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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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 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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Michael Futrell is answering questions about the IRS as his campaign for the House of Delegates enters the final stretch.
The Woodbridge Democrat who seeks to unseat Stafford Republican Mark Dudenhefer for Virginia’s 2nd House District had the federal taxing agency strip his charitable 501(c)3 status for Futrell’s 3-year-old “Make the Future” organization, a group that focuses on youth sports and educational activities, because the organization has not filed statement of earnings since its incorporation — something that must be done each year, according to the IRS.
“I was under the impression we were able to file all at once, so I take full responsibility for what’s happened and we are working to correct it,” Futrell told Potomac Local News.
He is now working to find an executive director for the organization so he can focus solely on his campaign, and he adds “Make the Future” still has a bright future ahead of it. Its website was taken down late last month and now states updates are being made to the site.
Futrell kicked off his first bid for public office early in January. The district he seeks to represent is split between eastern Prince William County and North Stafford, with the the majority of Democrats voters in Prince William and Republicans in Stafford.
Along the way, Futrell has been accused of plagiarizing another campaign’s website. In March, some of the same text that lived on Virginia House Minority Leader David Tuscano’s page was found on Futrell’s. It was taken down and changes were made to Futrell’s campaign staff, he said.
Today on his website, Futrell touts himself as an educator and a businessman. He taught public school for one year in Ohio before moving to Northern Virginia to become a pharmaceutical rep, he said, where he continued “educating” people about drugs and life-bettering treatments for illness.
Futrell says he’s fully focused on the campaign, and that education, veterans issues, and transportation are the key things he’s looking at.
Extending Metro to Woodbridge would be a economic boom for eastern Prince William County, and would help to revitalize the U.S. 1 corridor, something that desperately needs to happen, he said. As it’s the main thoroughfare in the 2nd District next to I-95, U.S. 1 has become a campaign issue after incumbent Dudenhefer penned a letter to Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton making the case to widen the roadway to six lanes.
Another major transportation issues facing the area: The Bi-County Parkway that would connect I-95 at U.S. 1 in Dumfries with Dulles Airport. Many businesses support it, but many homeowners along Va. 234 – where the parkway would run — are opposed because they fear increased noise from the highway.
“I’m not ready to take a position on the parkway just yet until we have all of the facts on the table,” said Futrell.
If elected, he’ll convene meetings of local residents who will be asked for their ideas on how to improve the region, he said.
Voters go to the polls Nov. 5.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Congressman Gerry Connolly will host his annual Senior Issues Forum on Thursday at Westminster at Lake Ridge in Prince William County. Citizens interested in learning more about legislative matters and other issues concerning seniors and retirees are invited to attend.
Representatives from the AARP, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Social Security Administration, and the Federal Trade Commission will join Connolly on a panel at the forum. Congressman Connolly’s issues forum will run from 3 pm to 5 pm on Thursday, September 5, in Westminster’s Potomac Room at 12191 Clipper Drive in Woodbridge.
The panelists for Connolly’s senior issues forum are:
· Joanne Grossi, Regional Director, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
· Bill Kallio, State Director, AARP
· David Melton, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration
· Derick Rill, Congressional Relations, Federal Trade Commission
“I encourage everyone who has questions or concerns about federal programs, issues, or legislation affecting seniors to attend this forum,” Connolly said. “I have brought together some real experts who will be able to address a variety of matters affecting Medicare and Social Security recipients, fraudulent scams, and other issues affecting seniors.”
LAKE RIDGE, Va. – Delegate Richard Anderson will open his campaign headquarters in Lake Ridge on Wednesday.
The incumbent will be joined by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. 1, and Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, when they open their office at Dillingham Square next to Sun Trust Bank, according to a press release. The opening ceremony is open to the public and starts at 7 p.m.
