Politics

Sen. Kaine leads economic development roundtable

 

Sen. Tim Kaine speaking at the Stafford Economic Development Authority roundtable April 8. Also present were Stafford County supervisors Jack Cavalier (left) and Laura Sellers (right).  [KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Sen. Tim Kaine speaking at the Stafford Economic Development Authority roundtable April 8. Also present were Stafford County supervisors Jack Cavalier (left) and Laura Sellers (right).
[KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine paid a visit to Stafford County, where he led a roundtable discussion at the Stafford Economic Development Authority on April 8. More than a dozen business and political leaders were present, including Stafford County supervisors Jack Cavalier (Griffis-Widewater) and Laura Sellers (Garrisonville).

The group touched on many different topics, but the need to fund cyber-security initiatives and the effect of BRAC got much of the attention. 

BRAC stands for base realignment and closure. According to the U.S. Department of Defense website, BRAC is “the congressionally authorized process [the DOD] has used to reorganize its base structure to more efficiently and effectively support [U.S.] forces, increase operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business.”

Kaine said: “BRACs are obviously very tough. I mean, nobody wants to contemplate dramatic scale-downs of infrastructure when they’re such significant job creators, economic centers of gravity for communities where a military installation is [located]. At the same time, the defense budget Priority One is not a job creator. Priority One is national defense. And if you spend more on installations than you need to, then you’re spending less on something else [like cyber-security].”

Sen. Tim Kaine speaking at the Stafford Economic Development Authority roundtable April 8. Pictured on the left of Kaine is Stafford County Supervisor Jack Cavalier and Gabe Patricio of Patricio Enterprises.  [KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Sen. Tim Kaine speaking at the Stafford Economic Development Authority roundtable April 8. Pictured on the left of Kaine is Stafford County Supervisor Jack Cavalier and Gabe Patricio of Patricio Enterprises.
[KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

“I’m not sure the BRAC process is really the best way to come at the rationalization of physical infrastructure,” he added.

Past base closures didn’t save money, they cost money, said Kaine. He told roundtable that the Pentagon claimed BRACs that didn’t save money weren’t done efficiently. And when a BRAC is announced, every community hires attorneys and lobbyists to try and protect what they have, even in communities where the installation is not at risk. It becomes a massive check to the lobbyists and lawyers, said Kaine.

“You’re never out of the woods if you have an installation in your community.”

Sen. Tim Kaine speaking at the Stafford Economic Development Authority roundtable April 8, 2015.  [KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Sen. Tim Kaine speaking at the Stafford Economic Development Authority roundtable April 8, 2015.
[KJ Mushung/Stafford Local News]

Also present at the meeting were Stafford EDA Chairman Joel Griffin, Curry Roberts, Howard Owen, George Judd, Patrick J. Gallagher, Ken Fried, Gen. E. Gray Payne, Rich Sackette, Suzanne Milem, Martin Arase, Cristina R. Barnes, Kent Farmer, Mark Kavanaugh, Ken Farquhar, Gabe Patricio, Joshua Kovacs, Jeff Speights, Shannon Howell, Sarah Kirkpatrick, and M.C. Moncure.

Shaw to challenge Marshall in delegate race

Don Shaw, an Air Force veteran and management consultant, has announced his candidacy for the 13th district delegate seat.

Incumbent Bob Marshall currently holds the seat.

Shaw stated that he worked for the federal government at the Department of Defense for eight years, before leaving to work for federal contractor BAI Incorporated. Additionally, Shaw has two masters degrees – one from Troy University and another from Syracuse University.

Currently, Shaw is vice president of the Patriot High School PTSA, a Nokesville/Bristow Ruritan member, a life member of American Legion, and a member of the Prince William County Democratic Committee.

According to Shaw, he has decided to run for the seat because he feels Marshall isn’t properly representing the district.

“Marshall isn’t really representing those of us in the 13th [district]…this session Marshall only attended less than 50% of his committee meetings this session,” said Shaw.

During his campaign, Shaw is looking to address transportation solutions, overcrowding in class and economic development.

Shaw said that not all transportation solutions available were being looked at in the region.

“One of the biggest issues that we face is traffic…the three major arteries go through Prince William County in the west; all traverse the 13th district…we need some out of the box thinking, and we need to actually look at the broad spectrum of transportation solutions, in order to be able to fix that,” Shaw commented.

Also, Shaw stated that he would like to find different ways to handle overcrowding in classrooms in the county.

“Prince William County schools have the largest class sizes in Northern Virginia, and I’d like to work from Richmond with the local elected [officials] to find creative ways to reduce those class sizes,” said Shaw.

Shaw lives in the county with his wife and three children.

