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Politics

News
Connolly Urges Obama to Leave Medicaid Alone

Gerry Connolly (D-11-Fairfax, Pricne William)

Washington, D.C., –– Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax, Prince William) has lent his signature to a letter signed by 33 other congressional leaders urging President Barack Obama to leave Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs off the table when discussing the country’s looming debt ceiling problem.

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and other members of the House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, chaired by Congresswomen Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), sent a letter to President Obama asking that he protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as he continues to work on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The Task Force stressed that cuts to benefits in these programs would have a profoundly negative impact on the lives, and health, of older Americans.

Congresswoman Matsui stated, “Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are vitally important programs in our country, especially for our nation’s seniors – they should in no way be used as a playing card in the political game that is the debt deal. While we are ready and willing to work to improve these programs and shore up their solvency, a cut to benefits is simply out of the question.”

“It’s a non-starter to cut programs that serve middle-income and low-income seniors in order to continue to give the wealthiest Americans additional tax breaks,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are critical for millions of Americans and their families. They ask us to hold firm and not cut their benefits. We ought to get our fiscal house in order, but not on the backs of those who have the least to do with causing the deficit.”

 

News
Anderson to Keynote Statewide Event

Del. Richard L. Anderson, R-Va. 51

Woodbridge, Va. –– On Saturday evening, July 16th, Del. Richard L. Anderson (R-Prince William), a native of Roanoke now representing Prince William County in the Virginia General Assembly, will serve as the keynote speaker at the annual banquet at the American Legion State Convention in Roanoke, Va. Officials of the American Legion Department of Virginia estimate that 1,000 members will attend from across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Anderson represents the 51st House District, which under redistricting now stretches from the edge of Occoquan in the east across Prince William County to Brentsville and Nokesville in the west.

Del. Anderson was invited to give keynote remarks at the banquet in his role as Chair of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus, which serves as a clearing house for introduced legislation intended to care for 830,000 veterans who reside in Virginia. During the past two legislative sessions of the General Assembly, Del. Anderson introduced or co-patroned a number of military and veteran-friendly bills that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law after passage by the Virginia House and Senate.

In addition to his House duties, Del. Anderson has focused on veteran issues as a member of the Virginia Commission on Military and National Security Facilities, a member of the Virginia Board of Veterans Services, and as a member of the General Assembly National Guard Caucus.

The delegate is also the historian and a life member at American Legion Post 364 in Woodbridge, as well as a life member at Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 1503 in Dale City.

Del. Anderson retired from the U.S. Air Force as a full colonel in 2009 after a 30-year military career. Later that same year, he was elected to represent the 51st House District in the Virginia General Assembly. Del. Anderson’s wife, Ruth, retired from the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps as a colonel-selectee in 2001 after a 21-year military career. Together, they served a total of 51 years in uniform.

Del. Anderson’s remarks will focus on Gov. McDonnell’s goal of making Virginia the “most veteran-friendly state in the nation.” Having assisted in shaping state-level programs for the military and veteran community, Anderson will convey a message to conferees at the banquet about the Governor’s plans for Virginia Veterans.

In preparing to leave for Roanoke on Saturday morning, Del. Anderson stated that “I’m looking forward to returning to my hometown for the weekend and to spending the afternoon and evening with the great veterans and families of the American Legion Department of Virginia. It will be a privilege to convey a personal message from the Governor and the General Assembly, and to return to Richmond ready to do more for Virginia’s veterans.”

-Press release

 

News
Wittman: I’m Committed to Medicare

Robert J. Wittman, R-Va. 1

Stafford County, Va. –– As budget negotiations between House Republicans and President Barack Obama continue over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, Virginia First District Congressman Rob Wittman (R) took the discussion to his constituents in late June with a Town Hall.

The June 28 gathering at Stafford County’s England Run Library brought a standing room only crowd; all of who were not the least bit hesitant to stand up to voice their opinion.

Wittman presented a briefing on the status of the federal budget and told the crowd, “Every effort must be made to get our economy moving again and get folks back to work.”

When the floor was open for questions the crowd who submitted their names in advance immediately fired back.

An oft-repeated concern was the amount of federal funds being spent on foreign aid.

“Why are we spending money on nation building,” asked one attendee who felt those dollars could be better spent at home.

Still another voiced very specific about concern over exactly what type of religious buildings were being constructed with those funds.

