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Candidates for chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, from left, Ann Wheeler (D), Don Scoggins and Muneer Baig, both independents, and John Gray (R), debated at a forum Tuesday night hosted by Regency at Dominion Valley and the Prince William Area League of Women Voters.

Ann Wheeler, the Democratic candidate for chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, said Tuesday she agrees with past moves to strip the name of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, off Prince William County’s main eastern thoroughfare: U.S. 1.

Wheeler said many of the county’s residents find the name offensive.

“The name of that road, especially in the eastern end of the county, makes a lot of people uncomfortable,” Wheeler said Tuesday, during the first debate of the four candidates vying for board chairman, the county’s top elected post. “We are a majority-minority county. We need to understand that it upsets people.”

The other three candidates in the race said they see the matter differently. Republican nominee John Gray, as well as independents Muneer Baig and Don Scoggins, said they would leave the road’s name alone. Both Arlington and Fairfax counties, as well as the City of Alexandria, have removed Davis’s name from the highway in recent years, opting to call it Richmond Highway or U.S. 1. The current county board rejected an effort to change the road’s name in Prince William in 2017.

“We can’t erase our history just to make ourselves feel better,” Gray said. “Changing the name of the road isn’t going to do anything. It doesn’t change the past, it doesn’t change what happened.”

Scoggins said changing the name wouldn’t solve anything and that more attention should be paid to other matters, especially economic development.

Baig said keeping the highway’s current name is an opportunity to learn about our history.

“Every history in the world has its dark moments,” Baig said. “We can either run from it or we can learn from it. What we’re doing by erasing it, is running from it; but we have a great opportunity to learn from it.”

During the 90-minute forum, hosted by Regency at Dominion Valley and the Prince William Area League of Women Voters, the four candidates also outlined their positions on gun safety, the rural crescent and other issues.

The debate was moderated by Jill Palermo, managing editor of the Prince William Times. Voters will head to the polls Nov. 5 to elect all eight members of the board of supervisors and school board, as well as members of the Virginia General Assembly, sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney.

Gun laws

Supervisors are limited in what they can do to address gun laws in the county, but they can set the fee for concealed-carry weapon permits. Former Board Chairman Corey Stewart, R-At Large, led an effort in 2016 to slash the price of concealed carry permits from $50 to $15.

Asked whether they would support an increase in the concealed carry permitting fee, three of the four candidates – Wheeler, Baig and Scoggins – said they would support a fee increase. The three also said they would advocate for “commonsense” changes in the state’s gun laws to help keep county residents safe.

Gray did not mention any gun law changes he would support and was the only candidate who said he would not consider raising the concealed carry permit fee.

Baig, a gunowner, said the state needs stricter background checks for firearms purchases.

Wheeler said Virginia’s state legislature had not done enough to address the issue.

“I care about commonsense gun control, whether it’s background checks, closing the loophole at gun shows, anything that makes our community safer,” Wheeler said. “I don’t think we can necessarily make it safer at the county level unless the state legislature changes the laws.”

“I think we’re really being derelict as adults in not coming up with some solution to what’s been going on,” Scoggins said. “Commonsense gun reform should be a no-brainer.”

Rural crescent

The fate of the county’s rural crescent, the rural area in the northern and western areas of the county, was also discussed during the debate. Candidates had differing ideas about how to deal with the issue.

The county planning department recently completed a study of possible alternatives to the county’s current rural crescent policy. Some proposals would increase the number of housing units allowed in the area.

Gray is in support of keeping the current policy, which limits building to one house per 10 acres.

Wheeler said she would look for better ways to preserve the county’s open space than the current policy, including encouraging conservation easements to permanently limit development.

“There’s was a 450-acre farm recently that was chopped up into 10-acre lots. To me, that’s not preserving open space. It’s lawn; it’s not land,” Wheeler said.

Scoggins said he also supports preserving the rural crescent, and that his solution would be to create a commission of experts who could determine the best policy moving forward.

“I do not think we should to subscribe to one particular formula to preserve the rural crescent,” Scoggins said.

Baig said the rural crescent is a piece of history and cautioned against constructing new roads or sewers systems in the area.

“Developers want access, because that’s how they make money,” Baig said. “Any land that's opened up for them, any roads that are opened for them, any sewer system that’s built, that’s an opportunity for them to build.”

The next debate between the four candidates for chairman of the county board will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Red Rose Banquet and Event Center in Manassas.

Reach Daniel Berti at dberti@fauquier.com

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(9) comments

weouchere

Can someone explain to me exactly what the supposed gun show loophole is? I have been to numerous gun shows and have to go through the same background check as at the retail location. What's the deal? And just so everyone knows where I stand on guns, if you libtards decide to come and get my guns, you better bring yours.

