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Crystal Vanuch, Stafford Rockhill District Supervisor

By Charles B. Roberts

Republicans have a monumental chance at beating Rep. Abigail Spanberger this November, but we need the right candidate in order to win this seat in November.

Stafford and Fredericksburg are losing Rob Wittman due to redistricting and now are faced with a choice.  We can’t elect the same ol’ Republicans and expect different results this time around.  That’s why I’m supporting Crystal Vanuch for Congress.

I’ve been astonished by Crystal’s work on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. Not only does she have an incredible voting record for standing up to special interests and fighting for her constituents, but she’s actually accomplished very difficult things to move the County forward in very difficult times.

When other counties were “defunding the police,” Crystal went the opposite direction and increased pay and resources for Stafford County law enforcement, it is no secret the Sheriff’s office supports her, and she attends every event possible to show how they are valued in our community.

When our children were exposed to politics in the classroom, Crystal fought to stop controversial topics like Critical Race theory from being taught in school.  She also secured historical pay raises for our teachers and almost $100 million in transportation funding. I can only imagine what she can do with the federal budget when we send her to congress.

She’s proven time and time again that she can navigate incredibly difficult political waters, save taxpayers millions of dollars, and get true results for our community and we need her in Congress. I’m tired of politicians who are all talk and have no action.

Crystal Vanuch is from Stafford and knows exactly what our community needs and we have a chance to finally send someone to Congress who will fight for results. I encourage my fellow Republicans to vote for Vanuch on June 21

Charles B. Roberts is a personal injury attorney who lives and works in Stafford County.

Potomac Local News occasionally writes editorials and accepts opinion-based letters to the editor on local issues. Readers may email letters.

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By Ian Lovejoy

President Biden’s federal asset tax, which is being sold as a tax on billionaires, could actually be imposed on millions of hardworking Americans, evolving to hit everyone who has a job or owns some form of assets.

The difference between the federal asset tax and the normal income tax we all pay is that it would be based on income combined with the increased value of assets, even if those gains are unrealized, such as property that has gone up in value but was not sold during the tax year. That’s a big difference.

Think of how much equity your home has gained over the last year, last five years, or last ten years.  Now, imagine the federal government taxing that gain in equity every single year! Under Biden’s new federal asset tax, the equity that you have never realized, but exists only on paper, would now be taxable. What was seemingly unimaginable has now become reality.

Small businesses could likewise be taxed, again, for the value of their assets; inventory, machinery, even intellectual property, anything that the IRS could claim has value, would be taxed.

Descendants of successful farmers and business owners could be faced with tax bills they aren’t able to pay, forcing them to sell off assets they’ve owned for decades to raise the funds needed to keep the IRS at bay.

And imagine the chaos as bureaucrats are handed the power to set those estimated values. It’s almost impossible that business owners would just passively accept a tax bill based on an arbitrary asset value handed down by someone far less familiar with a farm, business, or intellectual property than the people who have created it and worked at it sometimes for generations. The whole thing is undoubtedly headed for long court battles that could take years to resolve.

That’s if the courts allow the federal asset tax to stand in the first place. The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the power to levy taxes on income. It says nothing about allowing them to tell someone what they think their property is worth and then hand them a bill for 20 percent of its value. It is very doubtful that the Supreme Court justices would allow the government to get away with this overreach of power.

There are a lot of flaws in this about-face taxing strategy. For instance, how would losses be treated? As we all know, the property does not increase in a steady, straight line over time. When the government’s estimate of an asset’s value declines will they be as eager to give those taxpayers a rebate as they were to tax them the year before?

President Biden touts this plan as a way to make the tax system more equitable, to force wealthy Americans to “pay their fair share,” but taxing unrealized capital gains is un-American and effectively puts a cap on success. Adding an asset tax onto the already sizeable tax burden of U.S. producers and employers would hinder job creation and slow the economic recovery.

The federal asset tax would do much more harm than good in Virginia. Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Virginia’s entire congressional delegation should do everything possible to influence the President to drop this misguided proposal.

Ian Lovejoy is a 2023 candidate for the Virginia State Senate and a former Manassas City Council member.

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By Kristen Barnes

This year, Stafford and the Fredericksburg region have a unique opportunity to fill an open seat in the newly created 7th U.S. Congressional District.

Republican Crystal Vanuch, two-time Chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, is running to defeat Abigail Spanberger and bring a fresh, new, conservative voice to Capitol Hill.

