Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidates share views
Of the two supervisor races in King George County, one pits a newcomer against a native while the other has so many candidates, the outcome could be decided by a handful of votes.
Cedell Brooks Jr. has represented Shiloh District since 1991, and he’s been on the board longer than any other member. He’s challenged by Shawn Lawrence, who moved to King George a year ago, but has made inroads in the race. Lawrence was endorsed by the Citizens for Non-Partisan Good Government King George.
At an Oct. 17 forum sponsored by the King George chapter of the NAACP and the Ralph Bunche Alumni Association, Lawrence was the only candidate to express dissatisfaction with county government.
He said he’s gone door-to-door to listen to residents and has promised to be “a new leader who will be aware of your concerns, accessible from the beginning and transparent from the first.”
Lawrence is 61 and retired from the disAbility Resource Center.
Brooks, 51, said he will continue to be the voice of the less-fortunate in King George. He said he has a vested interest as a lifetime resident.
“I know the people and I know what is best for the community as a whole,” Brooks said at the forum.
Lawrence believes half of the county’s meals tax should go to paying off the Service Authority debt.
Brooks does not. He’s served by a well and septic system and said if either failed, he wouldn’t expect anyone to help pay for it.
Lawrence said he believes public transportation is needed in a county where one-third of the population is at or below the poverty level. He said the county shouldn’t have ended its service with FRED, in June 2012, until it had a replacement.
Brooks, who runs a funeral home in Port Royal, said he supported public transportation “right up until the end,” but had to get rid of it because of the cost. He said it’s hard to understand there are other needs in the county “until you get behind the scenes and see how things work.”
A FOUR-WAY RACE
In the James Monroe District, incumbent John LoBuglio faces Jim Howard, the man he defeated four years ago, as well as Rich Lorey, a research scientist retired from the Navy base at Dahlgren, and Jeff Bueche, a first-class petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The race is fraught with political themes.
Lorey, 73, is running as a Republican and says he’s been “chastised” by the non-partisan group for bringing party politics into a local election. He says he’s just expressing his “core values” as a conservative Republican and stresses the need for adequate fire and rescue services and law enforcement. He wants to avoid raising the county’s debt, which is $100 million.
“We are falling into the same trap that the federal government is: debt, debt, debt,” Lorey said.
LoBuglio, 61, also was a member of the county’s Republican party, but was told he had to resign because he opposed Lorey, the party’s candidate.
He said he wouldn’t allow any group to dictate his vote on local issues.
“I will not be ‘reeled in’ by the ‘bitter’ tea party faction who have taken over the King George Republican Committee and State Central Republican Party.”
LoBuglio retired from the Navy base four years ago to campaign for office and said he’ll continue to devote full-time energy to the board. He wants to bring more economic development to the industrial park and create ways to save money on county operations.
Meanwhile, because Bueche is active-duty military, he can’t participate in any partisan political activities, according to the Department of Defense. He attended the forum, but didn’t participate. He also attended the county’s Fall Festival, but didn’t walk in the parade.
Bueche, 39, criticizes the county’s debt and lack of strategic planning and questions why it is funding new parks when other necessary items, such as a dishwasher at Potomac Elementary School, are not funded.
He’d like to see residents on the Service Authority and Wireless Authority.
“The current structure of supervisors serving as the directors makes for centralized power with no higher accountability,” Bueche said on Facebook.
Howard, who turned 70 this year, still works full time at the Navy base in Dahlgren. He represented James Monroe on the Board of Supervisors from 1976 to 1978 and again from 2000 to 2009.
At the forum, he spoke as if he were still a board member, saying there would be “little or no learning curve” and that he could “hit the ground running.”
He said the board experienced an “exceptional time of progress” during his tenure, when the county got a favorable credit rating and established sound financial practices.
Howard also pointed out that the current economic environment is challenging, and he would focus on making sure operational needs are met as state and federal revenues decline.
James Monroe District candidates have been invited to another forum, set for 9 a.m. Saturday Oct. 26 at the Fairview Beach firehouse.
The Fairview Beach Residents Association is sponsoring the event. Candidates will answer questions they have received in advance.