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Politics

Kidby Focuses her Campaign for Garrisonville School Board on 21st Century Learning and Technology

Nanette Kidby, current Stafford County School Board member representing the Garrisonville district, has served the district since 2007. This year, she is being challenged by R. Pamuela Yeung. Previously, Kidby served as a mathematics high school teacher in Prince William County for 21 years. She says her experience and dedication to education makes her a successful school board member.

“Education isn’t what I do, it’s who I am,” says Kidby.  “I can bring experience of working on the board and there’s definitely something to be said for that. With that background coupled with my background in business and accounting, I can not only bring the educational experience, the managerial experience, but also the budgeting experience.”

She is focusing her campaign on areas such as teacher retention and pay, overcrowded class rooms, and maintaining modern learning and technology in the schools.

“The biggest challenge facing education in general is bringing in 21st century learning to the classrooms,” says Kidby. “Education sometimes has the tendency to lag behind what’s really going on in the real world and our kids need to have 21st learning skills, tools and opportunities and to be able to leave Stafford County Public School’s doors and be productive members of society.”

Additionally, Kidby says that teacher development and technology is critical.

“Many times our students will come in and they’ll be more technologically savvy than some of our teachers will be,” she says. “We have to make sure that we are all singing on the same sheet of music and that were all staying on the cutting edge to accomplish the skills that are necessarily to stay competitive in the work force.”

Kidby says it is important to realize that teacher pay, retention and classroom size are all elements that are interactive within the school system.

“You can’t look at one without looking at the other,” Kidby says. “One of the things that we have to keep in mind with our teacher salaries is that they need to be competitive with the other salaries in the areas communities in order to be able to attract the best teachers to Stafford County.”

Kidby says Stafford County has gone above and beyond the state guidelines, in terms of class size. However, she says it is important to continue to monitor the class sizes.

“You have to make sure that you build into your budget if a teacher repositions so that you can respond when you have classrooms that are starting to become overcrowded, particularly in elementary schools.”

Kidby says as economic development grows in Stafford County, so will the schools. She says it’s important that the expansion be managed carefully.

“As a school board member, we need to be very aware of the development that’s going on,” she says. “We like to see development in Stafford County if it’s controlled and the infrastructure, in particular to schools, can meet the needs of the community.”

When asked what attributes are necessary to make a successful school board member, Kidby says that it involves a willingness to serve the community and make related improvements.

“You have to be very aware of the needs of the schools system itself and be able to manage those needs of the community and the system together in order to make an effective school board,” she says.

Kidby says her dedication to the board is portrayed in the board’s involvement in the community. She was recently endorsed by the Stafford Education Association.

“We have a made a board that is extremely active in the community and active in day-to-day operations of the schools,” she says. “I can’t begin to tell you of a time we didn’t go above and beyond.”

Firefighters Back Anderson

Delegate Richard Anderson poses with firefighters Manassas firefighters. [Submitted photo]

MANASSAS, Va. – Republican Richard Anderson picked up an endorsement from the professional firefighters union that represents more than 400 members of the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department’s firefighters, dispatchers, paramedics, and support personnel.

The endorsement comes ahead of the November General Election in which Anderson faces Democrat Reed Huddleston in a bid to represent Virginia’s 51st House District.

More in a press release:

The membership of Local 2598 voted in their monthly meeting to endorse Del. Anderson in his re-election to a third term in the Virginia House of Delegates. Since 2010, Anderson has represented the 51st House District in the Virginia General Assembly. The District covers much of Prince William County and stretches from Occoquan in the east to Nokesville in the west.

Additionally, Dana G. Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, recently thanked Anderson and stated in a letter that “your ability to collaborate successfully across party lines and with multiple state and local agencies to reach consensus solutions is well-known in Prince William County and Richmond…we look forward to continuing our positive working relationship in the 2014 legislative session.”

After being notified of the endorsement, Del. Anderson stated that “our local firefighters are on the front lines of defending life and property in harm’s way, and I’m privileged to receive their support.” He concluded by saying that “government’s primary function is to protect our citizens, and these public safety professionals who lay their lives on the line are some of the finest public servants in Prince William County and all of Virginia. Their advice is invaluable to me as a legislator, and their support in this campaign is very humbling.”

Voters will go to the polls Nov. 5.

Belman Wants to Make Stafford More Business Friendly, Improve Transportation Infrastructure

Robert Belman, former school board member of eight years, is running for the open Falmouth seat in this November’s General Election. He says his experience serving as a school board member and desire to work for the county independently of a political party will make him a valuable representative of Stafford.

“I wasn’t talked or coerced into running. I’ve always wanted to give back to the community and I think I have the pulse of the people,” says Belman. “People know who I am and I am accessible to people. I’m not representing any political party, I’m representing the people.”

Belman participated in the initiation of the Adopt-A-Classroom program in Stafford County, which is a service that joins donors with teachers to help provide funding for supplies for the classroom.

“The opportunities are unlimited when you create partnerships between your communities in your schools,” says Belman. “When we signed on to that program we had a lot of ties to different businesses in Stafford County. With the schools, you get the people into the schools to see what they need and create opportunities for expansion in the future.”

County Relationships

Another area that Belman says he would like to see improvement in is the relationship between the school board and the board of supervisors.

“The partnership right now between the school board and the board of supervisors is the worst I’ve ever seen and when you have this bad blood between the two boards it doesn’t benefit the residents of Stafford County at all,” he says. According to Belman, the school board and board of supervisors need to learn to respect each other and communicate effectively, especially when it comes to budget planning.

“It’s not the county’s money, it’s not the supervisor’s money, it’s the tax payer’s money. The elected school board members and supervisors have to understand they represent the people,” he says. “My experience on the school board shows that I can bring more to the table than anyone else in the race for the district because of my service on how we need to work with the school board.”

Education

Belman says if he is elected as a supervisor, he will fight for the issues important to the county’s school board as long as the two boards are working together. Belman says the supervisors and school board members need to work together to understand the tax implications behind any budget request.

“The school board seems in the last 4 years to give lip service to teacher pay as a priority. You can’t give lip service to wanting to pay them an increase and not do anything in your power to get that increase,” says Belman.

“If you really want (the board of supervisors) to get serious about how to fund the daily operations of the schools, then the school board has to get serious about how the money will be spent.”

Business Development

 “Businesses want to locate in an area that has good schools, affordable housing for its employees and that has other businesses that can draw the employees to shop and work in,” says Belman. He says bringing in more businesses to the southern end of the county will help promote economic growth.

“It seems now that everybody’s working to bringing economic prosperity to the northern end of the county and the southern end of the county gets looked over,” says Belman.

However, he says that this continued development has implications for transportation in the region.

Transportation

“When you bring more people in (the county), you have more people on the road. We should try to locate those business in an area that already has the ratification infrastructures in place,” says Belman. 

He refers to the infrastructure of major roads, such as with Butler road, US Route 17 and the I-95 interchange. Additionally, Belman says if he is elected, he plans to work to make improvements to the Falmouth and Chatham bridges.

