if elected.

Lean government proposal

According to a release, Dudenhefer has a three-point plan to cut taxes in the district, and reduce the size of government.

“Lean government models have been used in other states to cut down backlogs, use taxpayer money more effectively, and improve governmental processes to ensure peak performance,” said Dudenhefer in a release.

Dudenhefer stated that he would direct the Inspector General to implement a ‘lean government philosophy’ in state government, train state government managers to learn and use the lean government model, and target government processes to simplify and streamline processes in government that will reduce waste.

Additionally, Dudenhefer referenced his track record during his time as a delegate, where he stated that he was able to cut taxes and reduce the size of government.

Peak operating efficiency plan

Ciampaglio stated in a release that he has a plan to increase the efficiency of state government with his own three-point plan.

“The plan begins by asking if an expenditure is necessary to the agency mission and then derives a method to drive all expenditures towards only core operating service requirements,” said Ciampaglio in a release.

In his operating efficiency plan, Ciampaglio stated he would teach “agencies and the Inspector General to create strategic metrics that measure the efficiency and effectiveness of agency spending.”

By doing so, Ciampaglio said that the agencies would be able to stretch their budgets, be more transparent in their decision making, make recommendations on improving spending, and provide Virginia tax payers with a way of tracking the state’s efficiency and effectiveness.

According to Ciampaglio, following an editorial he authored, comments were made asking for a release of his peak efficiency-operating plan, in response to the editorial. Ciampaglio stated he is seeking clarification as to whether these comments were made by district voters or by other sources.

First quarter campaign funds show competitive race in Virginia’s 29th district

The cScreen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.26.47 AMampaign finance reports for the three Democratic primary candidates in Virginia’s 29th Senate district – Jeremy McPike, Delegate Michael Futrell and Atif Qarni – show that the race is going to be very competitive.

“What these numbers show is, is that we are looking at a competitive race for this Democratic nomination,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor and director at the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

According to the State Board of Elections website, McPike reported $50,000, Qarni reported $35,743 and Futrell reported $31,716 for this first quarter.

“All three [candidates] have shown an ability to raise roughly comparable amounts of money, which will enable them to spend roughly comparable amounts of money – yard signs, and flyers,” said Farnsworth.

Farnsworth stated that while money is typically very important in political races in Virginia, given that the race is a primary, and all three candidates have raised similar amounts – money is not the most important factor right now.

“The turn out in primaries is very, very low in Virginia. As a result, you have to spend a significant amount of energy to convince people to support you – and then after that – you have to spend a significant amount of money after spending [a lot] of energy, to get them to turn out. So it’s a doubly difficult task to win in a primary…Fundraising will intensify in the weeks ahead as more people start to think about the primaries,” said Farnsworth.

All three candidates will be taking part in a primary debate, hosted by Potomac Local, on May 18.

Incumbents keep seats in Prince William Firehouse Primary

The field of candidates for local elections in Prince William County is getting smaller.

Republicans held their “firehouse primary” in Prince William County on Saturday. The results of those races tell us which member of the GOP will go on to face their Democratic challengers in the November General Election.

Voting in the firehouse primary took place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at various locations across the county. The firehouse primary was held instead of a traditional primary on June 9 due to paperwork filing error on the part of the Prince William County Republican Party.

The results of the 2015 Prince William County Republican Firehouse Primary: Keep Reading…

Proposed Manassas budget increases tax bills, funding for schools

[Photo: City of Manassas]

Homeowners in Manassas should expect their average tax bills to go up next year under a proposed city budget.

Under a plan from City Manager Patrick Pate, the total average tax bill increase is $164. Townhome owners’ property tax bills would average $2,780, condo owners would pay an average bill of $2,342, and single family home owners would pay an average bill of $4,493.

Residents Monday night will have the chance to come speak out about the city’s proposed $214 million budget. Expenditures on city services, to exclude school funding, are about 6% lower in the next year’s proposed budget than they were a year ago.  The city proposes to give more money to schools than it did a year ago, transferring 58% of the budget — $52.3 million – directly to the schools.

