Democrats give a preview of upcoming changes in Prince William County

From left, Victory Angry, Andrea Bailey, Ann Wheeler, Margaret Franklin and Kenny Boddye talks about their upcoming plans for Prince William County following their election win. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

The Democratic tide that swept over Virginia on Election Day will mean changes in the commonwealth, and some of those will unfold in Prince William County — the state’s second-largest county where Democrats have won control of the Board of Supervisors.

“Change has come to Prince William County. The voters have spoken,” said Board of Supervisors Chair-elect Ann Wheeler on Wednesday.

Wheeler and members of the new Democratic majority on the board said they will push for increased school funding, preserving open space and boosting economic development.

The Democrats are also hoping to limit the county’s role in federal immigration enforcement.

Although county cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a matter for the sheriff’s office, Wheeler is promising a fresh look at the issue in the county, which has been cooperating with immigration officials.

The sheriff’s office has an agreement with ICE, known as a 287 (g), that allows some deputies to perform immigration enforcement functions. Culpeper County is the only other locality in Virginia that has a similar agreement with ICE, Prince William Times reported.

“We’re going to have a comprehensive review of our immigration policy across the county,” Wheeler said, “I want to make sure we don’t spend local dollars on a federal responsibility,” she said.

Margaret Franklin, who was elected Tuesday as a member of the board for the Woodbridge district said, “The bottom line is that this board is going to protect immigrant families. That’s the bottom line — point blank, period.”

On school funding, Democrats said Prince William County has a way to go to catch up to other school systems in the state and in the region.

“We have the lowest per pupil spending across the Northern Virginia region, substantially,” Wheeler said. “We have almost the largest class sizes in the state … that’s a stress on teachers … and we have the lowest-paid teachers in the region.”

Wheeler called schools the “backbone” of the community that can also help attract business enterprises. “We need more funding for our schools,” she said.

One way Democrats plan to increase school funding is by securing more federal dollars. To achieve that goal, they are going to plan a forthcoming campaign to advertise and promote the 2020 federal census, with the aim of ensuring that everyone is counted.

“Every single person represents federal dollars over the next 10 years; and for every 10,000 people we undercount, it’s a substantial amount of money,” Wheeler said.

The newly elected Prince William County leaders said they are dedicated to preserving open space in the county, as well.

“We are going to do a comprehensive review of land use … We’re going to make a plan for Prince William County for the next 20 years, so we know where we can grow,” Wheeler said.


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