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Project Election

O’Hanlon cites improving student achievement, increasing parent involvement priorities

Back in November 2017, Peter O’Hanlon won his seat on the Manassas School Board, unopposed. Before that, he was appointed to fill the vacant seat held by Pamela J. Sebesky, who resigned to serve on the City Council.

This year, though, there are five candidates jockeying for the position, and only three will be elected to the seven-member board. We asked O’Hanlon to complete our 2018 Project: Election survey, and here’s what we learned.

Find your polling place

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

O’Hanlon: Funding a school replacement, improving student achievement, and increasing parent involvement.

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

O’Hanlon: We (the board) has taken the first step through hiring a new superintendent. He will take the lead on improving student achievement.

PL: We are currently negotiating with the city for our next three year funding agreement. We need to continue to ensure that funding the schools is a top priority for the City of Manassas. This does not necessitate increased taxes, just making sure our priorities are heard by the city council.

O’Hanlon: As a city, and a school district, we need to continue improving communications with all our citizens, inviting them to participate in the many activities taking place in the city and the schools.

Rex Parr says success for Manassas starts with a shared vision and strategic plan

This is Rex Parr’s second run for a seat on the Manassas City Council.

The Democrat placed 5th in a seven-person race for three open seats on the council in 2016. After a two-year break from campaigning, and after his 2015 retirement from leading Manassas-based Didlake, Inc., he’s running again.

Below, find his responses to our Project: Election questionnaire.

Find your polling place

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

Parr:

  • Education
  • Public Safety
  • Transportation

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

Parr:

  • EDUCATION: We need to align the goals and objectives of the School Board and the City Council, extend Pre-K education to every child and continue the great progress on Career and Technical Education (CTE).
  • PUBLIC SAFETY: Our Public Safety professionals do an amazing job of keeping us safe. I want to make sure we take good care of them. We should pay close attention to the basics: up-to-date resources, competitive compensation, recognition of achievements and top-notch leadership.
  • TRANSPORTATION: To be an attractive place to live, work and play the city must offer efficient transportation options. We all know that we need to improve Route 28 North to I66. We should also push hard to add mid-day VRE service in both directions and, we should plan now to extend the VRE Manassas line to Gainesville and Haymarket.

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

Parr: Serving the greater good.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office? 

Parr: Governance, Management, Strategic Planning and Public Policy.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency? 

Parr: Local government is complex. The average citizen doesn’t have time to keep track of it all. I will advocate for greater transparency and a more robust communications program of organizations that get important things done. In my experience, success starts with a widely shared vision and a strategic plan developed by a broad cross-section of stakeholders.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Parr: It’s time for Manassas to begin shaping its future and I can help.

Preston Banks puts focus on Manassas Park debt, water problems

Preston Banks is seeking another term on the Manassas Park Governing Body. 

He’s one of three people seeking as many open seats on the council. Voters will head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Banks is a member of the Prince William County Republican Committee and has put his campaign’s focus on reducing the city’s debt and solving its water problems. 

We sent a Project: Election survey to him. His responses are below. 

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

Banks: 

1. Lower water and sewer rates

2. Bring businesses to Manassas Park and manage the city’s high debt

3. Manage the city’s high debt 

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

Banks: To lower the water and sewer rates I propose to continue to explore selling the water system. And to sell it on terms that are in the best interests of the residents which include low water and sewer rates, repairs to the water and sewer system and good customer service.

To bring businesses to the city I propose to market the city and its available space and land. 

The city has a high debt of $128 million which was incurred decades before I served in office. The debt payments are about 30% to 35% of the city’s total budget.

The highest payments are in the next four years. I have the knowledge and experience to guide the city through this challenge. To manage the debt and still balance the budget I suggest and support the following:

1. Improve the city’s financial management practices

2. Improve the collection of delinquent and uncollected revenue

3. Economic development to increase revenue

4. Create a debt reserve fund.

To financially survive we have to do these things. And if executed well, we can improve the city and overcome this challenge. 

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

Banks: To represent all of the residents in improving the city.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government?

Banks: It depends on the person, the effort they make and whether they have the available time to go to the city’s website or attend the public meetings. To improve communication I make myself accessible. My Facebook page, email address and cell phone are publicly available.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Banks: I’m intelligent, care about the residents and the city, a problem solver, work well with others and have a geek-like hard work ethic.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?