The tax rate would remain the same as last year at $1.368 for every $100 of assessed property value. The rate includes the city’s $0.178 fire and rescue tax levy. The average tax bill would increase 4% under the guidelines of the city’s five year plan.

Taxes going up

Residential assessments increased nearly 5%, and commercial assessments went up just over 3%. These are the few signs of good economic life in the city as other taxes like sales tax, meals tax, and taxes on cigarettes, vehicles, and cable TV and telephone services are flat or declining.

Overall, the city will increase taxes by 4% as part of a memorandum of understanding with thc city School Board that guarantees more funding for city schools.

Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy issued a statement explaining the MOU:

Keep Reading…

Michelle Obama comes to Manassas, urges companies to hire vets

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Micron Technologies in Manassas. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Bobbie Bilberg is head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
The first lady highlighted the need to hire more U.S. military veterans into the workforce. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Air Force Gen. Frank Klotz spoke about the need to hire more veterans.  [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Tamika Carroll is a military veteran employed at Micron in Manassas.  [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
John Holdren, Assitstant to the President for Science and Technology. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]

There’s a little piece of Manassas in electronic devices around the globe.

Buddy Nicoson, a site director at Micron Technology, said that parts created on-site in their Manassas plant are used for devices and cars around the world.

“Chances are that your [mobile] device has a component in it now that’s made in Manassas. On average, there are three Micron parts in every car made globally,” said Nicoson.

Micron hosted First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday to speak about the administration’s Joining Forces initiative for hiring veterans.

Micron is one of the companies that have taken part in the initiative, which just celebrated its 4-year anniversary.

Following the drawdown in the Middle East, the Obama administration saw a huge uptick in unemployment for United States veterans.

“The year that we launched [Joining Forces] the unemployment rate for our 9/11 generation of veterans was more than 12%. And for our younger veterans – it was far worse…and so we knew we had a crisis on our hands,” Obama said.

According to Obama, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses in 2011.

As of right now, private companies have hired more than 850,000 veterans and their families since Joining Forces was formed, said Obama.

“That number comes on top of the hiring that we’ve done on the Federal government. This is an amazing accomplishment, and I am really so grateful to everyone across this country who made it possible…we should all take a moment to sit back, and feel good about what we’ve achieved together – but we should only sit back for a moment because we know there’s so much work left to do,” Obama commented.

Tamika Carroll, a Micron employee and Army veteran, struggled to find employment after leaving the military.

“When I transitioned from the Army, I wasn’t sure of my job prospects…after seven months of applying for positions, I finally found Micron. I was actually looking for the mall. And there was a huge sign out that [said] ‘We’re hiring’ and I thought ‘good because I need to be hired’…the leadership and technical skills I learned in the Army are tangible skills you can’t learn elsewhere. And I’m able to use those skills here,” Carroll said.

There are several companies across the United States, including local companies such as the Northern Virginia Technology Council – with their Veterans Employment Initiative – and Dominion Power, which have taken on the administration’s challenged to increase the amount of veteran, hires they make.

Stafford sheriff presents Speaker Howell with award

Stafford County Sheriff Charles Jett presents an award to Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).  [submitted]

Stafford County Sheriff Charles Jett presents an award to Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).
[submitted]

The Virginia Sheriffs Association on Thursday presented Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) with the 2015 Outstanding Legislative Service Award. The award was presented to Speaker Howell by Stafford County Sheriff Charles Jett at the 2015 Sheriffs’ Association spring conference in Roanoke.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Sheriffs’ Association and grateful for all that they do as part of Virginia’s law enforcement and public safety community. It’s an even greater privilege to be presented this award by Sheriff Jett, a man whom I respect and admire greatly,” said Howell. 

“All across Virginia, sheriffs and their deputies work to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe. In the General Assembly, I have worked to provide them with the tools and resources they need to complete their mission. I am proud of what we’ve been able to do, including this year’s work to fund a pay raise and salary compression adjustment for our deputies. Thank you to the Sheriffs’ Association for this tremendous honor.”

