Manassas Journal Messenger | Brentsville supervisor race centers on traffic

Republican Wally Covington and Democrat A. Pat Lightfoot agree that traffic is the most important issue facing Brentsville. The only point of departure for both Prince William County Supervisor candidates lies in the details.

Brentsville has a population of 39,367, according to the 2000 census and 27,900 registered voters. The district borders Fauquier County on the south and Fairfax County to the north. It borders the town of Haymarket to the west and the Occoquan River to the east. Other boundaries for the district include Lee Highway, Broad Run, Sudley Road, and Dumfries Road. Manassas and Manassas Park, although physically in the district, are not included.

Covington’s pet issue is Sudley Manor Drive, specifically extending it from Linton Hall Road to the Va. 234 bypass.

“It would take commuter traffic from the Linton Hall corridor, what I think is one of the fastest growing 5-mile corridors in the United States,” said the 39-year-old Covington.

This would cause a proffered school in the Victory Lakes subdivision to be built, to alleviate Brentsville’s overcrowded classrooms.

Covington also said Sudley Manor Drive cuts though [email protected] business park and would provide an easy transportation corridor for workers to housing areas.

The 67-year-old Lightfoot champions road building, but wants short-term congestion solutions as well. She proposes using Bus Rapid Transit, and places like Nissan Pavilion as a commuter parking lot with buses to shuttle concert-goers on weekends.

Covington agrees, and also proposes extending the Virginia Railway Express to Gainesville and particularly Nokesville. He said not only would that serve to eliminate some car traffic from Prince William and Fauquier counties, it would serve to revitalize the town of Nokesville.

“There needs to be some incentives to draw businesses and create some excitement in the town,” Covington said.

While Covington and Lightfoot support the rural crescent, both are skeptical of the 10-acre lot requirement. Covington said in Nokesville, an opportunity was missed to connect parks and expand the elementary school, although he does support conservation easements.

Lightfoot said 10-acre zoning limits diversity and causes discrimination. As a member of many Human Rights Workers’ groups, and a four-term appointee to the Prince William County Human Rights Commission, she adamantly fights against discrimination.

“I support maintaining the rural area,” Lightfoot said. “But I think each project has to be looked at individually for the benefits to the citizens and the county.”

Both candidates support affordable housing in the county, particularly for teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public sector jobs. Lightfoot that would not only be beneficial for those workers, but it also provides additional protection and safety for other residents.

Lightfoot said housing needs varied, with places for people with a wide range of incomes, as well as luxury homes. Multiple families of low-skill workers crowd into single-family homes and put stress on communities, she said.

Covington said he was not interested in the county getting into the housing market.

“But I am interested in seeing some incentives for builders to create affordable housing,” he said “especially around VRE and transportation corridors.”

Both candidates support increasing the commercial tax base by luring businesses to the county, which would lessen the burden on individuals.

Covington said property taxes have grown too fast and he would look at tax breaks particularly for seniors. And Lightfoot said she may support giving tax breaks after a resident has owned their home for a set amount of years.

But Lightfoot said tax breaks mostly cause negative outcomes. Road building, police forces and other social services will suffer if taxes are cut, according to Lightfoot. Crime would ensue and people would be charged fees for some services anyway.

As a father of three young children in county schools and the husband of a teacher, Covington promotes more parks and better schools for the county. He wants all schools to be accredited, as does Lightfoot.

Perhaps one major difference between the candidates is their target audience. While Covington said he wouldn’t forget about any area in Brentsville, the Linton Hall corridor seems to need the most work, and people in the rural crescent mostly just want preservation anyway, according to Covington.

Lightfoot, as a person of African-American heritage, would continue to fight for those who have been traditionally discriminated against. Although she currently runs an information technology business in southeast Washington, D.C., she said she was once made to eat in a separate lunch room when she worked as an engineer.

“The thing I have going for me is that I know the problems,” Lightfoot said.

Covington owns his own law firm in Manassas, and prides himself on being endorsed by two teacher’s unions, the fraternal order of police and others, and working successfully with people from both major political parties.

“I am a consensus builder, and it’s about getting things done and solving problems,” Covington said.

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