Smith announces candidacy for Chairman of Prince William board of supervisors

Rick Smith, an information technology director, and life-long Prince William County resident has announced his candidacy for Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

The incumbent, Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart, will have to face off with primary candidate Chris Crawford in the upcoming Republican firehouse primary in April.

Smith was a graduate of Osbourne Park High School in Manassas and has a degree in business administration from Strayer University.

According to Smith, he has worked for the American Banker’s Association for 19-years.

“I started my career in the banking industry – spent about seven or eight years doing that – and then I went to the American Banker’s Association to do information technology work,” said Smith.

Within the community, Smith has been the treasurer and president of the Enterprise Elementary School PTA, treasurer for the C.D Hylton High School Choral Boosters, a coach for the Boys & Girls Club basketball team and the Prince William County Hockey Club. Additionally, Smith has been appointed to three boards; the Citizen’s Resource Protection Area Review Committee, the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Smith stated that one of his main motivators to run for the board was a diminishing community spirit.

“For me, the reason I’m running is really about community. It’s about having lived here for most of my life – growing up here, choosing to raise my children here,” commented Smith.

During his candidacy, Smith is looking to address improving education, public safety and economic development.

“I have a real problem when our board says we should have two uniformed officers for every five residents, and yet based on the current population, that the number [of officers] should be between 860 to 880, and we’ve got about 670. That’s a huge problem for us, in terms of our safety,” said Smith.

There has not been a large enough investment in bringing good jobs to Prince William, according to Smith.

“Since I was 19 years old, I’ve been commuting to [Washington] D.C. and I would love to be able to have a good, high paying job in Prince William County…but the jobs just aren’t here. And the reasons the jobs aren’t here, I believe, is because we haven’t invested in our infrastructure,” Smith said.

According to Smith, he feels that Stewart isn’t looking out for the community he serves, and this is why he has decided to run for the seat.

“I’m not somebody who is ever going to have Prince William County be in my rear-view mirror, and I think that Corey is. And I think a lot of the decisions that he’s made during his time on the board have reflected a greater interest in a political gain for himself, and not what’s best for Prince William County,” Smith stated.

Smith lives in Meadowbrook Woods with his wife and four children.

Futrell, Qarni and McPike to meet for Prince William Primary Debates

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.26.47 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.

RELATED: Stewart, Crawford; Nohe, O’Meara to meet for Prince William Primary Debates

Local Representatives Show Support for Howell in Stafford

Speaker of the House Bill Howell (right) chats with a supporter March 22, 2015. [KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Speaker of the House Bill Howell (right) chats with a supporter March 22, 2015. [KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

There’s been a lot of publicity about Susan Stimpson, former member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, vying for the Republican nomination against William J. “Bill” Howell (R-Stafford), Speaker of the House of Delegates and reportedly Stimpson’s former mentor. Since she announced her candidacy in December, Stimpson has been outspoken about the race, but Howell hasn’t engaged the narrative as much. However, on March 22, local political and business leaders put the attention on Howell’s message.

The Spring for Bill Howell event was held at the Hampton Inn and Conference Center that sits by exit 143 just off of Interstate 95 in North Stafford. It was organized by Stafford County Supervisor Paul Milde III as a fundraiser and a way to gather county residents to talk about why they should vote for Howell in the upcoming primary. 

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Approximately 160 people attended and nearly $15,000 was raised, according to Milde, who matched the money raised from ticket sales. Another $2,500 in food, labor, space, mailings and postage was donated in kind, he added.

 

“It would be a mistake to replace Bill Howell with Susan Stimpson,” said Milde. “She has nothing to offer of any benefit that we’re not already getting from Bill Howell. She’s no more conservative, and I would venture to say she’s a lot less effective. She has spent more time campaigning than she ever did governing.”

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

In speaking with Potomac Local, Howell pointed out that five of the seven members who served with Stimpson on the Stafford Board of Supervisors support him. Of the other two, one is a Democrat and therefore not involved in the Republican primary, and the other is Meg Bohmke, whom Howell described as Stimpson’s hand-picked successor and who will therefore stand by her, he said. 

Howell has been a delegate for nearly 28 years. If he wins the primary and reelection, he said he plans to focus on much of the same issues he’s been working on, like helping to create jobs, improving K-12 education and reforming the Virginia Retirement System. 

“I’m proud of my record,” he said.

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Stimpson lost a bid to be the Republican candidate in a 2013 primary for Virginia’s lieutenant governor.

The Republican primary is Tuesday, June 9, and anyone of any political party (or of no party affiliation at all) may vote. 

 

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Stewart, Crawford; Nohe, O’Meara to meet for Prince William Primary Debates

Four candidates for elected office in Prince William County will meet for two separate debates Saturday, April 11.