“It’s been a privilege to work so closely with Speaker Howell over the years and I am very proud to present him with the 2015 Outstanding Legislative Service Award,” said Jett. “Bill understands the issues important to the law enforcement community and has consistently advocated on our behalf in the General Assembly. Congratulations to Speaker Howell on this well-deserved recognition.”

Speaking about the announcement, Virginia Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director John Jones said, “Bill Howell has always been a friend to sheriffs and the entire law enforcement community. His work in the House of Delegates has helped make Virginia a safer place and we’re proud to recognize him as the only recipient of our 2015 Outstanding Legislative Service Award.”

Conroy says transparency, special education are priority in school board race

Tracy Conroy, a registered nurse and small business owner, has announced her candidacy for the Prince William County School Board Chair seat.

The incumbent for the seat is Milt Johns, who has decided not to run for reelection. Conroy will face Ryan Swayers and Tim Singstock in a three-way run for the seat.

Conroy is a graduate with her Bachelor’s from the University of Philadelphia and is currently a nurse for an infusion therapy company based out of North Carolina.

She has worked with county school PTO groups and has been a member of the Prince William County Committee of 100, but Conroy is most well known in the county for her leadership role within the ‘Our Schools’ blog. The blog speaks about several school related issue in the county and calls for transparency in school decisions.

Conroy stated that her experience with ‘Our Schools’ has primed her to become chair of the school board.

“My son had an IEP when he was two, so my involvement in schools started by seeing what I could do to help my son…[we wanted] to talk about the schools, have conversations, reveal ‘sunshine’ – because often we didn’t know what was going on with the schools. In my opinion, the role of the chairperson is to represent all of the county. I’ve been able to hear so many voices, that I would not have heard without ‘Our Schools’…I feel that ‘Our Schools’ has given me a greater understanding of that role,” Conroy said.

During her campaign, Conroy is seeking to address transparency in decision-making, special education funding and reducing class size.

“The needs of our special education students weigh really heavily on my mind. We really need to fund these students at a level that is necessary – just like all students – because we aren’t funding the students at the level that we need to be,” said Conroy.

Conroy lives with her husband and two sons in Bristow.

Ciampaglio signs pledge to not raise taxes in his campaign for delegate

Tim Ciampaglio, a retired United States Coast Guard commander, and small business owner has announced his campaign for the 2nd House district delegate seat.

Delegate Michael Futrell, who is the incumbent, will not be seeking re-election for the seat.

Ciampaglio is running against former delegate Mark Dudenhefer in the June 9 Republican primary. If Ciampaglio wins the primary, he will face Democratic candidate Rod Hall for the delegate seat.

Ciampaglio holds a Master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon and has worked as a professor with the Coast Guard and The George Washington University. He currently owns and operates a consulting firm.

Within the community, Ciampaglio previously served as the president of the Virginia Small Business Partnership, as well as a volunteer at the St. Francis of Assisi church.

During his candidacy, Ciampaglio wants to address the current tax burden, government transparency and efficiency, and halting taxation on military retirement pensions.

Ciampaglio stated that he would sign a pledge to not raise taxes for Virginia residents.

“The tax burden on businesses and the tax burden on people is way too high…[I’m] going to sign a pledge…that I will not raise taxes and I won’t introduce new taxes. We need to level it off and stop it. And then we can look, and if we need more money, we can increase the tax base – not the tax rate,” Ciampaglio said.

He also stated that government agencies needed a push to be more transparent, and to run more efficiently.

“[Government] agencies should be held accountable for a return on investment. Give us transparent measures, show us that return on investment, and show us that you’re deriving peak efficiency…my thought is that I can bring that capability down to Richmond and spread it across the state government agencies,” Ciampaglio commented.

When asked about his motivation to run for delegate, Ciampaglio stated that he thinks his skills are suited to the current needs of Virginia.

“I’m not looking for a career in politics. I feel like a person, in a place, in a time where my skills are needed, and I’m stepping up to the plate. And if the people think my skills can be used to better their lives in Virginia, then I’m willing to go do the job,” Ciampaglio said.

