The 28 Corridor
Transportation may be the most challenging issue facing local governments in the Northern Virginia Region. We have all felt the frustration of driving 28, some of us daily. Endless studies add to our frustrations seeing traffic getting worse year after year while nothing gets done. I will fight for the Godwin Drive extension to be built thus pulling a significant amount of traffic off 28 through Yorkshire. We need to have a comprehensive strategy to address our traffic problems which include the expansion of VRE, bus rapid transit, more investment from VDOT in Interstates 66 & 95.
During the bi-county parkway debates of 2013, I was a vocal critic of the project and the manner in which it was made public. Road connectivity between counties alone does not generate mutually beneficial economic development. We have seen most of the commercial development flow to Fairfax County while improvements have been made to Interstate 95, Route 123, and Interstate 66. There are a host of other roads connecting Fairfax and Prince William; among them are Route 1, Route 28, and Route 29. Now there is a push to create more road connectivity between Loudoun and Prince William.
We need more investment in public transportation, in particular the Virginia Railway Express. I believe that the VRE is our future and not the failing model of Metro. As such I would advocate for the expansion of existing train service lines along the Route 28 Corridor. The VRE system is already operating at near capacity and should be fostered as a more efficient means of transportation for our citizens while also improving our local economy.
The infrastructure deficit facing Prince William County today stems from development, in particular the Board’s inability to manage growth. This County has grown exceedingly fast, but has not provided the necessary infrastructure to offset that growth. Development in Prince William County is a reality, but it needs to be done in a way that identifies opportunity for redevelopment, brings jobs to our area and ensures the necessary infrastructure is in place. There needs to be a proper balance between commercial and residential development.
We have a choice before us right now. We can either continue the out-of-control growth that we’ve seen over the last two decades or take the opportunity to build our community through smart decisions and attracting the private sector to our County.
Virginia is a business-friendly state due to its Right-to-Work laws, reduced regulations and low taxation rates. We here in Prince William County should apply those same principles to our own bureaucracy, zoning, and tax laws to promote growth in our commercial tax base by creating a more business-friendly environment within County government.
By building our commercial tax base through more inviting policies, we will relieve the stress on residential taxpayers and create more job opportunities allowing our residents to make a living wage here in Prince William County without having to commute to neighboring jurisdictions.
Rural Open Space
The Rural Crescent presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Prince William to protect our open spaces. Once we lose our beautiful green areas to development, they will never be regained. The current policy is a failing one. We have no mechanisms in place for rural preservation and continue to see single family homes being built utilizing wells, drain fields and alternative sewer systems. These new homes being built in the rural crescent are adding traffic to roads which were built to handle agrarian communities, not the de facto cluster developments we currently see coming on line.
The Board of County Supervisors needs to use all the tools at its disposal to protect Prince William County’s rural past while balancing for a more developed future. The rights of individual property owners must be considered while protecting the character of Prince William County, maintaining our quality of life.
Prince William County is home to so much history. It is our responsibility to maintain these areas for future generations to enjoy.
Providing a quality education is a core function of local government. We currently have the most overcrowded classrooms in the entire Commonwealth. Teachers across the County are being put in extremely tough situations to teach children in overcrowded classrooms. I believe our teachers are underpaid and more money needs to be sent directly to the classrooms.
Unfortunately we have a school administration that puts an emphasis on facilities rather than students. We have one of the lowest ratios of money spent per student relative to our neighboring jurisdictions in Loudoun and Fairfax yet we have some of the most expensive facilities. We need a School Board that properly prioritizes its spending habits to reduce class size and increase teacher pay. I support efforts that will direct more money to addressing these issues.
Public safety is a core function of local government and as such should be well funded. Town Halls and Community outreach by our police and fire personnel are valuable tools that allow the needed conversations to take place avoiding unwanted adversarial interactions between our first responders and our citizens. We need to provide our public safety officials with the tools necessary to keep all the people of this County safe.
Pursuant to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, I also support the extension of water lines into the Rural Crescent to allow our fire departments to provide a greater level of service to our citizens without the additional capital expenditure of costly tanker trucks.
Many in Prince William County government today like to tout that we have the lowest real estate tax bills in Northern Virginia. This is misleading and deceptive because it relies on the fact that our homes are not worth as much as the homes in neighboring counties. We consistently have one of the highest real estate tax rates in Northern Virginia. Prince William County’s budget has grown at a pace that is greater than population growth and inflation combined. While our taxes increase almost every year, we continue to see the quality of our schools decline and our roads become less capable of handling the increased traffic. Our businesses are taxed on their tools, property, and gross receipts. The current Board has relied more on placing a higher tax burden on its citizens and businesses’ than looking to its own expenses.
We can find savings in our county government. Cuts to government budgets should be actual cuts and not simply cuts to projected expenditures, which has been the practice in recent years while families manage actual budget cuts.
I will fight tirelessly for the taxpayers and not for expansion of inefficient local government.