Anderson was elected in 2009 and represents the 51st House District that encompasses much of Prince William County. He faces Democrat Reed Heddleston in his reelection bid this fall.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. - Today, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter announced that the Virginia Police Benevolent Association (VBA) has endorsed his campaign for re-election representing the 31st District in the Virginia House of Delegates. The endorsement comes after an extensive candidate interview process conducted by members of the Prince William Chapter.
Responding to the endorsement, Delegate Lingamfelter stated, “The Police Benevolent Association is made up of the men and women who have taken the oath to protect and defend our community. We owe it to them to honor their service and I am proud to say that I have been a strong advocate for law enforcement officers over the course of my career in the Virginia House of Delegates. As I have done in the past, I will continue to fight for these men and women who selflessly dedicate their lives to keeping our families safe.”
“Through an understanding of issues important to our membership and a willingness to be a working partner in our efforts to improve and promote the local and state law enforcement profession, Mr. Lingamfelter has earned our support. The Prince William County Chapter of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association asks the citizens of Prince William to support Mr. Lingamfelter in the upcoming election for Virginia House of Representatives on November 5,” said Virginia PBA President, Joe Woloszyn.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Delegate Richard L. Anderson (R-Prince William) will host a 51st House District Town Hall on Sequestration on August 27th at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Ridge Baptist Church in Woodbridge.
The event comes as Virginia is working to mitigate the effects of the federal sequestration on residents of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.
In March of this year, Governor Bob McDonnell created the Virginia Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities (COMIDA) to study how the Commonwealth can best mitigate the effects of sequestration over the next decade, as well as minimize the impact of potential military base closures in 2015 and 2017 through the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) process.
The commission consists of 10 leaders drawn from the retired senior military officer community and the executive and legislative branches of Virginia state government. Anderson and Virginia State Senator Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) sit on the commission as co-chairs of the General Assembly Military and Veteran Caucus, which is the legislative clearing house for dozens of bills that make their way each year through the General Assembly for 830,000 Virginia veterans. In addition to Anderson and Reeves, the commission includes four retired four-star and three-star military officers and four cabinet secretaries.
In addition to Anderson and Reeves, the event will feature another commission member, the Honorable Terrie L. Suit, Virginia’s Secretary of Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security. The commission has been meeting since April and has visited military bases and other locations most vulnerable to sequestration and BRAC activities.
The general public is invited to the event on August 27th from 7:30 to 9pm at Lake Ridge Baptist Church at 12450 Clipper Drive in Woodbridge. Residents of Occoquan, Woodbridge, Lake Ridge, Manassas, Brentsville, and Nokesville are most affected and are invited to attend.
In announcing this community conversation, Anderson stated that “I hope as many of our neighbors as possible can attend on August 27th. We’ll have the latest information on what Virginia is doing. But more importantly, we want to devote the bulk of our meeting to hearing first-hand what Prince William residents are experiencing. That way, we can best tailor Commonwealth plans to address their needs and concerns.”
At the meeting on August 27th, Anderson, Reeves, and Suit will report to local residents on initiatives to soften the impacts of sequestration and BRACs. Most of the meeting will be devoted to discussion, questions and answers, and testimony from Prince William County residents affected by sequestration, furloughs, and future reductions in force (RIFs).
If possible, participants are asked to RSVP to Del. Anderson’s legislative district office at 571-264-9983 or RGalloway@house.virginia.gov. This will permit planning for adequate seating. Requests for more information can also be directed to this office number or email address.
In preparing for the meeting, Anderson stated that “in the last three months, I have heard from several hundred 51st District residents who have been furloughed or otherwise touched by the federal sequester. Time is of the essence and we must move quickly to minimize future furloughs and potential RIFs. We’re already working on a comprehensive package of legislative proposals for the 2014 legislative session, and I want to hit the ground running next January.”
Former New Mexico Governor and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson endorsed Libertarian Robert Sarvis for governor of Virginia today.