Ciampaglio lives in Stafford County with his wife and two sons.

Supervisor Principi to run on his record for a third term

Supervisor Frank Principi, the incumbent on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors for the Woodbridge district, has announced his campaign to run for re-election.

Principi has been on the board for eight years and is currently finishing his second term.

In the race for the seat, there are two Republican candidates, Steve Chapman and Lee Price, that will face each other in a Republican primary. Antonio Merrick, an Independent candidate, will also be a part of the three-way race.

A Master’s candidate at the University of Maryland College Park, Principi has worked as the Executive Director of the Greater Prince William Community Health Center for the past seven years. master’s candidate at UMD

According to Principi, he is planning to run on his record, and what he has accomplished during his 8-years as Woodbridge Supervisor.

“I’m running on my record. My record of not just the vision of a new Woodbridge, but the fact that we’ve got a billion dollars in public and private investment over the last four years in Woodbridge. I think we have a lot to be proud of. We have five different smart growth projects at various different stages – coming up out of the ground in eastern Prince William…we’ve achieved a lot, but we still have a long way to go. If the 62 to 64,000 residents of Woodbridge will have me back, I’ll be happy to serve another four years,” said Principi.

Principi lives in Woodbridge with his wife and twin daughters.

Republican firehouse primary to take place April 25

Following the decision by the board of elections to not allow for a state-run Republican primary, the Prince William County Republican Party will be hosting a firehouse primary on April 25.

All Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park residents will have the ability to vote in the primary that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help decide who will be the Republican nominees for the general election in November. Keep Reading…

Prince William Clerk of the Court candidate Haynes tied to lawsuit

Lawsuit involves Bass Pro Shops location in Virginia

On Jan. 8, a company named Thomlynn LLC, filed a lawsuit against Holladay Property Services Midwest Inc., at the Circuit Court of Hanover County for $5.9 million in damages.

Holladay and its entire board are being named in the suit – including Austin Haynes, a Republican primary candidate for Clerk of the Court in Prince William who was employed as their senior vice president at the time of the stated complaint.

The preliminary hearing for the case will be at the Circuit Court in Hanover on April 21, according to Circuit Court documents.

This comes just four days before the Republican firehouse primary, where Haynes will face off against Michele McQuigg, the incumbent and his opponent in the primaries.

According to Circuit Court documents, Holladay was involved in developing the Winding Brook commercial site in Hanover, and that they built a Bass Pro Shop “outlet” in 2008.

In order to develop Winding Brook, the Lewiston Center Community Development Authority was formed, and it issued bonds – a standard practice – to fund development on the site, according to court documents.

Court documents state that these bond values were secured based on tax assessments of the Winding Brook properties. Taxes on the properties plus a special assessment tax rate of 10 cents per $100 in property value from the owners would go toward paying the bonds. Additionally, if this wasn’t enough to cover debt service of bonds, the Authority could authorize another assessment to add to the amount a landowner pays on their property.  Keep Reading…

George prioritizes teacher pay in his run for Prince William school board

Joseph George, an Army veteran and Department of Defense employee, has announced his candidacy to run for the Neabsco District school board seat.

Lisa Bell currently holds the board seat.

Bell has not confirmed if she will be seeking re-election, but Diane Raulston has also announced her candidacy for the seat.

George worked as an intelligence analyst for the United States Army for ten years and holds a degree from Rutgers University. He currently works as a supervisory criminal investigative analyst for the United States Department of Defense.

In the community, George has been president and vice president of the PTO/PTA, as well as serving as chairperson for the Minnieville Elementary School’s Principal Advisory Council.

According to George, the community urged him to run for school board.

“I have been an active member of my local schools and after discussions with various parents, teachers, and facility, I have been encouraged to run for the School Board position. I was initially approached to run in 2011, but was not ready to make that commitment at the time. Now I am,” George said.

During his campaign, George wants to address reducing class sizes, teacher pay and business involvement with schools.

“[I want to] prevent our best and brightest teachers from leaving PWCS for higher paying positions at the surrounding Counties, either through training opportunities or other incentives,” said George.

