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Prince William Senators succeed while Delegates largely strikeout

RICHMOND – As the General Assembly enters the second half of its 2018 session, state legislators representing Prince William County can see light at the end of the tunnel: 29 percent of the bills they filed are still alive.

But that average masks a disparity: The county’s senators have fared far better this session than the state delegates.

That became clear after Tuesday’s “crossover day” – the deadline for bills to clear their chamber of origin. Beginning Wednesday, the House could consider only bills that have “crossed over” from the Senate, and vice versa.

The five senators who represent parts of Prince William County introduced 145 bills this session, and 58 (or 40 percent) survived crossover.

In contrast, the eight delegates who represent parts of Prince William County filed 130 bills at the start of the legislative session, and just 22 (17 percent) are moving forward.

The House member with the most successful track record so far is Del. Timothy Hugo, a Fairfax Republican who represents the 40th House District. Hugo proposed 27 bills, eight of which (30 percent) passed the House.

On his website, Hugo said he is especially proud of HB 1469, which would allow localities to charge drug dealers with felony homicide if the drugs they sold caused someone’s death. The bill passed the House 84-16 on Tuesday, just beating the crossover deadline, and has been referred to the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice.

“HB 1469 will provide law enforcement officials the tools they need to prosecute the drug dealers that are destroying lives, families and our communities,” Hugo said.

This session was particularly hard for two of the county’s first-term legislators – Democratic Dels. Danica Roem (D-13 Gainesville, Manassas Park) and Lee Carter (D-50, Manassas).

  • Roem presented 11 bills on issues including campaign finance, school lunches and creation of a database for unsolved homicides. None of them made it out of committee.
  • Carter, who unseated Republican House Whip Jackson Miller in November, proposed 10 bills this session to address workers’ compensation, state-mandated meal breaks for employees and broadband service. All of them were killed, tabled or continued to 2019.

Another freshman, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Stafford, Woodbridge), enjoyed more success: Four of her 18 bills made it past crossover, including a measure that would allow students to take computer coding as a foreign language requirement, and a measure that would make it possible to file for adoption of foster children after six months instead of 18.

Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36, Fairfax, Stafford, Woodbridge). Surovell proposed more bills (58) and had more of them clear the first hurdle (16) than any other local legislator. In addition, several bills offered by Surovell were incorporated into other legislation that is moving forward.

For example, under Surovell’s SB 786, school districts in Planning District 8, which includes Prince William County, Manassas and other localities in Northern Virginia, would have to allow their low-income students to take online classes for free and provide such pupils with a computer.

Despite such successes, Surovell saw a key bill regulating coal ash legislation die on TuesdaySB 765, co-sponsored by Carroll Foy, sought to require the owners of a coal ash pond to test water in drinking water wells within a mile of the pond.

Last week, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee postponed consideration of the bill until 2019. Surovell said a lot is at stake because Dominion Energy has coal ash ponds at its Possum Point Power Station in Prince William County. Dominion and state environmental officials say the ash is being safely stored. But environmentalists say contaminated water from the ponds has leaked into nearby creeks and groundwater.

“I am hopeful that the information generated last year and over the coming months coupled with other legislators focused on the resolution will help generate a consensus,” Surovell said.

Two House bills seeking to address the issue of coal ash died in the House Commerce and Labor Committee: HB 182, sponsored by Carroll Foy, and HB 467, by Carter.

Week five: a deal on misdemeanor-felony threshold, coal ash continues

The fifth week of session brought a furious pace to legislating including some of the most contentious bills of the session as we approached “crossover” – the day the Senate and House are required to complete action on legislation originating in each chamber.  It was mostly a successful week for me.  Twenty-one of my bills are now set to pass the Senate to be considered by the House of Delegates.

First, Governor Northam announced an agreement to raise Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500.  Once enacted, Virginia’s threshold will still be the second lowest in the United States.  I have introduced this legislation every year for nine sessions I was pleased it is finally going to be enacted into law. 

My legislation to place a 36% interest rate cap on all consumer finance loans was sent back to committee for “additional vetting” after the online lending industry retained a top Richmond lobbying firm.  Luckily, my bill re-escaped the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee with only three “no” votes and I hope it will finally pass this week.

All six of my coal ash bills were heard this week.  Ultimately, I mediated a compromise between Governor Northam, Dominion and environmental groups to continue the moratorium on closing coal ash ponds for twelve months, required Dominion to issue requests for proposal from coal ash recycling companies to recycle ash, and convene a joint committee of Senate and House members to investigate the coal ash problem over the next twelve months.  My bill also allowed the closure ponds where ash has already been removed so we do not continue to have open holes in the ground.

