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Here is an infographic showing how many bills each Virginia legislator passed during the 2017 session

This post has been corrected: The previous graphic erred in saying that Bulova had a zero (0.000) rate in passing the bills he sponsored in 2016. In fact, he batted 0.500 — he passed 7 of his 14 bills.

 

News
Carter vows to combat economic insecurity

Lee Jin Carter is running for the 50th District of the House of Delegates

Carter submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump.

Election information for 2017 from the Virginia Office of Elections: 

6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

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

News
Jennifer Carroll Foy wants to bring Metro to Prince William

Jennifer Carroll Foy is running for the 2nd District of the House of Delegates.

Foy submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump. 

6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing voters in your district?

Foy: Transportation improvement, Education, Protecting Women’s Rights (more…)

News
Austion wants to create opportunity through education

Laquan Austion is currently running for the 2nd District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. 

Austion submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump.

Election information for 2017 from the Virginia Office of Elections: 

6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing voters in your district?

Austion: Transportation, Education, Fostering an environment for opportunities and upward mobility (more…)

News
Guzman seeks expansion of Medicaid in House of Delegates bid

Elizabeth Guzman seeks to augment Medicaid and early childhood development programs.

Guzman submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump.

Election information for 2017 from the Virginia Office of Elections: 

6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing voters in your district?

Guzman: Expansion of Medicaid; expansion of early childhood education in the form of Early Head Start and Head Start; and  create community support systems for veterans (more…)

News
Stewart plans Virginia Gubernatorial Campaign launch in Occoquan

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart is making a run for the office of Virginia Governor.

From Corey Stewart for Governor Campaign:

You’re invited to join us this Monday night to kick-off our campaign to Take Back Virginia from the political elites, at our Northern Virginia Launch Party.

It will be this Monday, January 23rd at Bistro L’Hermitage, 12724 Occoquan Rd, Woodbridge, VA 22192. You can sign up to attend here.

Come out and meet our team and learn how you can help Take Back Virginia. Appetizers will be provided.

WHAT: Northern Virginia Launch Party

WHERE: Bistro L’Hermitage
12724 Occoquan Rd
Woodbridge, VA 22192

WHEN: Monday, January 23rd at 7 PM

News
Roem on Route 28: ‘We can fix the roadway without raising taxes’

Longtime journalist Danica Roem seeks to unseat Bob Marshall in Virginia’s 13th House of Delegates District. 

Roem submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump.
 
Election information for 2017 from the Virginia Office of Elections: 
 
6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing voters in your district?

(more…)

News
Boddye wants to put marketing skills to work as state legislator

Ken Boddye aims to challenge incumbent Richard Anderson in Virginia’s 51st House of Delegates District.
 
Boddye submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump.
 
Election information for 2017 from the Virginia Office of Elections: 
 
6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

 
PL: What are the top three major issues facing voters in your district?

(more…)

News
King makes another run at 2nd District House of Delegates seat in Stafford, Woodbridge

This is Josh King’s second run at the 2nd District House of Delegates seat. He lost his 2015 bid to Republican Mark Dudenhefer, who announced in January 2017 he won’t seek reelection.
 
Election information for 2017 from the Virginia Office of Elections: 
 
6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017

Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.

Where do I go to vote? 

 

(more…)

News
Potomac Local Voter Guide 2016: What’s on my ballot?

It’s been a long election season, and in it will be all over in about 48 hours.

We crafted this local voter guide for residents in Prince William and Stafford counties and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. This handy guide will tell you who is on your ballot, from presidential candidates, city council, and school board.

Also in the Guide: Links to profiles for the two candidates running in the special Manassas City Treasuer election, and links to the two constitutional amendments all Virginia voters will see when they go to the polls on Tuesday.

PotomacLocal.com’s Project: Election sent candidate surveys to all of the candidates listed this post. We have linked to the responses submitted by the candidates. 

If there is no link provided for a candidate for local offices, that candidate did not provide Project: Election questionnaire. 

For Presidential and Congressional candidates, we linked to their campaign websites. An asterisk notes incumbents. 

U.S. President 

Prince William County

1st Congressional District 

10th Congressional District

11th Congressional District

City of Manassas 

10th Congressional District

Manassas City Mayor 

City of Manassas Park 

Manassas Park City Mayor 

Governing Body 

Stafford County 

1st Congressional District 

Griffis-Widewater District School Board Representative 

Now for the two Constitutional Amendment questions that all Virginia residents will see.

Here is the first Constitutional Amendment question on the ballot: 

Should Article I of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise?

Here is the second Constitutional Amendment question on the ballot: 

Shall the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to provide an option to the localities to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who was killed in the line of duty, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?

See more 2016 election coverage

News
Ivanka Trump will be at Red Rose Events Center today in Manassas

Donald Trump is scheduled to appear tonight at 6 p.m. at a campaign rally at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds in Leesburg.