George lives with his wife and three daughters in Woodbridge, who all go to Prince William County Public Schools.

$1.5M election equipment makes debut in Dumfries special election

Dumfries held a special election for Town Council.
The only candidate, Bill Murphy, voted yesterday morning.
The new voting machines will use paper ballots.
Keith Scarborough from the Electoral Board said that the machines will cost $1.5 million dollars.
They will have ADA accessible voting machines available.

Yesterday evening, interim Dumfries Town Council member Bill Murphy was elected to a permanent seat on the council following a special election in Dumfries.

Murphy was among the 35 residents that came to vote in the election, where he earned 92.1% of the vote, according to election results.

Kristin Forrester was the former town council member that Murphy took over for.

“She was just elected last year – she was a federal employee, and she got a new job assignment overseas, so she resigned. They appointed an interim person…Bill Murphy…so he’s running to keep his seat,” said Keith Scarborough, secretary of the Prince William County Electoral Board.

But the election was not only the chance to elect a new Town Council member – it was also the debut of new voting equipment in Prince William County.

The county had been using touch screen machines for elections, but the General Assembly decided to move to paper balloting machines in 2005, and the county has been phasing out their older machines.

“We are in the process of replacing all of our touch screen [voting] machines that we’ve used for the last ten years. The General Assembly goes back and forth about electronic or paper – which is more secure, and which one people want. Basically, the General Assembly has said we can’t buy any more touch screen machines – so they’re forcing all of the cities and counties to go back to paper ballots,” Scarborough said.

According to Brenda Cabrera, Chief Deputy for the Prince William County Office of Elections, the county went through a long process with vendors to find the right machines that met the voter’s needs.

“There’s only four vendors in the state of Virginia that are essentially certified…so we met with all four of them…we had mock elections in two areas of the county with the two vendors that we had chosen and did a lot of different surveying of the participants,” Cabrera said.

The county settled on Hart InterCivic, an election equipment company based out of Texas.

Voters using the new paper ballot system will need to take a paper ballot to the voting area, fill out the bubbles on the ballot, and then place the ballot into the new machine.

“The biggest change is that before when you came in…they would hand you a voting card, and you would go over to one of the machines. And now instead, they will hand you a paper ballot,” said Scarborough.

While the phasing out process began back in 2005, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors did not allot funds for new voting equipment until after the 2012 presidential election – which saw long lines and voter frustration.

“After that election, that’s when the board [of supervisors] voted to give us $1.5 million dollars to do the transition,” Scarborough said.

“The equipment cost is only going to be a part of it. That is about $1.1 million, but there’s the cost associated with more paper for ballots, more training for election officers and more things – places to put the ballots, ways to store the ballots,” said Cabrera.

Cabrera stated that starting with the upcoming June 9 primary; all voting precincts will have the new paper ballot machines in use for elections.

Nohe, O’Meara talk taxes, and why Route 28 stinks

Paul O’Meara talked about lowering the tax burden for Prince William County residents.

His incumbent opponent Marty Nohe talked about the importance of spending county tax dollars on the things residents want in their community.

Both men seek to represent the Coles District on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. It’s a magisterial district that includes an area of Prince William County from Hoadly Road near Woodbridge to Route 28 outside Manassas. Republican voters are urged to vote in a firehouse primary Saturday, April 25 to decide who will move on to run in the November General Election.

Omeara took several shots at Nohe on taxes. He faulted him for not voting back in December for a plan that directed county officials to develop a budget based on a 1.3% tax increase, not 4% as was agreed upon about a year earlier.

“The true conservatives on the on the Board opted to vote for a lower rate,” said O’Meara. “We have to start somewhere and 1.3% is a good place to start.”

>> See full video of debate after the jump

Nohe defended his vote and said that he spoke with Prince William school officials a week prior to his vote who asked the Board of Supervisors for some consistency with the budget, and to keep in place promised tax increase.