While I was disappointed that we did not completely resolve the issue this session, the ultimate disposition of these ponds will cost ratepayers billions of dollars and it is important to proceed carefully to both build support and make sure the correct outcome in justified.  I am hopeful that the information generated last year and over the coming months coupled with other legislators focused on resolution will help generate a consensus.   

Unfortunately, my bill to impose a four-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas east of Interstate 95 was rereferred to the Senate Finance Committee where it died on a tie (8-8) vote.  Some members were concerned it constituted a government “taking” although similar legislation has passed in numerous states and survived numerous litigation challenges.  I will try again next year.

The Health and Education Committee passed my legislation to allow low income high school students to take online classes without paying any fees and requiring schools to provide them with computers.  I introduced the bill after I discovered Fairfax and Prince William Counties charge free and reduced lunch families fees up to $345 to take online classes and do not provide computers.  The bill will be on the floor of the Senate this week.

The Equifax data hack highlighted the vulnerability of personal information environment.  My legislation to require credit bureaus to freeze credit at no charge was amended to a $5 fee and my legislation to clarify the process for freezing children’s credit was passed.  The bill passed committee and should pass the full Senate this week. 

Finally, the Senate passed major legislation repealing the cap on electricity rates that the General Assembly enacted in 2015 due to uncertainty created by President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that the current Administration has taken steps to repeal.  While there were some parts of the bill I did not like, the legislation takes all of Dominion’s over-earnings and reinvests it into necessary grid modernization, will increase Virginia’s renewable energy production by ten-fold (500 MW to 5,000 MW), increases Dominion’s shareholders’ payments towards low-income energy assistance, directs Dominion’s profits towards $450 million of coal ash cleanup expenses, and expands Dominion’s Strategic Undergrounding Program in ways that could lead to underground power lines on U.S. 1. 

You can always reach me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any feedback.  It is an honor to serve as your state senator. 

‘Expungement of convictions for marijuana possession, underage alcohol possession, and using a false ID to obtain alcohol when the offense occurred prior to the person’s twenty-first birthday and after a 5 year period’

From a press release: 

Delegate Tim Hugo and Senator Ryan McDougle have introduced companion legislation that will allow an individual to petition for expungement of convictions for marijuana possession, underage alcohol possession, and using a false ID to obtain alcohol when the offense occurred prior to the person’s twenty-first birthday and after a 5 year period.  Individuals petitioning for expungement would first have to demonstrate that all terms of their original sentence have been satisfied.

“This bill allows for young adults that made a mistake but have paid for that mistake, and proven that they were able to learn from it, to move forward in life without a misdemeanor conviction hanging over their heads,” said Delegate Hugo. “This is a small but significant change in law that will allow these young people to find better jobs and be more productive members of society. This legislation isn’t a ‘free pass’ or a ‘get out of jail free’ card. After individuals have paid for their crimes, they will be able to ask for a second chance.  No longer will they have to pay “for the rest of their lives.”

“This measure will give Virginians who ran afoul of certain laws in their youth the opportunity for a second chance,” Senator McDougle said.  “It is a reasonable and practical path to lifting the burden of a permanent criminal record for those who have turned their lives around.”

Last Wednesday, the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice unanimously approved Senator McDougle’s bill (SB403) 15 to 0.  HB1214 (Hugo) has been assigned to the House Courts of Justice Committee.  

Surovell: Predatory lending, education equity, and coal ash

The General Assembly has reorganized, added nearly twenty new members, and we inaugurated a new Governor on Saturday.  The 36th District now overlaps with five new state delegates including four new women.  I am looking forward to the new ideas and energy they bring. 

This year brings a long session and a new two-year budget.  The biggest news in Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget was about $500 million of new education monies, a proposed funding solution for Metro, and $170,000 to finally clean up a derelict barge in Belmont Bay. 

While we need to fix Metro, Governor McAuliffe’s proposed fix takes over half a billion dollars away from other Northern Virginia transportation projects and will serious jeopardize the current timeline on U.S. 1 projects in Fairfax County and potentially Prince William County.  I cannot support it as written and will work to find other revenue sources to solve this problem. 

I have introduced approximately sixty bills this session.  First, education equity is not being addressed in the Commonwealth.  The Constitution of Virginia guaranty’s free textbooks to students and our local school systems are violating this by mandating electronic textbooks without providing computers to all students.  Likewise, our local systems are charging lower income families $50 to $350 fees to take online classes without providing computers – this puts less fortunate students at a competitive disadvantage and is not how public education is supposed to work.  My bill makes both illegal.

Similarly, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology did not admit any students from twelve middle schools last year and perennially admits either zero to five students from Eastern Fairfax and Prince William County’s middle schools while admitting over 50 to 100 from two middle schools in the wealthier regions of Fairfax County.  Its student population has virtually no students from lower income families.  I have raised this issue for nearly nine years to no avail so I have introduced legislation requiring at least five, but not more than fifteen children to be admitted from each middle school and requiring the free and reduced lunch population to be at least fifty percent of the Northern Virginia average (it would be about 17%).

