Democrats seeking Prince William Senate seat debate in Woodbridge

Bob Gibson, of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership at UVA, Stephen Farnsworth, of University of Mary Washington, and Potomac Local editor Stephanie Tipple.

Voters heard from all three Democrats vying to replace longtime retiring State Senator Charles Colgan.

Delegate Michael Futrell, Atif Qarni, and Jeremy McPike fielded questions Monday night at a Democratic debate for the 29th Senate District. Potomac Local was the sponsor of the debate. It was moderated by Bob Gibson, Executive Director for the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, and Stephen Farnsworth, author and professor at the University of Mary Washington, and Potomac Local Prince William Regional Editor Stephanie Tipple. 

“The balance of power of the Virginia State Senate is before us,” said Futrell, who wants to ensure Democrats retain control of Colgan’s seat.

The candidate outlined their views on education, transportation, immigration, infrastructure and economic development.

“This election is not about the progressive values we have. This is about someone who can go to Richmond and make reforms for Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park,” said McPike.

The 29th Senate District spans much of Prince William County from east to west. So would a long-debated Bi-County Parkway – a project the candidates said would relieve traffic and spur economic development.

“I am the only one on this stage that commutes an hour or more to work every day,” said McPike, who lives in Dale City and works for the City of Alexandria Government and argued for improved roads. “I’m not the only one who gets nervous when I see a sea of brake lights ahead of me when trying to drive home. Getting home early – it’s like winning the lottery because I get to spend 30 minutes more with my family.”

Futrell told the audience that his time in the House of Delegates in Richmond gave him an advantage if elected to the Senate seat. A failed bill introduced during the last law-making session would have created an infrastructure savings bank comprised of both public and private money for needed infrastructure projects. He plans to reintroduce the bill, and he called it the solution to the area’s transportation funding crisis.

Qarni, a U.S. Marine and school teacher, hammered home the need for improving schools and making better opportunities for students.

“The reason why I’m in the situation that I’m in is because of a good education,” said Qarni, who said he was grateful to have served his nation in the Marine Corps.

Qarni also called for diversifying the region’s economy in an attempt end a reliance on federal government, and military industry jobs.

McPike said another round of federal sequestration is looming and could impact the region. Adding more cyber defense jobs at Quantico is critical to the economy, he added.

Futrell touted his time working with military veterans in the area to improve health and quality of life.

“We don’t need to tell veterans that we care. We need to treat veterans as family,” said Futrell.

Voters will head to the polls June 9 to decide which Democrat will go on to face Manassas Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II, the Republican seeking the 29th District seat.

Qarni: I will fight attacks on public schools, reform toxic testing culture

Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to Atif M. Qarni. He’s running to represent the 29th District in the Virginia Senate, a seat currently held by the retiring Chuck Colgan. 

Qarni faces Jeremy McPike and Micheal Futrell  in a June 9, 2015 Primary Election. The winner of the Primary Election will go on to face Republican Harry “Hal” Parrish II in the November General Election on Nov. 3, 2015.  

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

Qarni: Education – We need to refocus on public education. As a teacher, I can see the impact cuts of $1,000 per student have had over the last six years. We need to reinvest in a public education system that provides a first-class education for all, not a select few.

Transportation – We pay more into transportation funds than we get back, and that means Prince William County and Manassas are being left behind. We need investments in transportation infrastructure so that people spend more time at home with their kids, and less time battling traffic.

Jobs – With so many people leaving the district to work, we need to attract businesses to invest in the 29th. Our economy shouldn’t be dependent on businesses inside the beltway. 

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

Qarni: I will fight attacks on public schools, and reform our toxic testing culture. Right now, there are members of the General Assembly that are pushing school vouchers over public education. I would push for funding that would lower class sizes and increase resources for students. In addition, I would advocate for a reformed SOL system that would encourage an updated curriculum and lower the emphasis on a single test.

In terms of transportation, I would fight for appropriations that would increase funds for mass traansit. Right now, Northern Virginia is putting in more money than it gets back, and we need to fight for the money we deserve. VRE needs to be more reliable, our roads need increased capacity, and we need to work on lowering commute times for workers.