From the campaign:

Get your tickets to join Donald Trump and team in Leesburg, VA TONIGHT at 9:30 PM for a rally! Get your tickets here. Details about the event are below:

Sunday, Nov. 6th: Leesburg, VA
Loudoun Fairgrounds
17558 Dry Mill Rd.
Leesburg, VA 20175

Doors Open: 6:30 PM
Event Begins: 9:30 PM
Get your tickets here.

With election day approaching quickly, we are looking for volunteers to make phone calls and knock doors. To make calls from our office or to get a walking list, stop by any of our offices. To make calls from home, register for an account at https://talk.donaldjtrump.com.

Please limit personal items and arrive early to expedite entrance into the venue – please note, NO homemade signs, banners, professional cameras with a detachable lens, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, back packs or large bags will be permitted into the venue.

Ivanka Trump will appear in Manassas on Monday.

The daughter of Donald Trump will take questions during a “town hall” meeting just one day before the election. The event will be held at the Red Rose Events Center located at 9705 Liberia Avenue, #101, in Manassas.

Ivanka Trump will take the stage at 2:30  2 p.m. in a campaign event to support her father, according to a spokesman for Corey Stewart, whose been representing Trump in Virginia for nearly a year.

Updated

We’re told locally elected officials will participate in the Ivanka Trump event. We don’t know the names of the local politicians that plan to attend

News
Tim Kaine will stump for Clinton on Monday at George Mason University

Tim Kaine will stump in Northern Virginia the day before Election Day. 

The U.S. Senator and Hillary Clinton’s Vice-Presidential running mate will come back to George Mason Univeristy in Fairfax on Monday. 

From the campaign: 

At his final rallies before Election Day, Tim Kaine will return home to campaign in Northern Virginia and Richmond, joined by Anne Holton, on MondayNovember 7Kaine will urge Virginians to make history on Tuesday by electing Hillary Clinton president and embracing an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. Kaine will also lay out how the divisive and dangerous views espoused by Donald Trump in his campaign make him unqualified, unfit and unworthy to lead this great nation. 

GOTV Rally at George Mason University with Tim Kaine and Anne Holton
When: 7:30 PM EST, MondayNovember 7, 2016
Doors Open: 5:30 PM EST
Where: George Mason University, North Plaza (adjacent to the Johnson Center), 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA, 22030

This is the second time Kaine has appeared George Mason’s Johnson Center during the 2016 campaign. He joined Clinton there in July for a rally prior to his selection as her running mate. 

News
Williams says her priority is to get all Manassas schools fully accredited

 

Robyn Williams is seeking a seat on the Manassas City School Board.

We sent a questionnaire to Williams, and her responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Williams: 1. All schools must be fully state accredited 2. Every child deserves a great education from Special Ed to our most academic achievers 3. Consistent communication.

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

Williams: Every school must be fully accredited. It is my first and foremost priority to ensure all the schools in Manassas City are fully accredited. All of the Manassas City Public Schools are fully accredited except for Metz. There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. We are too small of a district to have a school-of-choice program, but I envision grouping more of our same skilled set students together to obtain the greatest impact and excel our passing rates, not just to the minimum requirements, but to higher levels. I would like to see a working partnership with teachers. Teachers are who touch our children on a daily basis and have the most impact on our success as a district.

 

Every student deserves a great education. I truly believe our schools are unique serving a small community providing opportunities for each child to be the very best they can be. From special education to our highest academic achievers. Our community demands it; I demand it.  Focusing on safety and student achievement both inside and outside of the classroom, using a comprehensive approach including: rigorous academic curriculum, high expectations and positive reinforcement for both students and teachers, efficient use of resources, school-community partnerships, staff development, leveraging of technology, and increased communication is how I will ensure each student receives a quality education.  

Consistent communication. Efficient parent-teacher communication is vital. Our school system must make use of cutting edge digital communication methods, in addition to written and personal communications, to see that parents are aware and involved in their student’s academic journey. 

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

Williams:
From my prospective, it is the job or our School Board to always be cognitive of what changes are coming about by paying close attention to our community as a whole, what our society needs from our student body as they transition into being productive happy citizens, and to what the future trends are in our public education system from federal and state levels, so that we can predict correctly.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Williams:
I founded Redstone Realty in January of 2013, and before Redstone Realty, co-founded Williams Realty in 2004. As president and principal broker, I have direct management and supervision of the brokerage firm and its practitioners.
 
My responsibilities include developing policies and procedures for the firm, education, and enforcement of the policies and procedures set forth, as well as, ensuring compliance with federal and state mandates.  In addition to supervisory duties, my role as a Realtor requires me to develop and maintain relationships through personal interaction and extraordinary customer service while paying close attention to numerous details.
 
