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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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C-500 endorses Benjamin Pitts, Gary Skinner

The Committee of 500 has endorsed the same two candidates it endorsed for the 2007 election. Benjamin Pitts, the incumbent in the Battlefield District, and Gary Skinner, the incumbent in the Lee Hill District, won the endorsements late last week.

Here is the press release:

The Committee of 500 proudly announces its endorsements for the 2009 Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors election: Benny Pitts for the Battlefield District, and Gary Skinner for the Lee Hill District.  

The endorsements come after an extensive evaluation process, including the completion of a detailed questionnaire (available from each candidate on our website, public Candidates Forum, and C500 panel interview with each individual.

"We selected Benny Pitts and Gary Skinner because their visions for Spotsylvania County, most notably their strategies for smart growth management, transportation – including VRE, and community economic development, more closely parallel those of C500," said chair Fred Messing.  He went on to note that their opponents, Chris Yakabouski and D.J. McGuire, respectively, should be congratulated for participating fully in the C500 evaluation process.  "They are intelligent and capable opponents, but their individual philosophies and approaches differ significantly from those of C500 in several important areas."

C500 is not offering an opinion regarding the uncontested Berkeley District election since Mr. Marshall opted not to participate in the endorsement process.

The Committee of 500 strongly encourages all eligible citizens in the Battlefield and Lee Hill Districts to vote for Mr. Pitts or Mr. Skinner on November 3.



Post tags:


  • MAVRICKinc

    We’ve been down this same road too many times.

    If the C500 has a copy of the current VRE Master Agreement that the current BOS signed on to, and unanimously approved by all contributing and participating members of VRE/Commissions, I suggest they make this contract document available for the public to make up their own mind on whether the C500 and their endorsements of Benjamin Pitts and Gary Skinner serves only special interest or the welfare of an entire community (Spotsylvania County).

    Seems only fair.

    I’ve already asked the Spotsylvania County BOS and a FAMPO Transportation Advisery Group for this information and have yet to receive a response or had the lastest VRE Master Agreement posted on any appropriate website for download.

    Why have so many people consigned their thinking to only one part of the deal? The anticipated benefits of a gas tax will soon be found out to be nothing more than an unsustainable funding source for any kind of transportation model currently being weighed by the Fed, State and local denominations.

    No one will find any mention of a gas tax in the VRE Master Agreement. The Master Agreement is the other part of the deal no one apparently wants to talk about, or deal with.

    I’m reminded that Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg never made this other part of joining VRE available to its constituents and citizens. Joining VRE was a unilateral decision made by the Stafford County BOS and Fredericksburg City Counsil.

    Have any questions about this, you have only to rewind Supv. Logan’s VRE Summit Meeting where Matt Kelly and Paul Milde, III made that their response when asked by the citizen’s in attendance.

    Simply said, no other member of VRE ever offered this VRE Master Agreement into the public domain for interpretation or understanding, other than through each members elected officials, where it was voted on without public knowledge or accountability by its citizens.

    Hence, if you were to look, you would see and better understand how joining VRE works itself to diminished return on investment.

    Look at the language Spotsylvania County put into this VRE Master Agreement /Contract to avoid the consequences of what other members have been confronted with over the years, and leading to members “General Funds” for want of a contract that says VRE has all the cards, and if you don’t like what the VRE / Railway Commissions come up with, by way of yearly budgets, although they claim they will try their best to keep cost down, is something no member can readily challenge. WHY? Read the contract; ALL of it.

    Got any questions, ask to meet with your district or county elected official and ask them to explain how this other part of joining VRE should be read and the consequences it brings to every County Budget, when the day of reckoning comes due.

    Spotsylvania County citizens, in 2005, voted a TRANSPORTATION referendum for $144 million dollars. What is the County BOS and their Capital Improvement agendas spending this money on, and who is reaping the benefits of that voter decision from then until now?