Our small business community is the backbone of our economy. I would fight to make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Prince William. I believe that starts with arming our citizens with the best education possible, which will make them more competitive in a modern economy. Employers will know that students in Prince William are the best prepared to help their businesses grow. 

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

Qarni: First and foremost, the State Senator should be an honorable public servant to advocate for the people of their district in Richmond. In addition, a State Senator should be a role model for all citizens. A State Senator needs to represent the best interests of their constituents, and battle political pressure to act in the best interest of the people who elected them. 

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Qarni: I have an extensive service background. I spent eight years in the Marines, and have been a public school teacher in the district for six years. In addition, I’m a member of Governor McAuliffe’s Small Business Commission. I know the issues, I live and work in the district and know the concerns of people in both the western and eastern ends of the district, and I know how to fight for the things I believe in. 

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

Qarni: I do not. I don’t believe that we have worked hard enough to engage citizens. As State Senator, I would hold local town hall meetings regularly across the district to ensure that citizens know about what is going on in Richmond, and I would always make sure citizens have the most up to date contact information for my office in Richmond and the district.

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

Qarni: Not in my public life, but as all people, I have made decisions that didn’t work out the way I would have liked. I have worked very hard to make the most of every learning opportunity I have been given, and every mistake I have made has been followed by a renewed commitment to being honest and trustworthy in the eyes of those who depend on me.

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

Qarni: I have always had strong sense of justice and fair play. I believe our commonwealth is doing injustice to our working class families and our children by not providing the taxpayers their fair share of what they deserve for our schools and infrastructure.

People should vote for me because I know what it takes to stand up for others and be effective. When I was 10 years old, my family moved to the U.S. I was the oldest of three brothers. My grandmother told me two things before we moved the U.S.– she asked me to work hard in school and she asked me to look after my younger brothers. I have worked every day to keep the promise I made to her.

When I joined the Marines, the principle of looking out for others became so much more important. Marines have to trust each other and have each other’s back in combat. Before I was deployed to Iraq in 2003, I was put in charge as a platoon sergeant. I was responsible for making sure my platoon of 70 plus Marines was taken care of. I stood up for them when, either within the unit or outside in the civilian world, my Marines were facing hurdles.

After leaving the Marines after eight years of honorable service, I went into teaching. I teach in a school where many kids come from a similar background as mine. When my parents moved to the U.S., my father delivered pizzas and my mother worked at Carvel Ice cream store. Back in Pakistan, my dad was a banker and my mother was a schoolteacher and journalist. But their degrees were not recognized in the United States, so they both worked minimum wage jobs to put food on the table. I started to work at the age of 14 at Pizza Bolis. Because of a sound public education and the opportunities our country gave us, I was able to be successful and be in a position to run for office.

I see many of my students and neighbors in the same situation I was. It is heartbreaking to see that our commonwealth has failed to provide proper health coverage and decent wages to our citizens. I am willing to stand for what is right as a State Senator, just as I have done all my life. I am running for my two sons, my students and my neighbors.

We need a person who understands all of the people in the district, not another empty suit or government bureaucrat making out-of-touch decisions. We need someone who is part of the community.

Maurer, Bertoldi face off in Stafford primary



As the June 9 Primary Election nears, the candidates for Rock Hill District Supervisor have outlined the issues.

Both Wendy Mauer and Adela Bertoldi, both Republicans, seek to replace Cord Sterling on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.  

adela bertoldi


Maurer is focused on recruiting and retaining new teachers. When it comes to development, Maurer said she will argue to first have roads and “adequate infrastructure” in place before development begins.

From her website:

Stafford is growing jobs faster than any other locality in the region. Businesses provide more tax revenue to Stafford than they use in county provided services.   As a small business owner, I understand what businesses need in order to thrive in our community.

Bertoldi is running on a platform of no new tax increases.

Here’s a snippet form her press release:

“Creating jobs and having business-friendly policies will be a top priority for me,” said Bertoldi.  “My focus will be on providing opportunity for families and small businesses through lower taxes and a less burdensome government.”  