Crystal was born, raised, and lives in the 7th district.  Those deep roots bring a knowledge and understanding that only comes from a lifetime of living, working, and representing her hometown. She comes from a family of both law enforcement and military veterans, so she sees the challenges that our police, military, and veterans face every day.

Crystal has shown unwavering support for our first responders and successfully fought for one of their largest raises in Stafford history.  She will bring that much-needed support to Washington as our country continues to descend into lawlessness.

When Crystal ran for the Rockhill seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, some of the most important issues expressed by voters were concerns about out-of-control residential development and a broken proffer system that allowed developers to build un-checked without paying their fair share of the costs of growth.

As our Supervisor, she has held firm in keeping growth in check and has never voted for a re-zoning that added even more houses to our already overburdened infrastructure. Promises made, promises kept.

And last year, when a national mining company brought forth an application to advance mining operations closer to well-established neighborhoods in North Stafford, she stood strong with her constituents, who were understandably concerned about how that would impact their families and homes.

The special interests hold no sway over Crystal, and she will take that kind of advocacy to congress. She proudly and unapologetically advocates for her constituents, and that’s the kind of person we need to send to Washington in 2023.

Kristen Barnes lives in Stafford County and is the county Planning Commission Chairman.

Potomac Local News occasionally writes editorials and accepts opinion-based letters to the editor on local issues. Readers may email letters to us.

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Photo: Montclair Family Restaurant

By Ben Baldwin

The economic illiteracy of this Board is astounding. Based on this budget, you need a lesson, so here goes:

Inflation is when you have too much money chasing after too little goods. For example, here in Prince William County, we have an inflated housing market.

My home saw an assessment increase of nearly twelve percent for this year, which was more than double what my house was assessed the year before. That becomes a problem when interest rates start rising.

Rising interest rates curtail inflation by making it too costly to borrow or buy. When people stop buying things–like houses–the value of the item you wish to sell goes down. As more and more people try to sell to get whatever price they can, the value of what they want to sell further perpetuates the spiral.

This is known as a market crash.

This will be the 13th year in a row residential tax bills have increased. Thirteen years ago was 2009.

Since nobody on this Board held office in 2009, a history lesson is in order. The year before was the 2008 financial collapse, which was caused by an inflated, over-speculated housing market that was made worse when interest rates started rising. You’re running headlong into the same wall we hit over a decade ago, pretending the wall isn’t even there.

While you plan to raise property taxes, you also want to impose a 4% meals tax on every restaurant in the County. When questioned on the potential economic issues of raising the price for a family to go out and eat, a budget analyst for the County said, “if you don’t want to pay the tax, don’t eat out at restaurants.”

That’s the point.

When you tax something–like a restaurant–you force the consumer to decide whether they want to eat at Montclair Family Restaurant, Zandra’s Taqueria, the Electric Palm, or the Harbor Grille. When they choose not to go out to eat, those restaurants lose revenue.

When they lose revenue, they cut back to save money. When they can’t do that anymore, they go out of business.

Why are the residents and businesses of this county being put in this position? Because this Board can’t help itself and increases spending year after year after year.

You are writing checks that you will very soon not be able to cash because you are taxing into oblivion the very revenue sources you need to function. You have consistently shown an inability to be prudent with the people’s money.

You need to humble yourself and curtail your grandiose, misbegotten plans of economic justice. You need to stop treating the people of this county like a piggy bank you can break open whenever you see fit. You need to listen to us.

And if you can’t do that, then you need to go.

Ben Baldwin is a Prince William County resident who ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2021. 

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Vega

By Yesli Vega
Coles District Supervisor
Prince William County

In March of 2020 the stock market plummeted nearly 8,000 points and by April unemployment hit 15%. That same month, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors responded by increasing the average residential tax bill by almost $200 per family.

In April of 2021, with the economy still on its back and inflation creeping in, Prince William County residents got socked by their elected body with another hit to their wallet of over $300 on average.

Now, in the midst of a full-blown inflation crisis not seen in over 40 years, the Board has left on the table another average residential tax increase of nearly $200, which save for an act of God or major citizen uprising, they seem poised to pass.

But that’s not all. A brand new 4% Meals Tax on county residents will also be voted on at the county’s budget adoption meeting this coming Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. That means every time you dine in at one of Prince William County’s sit down establishments, county government won’t just be taking a little off the top. They’re adding to the top – and then taking it. In the midst of record inflation and rising food costs.

Back to the residential tax increase. If adopted, the average cumulative impact of the residential tax increases alone since COVID reared its ugly head will be over $1,400 per family.