Falmouth Supervisor Candidate, Setzer says County Needs Smarter Development

Valerie Setzer, Democratic candidate for the Falmouth district seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, is running up against Republican Mary “Meg” Bohmke and Independent Robert Belman in the November General Election. She is running for the seat because she says that she believes she would be able to facilitate a more balanced perspective on the board of supervisors.

“I look at things in a more well-rounded perspective,” she says. “When considering developments, I will ensure that the people that are willing to develop new projects in this county take into consideration and compensate the county with the necessary infrastructure needs that accompany those projects. This includes roads, schools, public transportation and accessibility to fire and rescue services (and so on).”

Setzer recently retired as a terminal air space manager at the Federal Aviation Administration. She says her professional skills would be a beneficial aspect for the board.

“I have a lot of the skills that are necessary to make effective decisions and understand the issues, such as managing the budget, managing projects, facilitation and contracting,” she says. “I’ve also dealt a lot with education and human relations skills. I have a caring personality and I want to do the best that I possibly can for the people of this county.”

Setzer says that there has been talk about the poor relationship between members of the board of supervisors when making certain decisions. She hopes to be able to help facilitate these meetings to make sure they stay positive and focused on the objective.

“Smart Growth”

Setzer says one of the biggest challenges for the county has been keeping up with the continuing developments.

“One of the biggest challenges is smart growth. We’re not keeping pace necessarily for county services, schools and infrastructure,” says Setzer.  At a recent board of supervisors meeting, Setzer says in light of recent events, one of the topics that were mentioned was the lack of urgent and available medical emergency personnel.

 “Through my research I found that the small amount of money that was reduced in taxes in recent years would have made a tremendous difference in being able to more adequately staff [medical and emergency services],” she says. “I think the developers need to pay adequate proffers when they want to put new projects in place because we need these extra services.”

Additionally, Setzer says she will advocate for improvements to transportation, education and employment.

Transportation

Setzer says that traffic congestion is a big issue for the county. She says she would like to see improvements to big roads such as U.S. 1 and 17 and the access to I-95, as well as the smaller roads around the community.

“We need to keep pace with what the needs are in transportation,” she says. “When we establish new homes, we are going to have families that commute and kids will go to new schools, we need to ensure that there is appropriate road improvement to accommodate the additional traffic and congestion on the roads.”

Education

Setzer was recently endorsed by the Stafford Education Association political action committee for her advocacy for education progression. She says she has learned that the school board’s budget has not been adequately funded by the board of supervisors in recent years.

“In order to fund the schools more adequately, I think one of the things that needs to be done is controlling development and making sure it’s done in a smart and proper fashion,” she says. Additionally, Setzer says that overpopulated classrooms and teacher salaries need to be addressed.

“Too many schools are either at or above capacity. School construction needs to be more timely. We have some overcrowding in our schools and they are starting to use trailers,” she says.  “I also think the salaries need to be increased. We are overdue more than a lot of other locations for these increases and there’s been discussion about teachers looking for positions with schools that pay more adequate salaries.”

Employment

Setzer says she would also work to promote employment opportunities and economic development within Stafford County.

“We need to ensure that whatever development is being proposed will also be a supplement to help improve the employment sector for the area,” she says. “Some nonprofit organizations have not been funded adequately as they should have in recent years and I think we need to support critical nonprofit organizations, which will increase employment opportunity in the area.”

Voters will head to the polls Nov. 5 for the local election.

Garrisonville Supervisor, Schieber Wants to Add Jobs, Expand Research and Development Centers

Ty Schieber, Republican incumbent for the Garrisonville district on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, has served on the county’s board since January 2012. This is his first regular election. He was appointed by the Stafford County Board of Supervisors to the Garrisonville seat after Mark Dudenhefer (R-Stafford) was elected to the House of Delegates. Prior to being elected as a supervisor, he was a representative on the Stafford County School Board. His opponent in the November Virginia General Election is Democrat, Laura Sellers.

He says there are three main challenges that come along with the development and growth coming to Stafford County: schools, transportation and safety.

“The more people you have, the more focus you have on the roads, the more kids you have in school and all of that has to be done within the context with a safe and secure environment,” says Schieber. He says there are challenges that come along with those three primary areas have a lot to do with the growing development and the available resources in the county.

Education

When it comes to the school system, Schieber says it is important that the school board and board of supervisors make efficient decisions regarding teacher retention and salaries. 

“The salary baseline is always a challenge and in the last budget cycle, teachers did get a raise but we want to make that something that is more competitive, more predictable,” says Schieber. “The conversation that we are embarking on with schools is: ‘what are the ways we can work collectively to do that?’”

Schieber says the core function of public schools is instruction and urges the county to look for opportunities to reduce the cost of non-educational functions so that educational resources can be used in the classrooms.

“We need to continue to challenge ourselves to look at better ways of doing business to reduce the cost of noncore function,” he says. “Making sure our teacher salary baselines are competitive and we’re retaining educators is where the quality of education happens.”

Schieber says there needs to be good communication between the schools and the school board in order to accomplish the goals of Stafford County.

“I’ve been through four budget cycles now, two as a board member and two as a supervisor,” he says. “One of the most challenging aspects of that relationship is maintaining good communication and figuring out how to share information in a way where there’s a common understanding about the relative priorities and the decisions you have to make in terms of where the resources come from.”

Transportation

Schieber says that the county is making great progress in terms of the transportation bill that was passed by the General Assembly last legislative session, but says it will be a challenge to keep up with the new measures.

“When you look at the improvements that are planned or in progress across the district, I think we’re in a good position now that the resources are going be available,” he says. “I think that we’re going to make significant strides over the next two to three years in helping to fix the issues that we currently have.”

Among these projects, Schieber mentioned the Route 630 and I-95 interchange as well as the Garrisonville road widening.  He said that these are among other construction projects on the northern and southern boundary of Stafford that will help alleviate the area’s transportation issues.

Jobs

Job creation is an area Schieber says he is very proactive in. Within his career experience, he says he has been successful in adding 250 to 300 jobs to the Stafford area and the Board’s Economic Development 10-Point Plan, geared toward making Stafford County more business-friendly, has progressively met success in promoting job creation.   Additionally, Schieber says that the building developers have a large role in providing jobs to the economy.

Another area Schieber hopes to see is the expansion of research and development centers, such as the Stafford Technology and Resource Park at the Quantico Corporate Center.

I think from a long-term perspective, (research and development centers) have a lot of potential to help us develop our own innovation economy,” says Schieber. He says it is important to build opportunities in the economy that are aligned with the market’s growth areas.

 “The idea is to draw academic research and development institutions so that we can educate and train our workforce,” he says. “It’s legitimate to consider that education is economic development, so the better job that we can do in terms of linking together the full spectrum of education and training from kindergarten all the way into graduate degrees…the better we can shape our curriculum to make sure our citizens have the tool kit to go out there and succeed.”

Military

Schieber says he believes that Stafford plays a big role into how Virginia continuing to build on the success of being a military job center. He served for the U.S. Marine Corps from 1987 to 2001.