I am carrying six bills addressing Virginia’s coal ash problem.  My bills prohibit Dominion from charging ratepayers to cap coal ash in place, give regulators more flexibility in permitting, require Dominion to conduct and pay for homeowner well tests, and incentivize coal ash recycling so we can get it out of the ground and gone forever while making some jobs.

Predatory lending is back on my docket.  My first bill limits interest rates on all consumer finance loans to 36% APR.  I have also introduced legislation to prohibit car title and pay day lenders from using open ended credit lines to evade Virginia’s interest rate caps and consumer protections. 

Texting while driving continues to plague our roads and I have reintroduced legislation to make Virginia a hand’s free state.  I have also introduced a bill allowing local government to designate some roads as off limits to services like Waze or Google Maps to reduce unsafe cut through traffic which is becoming a real problem.  I have also introduced bills to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and study the decline in arrests for driving while intoxicated.

I am hosting six Town Halls in Mt. Vernon, Kingstowne, Lorton, Occoquan, Woodbridge, Montclair and Stafford.  Mount Vernon and Kingstowne are this Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and Woodbridge is on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.  Please see my website (www.scottsurovell.org) for more information!

Please take my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey, come visit in Richmond or email me at www.scottsurovell.org if you have any feedback! It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

Northern Virginia Democrats say halt I-66 tolls. VDOT says tolls are not as high as you think they are.

So far, the McAuliffe administration’s response to outrageous tolls on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway has been: put another body in the car, chose not to pay the fee, and move on.

Those one-way tolls that reached $40 on the nine-mile stretch of highway from Dunn Loring to Washington, D.C. now rank as some of the highest in the nation.

“That response is part of the problem. People are adjusting their morning schedules to get to work early to get back home to their kids, or, in some cases, a second job, this sort of approach to say ‘they have their options,’ we’ll you just expanded 180 minutes a day available to these folks who are hard-working, and trying to get back home to their families. That’s just not fair,” said Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William County, Manassas, Manassas Park)

The Democrats penned a letter to Virginia State Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane and read a portion of it aloud outside the Northern Virginia headquarters of the state’s department of transportation Thursday afternoon.

Democrats say they were told the roundtrip tolls on the new I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes inside the Beltway wouldn’t exceed $17 roundtrip, not $40.

A press release on Thursday seemed to indicate the Democrats were suffering sticker shock and that, on average, the price is lower than $17. 

From VDOT: 

“After nearly four full days of Express Lanes on I-66 Inside the Beltway being underway, the Virginia Department of Transportation reports that morning and afternoon commutes on Monday, Dec. 4, were faster than the same time last December.  The average round-trip toll price during peak hours was $14.50, with the average morning toll during peak hours of $10.70 and average afternoon toll during the peak hours of $3.80.  This toll rate during peak hours is lower than the estimated average toll rate of $17.00 during peak hours discussed in 2015…”

Though they were ‘briefed extensively” in 2016 on the project, according to Delegate John Bell (D-Loudoun, Prince William), they never heard anything about the time restrictions on the lanes being expanded in the morning and afternoon. They want them returned to the way the used to be a week ago before the E-ZPass requirement — vehicles with two or more occupants (HOV-2) ride free between 6:30 and 9 a.m., and 4 to 6:30 p.m.

They were also a promised the addition of new eastbound lane between the Dulles Connector Road and Ballston before the start of tolls, they said.

The tolls took effect on Monday and required all drivers who use I-66 inside the Beltway between the 5:30 and 9 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m. to have an E-ZPass. Single drivers pay a dynamic toll which changes depending on how many cars are using the lanes. Vehicles with two or more occupants ride free with an E-ZPass Flex.

Today, 16 Democratic legislators in McAuliffe’s party called for a halt to the tolling until a better deal can be worked out.

“You have to have new capacity before tolls being charged,” said McPike. “You want to see what you’re paying for.”

And, almost as if someone inside the VDOT offices was listening to him, the state agency announced — today — the awarding of a new contract to build that new lane.

From a VDOT press release:

On Thursday, Dec. 7, VDOT awarded an $85.7 million contract to Lane Construction Corporation of Chantilly to add an additional through lane along four miles of eastbound Interstate 66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and Fairfax Drive (Route 237) in Fairfax and Arlington Counties.

The project includes ramp modifications at Exits 69 and 71, rehabilitation and/or repairs to bridges, construction of noise barriers eastbound and westbound and widening bridges and constructing a new grade-separated crossing of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail at Lee Highway.

