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DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/Times-Dispatch 

Voters cast their ballots at Robious Elementary School in Chesterfield on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.


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No Chesterfield School Board incumbent is seeking re-election

There will be no incumbents on the Chesterfield County School Board next year because none of those serving on the panel opted to seek re-election.

This November, voters will choose from a slate of candidates who are seeking their first term overseeing the fate of the school system that has about 62,000 students.

MATOACA

Denisha Potts

Policy review specialist for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Matoaca District?

Answer: The top issues are transportation, inadequate management of building infrastructure, classroom overcrowding, insufficient budget accountability and oversight, and lack of diversity. The driver shortage has impacted students who are experiencing extended bus rides due to the driver shortage, which often causes them to be tardy [for school]. ... Placing trailers on school grounds to address overcrowding was a poor decision without taking into consideration the safety risk. The failure to properly clean and maintain our schools is what led to the cases of Legionella and staph infection throughout the county. The district failed our students, faculty and community greatly by ignoring the obvious. This should not be happening. We don’t have a resource problem, yet an allocation problem.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: I plan to address each one of these issues by making data-driven decisions, policy development, properly allocating resources and hiring qualified staff. Demonstration of these approaches would help students achieve their optimal academic success as well as reduce wasteful spending. It’s imperative to properly gather, review, organize and plan prior to implementing any new protocols. In addition, availing parents the opportunity to provide input in the decision-making process. Our students, parents and staff often have the best solutions to the problems. We just need to include them more, and I plan to do just that.

Ryan Harter

Civics and economics teacher

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Matoaca District?

Answer: The top issues are transportation, funding and safety. Matoaca is a large district and transporting students in a timely manner has been a challenge. We need to ensure that Chesterfield County Public Schools has a balanced and comprehensive budget covering future infrastructure projects, maintenance, security and adequate resources for our students.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: The School Board needs to work with the superintendent to address bus driver recruitment and retention.

We must ensure our school system has a comprehensive budget that meets student and faculty needs, while using taxpayer money efficiently. The budget should ensure proper maintenance of our facilities, competitive pay for employees and resources needed to provide a quality education for all students.

Our schools need to be a safe place for students and faculty. We need to make every effort possible to ensure our schools have updated safety features and processes in place.

BERMUDA

Ann Coker

Accounting manager

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Bermuda District?

Answer: I believe the most challenging issues are teachers’ pay and quality of life in the classroom, maintenance and infrastructure needs, bus transportation, and specifically for the Bermuda District, the need for a Center-Based Gifted (CBG) Middle School program. First and foremost, increasing teachers’ pay leads to maintaining and recruiting the best quality teachers to our area, which leads to quality schools for Chesterfield County. Strong schools are important for student and community growth. Next, maintenance and infrastructure needs must be a priority. Recent issues, like Legionella in the cooling towers, have to be fixed, and we need to ensure they never happen again. In addition, bus transportation continues to be an issue. As a parent, I know the importance of on-time and safe buses. Lastly, the Bermuda District families deserve to have a CBG Middle School program that is closer to home and decreases the commute time for students. Currently, gifted Bermuda District students are having to commute an hour one-way to have their educational needs met.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: The School Board needs to address the following issues: teachers’ pay and quality of life in the classroom, maintenance and infrastructure needs, bus transportation, and implementing a CBG Middle School program for the Bermuda District. If elected, I will be an advocate for teachers. I will support higher pay for CCPS teachers and be a voice for raising teacher pay to the national average. We should give teachers more autonomy in the classroom and move away from the emphasis of SOLs. As your next School Board representative, I will make sure our schools execute timely maintenance. We must make sure all maintenance records are up to date and plan financially for future maintenance needs. We must be proactive instead of reactive. When I’m on the School Board, I will look at ways to improve our bus transportation issues, such as competitive wages for our bus drivers and more efficient bus routes. Our county needs to perform a third-party audit on bus transportation so a proper solution can be put in place. The Bermuda District must implement a solution for the CBG middle school program. We need to start preparing one of our existing middle schools to accommodate the CBG program in the next few years. Adequate space and the appropriate resources must be put in place for a successful implementation.

Will Ares

Carpenter

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Bermuda District?