“When you look at the national defense capacity here in the commonwealth and in planning district 16, in which Stafford County is a part of, it’s remarkable,” he says. “Marine Corp Base Quantico in itself has approximately a $3.6 billion annual economic impact on the region. It’s both natural and necessary that we remain fully engaged enough to expand upon that.”

Haymarket Vice Mayor Censured, Fined

101013-tobias

HAYMARKET, Va. – Jay Tobias, Haymarket’s vice mayor, was censured and is now forced to pay a $250 fine for alleged misconduct stemming from public intoxication charges filed on the day of the town’s largest public celebration.

Town officials Monday voted 4-3 to force Tobias to pay the fine on our before Oct. 21. Officials also censured Planning Commission and former Town Council member Robert Wier after Mayor David Leake pressed charges on him, claiming he was standing on a public street in mid conversation when Wier walked up to him and began cursing at him.

Tobias, who on Monday questioned whether the town council had the legal authority to impose such a fine, was one of three dissenting votes on the measure.

Police said the charges stem from incidents that took place on Haymarket Day on Sept. 21, which is the largest annual event in the small western Prince William County town.

The town council will now review its code of conduct and ethics polices that elected officials need at adhere to, which have not been updated in many years, according to officials.

News of the arrests drew several comments from town residents who said the alleged incidents resulted in the black eye for the town.

“I don’t know the reasoning behind this kind of behavior but it’s an embarrassment to the town, it’s an embarrassment to us, and If we want to be represented in Prince William County and be taken seriously we need to start taking our town seriously,” said Pam Swinford.

She went on to say Tobias should be removed from office. Others said the arrest was bad for business.

“I’ve considered moving my business back to Haymarket, and moving me and my wife back to Haymarket. But recent events tell me this is not where we want to be…what is going on in Haymarket? We see this kind of thing in the capital, not Haymarket. We want some peace,” said Charlie DeGraw, of Manassas.

Ralph Ring, of Haymarket, said residents should wait until Tobias appears in court before making a judgment on his ability to lead.

“We should not be trying these things in the court of public opinion, we should wait until a court date happens, we should let all sides present their evidence, and let a judge determine it. Then, if you want to ask for dismissal based on what happens, go for it,” said Ring.

Tobias’ charge amounts to a misdemeanor. He is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 7.

 

Cuccinelli to Speak at Anti-Parkway Rally

Cuccinelli

MANASSAS, Va. – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will speak to concerned residents about the proposed Bi-County Parkway on Saturday.

That announcement made by his campaign staff today comes as Cuccinelli is running for Governor of Virginia, and it leaves more questions than answers in his bid to replace Bob McDonnell. Questions about what will his appearance will mean to supporters and opponents of the 10-mile roadway that would link Prince William to Dulles Airport in Loudoun County, abound.

Cucinelli’s campaign stump is being billed as an anit-parkway rally by “Say No to the Tri-County Parkway,” a group that stands in opposition to the proposed roadway. In August, Cuccinelli said he supported the Bi-County Parkway as a transportation solution for an ever-congested Northern Virginia, but added “the current proposal on the table is unacceptable.”

According to the invitation, the rally is set to take place at the home of Page Snyder, an organizer for the “Say No…” group comprised of many residents who live inside Manassas Battlefield National Park. Many of them, like Snyder, live on Pageland Lane which would be closed if a parkway is built. The parkway could also mean the closure of two heavily-traveled commuter routes in the park, U.S. 29 and Va. 234.

Cuccinelli campaign spokeswoman Anna Nix did not say if Cuccinelli was going to make opposing the Bi-County Parkway central to his campaign message in Northern Virginia, or did she provide comment on whether or not the attorney general supports or opposes the road project.

The rally is scheduled to take place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at 6312 Pageland Lane near Manassas.

If a Bi-County Parkway is built, it would connect Va. 234 Business (Prince William Parkway) at Interstate 66 to a newly constructed, limited access highway, that would carry traffic to and from Dulles Airport.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton said the Bi-County Parkway and Va. 234 between I-66 and I-95 in Dumfries would be used to carry “light” cargo to and from Dulles Airport.

Opponents of the highway fear the new road will bring an increase in truck traffic and noise to neighborhoods along Va. 234.

 

Lingamfelter: Natural Gas Drilling, Natural Resource Exploration Would Bring Jobs

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Republican incumbent representing the 31st district of the Virginia House of Delegates, has represented Prince William and Fauquier counties since 2002. This election, he is focusing his campaign on hot topics in the northern Virginian region: transportation, education and jobs. He says his 11 years of service to his district displays his loyalty to his constituents.

“I look at myself through the lens of public service. I have been serving the public since the day I took my oath to the constitution in 1973. The people of my district know me,” he says. “I know how to legislate and I know how to get things done in Richmond and that’s awfully important to Prince William and Fauquier counties.”

He is being challenged by Democrat, Jeremy McPike in this year’s General Election. He says that he represents a stark contrast from his opponent.

Transportation

For starters, Lingamfelter was opposed to Governor Bob McDonnell’s transportation reform package, while McPike supported it.

“I am the guy that has stood for open government since the day that I was first elected. I was the guy that advanced the audit bills in Richmond and I’ve found huge amounts taxpayer money to make sure that it’s being spent wisely,” says Lingamfelter, who also is a senior member of the transportation subcommittee. He says he helped the effort to advance audit bills in Richmond, ultimately discovering “$1.4 million in transportation funds that had been ‘cubbyholed’ by the Cain administration inside (Virginia Department of Transportation).”

“That was before the huge tax increase last year that my proponent supports.”

Lingamfelter says he also wants to focus on another goal: state and local cooperation.

“We have to acknowledge that decisions about growth that are made by localities must be integrated into transportation planning at the state level,” he says. “The other thing that needs to be addressed, quite frankly, is when the state proposes roads that localities don’t want.”

Lingamfelter refers to the Bi-County Parkway, the controversial 10-mile highway plan which will connect Prince William and Loudon Counties. He says many people are opposed to the parkway because of the unintended consequences it brings, such as traffic congestion.

“They are concerned about the huge amount truck traffic that will come through Prince William and Dumfries up to 234 and I-66,”says Lingamfelter.

“I think the state should be compelled to work more closely to work with localities so we don’t have these huge disconnects.”

Education

Lingamfelter is a senior member of the House of Delegates Education Committee. Additionally, his wife Shelly is a Prince William County kindergarten teacher. He says he believes it is important that legislators listen to the people who are on the front line, the educators.

“I think it’s important that citizen legislators spend as much time as they can with real life stories,” he says. “That will go a great distance in ensuring we have the right kind of policies.”

Lingamfelter says that Virginia has kept its promise to provide adequate funding every year since he has been a legislator.

“We’re a balanced budget state. We have to make tough decisions between fire and police and education and police and higher education,” says Lingamfelter. “If you look at the record for the last 13 years, we have kept our promises to education and we continue to do so.”

However, Lingamfelter says there are still many educational issues that need to be tailored to. He is displeased with legislation passed last session to test the performance of schools on an A-F grading scale.