Additionally, an auxiliary lane will be added to the existing I-66 eastbound exit ramp and a slip ramp will be constructed from the I-66 eastbound exit ramp to the Route 7 southbound entrance flyover ramp, providing more direct access to the West Falls Church Metro Station Parking Garage.

The additional eastbound lane will be open to traffic in fall 2020 and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021.

The Democrats also want the hybrid vehicle exemption restored so that drivers with clean, special fuel license plates can continue to use the lanes for free, as motorcycles do.  They also called for the construction of new commuter parking spaces along I-66 outside the Beltway, and new commuter bus service — all of which is planned as part of the separate I-66 outside the Beltway project started last month) before tolls are collected inside the Beltway.

But VDOT maintains it has already invested $10 million since July 2016 to fund as many “meaningful” multimodal transit projects to help commuters get out of the lanes and onto a bus. The move was designed to take cars off the highway to clear the way for those who wanted to pay to use the Lexus lanes.

From VDOT: 

The initial projects, which are in effect now, encompass Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties and the City of Falls Church. Transit services include three new bus routes, increased service on two existing routes and last-mile connections to Metrorail stations, new bikeshare stations near Metro, as well as a new park-and-ride lot in Aldie that will support current and future bus service. Additional projects launched include real-time traveler information and transportation demand management services that provide incentives to use transit or carpools.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission has called for a new round of funding for transit projects that will be funded by the tolls being collected now on I-66 inside the Beltway. 

For drivers who travel from Leesburg, Ashburn, and Sterling, many of whom use the Dulles Toll Road, they already pay $18 in tolls before they ever get to I-66.

“Let’s call this plan what it is, the way that’s it’s been rolled out. It’s highway robbery,” said State Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun, Fairfax) who represents the area.

If the Democrats are successful in convincing McAuliffe administration in halting the tolls, Potomac Local asked if those who have already paid into the toll system should get their cash back.

“I was afraid that question was going to be asked, and I think the short answer is to wait and take this piece by piece,” said State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) “I don’t know how much money has been collected, I don’t know if it’s in escrow, I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but we need to take it piece by piece and the first piece is we need to suspend the tolls until we figure out what’s going on.” 

More from VDOT: I-66 E-ZPass toll lanes user stats collected on Monday, the first day of tolls: 

Further analysis of the Monday morning rush hours indicates the following:
  • A total of 13,473 vehicles used I-66 Inside the Beltway between the hours of 5:30-9:30am;
  • Of this total 5,082 or 38 percent were carpoolers who traveled free;
  • Only 39 vehicles, or 0.29 percent, paid the posted highest toll of $34.50;
  • 34 percent of vehicles paid less than $10; and,
  • Travel times were 10-12 minutes compared with 15-30 minutes last December.
Further analysis of the Monday afternoon rush hours indicates the following:
  • A total of 16,307 vehicles used I-66 Inside the Beltway between the hours of 3:00-7:00pm;
  • Of this total 4,964 or 30 percent were carpoolers who traveled for free; and,
  • Travel times were 10-12 minutes compared with 10-20 minutes last December.

Massive motivation: How Democrats swept the local races

In a wave of blue, Democrats on Tuesday swept out almost every last Republican in Prince William County in the General Assembly.

Only Republican Tim Hugo (R-40, Fairfax, Prince William) appears to have been spared by just 115 votes.

It was a total reversal from one year ago when images of Democrat voters were shown on TV with tears in their eyes after Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the presidency.

“A lot of people woke up from last year’s election very upset,” said Virginia House Democratic Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville).

But this year “few people could predict to the degree of this wave, but we put everything in place early on to make it happen.”

Democrats used opposition to research to learn more about their voters, and healthcare expansion was a big motivating factor.

In years past, Democrats said Virginia taxpayers were losing out to other states like Kentucky which had expanded Medicare and accepted money for Obamacare. That message fell on deaf ears.

This year, Democrats simplified the message to “wouldn’t it be nice to insure everyone?”

It worked.

“The first big finding we learned from the beginning was motivation. Our democratic voters were as motivated or more motivated than Republicans this cycle,” said Josh Ulibarri, a pollster hired by the Virginia Democratic Caucus.

Then they looked at a simple differential: good vs. bad.

“Across the state in many places across the state, we ran on [healthcare] expansion. We ran on fracking. We ran on education. But in each of these races, we went to great pains to define the these Democrats…and to define the Republicans as exceptionally worse,” added Ulibarri.

Hayla Ayala, the woman who beat incumbent Rich Anderson (R-Prince William), was a prime example. While Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie tried to paint his opponent Ralph Northam as soft on crime, Democratic operatives who were focused on local races emphasized to voters Ayala works as a security specialist for the Department of Defense.

“It’s difficult to say Hala is weak on crime, or immigration, or on Ms-13 when we define trade cybersecurity specialist,’ added Ulibarri.