We don’t have to do this. We don’t have to do either.

This past Tuesday night, I proposed a tax rate of 96 cents that would save the average homeowner $328 from what is currently being proposed. Lowering the year to year tax bill on residents for the first time in nearly a decade and a half. I’ve also proposed that we axe this ridiculous meals tax proposal which will hurt already struggling Prince William County families and restaurant owners.

For those who pretend this would cause the sky to fall, Prince William County Government would still receive $45 million more in additional revenue over last year.

This extra $45 million would enable us to put a down payment on the severe officer shortage the county faces today. Despite $124 million in new spending in the current budget, remarkably, not one extra police officer is slated to be hired despite the fact that we’re 342 officers shy of our own level-of-service-standards and saw crime increase by double digits in virtually every area last year.

This Board, specifically the Board majority, has already socked it to our taxpayers the last two years in some of the most difficult economic times imaginable. Our residents are exhausted, and their dollar is already buying them much less.

We don’t have to do this to them again.

To share your thoughts on the FY2023 Budget, you may email the entire Board directly at [email protected]cgov.org; call the county’s main line at 703-792-6000 and ask to be transferred to your Supervisor; and attend and speak out at the Budget Adoption meeting this Tuesday at 7:30pm, 1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, VA 22192.

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Brown [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools]
It’s been five months since Prince William County Public Schools hired its chief equity officer.

Dr. Lucretia Brown was the first high-profile hire by Dr. LaTanya McDade, who took over as Prince William schools superintendent after Dr. Stephen Walts retired a year ago. Before coming to our area, Brown was the Deputy Superintendent of Equity, Accountability, and School Improvement for Allentown School District in Pennsylvania.

Now at Virginia’s second-largest school district, she’s made few public appearances and has yet to address the county School Board. In light of the recent focus on critically responsive teaching, a statewide gubernatorial election that put Critical Race Theory under a microscope, and a string of School Board meetings with parents demanding a more significant role in their children’s public-school education, it’s fair to say many of us are curious about her, and what she plans to do in her new role.

This year, McDade established the school division’s Equity Office and will staff it with 10 employees working under Brown, with a $1.8 million budget. Over the next year, Brown is charged with delivering an Equity Audit, completing a Resource Equity Diagnostic, and coming up with an Equity Action Plan to be implemented for nearly 90,000 students and nearly 12,000 employees.

Each of these concepts is relatively new, and the general public has little knowledge of them. To borrow a line from 1999’s Office Space, “Well, what would you say… you do here?”

This week, Insidenova reported on a recent Superintendent’s Advisory Committee of Equity meeting held by McDade, to whom Brown reports. The news reporter and Brown gave us this insight:

Without providing too many specifics about [her daily] activities, Brown described her position to the equity council… as a cross-disciplinary job that reaches into other departments. Ultimately, though, Brown is responsible for the division’s informal diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI) work.

“It’s not this marginalized position that sits out here and has to wait, if you will, for an opportunity to engage with other officers or work. It’s a bonafide discipline and office that’s rooted in the research that I’m sharing with you,” Brown told the committee at its meeting in late March. “A big concept that our superintendent has introduced in our division is the notion of interdependencies, and when you think of it, it is counter to that idea of bureaucratic silos, so making sure that as I fit into the environment and the [concepts] that were already here before I got here.”

Brown isn’t the chief DEI trainer, she said. Instead, she said her role is one that consults laterally with other division heads, advises McDade, and serves as a “change management specialist” who will interrogate practices and policies that exist within the division’s many departments today and advise on what’s good, what needs tweaking and what should go.

OK, everybody got that? According to the quote, Brown assures us her job is rooted in academia, and then she compliments her boss for her apparent forethought to create her position. Then there’s something about interdependencies and bureaucratic silos.

If you read all of that and are confused, you’re not alone. To make matters worse, according to the news report, McDade won’t allow anyone to interview her star hire so that the public can get some clarification or insight into the meaning of those big words.

It sounds like Brown and her staff have some work ahead of them. McDade is clearly throwing a lot of money at the job. We’d like to know, in plain English, what’s being done, for whom, and how.

Potomac Local News occasionally writes editorials and accepts opinion-based letters to the editor on local issues. Readers may email letters.

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The James McCoart Building at the Prince William County Government Center. [Photo by Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]
By Charles Haddow
Coles District Representative
Prince William County Racial & Social Justice Commission

A fellow commissioner asked me following the aborted March 31 meeting of the Racial and Social Justice Commission (RSJC) the following question: “What do you [Mac Haddow] want to allow the Commission to make progress?”

