We Saw It Coming

May 3, 2013

You could see it coming…

When two of Virginia’s key grassroots conservative organizations supported my candidacy, I knew outrageous attacks wouldn’t be far behind. The Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation and the group Middle Resolution, which works to restore individual rights, recently vetted the candidates for Lieutenant Governor and gave their full support to my candidacy. That opened the floodgates for desperate and baseless accusations.

I’ve had ridiculous claims made against me before. False accusations are what some political operatives rely on when they lack a positive agenda and real ideas. But even I was a little surprised at being called a drunk Catholic. Yes, I am a Catholic. No, I’m not a drunk Catholic.

In fact, let’s clear the air: I’ve never been on the wrong side of the law. I’m happily married with two great sons. My life’s record as an employee and an employer is unblemished. And, while I have compassion for those who struggle with addictions, I’ve never undergone treatment for alcohol or drugs. There’s no place in Virginia politics for the kind of false personal attacks that have been leveled at me in recent days.

You may have seen the wrong-headed second-guessing that was posted against me recently about Holly Acres, a mobile home park in Prince William County. Unfortunately, Holly Acres was located in a floodway, which can become like a small river at the height of a storm. It was built long before anyone knew what a floodway was, but in 2011 part of Holly Acres was literally washed away during a tropical storm. Prince William County public safety officers had to rescue 20 people by swift boat.

A constituent of mine, who goes by Tito the Builder, thinks Prince William County should have moved those flood victims right back in harm’s way. And now he’s grandstanding and trying to make it into a property rights issue.

Here are the facts: In order for Prince William County to maintain its participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, the county could not rebuild homes in any area that is in a floodway and has experience damage of more than 50% of its value. If I had ignored the facts and supported the rebuilding of Holly Acres, all 425,000 residents of Prince William County would have been prohibited from buying flood insurance.

Leadership in government demands hard decisions. And, while my heart broke for the residents of Holly Acres who lost their homes, I had to look at the bigger picture to protect them and all of the people of Prince William County.

I’ve been looking out for Prince William County since I ran for district supervisor in 2003. As a candidate I signed a Prince William Taxpayer Alliance pledge on property tax bills, and I’ve kept that pledge. John Gray, who has run against me and lost three times (as an Independent, a Republican, and a Democrat) has been trying to poke holes in my fiscal record.

That fact is that as a district supervisor I fought and voted against every tax increase proposed by my predecessor. Upon becoming Chairman, I led the board in making deep cuts in spending. In a single year, the Board cut average tax bills by 10%, resulting in annual savings of $300 for the average homeowner. Since I was elected Chairman, 320 county positions have been eliminated and $143 million in spending has been cut. Administrative costs are at an all-time low. Among jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, Prince William County has the lowest tax burden and the fewest number of full-time employees, and our per capita spending is below what it was in 1992, not even factoring in inflation.

By reducing overall spending, focusing on priorities, and fostering economic growth through tax cuts and regulation reform, Prince William County has been able to fund the core functions of government — including adding 500 teachers, 129 police officers, 173 firefighters, 12 new schools, and $300 million in new roads – all without raising average tax bills. In fact, in real dollars, average tax bills are down 8.5%, and average property tax bills are, on average, 30% lower than the rest of the region.

That’s why conservative grassroots organizations are endorsing me, and that’s why my opponents are getting desperate. So, just to be sure…

I wasn’t on the grassy knoll.

I’ve never met Monica Lewinsky.

I have left the country with my wife to visit her family in Sweden, but not to see a mistress in Argentina.

And, finally, I was never a community organizer.

Over the next couple weeks, some may waste time with cheap shots, but I’ll keep standing on my record in Prince William County and my plan for serving the Commonwealth as Lieutenant Governor.