Answer: The school system faces a unique set of challenges due to its population size. Among the top issues we face are centered around funding from both the local and state level. Transportation issues have surfaced after our inability to provide additional buses and maintain the ones we already have. The school start time change was a decision we made, but it wasn’t the top choice. The board chose plan B due to funding restrictions. While some schools are operating with new equipment like Promethean Boards and new computers, others are using outdated technology, and they don’t even have enough for every student. Safety concerns are coming to light as we learn that there are gaps in our maintenance plan. The budget hasn’t allowed us to properly maintain a school system with 65,000 students and a bus system larger than the GRTC system in the city of Richmond. We spent approximately $100,000 yearly per juvenile incarcerated in Virginia but just barely over $10,000 to educate a student in Chesterfield in that same time frame.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: Addressing these issues isn’t as simple as asking for more money from local and state officials. We must first take a serious look at the budget and address immediate concerns regards maintenance and transportation. We need to look at purchasing more buses and a pay increase that will incentivize bus drivers to come to Chesterfield and stay in Chesterfield.

The safety of our children should be top priority, and that should include the conditions of our schools. The Bermuda District has some of the poorest buildings in the county, and year after year we are told there isn’t any money to fix them. I believe that fostering relationships with the Board of Supervisors and our state officials is crucial because if our county doesn’t know the problems we are facing, then we cannot expect adequate resources to address those problems. In addition to doing an initial review of the budget, we need to also look at whether or not the budget has grown adequately to support the population size and needs of the school system. It is possible that more money is needed to achieve the tasks at hand. I believe that if funding our schools more appropriately is the answer then the county will see the benefits that coincide with a higher quality of education. When our schools operate efficiently, our property values increase, unemployment drops and our economy does well.

CLOVER HILL

Dot Heffron

Former Chesterfield County public school teacher

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Clover Hill District?

Answer: Growth is strong in Chesterfield, and our student population has a diverse set of needs. Our number of students who are learning English as a foreign language has grown to 6%. Twelve percent of our students receive special education services through the implementation of IEPs and 504 plans. We are a community where one-third of our students countywide qualify to participate in the free or reduced lunch program. Additionally, our county is facing a crisis caused by deferred major maintenance of our buildings and major systems. This is the result of decades of scraping by on “fresh paint” fixes and kicking the can down the road for funding for the necessary maintenance and repair of our school buildings. On top of these issues, we have added the frustration and expense of a transportation system that is failing to meet basic expectations for thousands of families that rely on buses to take their children to school and bring them back home again every day.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: Statewide funding is down 8% since a decade ago. This leaves our county on the hook to make up for the difference. It’s not acceptable to force localities to choose between funding schools or building fire stations. I will be a cooperative partner with our state legislative delegates and senators to fully fund our schools. The needs of our community must be met now. We have a number of programs that require more funding that directly benefit our students with the most need. I will put an end to political shell games and bring more state dollars to our county.

It is clear that we must make the maintenance of our school buildings a priority. For too long, the Board of Supervisors has been forcing our schools to do more with less, and that is not a sustainable model. I will propose a needs-based budget that accurately reflects the real needs of the school division, including funding the expense to repair and maintain our school infrastructure. I value our public schools over politics, and I am willing to prove it. Every dollar we invest in our children is money well spent, and I am determined to advocate for our teachers, students and families, because ultimately our public schools are our county’s most valuable asset.

Chesterfield school bus routes constitute the fourth-largest public transportation system in our state. We must bring transportation planning experts on board. We need to attract and retain drivers. Our bus drivers deserve a living wage. ... Our current system allows for new bus drivers to receive the training required to earn a Commercial Driver’s License at taxpayer expense, with no commitment to reinvest that skill in our division. I will advocate for a two-year commitment from newly licensed drivers to ensure that the investment we make in their training stays in the county.

Justin Smith

Information technology specialist and contract monitor at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Clover Hill District?

Answer: Right now, the biggest challenges are related to the operations of our school system. We must find a way to fix our transportation problems and keep up with major maintenance issues in our school buildings. The education that our children receive is of paramount importance, but if they aren’t even able to make it to school because of transportation-related issues, or because they are staying home from school sick, then we are failing our children and our families.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: If elected, I would seek to have an outside third-party vendor audit our transportation system, and I would push for more oversight on our operations budget. Both transportation and school maintenance fall under the purview of the school’s operations department. We need to take a hard look at what improvements can be made there so we don’t continue to experience the same problems that we have experienced over the past several years.

Arika Phillips

Founder of a tutoring and enrichment nonprofit program at Providence Elementary School, children’s book author

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Clover Hill District?