“We have hard working teachers and a hard working school board, and to turn around and say to them, a week after we said we wouldn’t reduce the revenues they were expecting, and turn around and do that exact thing, I thought that was intellectually dishonest and deeply unfair,” said Nohe.

On transportation, traffic congestion on Route 28 between Liberia Avenue in Manassas and the Fairfax Count line continues to be an issue. Nohe spoke of the trouble of finding some $2 million at the state level to widen the road. Keep Reading…

Chemist seeks Stafford school board seat

Fetterolf

Fetterolf

A local chemist has stepped up to run for the Stafford County School Board.

Dr. Dean Fetterolf, an analytical chemist is seeking the Rock Hill district seat as an independent candidate. He’s lived in the county for 21 years, according to a press release.

The current Rock Hill district representative is Patricia Healy, an attorney who has served in the position since 2000 and lived in the county for about 30 years.

Of Healy, Fetterolf said, “It’s disheartening that the four-term incumbent has led a change in the school board’s focus from the needs of the students to the wants of the adults. I share the growing concerns of many of the parents of our 27,462 students.”

“After 16 years as a member and chairperson of the school board, the Rock Hill incumbent can only point to negative Department of Education statistics that ranks Stafford as the 10th largest district but also ranks 85th out of 132 in per pupil total funding. The local per pupil contribution is 22 percent below the state average,” stated a press release.

Fetterolf reportedly served as the chair of the Stafford County School Board’s Finance and Budget Advisory committee from 2007 to 2011. He was also a member of a Capital Improvement Plan committee, a budget and compensation task force, and a previous middle school realignment committee. 

“The county is growing. And, for the first time in 16 years, Rock Hill can count on there being a change of focus to student development and not housing development,” Fetterolf said in a release. The release also reported that, if elected, he will “stand up to the board of supervisors to mitigate the impact of thousands of new homes on the school’s infrastructure and operating budgets,” though it didn’t specify how.

“County budget priorities are out of whack. We don’t need plastic grass football fields when our high schools are overcrowded.”

If elected, Fetterolf plans to work on reducing class size, making Stafford school salaries more competitive with neighboring counties, and program parity.

A formal announcement of his campaign is scheduled for April 20 at 7 p.m., at the Porter branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Why Rod Hall wants your vote, and to expand VRE

Rod Hall, a former congressional advisor, and FAA advisor has announced his candidacy for delegate seat in the 2nd district.

Delegate Michael Futrell currently holds the seat. Futrell will not be seeking re-election as a delegate and will be running in a three-way Democratic primary for Chuck Colgan’s Senate seat.

Hall, a graduate of Dallas Baptist University, has served as the head of Congressional and legislative affairs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as the Chief Advisor for transportation policy for a representative in Texas.

“I am no stranger to working in a bipartisan fashion, working to build consensus with both sides of the aisle for our nation’s premier aviation safety regulator,” Hall said.

In the community, Hall has served as treasurer for the Woodbridge Democratic community, as a life member of the Kappa Alpha Phi fraternity, and a member of the Budget Advisory Council for Supervisor Frank Principi. He was also a participant in the Prince William County Adopt a Stream project.

According to Hall, he is seeking the delegate seat because he feels qualified to handle the issues the district is facing.

“I am running because it is my very firm view that this district is deserving of a delegate that will have a laser light focus on some of the most pressing challenges facing this district and this area,” Hall commented.

During his candidacy, Hall intends to address economic development, expanding education offerings, and more fully supporting the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) as a transportation solution.

“I think increased transportations solutions to ease some of the commuting burden on the residents of this district will be paramount. I think it’s imperative that in terms of increased transportation solutions – if we’re not serious about ensuring that we have transportation and infrastructure and a network that mirrors a 21st century economy, that could have an adverse impact,” said Hall.

Hall lives in Woodbridge with his wife and two sons.

The Republican challenger running against Hall will be decided on June 9 during the Republican primary. The current Republican primary candidates are Mark Dudenhefer and Tim Ciampaglio.

Will Virginia follow Indiana with its own religious freedom bill?