Negotiating and problem solving are skill sets crucial to me as a real estate practitioner. The experience and knowledge I have gained through so many experiences have prepared me for the task of being a strong school board member caring for our students, our teachers, and our community.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of the Manassas City School Board? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Williams: I think it is difficult to have a real understanding of the workings of our government because it does take time and involvement, particularly at the school board level. Too many of our citizens in today’s society are simply stretched too thin when it comes to the time they have. I would personally reach out to our community through the various clubs we have, through homeowners associations, and events throughout the city, not through school events alone. The schools affect our community as much as our community affects our schools, a concept that needs to be recognized.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Williams: I have made many mistakes throughout my lifetime, and I am quite sure I will make much more. The mistakes I have made in the past have helped me deal with any mistakes I will make in the future. To make mistakes it to learn from them. I rather learn from a mistake I have made and take one step closer to being a better human being than make no mistakes at all.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Williams: I have a vision, families wanting to send their children to Manassas City Public Schools. I have two children, both attending Metz Middle School, and I know we have some challenges to overcome, but the students we have in our classrooms are capable of meeting higher expectations should we provide them. 

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

News
Seaberg seeks first full 4-year term on Manassas City School Board

Suzanne Westre Seaberg is running to keep her seat on the Manassas City School Board. 
Seaberg was appointed to the Board in June following the resignation of Ellen Purdy.
 
We sent a questionnaire to Seaberg, and her responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Seaberg: Community engagement, school environment, advancing student success.

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

Seaberg: We can foster communication, engagement and leadership in the community with clear and accessible information, additional outreach measures to the families that need it most, and continually working to build more leaders that are representative of our community.

Expand the culture of caring with programming throughout the division to foster positive mental health for our students and staff and to elevate respect for self and others.

Expose all students to a variety of career opportunities. Expand CTE options for students and working partnerships with businesses through internships and externships.

Build the community’s confidence and trust by listening, responding, demonstrating fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency while working toward positive solutions.

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

Seaberg: As a school board member, I bring a unique perspective to a seven-member team. We work together to set policy, approve a budget, and evaluate the superintendent. Overall, I am an objective and collaborative decision-maker. I balance the needs of community stakeholders while remaining focused on serving the children in our Manassas City Schools family.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Seaberg:
 Seventeen years of business experience (primarily escrow officer) and 15 years of volunteer experience in our community and our schools.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of the Manassas City School Board? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Seaberg: In our information-rich society, our citizens want to be well-informed and have quick access to the information they seek. Communication can be improved with clear, complete, and accessible information online or via text. Some of this is currently available/possible and improvements are underway for mobile-friendly access. Some of our citizens may benefit from specialized parent advocacy groups, and efforts should be continued so that ALL families feel included and welcome in our schools and our city. There are many that desire to understand the processes of our local government. I am actively promoting citizen participation in the MCPS Parent and Community Leadership Academy that provides information and builds an understanding of the workings of our local government. Just another opportunity to consider how one can take a role in affecting positive change in the City of Manassas. Additionally, everyone with a student in our schools may wish to download the Manassas City Public Schools App on your mobile device (if you haven’t already) to stay informed of news, events, and your student’s grades.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Seaberg: “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new” ~ Albert Einstein. I am appreciative of experiences I have had in my volunteer roles along the way that have built my philosophy to consider decisions on behalf of all children in our schools and not just for the children in my home, or the families on my street. Although I have been a school board member for only three months, I am prepared and understanding new ways to be effective. Of course, there will be “learning opportunities” along the way, but I am committed to this role and the success of our schools. I love our City and the people in it. If elected, I will be honored to serve in this way for the next four years.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Seaberg: I ask for your consideration in electing me to the School Board for a full four-year term based on my belief in the importance of a strong public school system, my extensive years of volunteer experience in our schools and community at large, and my advocacy of high expectations for all students.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

News
Albrecht aims to bring attention to English Language Learning as Manassas School Board member

Scott M. Albrecht seeks to keep his seat on the Manassas City School Board, a position he’s held since 2000.
 
We sent Albrecht a questionaire, and his responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Albrecht: We have accomplished a lot in our City schools, yet we still have further to go, including full accreditation for all Schools.

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

Albrecht: Achieving accreditation at all schools must be a priority. Having even one school without the accreditation as we do now does not meet our communities expectation. It takes many things within the school “system” to achieve this kind of comprehensive result, and three actions I personally want to be sure that we do not lose the focus on are: retaining our small class sizes, continuing our early learning focus by expanding our State recognized PreK program for all students (so that every student starts school with equal learning opportunities), and achieving a robust CTE curriculum at Osbourn High School (that will allow all students to be employed upon graduation with career and life skills that will make them productive members of our society).

