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Educators square off in Ward 3 election

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Fredericksburg voters in Ward 3 have a choice between an assistant principal and a planning commissioner for their next City Council representative.

The race is a contest between two men who have never held elected office. They are vying to succeed Councilman Fred Howe, who chose not to seek a second term.

Both Tim P. Duffy, assistant principal at Fredericksburg’s Walker–Grant Middle School, and Richard K. Friesner, an administrator at George Mason University in Fairfax, are highly educated.

Duffy, 51, holds a doctorate in American history from the University of Virginia.

Originally from Arlington, he moved to Fredericksburg in 1981 to attend Mary Washington College.

Duffy has lived in the city since then, apart from seven years in neighboring Spotsylvania County.

Duffy’s wife, Karen Duffy, is supervisor of the Department of Instruction for Stafford County public schools. They have two adult children.

Friesner, 32, was born in Albuquerque, N.M., and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Kansas.

He hopes to complete his doctorate in environmental science and public policy at George Mason next year.

Friesner’s wife, Bethany Friesner, works in the Office of Residence Life at the University of Mary Washington. The couple moved to Fredericksburg in 2007 and have two boys, ages 8 months and 3 years.

All four ward seats on City Council are on the May 6 ballot. Only Wards 3 and 4 have contested races. Ward 3 covers the area mostly east of U.S. 1 except for the areas south of State Route 3.

The Free Lance–Star asked all council candidates to complete a questionnaire about themselves and their key issues. They also were asked about their view on the city’s real estate tax rate.

The City Council advertised a possible 6-cent increase in the real estate rate for the fiscal year starting on July 1. If approved, that would mean an increase of $144.60 annually for the owner of the median-priced home in the city, valued at $241,000.

The council will have a work session today at 5:30 p.m., followed by a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on the proposed fee increases and the advertised real estate tax rate of 80 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Friesner said he supports a 2-cent increase in the real estate tax rate, saying he would use the $720,000 it generates to pay for a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees and increase the investment in tourism and economic development efforts.

“An investment in economic development and tourism will yield dividends over the course of the year and future years, which will help to broaden the tax base and allow the City Council to improve the infrastructure of our older neighborhoods, by adding sidewalks, lighting and other safety features [especially in Ward 3], and add green spaces and additional pathways to our current network,” Friesner wrote.

Duffy didn’t say what tax rate he favors, but would support a “modest” COLA for city staff to keep salaries competitive.

“I also support the additional cost of providing Advanced Life Support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, hence closing the gaps in that service as they now exist,” he said in his response. “I would also support going forward with the riverfront park.”

City Manager Bev Cameron included $1 million in his budget proposal to place utilities underground at the Riverfront Park, which stretches along Sophia Street between Hanover Street and 605 Sophia.

Council members have discussed adding three emergency medical technicians at a cost of $219,500.

Each penny in the real estate tax rate generates $360,000.


Both Duffy and Friesner seek economic growth for Fredericksburg.

Friesner wants to tap into the potential of U.S. 1, State Route 3 and Lafayette Boulevard, not just downtown Fredericksburg.

Duffy’s goal is to “ensure that the city remains the regional hub for tourism, commerce and culture.”

Regionalism is a theme for Duffy who said that the city’s quality of life is tied to good relationships with its two neighbors—Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

He wants to “effectively manage regional agreements already in place” and “work to find solutions to transportation issues, and seize opportunities to expand heritage tourism and economic development through regional efforts.”

He also wants the city to reinvest in neighborhoods by tackling road, walkway and beautification efforts, “particularly in neighborhoods along the major entryways into the city along Route 1, Route 3 and Lafayette Boulevard” that have been deferred because of tight fiscal times.

Friesner said he wants to work with law enforcement, fire and rescue staff to keep the city safe, support students and staff in the schools and “promote open communication and collaboration” with the University of Mary Washington.

He also said he will make himself “accountable and accessible” to his constituents through in-person meetings or via phone, email or social media.