In endorsing Sarvis, Governor Johnson remarked, “Robert Sarvis is the only candidate in this year’s most-watched and most negative election who offers a relentlessly positive libertarian vision for Virginia that’s both ‘Open-minded and Open for Business.’ Be Libertarian with me, Virginia, in 2013 and vote for Robert Sarvis for Governor.” Accepting Gov. Johnson’s endorsement, Sarvis stated: “I am honored to receive the endorsement of Gary Johnson. Gov. Johnson campaigned for the White House with a ‘fiscally responsible, socially accepting’ message that complements the Sarvis vision for a Virginia that’s ‘Open-minded and Open for Business.’
“And Gov. Johnson’s presidential campaign helped me make the transition away from the GOP and welcome me into the Libertarian Party, my natural political home.”
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The Virginia Council of Chapters of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) has announced that Virginia Delegate Rich Anderson (R-51st) has been named as the organization’s “2013 Virginia Legislator of the Year.” The award recognizes Anderson’s steadfast support of Virginia’s 830,000 veterans over the past year.
For the last two years, Anderson has chaired the General Assembly Military and Veteran Caucus, which is the legislative clearing house for bills that are introduced on behalf of veterans and military missions based in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Because Virginia is home to 830,000 veterans, the Caucus plays a central role in maintaining Virginia’s national reputation as one of the most veteran-friendly states in the country.
When notified of the award, Anderson stated that “as a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I am humbled to be named the Legislator of the Year by such a distinguished group of American patriots. Nearly one in 10 Virginians has worn the cloth of the country at one time or another, and I have valued the opportunity to play a central role in the quality of life for my fellow veterans. Since my first election in 2009, I have made it one of my priorities in the General Assembly to focus on veterans issues. I’m especially pleased to chair the legislative body that is charged with military and veteran issues.”
Anderson further stated that “I’m pleased to have carried legislation this year with Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36th) to make the “Virginia Values Veterans” (V3) program a formal part of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. The V3 program is focused on reducing veteran unemployment in Virginia by increasing job opportunities for a skilled group that has served our country in uniform. Because of this legislation, more than 4,000 jobs have been committed to Virginia veterans by more than 100 employers across the state.” More information on the V3 program is http://virginiavaluesvets.com.
Del. Anderson is a 30-year veteran of the Air Force who retired in 2009 as a full colonel. Additionally, his wife Ruth served for 21 years in the Air Force Nurse Corps as a senior officer and commander.
Since March of this year, Anderson has served on the Virginia Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities, which is working on a mitigation plan to ease the impact of Sequestration and possible base closures in 2015 and 2017, with a special focus on Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. He also serves on the Virginia Board of Veterans Services and the Virginia War Memorial Board of Trustees. Outside of his legislative duties, Anderson sits on the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Board of Governors, a congressionally-mandated body that reports to the Secretary of the Air Force.
While Anderson may be receiving state-level recognition from MOAA for his past work, he is already looking ahead to the 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Anderson stated that “working with 23 veteran organizations across the state, we’ve already written a comprehensive veteran plan and accompanying legislation for introduction in January. We will never stop working to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America.”
MANASSAS, Va. – Giving a solid answer on his view of the Bi-County Parkway, Virginia Attorney General and Virginia Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli supports the Bi-County Parkway between Interstate 95 in Dumfries and Dulles Airport.
“With the tremendous growth in Loudoun, and Prince William County, and the region, we need new transportation options, but the current proposal on the table is unacceptable,” said Cuccinelli. “We cannot be closing roads down just so we can build a new road…we need all the transportation options we can get.”
He’s referring to an agreement between the state the National Park Service to close U.S. 29 at Va. 234 inside the Manassas National Battlefield Park once the Bi-County Parkway, now under study, is built.
Cuccinelli, of Prince William County, said that as governor he would work to let “locals” to determine the best route for the highway.
His opponent, Terry McAullife, of Fairfax County, avoided a direct position on the proposed highway, but said Dulles is a cargo hub that needs to be expanded so more goods can be shipped to China and Korea.
