My name is Maggie Hansford and I am running for Board of County Supervisor of the Brentsville District. I am a mom, wife, educator and active community member who is running to make our community stronger. I believe a voice for education funding is needed within our Prince William County Board of Supervisors. My priorities are funding education and public safety, driving economic growth, ensuring equality and fairness for all residents, increasing job growth, improving road safety and transportation, and ensuring water safety. We must compete at all levels to improve the education, health, safety and economic success of all residents in Prince William.
My platform consists of these key issues:
- Education: I will fight to increase school funding. I will increase per pupil funding, ensure competitive and fair compensation for our teachers, and decrease the achievement gap in our schools through equity of technology among our schools and school renovations.
- Transportation: I will work with state legislators to address traffic flow problems, safety concerns, and improve intersections along Route 28. I will increase the number of sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths to decrease road use, traffic and carbon emissions. These improvements will not only impact traffic flow, but also enhance public safety and the health of our community. I will develop a plan to increase mass transit options in the Brentsville District.
- Economic development: I will encourage the development of additional data centers within the existing infrastructure of Innovation Park. I plan to utilize the George Mason Science and Technology Campus Economic Development Plan to include expansion of Innovation Park, which will increase job growth at a more rapid pace than the current 300 jobs annually. I also intend to create a live/work/play environment within this valued county resource. At the same time, I will advocate for smart growth rather than sprawl, in an environmentally sound way to protect our natural resources and invest in green energies where ever possible.
My primary focus, as a Supervisor, will be to address the many funding issues of our county public school system. My goals are simple: to increase school funding for equitable teacher compensation, reduce class size and decrease our reliance upon classroom trailers. As a teacher, I know where the problems lie, and I see that our county government and school board do not work together to solve these problems. I intend to take a hands-on approach, regularly meeting with the Superintendent, his staff, and the school board, so that the Board of Supervisors and the schools work side-by-side all year long.
Prince William County public schools is the largest employer in the county. That means that, above every single other employer in the county, the way we pay these employees will impact more employees than any other employer. If we underpay our school employees, we are shorting our county tax revenues, our local businesses, the local real estate market, and additionally burdening the county with increased needs if the retirement plans do not keep pace with the increasing cost of living in the area. Prince William teacher compensation is not competitive. Teachers earn less than similarly skilled and experienced employees of the county in other departments. Our teachers also earn less than teachers in all surrounding counties. Our teacher pay scale is problematic. The first 15 years need to be adjusted for adequate, fair and competitive pay. Our schools require additional funding for this to happen, as well as a firm 5-year plan. Starting salaries, step increases, and catch up steps need to be addressed to ensure that we can hire and retain the best teachers.
Addressing class size and trailer reduction is a decades old problem in our county. The supervisors have traditionally been unwilling to address this challenge, specifically during budget season. Trailers negatively impact teacher work environments, negatively impact student learning and contribute to safety concerns. The first step towards reducing classroom size is to address the high school class sizes by one. Our high school classrooms are the largest in our district. My long-term goal would be to address class size at all levels of education. Our trailers will be addressed by ensuring that future school buildings are designed vertically, which will allow for more classrooms per building. High classroom sizes and crowded schools are shown to increase the mental health needs of students. One way to address this problem, without needing additional infrastructure, would be to utilize the existing apartment space within each school as a mental health suite. This space would allow students room for group therapy and one-on-one discussions with mental health counselors, in a space more conducive to their mental health needs than a sterile office space. This would allow for additional hires in counseling, social work, and psychology, without requiring additional costs for space.
Lastly, school equity needs to be addressed through additional funding. When new schools are built, we must also fairly allocate funds to all of our existing schools, so that each student and each school has equitable technology and school facilities. Current supervisors have ignored school funding for decades and failed to invest in existing schools. This is important, as all Prince William County residents deserve the same high-quality education. Sadly, equity has not been a priority for our county, and as a result, our achievement gap continues to grow. Further, our schools recently passed a measure ensuring children and staff are treated equally, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender, but our county has not yet protected other staff and community service recipients. Equity for our LGBT+ residents and employees must also be explicitly formalized in written policy, to ensure that our county is recognized as a welcoming community for all businesses and residents.
The county must work with state legislators to address road safety and the flow of traffic throughout Brentsville specifically along Rollins Ford Rd. and along the expansion portion of Route 28. Numerous fatalities along with high numbers of accidents must be made a priority for the safety of our community. These accidents are tragic, yet they are also preventable. The drawing of the lanes needs to be addressed with blind stop issues and improved light timing.
I will develop a short-term and long-term plan, with input from community members and transportation experts, with sidewalks and bike paths to address road congestion. This county has a sidewalk-to-nowhere problem. We have numerous schools that have sidewalks in front of the school, but they only continue a few feet and do not connect to nearby neighborhoods. The sidewalks at these schools are merely ornamental rather than functional. I plan to work towards increasing the safe routes to schools. We need to complete a study of how many schools in our district can be walkable schools when provided adequate sidewalks and crosswalks. Sidewalks are an important investment in the safety of our children. In addition, investing in sidewalks will provide relief of road congestion in several ways. It will reduce the number of parents on the road driving their children to school, limit the buses on the road, which reduces traffic and wear on roads. Improving sidewalks will also reduce bus routes, reduce the time it takes our children to get to school, and increase efficiency for our drivers.