Answer: Safety, transportation, funding and resources are just a few of the top issues. Ultimately, they all coincide and are detrimental to the county’s ability to provide all students with a safe, healthy and equitable learning environment.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: The realignment for prioritization of funding and proper staffing is paramount. We must adequately staff our schools and be more purposeful and fiscally responsible with our finances. Our main concern should be the needs of our students, ensuring that every classroom has fair resources and sufficient manpower that best supports our teachers and students, regardless of where they live in the county. Education should be “student-centered and student-driven.” Every decision and dollar spent should be based on what’s best for our students. If students are properly supported, then teachers will be supported as well. It is imperative that our schools and administration develop and foster a school/community culture that is informed, inclusive and equitable.

All families should feel confident that their children are receiving the best possible education regardless of their ZIP code, socioeconomic status, race, gender, religion, family structure or sexual orientation. Also, the population of minority students and English as a Second Language Learners have increased dramatically since our local election four years ago. No longer can the disparities in discipline, achievement gaps for students of color, and lack of accessibility for black and brown students to gifted and honors-based programs be ignored. Additionally, there are proven studies that show that children learn better in diverse settings, however, school faculty and staff should also offer a reflection of the schools’ demographics. Students deserve to see more administrators, teachers and school faculty that mirror them and understand the complexities of the communities from which the students come from. Cultural competency and inclusion will bring forth equity and help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Furthermore, transporting our students in a safe and timely manner is not optional. Transportation issues are urgent and need remediation immediately.

MIDLOTHIAN

Patrick Regan

Trial attorney

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Midlothian District?

Answer: We need leadership and accountability in our schools. As a U.S. Army Reserve officer, your children’s safety will be my priority. We will prioritize our major maintenance needs in our budget, develop plans to correct our transportation problems, and get teachers the resources they need to help our kids succeed. When something isn’t right, I will own it and explain what I am doing to fix it. I will be the leader and advocate Midlothian residents deserve and need.

Chesterfield is a great place to live and raise children, but we can always strive to be better. These issues we face compound and cause a lack of confidence in our school system. Parents need to know their kids will get safely to a clean, functioning school building on time. As the husband of a teacher in our county, I know our teachers do a fantastic job, but we need to do more to remove administrative burdens from them so they can provide a quality education to our kids with rigorous and challenging instruction.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: First, we need to prioritize our major maintenance backlog in our annual budget in order to improve the quality of our buildings. We need objective measures by which we determine which schools should be rebuilt or renovated so there is a clear path for our major maintenance needs. Excess funds in the budget should be diverted to our major maintenance backlog and not be turned back to the county at the end of the year. Second, we need to get our buses running on time. I have recommended we establish school start times and bus routes based on the most efficient method of transporting kids to school safely. If we cannot get our kids to school on time, then nothing else we are doing will matter. And finally, we need to remove administrative burdens and excessive testing in the classroom. Parents want teachers in the room with their kids, not online tutorials and test administrators.

Kathryn Haines

Mom and community advocate

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Midlothian District?

Answer: As a mom for four, I understand that we must meet our basic needs first; physical needs, safety and the need to feel loved. When it comes to our schools, this means addressing building maintenance (which includes indoor air quality), transportation and supporting our teachers. This is why my campaign slogan is “Back to Basics.” From community leaders, including business, nonprofits and educators, there is a call to shift the perception in Chesterfield. We are no longer the small, homogeneous district of the past. Because CCPS is a large and diverse district with increasing poverty, we will require increasing resources and partnerships to meet the needs of this changing population.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: The high cost of deferred maintenance and the need for new schools (a new high school costs roughly $100 million) means more funding for schools is critical to our county’s success. I will work with our community and our new board to create a robust legislative plan and communicate our needs to both the General Assembly and the Board of Supervisors. I will use community town halls to collect and share the stories behind our need for funding in order to encourage parent involvement. I believe it is the School Board’s job to communicate to the public that strong schools are the foundation of a healthy democracy and to build the political will to move the Board of Supervisors to fully fund our schools. We can use funds wisely by making maintenance more efficient. I would like to pilot an Energy Savings Performance Contract in a CCPS school and take advantage of the Environmental Protection Agency’s tools that link preventive maintenance to indoor air quality and offer grant funding to get started. I will prioritize repairs using the EMG Facility Condition Report. We must spend any increased funding wisely so that we are good stewards of the public’s money.

Solving our transportation problem starts with supporting our bus drivers. We need to start by offering a market-rate salary so that we can fully staff all of our routes. On routes with more behavioral issues, we need to provide our drivers with support. They should not be expected to drive a bus and manage behavioral challenges. We will need to increase our bus fleet and should apply for grant money being offered for electric school buses.