Defense spending levels were also a concern of many, and they wanted to know if Wittman, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, was willing to make necessary cuts.

The congressman responded saying nothing was off the table, including defense.

The mostly boomer generation crowd also had concerns about proposed reductions in Medicare and changes to Social Security.

Wittman told the crowd he was committed to protecting Medicare for those currently receiving benefits and sustaining the program for future generations.

He said he supports the recent House budget proposal that will maintain current benefits for anyone 55 years old.

“I firmly believe that we must not change benefits for those that depend on them most,” said Wittman.

Wittman voted against the government-run health care legislation, which cut $500 billion from Medicare to pay for other programs

The cost of gas and efforts to increase production along with concerns about natural resources and the environment were among the hot topics.

The congressman replied saying, “I have supported legislation to address those issues.”

In the current budget debate, Wittman who does not support arbitrarily increasing the debt ceiling.

Wittman says the country’s fiscal future is one of the most critical issues facing the nation and direct input from his constituents is an important part of the process of representing the people he serves.

A National Debt calculator is continually running on his Wittman’s web site.

Background research for story provided by Marty van Duyne.

News
May Election Kick-Off on Sunday

Mike May

Occoquan, Va. –– Prince William Supervisor Mike May is set to kick off his 2011 reelection bid.

May, a Republican currently running unopposed, represents Prince William’s Occoquan District and is Vice Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Who: Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May

What: Supervisor May will officially kick-off his re-election campaign focusing on the issues that matter most to the community: protecting quality of life; keeping families safe; improving transportation; keeping taxes low and our county budget under control, and promoting transparency in local government.

When: Sunday, July 17, 2011

4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Where: Occoquan Town Hall

314 Mill Street

Occoquan, VA 22125

-Press release

News
Munoz Praised for TEA Party Involvement

Woodbridge, Va. –– Prominent Tea Party and conservative activist and commentator Andrew Breitbart praised Tito “The Builder” Muñoz as “one of the greatest voices in the Tea Party” in a recent appearance on “Al Punto,” the Sunday morning news program on Univision.

Muñoz is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Virginia Senate in the 36th District.

In response to question about the Tea Party from host Jorge Ramos, Breitbart cited Muñoz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Florida) in the same breath.

Ramos: You’re one of the most recognized faces within the Tea Party. Is there a concerted effort by the Tea Party to try to reach the Hispanic voters?

Breitbart: I don’t know if there’s a concerted effort. It’s such an amorphous group, it’s a grassroots effort and there’s no, there’s not enough central organization but I am a member of the Tea Party. I am a defender of the Tea Party. I would say that one of the greatest voices in the Tea Party is a guy by the name of Tito Muñoz. He goes by the name of “Tito the Builder,” and he is such a strong advocate of why it’s so great to be an American, and in Florida we have a person by the name of Senator Marco Rubio who could not be more popular. In fact, he would not have been elected to the Senate if there wasn’t a Tea Party and so I consider a privilege to come on Univision to talk about the Tea Party to say that in America we need members of the Latino community to come to the Tea Party movement and enrich the Tea Party.

Muñoz, owner of small commercial construction company in Woodbridge, Virginia, was given the nickname “Tito the Builder” soon after an appearance by Sarah Palin in 2008. He is a well-known conservative activist in Northern Virginia and frequently on the national stage, and has been heavily involved with the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.

“It is a great honor to be highlighted in such a way by a Tea Party leader like Andrew Breitbart – and to be mentioned with Marco Rubio is even more exciting,” said Muñoz. “We all stand for the same ideals: reduced spending, lower taxes, limited government and greater economic freedom and opportunity for all Americans. These are the principles that I will take with me to the Virginia Senate.”

Muñoz, a native of Colombia who became a naturalized American citizen in 2008, will focus primarily on issues that directly affect the quality of life for Virginians: job creation, economic expansion, reduced taxes on businesses, energy independence, transportation and educational choice.

Tito “The Builder” Muñoz is the founder of the Conservative Hispanic Coalition. He hosts “America Eres TU” (“America Is You”) on Radio WURA 920AM in Quantico, Virginia, and nationally and internationally via Ustream.

Active members of the Prince William County Republican Committee, Tito and his wife Deborah support and campaign for conservative candidates and causes locally and nationally.