First at 5:30 p.m., incumbent Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman, At-large Corey Stewart will meet his Republican challenger Chris Crawford to debate local issues concerning governance of Prince William County and the task of leading its Board of Supervisors. Both men are candidates in an April 25 party canvass, also known as a “firehouse” primary where Republican voters will decide who will go on to face Democrat challenger Rick Smith in November.

You may submit questions for the Chairman’s Primary Debate.

At 6:30 p.m., incumbent Prince William County Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe will meet with Republican challenger Paul O’Meara to discuss streetlight issues facing voters in the Coles District, which spans from the mid-county area to neighborhoods around Manassas.

To date, no Democrat seeks the Coles District seat, so this could be the debate that helps voters decide who will become the next Coles District Supervisor.

You may submit questions for the Coles District Primary Debate.

The debates will be held at the Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center on Hoadly Road in Woodbridge. The event is co-sponsored by the Coles District Civic Association and Potomac Local.

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

Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser will moderate the debates. The local online news organization will accept reader-submitted questions that may be asked of the candidates during the debates.

The candidates, audience members, and all those involved in the debates are asked to adhere to the following rules:

  • Occupants of the Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center must remove their footwear at the door and place footwear in a storage area inside the center.
  • Campaign literature and signs are permitted outside of the community center and must be removed upon event conclusion

RELATED:  Futrell, Qarni and McPike to meet for Prince William Primary Debates

Paul O’Meara challenges Nohe in Prince William Coles District

Paul O’Meara is running for the office of Prince William County Coles District Supervisor.

O’Meara says spending in the county government is “out of control” and that its leaders have not done enough to curb tax increases that negatively impact middle-class families.

O’Meara said federal budget cuts, in particular, stifle area families ability to make ends meet.

Late last year, O’Meara chastised his opponent, sitting Supervisor Marty Nohe, for supporting budget that would increase the average property tax bill by 4%. Last month, officials voted to cap such an increase to 3.8% for the following year.

“Supervisor Nohe’s vote against the tax reduction guidance demonstrates how out of touch he has become with the economic realities facing hard-working Prince William

County families. The recent County survey showed that 85% of voters across the County do not want a tax increase. Yet, in the face of that strong voter opposition, Mr. Nohe has voted for almost every tax increase since becoming Supervisor, and the people of the Coles District deserve someone who will fight for them and not for the irresponsible and unsustainable growth of County Government,” O’Meara stated in a press release.

O’Meara says he is a staunch conservative. He was in a Prince William County courtroom on March 20 when a judge denied a request from the Prince William County Republican Committee to all candidates to hold a primary election despite the committee missing a required deadline to file paperwork requesting a primary. After the judge ruled, O’Meara said the judge showed a clear separation of government powers, and that he saw the judge’s ruling as a way to keep the courts out of the behind the scenes workings of local political parties.

A party canvass, commonly known as a firehouse primary, will be held April 25 when voters will decide to send O’Meara or Nohe into the fall election season to face a Democratic opponent. So far, no such challenger has stepped forward.

The candidate was born and raised in Prince William County. He attended C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge and graduated George Mason University with a degree in government and international politics.

O’Meara serves as the Vice President of a family-owned business and attends Sudley United Methodist Church.

White announced as new registrar for Prince William

On February 2, the Prince William County Electoral Board appointed Michele White as the new Director of Elections and General Registrar.

White had worked as the general registrar in Culpeper County for ten years, prior to the appointment, according to a release.

Additionally, White has worked to cover 25 elections in her time working in Culpeper, including three presidential elections, according to a release.

She is a graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University, with a degree in Communications and design, according to a release.

White stated that she was excited to work with the voters in the county.

“I am ready for the challenge and to serve the voting public…I will continue the direction of the Election Office to provide clear and easily accessible information for all voters,” said White in a release.

Prior to the appointment, the electoral board had appointed Rokey Suleman as the interim registrar, according to the county website.

Potomac Local reached out to White, but she declined to comment at this time.

Porta, former Occoquan mayor, runs for supervisor seat

Earnie Porta, a financial executive and former mayor of Occoquan, has announced his candidacy for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Porta plans to run for the Occoquan seat, currently held by Supervisor Michael May. May plans to run for the Prince William Commonwealth Attorney, and will be vacating his board seat.

He served as Occoquan’s mayor for eight years, during which time he worked on several large projects for the community. The projects include the purchase of the Oaks III property, a sightseeing shuttle service, and a conservation easement to create public park space in Occoquan.

Porta has been working as a senior financial executive for almost fifteen years, and he feels that this equips him with the necessary experience to help with county budgeting.

“[Porta] has been responsible for the compilation and oversight of budgets in excess of $500 million, capital programs in excess of $400 million, and the issuance of taxable and tax-exempt debt in excess of $600 million – expertise that he feels is directly relevant to the financial challenges the county faces today,” according to release.