Supporting our teachers means smaller class sizes, higher salaries and less emphasis on high-stakes testing. It also means the time to plan, relevant professional development, more mental health resources so that teachers do not have to be social workers and counselors, and more time for recess so that kids are ready to learn. We need to prioritize funding to take care of teachers. I believe we should start to dig into the problem of how to minimize high-stakes testing by calling for testing transparency (disclose to parents the number of tests taken, the time spent on test prep, the amount of money spent, etc.).

Regarding the changing needs of our district, the work begins with communicating the demographic changes that we are seeing, sharing the needs of this changing population, increasing funding to meet new needs, and building more community partnerships, like Communities in Schools, to address those needs. We also need to market the benefits that are associated with changing demographics.

DALE

Shedrick McCall

Associate professor of psychology at Virginia State University

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Dale District?

Answer: We are facing issues with the transportation (buses) for our students in Chesterfield County. There are issues with transportation such as a shortage of bus drivers, buses overcrowded, and buses picking children up late from their bus stops and dropping them off at home late. We are also facing issues surrounding Legionella in our county schools/administration buildings and this has the potential to create an unsafe environment for our children and the water in the schools. There are issues with teachers’ pay (we need to increase teachers’ pay) and bring them up to the national pay level for teachers. There is a lack of equity with resources from district to district. We need better special educational services in every school in the county. There is lack of safety in school. There is discussion about arming teachers and adding more school resource officers in the schools, which I strongly disagree with. We do not need more guns in the school. We need more teachers in our schools. Finally, issues surrounding a lack of mental health services provided for our students in the school system. This is a critical issue because our student experience a lot of trauma from various settings that hinders their ability to perform well academically/behaviorally in the classroom.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: There are a number of ways that these issues should be addressed. It is my belief that we first have to have a countywide vision. Once the vision is established, we must develop a strategic plan. The strategic plan will encompass the goals and the directions the division is working toward. When I become a member of the School Board, it is my job with the other four School Board members to make sure that the superintendent executes the strategic plan effectively and efficiently. The strategic plan will have all the issues/concerns outlined and who is responsible for attending to the specific issues that need to be addressed. There is no simple answer to solve these issues. However, if we meet, stay involved and address issues as they surface, this will be an effective way for us to work together to address the issue expeditiously.

Debbie Graves Bailey

Retired Chesterfield County teacher

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield schools and the Dale District? What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: School safety, equity and quality instruction are three challenges confronting Chesterfield County Schools and the Dale District right now.

Our schools need to be safe and inclusive with supports and programs to provide students with tactics to work together, strategies to resolve potential conflicts, and resources to report concerns. I will work to fully fund the CCPS School Safety Task Force recommendations. My top priorities are to develop a five-year budget plan to increase School Resource Officer coverage to all schools, increasing funding for additional mental health staffing, and bringing a peer conflict resolution mentoring program to Chesterfield County schools.

Schools should maximize the potential of each and every student. Equity means every student gets exactly what he or she needs in order to learn and experience success. Regardless of ZIP code, all students should have access to the same, quality opportunities. My daughter Sarah has cerebral palsy and has spent her life in a wheelchair. Without proper accommodations, it would have been almost impossible for her to be successful in school. However, because the appropriate supports were in place for her, she graduated as salutatorian from Matoaca High School and went on to attend UVA. As a school system, CCPS needs to support all students: those who come from low-income homes; students learning English; students with disabilities; gifted students; and students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. They all should have the same opportunities to maximize their potential. The first step to achieving this goal is to develop an equity plan and create cultural competency training for CCPS staff. This training cannot be a drive-by, one- and-done professional development. It needs to be ongoing and in partnership with higher education to prepare our future teachers for the diversity in today’s classrooms. I would work to ensure that the equity plan is developed and implemented with integrity. I would advocate to continue funding the costs for all students to take the SATs. This is just one example of a barrier that could be removed that would level the playing field for many students.

The most influential factor in student achievement is the classroom teacher. Family and community engagement, curricula, reduced class size, and funding all impact the quality of a school. However, research shows that the quality of the teacher in front of the room is the number one factor in student achievement. The best way to attract and retain quality teachers is to improve teacher pay. Virginia is below the national average for teacher pay, ranking 34th in the nation. As a member of the School Board, I would lobby the General Assembly to support Speaker Kirk Cox’s initiative to raise Virginia teacher salaries to the national average in the next four years. I would advocate for the Board of Supervisors to restore funding of education to the level it was prior to the Great Recession. In 2007, Chesterfield Board of Supervisors allocated approximately 60% of the overall budget to the school system. The 2019-2020 budget spends just 42% of the overall budget on schools.


