Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Incumbent runs for Chancellor seat

Here’s the announcement from Hap Connors:

The past 8 years have provided me with so many great opportunities personally and professionally.  They have literally changed my life. But, as I’ve often said – and need to remind myself so that I can regain focus – it’s not about me. It’s about the residents of the Chancellor District and Spotsylvania County, and it’s about us working together to create a better life and a better community for today and for future generations.
I believe politics can be an instrument for good and positive things.  I still think I can change the world; it may be just a small piece of the world here in Spotsylvania County and this region, but we have to start somewhere and use the opportunities available to us to make the change.  It starts with us, and that’s what this position has afforded me.  And it’s an honor and privilege to have that opportunity.
I believe that, using common sense and collaborative, inclusive approaches, I have made some positive contributions to our community; I have changed a little bit of our world for the better.
Working with other Board members and other people in the community, we have:
  • Made sound investments in our schools, our public safety offices, transportation and parks and recreation facilities – all of which contribute to a great quality of life – while keeping taxes low, our bond rating up and our fiscal house in order.  Even during the recent economic crisis, we’ve been able to manage our fiscal affairs wisely and keep core government priorities operating at quality levels of service.
  • Created jobs.  Even as the housing industry faltered and manufacturing declined, jobs in the high tech and health care industries are up.  We built a new town center and other commercial developments, and built a new hospital – all of which have created new jobs and new sources of revenue.  We have attracted new high tech jobs like those associated with Zope and AT-Solutions – and have created technology and tourism zones and provided other incentives to create new jobs and keep existing businesses open and growing.  And we’re opening the GMU Mason Enterprise Center of Spotsylvania County to create an incubator of various services for small businesses and emerging technology entrepreneurs.
  • Invested in transportation solutions. We’re moving ahead with our bond projects approved by voters and with Rte. 3 and other improvements.  After 20 years of indecision, we finally joined VRE, which will open more opportunities for good jobs and new modes of transportation and provide much needed revenue at a time when state funding is drying up.
  • Invested in new capital projects for an upgrading Sheriff’s and Public Safety office and courtrooms – long overdue.  We took advantage of the down economy to save nearly 25% on construction costs – while keeping people working and businesses open – and we are using these projects and public-private ventures with Vakos at the Courthouse Village to create jobs and revitalize our courthouse area.
  • Updated our comprehensive plan to improve the linkage between land-use and transporation, and we have shown a new way to grow the county by working with developers and land owners to allow smart development and preserve property rights, as we preserve historic lands and pristine viewsheds.
We have accomplished a lot – have changed our piece of the world to make it better.
And I want to continue that momentum so we can do more.
I want to:
  • Accelerate our economic development efforts to attract and grow new businesses and create jobs.  We are seeing opportunities now in certain sectors, and I want to work with the business community, Germanna, the University of Mary Washington, our schools and others to strategically map out new industry clusters, like green technology or cyber security, that will help us develop a plan to get us to the new innovation economy here.  While we’re building that future, I want to also beef up our heritage tourism program that celebrates our past by bringing tourists here to have meaningful and pleasant experiences visiting our national battlefields and taking advantage of other amenities like Lake Anna and the Rappahannock River.  Despite the national economic challenges, we have accomplished some good things. Right now, I am working with businesses to create an Innovation Park in Spotsylvania County that can bring together research and technologies that will plant the seeds of innovation and economic growth.  I want to make that dream a reality!
  • Continue making progress on transportation and smart growth policies that will take care of some of the challenges we have today borne of neglect from earlier years, but more importantly positions us for a better future that incorporates the best ideas and designs that will improve mobility in our region and beyond, and make Spotsylvania County a beautiful place for our residents and visitors.  To that end, I want to continue to work with our First Impressions Commission to find ways to clean up, and in some cases, revitalize our first impression corridors – for instance, like Rtes. 3 and 1 in the Massaponax and Four Mile Fork areas – so that our citizens feel better about living here and our visitors have a great first impression of our home and will come back to visit.
  • Keep investing in schools and public safety because they are right and necessary for a safe and vibrant community, but also because they are key ingredients to building a vibrant economy.  We cannot grow existing businesses and attract new ones if they can’t find an educated workforce and if we have unsafe neighborhoods and streets.  So, I want to keep those investments up!
And lastly, I want to make this campaign about the future, and about our kids. So, I want to dedicate this campaign to them by launching our Kids First Project that advocates three initiatives:
  • Strengthening Kids’ Faith in Politics.  My daughter, Caroline, who is a rising sophomore at Riverbend High School, told me that she is sick of the noise, the bickering and name-calling that is coming out of Washington, DC. She is sick of it and turned off. And so are her friends. We need to turn that around by showing them that poltics can be a good instrument to do good things and that we don’t need to fight and fuss at each other, but work together to make good things happen. o counter the Gloomers and Doomers, who shout what we CAN’T do, I want restore their faith and help them to believe in our political system, our government, and their ability to use these instruments of our great democracy to show them what we CAN do – together – to create a better future.
  • Strengthening Kids’ Health.  There is a growing movement in the country and in our area to fight childhood obesity. I want this campaign to help amplify the work being done that advocates good nutrition and acitivity.  The work being done by individuals involved in our farmer’s markets and Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaigns have created great energy and I want to help them expand and grow with community gardens at schools, perhaps, and at our property at Lick Run.  We can work with schools, physicians, nutritionists and fitness experts to help parents and kids eat right and get active.
  • Strengthen Kids’ Minds.  To create a better future, we need to bring innovative ideas into our schools.  The new jobs in the new innovation economy will require many new skills and new ways of working collaboratively.  Studies show that we’ll need more mathematicians, scientists and engineers, and we need to start making those disciplines cool again to students, especially in the early years.  That is why I want to work with our new superintendent, school board and even our colleges to create more STEM activities here (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and to create internship programs with our county’s and region’s growing technology community.  I want to also create a pilot program to see if tablets can be used to cut down on the number of textbooks, notebooks and supplies that fill overloaded backpacks.  We need to find new and innovative ways to teach our kids the skills they will need in this new innovation economy and HOW they need to work in a virtual and collaborative world.
To show my commitment to bringing young people and their ideas and energy into my campaign, I am naming two co-deputy campaign managers: 1) Caroline Connors, rising sophomore at Riverbend H.S.; and 2) Logan Childress, rising 8th grader at Ni River M.S.  They will help me recruit new ideas and more young people into this campaign, and I want to show them that we can use this to change the world and to remember that the best way to predict the future is to create the future.