Lawson Vows to Listen to Brentsville Constituents

| April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments | News

Jeanine Lawson

Republican Jeanine Lawson of Bristow is running for Brentsville District Supervisor for a second time. She wants Brentsville residents to know she plans on listening to their concerns and being a leader they can trust.

In 2011, Lawson ran against Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington. As Covington may resign his position to pursue a judgeship, she is throwing her hat into the ring again in a special election that will likely occur in coming months.

Many in Brentsville already know Lawson as the President of the Patriot High School Advanced Placement (AP) Development Association or as the Chairwoman of the Safe Schools Advisory Council. They may know her as a active member of the Republican Party, a familiar face at the Board of County Supervisor meetings, an involved parent, friend or neighbor, or as a citizen of Bristow for the past 18 years.

Earlier in the year, Lawson was the sole candidate for the Brentsville seat, but since word of Covington’s possible resignation spread, two more candidates have entered the field: Republican Scott Jacobs and Democrat Don Shaw.

Trusted Leadership

Lawson hopes to distinguish herself among the candidates as someone who listens to the needs of the citizens and responds.

“The overall theme of my campaign is trusted leadership. I’ve led in the community on a number of different issues, and I believe that people trust my leadership,” Lawson said.

Interacting with Constituents 

She also believes that a good supervisor provides opportunities to interact with their constituents, which is why she would hold regular town hall meetings to converse with residents.

“I would be a supervisor that is engaged with the community, serving and working with the community. We haven’t had consistent town hall meetings in the Brentsville district; that’s what I would like to see, a lot more open dialogue,” she said.

Lawson said she is really running for supervisor to help people as she enjoys advocating on their residents’ behalf, even if it is just one individual.

Teacher Support 

One citizen group Lawson has been listening for years is parents and teachers advocating for new schools and smaller class sizes. Lawson, who is a mother of two, has long been an advocate for Prince William County students; she knows that educators recognize her dedication to that cause.

“I have a lot of teacher support. I did in 2011, and I do again,” Lawson said. “They feel that I listen and I share their concerns.”

Supporting the School Board

While she does not agree with all of the School Board’s decisions, especially on hot-button issues like the school pool, she does believes the BOCS needs to take steps to help school funding, and rejects the notion that the School Board can always find savings on their own. Rather, Lawson contends that school funding issues require cooperation from the two boards, and the supervisors need to recognize how the decisions they make affect the schools.

“The Board [of County Supervisors] is responsible for the growth of our county, so naturally, what the right hand is doing is affecting the left hand, which will be the school board,” Lawson explained.

She believes the School Board would not be in the position of creating overcrowded classrooms if they were getting sufficient funding from the county.

“Their hands are tied because they are dependent on funds (from the County),” she said.

Increasing Proffers

Lawson blames the Board of County Supervisors for bringing in too much residential growth too fast without requiring enough proffers from developers. For local jurisdictions, proffers help cover the costs of new schools, teachers, roads and other amenities such as parks. As such, she believes they are a valuable chip for negotiating new development and without developers paying that cost the entire community suffers whether it is experiencing higher taxes or insufficient services.

Prince William has not updated their proffer since 2006, and its school proffers falls behind neighboring regions, not only Fairfax and Loundoun, but counties like Stafford as well. Lawson stands besides those like School Board member Gil Trenum, who has advocated for raising Prince William’s school proffers, saying she is “definitely a supporter of reevaluating our proffers.”

Lawson rejects the notion that proffers need to be kept low to keep housing affordable, saying that without those proffers, “we the residents pay [for increased services] through our increasing taxes.”

Should higher proffers raise home costs, she said that is fair, and the consumer can decide if a home in Prince William is worth the purchase price that includes new schools and reasonable class sizes.

Building a Commercial Base 

Lawson also said she would be cautious about bringing in new residential development, and she  is much more interested in growing the county commercially, especially in the Brentsville District.

Lawson aims to build a stronger commercial base, believing it will help offset residential taxes and pay for county services and bring better jobs to the people.

Currently, being located outside of the nation’s capital means that a majority of the county’s workforce commutes to commercial centers to the east. However, Lawson would like to reverse that, bringing corporate centers and government contractors here to Prince William and Brentsville to employ the county’s highly educated workforce.

Lawson believes the supervisors should work to bring good paying white collar jobs to Prince William County. She said that when Prince William is credited for job growth often that includes service jobs, but those are not primary kinds of jobs that residents of the county want. They want high paying jobs.

To grow the business community means improving infrastructure as well. Lawson believes that bringing the rail line out to Gainesville would be great for the Brentsville community.

Opposing Bi-County Parkway

However, she disagrees that the Bi-County Parkway will bring those jobs or job centers, saying that theory has not been proven.

“Connectivity to Dulles is great for businesses, but not this route,” she said. “This route goes through our historical battlefield, breaks open the Rural Crescent, takes property from the rural property owners and dumps [motorists] in the back of the airport.”

Lawson believes the Bi-County Parkway will likely benefit the Commonwealth and certain business interests more than it will the people of Prince William County. Mostly, she is concerned it would change the nature of the rural community.

Preserving the Rural Crescent

Lawson is passionate about protecting the Rural Crescent, keeping it rural and preserved. She knows that residents are divided on the issue of how to handle the Rural Crescent and so she said she would turn to them for guidance.

Lawson knows the independent preservation study last year suggested clustering homes to provide more open land and at the same time help property owners gain increased value. She said she would certainly consider that option. However, primarily, she does not want to turn the Rural Crescent into the suburbs.

“I’m willing to look at [clustering] to consider it,” she said. “I’m definitely a supporter of the Rural Crescent. I don’t want overdevelopment out there.”

Keeping Taxes Low 

Lawson also explains that for every problem the county faces, she will look for an option that does not involve raising taxes.

“My nature is to be fiscally conservative, so I don’t like the idea of raising taxes,” she said. This is why she thinks that raising proffers and managing development is so important.

Lawson said that most of all she would be a strong advocate for the people of Brentsville and Prince William County. Should she be elected, they would have an ally on the board.

About Jeanine Lawson

Before moving to Virginia in 1992, Lawson grew up in the Midwest. In the nineties, she married Dan Lawson and worked a full-time job in Fairfax County. After her daughter Catherine was born, she became a stay-at-home mom, and also pursued  community involvement. Catherine is currently a sophomore at Patriot High School. Her son Luke is a fifth grader at Piney Branch Elementary.

Jeanine Lawson ran against Wally Covington for Supervisor in 2011. She was planning on running again in the next election cycle.

To find out more about Jeanine Lawson and her campaign for Brentsville Supervisor, visit her page on Facebook.

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