    If Ben Pitts is going to “change his mind” about joining VRE, because the state funding for construction and maintenace of secondary roads has gone belly up, why would he be looking for new transportation funding, using VRE as his leverage, when the County decided the issue of funding transportation four years ago.

    Just how many new train engines and locomotives does anyone think Spotsylvania County’s share will be when the cost gets divided up between its members.

    Don’t forget. We also will be paying our share of VRE’s Capital Investments agendas, cost of insurance, running their risk management departments, payments of liability settlements any “member” might be caused to make, in any other member jurisdictions, the cost of operating VRE whose business model continues to run out of money and raising fares. CSX can do anything they want, and VRE gets to underwrite their agenda as well as their own, at “participating member’s” piece of the pie.

    Supv. Gary Skinner has but a single agenda and it doesn’t have anything to do with smart growth principles. His allegiance is confined to special interest development and the public record will support this conclusion if anyone is really interested, beyond the rhetoric being afforded to him by the C500 and his best effort to fill in the same blanks the C500 have been hosting for years.

    Has the C500 grown with their proposed mission over the years? The invitation is still the same. They pull up the same documents, over and over again, say the same thing, with the only difference being whose name they insert as THEIR choices of leadership, confined to a Forum Meeting, where only 30 people and 8 members of the C500 showed up to ask scripted questions, many of which were about VRE, but no mention of the VRE Master Agreement.

    If you don’t get it, it’s only because you changed channels.

  • livngnva

    who went to the C500 forum knowing they were not going to get the endorsement because of their views on the VRE. It was obvious that the C500 would not recommend anyone who opposed it because they want it to happen. I just hope the voters look at each candidate and see that the VRE is not the only issue on the table. If they did some incumbents would not be re-elected to office.

  • MAVRICKinc

    Just thought I would ask now instead of later.

    Before the Spotsylvania County BOS meeting of 09-22-09 gets started, is there anyone out there who would like to put a spin on Germanna’s expansion proposal and presentation to the Board and the policy provisions being set in place by staff, Planning Commission and our BOS on the issues of Urban Development Areas and how we are not in a position to fend off any by-right construction agendas being developed by our development leaders and Spotsylvania County over the next 10 years?

    While the answers are sitting right in front of us, I thought to ask before the other shoe drops. 2011 just isn’t that far away.

    Doing your homework is one thing, but getting your questions out there for some kind of realistic response is going to be quite another.

    Don’t ask and you’ll never know the difference between quality of life and just another bull dozer.

    Don’t call me, call your elected officials, their staff, or anyone else who conducts your business behind closed doors. And, luck is not going to have anything to do with the result, so spin away all you like on what “mixed-use” really is and what it is definitly not.

    We started with Mallard Landing, then the Hicks Farm and soon Urban Developmnent Areas F (Hospital and Germanna College); H-Tricord’s Summit Crossing project and 5,900 additional living/land lots, plus the population build out from this project; I-Tricord’s “New Post” project that has a history of its own. Just how close is your home to Rt 17, Rt 2 and Benchmark Road?
    What kind of traffic flow are we going to have on Rt 17 when Cosner and Silver complete their improvements; bridge across I-95, infrastructure around Cosner’s Hospital and now the expansion cost of Germanna College, all on the County’s dime, not theirs.

    What about the interchange being designed just south of the Massaponax exit? Anyone have an idea what kind of traffic will impact Rt1 and Rt 17 with the construction of this interchange, plus the one Stafford County and Fredericksburg are contemplating?

    This is not a fictional translation of what the County and the development community have in mind. It has been drawn up and ready to be put into place, whether we can afford it or not. If you can’t find anything worth noting on the County Website, try the FAMPO website. It has all kinds of transportation and land-use agendas for an entire REGION, including Spotsylvania County.

    Am I the soothsayer or second guesser? NO. I’m just a messenger with more time on his hands than most. After everything is said and done, it’s really your County and you can do anything you want to with its future, unless of course you gave your vote away by proxy or defaulted to the wisdom of your elected officials.