“I think you need strong accountability, no question about that,” says Lingamfelter. “At the same time, I worry that we’re over testing our children and we’re doing so in a way that takes away from our ability to properly educate them in school.”

“I think it’s better to evaluate the ability of the child to actually learn. “

Jobs

Virginia is one of the most business-friendly states in the nation and has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States, according to a number of studies.

Lingamfelter says the way Virginia has been able to achieve this ranking is by keeping taxes low.

“Businesses go where taxes are low. The more people you hire, the more tax payers that you create,” he says. “The more people that have a job, the more tax revenue will be available to meet our full responsibilities on education, transportation, public safety.”

Lingamfelter says that Virginia has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. North Dakota has the lowest, which Lingamfelter says has a lot to do with its oil boom and opportunity for exploration. He says that Virginia could open up opportunities by supporting accelerated exploration, drilling and development in America

“I wish that the federal government would allow Virginia to explore our own natural resources for natural gas, which democrats seem to oppose and republicans support,” he says. “We could create thousands and thousands of jobs if we did that.”

Hirons Wants to Rethink Testing, Touts Close Bonds with Local Government, Schools

Scott Hirons, candidate for the Falmouth seat on the Stafford County School Board, has been a professional project manager for over 19 years. He currently works as a contractor for the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir.

Hirons says his leadership experience and educational background will make him a beneficial candidate for the school board.

“One of the things that government at all levels and especially the Stafford County School Board right now is lacking is good strategic management and that is what I hope to bring to the board,” says Hirons. “Without a strategic plan, we’re kind of throwing darts at the board and guessing what works best; we’re really not measuring what truly works best and then funding those priorities.”

Hirons lives in Leeland Station with his wife, Heather, and three sons, Christopher, 11, Conner, 10, and Max, 4, all who attend Stafford County Schools. Hirons says having school-age children and involvement within his community make him a valuable candidate for the school board.

“My youngest just started kindergarten, so I’m going to have a long time invested in the schools,” says Hirons. “Beyond that, I’ve been very active within my community. I have a good relationship with the Board of Supervisors and a good relationship with a lot of the county administration, and that is going to help.”

Education

Hirons says that with strategic development, the board could adequately address educational issues and then adjust the budget.

“I hope to be able to better compensate teachers without having to do things like make massive cuts to the classrooms, which just increase class size,” he says, “There is a lot of debate over teacher pay and I want to see our salary scales move up and be more competitive.”

Hirons says he feels that the biggest challenge facing the schools is teacher gratitude.

“What I hear from the teachers an awful lot is they don’t feel appreciated and I think that’s very important,” he says. “We’re losing a lot of teachers to other jurisdictions that pay more, but also to jurisdictions that don’t pay as much.”

“We need to have a happy workforce and we need to be able to measure whether or not our workforce is satisfied.”

School Performance

Hirons says that another challenge facing the schools is how to test performance.

“Right now the problem is that the state measures how a school is doing by a simple measurement of how the school is performing on standardized tests,” says Hirons. “We’ve gotten to the point in this country and state where we just can’t rely on standardized tests for everything.”

Instead he says we need to reassess the current measurements, and develop a plan to combat the underlying issues.

Transportation

Hirons says there are significant connections between schools and traffic. In Stafford County, the hot button topic has been poor infrastructure. Hirons says a poor decision made by the school board can have consequences that can persist for years.

“There are some in the Falmouth area that advocated building a new high school on property the school system acquired several years ago know as Clift Farm,” says Hirons.

He said the land deal turned out to be a poor decision.

“The roads leading the property are narrow and not adequate for the traffic a school would generate.”

“We are growing and will still be building schools over the next decade,” says Hirons. “When we build schools, we need to ensure the roads we build them on are adequate to handle the traffic generated.”

Employment and Economic Development

Hirons hopes to encourage employment growth by means of supporting an adequate educational environment.

“A good school system is something companies look for when looking to relocate or build in a particular area,” says Hirons. “Therefore it’s the duty of the school board to build a strong school system to help the county build a strong case for the Board of Supervisors to attract new companies to the county.”

Better Neighborhood Planning, Bigger Retail Base Keys to Sellers’ Campaign for Stafford Board of Supervisors

Laura Sellers is the Democratic candidate running for the Garrisonville seat of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, and she is no stranger to the political scene. She first ran for the Board of Supervisors in 2009 and is currently a member of the Stafford Democratic Committee. She says she is determined to bring the board a new perspective.

“I was not happy with the county,” says Sellers. “With a young child, I have to think about what I want the county to look like as I raise him here. This wasn’t really it.”

Sellers says her expectations are in line with many of the views of families she’s spoken to within her district. She says she doesn’t feel that her opponent, Ty Schieber, has effectively represented the Garrisonville district.

“We need elected officials to staff the planning commission with someone who can help plan for our future. We need elected officials who represent our district and who stand for something,” says Sellers. “My ideas are centered on the belief that you can’t build a community 100 percent reliant upon defense contracts because those contracts go away.”

Sellers refers to the construction centering around the residential subdivision, Embrey Mill.

“Embrey Mill is being built in a district where our schools are over capacity,” she says. “Furthermore, the two fire departments in the area are under staffed and aren’t a real facility.”

“That is a representation of poor representation. Our supervisor should’ve known that the infrastructure needs upgrading before more residential homes are built.”

Sellers has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social work. She says that through her studies, she’s been able to pinpoint what it takes to be a respectable elected official.

“Compassion I think is the biggest (component),” says Sellers. “When you’re making decisions about people’s lives and you realize your decisions are affecting people lives, you need to be compassionate and empathic with your decisions.”

She says the other element is called reflective listening, a communication strategy used to identify the expectations of the speaker(s) and work to develop successful solutions to the problems people are facing.

“We need a focus. We need a plan. And we need to emphasize the importance of character as we plan for the future.”

Education

“As a member of the Board of Supervisors, you have to let the school board function independently,” says Sellers. “I will advocate for the schools and work with them and if they want me to do something. But as far as what I personally think (the schools) should look like, I think that should be left up to the schools.”

She adds: “I do think that teachers should get paid better and classrooms should be smaller, but that has to be a priority of the school board and if they choose to make it a priority, then they will have my support.”

Economic Development

Sellers says she has spent the last four years studying economic development. She says she believes Stafford has a great potential to increase its revenue base in creative ways.

“I have a great respect for the fact that if you want to fund something, you have to fund it without always going to the tax payers,” says Sellers. “

Sellers says her plan is called “Targeted Economic Development” and she will focus on two areas: law enforcement and government, and increasing the retail base.

“I am really going to start stressing and supporting the idea of bringing in a GSA certified firing range, so we can have more local and state law enforcement use this area to get certified,” says Sellers. “(The firing range) would create a revenue source for jobs, but also a revenue source for the Sheriff’s Department, so that way they can have a little bit more money and it’s not directly on the backs of the tax payers.”

Sellers also seeks to increase local retail bases with specialty stores and restaurants.