In addition to his work as former Occoquan Mayor, and as a financial executive, Porta has worked with several organizations over the years. He has served on Patriots for Disabled Divers, the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, the Occoquan Historical Society, the Prince William Library Foundation, the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, and the Occoquan/Woodbridge/Neabsco Optimist Club, said a release.

During his campaign, Porta is looking to address business growth, overcrowding in schools, and transportation improvements.

“Better jobs in the county from an improved commercial sector will help, as will telecommute initiatives…but we have to look aggressively at potential transit alternatives that will help alleviate some of the pressure,” said Porta in a release.

Porta and his wife have lived in the Northern Virginia region for almost 30 years and have been Occoquan residents for 13 years.

Caddigan kicks off campaign in Dumfries

Maureen Caddigan kicked off her bid to keep her seat as the Prince William County Potomac District Supervisor.

Caddigan held her campaign kick off Thursday night at the Dumfries-Triangle Rescue Squad on Graham Park Road in Dumfries. About 100 people turned out to greet Caddigan, according to a campaign press release.

Caddigan told Potomac Local she would campaign on a platform of “finishing what she started” by continuing her effort to bring economic development to the Route 1 corridor in Triangle. The is home to the National Museum of the Marine Corps and was once home to several fast food restaurants and other roadside businesses that were demolished to make way for a wider Route 1.

Caddigan was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1991 after serving on the county’s School Board. Two Democrats also interested in the seat – Dumfries Town Councilman Derrick Wood and political newcomer Andrea Bailey – will face each other in a Primary Election in the spring.

Caddigan’s campaign kick-off party featured food and refreshments from Jeremiah’s Kansas City Barbeque. During the event, many who attended pledged to work on Caddigan’s campaign, according to a press release. She refers to campaign volunteers as “Caddigan’s Army,” the release stated.

Once known as the Dumfries Magisterial District, the district was renamed the Potomac District in 2011. It includes the Town of Dumfries, Town of Quantico, as well as areas outside the towns located in Prince William County like Montclair, Brittany, and Potomac Shores.

Currently, no Caddigan has no Republican challengers.

Crawford to primary board Chairman At-Large Stewart for ‘lack of leadership’

Chris Crawford, a data scientist in the counter-terrorism industry, will be running against the current Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart, for the Republican nomination for the board seat.

According to Crawford, there’s a lack of real leadership on the board.

“I have nothing against Corey [Stewart] personally – I just look at the results…we’ve been promised jobs here for a while…I hear talk about fiscally conservative values, but I see the taxes going up. I hear talk about how we should pull back the residential housing developments until our infrastructure can catch up and our schools, and I see people [on the board] still championing those initiatives…and I see that as a lack of leadership from the board of county supervisors. I feel like I can get us back on track,” Crawford stated.

Crawford, who currently works in Tyson’s Corner as a data scientist, graduated with his M.B.A. from Auburn University, and made the decision to move from business management to counter-terrorism after the events of 9/11. 

“After watching all of the things that were going on after [9/11], I decided I wanted to get in the fight. So I left Accenture and joined a defense contractor working for the Navy. And now for a little over 10 years I’ve been doing counter-terrorism work,” Crawford said. 

Currently Crawford serves as the Vice-Chair for the Brentsville district of the Prince William County GOP committee, a member of the Glenkirk Teacher Parent Advisory Council, as a representative to the Superintendent Advisory Council on Instruction, and as a member of the Nokesville Ruritan Club.

Crawford stated that his motivation to run came from seeing his family and other families in the community dealing with difficult issues, like overcrowding in schools and a lack of growth in the local economy.

“I’ve been living here in the county for a few years now, and my family – we really like living here…and I feel like this county has so much potential, but as I’ve gotten more involved with different groups…I’ve just started to notice some of the problems that were affecting me, were actually affecting a lot of people,” Crawford commented.

During his campaign, Crawford hopes to address several issues including economic development, expansion in education support, and a closer look at tax rate increases. To do this, Crawford has proposed going back to actively using the county’s strategic plan, which according to him, has fallen by the wayside. 

Crawford currently lives in Brentsville with his wife and three children.

It was recently announced that the Chairman of the county GOP committee forgot to file the paperwork for a state-run Republican primary race, and the format for this year’s Republican primaries are being determined, according to Crawford.

 

Anderson to run for Occoquan supervisor seat

Ruth Anderson, a retired Air Force veteran, and wife of Delegate Richard Anderson has announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Occoquan Supervisor seat.

Supervisor Michael May, who will be running for Prince William Commonwealth Attorney this election cycle, has held the seat for several years.

Anderson has her Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Kansas. During her 21-year career in the United States Air Force, she worked in emergency service and intensive care units, including command over medical units at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, according to a release.