Banks: Sure. One of my favorite quotes is from Nelson Mandela, “the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” I learn from the mistake and continue working.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Banks: Politics today is so divisive with its emphasis on party, ethnic/racial identity, and issues. I keep it simple. We are all part of the community. I’m running to represent all of the residents and improve the city.

Coen vows to put growth ‘where we want it’ while preserving rural areas

In January, Tom Coen was plucked from a laundry list of candidates who all wanted an interim seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

His fellow board members chose him after Bob Thomas vacated the seat after he won election to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Thomas has spent the past 10 months focused on local issues, and learning his way through the trappings of local government.

He’s running against Gordon Silver, who also wants the seat. Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 6.

We sent Coen our Project: Election candidate survey. His responses are below.

Find your polling place

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

Coen: 

1. Continue the Approved Renovations of Ferry Farm Elementary School

2. Continue my nearly two-decade efforts to preserve the rural character of the county while protecting property rights

3. Continue our efforts to diversify our economy and tax base.

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

Coen:

Ferry Farm Elementary School

When I became a member of the board I saw that was once again Ferry Farm slated for a rebuild in another decade.  This would mean another decade of no meaningful improvements to the school for our children.  I immediately started working with members of both the school board and the board of supervisors to secure improvements in a timely fashion.  In just a few short months improvements to the school started and the renovation will be complete by 2020.  There are additional steps to take,  and working together we can make them happen. 

Growth and land preservation

As chair of the Agricultural Commission, I worked with members, staff, and supervisors to create the Purchase of Development Rights Program.  This voluntary program preserves property rights while preserving our rural land.   We have preserved nearly 500 acres to date with more sizable acres in the pipeline. 

As a Supervisor, I have worked with others to successfully defended attempts to defund the PDR program as well as the Land Use Tax Credit.  The state gives localities a limited number of tools to protect open space and I am proud of our efforts to use the tools available.

My experience in zoning, planning and land preservation will continue to place growth where we want it to be while preserving our rural areas.

Economic Development

As a member of the Planning Commission and as Supervisor I have worked with others in the efforts to expand our economic base.  By meeting with our Director of Economic Development we have explored new opportunities. 

We are in the 21st Century.  The county must reach out to current and when possible future opportunities to successfully compete with other communities.

Additionally, I have worked with the schools to enhance our vocational classes, with an emphasis on placing our graduating students and our local businesses together.

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

Coen: The first is my long experience of serving Stafford County and achieving results.  It has been terrific addressing Ferry Farm Elementary, growth, the budget and school security in just the first eight months in office.  The knowledge of the issues and the individuals are key to accomplishing results.   

Next is an ability to work with others to achieve results. This is a community- where together we succeed.

Then there is an ability to think outside the box. Too often we get into a pattern of decision making, which inhibits creativity.  We are in the 21st Century and need to be flexible in our problem-solving.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government?

Coen: Definitely! With the modern communications and the spread of information so much is available.  Indeed I have found that many great ideas come from our citizens who want officials to listen to them.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Coen: Raising three compassionate adult children, many years of successful performance as a school board member, my business, engineering, and legal acumen, and most importantly, my genuine concern and compassion for all children and passion to help all children obtain a quality education.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?

Coen: Everyone makes mistakes, as do I.  It is important to step up and admit it when you do make one. 

The most recent meeting I did just that.  At a previous meeting, our fire chief detailed the implementation of over fifty recommendations from his volunteer and paid fire and rescue personnel.  I failed to give him the praise he deserved for achieving that in such a short time as chief.  This past meeting I publicly admitted my error and corrected it.

It is important for people, especially the young, to see that owning up to mistakes is the right thing to do.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Coen: Hopefully my record of achievement and ability to bring people together to get results should be an important factor.  My knowledge of the county, the budget, planning, zoning, our social services, and protection- police, fire and rescue, has allowed me to hit the ground running. 

In every board and commission, in the workplace and in the community people have placed me in leadership positions.  This has been humbling. 

I have dedicated my energies to this county and to preserving its rural character while protecting people’s rights. 

My hope is that they will allow me to continue to serve them and the county we love.

Need for new Jennie Dean School tops list for School Board candidate Sanford Williams

Sanford Williams is seeking another term on the Manassas City School Board. 

He currently serves as Chairman of the Board, and this election cycle he’s put the focus on the division’s push to build a new Jennie Dean Elementary School. 