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

Albrecht: The Code of Virginia specifies the role and responsibilities of a School Board in the Commonwealth. From my perspective, first and foremost we are the link between the community and the school system. It is our job to be sure that all students receive the best education possible within the financial limitations set by federal, state and local budgets.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Albrecht:
In over 16 years serving you I have learned that experience matters. With the retirement of Mr. Bushnell from the Board, there is the potential if I am not re-elected that the combined years of experience of the Board on January 1 will be about 18 years.
A Board without history and context could make bad decisions.Experience matters. My 16 years of experience in all phases of school governance and funding are needed. My specific local School Board experience includes: serving as Chair and Vice Chair, serving over 12 years on the finance committee. Representing Manassas to state and federal officials as a member of the legislative committee, helping plan, start up and lead our regional Governors School, twice as Board Chair, and serving on the education support and facilities committee, spearheading much of our long range planning and community engagement.
Additionally, if re-elected I have been honored by my peers across the Commonwealth of Virginia to be the President-Elect of the Virginia School Board Association. This will bring significant pride and notoriety to Manassas, and I would hope that in this position I can help elevate our local issues such as English Language Learning and the cost of competition in Northern Virginia. Finally, in my professional career, I am a certified Program Manager and oversee a portfolio of programs with full revenue, cost and profit responsibility for approximately $50 million annually.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of the Manassas City School Board? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Albrecht: The loss of a traditional print newspaper in Manassas remains a void in community communication. Manassas is also the small news item in a major metropolitan area. Online forums and media have somewhat filled the void, and our schools have taken considerable efforts to engage parents and the community. Our Board is fully transparent in all of our budget and academic actions and actively attempts to engage the community. Despite this, I agree with the perception that members of the community could be better informed, and as a Board Member will continue to advocate for full transparency and increased use of nontraditional media with the goal of well informed and involved citizens.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Albrecht: We all make mistakes in our public, private and professional lives. These mistakes help shape us. I take every success and failure as a learning opportunity.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Albrecht: First and foremost, the citizens of Manassas should vote for me if they believe experience matters. Since my first election in 2000, I have led the Board to policy changes aimed at the success of all students. 
 
Among my accomplishments are: eliminating artificial barriers to entry for AP and Honors classes (they are now self-registered); leading policy changes to allow homeschooled and private schooled students to attend Metz Middle School and Osbourn High School part time; advocating for all children in the City (not just enrolled students) to have access to Footsteps2Brilliance, and ingraining discipline in our planning – we now have a multi-year maintenance plan and realistic revenue and expense projections (to include new Baldwin that will open on time in December). 
 
Many in our community say our schools are failing. I believe in our school system, the future of our children and the potential for our City. We have made significant progress in our schools, including OHS being named a Silver Medal school and in the top 16% of VA high schools by US News and World Reports, OHS receiving a Grammy School for Excellence in Fine Arts Education, and Weems being recognized as a National Urban School of Excellence. I want to build on these successes and reach full accreditation for all of our schools and have success for all of our students. 
 
I am a recognized leader in our schools in Manassas, have positive working relationships with elected leaders throughout the City our region, and State, and if re-elected will be President-Elect of the Virginia School Board Association. This will bring significant pride and notoriety to Manassas, and result in our local challenges receiving increased statewide attention.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

News
Jones running for Mayor on record of rebuilding Manassas Park schools, facilities

Frank Jones  is seeking another term as Mayor of Manassas Park. It’s a seat he’s held for the past 12 years. 
 
He’s running against Jeanette Rishell, who has served on the Manassas Park Governing Body.
 
We sent a questionnaire to Jones and Rishell. Jones’ responses are below: 
 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Jones: The city must diversify its tax base. This is the single biggest issue facing our city, as all we do is based upon available tax revenue. Our schools, police, fire, and public works department depend on city resources to accomplish their respective missions.

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

Jones: Smart development. The city should engage the business community to develop available real estate in the city in such a way that increases and diversifies our tax base, while not increasing demand for city services. This is action the city is already undertaking. The city has a great opportunity to work with private industry to develop the land into both commercial property and age-restricted housing, neither of which increase demand on our school system, our single biggest city expense, while both increase tax revenue.

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

Jones: The Mayor is first and foremost the city and all its departments’ leadership in and out of Manassas Park. In addition to that, the Mayor is to be an advocate and ambassador for the city when working with other locales, state and federal officials.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Jones:
I have over 25 years experience serving Manassas Park residents. In addition to my service in the U.S. Navy and as the current Mayor I have served in a variety of positions: Member and former Chairman of Manassas Park School Board Vice-Chairman of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Committee Member of Flory Center Small Business Council Commissioner on Northern Virginia Regional Commission Human Resources and Facilities Director for a Defense Agency with offices across the nation.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of city government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Jones: I think most citizens Local government affects our daily lives more than any other level of government. I think it crucial citizens take an active interest in what local government is doing. We have made the business of the Governing Body, as well as our school system, public works, and public safety as accessible as possible via the internet, cable TV, and social media. In addition to this, I have recently tried several telephone town halls, where citizens can get a brief city update from me, as well as ask questions and voice concerns. As we have seen a good response to these, I plan to hold more of these in the future.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Jones: Yes, I have made mistakes. Each created a learning opportunity and an experience to improve personally moving forward.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Jones: I have three things to offer Manassas Park: a record, a plan, and a vision for the city. During my tenure as Mayor, I led the city through the toughest economic period in the city’s history. On my watch, the city’s credit rating was upgraded from “BBB” to “A+” and city valuation has increased over $330 million in the last four years.
 