Bertoldi signed a Taxpayer Protection Pledge committing to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.

Both candidates live in the Augustine neighborhood.

The Rock Hill seat is the only one on the Board of Supervisors up for grabs this election season.

Principi: Continued smart growth is transforming Route 1 in Woodbridge

Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to incumbent Prince William Woodbridge Distirct Supervisor Frank J. Principi. An incumbent, he’s running to keep his seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors representing the Woodbridge District.

Principi faces Republican challenger Steve Chapman in the November General Election on Nov. 3, 2015.  

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

Principi: The top three major issues facing the Woodbridge Magisterial District is the need for jobs, reduction of traffic congestion, and the preservation of our neighborhoods.

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

Principi: The vision of a “NewWoodbridge” sets out the solutions required to address each of our three major issues. The vision sets out the policy and budget decisions needed to transform the Route 1 corridor. By encouraging smart growth development, we are seeing five mixed use projects at different stages coming out of the ground, including Potomac Town Center, Neabsco Commons, Potomac Shores, Belmont Bay, and North Woodbridge.

We are discouraging new residential developments and commercial strip malls to stem the negative impacts (classroom sizes and traffic congestion). By widening of Route 1, undergrounding utilities, and demolishing blighted buildings, we are taking steps to alleviate traffic congestion and attracting new businesses (expanded tax base) and jobs.

To address the challenges in our neighborhoods, we are investing in expanded schools, parks, trails, and the new fire station. In addition, we are aggressively enforcing local neighborhood ordinances in civil and criminal court, e.g., tall grass, broken windows, boarding, and graffiti.

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

Principi: The role of the elected Supervisor is to develop a shared vision of the community and work full-time to obtain the political support and funding to make it happen. Under my leadership, we have seen over $1 billion in public and private investment occur in the Woodbridge Magisterial District.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Principi: I will bring eight years of elected office experience, 30 years of business experience, and the continued passion needed to transform the community we live in.

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

Principi: The average citizen is well-informed of what is going on in their community. We have significantly increased the opportunity to engage our citizens on the issues that matter most through monthly meetings of the Woodbridge Civic Association, quarterly newsletters, town halls, tele-town halls, and continuous updates on our website newWoodbridge.org.

As a full-time Supervisor, I am continuously meeting with citizens to gain a better understanding of both the challenges and their proposed solutions necessary to improve everyone’s quality of life.

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

Principi: I have not made any major mistakes in public life.

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

Principi: The voters in Woodbridge should vote for me on November 3 to continue our progress in implementing NewWoodbridge. We will continue to bring new jobs, eliminate blighted buildings, reduce classroom sizes, widen Route 1, build new pedestrian sidewalks and trails, construct the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk, and open the George Mason University campus at Belmont Bay.

We will continue to plan for the opening of the Potomac Nationals Baseball Stadium, launch Fast Ferry service on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, advocate for the extension of Metrorail from Springfield to Woodbridge, and widen Route 1 (Cardinal Blvd. to Dumfries).

Black keen on stopping Bi-County Parkway, Obamacare

Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to incumbent  Senator Richard “Dick” H. Black. He’s running to keep his seat in the Virginia State Senate, representing the 13th District that includes portions of Prince William and Loudoun counties. 

Black faces Democratic challenger Dr. Jill McCabe in the November General Election on Nov. 3, 2015.  

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


1. Stop the 230 V Power Line from passing overhead through the district.
2. Stop the bi-county parkway.
3. Oppose the state portion of Obamacare.

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


1. I have spearheaded efforts to require the power line to be built underground, along I-66.
2. Organized a broad coalition of community members and political officials to oppose the parkway. Our efforts are very close to succeeding.
3. My budget amendment blocked Gov. McAuliffe from expanding Obamacare and adding 400,000 people to the welfare rolls. 


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

Black: I have represented Prince William and Loudoun for four years in the Virginia State Senate and representing over 200,000 people effectively is a full time job.  

