Before he was Gainesville District supervisor, John T. Stirrup said the office was “unresponsive and unrepresentative.”
But in the four years he has sat on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, the Republican incumbent said he’s been a voice for his constituents and their concerns.
But according to Stirrup’s Democratic opponent, Corey Riley, Stirrup and the board have made divisive moves in addressing illegal immigration in the county and have yet to come up with a solution to residential sprawl and the county’s strained infrastructure that goes beyond the moratorium on new residential rezonings that expires at the end of the year.
The two candidates debated those and other issues at a forum held Wednesday evening as a part of the Prince William Committee of 100’s forum series leading up to the Nov. 6 election.
The candidates took questions about the Rural Crescent and what they would do to protect it, and about what they see as the top issue facing the Gainesville District.
“I’ve taken on some pretty controversial issues in the four years I’ve been on the board,” Stirrup said during his opening remarks. “I’ve taken on most of the developers that have come to this county, if not all of them. … And, you know, I’ve also taken on the very politically incorrect issue of the status quo status of illegal aliens in Prince William County and we’re going to win that fight, too.”
Although just last year transportation and growth were the top issues on Gainesville residents’ minds, Stirrup said attention has since shifted to illegal immigration.
In June, Stirrup proposed the resolution that would deny county services to illegal immigrants.
The board passed a part of the resolution requiring police to check a person’s legal status if they find probable cause to do so, but stopped short of authorizing the $2.5 million a year it would cost to implement the program.
Since then, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria on behalf of the Woodbridge Workers’ Committee and 14 others and their children.
After being asked about the lawsuit, Stirrup said he was advised by the county attorney to not publicly comment on the pending litigation.
But Riley criticized Stirrup and the board of supervisors, saying they waited to act on the issue until it reached a “crisis point,” while Stirrup defended the board, saying that it has taken a proactive approach to the illegal immigration issue over the past four years.
“We had an opportunity in 2004, 2005, 2006 and the first part of 2007 to do the proper research … to try to hopefully anticipate certain challenges to the resolution,” Riley said. “We had a chance here to do this thing the right way … and we squandered that opportunity.”