As Republicans lick their wounds, the man who nearly was the GOP nominee said Wednesday it’s time to throw out the baby with the bath water.

“Yesterday’s election results are what happens when you nominate weak Republicans who have no message, won’t embrace the president, ridicule his supporters, and lull the base to sleep,” said Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart. “The Establishment brought down the entire ticket yesterday, and have led us to Virginia’s largest Republican defeat in a generation.”

Stewart lost his Primary Election bid in June to the party’s nominee for governor by a little over one percent. He’s now mounting a bid to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine in November 2018.

“…it’s time for John Whitbeck and the leadership of the Republican Party of Virginia to move on,” he added.

But it may not all be over for Virginia Republicans.

Elizabeth Blakemore, of Blakemore Associates in Houston, has raised millions of dollars for Republicans in Texas, and in other states — which used to be a blue state more than 20 years ago.

Running the right candidate that connects with voters, as well as a strong campaign can be enough to sway any voter.

“Things change,” said Blakemore. “Things change.”

Results for the local races in Manassas and Manassas Park

Here’s a closer look at the results of races in Manassas and Manassas Park, to include constitutional officers and school board members. 

In Manassas: 

Commissioner of the Revenue

Douglas Waldron keeps his seat with a four-point win over challenger Alonita Vanoy.

Treasurer

Patricia-Richie Folks keeps her seat at city treasurer with a 10-point victory over Russell Harrison.

School Board

Peter O’Hanlon wins an open school board seat. He ran unopposed. 

In Manassas Park: 

Commissioner of the Revenue

Debora Wood won the seat with a four-point lead over James Kirkland.

Treasurer

Running unopposed, Patty Trimble wins the seat.

 

 

The 2nd District flips again: Foy heading to Richmond after beating Makee

Jennifer Carroll Foy took the 2nd District House of Delegates seat from Mike Makee. 

This marks the second time the seat has flipped to a Democrat since it was moved from the southwest portion of the state. 

Foy will replace Republican Mark Dudenhefer who chose not to run for re-election to the seat. He went on to win back his seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, the one he vacated in 2011 to take the 2nd District House seat in 2011.

Foy won a landslide victory over Makee by more than 40 points.

While she had a decisive win in Prince William County, ballot count was still close in Stafford County as of this posting with Foy leading there with 18 votes.

We’ll update this post with the final numbers from both counties.

This year, Republicans were late to the game with Makee. Lauquan Austion has been the party’s nominee, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch learned that he had lied about his college record, leading to Austion’s withdrawal from the race.

Makee stepped up and agreed to run as a replacement candidate in August. He did not face Foy during a series of debates held before the election.

It wasn’t a quite race for Democrats, either, as Foy’s Primary Election challenger, Fairfax County sheriff Josh King demanded a recount after he lost his June Primary Election by 14 votes. 

Updated

Mike Makee won Stafford County with 52 percent of the vote.

Guzman wins decisive victory over Lingamfelter in the 31st District

The 31st House of Delegates seat goes to political newcomer Elizabeth Guzman, who beat the long-serving Scott Lingamfelter. 

The Alexandria social worker beat the decorated Army colonel who retired after 28 years in the service. 

“”Elizabeth Guzman has proudly served Prince William County in the public sector for ten years and knows the challenges that many in the 31st District face every day. Elizabeth has worked hard as an immigrant and single mother, and we know that she will bring that same tireless commitment to her duties as delegate,” Virginia Democrats penned in a press release. 

Guzman won a decisive 12-point victory over Lingamfelter. The 13th District encompasses portions of eastern Prince William County (Dale City) and a portion of Fauquier County.

Lingenfelter had a strong showing in Fauquier County with nearly 70 percent of the vote. But it was Prince William County voters who put Guzman in office, giving her more than 60 percent of the about 20,000 votes cast.

 

Ayala upsets Anderson in the 51st District

In an upset, political newcomer Hyla Ayala beat long-serving Delegate, Richard Anderson.

The Democrat won the 51st District that encompasses much of Prince William County by six points, beating Anderson who has served in the seat since 2009.

Ayala is a cybersecurity specialist by day and a community activist, as well as the President of the National Organization of Women Prince William County Chapter.

Anderson is a retired Air Force General who focused on veterans issues. He played an integral role in securing funding for a new veterans medical center to be located at Vint Hill and got legislation passed to curb texting and driving.

From a press release: 

“I am so honored for the privilege to represent House District 51. I am humbled by the faith that my future constituents have placed in my candidacy and our message. I built my campaign on the promise of fair and equal representation of our community, in all of its wonderful diversity. I intend to make sure Richmond hears our local voices, especially as we fight to improve our schools, work toward long-term solutions to reduce traffic congestion and ensure affordable health care to those in need.