Plus
'Math issue' drives new Northam administration push for budget savings

Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration is looking to state agencies — including public colleges and universities — to help solve a “math issue” that could complicate plans for new spending in the next two-year budget.

Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne challenged the governor’s Cabinet last week to look for savings from existing spending and programs, as Northam prepares to propose a budget for 2020-2022 that is increasingly driven by the cost of public education and health care.

“We have a structural imbalance between our growing revenues and our growing expenditures,” Layne told the Senate Finance Committee on Oct. 22, the day after delivering the same message to the House Appropriations Committee, and two days before addressing the Cabinet at an annual retreat on the Eastern Shore.

Layne is concerned about two things: a potential collapse in estimated income-tax payments next spring as an aftereffect of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and growth in payroll income taxes and sales and use taxes that lags behind increases in spending.

If those revenues grow by 3.5% to 4% a year, Virginia would receive an additional $650 million to $750 million a year, he said. But if education and health care spending continues to grow at 5% to 7% a year, that would cost the state between $770 million and $1.1 billion.

“It is a math issue,” Layne told the Appropriations Committee. “New policies are going to be tough to fund without new revenues or substituting something we’re already doing.”

Administration officials say they have not ordered Cabinet secretaries or their agencies to identify spending that potentially could be cut in their base budgets, but an email message to college and university presidents identified a specific dollar target range for potential “reallocation” in the budget. The range varied by institution and was not included in the general copy released by the administration.

“Feel free to be overly inclusive in adverse impact that this reallocation can have on your institution,” Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said in the email on Friday.

Administration officials said the review is not intended to identify potential mandatory spending cuts or to give agencies specific targets for savings.

Instead, they say, the review represents the kind of budget analysis that Democrats and Republicans say they want for determining spending priorities with limited revenues.

“Before you talk about adding to the budget, you look at the base,” Northam chief of staff Clark Mercer said in an interview on Monday. “That’s just responsible budgeting.”

House Appropriations Vice Chairman Steve Landes, R-Augusta, urged that approach after Layne outlined his budget concerns to the committee on Oct. 21.

“Are there areas where the state may have to say, ‘We’re just not providing these services anymore’?” Landes said.

Currently, payroll income and sales and use taxes would have to grow 4.2% this year over the previous year to fund core services in the general fund budget.

The administration is re-evaluating its revenue projections after meeting with the Joint Advisory Board of Economists on Oct. 17. The next step is a meeting on Nov. 25 with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates, which includes both legislators and business executives.

As Northam prepares his two-year budget for presentation on Dec. 17, he already knows he has to include an additional $600 million for K-12 education and about $180 million more for state employee and teacher pensions. A new forecast for Medicaid is due in early November, and two Republican members of a legislative oversight subcommittee informed the governor on Friday of budget targets to limit growth in Medicaid spending to 5.8% the first year and 6% the second.

“If the spending targets cannot be met, we respectfully request notification from you along with an explanation of the reason it cannot be met,” Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, and Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, the subcommittee chairman and vice chairman, respectively, told the governor.

Layne said he directly asked members of the Cabinet to look at areas where spending could be cut, as well as other areas, such as aid to localities, that would be off limits. He did not send a letter to them or state agencies directing them to identify potential cuts or savings.

“The whole idea was to put it in the secretaries’ hands,” he said.

He said Monday that he did not know whether other secretaries took Qarni’s approach.

College and university presidents reacted cautiously in public on Monday.

“We understand and appreciate the governor’s pursuit of efficiency through this budget exercise and remain hopeful that state revenues will enable VCU to carry out its mission,” Virginia Commonwealth University spokeswoman Pam Lepley said in a statement.


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Answers from the candidates

With dozens of local elective offices and all 140 seats in the General Assembly up for grabs Nov. 5, we asked candidates why voters should pick them.

Their responses will be printed throughout the week and also can be read on Richmond.com.

Sunday: General Assembly

Monday: Richmond City Council’s 5th District

Tuesday: Chesterfield Board of Supervisors and School Board

Wednesday: Hanover Board of Supervisors

Thursday: Henrico Board of Supervisors and School Board

Friday: Chesterfield sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney, and Henrico sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney


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There's a contested race for every Chesterfield Board of Supervisors seat (copy)

Chesterfield Supervisor Leslie Haley, Republican seeking reelection to represent the Midlothian district

Democrats are hoping to chip away at the Republican advantage on the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, where the GOP currently holds a 4-1 advantage.