Funding for crosswalks and sidewalks, as well as overhead pedestrian walkways, will benefit several aspects of the community. Our children could more safely walk to school, families could walk to local businesses, and we would create a more community-friendly atmosphere for our residents without disrupting traffic flow.
I would also propose additional bike paths throughout the county. For our residents who live relatively close to their places of work, the option to bike to work would improve quality of life, reduce traffic congestion, and improve the health of our residents. I also support increased nature trails and walkable parks, which will contribute to a healthy Prince William County and preserve the natural settings that we all are proud of.
I also believe that Brentsville is not adequately connected to mass transit throughout the district, negatively impacting our mobility. We would benefit from additional mass transit to the George Mason Science and Technology Center and Innovation Park, as well as increased public bussing options, which would then expand the VRE service throughout the day and stimulate bus/van/car sharing to Innovation Park, Manassas, Manassas Park, North Woodbridge, and other areas.
Improved transportation, including walking, biking, driving, and public transit, will improve the quality of life for our residents. If our goal as a county is to grow high-paying jobs, then we need to work to reverse the commute. Employers will be incentivized to locate and expand in Prince William if it is easy for the pool of skilled workers in the more urban counties to the north, as well as local residents, to get to the job sites here.
George Mason’s Science and Technology Center has existing infrastructure, complete with roads, water, sewer, electric and fiber. In order to efficiently use these existing resources, future Data Centers need to be located within Innovation Park to reduce infrastructure costs elsewhere.
The long-term plan for Campus Master Revision has been forgotten. Instead of ignoring this plan and investing elsewhere, we should continue along this already formulated and strong plan to invest in our community. The Freedom Center is an integral part of our district and benefits all members of our community. The University Town Center Plan, with mixed-use development, would include office and residential retail, which would bolster the sense of community in the Brentsville District and further encourage public-private partnerships and result in increased county revenue streams.
In Prince William County, our revenue is based overwhelmingly on residential tax receipts, at over 80%. Instead of focusing on residential taxes, we should be increasing the business tax revenue streams in innovative and efficient ways. We are a bedroom community that struggles to pay for our lifestyle. Our public servants are neglected, our roads are limited, our schools are underfunded, and this is because our supervisors continue to advocate for low residential tax rates and levies, with no plan for the future. Instead, we should invest in our community, prioritizing our quality of life with adequate job growth and fully funding our county services.
I believe we should include a community center within the George Mason Science and Technology Center to create space to expand our services for residents. We as a community can create a place for community services such as, an early childhood preschool program, daytime programming for adults with disabilities, and vocational training opportunities for both youth and adults. If we, as a community, choose to invest in these areas and maximize our utilization of the Campus Master Revision plan, we invest in the health of our economy, our children, and our families. The center would allow for additional preschool opportunities for children of all economic backgrounds, as well as vitally needed programming for disabled adults. Currently, our residents with moderate to severe disabilities have only one adult programming option locally after graduating from our schools, and it is located outside of Brentsville District.
Investing in our County
Every year, our supervisors set a tax rate that is competitive with Fairfax and Loudoun. However, every year our supervisors set a computer tax rate that is far lower than surrounding counties. They ask our residents to pay, not our businesses. We need to start expecting our businesses to pay their fair share in order for our community to prosper. Our supervisors refuse to invest in our community and the county’s problems exist today because of these shortsighted priorities. Our schools are overcrowded, our commutes are long, and the economic prosperity of our community is restrained since the majority of our tax revenue is reliant upon homeowners. We are a bedroom community that is unable to afford our public servants. Our county could compete with neighboring counties, but first, we must invest in ourselves.
I believe in the value of the rural crescent. Protecting the rural crescent is important in order to preserve our natural resources, the local watershed, beautiful scenery, and farmland is important to preserving the unique characteristics of our county. I would advocate for smart growth, rather than sprawl, in order to develop land already outside of the crescent.
Prince William County should prioritize community services for children, adult mental health, and substance abuse treatment. In Prince William, we do not have a county residential drug treatment or mental health facility. If a resident requires these services, he or she must go outside of the county for treatment. This provides a barrier for some of our most in need residents. Further, community services require private bussing availability to transport residents from facilities to appointments. Without these important investments, we are putting our residents’ health and our community at risk.
As a supervisor, I would continue to advocate for environmentally sound plans for growth as well as invest in green energy resources. In order to be competitive when seeking to attract major employers, we need to increase our focus on renewable energy and environmentally friendly innovation.
I understand the positive impact of investing time and resources into our future because I see it every day where I teach. I believe we deserve a Supervisor who truly understands that whether you’re a child walking to school, a recent graduate starting your career, a neighbor commuting to work, or a senior enjoying retirement, Brentsville is our home. We deserve to know that our investments are going towards keeping us safe on our roads and bringing high paying jobs back into our community.