“In such endeavors, I look forward to expanding our coalition in making Prince William County an even better place to live, work and raise a family. As his constituent, I thank Delegate Anderson for his years of military and civilian service.

“After tonight, our work begins.”

Carter beats Miller in Manassas race

Democrat Lee Carter won his election bid over the longtime incumbent Jackson Miller.

The political newcomer beat Miller by at least nine points and will take the 50th House of Delegates District seat in Manassas, and a portion of Prince William County.

Miller did not face Carter in a series of debates held leading up to the election.

In a press statement, Virginia Democrats called Carter an activist.

“Lee Carter has been a strong progressive in his fight to support working families in Northern Virginia. As a Marine Corps veteran and an activist, Lee has built his career on helping others.We are proud to work with Lee as he fights for his constituents in the General Assembly.”

‘My goal is to sponsor legislation that builds on the successes of the last several years, with a laser focus on job creation, economic development, transportation, education, and military veterans’

Delegate Rich Anderson has represented the 51st House District (Prince William County) in the Virginia General Assembly since 2010. He is a retired 30-year Air Force colonel who now co-chairs the joint House-Senate Military and Veterans Caucus, the central clearinghouse for bills that affect veterans.

Two years ago, Andeson ran unopposed. In 2013, Anderson won re-election by seven points with 53% of the vote.

This year marks the first time Anderson’s Democratic opponent, Hala Ayala, is not only a female but the local chapter presdient of the National Organization of Women.

This election season, we’re asked candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Anderson sent us this email: 

Over the course of our combined 51 years of military service, my wife Ruth and I wore the Air Force uniform and worked in partnership during our two lifetimes of service. After retiring from military service, we chose to continue our partnership, but this time in public service—she as the Occoquan District Supervisor on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and me as the 51st House District Delegate to the Virginia General Assembly.

Service is the lifetime thread that ties Ruth and I to one other—and to the community, we love to serve. With that commitment to our fellow citizens, I am again a candidate for reelection in Virginia’s 51st House District.

As a native and life-long Virginian, I graduated from Virginia Tech and have been a resident of Prince William County for almost two decades. First elected in 2009, I have served in the General Assembly for eight years (four terms) and have accumulated the required seniority that permits me to pass consequential legislation on behalf of our community and Commonwealth. This year, I had one of the highest success rates in the House in passing legislation that focused on job creation, economic development, transportation, education, public safety, and military veterans. (more…)

‘In my brief time in office, I have earned the support and respect of my fellow Treasurers’

Patricia Richie-Folks is looking to keep her seat as the Manassas City Treasurer. 

She’s been there less than a year, after winning the seat in a special election last November following the requirement of longtime city treasurer Robin Perkins. 

Richie-Folks won by three points last year. And this year, she faces the same opponent — Republican Rusell Harrison. 

This election season, we’re asked candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

From Patricia Richie-Folks 

I was truly honored when the citizens of the great City of Manassas elected me to the Office of Treasurer in 2016. In running my campaign, I pledged to serve with honesty and integrity. My established goals were to provide outstanding customer service and to execute all aspects of management and operations with efficiency and transparency. I can state with complete confidence that I have fulfilled these commitments.

As Treasurer for the City of Manassas, an elected Constitutional Officer of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is my charge to operate my office in accordance with Commonwealth statutes and codes and City of Manassas ordinances.

When I assumed office, I brought with me a wealth of diverse skills and knowledge – including leadership, managerial, accounting, budgeting, and finance. For example, ownership of a small construction company provided me with intimate experience in the management of workers, finances – including projections for short- and long-term operating costs and profits – and clients. In my position as General Manager of the Laundry Division of the Sodexo Corporation, I managed a multi-million dollar budget and a staff of 30 people. As a legislative assistant with the Florida State Legislature, I have a strong grasp interpreting legislation, statutes, and codes. Although these positions do not reflect my career in its entirety, they do reflect an array of experience, coupled with my A.A. in Business Administration, clearly equipped me to successfully meet the professional challenges inherent in the job of Treasurer. Evidently, a majority of the voters were confident enough in my experience and the goals set forth in my campaign to elect me. (more…)

‘To move Prince William forward, we need a change in leadership’

Hala Ayala has long been a familiar face for Democrats in Prince William County.

She’s the president of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women, and she’s attended standing-room-only meetings of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to protest Chairman At-large Corey Stewart’s position on pursuing immigrants in the U.S. who entered illegally. 

This General Election on Nov. 7 marks the first time she’s been a candidate. and she has her sights set to unseat long-serving Delegate Rich Anderson of District 51, which encompasses nearly all of Prince William. 