There are two open seats on the board because Republican incumbents — Dorothy Jaeckle in the Bermuda District and Steve Elswick in the Matoaca District — are not seeking re-election. Leslie Haley, the chair of the Board of Supervisors, is trying to win a second term in Midlothian, and she faces a challenge from Javaid Siddiqi, the vice chairman of the School Board. In Dale, Democratic Supervisor Jim Holland is facing Republican Tammy Ridout. Clover Hill Supervisor Chris Winslow, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat Debra Gardner.

MIDLOTHIAN

Leslie Haley

Republican Ethics attorney

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Midlothian District?

Answer: One of the biggest challenges is planning and controlling sustainable growth (residential and commercial) that complements the existing history and community feel that we have come to love, but recognizes appropriately designed growth is inevitable and healthy. The ability to attract both commercial and residential growth involves a balance of proactive planning and appropriate economic development strategies. Those need to be paired with the attention to reinvesting in our aging neighborhoods and infrastructure to ensure a sustainable community and allow an affordable price point for new and existing residents while also investing in walkability and connectivity to make our communities safer and more enjoyable for our residents. To that we add that the appropriately placed and timed investment in infrastructure needs has to be addressed from all aspects of education, public safety, and libraries and parks. It’s a big challenge that requires leadership skills.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: Over the last four years, we have taken strides in that direction — by proactively engaging in creative ways to add infrastructure in advance to attract the appropriate commercial/retail/residential mix, by allocating monies in our CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) for bike and trail connectivity and requiring those additions along with green space to be included in new development. Additionally, we’ve created our community enhancement department that is identifying resources and avenues to enhance our aging neighborhoods and partner with entities like the Maggie Walker Land Trust.

Javaid Siddiqi

Democrat President and CEO of the Hunt Institute focusing on education policy

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Midlothian District?

Answer: As Chesterfield County continues to be a sought-after area for development, both commercial and residential, we must factor in the impact that such growth will have on our residents. A high priority for me will be to thoughtfully and strategically plan for the future needs of our residents with community input in the areas of infrastructure, schools and community resources.

A large number of families who move to Chesterfield County do so because of our highly-rated school system. The increase in property values that results from this demand contributes significantly to our tax income, which we use to fund the entire county. We must fund our schools not just to the point of adequacy, but to a level at which we can maintain and grow our reputation as the statewide leader that the teachers, school leaders and support staff at Chesterfield County Public Schools have spent decades building.

We also know that residents remain in our county because of our incredible access to the arts, trails, sport facilities, libraries and other activities that offer opportunities for our neighbors to come together and experience our community. To remain attractive to residents of all ages and backgrounds, we must be diligent in making sure we provide access to community resources that meet the needs and interests of our diverse county.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: If elected, I will continue hosting opportunities, in a variety of settings, to stay engaged with and hear from residents to be fully aware of their concerns and thoughts on the direction of our county. Development must be smart and thoughtful. My goal is to facilitate efficient ongoing communication to allow all our neighbors’ voices to be heard and provide opportunities for timely resolution of our community’s needs. I committed to fully funding our school budgets so that our students, teachers and support staff have what they need to be successful.

I will work tirelessly to ensure we attract businesses that pay a living wage and consider novel solutions to the real obstacles that our residents face, including an intentional approach to residential development that provides a diversity of housing options and continues to encourage business development in strategic locations.

CLOVER HILL

Chris Winslow

Republican Lawyer and small-business owner

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Clover Hill District?

Answer: Education, public safety, infrastructure.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: First, based on the recommendations of the Facility Condition Assessment Report, the Board of Supervisors must work with the School Board to develop a plan to achieve 2.5% in annual pay-go funding for school major maintenance. Second, while Chesterfield is the teacher pay leader among counties in the region, we must continue to make progress on compensation to attract high-quality personnel. Third, county schools need to increase mental health staffing to properly diagnose and treat mental health issues. Fourth, we must continue to rebuild and renovate older schools to provide safer and updated environments more conducive to learning while providing capital investment and revitalization to our older communities. Fifth, our students need and we should support the social capital building benefits of mentorship and guidance that only one-on-one relationships can produce whether through Communities In Schools, MegaMentors, the YMCA, our newly formed Chesterfield Police Athletic League or other organizations. Sixth, we must expand the Clover Hill Library.