JosephGeorge4Neabsco

Someone who has been to “numerous gun shows” would know those gun owners without a table that sell their wares, but also the retail gun stores are more likely to deny an application than those at gun shows.



From Politifact:



1. Federally licensed gun sellers are required to run background checks. But not all sellers are required to be licensed. Some of those unlicensed sellers sell at gun shows.



2. It’s not clear how many sellers are licensed and how many are not. Some studies are out of date.



3. Experts warn that the phrase "gun show loophole" is imprecise at best. But people do buy guns without having to undergo background checks.

ccw

On and off since the late 1940s I've lived in this area. That's something like 70+years and I have yet to hear one (1) (non political) person say anything derogatory about Route 1 being called Jefferson Davis Highway. No one has complained about the Civil War Statues either. We lived in the eastern end of the county for several years, moved out of the area for several years then came back to live in the western end of the county. Is there some kind of invisible barrier or wall, maybe a moat filled with alligators or what that makes people in the eastern end of the county more easily offended than the people that live in the western part? Where do they get these facts and figures from?



According to these politicians we the people are being short changed by them the other party's officials about the same gobbledygook malarkey every election cycle. Same issues. Same babbling. Same promises. We hear you loud and clear voters. We will fix everything if you elect us.



Really? Let's begin with immigration. You know the loudest, single complaint that the majority of registered voters has complained about for decades. Temporary deftness disorder?



Offended? Yes! You better believe it. Voters are offended big time and absolutely none of what galls them has anything about the claptrap you people claim exists.

JosephGeorge4Neabsco

Seems as if you need to expand your circle to include more people and get out of your bubble. Although judging from your posts in the past, you’re comfortable there.

ccw

George let's look back at some of those past posts for a minute. If my memory still serves me I've consistently complemented the civilized and thoughtful comments you've made. I did this even though I might have disagreed with your views, especially when it comes to our school systems. In my mind then and now you are one of the most gregariously embedded defenders Prince William County Schools has. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. In fact it's quite the opposite.

My disagreement with your views are most often based on then and now comparisons where when I was younger America's educational systems consistently turned out students that scored top rankings throughout the world in every aspect possible. For the last several decades America has been struggling to stay out of last place. Why is this to be answered is plenty of fodder for another day. However from my little bubble I am convinced that even though your heart is in the right place and your determination is very earnest you are not being given the right tools to work with my friend.



So where are we these days living in Prince William County regards this article then?

Three straight years of Trump bashing accomplished nothing for their agenda. Strike that from the debate. Immigration? I reckon that with the transformation of Prince William County into a minority majority population the debaters would be preaching to the choir considering immigration an important election platform issue. Unless one were to ask a sampling of a few of our long time residents that have to commute as far as Culpepper, Charlottesville, Front Royal, Winchester and beyond in order to find a job (in many cases 2 per day) working for McDonalds at minimum wages. Do you think that their views have mellowed?



Now minus two of their main battering rams the Democrats have dashed right back into the open arms of their favorites that guarantee them favorable results.



Schools. We need bigger, better, more schools, with broadband Internet and Olympic sized swimming pools, concert pianos, plus lots of higher pay for all. This will bring our nation back up to the top of worldwide ranking. It all depends on the election too of course.



Guns. What we need is stricter gun laws and background investigations. And for crying out loud shut down those wide open gun show loopholes. This even though the mainstream media and Democrats have tried and failed multiple times to sneak a single weapon through a Virginia gun show loophole, or any other way for that matter. They keep forgetting to mention these things at their big debates. In our country the highest crimes rates by their own statistics occur is cities and locations that have the strictest gun laws on the books. The lowest gun related crimes occurs in places where open and or concealed carry are permitted. Which way is the bubble and which one has the most commonsense?



The Rural Crescent. Now that we've plowed under and bull dozed every square inch patch of Earth in the county it is high time we take steps to preserve what is left for it's historical value's sake. But first we must get rid of all those offending statues and change the names of some things here and there.



You're right George I like living in my bubble. Liberals are not allowed in it. The view is great, clear and always 360 degrees spherically. Have a nice weekend.


ed1

If your ancestors were enslaved and those that fought to keep them enslaved were celebrated as heros to this day, would you want that to continue? Ask the Japanese-Americans how they feel about their families being interned and that was just for a few years.

OBLUE

makes them feel uneasy hahahhahahahahaha thats pretty weak

zcxnissan

Running from history is not the answer. The gun show loophole is a myth.

JosephGeorge4Neabsco

Running from history is the true myth. The statues, memorials, and anything else “celebrating” the Confederacy can go into its rightful place, a museum. Then families can learn about it at their leisure and those that are uneasy by their presence can avoid it. Problem solved.



What “myth” on the gun show loophole are you referring to? Especially since we just had one at VFW 1503 in Dale City.

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