He said he would host town hall meetings twice a year for Ward 3 residents.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972


ADDRESS: College Heights



Facebook: Duffy for Council

AGE: 51


FAMILY: Wife, Karen Duffy; two adult children, Caitlin and Ian

OFFICES HELD: Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Commission, 2009 to present

OCCUPATION: Assistant Principal, Walker–Grant Middle School, Fredericksburg City Public Schools; teacher and administrator, Fredericksburg Academy; adjunct professor, University of Mary Washington

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT OF ALL MEMBERS OF HOUSEHOLD: Karen Duffy, Supervisor, Department of Instruction, Stafford County Public Schools

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN FREDERICKSBURG? I came to the city in 1981 to attend Mary Washington College and stayed through 1988. I lived in Spotsylvania until 1995 and then moved back into the city.

EDUCATION: Ph.D., American History, University of Virginia; M.A., American History, University of Virginia; B.A., History and Mathematics, Mary Washington College.



COMMUNITY/CHURCH ACTIVITIES: The Presbyterian Church, Fredericksburg, Sunday school teacher, usher, lift operator, 1996 to present. Tree Fredericksburg volunteer, 2014; Mentor, Sunshine Foundation, 2008–2010; Habitat for Humanity volunteer, 1997–2000; Coach, Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation, 1999–2004; Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Oral History Project, 1997.


  • Economic Growth—The long-term financial health of our community dictates that we act in a comprehensive manner to insure that the city remains the regional hub for tourism, commerce and culture. We need to continue to build upon the recent improvements to downtown, creating a business-friendly environment, in order to fill our shops and restaurants. We also need to find creative ways to attract businesses that bring high-paying jobs to Fredericksburg.
  • Local Neighborhoods—As we work to bring vitality to our local economy, we must also reinvest in our neighborhoods, in Ward 3 and throughout the city. This means addressing deferred maintenance and improvements in infrastructure, such as roads, walkways and beautification efforts, particularly in neighborhoods along the major entryways into the city along U.S. 1, Route 3 and Lafayette Boulevard.
  • Regionalism—The quality of life in Fredericksburg depends in part on working successfully with our neighbors in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties to address issues that extend beyond city limits. City Council and city staff must not only effectively manage regional agreements already in place (such as those involving water, sewer, and waste management), but also work to find solutions to transportation issues, and seize opportunities to expand heritage tourism and economic development through regional efforts.



ADDRESS: College Heights




Twitter: @friesner

AGE: 32

BIRTHPLACE: Albuquerque, N.M.

FAMILY: Wife, Bethany Friesner, Sons Benjamin Friesner, 3 and Samuel Friesner, 8 months.

OFFICES HELD: Appointed to the Fredericksburg Wetlands Board, 2009–11; Board of Zoning Appeals, 2009 to present; Planning Commission, 2012 to present.

OCCUPATION: George Mason University, Office of Admissions, director of the Washington Scholars Program & Special Partnerships, April 2013 to present; program director, Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, April 2010 to present.

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT OF ALL MEMBERS OF HOUSEHOLD: Bethany Friesner, University of Mary Washington Office of Residence Life


EDUCATION: B.S. in Environmental Studies, University of Kansas; M.S. in Environmental Science, University of Kansas; Pursuing doctorate in Environmental Science and Public Policy, George Mason University



COMMUNITY/CHURCH ACTIVITIES: College Heights Civic Association Board of Directors, 2011 to present; St. George’s Episcopal, vestry member, 2009–12, and preschool board, 2010–12; Fredericksburg Area Running Club, 2008 to present; Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc., 2012 to present; Friends of the Rappahannock, 2010 to present; Stakeholder representative for the Virginia Chesapeake Bay-Total Maximum Daily Load Taskforce, 2009–10.


  • Economic Development—In addition to downtown, the Route 3 west, U.S. 1 south and Lafayette Boulevard corridors offer economic value and potential. It’s important for Fredericksburg to serve as home base for small, medium and large businesses that provide a variety of employment opportunities and services for city residents.
  • Education and Safety—The well-being of my family, neighbors, and fellow citizens is my highest priority. The City Council must work collaboratively with police, fire, sheriff, emergency medical, and other city staff to keep our community safe. Our children are our city’s future and we must support their education and our school system’s staff. I would promote collaboration with the University of Mary Washington.
  • Accountability and Accessibility—As a member of the City Council, I would be accessible via in-person discussions, phone calls, email, Facebook, and Twitter. I will work collaboratively with city boards and commissions and propose joint work sessions as appropriate. Most importantly, I want to take the council to the people by hosting town hall meetings in Ward 3 twice a year.