-Modified press release

 

News
Barker to Open Campaign Headquarters

Virginia Sen. George Barker (D-36, Fairfax, Prince William)

Fairfax County, Va. –– Sen. George Barker will officially open his campaign headquarters this Sunday.

 

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va. 8), Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va. 11) and

State Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran.

The headquarters is a joint office located in downtown Springfield shared with Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-At large) Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) and Delegate Mark Sickles (D-43).

Following the rally, Barker will join volunteers for door-to-door canvassing in the 39th district to discuss the issues important to voters in this fall’s legislative elections.

Satellite offices in and Prince William County will open later this summer.

The details for Sunday’s event are:

Sunday, July 17th

1pm – Rally

2pm – Canvass kickoff

6326 Springfield Plaza (Corner of Amherst Ave. and Commerce St.)

Springfield, Va. 22150

-Modified press release

News
Garces Postpones Kickoff

Democratic candidate Esteban Garces is seeking the 2nd District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. (Campaign photo)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Esteban Garces cancelled his first official campaign appearance Monday night.

The 30-year-old Democrat said a family emergency kept him from greeting his supporters at Todos supermarket in Woodbridge. Thankfully, he says, things are OK with his family but he did not elaborate on what the issue was.

There are plans to reschedule the campaign kick off on July 25 but did not say where it would be located, and did not say why he is choosing to postpone the event to the end of the month.

Garces placed a short press release on his website on June 22 stating he would seek the seat for the newly shifted 2nd House district, a product of the decennial political redistricting process.

By phone Monday night, Garces said his campaign will focus on improving transportation in the region, stopping foreclosures and education.

“There are a lot of working families that are struggling right now, and there doesn’t seem to be that much concern for them in Richmond,” said Garces.

The self described liberal posted few details about himself on his campaign website or Facebook page. His Facebook page, however, does have several photos of Garces posing in positions with arms crossed, some with him smiling and others a with a stern look on his face.

He graduated from the University of Mary Washington and lives in Woodbridge.

His opponent, Stafford County Board Chairman Mark Dudenhefer, has  more political experience than Garces, but Garces says his campaign expects to do well across the district – which includes heavily democratic precincts in Woodbridge and  conservative precincts in North Stafford.

“We expect to win,” said Garces.

News
Lateef Talks Metro, PWC’s Business Reputation

Babur Lateef is a Democrat vying to be the next Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Babur Lateef says he’s focused on redeveloping brownsfields.

Vying to become Prince William County’s next At large Board Chairman, he says Woodbridge, especially along U.S. 1 near the Occoquan River, has plenty brownsfields (once developed areas that have lost their luster) that are ripe for redevelopment.

The Democrat says a new type of business and the introduction of Metro would reverse years of blight.

“When you go up and down Route 1, where they’re talking about this new [U.S. 1 widening/improvement project] look at that, it’s terrible. So I have a couple ideas: We don’t have enough party halls in this county, for people who want to throw a graduation party or a prom. Where do our schools take their prom business to? Fairfax,” exclaimed Lateef.

Lateef, a doctor of Ophthalmology, moved from Ohio to Woodbridge 10-years ago to start his own practice. This is his foray in politics, running against the often outspoken Republican and current Prince William Board Chair Corey Stewart, and Independent candidate John Gray.

Lateef so far has more campaign money than Gray, raising $150,000 versus Gray’s $10,000.

By redeveloping blighted areas, Lateef says it will attract new small businesses, and professionals in the medical field, who as of late have chosen Stafford County.

“When you look at physicians, a lot of them when they want to open a second office, they’re coming down from Fairfax (County), they’re skipping us and they’re going to Stafford. Prince William has a reputation of not being a great place to work,” said Lateef. The opening of the Stafford Hospital Center drew many physicians away from doctors offices in Prince William, as well as drew doctors from Northern Virginia, he added.

So what will bring the jobs and qualified candidates to Prince William? Extending Metro to Woodbridge, he said.

“When I drive up to Gaithersburg (Maryland), they have Metro going all the out to Shady Grove (Maryland), and look at all those towns and they way they’re built. They’ve got a lot of homes right around the Metro, a lot of high-rise buildings and a lot of folks who can live there and work in D.C. and we don’t have that here. With [the Base Realignment and Closure] coming to Quantico and Belvoir, and we don’t have Metro, that doesn’t make any sense,” said Lafeef.