I led the efforts to rebuild our crumbling schools, community center, police and fire stations. Through our work, our city’s first responders have some of the best facilities, vehicles, equipment, and training of any other jurisdiction in Northern Virginia; our state of the art police station is the envy of other departments in Virginia. Through all of this, we have made our city the 7th safest in the Commonwealth. We not only have a safe city to raise our children, but we have great schools to educate them. 
 
Now, I will tell you I didn’t do any of this by myself, but rather by bringing people together to achieve a common goal. Leadership is the ability to work across political divides, personalities, and differing viewpoints to get the job done–this is the kind of leadership I offer Manassas Park.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

News
Wolfe: Manassas needs a comprehensive plan for next 30 years

 

Mark Wolfe is running to keep his seat on the Manassas City Council. Spending eight years on the council as Republican. this is the first time he seeks office as a Democrat.

 
We sent a questionnaire to Wolfe and his responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Wolfe: Improving our schools, enhanced economic development and involving our citizens in planning for the future of Manassas.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
 
Wolfe: First, we need to engage our citizens in a comprehensive, public, strategic planning exercise. We need to fully understand the goals, desires and vision of the citizens of Manassas as we plan for the next 30 years.

After gaining citizen input, we can begin implementing programs and budgetary choices consistent with the vision expressed by the citizens.

One idea that has been suggested in the education community is adding having universal Pre-K to our schools. Educators have told me that this is the most effective means of improving results/test scores in the schools.

Another idea is to expand our Economic Development efforts. That we need to expand the staffing and resources dedicated by the City to recruit new businesses to Manassas and to help the existing businesses to grow.

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

Wolfe: The job of the City Council is to be responsive to the citizens. Taking input from our the citizens the Council sets the priorities and vision for the City staff to implement. The City Council does not manage the City workforce; that is the job of the City Manager. Nor does the Council administer the Schools.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Wolfe:
The expertise I bring in eight years of experience in doing the job coupled with over 35 years of business experience. This experience involves success in both the profit and non-profit sectors.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of city government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Wolfe: Our citizens are not as fully informed or engaged about their local government as the could/should be. Many of our citizens have recently moved to Manassas and are not familiar with their government and the plans for the future of Manassas. The most impactful step that the City can take to improve the level of understanding and engagement is to involve the citizens in a broad-based input process for the Manassas strategic plan. This was last done in 2003. Think of how Manassas has changed since 2003. To have a positive future for Manassas it is imperative that all parts of the community are afforded the opportunity to be a part of this process.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Wolfe: That we (and I) have at times been too slow to address important needs and opportunities confronting our community. A good example is a need for a Southside fire station. The City has known for years that the fire/rescue response times to much of our community to significantly above the recommended times and national standard. Yet it has taken the City years to begin to rectify the problem. I should have been more forceful in bringing this issue to head.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Wolfe: Because I have been a leader in helping to make Manassas a better place to live. With Andy Harrover I helped champion the Battle Street redevelopment. I then led the way to the improvements on Main Street. Together these projects have added to the vitality of Manassas and have provided added City revenue without raising taxes. I have also led the way on the Gateway project which will add significantly to our commercial tax base. I have championed the revitalization of the South Grant Avenue area, the Prince William Street improvements and the location of a new library into Manassas. And I have also fought for a South Side fire station. It is easy to be comfortable. To say that things are good enough. And not to push for change and continued growth. But Manassas competes in a global marketplace for businesses and residents.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

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Decatur wants cash capital fund for Stafford schools, more resource officers

Jamie Decatur is running to for a seat on the Stafford County School Board.

She and her opponent Dana Rienboldt aim to replace Emily Fallon who is sentenced to serve one year in prison after she stole more than $23,000 from the Anne E. Moncure Elementary School PTO, while she was the president of the organization. 

The Stafford County School Board appointed Melissa Ayres to fill the seat in June on a temporary basis. Ayres chose not to seek election to the seat on a permanent basis, said Stafford County General Registrar Greg Riddlemoser.
 
We sent a questionnaire to Decatur and her responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing parents and students in the Griffis-Widewater District?

Decatur: Responsible Fiscal Management, School Safety, Competitive Pay Scale for all employees

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
 
Decatur: We will reevaluate the budget development practices and ensure that the process for budget creation is realistic and efficient. I will ensure that the school board puts in place a system of checks and balances to eliminate wasteful and inappropriate spending of the school’s budget.
I’d like to discuss the possibility of a cash capital fund for our schools, which will help eliminate overestimating of budgetary needs, and greedy spending practices. We will develop a hierarchy of needs and direct funds toward the most necessary and appropriate matters annually.

First and foremost, ensuring that Stafford County is compensating our teachers and staff members appropriately as planned for in the market-based compensation plan. We need to develop replacement cycles for updating equipment including school buses and technology.