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Black: I served in the House of Delegates for eight years and have served in the Senate for four years. I am an attorney with a degree in accounting and have deep experience in highway construction and military affairs. Served in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.  

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

Black: I attend at least five events a week to inform people about the actions of the legislature. I spend about 60 hours a week working on constituent issues, inform the public through social media and emails and work with students learning about Virginia’s government. 

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

Black: Occasionally, I have supported candidates who failed to live up to their promises once elected. This is why I have never voted for a tax increase and remained unwavering in my commitment to traditional family values.  

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

Black: I have represented the district well in the Senate for four years. I have opposed every tax increase. I sponsored legislation to keep Common Core out of Virginia. I earned an A rating from the Chamber of Commerce three years in a row. I have a 100% rating from the VCDL. I am pro-life. I vote for energy independence. As a member of the Privacy Caucus, I have co-sponsored legislation to protect our privacy rights from government intrusion. I’ve enacted laws to protect women from sexual assault. I sponsored legislation to prevent subsidies for illegal immigrants. I have sponsored numerous school choice bills.  

Andrea Bailey wants to help students, vets

Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to Andrea Bailey. She’s running to represent the Potomac Magisterial District on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Bailey faces Derrick Wood in a June 9, 2015 Primary Election. The winner of the Primary Election will go on to face Republican Incumbent Maureen Caddigan in the November General Election on Nov. 3, 2015.  

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

Bailey: Transportation, housing, and education.

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

Bailey: Transportation- Create alternate sources of transportation for workers, families and friends visiting the Prince William County. I would like to improve the roads and infrastructure for traveling inside the county and outside of the county for the community.

Housing- Provide more secure and affordable housing for the disenfranchised. I would like to eradicate the ten tent cities in Prince William County. In addition, I would like to provide economic and veteran administration education to those who purchase their homes and those who would like to rent.

Education- Provide an improved learning environment for all students to excel in the educational systems, with an emphasis placed on high risk and low-income students. Provide the necessary resources or write grants to maintain current and attract prospective teachers.

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

Bailey: I will be [elected] as a professional, nonpartisan County Executive to manage government agencies. I will be responsible for setting local tax policy, approving land use plans and appointing officials to various countywide positions; including a County Executive who prepares the annual budget, and carries out laws enacted by the Board.

I will act within the limits set forth by the Virginia General Assembly. I plan to meet every second Tuesday of every month in the Prince William County McCoart Administration Building. I understand that members of the public are invited to attend these meetings.

My aim will be to serve not only the Potomac Magisterial District, but assume my responsibility of collaborating with my fellow colleagues in making Prince William County a world class, economically secure community.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Bailey: I am a 20-year veteran of the private sector with business acumen in corporate budgetary management, operational management, business development, community relations management and human resource management.

Additionally, I have over forty-one years of community service in several different organizations at the national and local levels. I have over ten years of experience in political campaign orchestration at the national and local level. I have served on political campaigns for the President, Senator, Congressman, State Representative and School Board.

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

Bailey: The average citizen is not informed of the workings of the local government. I plan to alleviate this through improving communications at the local level building partnerships within the community with citizens and local business owners.

I plan to bridge the gap between government and the people. In addition, I plan to use public forums, town halls, community events and the most current social media available to educate all.

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

Bailey: No, I have not made any public mistakes. However, I have noticed and understand when mistakes are made in the public, and it costs our local constituents their homes, jobs, and families. 

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

Bailey: Being a military’s spouse for twenty-three years and a pastor’s wife for 10 years and being married for 38 years, I understand the importance of moral integrity and family values.

The reason why they should vote for me is because I believe that strong families build strong communities, which creates a secure environment. I believe my platform of transportation, housing, education and economic development will improve and sustain Prince William County for generations to come.

Wood pushes for study of Route 1 traffic problems, more school funding

Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to Derrick Wood. Currently on the Dumfries Town Council, he’s running to represent the Potomac Magisterial District on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Wood faces Andrea Bailey in a June 9, 2015 Primary Election. The winner of the Primary Election will go on to face Republican Incumbent Maureen Caddigan in the November General Election on Nov. 3, 2015.  