“I’ve been doing research and looking at Wall Street Journal reports, where it shows the trends in what industries are going to make money over the next five to 10 years,” says Sellers. “It’s really going to be those professions that support people and so I’d like to really bring some of those to Stafford.”

Women’s Issues and Healthcare

Sellers attended a Meet and Greet event on Sept. 7 in Fredericksburg, which focused on advocating women’s issues. Other speakers included Kathleen O’Halloran, candidate for the 88th Virginia House District, and speakers from the National Organization for Women and the Virginia Democratic Women’s Caucus.

“I have a 13-month-old child and when I was pregnant, because I’m an independent contractor, my company does not give me benefits or maternity leave,” says Sellers. “I’ve paid my own healthcare for seven years and when I was pregnant, the doctor told me they don’t have to cover maternity care.”

Sellers says under Virginia state law, her health insurance did not have to pay for her maternity care, and since she is an independent contractor, neither would the company she works for. She ended up with medical costs about $30,000.

“To me, women’s issues have transformed from just about choice to (include the support) of a female worker and her family,” says Sellers.

Seeking School Board Seat, Egan says Classroom Capacity a Major Issue in Stafford

Irene Egan believes every child deserves a good education, which is why she is running to fill the Aquia seat on the Stafford County School Board. Egan has two sons on her own, both which are attending Stafford County schools.

“I want them to have the best learning experience they can, and not just my children, but also for my friend’s children and my neighbor’s children,” says Egan. “These are the people that are going to be running our county, the people that are going to be running our schools. We’ve got to pay it forward.”

Egan works as a sales and marketing manager for the Hylton Group in Prince William County. She is also an active member in Stafford County Schools, serving as a member of the PTA for Stafford Elementary School, and the president of the Parent-Teacher Organization for Stafford Middle School.

Egan’s husband, Richard, shares her passion in tackling educational issues. He is a federal law enforcement officer for the US Department of Education, conducting investigations regarding waste fraud and abuse relating to education.

Egan is focusing her campaign on areas such as school security, capacity and performance.

School Security

Egan says she takes the security of schools seriously. In light of the events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed, Egan says it is clear that crime really can happen anywhere.

“I would love to see a police officer at every elementary school,” she says. “I think that it was a victory for us to get them added to the middle schools, but as you saw in Newtown, that wasn’t a high school or middle school, it was an elementary school.”

“Those are the kids that need it the most, they don’t know where to run and they don’t know how to protect themselves.”

As the Vice Chairman of the Stafford Crime Solvers Board, Egan and the board work with the Stafford Sheriff’s Department to offer monetary rewards up to those that provide information to help resolve crimes.

“We recently just paid out $1,000 to a text-to-tip lead that came in, so we were very happy about that,” Egan says.

Classroom capacities

In reference to Stafford Middle School, Egan says that there has been altering views on how the facility should be utilized, once the building is vacated by Grafton.

“Since Shirley Heim Middle School was built, there was a mass exodus out of Stafford Middle School, which left us with some empty seats,” says Egan. Currently, students from Grafton Village Elementary school are being taught at Stafford Middle School while renovations are being made to the elementary school.

“After [Grafton Village] leaves Stafford Middle school, there is some discussion to put special programs in that school as opposed to leaving it for general education and using that space to help house some of the new communities that are being built now,” she says.

“All of those middle schools or elementary schools near there are near or at capacity and there’s going to have to be a realignment of students at some point,” says Egan. “To put any special programs into Stafford Middle School is, in my view, is not a good use of capacity to help fix the problem that is on the horizon.”

Anti-bullying and anti-drug campaigns

Egan says that there needs to be more educational programs focused on anti-bullying and anti-drug awareness.

“We need something in place to stress what was in the D.A.R.E program, and that will include some of the bullying aspects,” Egan says. “As a candidate, I’m hearing more and more from parents that in fact there is an existing problem and it’s getting larger every year. I’ve had some instances with bullying with my own children, whether in the school bus or in the schools.”

Employment and Economic Development

Egan says that education is the groundwork for economic development.

“If you have a great school system, businesses will want to come here and people will want to relocate their families here to work for those businesses because there is a great school system in place,” says Egan.

“When the schools start falling apart, economic development suffers.”

She says it is important that the seven board members prioritize educational matters and come to a conclusion on how to boost the school system in Stafford.

School and Teacher Performance

The grading system for schools that will go into effect in January 2014, will assign a letter grade to individual schools to evaluate their performance.

While some legislators support the new system as a way of measuring accountability, Egan says she does not think this system is an adequate method to evaluate schools.

“Every child learns at a different rate. If you don’t have the tools in place to have those children get up to speed with your mainstream kids, you can’t hold that against the school as a whole,” she says.

She shares a similar view on teacher evaluations.

“You’ve got 26 kids in a classroom, when there should probably only be 20,” says Egan. “Each kid has a different level of learning. You’re judging a teacher on overall scores in a class when you have all of these different variables that pool, assuming all of the kids and how they test is the same is the issue with evaluating performance this way.”

She hopes that representatives in the General Assembly will address this issue during the next session and allow school board members and parents to participate.

“It is our task to make sure that every kid gets a good education, and I want to be a part of that.”

Unopposed Howell Supports ‘A-F’ School Reform, Lauds Budget Surplus

William “Bill” Howell has served as the 54th Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2003. He was first elected as a delegate representing the 28th House district in 1987 and remains unopposed.

Howell has a juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and is an attorney practicing trust and estate law in Falmouth, Va.

During the last legislative session, Howell supported Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation reform package, which will do away with the retail gasoline tax and raise the state’s sales tax in an effort to fund repairs to roads and highways.

In recent news, Howell says he is pleased with budget for the fiscal year 2013. He says the surplus of a $261 million revenue surplus is an indication of good financial management.

“We’ve been able to manage our affairs in such a way that we’ve had four years of significant surpluses and I think that’s very important,” says Howell. “It shows that the government is run efficiently and effectively and the fact that we’ve been able to achieve those surpluses without any increase in taxes speaks volumes on how well we can manage our affairs.”

Education

Along with teacher pay and retention, Howell says the General Assembly will need to address the issue of accountability.

“I think we need to have more opportunities or alternatives for people that are in public school systems that aren’t performing,” he says. “You want to get the best people that you can as our teachers, but by the same token they need to be held accountable and to do a good job.”

Last winter, the General Assembly passed legislation that will assign an A-F letter grade for public schools in Virginia to measure performance. The bill is part of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s education reform and is set to go into effect this fall. Howell says he supports this reform as a means to assure that schools are being held responsible.

“It is an example of the local schools being accountable to the parents who have children within that system,” says Howell. “They now can look and see how their school is stacking up compared with other schools.”

Obamacare

Howell says he is afraid that Obamacare will have a harmful effect to Virginia. He says it will end up increasing the cost of insurance for people who buy it on their own as well as cause employers to make significant hourly cuts.

“We already see companies changing their plans significantly,” says Howell. “I think that it’s a bill that is going to be difficult to implement and can be very detrimental to the country.”

Economic Development and Jobs

Going forward, Howell says that the economy and jobs are still important issues that need to be addressed in Virginia, regardless of the success of the last legislative session.