He did not say how he would fund a Metro extension, but the extension is a popular idea among area Democrats.

A recent report from GreaterGreaterWashington.org likened an extension of Metro to Prince William County to “transit sprawl.”

Voters will go to the polls November 8.

Traffic
U.S. 1 Funds Secured

Prince William County Supervisor Frank Principi speaks with supporter Bryanna Altman at his reelection kick off party at Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Café in Woodbridge. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Woodbridge, Va. –– The first phase of widening U.S. 1 in Woodbridge is fully funded.

With that announcement, Frank Principi kicked of his reelection bid to keep his seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors representing Woodbridge residents.

The long-awaited $140 million project to widen the highway from four to six lanes between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River, and improve intersections at Occoquan Road and Gordon Boulevard (Va. 123), will be funded by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s billion dollar transportation initiative passed this spring.

Principi is still working to get funding for a second phase of the project, for construction of an interchange at U.S. 1 and Va. 123, which remains only partially funded.

The Democrat addressed many of the issues facing residents and business owners in the U.S. 1 corridor in his district, telling the standing-room only crowd he’s been tough on zoning violations, fighting blight and responding to residents’ complaints.

“We have been extremely aggressive working with the county attorney to make sure that blight goes away. I think all of you can probably drive down Route 1 right now and witness a difference. Not a major difference, we don’t have major national tenants moving into Marumsco Plaza, but we had 23 buildings either revitalized or taken down in the Woodbridge District,” said Principi.

Principi also heralded the creation of Woodbridge’s first civic association, his work to expand the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and preserving neighborhoods.

“We’ve had an influx of immigrants move into our district. We’ve had home foreclosures, record home foreclosures – one of the top 10 in the country – right here in Woodbridge. We’ve had people lose their jobs, lose their benefits and we have to do everything possible to fight for them and their families,” said Prinicpi.

Principi faces Republican challenger Chris Royse for the Woodbridge seat on the Board, the same opponent he defeated in 2007.

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.

News
Royse to Campaign Full Time

Chris Royse announces his campaign for Woodbridge Supervisor.

Woodbridge, Va. –– The Republican vying to unseat Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi has become a victim of the slumping economy.

The global engineering firm he was working for recently went through a second round of downsizing, and on Friday Chris Royse announced to his Facebook faithful he’ll now be campaigning full time.

“This is good news for the campaign but a rough patch for my family as I search for a new job. We believe, however, everything happens for a reason,” said Royse.

Royse announced his campaign late last month, saying Principi, a Democrat, has not made himself available to residents and their concerns.

“Woodbridge is perceived to have the highest crime rate in the entire county, it’s perceived to be chocked by traffic and a laxed, slowed economic development along the Route 1 corridor…unfortunately, many of these things are true but in these perceptions the greatness of this district gets overlooked,” he said in his campaign kick-off speech.

Royse says he supports the vision to redevelop the northern section of Woodbridge, a focus of his opponent, and that he’ll do more to work with business owners to improve Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1).

“What I am going to do is bring changes to that road that the people have only dreamed of because the path to prosperity for Woodbridge is only through economic development,” said Royse.

With service in the Army, Royse has worked for the FBI, and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security searching for weapons of mass destruction.

He lives in Woodbridge with his wife of 20 years, Kathy, and three children.

News
Registrar Ousted as Voting Plans Approved

Stafford, Va. –– The U.S. Department of Justice has given a green light to Stafford’s redistricting plans.

The county in April submitted plans to create three precincts and to shift five polling places within the county’s seven established magisterial districts that are used to elect members of the county’s Board of Supervisors and School Board.

Virginia, under the Voting Rights Act of 1964, must submit their redistricting plans done every 10 years to the Department of Justice for approval.

The approval comes as Stafford’s voting registrar, Sharon Persinger, was replaced by the county’s electoral board, Fredericksburg.com reports.

It’s not clear why Persinger was replaced, though some are calling it a political move as she was appointed four years ago by then Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

It is the job of the county’s voter registrar to inform residents by mail if their magisterial district, precinct or polling place has changed.

Some have expressed the incoming registrar, Greg Riddlemoser, will be able to hit the ground running during a local election year, Fredericksburg.com reports.