Currently Anderson works as the director of the Virginia Supply Program of the Brother’s Brother Foundation, as well as serving as an active member in Lake Ridge Baptist Church.

Anderson has worked in outreach programs for the Prince William County school system and was an appointed member of the Prince William County Historical Commission.

During her candidacy, Anderson intends to speak about tax rates, education, and transportation, among several other countywide issues.

“As Occoquan District Supervisor, I’ll work hard to prioritize county spending on public safety, quality education, transportation infrastructure, and other core services. It’s important that we protect the taxpayers with commonsense solutions to the fiscal challenges facing our community. After a lifetime of military and public service, I’m ready to serve,” said Anderson in a release.

Anderson and her husband live in Woodbridge and have both children and grandchildren.

The Republican nomination for the Occoquan Supervisor race will take place on April 25.

Bennett announces run for Mt. Vernon supervisor

Candice Bennett, a small business owner, has announced her candidacy for the Mt. Vernon District Supervisor seat. Bennett is hoping to take over the seat from the long time incumbent Gerry Hyland, who has held the office since 1988.

She received her Master’s degree in security policy studies from George Washington University. Bennett is a graduate of the Sorensen Campaign Training Program, Leadership Fairfax and the Tuck Executive Education program at Dartmouth, according to a release.

Bennett currently operates a consulting firm in Lorton and was previous a director at Penn, Schoen and Berland – a well-known Democratic polling firm in Washington D.C. During her time at the polling firm, she worked with several elected officials including Senator Tim Kaine.

Additionally, Bennett has served as president of the Junior League of Northern Virginia, and as a member of the Women Presidents’ Education Organization, Leadership Fairfax, the Women Presidents’ Organization, American Marketing Association and the Marketing Research Association. She has served on the National Committee of the National Council of the National Museum of American History, the Friends of the National Zoo, and the James Smithson Society.

During her candidacy, Bennett is looking to address education, affordable housing, and economic development, along with several other Democratically supported issues.

“As I’ve lived in the district, I’ve become familiar with many of the key issues facing our community. As supervisor, my priorities would include education; affordable housing, especially for seniors; ensuring that the Lorton landfill fulfills its promise to open a 250-acre park; economic development and jobs; and transportation. All of these issues are critical to ensuring that the Mt. Vernon District and Fairfax County as a whole continue to thrive,” said Bennett in a release.

According to Bennett, her desire to run for the position was motivated by her work as a business and volunteer in the community.

“I am running for Mt. Vernon District Supervisor because I am passionate about improving our community. Over the past few years, I’ve served in a business and volunteer capacity, and I believe now is the time to take the next step to really make a difference for our district. I look forward to earning the vote of my fellow residents of the Mt. Vernon district,” Bennett said in a release.

Bennett lives in Lorton with her husband, an Iraqi War veteran.

House passes bill to remove A to F grading system of schools in Virginia

120312-Osbourn-High-School

The House of Delegates in Richmond has passed bill HB 1672 – legislation that will remove the A to F grading system of school districts in Virginia.

The grading system is for school districts, not for individual student’s grades.

The A to F grading system for school districts was first implemented after bill HB 1999 was passed during the 2013 General Assembly session.

Support for the new legislation to remove the earlier grading system was immense, as the system had unintended consequences on schools.

“When the [original] bill was passed a couple of years ago, we were all concerned about what it would do to some of our schools – and the various categories they would be placed in. [We felt] that some of our schools and students would be disenfranchised by this piece of legislation, and it had the potential of penalizing some schools in a way that would not be reflective of the [school’s] efforts and their stance academically,” said Delegate Luke Torian.

The grading system was used on school districts, based upon their “student growth” defined in HB 1999 as maintaining proficiency on state assessments and growth and improvement based on a statewide average.

Schools with a low-grade rating on the scale would be in jeopardy of losing their accreditation, according to Torian.

“[Schools] were given a particular rating, based on certain criterions that were presented in the [earlier] legislation…The legislation was just too broad, in general,” said Torian.

Now that the bill has passed the floor of the House, it will now be moved to a Senate floor vote, before being placed in front of Governor McAuliffe for final approval.

While the legislation removes the current school district grading system, it does not articulate a new one. Torian stated that the originating legislator of the A to F system, Delegate Thomas Greason, will be working on legislation to implement a new system.

“I think what Delegate Greason is doing – he’s looking at some other alternatives…He will be talking to the leading educational organizations here, to design a new bill that will serve his intent. But right now what we don’t want to do – we don’t want to put forward something that is going to adversely impact schools,” Torian commented.

The legislation is considered a relief for many school districts, such as Manassas City Schools, whose school board outlined the removal of the A to F system as a legislative priority for 2015.