As Indiana moves forward with implementing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Virginia may follow suit in the upcoming legislative session, which could have an impact on the state’s business climate.

The RFRA in Indiana will allow private companies to have legal cover and an option not to serve those whose sexual orientation or lifestyle does not align with a business owner’s religious beliefs.

There has been controversy over the legislation, and businesses like Angie’s List decided not to open offices in Indiana following its passage.

Religious freedom legislation is already on the books in Virginia. Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (Fauquier/Prince William) passed a religious freedom bill with bi-partisan support back in 2007. Lingamfelter’s bill made allowances for individual’s religious beliefs as it relates to state government – for example – a person that wears a head garment for religious reasons would not be required to remove the garment in a government building, even though there is a rule that head garments are to be removed in these buildings.

In this past legislative session, Delegate Bob Marshall sought to expand the terms of this religious freedom bill to include private businesses. The bill was killed in a sub-committee voice vote.

“It specifically dealt with the area of state licensing…I’ve got clinical psychologists coming to me, telling me they’ve got contracts with the defense department, and that they’re being told that they have to affirmatively counsel that sodomy-based marriage is a good thing and that people who are in such a union need to be counseled to stay together,” said Marshall.

According to Marshall, the bill he put forth was meant only to protect First Amendment rights.

“The First Amendment…the goal [of the legislation] was to protect your freedom of association rights, and your rights of religious liberty, as established by the First Amendment,” Marshall commented.

Marshall stated that the bill would not have had any negative impact on business in Virginia, which he also reportedly stated in a letter to the Indianapolis Star.

“Angie’s List can’t go to 20 states if they’re really serious [about the Indiana legislation]… nine other states have adopted this [law] through court litigation…This is simply fake – what the homosexual lobby and their liberal allies are doing. Nobody goes to a hamburger stand, and is asked the question, ‘Are you a homosexual?’”

Additionally, Marshall commented that he might reintroduce his bill in the next legislative session if re-elected this November. Keep Reading…

Stewart, Crawford don’t see eye to eye on jobs, taxes in Prince William

Republicans face off in Prince William Chairmans Race Primary Debate

Two Republicans seeking to lead the Prince William County Board of Supervisors sat down for a debate on Saturday.

Incumbent Corey Stewart faced newcomer Chris Crawford, and each discussed issues facing the county from tax bills, funding firefighters, to bringing new jobs to the region.

On the latter note, Stewart addressed a question that asked what more is being done to bring high-paying jobs to the area as retailers like Walmart consistently rank in the list of the county’s top employers.

“We have so far, in a two-year period, have $1.5 billion in private investment in Prince William County,” said Stewart. “The jobs are there. Some are in the retail sector, but a lot of them aren’t. We’re seeing a lot of development in the life sciences industry especially in the [Innovation Park] area, and in the Route 1 corridor [in Woodbridge.]”

Crawford disagreed, and said he is tired of having to leave Prince William each day for a high-paying job.

“Innovation looks like a wheat field. I hear there’s a lot of jobs but I just don’t see it. We’ve got to get our tax rate under control…the businesses aren’t coming here,” said Crawford.

Recent local government data show the vacancy rate for commercial office, industrial, and retail space sits at 6.8% in December 2014, down from 8.3% one year earlier. At-place employment is also slightly on the rise.

Home values continue to rise, too. Stewart said he and others on the Board of Supervisors have worked to keep low the average property tax bill for Prince William homeowners, citing the bills are 30% lower than they are in neighboring Loudoun County.

“It’s not apples to apples to compare homes in other counties. Their houses are worth more,” Crawford fired back.

Both men support taking funds from the county’s fire levy that were once given to volunteer fire companies and instead use them to pay the salaries of career firefighters.

“As we become a more suburb and community and less rural, the number of volunteers is inevitably declining,” said Stewart.

Both men added they support the county’s blended career and volunteer fire system, and both thanked volunteers for their service.

The debates were held at the Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center. They were co-sponsored by the Coles District Civic Association and Potomac Local.

Video of the full debate produced by Bill Golden of the Coles District Civic Association after the jump Keep Reading…

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