News
Principi Rejects Traditional Developments

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi

Woodbridge, Va. –– Woodbridge Supervisor Frank J. Principi says he talking tough to developers who want to build more strip malls in his district.

Those types of developments don’t fit the mold of mixed-use town center developments, like Potomac Town Center, Belmont Bay and the much talked about but yet to be developed Harbor Station.

Principi says he’s turned down a new shopping center, a drive through fast food restaurant and a new car dealership because they don’t fit his vision of a new Woodbridge, one that is built around higher densities, mass transit and open access to the Occoquan River.

Of the shopping centers that do exist along Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1), Marumsco Plaza has already refaced the façade of the center and nearby Featherstone Square owners plan to do the same, said Principi.

The U.S. 1 corridor has long been known for its blighted buildings, snarled traffic, and a place where day laborers gather to find work.

Principi has said he has little ability to relocate the day laborers to another location because they are gathered on private property.

When it comes to improved roads, county officials approved plans to widen U.S. 1 between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River from four to six lanes, including a new elevated interchange near the Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express station.

To fit the vision, some buildings will have to come down.

“We have been successful at collaborating with business/property owners to renovate and/or tear down 32 buildings along Route 1, targeted neighborhood and commercial sweeps by teams of county and state inspectors, and organized two dozen litter and landscape planting events, including clean-ups in Neabsco Creek and Veterans Park,” said Principi.

County inspectors have issued notices to property owners about their under maintained properties, and some property owners have decided to go to court after being issued the violations, added Principi.

News
Barker: Keep Prince William Workers Here

Virginia Senator George Barker (D-39, Fairfax, Prince William) speaks with an attendee of his town hall meeting held June 25 in Woodbridge. (Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Prince William County faces a growing problem: most of its residents work elsewhere.

That, says Virginia Senator George Barker (D-39, Fairfax, Prince William) has to change.

Barker spoke at a town hall meeting Saturday that drew about 25 people to the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge.

“Prince William does not have an industrial tax base, so the bills for more of the county services that need to be funded are passed along to homeowners,” said Barker.

The senator says more needs to be done to lure more, high-paying jobs to the county.

Barker notes that the number of unemployed in Prince William remains low, but says 50 percent of workers must commute to outside jurisdictions like Fairfax, Arlington and Washington to work jobs that support their families. More than 50 percent of workers in Prince William must commute outside the county to their jobs, one of the highest commuter rates in the commonwealth, he said.

The senator added he worked to change the Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s Opportunity Fund to allow incentives for technology businesses after Facebook and Google chose to locate multi-million dollar data centers in neighboring North Carolina.

Both internet giants choose the state over Virginia: Facebook announced plans last year to build a $450 million facility that will employ 45 full-time workers, and Google in 2007 chose to build a $600 million facility to employ 250.

North Carolina was able to offer better tax incentives to both companies, said Barker.

He also defended a bill he supported that would place a sales tax on items purchased online.

“We are putting local businesses at a disadvantage, businesses that help make this community what it is, when we make them charge sales tax but do not enforce a similar tax for items purchased online,” said Barker.

The town hall was slated to be a joint effort by Barker and Del. Richard Anderson (R-51, Lake Ridge), but Anderson was unable to appear after being called to a family emergency.

News
Town Hall Will Go On Without Anderson

Del. Richard L. Anderson, R-Va. 51

Woodbridge, Va. ––

The town hall is scheduled to go on Saturday despite the absence of Del. Richard Anderson.

Anderson, who represents Lake Ridge and a majority of Prince William County for the 51st District, planned to hold a joint town hall meeting with Virginia Senator George Barker (D-36, Fairfax, Prince William) at the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge at 10 a.m.

Anderson announced Friday he had an unexpected emergency and will need to return to his hometown of Roanoke.

“[Barker] and I have done several town halls together, which have been productive joint ventures, but I need to be away tomorrow,” Anderson stated in an e-mail to reporters.

Anderson’s legislative assistant, Ryan Galloway plans to stand in for the lawmaker.

The meeting was called to discuss changes to area political districts that took effect this past spring.

News
Munoz for Senate: Dems Only Want to Score Points

Woodbridge, Va. –– Tito “the Builder” Munoz is running to beat Democratic rival Toddy Puller in Virginia’s 36th Senate District, which includes portions of south Fairfax, North Stafford and eastern Prince William.