This election season, we’re asked candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Ayala sent us this email: 

I am running for the 51st District of the Virginia House of Delegates. I am a lifelong Virginian and have lived in Prince William County for over 35 years. I’m a cybersecurity specialist by trade, formerly with the Department of Homeland Security. But I pride myself in being an advocate for working families in my community and in the Commonwealth. I have organized on such issues at the local and state level, including protecting women’s choice, speaking out on the need for affordable access to healthcare and equal pay for equal work. I was the founder and president of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women and am a member of the Governor’s Council on Women.

I want to serve my community and make sure that we are represented when decisions are made in our state government, something that I don’t see with our current representation in the House of Delegates. Every session, we see bad votes that jeopardize our ability to access healthcare and family planning services, while legislators resist practical measures like Medicaid Expansion, which would provide access to crucial health services to families across our state. (more…)

Jackson Miller: ‘…we have been able to give our teachers well-deserved pay raises…and increase school funding by over $855 per student, per year, over the past five years’

After serving as Virginia House Majority Whip since 2012, Jackson Miller is running for reelection to the 50th House Seat serving Manassas and part of Prince William County.

Miller is running against first-time candidate Lee Carter, a Democrat.

In 2015, Miller won the office by nearly 20 points.

This election season, we’re asked candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Miller sent us this email: 

In today’s political climate, it is easy to forget that most elected officials do not reside in Washington D.C. It is even easier to forget that these elected officials are often your friends and neighbors—people who have answered the call of service without the expectation of power or prestige. These men and women oversee our schools, enforce our laws, and establish budgets for our local governmental bodies. In other words, they work to ensure your state and local government is working for you.

On November 7, many of us will be up for re-election. While I can’t speak for everyone on the ballot, I know that representing the 50th district for the past ten 11 years has been one of the greatest honors of my life. With your support, we have been able to give our teachers well-deserved pay raises, construct veteran care facilities, and increase school funding by over $855 per student, per year, over the past five years. We have expanded in-state enrollment at our state universities, increased penalties for violent crimes, and passed six balanced budgets while maintaining one of the lowest tax burdens in the country. (more…)

‘We need an attorney general who will get serious about public safety’

Attorney John Adams is the Republican nominee for Virginia Attorney General 

He’s running against Democrat Mark Herring Justin Fairfax

This election season, we’re asked candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Adams sent us this email: 

The Attorney General of Virginia is a powerful position, overseeing Virginia’s law firm. The actions of the attorney general matter, impacting families all across the Commonwealth. That’s why I got into the race for attorney general in Virginia – because actions matter and our current attorney general has pursued a personal political agenda rather than defending the laws of Virginia.

I am not a politician and have never run for political office before. Instead, I have spent the majority of my professional career in public service and I have deep legal experience that I believe will benefit all Virginians. Since law school, I have clerked for a United States Supreme Court Justice (Clarence Thomas), been a Federal Prosecutor, and served as Associate Counsel to the President of the United States (George W. Bush). Most recently, I have helped run a large law firm representing many clients with complex and serious legal issues. I believe I have the legal experience to be the best possible lawyer for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Whether it is advising senior government officials, making difficult prosecutorial decisions, or representing Virginia in complex constitutional matters, I have the experience to get the job done and keep Virginians safe.

Here is what you can expect from me as attorney general. When Virginian’s pass laws, I will defend those laws even when I disagree with them. It’s our law, and Virginians should expect their attorney general to defend their choices. My opponent repeatedly refuses to defend the laws we pass (and at times has even turned on our state laws) and instead pursued his own personal political agenda. He has filed briefs in the United States Supreme Court undermining Virginia’s right to work law because he is beholden to big labor unions. He refused to defend other laws that were challenged like our voter ID law, because he personally disagrees with it. And he gave staff in his office backdoor pay raises using money from a Medicaid fraud settlement while other states used the money for public education and health care. (more…)

‘I want to make Virginia a more inclusive place’

A first-time candidate, Elizabeth Guzman is the Democratic nominee for the House of Delegates 31st District, located in southern Prince William County and eastern Fauquier County.

She’s running against longtime incumbent Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican.

This election season, we’re asking candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Guzman sent us this email below: 

I am a social worker and 15-year public servant living in Prince William County. I am a mother of four wonderful children, and a concerned citizen who feels Richmond is not listening to families like mine here in my district. That is why I decided to run for the House of Delegates. I want to bring their voices to the table in our General Assembly and fight for their issues.

I am an immigrant from Peru, who came to this country looking for my oldest daughter, Pamela, who is 25 today. I worked three jobs to afford a one bedroom apartment. With help from friends and co-workers, I took steps to get the education and skills I needed to provide for my family. I worked through college and graduate school, earning two master degrees; one in public administration, and one in social work. I currently work for the City of Alexandria, where I serve as Division Chief for Administrative Services for the Center of Adult Services. I oversee a budget of 7 million dollars and lead a workforce of 300 employees. I am responsible for the administrative operations of programs that help people in need with mental and intellectual disabilities, substance abuse disorders, and senior citizens.