“The economy is very fragile, it’s been a weak recovery and I think that’s the number one issue that is on people’s minds right now,” says Howell. “We need to continue to do what we’ve done very effectively the last few years and that is maintain a climate that is conducive to new businesses that are starting in Virginia or moving to Virginia.”

Additionally, Howell says Virginia’s education and transportation system as well as high rankings as a business state have all made fundamental improvements.

 

McPike: Medicaid Expansion will Bring New Jobs

Jeremy McPike, democratic candidate for the 31st Virginia House District, seeks to unseat openly conservative Delegate Scott Lingamfelter in the upcoming 2013 General Election.

McPike’s campaign will focus on issues including transportation, education and health care. He currently serves as the Director of General Services for the City of Alexandria.

With 15 years of service as a volunteer firefighter for the Dale City Fire Department, McPike is an active member of his community.

“I spend a lot of time serving the community and I look forward to continuing to do so,” says McPike. “It’s important that prince William County has a voice and we get our priorities addressed.”

Transportation

Transportation supported the recent transportation reform signed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, which abolished the gas tax and raised Virginia’s sales tax to promote funding for roads.

“I was happy to see a bipartisan transportation bill passed,” says McPike. “With every bipartisan (legislation), not everyone gets exactly what they want and I was frankly disappointed to see that an overwhelming majority of the Prince William delegation did not vote for that bipartisan transportation bill.”

McPike says that any delegate session challenging transportation bipartisan legislation can have consequences for the Prince William County area.

“We’ve got to stop it. We’ve got to help our families. We’ve got to help bring people to their services, and that’s the key,” McPike says. He says the transportation reform will help fuel the economy and jobs in the Northern Virginia area.

“We spend too much time on the roads,” McPike said. “We need an active voice in the community that’s making that sure we get a candidate that is going to hear our voices and take care of our transit and road issues.”

Education

Through his campaign, McPike has been able to hear the concerns from teachers, parents and students firsthand.

“We’ve got to let the teachers teach not just teach to a test,” says McPike. “We need students to come out and use their critical thinking and creative abilities. We live in a creative economy now and we’ve got to make sure (students) have the resources they need to support a future generation.”

Another goal of McPike is to figure out a practical way to measure the performance of schools in Virginia.

“We need to make sure we invest well in education and continue to develop the best and the brightest and work to retain the best and the brightest here (in Virginia).”

He was recently endorsed by the Virginia Education Association.

Jobs

“We’ve got tremendous assets to offer companies but we also have to make sure that we’ve got a good business climate,” said McPike. “We’ve got to maintain that, but we also need to invest in infrastructure, and the state has neglected that responsibility.”

He says his goal is to maintain the bipartisan transportation approach in maintaining business development.

“Businesses realize that you have to be able to move people, goods and services. We’ve got some great talent in this area but we’ve got poor infrastructure. We need to continue to build businesses that are closer to home.”

Medicaid Expansion

McPike says he believes the health care expansion in Virginia is an important impact and will positively impact Virginia’s economy at a lower cost for the state budget.

“The Medicaid expansion in Virginia is an important aspect. It’s set to impact almost 400,000 Virginians and create 30,000 jobs,” he said.

Redistricting and Gift Laws

Another issue McPike says he plans to tackle is the current redistricting process and that the Virginia General Assembly should be looking at a bipartisan approach.

“We need to take the gerrymandering out of the picture and leave it to demographers and professors to provide representative districts,” says McPike.

“Give [the General Assembly] options to vote on and that’s it,” he says “Don’t let them draw the lines anymore in the background.”

McPike says he hopes to further address the current gift law, which allows elected officials to receive gifts and take trips as long as they disclose gifts over $50. McPike calls for reform and says that voters should be the top priority of public officials.

Warner Endorses McPike

United States Senator Mark Warner has officially endorsed Jeremy McPike for the Virginia House of Delegates today.

“I know that Jeremy will go to Richmond and focus on the issues that are important to the people of the 31st district” said Senator Warner.

“We need Delegates, like Jeremy, who will emphasize growing the economy and supporting small businesses. Jeremy has the experience as a firefighter and public servant that are critical to representing his district.” said Warner.

Voters will go to the polls Nov. 5.

 

Anderson Up on Virginia Bond Rating, Down on Transportation Reform, Obamacare Expansion

Delegate Richard Anderson, R-Prince William County, was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2009. He serves the 51st district, which includes a vast amount of Prince William County. He is running up against Democrat, Reed Heddleston for reelection this fall.

Anderson says that Prince William County deserves a candidate that is going to represent and address their needs in the General Assembly.

Anderson is no stranger to the political scene in Virginia. He served for the U.S. Air Force for 30 years and received his education at Virginia universities. He has served two terms as a Delegate for the 51st House District.

Recent Legislation

Anderson says he is pleased with the changes he helped influence in the last legislative session. He proposed the driving-while-texting bill after he was approached by three Prince William County sisters who lost their brother to a texting driver.

He also is responsible for helping to initiate the “Virginia Values Veterans” program, focused on reducing veteran unemployment in Virginia by bringing in 4,000 increased job opportunities to the state.

Transportation

Anderson says that his opponent, Heddleston, is not politically in sync with the Prince William voters.

“He has called himself a progressive and moderate Democrat but in reality he is at the very left edge of the political spectrum,” he says.

Further, Anderson says he’s concerned Heddleston’s choices will end up hurting businesses and families rather than help them.

Anderson refers to the transportation reform package signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell last winter. Heddleston supported the legislation, but Anderson did not.

“I voted against the bill, as did most of the Prince William County delegation, because I had heard from literally several thousand people over the last four years, and they were not ready for any sort of tax increase in a down economy,” Anderson says.

“I do not subscribe to the premise that the way we will work our way out of these problems centers on tax increases,” Anderson says.

“I think it’s crucial though that even though it passed, we have to make sure that those monies are focused toward one final goal, and that is the relief of traffic congestion as much as humanly possible,” he says. “It’s all about quality of life.”

Education

Anderson says he devotes a lot of time to public education and school-related events. He says one important topic that needs to be addressed is class sizes.

“I think we’ve got to address the issue of student to teacher ratios in Prince William classrooms. The numbers are at 32-24 (students) and I have been in some classrooms as high as 36,” says Anderson. “The dialogue has to center around: how we do this? I’m not in favor of doing that with a tax increase.”

Anderson also says it is imperative that the state needs to come up of more effective ways to evaluate student and school performance. Gov. Bob McDonnell recently signed off on legislation that will use a performance rating system to assign schools a letter based on test scores and measures of the school’s improvement over time. Anderson did not vote for this method.

“I thought it was an overly simplistic method for evaluating schools,” says Anderson.

Obamacare

Anderson says the new health care expansion is going to be tremendous cost increase for individuals, families and businesses, despite what it’s promoting.

“There are so many private employers who are dropping insurance policies, dropping coverage on their employees, consequently, they’re going to be in a worse place than they were before Obamacare,” says Anderson. “I have a daughter who was formerly working a large number of hours and was pushed back to 29 hours of work so that (her employer) would remain below that threshold, so I am concerned about that.”