“… I do not make [transportation] decisions [as governor], nor will I make decisions until I have all the facts in front of me,” said McAuliffe. “I want to get all of the stakeholders in the room…I love a win-win situation…to have economic development… and local say in how things are done.”
Neither candidate shook hands today, nor did they ever occupy the stage at the same time. But both men who want to sit in Virginia’s Governor’s Mansion came to the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas to field questions from members of several regional chambers of commerce for a “Battleground Forum.”
In addition to the pressing transportation issues, education, jobs, and healthcare questions dominated the discussion.
While he incorrectly stated that Virginia ranks 50th in public school teacher pay (it ranks 30th among all U.S. states in average teacher salaries), Cuccinelli and McAuliffe both agreed the Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests are outdated.
“SOLS don’t work. This high stakes multiple choice test at the end of the year…it doesn’t work for students and it doesn’t work for parents,” said McAuliffe.
Both men also agreed on drilling off Virginia’s Atlantic coastline to find new sources of energy. But the candidates are divided over coal — which is abundant supply in the southwest portion of the state.
“The war on coal is a war on the poor in Virginia…I will fight for them. My opponent said we need to move past coal,” said Cuccinelli.
Both men took each other to task over attracting new businesses and jobs to the state, with McAuliffe noting he wants more tax incentives to bring large companies to the state, while Cuccinelli said he wants to review all tax credits, but would not say which ones need to be repealed.
“My opponent says any job from the Federal Government is a not a good job. I don’t believe that. As governor, I want to go to the Federal Government to get as much money as I can for Virginia. Thats the job of the governor.” said McAuliffe.
The Attorney General used the jobs platform to once again attack McAuliffe for his automotive company’s decision to build an auto factory in Mississippi, not Virginia, and producing some 1,500 jobs in that state.
“Terry is the only candidate that has chased business out of this state,” said Cuccinelli.
McAuliffe used Cuccinelli’s reputation as an ideological conservative who sued the federal government over the implementation of Obamacare, and has been an outspoken opponent on a woman’s right to choose.
“In this race you have a choice for rigid ideology and mainstream compromise,” said McAuliffe. “I like mainstream compromise.”
As a new federal healthcare mandate expands in Virginia, McAuliffe says it’ll provide quality care to more than 400,000 Virginians in need.
His opponent said once the state is forced to pay for Obamacare as a whole, it will need to add an additional $200 million to its annual budget to meet the federal mandate. He also used the Obamacare initiative to distance himself from current Republican Governor Robert F. McDonnell, who has been under fire for accepting corporate gifts for his daughter’s wedding and not reporting them as required by law.
“Governor McDonnell took a broad view of Medicaid. I take a deep and narrow view
and do not support medicaid expansion, it’s been the largest, fastest growing, out of control part of our budget, once we get in we can’t get out without federal permission,” said Cuccinelli.
Today’s forum comes before the two are set to debate on Sept. 25, at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.
MANASSAS, Va. – Former marine and current Prince William County teacher Atif Qarni officially opened his campaign office in Manassas in the eastern part of the 13th district on Saturday. Located In the new Precise Auto Store at 7614 Centreville Rd, Manassas, Qarni was joined by over 60 friends, family, supporters, and Democratic Nominee for Attorney General Senator Mark Herring and Democratic House Chair Delegate Mark Sickles.
“I want to take my record of service as a Marine and my experience as a teacher to be a strong representative for the district that actually focuses on the issues that affect us every day like creating good paying jobs, reducing traffic and congestion and making sure our schools are the best they can be,” said Qarni.
Qarni is challenging Delegate Bob Marshall who is known for his efforts as a leader in the effort to restrict access to family planning services for Virginia women, while Senator Herring is facing Senator Mark Obenshain in the Attorney General race.
“The 13th District deserves a Delegate who will focus on solving problems, not on an extreme social agenda,” Senator Herring stated. “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.”