Over the years, I have expressed to you my deep-rooted belief that the government should be transparent and accountable to the citizens it represents. With your help, we have passed several significant reforms right here in Prince William County.
A few years ago, I introduced a resolution to implement a vote tracking system that would allow residents to look up the votes of each member of the Board of County Supervisors and see how their elected officials are representing them. Too often, politicians make grand promises during campaigns, but after they’re in power – they vote the opposite way. These politicians hope the folks they represent don’t have the time or resources to do the time-consuming research on their voting records.
However, I’m proud to announce this past Tuesday my long sought public vote record project became a reality as a new service for residents called VoteCast was approved. This will open up the voting history of each elected official in Prince William County. Once VoteCast is up and running, anyone will be able to search votes by the elected official or by topic. This is a big win for transparency in our county and holding elected officials accountable for their records.
However, as with most Board meetings recently, there was good and bad.
For the last several weeks, we have seen Chair Wheeler, supported by her Democratic allies, refuse to have Public Comment Time before votes are taken. On Tuesday, despite our strong objections, this practice of ignoring residents’ comments before taking votes continued.
This is a terrible policy that allows taking action before residents have a chance to be heard! In fact, it was on full display the day Chair Wheeler brought forward a motion to reconsider the Rt. 28 Bypass.
The order of business that day was to invite the Chair of both the NVTA and the Loudoun Board of County Supervisors, Phyllis Randall, who holds both positions, to speak before allowing our residents the same right. Her sole purpose in our chambers was not to represent the interests of approximately 70 of our homeowners that will be impacted by construction of the Rt. 28 Bypass, but to squeeze the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to approve the project by holding over our heads her unilateral decision to re-appropriate $89 million of our tax dollars that had been granted for improving the 28 corridor if we did not reconsider a decision made unanimously no more than 30 days prior.
But residents weren’t given an opportunity to speak before the vote was taken.
Needless to say Ms. Randall received her request, even though it went directly against the desires of the many actual Prince William Residents who will be impacted.
This tactic to suppress the voices of the residents of Prince William County was completely disrespectful to those whose lives will be permanently impacted by this road project.
You can watch a clip of my comments and a clip of the vote to bring Public Comment Time to the front of the meeting HERE (edited for time):
If you would like to email Chair Wheeler and ask her to move Public Comment Time before votes are cast, please send your email to email@example.com.
You have my word that I will continue fighting for government transparency and accountability, and giving each person in Prince William County the opportunity to be heard.
Pete Candland, Supervisor
Gainesville Magisterial District