And finally, we need to continue and further develop sharing resources within the county which will improve our spending practices and reduce waste countywide. I’d like to add a resource officer in each middle and high school to improve relations and increase security as well as add a resource officer in each elementary school, as our county does not currently have one at any elementary school.

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

Decatur: The role of a school board member is to be the voice for the residents in their community. When brought together as a unified whole, the school board cohesively serves the county, helping the school system to operate efficiently and provide students with the best education possible for the taxpayers’ dollar. I believe each member should each bring unique experience and expertise along with a creative approach, and the wishes of the members of the community we represent to create and uphold a school system that stands out in the Commonwealth.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Decatur:
I have 10 years of experience in managing schools, creating and balancing the schools’ budget, working with the accreditation process, school meals programs, hiring and training teachers and ancillary staff members, and building successful relationships with parents, students, and school systems throughout Virginia.

I also have the interpersonal skills necessary to facilitate an open dialogue that will begin to repair the relationship between the school board, board of supervisors and residents of our county. We simply must work together cohesively and responsibly to ensure that we make decisions for our county that will benefit all of us for many generations to come.

 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of the School Board If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Decatur: As an average citizen, I believe that local government could do more to inform citizens of decisions that will impact their lives, including infrastructure, fiscal management, policies, etc. I believe that many decisions are not made easily accessible to the general public because doing so would cause “unnecessary” challenges in the process. However, I also believe that elected officials must understand that the process of creating a community in which everyone can prosper and thrive will not be easy and that making our community aware, despite the challenges that could arise, is an important and necessary part of the process. Communication cannot be limited to those who have the time to come to board meetings or watch them on TV. Many people do not make the time in their day to day schedules and it does not mean that they care any less about the happenings in our community. Whether we like it or not, social media is the one place that most people dedicate time to daily because it is quick and easily accessible by hand-held devices and I think we could start there as a means of improving communications with our community.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Decatur: No one is perfect, however, I believe that any choices I’ve made have been vital in preparing me for each new phase of my life. I believe that my choices have made me the person I am, capable of understanding and empathizing with people from many walks of life, and I try to teach all of my students that each day is a new beginning for them to create a life that they are proud of. When a person is capable of analyzing their decisions and learning from them, I believe that is key to setting them on the path to success.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Decatur: I want the absolute best for our community. I want our taxpayers to feel that their interest is being managed responsibly and respectfully and I want our children to receive an education that will set them on their individual pathways to success in their lives.

If I felt that those interests were being handled properly within our district, I wouldn’t be here asking for your vote. When irresponsible decisions are made in local government, they will directly affect our lives and when we’re talking about the school board, those decisions will directly affect my child’s education.

The mismanagement of millions of our tax dollars may not have affected the student’s in our county during the years in which it happened, however when we failed to give raises because that money was missing from the county’s budget, many wonderful teachers began leaving Stafford County and taking jobs elsewhere.

You will hear that the School Board was not given accurate information, however, I believe that it was the job of the School Board to cross check any reports they received to ensure all information was accurate and valid. When that failed to happen, repercussions became imminent for future students in our county, including my son and his peers.

I will not focus on the problems but rather the solutions that will set our school system back on the right path. I have the experience necessary to do so as well as an open mind and a fresh approach that will not only set us on the right path but will move our district ahead of all others in our educational practices.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

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Kiefer: Student achievement is about rigor, innovation, not just tests

Kristen Michelle Kiefer has spent a year and a half on the Manassas City School Board. 
 
The Board appointed her in February 2015 after Ilka Chavez stepped down. She is runing to keep her seat on the Board, and city voters will head to the polls on November 8.
 
We sent a questionnaire to Keifer and call candidates seeking a seat on the Manassas City School Board. Her responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Kiefer: Envisioning and shaping the future for student achievement, ensuring safe, nurturing learning environments and workplace, and communicating with key stakeholders.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
 
Kiefer: Envision & Shape the Future for Student Achievement
• Make every school a strong center of learning for students to reach their full potential
• Fight to make sure achievement is about rigor, innovation & hands-on experiences, not just tests
• Equip students with real world skills and critical thinking needed to thrive ensure safe, nurturing learning

Environment & Workplace
• Continue positive changes in class structure to provide more supervision during class transitions

• Promote Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) to ‘course correct’ early on
• Ensure re-entry plans are constructive for the student but also demands accountability on their part
 
Communicate with Key Stakeholders
• Connect with parents, teachers & community members through open, courageous conversations
• Increase awareness of the multiple mechanisms to stay informed and become involved in the division
 
PL: From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Kiefer
: “At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings…that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.” – Fred Rogers

For me, this quotation resonates as I think about the attributes I feel a School Board member needs to possess: selflessness in thinking about all students, passion for the mission of the improvement of our children holistically, and commitment to be in the service of others. For me, the job description is NOT a politician (even though it’s an elected office). Instead, I view it as being a public servant committed to the mission of preparing our children for their futures through good governance, sound stewardship of resources and strong, cascading leadership at all levels of the division.


PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Kiefer: 
Being raised by a mother who was both an educator and an administrator, I have an appreciation for the value of a good education and its importance to being the foundation for children as they look to build their futures. I watched how much time and energy my mother poured into each and every child, day in and day out. I saw her struggle for and with them…..they were all her children. She is an inspiration to me, and has instilled in me that education is a gift and that everyone deserves to have an equal opportunity to have that gift in their own lives. And she is the one who encouraged me to go for the school board appointment last year.as it helped me determine the course I would take in my own educational journey.
Through dedication, loans and working while in school, I went on to earn my Bachelor in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Health and a Master of Public Policy. Additionally, my husband and I are now helping our own children on their own MCPS educational journey and trying to make them the best students and citizens they can be and instilling the importance of being committed to, and personal responsibility to their own educational and life’s journey.
 
With the solid basis provided through this education, I have developed a knowledge base that enhances what I am able to do in my professional life. As Chief of Staff at a national organization, I am a change agent both internally and externally, am in charge of ensuring strategic alignment across all aspects of the organization as we try to achieve lofty 2020 goals, and oversee our external affairs, community network development, Board governance and customer relationship management functions.
 
I have to be a good listener, a strong executive manager, an example to staff members and a representative of the organization and its mission – all skills that I believe, parallel those needed to be a School Board member. As I think about my childhood roots, my educational background and my professional life, I understand how fortunate I am for the opportunities I have been afforded and believe that I have an even bigger societal contribution to make.
 
My involvement in the Manassas City community has included a PTO Presidency at Baldwin Elementary School, Committee Chair for the Mayfield Intermediate and Metz Middle Schools’ PTA, membership on the Superintendent’s Parent & Community Leadership Academy and Key Communicators Group, representative on the Gifted & Talented Program Advisory Committee, and leadership roles in the Greater Manassas Baseball League (GMBL), Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. I am ready, able and willing to serve the City of Manassas if re-elected to the School Board.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of city government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Kiefer: Now that I have been in public office for about a year and a half, I can say that I don’t believe that many citizens understand the “ins” and “outs” of local government. In terms of the school division, I think that understanding the distinction between what the School Board is and is not responsible for is something that is difficult to understand. Similarly, I think we have work to do to talk about how the School Board and City Council are or are not interrelated. I am proud of the efforts that the Manassas City Public Schools division has put into place to increase communication and it is something that the School Board, superintendent and staff talk about a lot. And, we know there is room for improvement and will continue to strive to better tell the “story of our schools”, communicate even more effectively with parents, teachers and the community by listening to how they best receive information and with other local community leaders and citizens.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Kiefer: Everyone has things in their lives which they wish they had done differently, and I am no exception. The one thing that I will always be cognizant of is whether I am following my gut and my heart in the questions I ask and the decisions I make when we talk about our children. Many tough decisions come before the School Board and it is my duty to be fully informed, process all information and make the decision that I believe is best. I have had my first year and a half to observe how things work and am now more comfortable with the work at hand.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Kiefer: If you speak with anyone who knows me or works with me, they will tell you that I am a very mission-oriented and focused person. I am behind-the-scenes in the impact I make and do not look to be in the limelight. Being a public servant is not about ME, it’s how we find ways to collectively co-create the community we ALL want to live in. I am sincere and believe in our children as the future of our community and of our country. Relationships are everything and, if we can’t collaborate and work together for the greater good, then we are nothing.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

News
O’Hanlon: Vocational, tech courses must be offered in Manassas schools

Peter O’Hanlon is running for a seat on the Manassas City School Board.
 
We sent a questionnaire to O’Hanlon and all candidates running for Manassas City School Board. His responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

O’Hanlon: Communications, safety, and curriculum.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
 
O’Hanlon: First, I want to work to improve communications. While the schools work very hard to reach out to and involve parents, we still have some improvements to make. I have often observed parents pour out their hearts to the school board, advocating for their children, without receiving a response. Items brought to the board must be responded to, preferably, publicly at the next meeting.  Additionally, we have to ensure we have a means to communicate to all of our families. When disseminating information, we must keep in mind that everyone does not have access to the same resources.
 
Second, we need to ensure the safety, both physically and mentally, of all of our students and staff. The schools have made great advances in improving safety such as increased background checks of employees, scanning the identification of all school visitors, and more in-depth checks for volunteers. However, the schools need to be more transparent about safety incidents at the schools. Both the schools and the police have an obligation to report, for the public record, all serious incidents where students or faculty were at risk. Additionally, we need to continue the task of eliminating bullying at all levels of the system. Everyone should feel the same level of comfort they would in their own home.
 
Third, we need to continue evaluating the course selections and career paths available for the students. We hear quite a bit about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), but as everyone here can attest to, not everyone goes into these fields. The humanities are imperative as we head down a slope where there is increasing the loss of quality written and verbal communication. Additionally, we too often ask our students to make choices of paths at earlier and earlier ages, often to the detriment of providing a more rounded education. We also tend to over-emphasize that college is the only path.
 