“The Board believes it does not indicate a division’s success in preparing students for career/college readiness,” said Almeta Radford, Public Communications Coordinator for Manassas City Schools.

Qarni to run for 29th district Senate seat

Atif Qarni, a teacher in Prince William County and a veteran, has decided to run for the 29th District Senate seat currently held by Senator Chuck Colgan.

Colgan has made the decision to retire, after almost 40 years in his seat.

Qarni previously ran for Delegate Bob Marshall’s seat back in 2013 and lost by a slim margin of votes.

Before working as a teacher in Dale City at Beville Middle School for six years, he served in the Marine Corps for eight years. He has his Master’s degree from George Mason University. Qarni currently lives in Manassas with his wife and two children.

During his candidacy, Qarni has three main issues he hopes to address – education, transportation and strengthening small businesses.

“I want to restore the funding for public education. With the transportation bill that was passed, the state is looking at where to invest money – I want to really fight for those dollars to be focused on Prince William County – really fixing some of the infrastructure issues that we have,” Qarni said.

According to Qarni, the way to deal with the growing issue of residents having to leave the area to find jobs is by investing in small businesses.

“A lot of people are leaving the county – I want to bring jobs back to the county – and I think that the best way to do that is really strengthening our small businesses,” said Qarni.

Governor McAuliffe appointed Qarni to the Small Business Commission. He is also the chair of the Teacher’s Caucus for the Prince William County Democrats.

While he did not win the delegate race against Marshall, Qarni stated that the race taught him things that he will bring into this Senate race.

“I had a good grasp of running prior to [the delegate race], but I feel that I’m even stronger in that area. I can really represent the concerns the folks have in our district,” Qarni commented.

Qarni feels that he and Colgan share some core values that will allow him to continue that political legacy.

“Senator Colgan has done a lot for our district – with his 40 years of service, especially with the community colleges…and I’m big on education. So one of my hopes is to really continue in that regard, but focus more on K-12 education,” said Qarni.

Before entering the general election race, Qarni will have to primary against two other Democratic candidates – Delegate Michael Futrell and former delegate candidate Jeremy McPike.

“What sets me apart [from the other primary candidates] is my service background. With my military service, having served my country for eight years, and having gone to combat in Iraq…and my service as a teacher. I understand this district better than anybody.”

The primary will take place on June 9.

Qarni mentioned during his interview that he felt a candidate forum with Futrell and McPike would be an appropriate venue for voters to assess the candidates.

Former First Lady McDonnell sentenced to 1 year, 1 day in prison

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Maureen McDonnell has been painted in two different lights: as a selfless, hardworking, dedicated mother, wife and community leader, and as a hostile and greedy woman responsible for ruining the career of her husband, former Gov. Bob McDonnell, and sending him to jail.

Virginia’s former first lady has been under the media’s scrutiny for two years, since the bribery scheme involving the McDonnells came to light. Last fall, both Bob and Maureen McDonnell were convicted of multiple counts of public corruption. On Friday, Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to a year in prison by U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer.

“The true person she is should not be brushed aside,” Spencer told the courtroom. “This is never a place where she wanted to be.”

Maureen McDonnell’s lawyers asked that she be given probation with 4,000 hours of community service. The prosecution sought a prison term of 18 months.

In handing down a sentence closer to what prosecutors wanted, Spencer apparently rejected the view of Maureen McDonnell portrayed in court papers filed by her defense lawyers on Feb. 6.

The defense team’s sentencing memorandum detailed Maureen McDonnell’s life, including her struggle in the spotlight as first lady, and argued that imprisonment would be inappropriate.

The document said Maureen McDonnell was born into a family dedicated to faith, service and hard work. Both of her parents worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She was the third of nine children.

“Maureen’s devotion to her family extended beyond caring for her siblings and helping her mother take care of the house – Maureen also went to great lengths to make her father happy,” defense lawyers said. They said Maureen McDonnell became a Washington Redskins cheerleader to please her father in the early 1970s.

The former governor and his wife met in 1973 while he was a student at Notre Dame.

“She found in Bob a man committed to the same values her parents had engrained in her: faith, service, discipline, and hard work,” the memorandum continued. The couple was married in 1976. Following their wedding, Maureen McDonnell devoted herself to a life of serving others, her lawyers wrote.

In 1991, Bob McDonnell ran in his first campaign, for a Virginia Beach seat in the House of Delegates. Defense lawyers described this time in Maureen’s life as stressful as she cared for five children and supported her husband’s career.

“Maureen continued to shore up the family finances by waiting tables, installing water filters, and continuing home-based businesses that would allow her to earn an income and look after the children at the same time.”

In 2009, Bob McDonnell resigned as attorney general to run for governor. During his campaign, family friends stated that Maureen McDonnell felt the pressure to hold the family together as her husband was busy with politics. Around the same time, both of Maureen McDonnell’s parents died, and her sister became very ill.