I understand the frustration because I share it – albeit for vastly different reasons.

I am happy to answer that blunt question with an equally blunt response, but hopefully to allow the entire commission a perspective on what steps could be taken to restore civility and respect for every member.

Hopefully, this will inform the new RSJC Chairman and Vice-Chairman, whomever they may be for the coming year, on some approaches that could improve both the process to allow robust discussion of issues by the commission and achieving the purpose for which the RSJC was formed to identify and provide recommendations on needed actions in our community:

1. The Chairman must build consensus and lead without bias. Respect for differing views is essential to any discussion and requires a good and effective leader. The use of the power of the Chairman to block dissent, limit minority views, or ram through decisions that an individual personally favors is counterproductive. An effective leader has to set aside personal views and any bias they have on issues before the commission. An effective Chairman serves the commission, not their personal agenda.

2. Regular “Committee Leads” meetings should be abolished. A Committee Lead is appointed by the Chairman, pursuant to the bylaws, to lead that Committee they are selected to lead. There is no provision for a sub-group of the commission to become a “cabinet” for the Chairman to make any decisions or to develop strategies to influence outcomes that are properly decided upon by the entire commission – and the discussions that took place in these meetings planning for actions by the entire commission or pursuing the personal agenda of the Chairman were fatally tainted by the fact the Chairman chose these Committee Leads based on their past community activism on political issues.

3. The RSJC must be run by the commission, not by the county staff. Setting aside the basis for the complaint formally submitted against the actions of specific members of the county staff originally assigned to support the RSJC – some of whom were removed by Acting County Executive Johnson from those roles – the staff cannot be setting the agenda or allowed to limit the discussion of the issues legitimately allowed by the BOCS Resolution. It is my opinion that the 2021 agenda for the RSJC was improperly dominated by staff input. In my opinion, the staff should support the commission, not direct its actions or dominate its agenda. Having the Prince William County Director of the Equity and Inclusion Office as the principal staff support arguably makes the RSJC a tool for that office’s agenda rather than an independent oversight entity that should be examining all sides of an issue.

4. The monthly agenda must focus on the charge given to the RSJC by the BOCS Resolution, not training and/or inappropriate guidance or interference from county staffers to promote the agenda of their own offices. There should be agreement at each meeting for the matters on the agenda for the following meeting, and respect for recommendations made for subject matter presenters and presentations. Any objective observer should not be able to tell from the selection of presenters what the bias of the RSJC leadership is or is not. It is about serving the entire community, not the personal or political agenda of the Commission leaders.

5. The Chairman must respect the minority viewpoints of the commissioners who disagree with their philosophy or approach. When issues are raised, the Chairman should look for ways to accommodate discussions, not rely on an obstructionist and biased staff to block discussions – particularly making improper parliamentary decisions that are subsequently revealed to be uninformed or deliberately misstated.

6. Committee leads should be selected based on their experience in community engagement in non-partisan activities, not community activism on political issues. I believe that committee leads should not be appointed in their area of employment but rather for their ability to gather information and build consensus effectively.

7. The Chairman should not act outside of the authority granted by the governing documents in “speaking for the Commission.” That should limit the Chairman to speaking only about official actions taken by the commission and not reflecting the personal bias or views of the Chairman, or the collective views of a few Commissioners whom the Chairman relies on for advice and counsel. Expressing personal views, or the views the Chairman thinks the majority of the commission may have are inappropriate and outside of the authority of the Chairman.

8. The Chairman should not limit distribution of media releases and other official documents of the RSJC to news outlets that have reported favorably on the Chairman’s activities or to advocacy groups that align with the personal or political views of the Chairman. Such actions abuse the authority granted to the Chairman by the governing documents.

9. The RSJC should allow public comment at all meetings. The bar on public comments during the review of the draft report, its amendment process, and at the meeting where the final report was voted on by the commission was, in my opinion, antithetical to the mission and purpose of the commission.

10. The commission should respect minority viewpoints and not try to suppress them for political purposes or to align with the views of a few members.

11. The Commission presentations to the BOCS should be professional, well documented, and representative of the commission’s work. Planning for such presentations should not allow for gaps in presenting recommendations and supporting data that, when absent from the presentation, make the commission look ineffective, unprepared, and fails to reflect the actual work of the commission.