Munoz made his announcement in Woodbridge alongside U.S. Senate hopeful George Allen, but noted he got his “builder” nickname from an even more popular republican.

“I was given the nickname “Tito the Builder” by Sarah Palin. It was because I own a small construction company, and she gave me the nickname not only because…I was not afraid to speak up and say our country is going in the wrong direction,” said Munoz.

Munoz became somewhat of a local celebrity in 2008 following a campaign appearance by then presidential hopeful John McCain and Palin, his candidate for vice-president, at Prince William’s government center.

Munoz laid out his priorities for his campaign, including bringing more jobs to the state so Virginians can “feed their families,” explore for new energy options of Virginia’s coastline, and build better roads in the state.

“Governor [Robert F.] McDonnell is doing a great job controlling spending, he’s keeping taxes low and creating jobs, but he needs allies in the Virginia Senate. The Democrats in charge, including Toddy Puller… would rather score political points than have a discussion about what’s best for Virginia,” said Munoz.

He was born in Columbia but has long called Woodbridge his home.

Puller, from Fairfax, was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1992 and later to the state senate in 2000.

Munoz will face former Republican House of Delegates member Jeff Frederick, who represented the Dumfires’ 52nd District now held by Democrat Luke Torian, in a primary August 23.

News
Falmouth Roads Hot Topic at Cole Town Hall

Legislative Assistant Karen Stuber (right) helps hold the map while Del. Mark Cole (R-88, Stafford, Fredericksburg) discusses the new boundaries set by the redistricting plan. (Marty van Duyne/For PotomacLocal.com)

By Marty van Duyne
For PotomacLocal.com

Falmouth, Va. ––  A small crowd turned out at England Run Library for Del. Mark Cole’s third Town Hall Meeting.

The 88th District Delegate scheduled four meetings to discuss the newly established district lines.

Cole has served in the House since 2002 representing parts of Fauquier, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties.

Though Cole will still serve part of each of the three counties, all the boundaries have changed.

“I lost most of north Stafford and some of Fauquier,” said Cole. “But my district now also includes the City of Fredericksburg and more of Spotsylvania.”

The Delegate said some of the southern areas of the state have lost population, but Northern Virginia and the surrounding county suburbs have grown.

“All of our districts are based on a population base of 80K with a 1 percent variation,” said Cole.

The northern portion of Stafford County along with a portion of southern Prince William County has become the newly formed 2nd District.

New electoral district boundaries are drawn based on federal census data that is compiled every ten years. Boundaries delineated by population impact local, state, and federal districts.

Cole is conducting the town halls as a means to meet constituents within the newly delineated boundaries and to discuss recently passed legislation including transportation initiatives.

Nancy Buck lives in the city and took the opportunity to meet her new delegate last night.

“I live in Fredericksburg,” said Buck. “This will be a new district for me.”

It was an easy commute for the England Run Library Branch Manager who only had to walk down the hall at the end of her workday.

But transportation and the state agency that manages it, the Virginia Department of Transportation, was high on the list of concerns for attendees. The first question posed from an audience member was about the status of the Falmouth intersection at Cambridge Street (U.S. 1) and Warrenton Road (U.S. 17).

Cole said there has been a design determination. Previously planned flyovers have been eliminated and a more fiscally responsible lane-widening plan adopted.

The delegate said cost of acquiring property for the original plan would have been extremely expensive.

By just widening the road and adding turning lanes, the project will not require massive property acquisitions. And therefore will not be as cost prohibitive as the fly-over design.

Cole lauded the efforts of the new Fredericksburg area VDOT manager Quinton Elliott and Stafford’s Rock Hill District Supervisor and member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board Cord Sterling.

Cole said the Commonwealth also now requires audits of government agencies and the VDOT audit has already had positive impacts.

“Gov. (Robert F.) McDonnell ordered an audit of VDOT that found $1.5B in road funds,” said Cole.

The delegate explained that VDOT had been putting funds into various project accounts. But most projects never came to fruition because they were not fully funded.

The funds have been reallocated to projects that are now underway.

Cole said the recent downturn in the economy has resulted in construction work being bid at lower rates.

To take advantage of the lower costs and to help keep Virginians working, Mc Donnell has increased the annual bond limits so projects can proceed.

“We tweaked the funding to stay under debt ceiling guidelines,” said Cole.