    Doesn’t anyone tune into the government channels anymore, or at least take a look at the BOS meeting agendas?

  • lgross

    Perhaps I don’t understand. I would think that an
    expansion of Germanna would be a boon for the
    county – a win-win-win.

    A benefit to Spotsy citizens of all ages.. whether
    they are in high school, graduated or just looking
    to add to their education and skills – and a
    perfect complement to the hospital.

    training and jobs for Spotsy.. how can this be

  • MAVRICKinc

    I’m not challenging education and what it brings to this County or any other.

    Maybe I read it wrong on what Germanna is bringing to tonight’s BOS meeting, but I distinctly remember seeing Germanna asking the County, to in some way, underwrite their expansion with County tax dollars.

    I suppose it’s not enough we can’t support after hours busing for our County students, but now, we’re being asked to support the expansion of education in the County, as the Commonwealth of Virginia withdraws from their traditional obligations to fund appropriate educational cost.

    I’m not talking education, I’m talking about money and where we spend it, in light of current fiscal constraints.

    If the Fed and state can’t afford our educational needs, how long before we start down the same road? If “development interest” can’t afford the price of a good education, why are they passing the cost burden over to the County tax payer?

    There’s only so much 3.3 interest Go Bonds to go around. If the money is there, why haven’t our elected officials said so? Let’s ask them.

    Education is not on trial here, or the debate on what education brings to us, if allowed to.

    Let’s talk UDA’s, landuse, zoning, comp plan and what’s currently in the mix. If education was on the table, where are the proffers and/or impact fees to mitigate such expansions of real property, not the future of education?

    Where’s the money?

  • lgross

    boils down to a penny on the tax rate for one year or about 10 bucks a

    that college is different from a 4-year institution like MWC. It’s more of a
    workforce training center and will prepare young folks in our area for better
    jobs and draw other employers here if they know their employees can get
    additional training… nursing students there may well be able to get
    internships at the hospital… lot of synergistic potential…

    it will provide a way for young people who cannot afford a 4-year college right
    out of high school.

    a bargain… it moves Spotsylvania up the ladder a notch…

    can’t see a downside…


  • therestofthestory

    Do we really care about how 8 community activists feel. They do not even follow the issues that are being voted on at the BOS meetings. If they did they would remember how each one of their boys voted to keep meetings hidden from the public, expand the number of buildable lots in the rural areas and take proffer monies away from the school system. Committee of “who cares!”,

  • southwest

    MGWork, the Board of Supervisors meeting isn’t tonight it is tomorrow night. You were wrong from the very beginning. If you went out there tonight to make your regular speach, you got there 24 hours early, you should get a good seat.

  • lgross

    They were intelligent and probing. On the down side, they did not comment on the specific
    answers and how they played into their decisions.

    Instead they just used general categories.

    But the questions were pretty good IMHO.

    here’s an example:

    ” What method do you think is most appropriate for determining funding levels for our
    schools (such as a set percentage of County expenditures, target expense level per
    student, other)?”

    or this one:

    ” 3. Transportation and other infrastructure improvements are expensive. Please be
    specific about how you will fund these improvements.”

    Like I said – they really didn’t help their cause by just giving endorsements without explaining the
    key reasons that they felt their endorsed would be better than the challengers.

    In reading through the questionnaires, I determined that DJ’s position was less than satisfying
    for me.

    ” What is required is spending discipline. If we had held the rate of spending growth in
    Spotsylvania government to population growth and inflation, we would be spending over
    $30 million less than we do now. If Virginia’s future is to come with decentralized road
    financing (and budgetary realities in Richmond make this a near certainty) we need to
    put transportation along side the other government services in the county, and make
    appropriate decisions accordingly. Relying on the antiquated gasoline tax (several
    major cities are already looking at congestion pricing or per-mile fees), debt-ridden
    Washington, or politically hamstrung Richmond is a sure formula for failure.”