Voters will head to the polls on November 6 to vote on who will fill three open seats on the School Board. 

We sent Williams our 2018 candidate’s survey. His responses are below. 

Find your polling place

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

Williams: 

Building a new Jennie Dean School; Ensuring that all of our students graduate with the skills to obtain employment or attend and thrive at an institution of higher learning; closing the achievement gap between some groups of students.

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

Williams: Working with City Council and our community to find a fiscally responsible way to build a new Jennie Dean School; Making sure our teachers and staff have the resources and get the community support necessary to help all students reach their potential and thrive as productive citizens after graduation; Working with the community, staff, and families to make sure that all students obtain the skills to optimize their educational performance.

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

Williams: § 22.1-79 of the Virginia Code explicitly delineates the role of a School Board, so the job description is pretty clear. I can encapsulate the Code to state that from my perspective, the job description is to provide oversight of the Manassas City Public Schools.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Williams: Raising three compassionate adult children, many years of successful performance as a school board member, my business, engineering, and legal acumen, and most importantly, my genuine concern and compassion for all children and passion to help all children obtain a quality education.

PL: Do you think residents are well informed on the workings of local government? 

Williams:  No. By reaching out to everyone that I can to inform them of what the School Board does in as many venues and through as many channels as possible, including social media.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?

Williams: Yes, I am sure that I have. They let me know that I am not perfect and help remind me to not be judgmental and be mindful that everyone deserves grace and understanding. This does not mean that mistakes don’t have consequences or that every mistake should be excused. Rather, it means that even when tough decisions have to be made, they may be rendered with compassion and respect.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Williams: I have been an effective and positive force in our school system, and I will continue to work hard for our students and the citizens of Manassas. I respect and value all of our stakeholders: students, staff, parents, and community, and I am well suited to deal with our extremely diverse, in terms of ethnicity and economics, stakeholder population.

Coates Ellis: Growing business in Manassas will ‘take the tax burden off families’

This is Theresa Coates Ellis’ second run for a seat on the Manassas City Council. 

Ellis ran unsuccessfully for council in 2016. Since then, she’s been a regular at business and community events. 

We sent a questionnaire to Coates Ellis. Her responses are below: 

Find your polling place

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

Coates Ellis: 

1. Economic Development and Job Growth.
2. Quality Public Education
3. Fiscal Responsibility

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

Coates Ellis:

1. Economic Development: I have a plan, “Grow the Manassas Business Landscape.” As a management, public relations and marketing professional, I will be your representative to attract new entrepreneurial businesses and help existing businesses thrive with easy guidelines with a “We’re Open for Business,” message.  Growing businesses will stop the tax increases on families.
 
2. Quality Public Education: Our students need to be career-ready as well as college-ready.  Expanding the Osbourn High School Career Technical Education (CTE) program with certified curriculums and internships will improve student career skills to contribute to higher education.
 
Promoting entrepreneurship to students and young professionals with education in school or in Centerfuse, our local business accelerator, will launch business growth in the City of Manassas.
 
Growing my “Shadow for a Day” program and “Find Your Passion” series with an ”Open for Business” message and will showcase our city as a business community that cares and invests in their students and young professionals by offering mentorships and shadow programs.
 
City council, the city staff, and the school board need to work together to set up a strategic plan so the community can participate in the education of our young population.
 
3.  Fiscal Responsibility:  Our city attracts families and homeowners because it is affordable.    As real estate assessments increase and as taxes increase, we will have an affordability crisis, especially for fixed income families.  Growing businesses will grow revenue to support our community to take the tax burden off families.
 
Public safety, traffic, and public image are priorities.  Safe neighborhoods for our families and businesses are necessary for a vibrant community.  I support improving traffic and walkability to get our citizens to work and for a better lifestyle in our City of Manassas. Our public image departments in our schools and city need to be expanded to continue sharing the events and news in our community.  Awareness and transparency are important to attract new residents and businesses to grow Manassas. 

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

Coates Ellis: The Manassas City Council members serve their citizens as decision-makers for the community. The elected council hires the City Manager, who serves the council. Council supervises the manager’s performance.