I have been a strong voice to be heard. Still, those actions were precipitated by actions of the current leadership to suppress any dissent and, in my opinion, to drive a personal and political agenda that was inconsistent with the mission of the RSJC. In the same way that the BOCS reflects the diversity of our community, so should the RSJC.

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[Photo: Jordan Harrison/Unsplash]
By Stephen Kott
Gainesville

Data centers present a unique and exciting opportunity to enhance the lives of every single citizen of Prince William County by growing our commercial tax base, improving our schools, fixing our roadways and infrastructure, and increasing funding for first responders.

I have children in our school system, I drive our roads every day, I support local law enforcement and fire and rescue, I pay property taxes, and all of these endeavors are costing more and more money every year. We all know that we cannot just sit back while our student/teacher ratio keeps climbing. Our roads get more crowded, and our first responders continue to be stretched thin.

For years, there has been debate about finding more of a balance between the residential and commercial tax base. The county has identified an aggressive goal of a 35% commercial tax base, which is achievable. Still, it will require a change in approach when it comes to delineating where, and determining how we allow our commercial partners to operate.

Our taxes keep going up year after year, and it continues to impact every one of us, especially our senior citizens who live on a fixed income and the families who are doing their best to get by on lower wages.

If we are serious about growing our commercial tax base, then we need to approve the PW Digital Gateway CPA. This opportunity presented by several neighborhoods and residents who have banded together and made this request to the county should be taken seriously.

The latest analysis by Prince William County staff shows that if the project is approved, the total economic impact for the county over 20 years will be nearly $25 billion, with over $4 billion of that coming in the first five years. That is a huge number that will inject our local economy with new jobs, new infrastructure, and, most importantly, new commercial tax revenue.

Based on the county’s conservative projections, over $400 million new dollars per year would go to the county budget. That is precisely the kind of funding stream that our various county departments, programs, projects, and initiatives could desperately use.

The PW Digital Gateway would indisputably significantly boost our commercial tax base. More than half of the newly generated tax revenue would go directly to our education system. The rest would go to our roads, parks, public safety, and other core functions of government that need new investment.

The modern-day data center industry has made tremendous improvements by using technology and new construction techniques to become environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing. The data centers of today are no longer the eyesore that they once were.

When properly buffered and designed, data centers make great additions to the community. They don’t produce students, they generate far less traffic than other commercial endeavors, and they certainly don’t burden our public safety departments because they are the most secured parcels of land in the county. They’re good neighbors who pay their taxes and don’t require much from the county in return.

We can’t afford to let this opportunity slip through our fingers because a small number of activists and self-proclaimed experts continue to spread misinformation and try to scare people into opposing these projects that would help so many families throughout the county.

The new tax revenue that the data centers would generate would dramatically improve the quality of life for so many and would enable us to make much-needed improvements that would be an across-the-board benefit to every single resident who calls Prince William County home.

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A drug take-back event  [2016 file photo]
I would like to supply insight on possible motives behind the rise in larcenies and fatal overdoses cited in the article, “Manassas police report more fatal overdoses, domestic violence arrests, traffic citations in 2021.”

Firstly, the 25% increase in reported larcenies could be influenced by a lack of means to satisfy basic needs. The continuation of the coronavirus pandemic must lead to job loss, which could be a potential explanation for the rise.

Additionally, an individual’s lack of motivation to pursue other means of income, influence by peers or familial ties, or earlier life choices, like felonies, limiting workplace opportunities are other potential causes for the rise.

Furthermore, other research shows that larceny rates have risen in other states around the country. This raises the question, “What is the structural reason behind the rising crime rate?” Efforts from individuals in higher positions to investigate the factors that lead to a person stealing could positively help mitigate or potentially end theft. Whereas advertisement of larceny and theft prevention tips are band-aids to an issue that stems from a deeper place within someone’s life.

Likewise, I applaud the effort to organize community prescription drug disposable events by the Manassas Police Department. Unfortunately, this measure is a temporary fix for the ongoing fight to address drug overdose, which could stem from a feeling of invisibility.

Also, parenting seminars emphasizing the importance of discarding expired prescriptions were mentioned in the article. This is a wonderful educational opportunity; it can be inferred that individuals from the adolescent or young adult age group were one of the fourteen victims.

Lowered happiness levels stemming from an inability to cope with stressors or a perceived lack of social support, such as feeling invisible, are likely explanations for the increase in prescription overdoses. Prioritizing building stronger community bonds, celebrating vulnerability for people, and living in the moment is a few steps society can take to improve the lives of each citizen.

Sincerely,

Makayla Buster
Woodbridge

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