“As the wife of a gubernatorial candidate, the campaign leaned heavily on Maureen, asking her to hit the campaign trail with Bob and on her own, make public speeches at rallies, and represent her husband in his most important campaign yet,” the memorandum said.

“Maureen struggled to cope with the demands of the campaign, and at times, the pressure overwhelmed her. … But the campaign was merely the frying. The fire of the Executive Mansion was next.

“Maureen’s uneasiness with public attention, separation from Bob, and financial insecurity, long simmering over the course of Bob’s political career, boiled over when she moved into the Executive Mansion.” Keep Reading…

Kiefer appointed to Manassas City School Board

072914-First-on-plKristen Kiefer was appointed as the newest member of the Manassas City School Board last Wednesday night.

Kiefer, who is the Chief of Staff at The National Council on Aging, was selected from a list of nine qualified candidates.

The Board needed to appoint a new member when incumbent Ilka Chavez decided to step down for personal reasons back in January.

According to Tim Demeria, Chairman of the Manassas City School Board, the board was primarily looking for a competent and passionate individual to fill Chavez’s seat.

“Of the nine candidates we had, we were looking for someone who was passionate about our schools, who was involved in our schools,” Demeria said, continuing, “My concern when we first discussing [appointing a new member] we were worried we weren’t going to have candidates worthy of the position, but that surely didn’t become a problem for us.”

The board interviewed each of the nine candidates, and after several hours of deliberation, there was a unanimous vote to select Kiefer, said Demeria.

A graduate of Ohio University and Georgetown University, Kiefer is known in the community for her extensive involvement in the school system. She has two children in Manassas City schools, and her husband was also a graduate of the school system.

For Kiefer, her commitment to education started at the very beginning of her life, with her mother’s influence as an educator.

“My mother was an educator and an administrator in schools her entire life…My parents taught me the value of education, and that it was a gift – but that it was also something you were accountable for, in terms of how much you put into it,” Kiefer said.

Kiefer started her involvement with the school community by reinstating the Baldwin Elementary PTO, and later working on the PTA at Mayfield Intermediate School. She also serves as a member of the ‘Gifted and Talented’ advisory group.

She became well known in the community for her tireless efforts working with the schools after organizing the first Movie Night on the Manassas Museum lawn. It is now an annual community event.

Her interest in applying for the vacant board seat came when she was encouraged to apply during her time at the Manassas City Public Schools Community and Parent Leadership Academy.

Kiefer admitted to being nervous and needing some reassurance about applying.

“I was nervous…the thing about it was that I had no idea what I was walking into. And I went through a lot of soul searching. I spoke with teachers, principals, colleagues, parents, to hear them saying, ‘You need to do this.’ I think for me, in terms of the decision process, my mother…said ‘You have got to do this’ [and it helped push me],” Kiefer stated.

Despite being new to the board, Kiefer will be involved in this year’s budgeting process for the schools – not an easy task. But Kiefer feels confident in her ability to transition to the board and assist in the budgeting process.

“My job is one where I’m thrown into something new each and every day, and I’ve got to adjust, and I’ve got to study and I’ve got to prepare – and it doesn’t matter what the topic is – you’ve got to go in there, and you’ve got to roll up your sleeves, and that’s just who I am as a person,” Kiefer stated.

The appointment will run out in November 2015. Kiefer intends to run in the upcoming special election to keep her seat after the appointment period ends.

Kiefer will be sworn into the board at the next Manassas City School Board meeting.

More to the Story: See all of the resumes submitted for the open School Board position below: 

Richard Bookewalter

Roy Caracciolo, Jr. 

Theresa Coates Ellis

Norman Hertz

Kristen Kiefer

D. William Sandstrom

Suzanne Seaberg

Elizabeth Skaggs

Lawrence Warkentien

Former Attorney General candidate backs Dobbyn for Fairfax County Supervisor

Jack Dobbyn, a small business owner, has announced his candidacy for Mount Vernon Supervisor and has received the endorsement of former Attorney General candidate Justin Fairfax.

Dobbyn is currently a member of the Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Council and is a co-chair of the Board of Supervisors’ and School Board’s joint working committee, the Successful Children and Youth Policy Team. He is also a former chair of the Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee.

Fairfax, a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Easter District of Virginia was a candidate for the Attorney General seat back in 2013.

According to Fairfax, Dobbyn is a candidate that his demonstrated his commitment to the community in the Mount Vernon District.

“I have witnessed Jack’s commitment to ensuring that all in our community have their votes heard and counted, as well as his programmatic and grass-roots efforts to strengthen families and enrich the lives of children,” Fairfax said in a press release.