First, Chesterfield should maintain competitive pay across all public safety agencies including the continued funding of career enhancement opportunities. Second, we need to support our Opioid Steering Committee’s collaborative efforts to stop the deaths of our fellow citizens resulting from heroin and opioid use. Third, the county must work with our vendor to complete the construction of our regional emergency communication system.

Chesterfield must develop a plan to extend the Powhite Parkway to Hull Street Road to relieve the 288/360 interchange. In addition, we should continue to be aggressive in pursuing transportation funding and improvements from federal, state and local sources and continue to beautify our corridors as we have on Courthouse Road via planting trees.

Debra Gardner

Democrat Retired Virginia state employee

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Clover Hill District?

Answer: Rapid and ill-planned residential growth is straining our schools, highways and infrastructure. The current (Board of Supervisors) has not developed commercial income to match increases in housing.

Inadequate funding of schools. We are not adequately funding our schools; therefore, we are putting our children and school staff in unsafe and unhealthy learning environments.

Access to transportation. Transportation is central to the economy and quality of life of our citizens. It also has an enormous impact on housing affordability. It is the second-largest household expense (behind only housing). As an area with few mobility options, we need to increase access to alternative options of transportation to all citizens including the elderly, low-income and unemployed.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: I will ensure that growth is responsible and well-planned. I will make sure that growth balances the interests of families with those of the business community. I will be transparent and have open communication regarding new developments. I will conduct education campaigns. Resistance to some residential and commercial development can be powerful barriers to affordable housing by creating costly delays for projects or blocking them altogether. This resistance is frequently fueled by fear of the unknown, misperceptions and distrust of our current leaders. Communication builds trust. I believe residential growth should have components of reducing barriers to affordable housing and provide more housing choices and strengthen existing communities. New commercial development should have components that includes mixed-use amenities that benefit the surrounding communities and ensure any development protects our natural areas, open spaces and our farmland.

I would vote to adequately fund our schools and will advocate for identifying more predictable additional funding sources for schools such as the meals tax. I will work with School Board members to build a better relationship and collaboration. And as an area with few mobility options, I will work to increase access to alternative options of transportation to all citizens including the elderly, low-income and unemployed.

BERMUDA

Murti Khan

Democrat Owner of a small import-and-export business

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Bermuda District?

Answer: Issues facing Chesterfield include: concerns regarding quality of schools, costs associated with an aging population, public safety, lack of access to transportation, lack of sidewalks, and lack of transparency on government expenditures greater than $10 million.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: Many of these issues can be solved with a better cash proffer system. Development creates a need for more government services. Cash proffers are a fee developers pay to offset the costs their developments put on government services. Our current supervisor voted to cut these fees on extremely wealthy developers by millions of dollars. As a result, middle-class citizens are essentially subsidizing the bill through real estate and car taxes. Under state law, we can create a new system that doesn’t require middle-class taxpayers to subsidize the cost of development on government services. This will allow Chesterfield to manage growth and have money for services.

The best way of addressing all of our issues is building a system of transparent government that represents people. There are simple steps that can be taken to build this government. We need to make it easier for citizens to be involved. Appointed boards like Chesterfield’s Economic Development Authority work on multimillion-dollar decisions that directly impact our neighborhoods and communities. Currently, there is no requirement for public EDA meetings to be recorded or broadcasted. This makes it harder for citizens to be informed. Boards like the EDA need to have their public meetings recorded and put online so citizens can see what their local government is doing. I asked for this publicly in 2018. Our Board of Supervisors did not listen. Chesterfield also needs to restructure and lengthen the public hearing process on major decisions. More citizen involvement in public hearings will result in better financial decisions. In addition, the Board of Supervisors needs to work on giving relevant information to all community members impacted by government decisions. Making our government transparent and accessible to citizens is good for people, good for business, and good for Chesterfield as a whole.

Jim Ingle Jr.

Republican Senior project manager with demolition contractor R.J. Smith

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Bermuda District?

Answer: The biggest issue that faces us as a county is the manner in which we preserve and protect the quality of life that makes us so special. I believe that in order to do that, we must center our efforts on four key areas: public safety, education, revitalization and maintenance of value of older neighborhoods, and jobs and growth.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: Public safety — We must ensure that our first responders have the resources they need to protect and serve Chesterfield families. We must give those departments the resources they need to recruit and retain the best police officers, firefighters and rescue personnel. Additionally, we need to pursue an “all-in” approach to the opioid epidemic that emphasizes prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement and personal accountability.