Council responsibilities include approving the budget, determining the tax rate, strategizing and setting short-term and long-term community goals, major capital improvement projects, economic development, land use, and financing. The council represents the people and are the eyes, ears, and voice of the community.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Coates Ellis: As a mom to a family of six daughters and one son — all adults — I am a skilled at multi-tasking. I built my own business 30 years ago and have experience in strategic management and planning, marketing, promoting and as a connector in public relations, hiring professionals, making payroll, and making tough decisions. I have mentored and hired students and professionals in careers in education, healthcare, management, IT, marketing and the arts.

As a community volunteer leader, I have connected and surrounded myself with diversified people who share my dedication to the City of Manassas to get things done. I am a person of action who rises to a challenge.

I will expand my “Shadow for a Day” and “Find Your Passion” series launched this year to connect students and businesses to grow Manassas with mentorships, shadow opportunities and jobs.

I will initiate a Public Image Committee to appoint citizen ambassadors for the community to share events and news.

My “Grow the Manassas Business Landscape” program will attract new businesses and help existing businesses to flourish with easy guidance to grow and prosper.

PL: Do you think residents are well informed on the workings of local government? 

Coates Ellis: I do not feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government. The city is a business. With my background in business, marketing, and public relations, I can understand a budget, will promote and increase awareness of the existing tools available on our website and in meet-ups.

Our Public Image Department is excellent but needs to be expanded with a Public Image Committee — ambassadors for the community to organically share news and events.

A video podcast or live broadcast series updating the public featuring special guests can bring awareness to local government, events and news. Partnering with private existing media businesses will help grow their business.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?

Coates Ellis: My biggest regret was going to college for only two years as a young woman and delaying the finish until I was an adult with full career and family responsibilities. I had to pay for my own education so after two years as a young Business student at Millersville University, I paused my education to work to support my family and start and grow my business.

When my children were entering high school and college, I went back to finish school as an adult learner and it was very challenging to juggle a full-time job, raising a large family and go to school full time. I graduated cum laude in two years from George Mason University with a degree in Business Communication updating my Marketing and Public Relations skills. My children witnessed the struggle and focused on making their education a priority while working to contribute to their education.

My experiences in public life have all been positive because any diversion from a plan is a learning experience to grow my future.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Coates Ellis: I will work hard for you and your family as your representative in City Council to grow Manassas together.

I have worked in many industries from growing up in a “shop” as my entrepreneurial family grew their auto repair business in a city, as a shirt presser in a hot dry cleaning business, in banking, in finance, to building my own management, public relations, and marketing business.

I was a first generation high school graduate and later a college graduate. I built my own small business 30 years ago and sacrificed and faced the struggles of growing a large family, a small business and finishing college making tough decisions as I led professionals and staff and mentored students.

Volunteering in the community has always been a priority to give back to the City of Manassas. I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 6 to serve you and your family as your representative in Manassas City Council.

Silver supports Ferry Farm Elementary School rebuild, pay for development rights overhaul

Gordon Silver is a Republican running for a seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. 

If elected as the George Washington District Supervisor, Silver would be a newcomer to the county’s political stage. 

He’s seeking a seat that was vacated in January by former Supervisor turned Virginia State Delegate Bob Thomas. 

Tom Coen is the interim George Washington District Supervisor, appointed this past winter, and he’s challenging Silver for the seat. 

Voters will head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Silver responded to our Project: Election questionnaire. His responses are below. 

Find your polling place

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

Silver: 

1. Rebuilding Ferry Farm Elementary School
2. Preserving green space
3. Developing a more diversified economic base

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

Silver:

1. In 2008 the architectural firm of Hayes & Large conducted a study that determined Ferry Farm Elementary School was no longer cost effective to operate. A rebuild of the school on the existing site is the most cost-effective solution with the least impact on students.
 
2. Currently, Stafford uses a program called Pay for Development Rights (PDR) to change the zoning on agricultural parcels and restrict development on those sites. While the program is effective, it is not efficient.
 
The application process is long (three or more years on average) and severely underfunded. I propose we follow the example of other counties and create a Public-Private-Partnership, PPP, to seek multiple approaches
to the problem.
 
There are over 1,200 PPPs currently operating in the U.S. and collectively they have preserved 50 million acres of land. This amazing feat has been accomplished without infringing on property rights whatsoever.
 