Both Dobbyn and Fairfax will be in attendance at the Mount Vernon Democrats’ Seventh Annual Mardi Gras fundraiser, where the first district straw poll will be held.

The Mount Vernon Magisterial District includes Lorton.

Delegate Surovell seeks Puller’s seat in State Senate

Delegate Scott Surovell announced that he would be running for Linda “Toddy” Puller’s State Senate seat in the 36th district.

Puller has served in the State Senate since 1992 and announced her decision to retire from her seat this year.

Surovell grew up in Northern Virginia, graduating from James Madison University and the University of Virginia’s law school.

He has served as the delegate in the 44th district since 2010.

Puller and Surovell have worked together in the past, attempting to improve the Route 1 corridor in their respective districts.

“One of the main things I’ve done with Toddy [Puller] is focused on the improvement, redevelopment, widening and reinvesting in Route 1…Senator Puller and I secured $2 million dollars for what is called the ‘Route 1 Multimodel Alternatives Analysis’ study,” said Surovell.

The study was used to understand ways to improve the land use and road configuration for Route 1, and has led to plans to extend the Metro’s Yellow line and bus service in the corridor.

Surovell commented his motivation to move to State Senate is his desire to do more for his constituents.

“The State Senate is a smaller body, and it’s easier to achieve things for your constituents when you’re one of forty, instead of one of a hundred,” said Surovell.

During the campaign, Surovell intends to address education funding, an expansion of Medicaid coverage and ensuring that all school-age children have access to a computer.

“I strongly believe that every child ought to be given a computer…The digital divide is a real problem – and not just in rural areas, where they have a problem getting the wire to their house – it’s a problem in Northern Virginia, where a lot of people can’t afford high-quality broadband,” Surovell stated.

According to Surovell, he feels the work he’s been doing is consistent with what Puller has accomplished in her political legacy.

“Toddy [Puller] has been fighting to get Route 1 fixed for thirty years…and the improvements that are happening on Route 1 today are in large part because of the study that she pioneered back in 1994. I think it’s important to continue that work, to make sure that Route 1 gets the same attention other roads in Northern Virginia [receive],” said Surovell, continuing, “I don’t think there’s anybody that is a stronger advocate for veterans in the legislature.”

Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman has already announced his candidacy as the Republican candidate for the Senate seat.

Caddigan’s reelection message: Bring economic development to Route 1 in Triangle

072914-First-on-plIn the next four years, Maureen Caddigan says she will finish what she started in Triangle.

The $65 million effort to widen Route 1 in Triangle to six lanes was completed in 2012, and it took with it many of the roadside businesses that once lined the busy thoroughfare – fast food joints, used car dealerships, and a Greyhound Bus station. Bringing new economic development to the area to coincide with the National Museum of the Marine Corps will be her full-time focus.

After the businesses were gone, it brought disapproval from some of her toughest critics. 

“Things are happening in this neighborhood, but not everything happens overnight,” said Caddigan. “We thought that when we widened the road everyone was going to want to be here, and things would develop more quickly, and then we had the economic downturn.”

The Republican is currently running unopposed to keep her seat on the Prince William Count Board of Supervisors.

Caddigan sits at the Potomac District Supervisor and serves Montclair, Triangle, and the towns of Dumfries and Quantico. She’s campaigning on three top priorities: transportation, education, and public safety.

Caddigan was a catalyst for the addition of a $15 million public library in Montclair. She has also fought for the construction of Fuller Heights Park on Old Triangle Road outside Quantico. She’s also been the catalyst for bringing new ball fields for children in the Triangle area. A ribbon cutting for the new fields will take place in April, she said.

Caddigan has also worked to enlarge a commuter parking lot at Routes 1 and 234 in Dumfries, and she credits herself, in part, to helping to bring John Paul the Great Catholic High School to Prince William County.

Some of the items she’s still working on is the development of a town center adjacent to where Route 1 was widened, along Old Triangle Road. Caddigan had once envisioned an Occoquan-like setting to be built along the road linking Graham Park and Fuller Heights roads. She pushed developers to get on board with the project, but the effort stalled when county officials learned they would have to purchase multiple private properties to make the vision of the town center a reality.

“We took out voter-approved bond monies to widen Route 1 and that isn’t something we were able to do again,” said Caddigan.

Caddigan has served on the Board of Supervisors, formerly as the Dumfries District Supervisor before the district’s name was changed to Potomac, since 1991. Prior to that, she served on the Prince William County School Board for seven years. She left that role after her daughter got a job at a gym teacher at Hylton High School in Woodbridge, to avoid any conflicts of interest.

The two Democrats who both have their eye on the seat will face off in a Primary Election later this year – one-term Dumfries Councilman Derrick Wood and newcomer Andrea Bailey. The winner of the primary will face Caddigan in the fall.

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