Independent Candidate Runs for Prince William County Chairman

| August 15, 2019 | 0 Comments | News

Muneer Baig, Independent candidate for Prince William County Chairman-At-large

An Interview with Muneer Baig, Independent Candidate for PWC BOCS Chair

Independent candidate for the Prince William County (PWC) Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Muneer Baig, understands extremes. Born and raised in Jammu and Kashmir, a valley surrounded by the Himalayas bordering India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China, Baig was caught in a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. Throughout his life, he has also seen political disputes between opposing parties. Being caught in the middle of conflict but utilizing it as a catalyst for change brings him to the political table. In a recent interview, Baig discusses his views on politics and the issues that affect Prince William County.

What made you run as an Independent?

Baig: I have been on both sides of the aisle. I was a Republican once, but I also have worked on Obama’s campaign and recently supported Tim Kaine’s campaign.

Unfortunately, we have always been looking for the lesser of the two evils instead of what we should be looking for: “Best of the two.”

Both parties have drifted away from the center, abandoning most of the population to please a few that they call their base. This is to maintain their support and to ensure their electability for the next term and the next. I see that the two parties are all about maintaining control so they can please their special interests and rake in campaign contributions, again to stay in power and for personal gains. What we are seeing in the county is a mini version of the political theatre being played at the federal level. We also know very well where that is going to lead us. Knowing where we are heading with Red and Blue at the national level and realizing the threat to us at the local level, I simply could not stand on the sidelines and watch things go down the tube. So, I decided to run as an independent.

Some people believe “Independent” is a party. How would you define “Independent”?

Baig:

Independent for me is someone who is not serving any special interest. He/she has no dependency on establishments or national organizations who represent any political parties/organizations.

An independent is someone who is willing to sacrifice his/her own comfort for the greater good of the community. An independent is someone who is running to serve the community, not rule it. An independent is someone who is willing to make the right choices and decisions without being worried about the next election.

If elected, what would your priorities be as Chair of the BOCS?

Baig: My first priority is the education of our children and supporting the school system to create future leaders and innovators. I realize that the schools are run by the PWC School System, but we should be partners to help them deliver a world-class education. My second priority is managing growth through “Smart Growth.” The county will grow, whether we want it or not, but the key differentiator will be in defining how we grow so that we do not create the nightmares for our citizens similar to some of our surrounding counties. Planning the growth and mitigating the impact from the inception will be key. This will also include smart transportation and infrastructure solutions, including public transportation and relieving some of the congestion on our roads. Next will be economic development, which I believe is also a by-product of the two priorities above. Creating more opportunities for local business and attracting more businesses to create high paying jobs in the county and therefore reducing people’s commute is crucial. Additionally, preserving our history and maintaining our green space will be key on my agenda.

How do you plan to help small businesses if you are elected?

Baig: Being a small business owner, I have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by small businesses. I am an active member of our Prince William County Chamber of Commerce and have been an advocate for small business at many conferences and forums, including at the Aspen Center, Bipartisan Policy Center and US House of Representatives Small Business Committee.

My vision is “One Prince William.” One of my goals is to be an ambassador for the many businesses and opportunities right here in our county. It would be a priority to make Prince William a hub for regional economic growth. I intend to empower small business in our county and give them a competitive advantage over outside businesses for our local county spend. I also know this needs some changes at the state level. I will engage with the state legislators to make it possible. Additionally, I will bring awareness of current federal and state programs that are available for small businesses and increase accessibility.

What is your stance on immigration at the local level? Do you plan to address immigration locally? If so, how?

Baig: Immigration is a federal issue, but at the local level, I intend to protect families and prevent ICE from separating families and kids. We will work to protect our residents and ensure that families are together. We are a country of immigrants. There are over 100,000 immigrants living in Prince William. Our founding fathers were immigrants to this great country. They came here to find freedom, and the tradition continues today. People come to this country to find freedom and a better life for their family. We will protect that.

What is your stance on environmental issues, and what plans, if any, do you have to address environmental issues at the local level?

Baig: A healthy environment is something we should always want to protect. We are obligated to ensure that the environment we leave for the next generation is better than the one we inherited. For us to make our environment better, we need to control the destruction of our green space. As part of our smart growth plan, we need to look at using alternate sources of energy to power our homes and offices. We need to work with developers to make energy-efficient homes and “Green Homes,” which may include exploring the option of green roofs on houses and office buildings. We need to reduce the rundown of sediments and oils from our roads into our waterways, creating more green space of buffers around drains to allow natural filtration of water and trap sediments and oils. It is something that I am very committed to maintaining. We are spending a lot of dollars on health and wellness programs. These programs will not deliver the results we want unless we are breathing healthy clean air and drinking healthy clean water. There is a lot of work in that area. We can start a campaign to plant trees to create new forests that will clean our air and filter our water.

How do you feel about the current property tax rate? Do you think it needs to be raised or lowered? Why?

Baig: I think we are ok with our current property tax rate. I do believe that tax increase on a yearly basis on the ground of property value have to be managed so that they don’t burden the families in our county. It can mean capping the tax rate or being innovative in reducing the tax burden on our families.

If the county is getting more money every year in taxes, it should not mean that we spend more. We must limit our budget and any extra revenue should be maintained in reserves. I also believe there is a waste in governments, and ours is no exception. I will focus on increasing efficiencies in our operations to reduce operating cost.

What is your position on development and land use? Do we need more development? If so, in what way and why?

Baig: As the county grows, the development will continue, and land use will need to be addressed. There is no doubt that we need to continue building to accommodate growth, but we can be smart about it and control the impact on our county and quality of life of our residents. First and foremost, we need to honor the comprehensive plan/strategic plan that has been developed in partnership with the concerned citizens of the county. All development should follow that roadmap and any deviation from it should not be allowed to favor developers. We want to support the developer but not at the cost of the county. Citizens should fully be part of deciding what changes get made to the strategic land use plan and zoning.

How do you plan to attract more businesses to PWC?

Baig: Businesses need a healthy environment to operate. The county has a new economic development director who previously was instrumental in attracting new businesses to Arlington. We have great schools, community colleges, and a great university. We can prepare the workforce needed by the 21st-century businesses in the county. This will attract businesses and give them an incentive to locate to PWC.

In my vision for “One Prince William,” one objective will be to better link small businesses with larger ones as “Partners of Choice.” We should use the talents of our community to create one of the largest home-based business and small business hubs in the state and nation

How important is our public-school system, and how would you decide on how to allocate funding?

Baig: It is critical. I will work with the school board to identify their need and opportunities for investment to advance our kids and reward our teachers. A teacher should be paid well, and a kid should have all the resources at his/her disposal to learn and grow. My job will be to ensure they have the money to do so. Additionally, we will work with businesses across the county to create internships and apprenticeships.

Muneer Baig can be reached at muneer@muneerbaig.com. Learn more at www.muneerbaig.com.

This article was sponsored by Muneer Baig campaign. 

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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