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

Wood: My top three major issues are the top three voters have told me they are, and I agree with them: our overcrowded neighborhood schools, long commute times, and the lack of commercial development on Route 1.

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

Wood: This is a great question. Everyone knows the challenges we face as a community. That’s one part of the solution. You need a plan to execute on day one to solve them. Change comes with a plan of action; with communities working together.

As I’ve met people as a town councilman and during my campaign, one issue that comes up over and over again is our classrooms, which are the most crowded in the state. My three children attend Prince William County schools and my wife works in Prince William County schools, so the strength of our neighborhood schools is personally important to me.

Plus, studies show that strong schools help create a strong local economy and attract employers. Investing in our neighborhood schools and quality teachers is just smart business. I will use my experience as a Town Councilman to bring together parents, teachers, administrators and students and address this important challenge. And unlike some in our county, I won’t wait until election year to listen to concerns about our neighborhood schools.

Prince William County has some of the longest commute times in the region. As Supervisor, I’ll use my successful experience bringing together commuters, business owners, driving professionals and more to hear your ideas. And I’ll use my experience to push for a comprehensive study of potential traffic solutions, including exploring bringing Metro to Prince William County, like I pushed for Town Councilman, to get you off the road quicker and spending more time doing what you love to do.

Many have said we need to take a fresh look at our zoning laws, and I agree. As Supervisor, I’ll build on my experience by listening to residents, employers, building trades and more to review and reform our zoning laws, to allow for mixed-use developments that help create walkable communities of homes, merchants, restaurants and community centers. 

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

Wood: A County Supervisor should be the voice of the people of the Potomac District. Setting the county’s tax rate, approving the budget, collaborating to cast the community’s vision for the county’s comprehensive plan, and engaging more community involvement on boards and commissions are all ways to make sure we hear from all of the people of the Potomac District. This isn’t about electing just one person to be your next Supervisor, because we are all in this together. My experience – your voice at the table.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Wood: As a U.S. Marine Fiscal Budget Tech and a Dumfries Town Councilman, I’ve managed and help oversee budgets of all sizes. As Supervisor, I will use my experience to make sure this important component is done and done right.

As a small business owner, I know firsthand not only the benefits of having a small business but the challenges, too. I’ll use this experience to help us attract more employers to Prince William County, so they can help grow our economy. As supervisor, I will work with small business to help with those challenges and to attract more to the district.

Finally, as a father of three children and a husband, I believe that every community begins with a family.

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

Wood: Too often, when people contact their government, they never hear back. That’s not right – our job as elected officials is to be responsive to everyone, because we work for the people.

To me, this means we need more transparency in local government, not less. People shouldn’t have to ask for information that affects them, we should be providing it for them.

A well informed community is one that thrives. As Supervisor, I will use varied forms of outreach methods from town halls, social media and the like. I also would like to see a mentorship program in place for our youth who desire to learn more about government on a local scale to cultivate their skills.

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

Wood: I have made mistakes, we all have. However, I don’t look at them as mistakes, I like to call them “lessons learned.” I am always aware that what I am doing in my life is not about me, but the people I represent and our needs as a community.

When I first became a Town Councilman, I wanted to do something to promote more recycling. But instead of talking to the community first about how to do it, I just introduced a bill.

It would have been hard to enforce, and I didn’t hear from people until after that they didn’t like my approach: recycling is great, but enforcement is difficult. I learned from this experience to listen to the people. It taught me as an elected representative: First you listen, then you talk.

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

Wood: I am asking for their vote so we can work together to solve the problems that face our community. I will continue to build on my experience as a USMC veteran, Dumfries Town Councilman, small business owner, husband, and father to represent the people for stronger neighborhood schools, finding real solutions on traffic, working to help build a stronger local economy, and helping develop planned growth for the future of Prince William County.

Officials share their victories, priorities from this legislative session

Legislators spoke with attendees about what went on in Richmond this year.
Colgan and Puller were commended for their many years of service.
Lingamfelter spoke about the importance of higher education.
Delegate Marshall had a privacy bill passed this session.

