We believe Sharon Pandak is the best person to help the Prince William Board of County Supervisors face the future and we endorse her to replace former Chairman Sean Connaughton.
The election of either Republican Corey Stewart or Democrat Pandak will determine, in large part, how the county deals with the big changes headed its way. The population will continue to increase, as will its diversity. The economy will ebb and flow. The needs of schools will change. Developments will occur in crime fighting and other public safety issues. Human services will have to change, too. And, even if all construction were to halt tomorrow, the county will need more roads and improved infrastructure.
The question for voters is not who will fight change, but who will best help the county face it.
Pandak is unquestionably the right choice for many reasons, chiefly the depth of her thinking. Where Stewart offers quick, surface answers; Pandak offers a more cerebral approach.
— Consider her years as county attorney. These are important, not necessarily because of what she did or didn’t work on. If she helped create the Rural Crescent or if she facilitated a regulation that aided development, she did these for her clients — the supervisors. That was her job.
Those 15 years as county attorney qualify her to be chairman because of what she experienced in that time — learning the ropes of county government. They allowed her to deepen her understanding of the county and its people.
She clearly understands the importance of an effective county staff. She clearly understands the monumental effort of building a county budget and the importance of the government operations that it feeds.
She won’t do as Stewart the supervisor has done, that is vote against a budget and then claim to support it. She won’t, as Stewart the supervisor has done, demand that departments cut their budgets without offering suggestions, as if one can just wave a magic wand or cut services with a hatchet.
— Consider the breadth of Pandak’s campaign issues. She can discuss intelligently public safety needs and budgetary concerns. She can discuss intelligently the dangers of unbridled growth and the dangers of mindless opposition to growth. She understands and can discuss intelligently the need to give county employees the chance to both work and reside in the county. She keenly understands and can discuss intelligently the county’s role in the education of Prince William’s children. She exhibits a true understanding of land use and says she strongly supports open spaces and conservation.
— Consider her attention to the word “we.” Pandak clearly understands and can discuss intelligently how a board of county supervisors works. She has said repeatedly that the chairman is one of eight charged with governing the county. She has mentioned “consensus building” so many times we are almost sick of hearing the phrase. But she’s right. It serves no purpose to proclaim an individual “vision” for the county; the vision must be developed among the members of the board.
Stewart has worked hard for his constituents in the short time he has lived in the county and been involved in its government. But we don’t believe he has demonstrated nearly the stature or depth necessary for the chairman’s job.
Stewart’s quick, short, simple answers to complex issues — like his idea of increasing proffers — foretell a chairmanship of quick, short, simple approaches. Pandak’s slower but more complicated answers — like calling for an examination of essential human services — foretell recognition that each issue has deep roots and needs deep solutions.
Taxes are not an issue in this race, despite the temptation of some to make them so. Stewart himself has said that the county needs to consider a future where an unwelcome change occurs in the real estate market and we suddenly can’t raise the necessary funds to take care of the county’s business. Taxes will go up or down or stay the same based on the decisions of the entire Board of Supervisors, not just the chairman.
The question is who will be working WITH the board as its leader.
We believe a bright future for Prince William County depends on Sharon Pandak’s election as chairman.