According to Forbes, six of the twenty fastest, growing jobs do not require four-year college degrees. We need to take a greater look at the needs locally, and ensure the schools are meeting these needs, where possible. The trades always need attention, as we always have a need for electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Vocational and Technical Education courses must be offered, if for no other reason than to provide life skills, in addition to career exploration. We must prepare well-rounded students for the community and the world we live in.
 
PL: From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

O’Hanlon
: As a school board member you represent the community in advocating for the best educational opportunities for our children.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

O’Hanlon:
I am the parent of five children who have all gone through the Manassas City Schools, the youngest currently a senior. I have been an active volunteer in the schools for 25 years. Additionally, as a retired senior auditor, I have the ability to work for solutions in areas of underachievement. I can ensure the resident’s investments are properly utilized.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of city government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
O’Hanlon: I believe they understand how it works, however, they don’t always like how it works. I would improve communications by providing feedback to parents who bring issues before the school board. These issues would be addressed at the following meeting. Additionally, I would suggest forums, both public and for educators, to discuss educational issues. The parents need to have more dialog with the schools, not just the one way communication we currently have.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
O’Hanlon: Not that I consider it a major mistake, just a learning experience. I wish I had completed a college education when I was younger. My mistake was to leave college after two years (for several reasons) and not return full time.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
O’Hanlon: I have taken on leadership roles in both my former work life and in all the volunteer positions I have held. I give tirelessly of myself trying to improve people’s situations in life. I believe my running for the school board is just taking all my other efforts to the next level.

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

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Richie-Folks: More online services need to make paying Manassas taxes simple

Manassas residents will head to the polls November 8, 2016, to vote for a new City Treasurer.
 
Current City Treasurer Robin Perkins served in the position for the past 18 years and decided not to seek reelection.
 
Patricia Richie-Folks is the Democrat on the ballot, and Russell T. Harrison is her Republican opponent. 
 
We sent a questionnaire to Richie-Folks and Harrison. Richie-Folks’ responses are below: 

Find your polling place 

PL: What are the top three major issues facing Manassas residents?

Richie-Folks: N/A

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
 
Richie-Folks: I am running for City Treasurer, and there are no issues that I will be addressing if elected. The City Treasurer is a Constitutional Elected Office and follows the rules and regulations of the State of Virginia for the Treasurer and the City of Manassas Charter.
 
PL: From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Richie-Folks: I will be responsible for collecting the taxes for the city and making sure that they are deposited in the designated financial institutions. I will also be responsible for operating the city treasurer’s office and managing the staff.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Richie-Folks:
I have 35 years of experience in finance, accounting, managing over 30 employees, managing multi-million dollar budgets, investing $100,000 for [American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT)], owned my own construction company, I also developed procedures to bring delinquent accounts current, and I have received awards for providing excellent customer service. I was promoted to General Manager for a worldwide corporation [Sodexo] where I was responsible for managing the division’s budget of $5 million.
 
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of city government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 
 
Richie-Folks: I feel that the citizens should be well-informed on what is going on in the treasurer’s office. I will improve the communication to our constituency by updating the treasure’s Office web page and always have pertinent information that is current with a FAQ section that will answer frequently asked questions and give this information out not only in English but in Spanish as well. I would also like to send a newsletter out to all citizens with their utility bills.
 
PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?
 
Richie-Folks: Yes, I have made mistakes in my public life, and I learned from these mistakes. By making these mistakes, I began to grow and became a better person for it. This helped me to be more observant and to realize that no one is perfect and I am always open to learning and trying out new innovative ideas and most importantly listening.
 
PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?
 
Richie-Folks: The reason the citizens of Manassas should vote for me is I will make sure that the City Treasurer’s office operates effectively with efficiency, accuracy, excellent customer service and most importantly transparency. I will make sure that the City treasurer’s office is in compliance with state laws and regulations and adheres to Manassas City codes and ordinances.

I have done research and spoke with other City Treasurer’s around the Northern Virginia areas, and I have some innovative ideas that I would like to bring to the Manassas City Treasure’s office. I would like to make it more accessible and have more online services to help make the process of paying taxes simple.

I know that there is a new system that is being installed and will become operational in January. If I am elected, I will be a part of the installation of this system and will be able to make sure that these services will be looked into and if cost-effective put in place.

I would also like to accommodate our senior citizens and make paying taxes easier and accessible for them and the disabled. We live in a world of technology, and everything can be done online, and I want our citizens to be able to take advantage of that when paying their taxes.

I will have an open door policy to my internal as well as external customers and the most important responsibility I will have will be to collect the city’s taxes on time and make sure that they are deposited promptly. The staff that is in place now are very experienced and doing an excellent job and giving excellent customer service and this will continue if I am elected to be your City Treasurer. 

Read more Project: Election 2016 candidate profiles.

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