This morning the Prince William Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Legislative Wrap-Up breakfast in Woodbridge.

The breakfast was an opportunity for members of the chamber, business owners and elected officials to interact with one another and speak about issues that impact residents in Prince William and Manassas.

Each year, the chamber issues a legislative report card to each of the county’s elected officials, giving them a grade of A to F – based on their voting record in Richmond, and how well it aligns with the chamber’s business platforms.

During the program, two longtime incumbents – Senator Chuck Colgan and Senator Toddy Puller – were both commended for their service to the state. Both will be retiring this year. Keep Reading…

Next week: 29th district primary candidates to debate in Woodbridge May 18

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.42.04 AMThree candidates in the Democratic primary for the 29th district Senate seat will meet for a primary debate on Monday, May 18 at 7 p.m.

The three candidates – Jeremy McPike, Delegate Michael Futrell and Atif Qarni – are hoping to fill the long held seat of Senator Chuck Colgan, will debate local issues concerning governance in the district, which includes Prince William County and Manassas.

The candidates will take part in a state-run primary on June 9, which will decide who will go against Republican challenger Hal Parrish, Mayor for the City of Manassas, in November.

You may submit questions for the Democratic Senate primary debate. 

The debate will be held in the auditorium at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building at 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge. 

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

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

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

Stephanie Tipple, Prince William Regional Editor for Potomac Local, will moderate the debate. 

Bob Gibson, Executive Director for the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, and Stephen Farnsworth, author and professor at the University of Mary Washington, will be the panelists for the debate.

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

The event is open to the public.

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

New regulations could mean changes ahead for area women’s clinics

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring and other state groups have made comments about the upcoming meeting of the state Board of Health to review rules on abortion clinics in Virginia.

The Attorney General’s thoughts on new clinic regulations

This week, Herring made a statement reversing an opinion of his predecessor, Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

According to Herring, the new construction standards should apply only to new abortion and women’s health clinics being built – not retroactively on existing clinics.

“Despite what the previous attorney general claimed, nothing in the law requires or even authorizes the Board to apply these design and construction standards retroactively. Without [Cuccinelli’s] interference, the Board would have done what it has always done which is apply these standards to new facilities, not preexisting ones. This opinion corrects the previous administration’s incorrect advice and helps restore the integrity of the regulatory process, which should be used to ensure the health and safety of Virginians, not as cover to pursue ideological agendas,” said Herring in a statement.

Herring has no oversight over the Board of Health, but his opinion could have some sway on members of the board, who will be meeting on June 4.

The change in abortion clinic regulations were passed under former Governor Bob McDonnell.

The regulations, as written, would mandate that the 18 abortion clinics located in Virginia overhaul their buildings – widening hallways, adding parking spaces and other renovations that could be very expensive for the clinics.

Changes already seen in the City of Manassas

In April, the Manassas City Council voted to require that abortion clinics, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, must get special approval from the council to open within city limits.

While the council stated it was largely a zoning issue, women’s clinics in the area, such as the Amethyst Health Center for Women in Manassas, were concerned about the special permissions and the impact that the state regulations could have on their clinic.

“We never believed that these medically unnecessary architectural regulations should be applied to existing clinics like Amethyst in Manassas. As Attorney General Herring noted today, laws are not applied retroactively unless the legislature explicitly says to do so, which the General Assembly did not do for these regulations,” said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation.

Saporta stated that she hoped the Board of Health will consider Herring’s statement, when going forward to make decisions on the regulations in June.

“Anti-choice politicians repeatedly ignored scientific evidence and testimony from medical experts, health care providers, and even the Virginia Health Commissioner, who later resigned over the passage of these unwarranted regulations. We urge the Commissioner and the Board of Health to follow Herring’s opinion and use evidence to guide future regulatory decisions about existing and new women’s health care providers in Virginia,” Saporta commented.

Manassas announces details on primary election for June 9

manassas vote

On June 9, a Democratic primary election will be held for Virginia’s 29th Senate district in the City of Manassas.

The incumbent, Senator Chuck Colgan, will not be seeking reelection.