    In my view – his opponent, Mr. Skinner got on to the essential answers:

    3. Transportation and other infrastructure improvements are expensive. Please be specific about
    how you will fund these improvements.
    a.) By preserving the county’s membership in VRE and accepting the projected $3+ million dollars
    it will
    generate for county-wide transportation needs each year.
    b.) Through
    increased contributions from developers through proffers or impact fees.
    c.) Through
    public/private partnership initiatives (PPTA and PPEA).
    d.) Through establishment of Community Development Authorities (CDAs), special service or tax
    districts and
    Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) districts.

    DJ, because of his no tax and property rights stance had a less satisfying answer in my book.

    “Congestion Pricing” as a solution to Spotsylvania’s Road needs is not on the radar right now.

    At any rate – I thought most of the questions were very good questions and it’s a shame they are
    not actually published or provided at the very front of their web page as many folks won’t know to
    click on the candidates names…

  • MAVRICKinc

    Wanted to thank SOUTHWEST’s for its sarcasm and failure to add anything to the business at hand.

    Larry: You still haven’t answered the question. Where’s the money? Not 10% of a local match on an ESTIMATE to construct an expansion building to Germanna for $26.5 million, but the “binding commitment” from County, to be made before November 10, 2009.

    If the State can’t commit, and Spotsylvania County can’t commit to an after hours bus service for their student population, we are back where we started. Where’s the money? If we have it, and can make “binding commitments” to Germanna College based on an estimate, then we’re prepared to to do the same thing for the next person in line.

    As for the C500 issue at hand, I believe therestofthestory said it best. We can no longer glorify only half the truth.

    Anyone wanting to debate the C500 Candidate Forum Meeting, you definetly have a problem. No one took any notes or recorded the preceedings.

    If you want to judge the candidates by the scripted questions provided by the C500 and the scripted responses provided by the candidates, then you’ll only be as good as the script.

    Larry, at the meeting held by the C500, Supv. Skinner was notably light and a little vague on the details on who’s going to pay for Transportation and Infrastructure improvements. So far, the answer continues to be the tax payer.

    His scripted answers to the C500 and their fill in the blank performance evaluation are the same answers politicians have been giving to the public for the past 15 years and maybe longer. The record provides an entirely different conclusion if you care to ever focus in on the details and move away from “generalities”

    Ya’ll have a good day. You’ve earned it.

  • lgross

    I thought the questions asked were spot on and if you read the answers from
    all 4 candidates – you’ll know a lot more about their views that before you

    I’m not going to defend C500 but who else has done questions that
    comprehensive and provided the answers for folks to read?

    Could they do better? Yes. Specifically they could have been more specific
    about what things helped them make up their mind who to support.

    That would have said something about C500 and what it stands for (or not)
    also and allowed folks to make up their own minds about whether C500 was
    representative of their own views.

    but at the end of the day.. so far.. I’ve not seen a better list of questions and
    answers so give credit where credit is due.

    I can tell you .. that the questions asked took some time and effort to
    formulate… a tough job to write a question that is fair and at the same time
    specific enough so that the answer cannot be hand-waving… or if it is hand-
    waving you know it.. DJ did that on a couple IMHO.

    As far as Germanna and School Activity buses. First note, that Spotsylvania for
    the last 5 years has funded schools higher than the state average and higher
    than it’s peers save Stafford and at the end of the day – no school system and
    no county (and none of us) have all the money we’d like to have and it then
    becomes about priorities.

    Priorities are things that “we” seldom agree on and are always subject to

    Your neighbor wonders why you were so stupid as to put good money on the
    brand car you bought while you think the same about his choices.. and so it

    Spotsylvania will decide if they can afford the Germanna deal and in the
    process maybe.. will make Germanna a higher priority than something else.

    My bet is in they put it on a referenda – it would win by a landslide. Just about
    everyone in the county would be willing to pay a one-time $10 higher tax bill
    to get a Germanna expansion because they know it’s good for the county and
    good for them.

    Putting money into Germanna is an investment in my view.. we’ll get every
    penny back… in benefits to the citizens.