I am married to my wonderful husband, Carlos, and the mother of three other wonderful children: Ivanna, Hannah, and Carlos. As a mom, I work hard to be a constant presence in my childrens life. I am a Committee member for my son’s Cub Scouts troop, and a Cookie Mom for Girl Scouts. I am involved in the PTA for Penn Elementary. I am also an active member of my church, Harvest Life Changers, as well as Sacred Heart Catholic Church. (more…)

‘Our Board of Equalization appeals have been reduced. Our staff has been upgraded and trained. We are in the middle of two major software conversions.’

After serving on the city’s school board, council, and as mayor, Douglas Waldron seeks to serve a second term as the Manassas Commissioner of the Revenue. 

This election season, we’re asking candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Waldron sent us this email below: 

My parents, Bill and Dorothy, moved to Manassas in 1962. At that time, there were cows across the street and no stoplights in the town. They raised five children and, after my college years, I was the only sibling to return and stay in Manassas. My wife, Sherry, and I raised three sons. We are very grateful for the education they received as they each attended City public schools K through 12 and are successful adults.

Committed to Manassas, I began public service. In the 1990’s, I served on the School Board and was twice elected to the City Council. I was Mayor of Manassas from 2004 to 2008. Then, in 2013, I received 7,088 votes and was elected to serve as your Commissioner of the Revenue. I now seek re-election and ask for your vote and support.

The modern Commissioner of the Revenue position was created in 1869 when the Virginia Constitution was rewritten following the Civil War. The job is one of five authorized by the Constitution. The others are Clerk of the Court, Commonwealths Attorney, Sheriff and Treasurer. The office is not strictly partisan and many of my colleagues in Virginia run, in fact, as Independent candidates. (more…)

‘Our City Council is trying to dig us out of debt and move Manassas Park forward’

James Kirkland is seeking political office for the first time, for the office of Manassas Park Commissioner of Revenue.

But he’s no stranger to local politics as Kirkland’s wife, Rachel, is the Chairman of the city school board. 

This election season, we’re asking candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Kirkland sent us this email below: 

If elected Commissioner of Revenue, I hope to provide Manassas Park elected officials with reliable and timely data so that our leaders can make data-driven decisions. I will provide accurate assessments and billing, greater transparency, and excellent customer service for our residents.

Having spent the last decade administering databases for the Chancellor’s Office of D.C. Public Schools( DCPS), I really enjoy helping parents and students get the support they need from afterschool and summer programs in the district. I’m hoping to do the same supporting my neighbors here in the park. My experiences include transitioning DCPS Out of School Time Programs from the previous student information system to a new system and linking it with our online enrollment for both DCPS’s Summer Learning Program and the DCPS Afterschool Program. I also manage and administer the Out of School Time’s online payment system, collecting revenue of almost a million dollars annually.

As I was gathering signatures to be on the ballot, I heard story after story of improper billing, missing bills, lack of response to emails, and rude phone etiquette. The one story that struck closest to home was from my mother. My parents moved to the Park a couple years ago and my mother, who is very organized, took all of her paperwork to City Hall and asked for their help making sure they had the information they needed for personal property tax on her car. Months later, she receives a bill with a late charge, never having received an original bill. Knowing how organized she is, I highly doubt the correct bill was ever sent. Everyone knows Manassas Park pays some pretty steep taxes for Northern Virginia, and we certainly deserve better customer service for what we’re paying. I’m running to be part of that solution. (more…)

Surovell: Redistricting needed to break partisan gridlock

Four Big Issues No One is Discussing This Election Cycle
Virginians go to the polls in three weeks and if you followed the news cycle, you would think that the next General Assembly Session is going to be all about Confederate Statutes, street gangs, and natural gas pipelines – none of which is accurate. Here are four big issues facing Virginia that have been missing in action this cycle.

Redistricting
Hyper-partisan legislative districts are at the root the partisan gridlock we see today. While the Senate Democratic Caucus drew Virginia’s Senate districts in 2010, Virginia’s congressional and legislative districts were otherwise drawn by Republicans majorities with the cooperation of Republican governor’s in 2000 and 2010. Democratic voters have been crammed into a small number of seats and Virginia’s Congressional and House of Delegates districts are way out of proportion to Virginia’s actual voting.

Virginia’s next Governor will participate in Virginia’s next redistricting process. Ralph Northam and I have repeatedly endorsed and voted for non-partisan redistricting which would go a long way towards voters picking their leaders instead of leaders picking their voters.
(more…)

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