“Virginia law requires the state to have a balanced budget,” said Cole. “We do not use bonds to pay for operational expenses.”
Though the bonds were increased they have been maintained at 5 percent of the budget and that standard has resulted in Virginia maintaining their AAA bond rating.

According to Cole, McDonnell and his staff met with bond rating agencies in New York to discuss increasing the limits from $300M to $600M per year.

Virginia has held a AAA bond rating for more than 70 years. And Cole said as a result of the meeting, the raters said the current status would not drop and “Virginia will be used as the standard by which other states will be rated,”  Cole added.

Other audits resulted in impacts such as changes to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) that currently operates as a defined benefit plan.

Cole said employees are now required to donate 5 percent of their salary to the fund. But current employees received a raise to offset the change to the system.

However, he said the state is looking at ways to revamp the system for future employees including 401K plans.

Cole said the government has also allocated funds for the STEM program to bolster education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Antoinette Franke of Stafford addressed concerns about the environment, especially plans for a Dominion coal powered energy plant.

Her comments prompted a discussion of current clean energy efforts underway.

Cole said the state has ongoing efforts and investigations for wind farms, offshore drilling of natural gas, and nuclear power plants.

Voters new to the 88th District will have another opportunity to meet their delegate. Cole will host his fourth Town Hall on Wed., June 22 at 7 p.m. at Salem Church Library in Spotsylvania.

News
It’s Official: Lateef vs. Corey Stewart

Babur Lateef, a Democrat, is looking to unseat Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart.

Woodbridge, Va. –– Babur Lateef is the Democratic nominee to unseat Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart this fall. No other Democrat opted to challenge Lateef by the state’s candidate filing deadline last week.

Lateef is an eye surgeon based in Woodbridge and hails from Youngstown, Ohio.

Stewart, his Republican opponent, polarized Prince William County residents in 2007 with the passage of an immigration resolution that allowed police to check the immigration status of anyone suspected to be in the country illegally. It was later revised to allow officers to check the immigration status of anyone who is arrested for a crime.

Voters will go to the polls Nov. 8.

News
Bob Thomas Vies for Crisp’s Seat

Delegate Mark Cole (R-88, Stafford, Fredericksburg) discusses political points with Bob Thomas (left) after he threw his hat into the ring for George Washington District Supervisor. (Marty van Duyne/For PotomacLocal.com)

By Marty van Duyne
For PotomacLocal.com

Falmouth, Va. –– Crowds gathered at Amy’s Café in Falmouth on Thursday night to hear Bob Thomas‘ platform.

Thomas threw his hat into the ring to vie for Stafford County’s George Washington District seat being vacated by Democrat Harry Crisp who plans to retire at the end of his term in December.

Current district supervisors were in attendance to show their support of the first time candidate and Marine Corps Veteran.

The Stafford resident partnered with another fellow Marine and established Capriccio Software in 2006.

As a business owner he supports the business friendly atmosphere in the county, improved transportation and education, and the cultural resources of the area.

In his campaign announcement speech, Thomas credited a video of a public meeting on the county’s now defunct Business and Professional Licensing tax, and the support of Falmouth Supervisor Susan Stimpson as the impetus for his foray into politics.

Marty van Duyne is an award winning photographer and journalist.

News
Feds Approve Prince William Redistricting

Map of approved voting precincts in eastern Prince William County.

Prince William County, Va. –– The federal government has approved Prince William County’s decennial redistricting plan.

The plan, which transformed the Dumfries Magisterial District to the Potomac District, was passed by the county’s Board of Supervisors in April. Afterward, it was forwarded by law to the U.S. Department of Justice for final approval.

“The approval of the County’s redistricting plan is the culmination of a process that involved the entire community. The Board heard input from the Human Rights Commission, the NAACP, various community groups and many individuals, said Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart. “Clearly this Board worked diligently to make certain we had district lines that were fair and equitable to the demographics and population of Prince William County, and the Department of Justice agreed.”

The plan modified the counties seven magisterial districts — which help to define polling places — to account for population growth over the past 10 years.  Prince William’s population grew 43 percent since 2000, from 289,000 to 404,000 residents, according to U.S. Census data.

News
Dudenhefer: PWC, Stafford Share Common Problems

Stafford Sheriff Charles E. Jett (left) and Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates (right) introduces Mark Dudenhefer (center) who vying to fill the seat of Virginia’s 2nd House District seat. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

North Stafford, Va. –– He described it like a summer afternoon in his native Louisiana, where hot days give way afternoon storms that bring heavy rain.