There are three candidates running in the primary for the Democratic nomination – Atif Qarni, Jeremy McPike and Delegate Michael Futrell.

According to a city release, the polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

In order to vote in person, or file an absentee ballot, voters must bring a valid Virginia driver’s license, a DMV issued photo ID card, a valid United States passport, a valid employee photo ID card, a government-issued photo ID card, or a valid Virginia college or university student photo ID card, said a city release.

The city stated that if a voter does not have any form of photo ID, they should go to the Voter Registration office to obtain a free photo ID card.

Absentee voting began on April 24. The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 18.

June 2 is the deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot, and June 6 is the last day to vote absentee in-person.


Tiwari steps down; Bell steps in for delegate race

Jack Tiwari, a candidate for Virginia’s 87th district in the House of Delegates, has decided to end his campaign.

Incumbent Delegate David Ramadan, who recently announced that he would not be seeking reelection, currently holds the seat.

According to a release from the House Democratic Caucus, Tiwari has stepped down due to his family, and his commitment to working on relief efforts in Nepal following the earthquake last week.

“I realized that my heart and that of many of my supporters was back in my home country of Nepal. It would be very hard for me to run a campaign while many of my friends and family are focused on rebuilding Nepal,” said Jack Tiwari in a release.

Tiwari currently serves as president of the America-Nepal Society.

Now that Tiwari is out of the running, John Bell, a retired Air Force veteran, has announced his candidacy.

Bell has previously run against Ramadan on 2013, and ran against Delegate Bob Marshall in 2009.

Merrick wants to address development, public safety in Woodbridge supervisor run

Antonio Merrick, an Army veteran, has announced his run as the Independent candidate for Woodbridge District Supervisor.

Supervisor Frank Principi is the incumbent, and will be seeking reelection as the Democratic candidate. Steve Chapman will be running as the Republican candidate in the three-way race.

After serving in the United States Army, Merrick worked as a veteran’s disability representative for the National Headquarters of the American Legion in Washington, D.C. He obtained his Master’s from Central Michigan University in Administration Leadership.

In the community, Merrick has worked as a representative from the Virginia Employment Commission, a human resource task force member for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, secretary for the Prince William Veteran’s Council, Woodbridge vice chairman of the Prince William Republican Committee served as a member of the Woodbridge magisterial district and a member of the Prince William Committee of 100.

During his campaign, Merrick would like to address county spending practices, over development in Woodbridge, and public safety.

“I intimately relate to the current experiences, expectations and realties of all the residents of Woodbridge. If elected, I will bring new and fresh ideas that would greatly enhance the quality of life for all the residence. In addition, I am confident I could create consensus on the Board of Supervisors that will not only benefit the residence of Woodbridge, but benefit Prince William County as a whole,” said Merrick.

Merrick lives in Woodbridge with his wife and two daughters.


Townsend calls on teaching experience in delegate campaign

Sara Townsend, a former teacher, has announced her run for delegate in Virginia’s 31st district – which includes Fauquier and Prince William County.

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, her opponent in the race, is the long-time incumbent for the seat, serving as a delegate since 2002.

Townsend has a Master’s degree, and is currently a PhD student studying educational policy at George Mason University.

In the community, Townsend has worked as a volunteer with the United States Pony Club, as well as a team leader for a school curriculum development group in Virginia Beach.

According to Townsend, her career in the teaching field inspired her to run for public office.

“I loved being a teacher, and always wanted to be a teacher, but saw a lot of things over the years that made me exit…in those four years I saw a lot of friends leaving the profession – they loved their profession, loved their students…and they were just burning out, incredibly quickly. And there aren’t enough teachers involved in writing policy,” said Townsend.

During her campaign, Townsend plans to address teacher pay and attrition, alternative energy sources and bringing more businesses and jobs to the district.

“We need to be thinking long term…I think we should invest in some alternative energy resources, thinking again – what do we [want] to look like 50 years from now? Are what are going to be relying on for energy sources,” commented Townsend.

She currently lives in Catlett, in Fauquier County.

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


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


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…

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