Anderson says that it is important that congress study the new healthcare law and work to reform and fix its shortfalls.

Jobs

Anderson says Virginia thrives as a small business state, despite Virginia’s fluctuation on a number of major ranking lists, for example, the Forbes Best States for Business list.

“In the ebb and flow of state performance among the 50 states, you’re going to see Virginia up and then down,” says Anderson. “But there is one fundamental reality, and that is that we stay up there nudged right at the top.”

Virginia has held its AAA bond rating for over 70 years and Anderson says only a handful of states have achieved that ranking.

“By the measured of any yardstick, Virginia is a good place to live, work, retire, raise a family, get an education and invest.”

Qarni Wants Higher Teacher Pay, Virginia Graduates to Grow Careers in State

Atif M. Qarni, a Democrat running for the 13th district seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, says that the main goal of his campaign is to improve the lives of the families within his district. Qarni resides in Dale City with his wife, Fatima and his two sons, Zane and Saber. He is running up against Republican Delegate Robert G. “Bob” Marshall, who is currently serving his 11th term.

Education

As an eighth-grade math teacher at Beville Middle School in Prince William County, Qarni says education is a top priority on his agenda.

“We need to really restore the budget levels to where they were in 2009 and before,” says Qarni. “As a teacher, I have seen resources being cut from our (public) schools first-hand. The state funding and county funding have been significantly reduced.”

Qarni says reducing class sizes and raising teacher salaries are two important solutions to tacking the issues facing education in Virginia.

“My average class size this past school year (2012-2013) was 34 kids,” Qarni says. “You can only imagine 34 eighth graders in a class room. It’s not fair to the kids. They’re not getting the full attention that they deserve.”

Regarding teacher salaries, Qarni says that in order to retain qualified teachers, Virginia needs to offer a better pay for its teachers, specifically, “where the cost of living is very high but the teacher salaries are not very competitive.”

Transportation

Qarni’s other priorities include traffic reduction and improving job formation.

“I would like to help people spend less time on the roads and more time with their families,” says Qarni.

He says it’s important to monitor the new transportation funds that were generated from the transportation reform bill last winter in order to ensure they are being utilized properly.

“[Transportation reform funds] don’t necessarily only have to be applied to spending on roads,” says Qarni. “We can also pump in that money into mass transit. We can pump in that money to creating parking facilities [and] we can encourage the use of satellite locations.”

Additionally, Qarni says the funds can be used to encourage people work remotely and utilize their Real Estate.

Jobs

When it comes to job creation in Virginia, Qarni says more can be done to serve the individual talents of those entering the workforce. He says that if you look at Virginia, many graduates are likely to leave and take their talents to other states.

“We need to have these individuals start their businesses here in Virginia or work for existing companies here in Virginia, and retain the talents here,” Qarni says. “I really believe that this is where job growth and economic growth tie together, retaining the talents that future generations have.”

In the future, Qarni says he hopes that his sons will choose to attend universities, work and develop their own careers in Virginia.

Medicare

With health care reform gradually expanding into Virginia, significant changes are expected to be made to Medicaid and Medicare. The Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, has received a large amount of press and mixed reactions in recent months.

“One of the issues with Medicare is that we have a fragmented health system in Virginia,” Qarni said. “With that expansion coming, the communication between the pharmacies and hospitals can become really efficient, which can really save money that can be applied to more health care needs.”

He adds: “If applied properly, Obamacare will be beneficial for the state.”

Military

As a former sergeant for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, Qarni says he knows what it takes to serve as a combat veteran. Qarni joined the Marine Corps in 1996 and served for eight years. Qarni says the Military teaches many skills that are beneficial to the workforce and Virginia should continue to build upon being a military job center.

“We need to look out for those veterans that have fought for our freedom,” says Qarni.

Along with these issues, Qarni campaign has also focused on women’s health and reducing gun violence. He has recently received an endorsement from the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.

“The 13th District deserves a Delegate who will focus on solving problems, not on an extreme social agenda,” said Sen. Mark Herring. “That’s why I am proud to support Atif Qarni. I know Atif will put his energy and his experience to work to do what’s right for the people of Prince William County and the people of Virginia.”

Pro-Choice Cabellos Supports Job Training, Medicaid Expansion

Meet Richard Cabellos, a Democrat running against Delegate Jackson Miller, R-Manassas, for the 50th seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Cabellos lives in Manassas with his wife of five years, Yolanda, and their 3-year-old son, Cruz. He is currently working as the director of the Southgate Community Center in Reston, where he oversees youth leadership and volunteer programs, facilitates job-training programs for adults, and helps to conduct ESL classes, among other programs.

“My current job is so rewarding. I work with children as well as adults every day in a very diverse community,” says Cabellos.

Cabellos hopes to use his experience as a community leader and apply it towards his campaign. Cabellos says that he feels his opponent, Miller, has his own agenda. On issues such as education funding, transportation and women’s rights, Cabellos says Miller illustrates the stark contrast between the two candidates.

Education

“We definitely need to invest more in our schools and pay our teachers a fair salary,” Cabellos says. “I definitely would have done something different instead of voting and supporting taking away almost $620 million dollars from education,” says Cabellos. “I feel we need to invest more in education. My opponent has voted against education [funding].”

Further, Cabellos says it is important to consider early childhood education.

“Studies have shown that when children have access to quality early education, they have a better chance to do better in school and have a better opportunity in college,” he said.

“We need to invest more in what we take away from public education.”

Transportation

Cabellos supports the recent transportation reform package that was adopted July 1, though he says more still needs to be done to fix transportation issues in the Northern Virginia area.

“We have a lot of cars on the road, so I think public transportation should be looked at as one of the options,” he says. “We can also look at having a metro extended to Prince William County. I think that’s an option that a lot of people in this area and in my district would love.”

Cabellos says it is important to listen to the voters when deciding what areas of transportation need to be looked at.

“Talking to voters in my district, (transportation) is a main issue for them. It’s part of everyday life,” he says. “We can always think about more roads but also smarter construction.”

Jobs

Cabello’s parents came as immigrants to the U.S. over 50 years ago looking for new opportunities and eventually became small business owners. Cabellos says that growing up in a small business family inspired his desire to improve his community.

“I know that if my mom and dad didn’t get the opportunity to get loans and be able to afford to have a business in the area and bring in jobs, I wouldn’t be here today,” says Cabellos. “There has to be more infrastructure and investment in small businesses, because that’s what brings jobs to the state.”

Cabellos also says that having nondiscriminatory policies, job-training programs for those entering the workforce and creating more jobs locally will help drive business expansion and job creation.

“We need to be inclusive and invite commuting to businesses. We want to make sure the environment is conducive for businesses, first of all.”

Medicaid Expansion

As a proponent of Medicaid expansion, Cabellos says the new changes will benefit low-income families that would not be able to afford healthcare without it.

“We have a positive opportunity to make sure we get thousands of Virginians coverage. It’s a great opportunity for [Virginia] and I definitely support the expansion of it.”