3. We need to aggressively seek a diversity of businesses that cut across different areas of the economy. We have done this successfully over the years but have not done so in recent years

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

Silver: Members of the Board of Supervisors certainly wear many hats, but their largest responsibility is clearly financial. Ensuring sufficient revenue and equitable distribution for services and schools are by far the biggest parts of their job.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Silver: I have 18 years of experience as a business analyst and financial manager. I intend to use the same analytical tools for County decisions as I have used for companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Cox Automotive.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?

Silver: I have had differing opinions with members of boards or groups over the years. What I have learned is that a true leader is able to disagree but knows how to do it in a way that is not disagreeable. I didn’t always get that right when I was first accepting these roles. Leadership means being able to create an environment of trust where others feel comfortable to express their opinions.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Silver: The short answer is two decades of financial experience and four decades of community involvement. But just as important, I am deeply passionate about this community. As a lifetime resident, I have a thorough understanding of the issues faced by the George Washington District. I grew up here and watched this county change from a small rural county to a suburb in Northern Virginia.

My family has lived on the same farm since 1870 and the work I do developing Stafford schools roads, and infrastructure will directly affect the quality of life for my children and grandchildren who continue to live here.

‘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…)

‘There are people who shy away from the term politician. I, however, recognize that I am a politician’

Laura Sellers is about to finish her first term as Stafford County’s Garrisonville District Supervisor.

When she was elected in 2013, she rode a wave of blue along with Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe. While her margin of victory was less than one percent, turning the map blue in Stafford County is a rarity, and fellow Democrats celebrated the win.

Sellers serves the most developed, most populated portion of the county. And, she want’s to keep her seat.

She’s running against Republican Mark Dudenhefer, who held the seat from 2005 until 2011 when he was elected to serve as a member of the House of Delegates.

Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 7, 2017. Learn the location of your polling place

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. 

Sellers sent us this email telling our readers why they should vote for her:

When I graduated from North Stafford High School in 2003, I thought my life would take me many places but I never imagined it would bring me right back to Stafford. I grew up a military brat – born on Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City (by a Colonial in the USAF) and my dad retired in 2004 after I had left home. I was born and raised a nomad.

Growing up military gave me an appreciation for different cultures. I love to travel and love to try different food but it also gave me a longing to be from somewhere. My parents were both raised by the US Army. My father grew up traveling the world while my mother lived most of her life outside of Fort Hood, Texas after her father died just weeks after returning home from Vietnam. At the time, they called it “lung cancer” but now we know that it was agent orange. While my family never needed for anything, I always wanted one place to call home. A family house to return to on holidays. Trees that I watched grow over the years. Walls with memories of my childhood – not my childhood and that of hundreds of other families too.

While in high school, I met a man that would change my life forever. We went to college together and then as we grew into adulthood, life took him to the west coast to play professional football. As much as I loved him, I was not interested in living the life of a nomad anymore. I wanted one place to call home so I returned home to Stafford full time and continued my career in intelligence. To this day, he and I remain in contact as we raise our son and I continue working on contract for the Defense Intelligence Agency. (more…)

‘I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped’

Russell Harrison is running to the be the next Manassas City Treasurer. This is his second time around running for the office. 

This is his second time around running for the office. Harrison lost by three points to current officeholder Patricia Richie-Folks during a special election held last November. 

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. 

Harrison sent us this email below: 

I am a nonprofit executive and former Manassas Volunteer of the Year, and I would like to be the next Manassas City Treasurer.   I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped.

The City Treasurer is a full-time professional position.  We need someone who understands how to run an office, understands laws and regulations, and who understands complicated finance and budgeting. We need someone who can lead.

I do and I can.  I am the only candidate with the background to do the job right.

I am currently a senior executive with the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  There I manage a professional staff that I built over the past several years.  My career with nonprofits has spanned over 20 years and includes earning my CAE (Certified Association Executive), the highest level of professional certification in the nonprofit world.     (more…)

Randall running for Garrisonville School Board seat

From a press release: 

Today, Bart Randall formally announced he would seek election to the Garrisonville District seat on the Stafford County School Board. After having filed the proper paperwork and qualified for the ballot, Randall is turning his focus toward the campaign. 

“We must focus on the success, safety, and security of our children and preparing them for a bright future. This includes keeping class sizes low, supporting our teachers, and ensuring our children have the resources to learn.”