But as showers cleared, from a soggy tent Saturday afternoon at the Quantico Corporate Center in North Stafford, that county’s top elected official announced he is seeking a promotion. Mark Dudenhefer wants to be the next member of Virginia’s House of Delegates in the 2nd District, filling a seat that was shifted this spring to the Potomac Communities from Southwest Virginia during the decennial redistricting process.

Serving on Stafford’s Board of Supervisors since 2006 and its chairman since 2010, the Republican noted he helped to pass the county’s first comprehensive development plan in the past 22-years and brought civility back to a Board once rife with arguments between Board members.

“I entered [politics] following a long military career because of a dreadful family tragedy. It created in me a passion in me to serve in a different way to make life better for my friends, family and neighbors and most of all to direct my energy to making our roads safe,” said Dudenhefer.

His youngest daughter, Emily, was killed in a car crash on a two-lane road Stafford County prior to his first term on the Board. It pushed him to run for public office, and on Saturday, he said fixing the region’s transportation problems remains a personal goal.

In addition to widening Stafford’s many two-lane roads, also touted widening Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) from four to six lanes from the Occoquan River in Woodbridge to Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford, expanding service on Virginia Railway Express and allowing drivers to access what will be Interstate 95’s High Occupancy Toll lanes from Dumfries Road (Va. 234) when construction is scheduled to begin as soon as next year.

In addition to Dudenhefer’s Republican-learning home turf of North Stafford, the 2nd House District also includes many democratic precincts in Prince William County east of U.S. 1 like Potomac, Swans Creek and Featherstone which in 2009 voted against Gov. Robert F. McDonnell who beat out his democratic opponent with nearly 60 percent of the vote statewide.

Right now, the Dudenhefer is running unopposed but says he may face a democratic challenger, as well as a Republican challenger that would force a primary.

“I want to assure the people of both eastern Prince William and northern Stafford counties that if elected I will represent the interests of all who reside inside these boundaries. We share common problems, common interests and common values,” said Dudenhefer.

Traffic
Officials Want Metro to Woodbridge on New Map

Washington Metro System (Courtesy: Planet Ware)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Officials want Metro to show riders they plan to someday extend system to the Potomac Communities.

In a letter to the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority today, Virginia State Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36, Prince William, Stafford), Del. Luke Torian (D-52, Dumfires, Woodbridge) and Del. Scott Surrovel (D-44, South Fairfax) urged the agency to include an extension of the system’s Blue Line to Woodbridge and Yellow Line to Fort Belvoir on a newly redesigned subway system map that will be used by riders.

The politicians say residents along the Richmond Highway (U.S. 1) corridor are crying out for an extension of the Yellow Line because of the military’s BRAC relocation of personnel to Fort Belvoir, which is expected to bring at least 19,000 new employees to the garrison.

A Blue Line extension would allow employees who are being relocated from the National Geospatial Defense Facility in Rosslyn to the Engineering Proving Grounds on Fort Belvoir to use the rail instead of being forced to drive on Interstate 95, the letter stated.

“It would serve the fastest growing part of Fairfax County over the last 10 years around the former Lorton Prison site. Extending the Blue Line to Woodbridge and Dale City would spur revitalization to the Route 1 corridor, bring relief to people with some of the longest commutes in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and take cars off the constantly clogged Interstate I-95,” the letter stated.

A $2 million transit study approved by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell will examine transportation improvements in the area between the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Quantico Marine Corps Base. These three officials hope a Metro rail extension will be largely considered during this study.

The letter comes as Metro announced it would redesign it’s 40-year-old system map to reflect the addition of the system’s new Silver Line to Tysons Corner, and eventually Dulles Airport.

An extension of Metro’s Blue Line to Woodbridge quickly became a campaign issue in 2009, but officials never said how they would fund such an extension.

The idea was supported by then Delegate Paul Nichols, but he went onto lose to Del. Richard Anderson (R-51, Lake Ridge) who said he supported providing additional funding to Virginia Railway Express rather than Washington’s Metro system.

As the Metro map is set for a redesign, Greater Greater Washington has invited its readers to submit their ideas for a newly redesigned map. You can see those designs here.

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