Women’s rights

“I feel that government should not be in the business of telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her body,” says Cabellos.

“I would like to bring a new perspective to Richmond, says Cabellos. “Not just in representing my district but I also want to represent the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Herr Out to Change Stafford Schools’ ‘Trickle Down’ Funding Approach

William “Eric” Herr is a candidate for the Hartwood District of the Stafford County School Board. He currently lives in Stafford with his wife of 30 years, Lisa, and works for the Department of Defense as an engineer and technology development program manager. He says he made the decision to run for the school board because he would like to see positive changes for schools and his district.

“I didn’t like some of the decisions that were coming out of the board and some of the strategies and some of the relationships between the Board of Supervisors and the school board,” says Herr. He says he will focus a large part of his campaign toward improving those relationships and conditions for teachers and students.

“I think the greatest challenge is that we’ve taken the focus away from the actual learning and teaching in the classroom,” says Herr. “There are many activities now that are not directly related to learning and teaching and I think we have to minimize and eliminate some of those activities.”

Herr says his goals consist of three main components: putting more trust into our teachers, focusing more on teaching and learning and adjust the compensation scale to attract more quality teachers.

“I’ve talked to a ton of teachers, hundreds of parents and I listen to what their priorities are and what their concerns are to get the most accurate picture of what’s going on.”

Herr also hopes to change the way schools are funded using an “inside-out” approach.

“The way we fund our school right now in Stafford is we fund the headquarters first and then that money trickles down to the classrooms,” he says. “My focus will be on funding the classrooms first.”

Herr says the starting pay in Stafford is one of the lowest, despite having one of the highest salaries for teachers in the region.

“Our starting pay is tied with the last in the region,” says Herr. “I think we need to raise that up so we can attract great teachers so they can become a part of the community and then promote our leaders from within a pool of great teachers.”

In reference to legislation signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell last spring that assigns an A to F grading system to rate a school’s performance, Herr says it is fair that schools are graded the same way students are.

“There can be no secrets and no information held back from the parents about how our schools our doing, just like they deserve to know how their children are doing,” says Herr. “I want to see all of our schools in Stafford get A’s, but whatever grade we get, I don’t think that’s the main issue.”

“The issue is making sure our schools are set up to best teach our students and then measure that performance and report that performance of the schools back to the parents.”

Herr says he will make a good candidate for the Hartwood seat of the Stafford County School Board because of his experience as a leader through the military and as a project manager.

“I understand how to develop a team and reach common goals and I think teamwork between the school board and board of supervisors is critical,” says Herr. “I think we need to be willing to listen and then synthesize the results into an accessible course of action.”

Schools: Keep Election Materials off Our Property

Precinct Captain Delishia Boykin-David works her polling station outside Mount Ararat Church in North Stafford as a steady stream of voters arrive to cast their votes 8 a.m. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – All you politicos have been warned: Don’t put those colorful red, white, and blue campaign signs up on school property. The children don’t need to see them.

In a letter from Prince William County Public Schools today, we’re told campaign literature is banned from being distributed during the school day and at athletic events.

Schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer says campaign literature and signs have not been a problem at schools so far this election year, and added they’d like to keep it that way.

Here’s the letter posted by the school division:

To all political campaigns:

I am writing this open letter in response to recent inquiries.

Prince William County Public Schools has a longstanding policy of prohibiting the distribution of partisan political materials during the school day and at school-sponsored activities, including athletic events. It is intended to allow our students to benefit from their school experience free from the conflict, competition, and distortion that can be associated with heated political campaigns. Students should always be the focus of school-related events, without concern that they are serving as an enticement to attract crowds for other purposes.

PWCS applies this policy uniformly and without exception, and asks that it be respected by all campaigns and candidates. Thank you for putting the needs of PWCS students ahead of partisan interests.

Keith Imon

Associate Superintendent for

Communications and Technology Services

An election is held every year in Virginia. On Election Day November 5, campaign literature will also be banned inside schools that serve as polling places per state election laws. 

This year in Prince William County, local offices for the House of Delegates and a school board seat are up for grabs.

Herring Endorsed by Northern Virginia Technology Council

Herring

Today, Democratic candidate for Attorney General Mark Herring received the endorsement of the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s (NVTC) TechPAC, which represents the largest and most well-known technology businesses in Virginia. Among the reasons for their choice, NVTC TechPAC’s 27-member Board of Trustees cited Herring’s proven record of leadership and advocacy on technology-related issues in the General Assembly.

“I’m proud to receive NVTC TechPAC’s endorsement because our state’s innovation economy is key to sustaining economic growth and keeping Virginia competitive,” Herring said. “As the next Attorney General, I will build off my strong record of supporting business in Virginia and working in a bipartisan fashion to continue to be a strong advocate for Virginia’s burgeoning technology industry.”

Dendy Young, NVTC TechPAC Chairman, lauded Herring’s work supporting Virginia’s technology sector:

“As a member of the General Assembly, Mark Herring has distinguished himself as a strong advocate and champion of Virginia’s technology industry. He has a proven history of leadership on technology issues, and has served as the Senate sponsor of several important technology bills which have been signed into law by governors in the Commonwealth. In particular, Herring has promoted innovative technology policies and investments focused on research, entrepreneurship, new company formation, commercialization, and enhancement of Virginia’s economic competitiveness,” said Young.

Young continued, “We fully expect that Herring will continue to be a strong advocate for technology business as attorney general and that he will advance policies and initiatives that enhance Virginia’s status as a global technology center.”

Setzer Steps Up to Run for Falmouth District Seat

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Valerie J. Setzer will carry the Democratic banner in the Falmouth District board of supervisors’ race this year.

The 35-year retiree of the Federal Aviation Administration takes the place on the ballot of former supervisor David R. Beiler, who needed to withdraw in August.

Setzer and her husband Bill are residents of Woodland Woods in Grafton precinct. She is a political newcomer who retired at age 62 in January 2013. At that time she was FAA’s nationwide manager for terminal airspace.

“Valerie Setzer is an intelligent, detail-oriented professional, who works well with everyone and who will provide the kind of practical solutions Stafford needs to meet its huge challenges,” said Stafford Democrat Party Chairwoman Alane Callander.

Setzer is running under the theme “Breaking Barriers.”

“We need to tackle the issues of today in funding for our schools, correcting our stalled transportation system, and attracting businesses that diversify our economy,” Setzer said, “But we also need to plan for the future through returning to smart growth principles that former Democratic Party supervisors had advocated while on the Board.”

Currently the Board of Supervisors is composed of six Republicans and one Independent. “Thousands of new houses are coming thanks to the developer-friendly policies of this Board,” Setzer explained. “Protections that slowed residential growth have been eliminated. We are not prepared for the influx of new school children or the additional cars that will further gridlock our roads. I think we can do better than this and our citizens deserve better from our government”, she said.

Setzer faces Republican Meg Boemke, Falmouth’s current school board member, and Independent Robert Belman, a realtor and real estate agent, in the November 5 election

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