Bart Randall and his wife Carolyn live in the Hampton Oaks neighborhood of Stafford and recently celebrated their 30th anniversary.  They have two adult children, including one who graduated from North Stafford High School. Randall retired from a 24-year Navy career in 2009, ending his tenure as a Master Chief with over ten years serving at sea. During his time in the Navy, Randall earned an Associate of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and two Master of Arts degrees in Human Resources Development and Human Resources Management. Randall has been involved in the Stafford Community volunteering as a baseball coach, in Boy Scouts, and at his church.

Meet the men running for governor

Virginia will elect a new governor this year.

The governor’s position is one of great power and influence, as the current officeholder, Terry McAuliffe, has demonstrated by breaking the record for most vetoes in Virginia history.

However, during the last gubernatorial race in 2014, the voter turnout was less than 42 percent, compared with 72 percent during last year’s presidential election.

While not as publicized as the presidential campaign, the governor’s race will have just as much, if not more, influence over the everyday lives of Virginians. That’s why it’s important to stay informed about who is running and what they stand for.

The state Democratic and Republican parties will each hold a primary on June 13 to choose a nominee for governor. The general election will be Nov. 7.

Here is a brief summary of each candidate’s qualifications. We also have developed a quiz to help determine which candidate best reflects your political views.

Democrats

 

Ralph Northam is lieutenant governor of Virginia and a pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Specialty Group in Norfolk. He served in the U.S. Army and as state senator for the 6th Senate District, before joining McAuliffe’s gubernatorial ticket in 2013. Northam hopes to continue the work he started with McAuliffe and is focusing his campaign on economic progress. He said his priorities are affordable health care and education and has introduced a plan to make community colleges and workforce training free for what he calls “new-collar” jobs in high-demand fields like health care, cybersecurity and skilled construction trades.

Tom Perriello, a former congressman, is a lawyer whose early career focused on prosecuting atrocities in Africa. He was special adviser to the prosecution of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and served as special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo under the Obama administration. Perriello’s campaign has focused on his resistance to what he calls the hateful politics of President Trump. He has proposed a plan to make community college debt-free for two years. Perriello has been endorsed by former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

Republicans

Ed Gillespie is a political strategist and former chair of the Republican National Committee. He is deeply connected in both national and Virginia politics and has spent his career working for high-profile Republicans including presidential candidate John Kasich, George W. Bush and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. He served as counselor to President Bush during Bush’s second term of office, co-founded a bipartisan lobbying firm and in 2014 narrowly lost a bid for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat to Democratic incumbent Mark Warner. Gillespie vows to pursue “timeless conservative principles,” including a 10 percent cut in state income tax rates.

Emmanuel Peter is a minister at the Chapel of Justification Ministry in Richmond and a visiting teacher at Henrico County Public Schools. He has a doctorate of management in organizational leadership and a master’s in divinity and is pursuing a master’s in patient counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University. Peter is the national president of the Global Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, which has more than 1,000 members. He emphasizes restoring Virginia’s moral values and status as a safe place to raise a family. Peter said he would “bridge the bipartisan divides to create and bring back high-paying jobs” to Virginia.

Corey Stewart is a self-proclaimed “Trump before Trump was Trump.” He co-chaired Virginia’s Trump for President campaign and currently chairs the Board of Supervisors in Prince William County, where he implemented “the nation’s toughest crackdown on illegal immigration” and helped remove local fees for getting a concealed weapons permit. Stewart said he is running for governor “to take back Virginia from the establishment and political elites in Richmond.” An international trade attorney, he has vowed to protect Confederate monuments such as statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. “I’m proud to be next to the Confederate flag,” he said.

Frank Wagner portrays himself as the only Republican candidate who “has built multiple successful, manufacturing businesses in Virginia” and has significant legislative experience. Wagner has represented the 7th Senate District (Virginia Beach and Norfolk) since 2002 and was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1992-2001. He is a Navy veteran and until recently owned two ship repair firms. Wagner supports reducing regulations on businesses and wants to focus on career technical education for high school students and college affordability. A top priority for him is infrastructure development, including transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion in Virginia.

Smith promises a clerks office that meets the needs of a growing county

Jacqueline Smith is running for the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court, Prince William County. 

She’s running in a Special Election against current House of Delegates member Jackson Miller. 

Voters will head to the polls tomorrow, April 18 to choose the next Prince William County Clerk of the Circuit Court following the death of Michele McQuigg

Smith and Miller received the same Project: Election survey. Smith’s responses are posted below the jump.

(more…)

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.