Education — We must make sure our educators and students have the resources they need in the classroom to ensure that every child in Chesterfield County receives the best education in the nation. We also need to prioritize school maintenance and the school transportation system. I will work to build a good relationship with the new School Board so we can provide a first-class education and solve the current issues in an efficient manner.

Revitalization and maintenance of value of older neighborhoods — We must place a primary emphasis on revitalization of older communities and maintenance of value of older neighborhoods as a key component of our economic development strategy. In the Bermuda District, the Northern Jeff Davis Plan is a solid start, but it is only a start, and it is an effort that we must continue to undertake across the district and across the county.

Jobs and growth — We must balance the future needs of the community with the concerns of existing residents. We must ensure that land-use decisions are made in a transparent manner that emphasizes consensus, consistency, predictability and a place at the table for all stakeholders.

DALE

Jim Holland

Democrat President of Holland and Company accounting firm

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Dale District?

Answer: Public safety, education and transportation are important issues in the Dale District and Chesterfield County.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: In order to address these issues, I have proposed leveraging grants and state money along with local funds to address and fund public safety needs, public education initiatives and key road projects.

I am disappointed that some feel that our community is an unsafe place to live. My official report is that the crime rate in Chesterfield has dropped over the past two years. The evidence is in our local and regional declining jail population. I have addressed this issue by supporting short- and long-term funding for our first responders to receive better technology, new vehicles, new facilities and training. Many people have lived and worked in Chesterfield for many years and have never had any issues with public safety.

The care and maintenance of our infrastructure and facilities are line items that need to be funded. I remain diligent to replace or renovate older homes, facilities and schools in Dale. Our Residential Incentive program is now available to property owners who want to improve their property. As supervisor, I addressed this issue by holding district meetings and posting information on our district page to inform our citizens. Thanks to approval by voters in the 2013 bond referendum, I led the effort to build a new Beulah Elementary School, which opened last year. With my approval via the budget, our Central Library was recently renovated and the former Beulah Elementary School building has been repurposed to serve as a community recreational center and office space for Parks and Recreation. As a result of additional funds allocated to the schools, we now have two Career and Technical Centers that offer opportunities in high-demand classes for our students. I will continue to fund, encourage and support everyone who works in education.

Transportation is also an important issue as funding for road projects is needed in our county. Our budget, which was approved by me, will allow our county to move forward with key road projects that are critical to the county’s future. As supervisor, I addressed the transportation issue on the Jeff Davis Corridor back in 2017. My recommendation was highlighted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on June 4, 2017. I encouraged our county manager via the transportation team to find funding for the Jeff Davis Corridor transit service. The research was done and a grant was received to test ridership in the Jeff Davis Corridor for three years. My aim as Dale District supervisor is to serve and support all citizens of Chesterfield County.

Tammy Ridout

Republican Retired dental hygienist

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Dale District?

Answer: The main issue currently facing Chesterfield County is maintaining the county’s infrastructure with smart business development and revitalization. In the Dale District, the fire stations at Five Forks and Nash are still low on the capital improvement plan despite the passing of the recession. Dale District has a large senior population that needs first responders. Well-maintained fire and police services improve the safety of all citizens, lower home insurance rates for residents, and stabilize or increase property values. Our population is now the lowest in the county, and the infrastructure needs have become more pressing in other districts. Our fire department reports that (under) current conditions, they are unable to meet their response goal 75% of the time. However, we keep developing without the appropriate catching up on our infrastructure. We need more policing in higher crime areas, yet these numbers aren’t part of the conversation when approving projects despite our Dale District having the second-highest crime behind Bermuda.

What is even more frustrating, we have the new Beulah Elementary School that is almost at capacity and the Falling Creek Middle School is the most overcrowded school in the county. In the schools’ latest report, the higher priority is meeting the needs out west (Cosby, Swift Creek, etc.) while the Dale District is not in the top four capital improvements. Instead, Falling Creek Middle School overcrowding is considered a lower priority need, yet the School Board claims it wants equity?

Furthermore, we have had very little business development in the Dale District since the recession. Without any smart business growth, it is difficult to encourage positive, impactful and sustainable development projects. Examples include an empty grocery store near SwimRVA, an empty Walmart near the Wendy’s, and the vacant Martin’s grocery store at Centralia and Iron Bridge roads (Bermuda District). In addition, there is plenty of unleased airport industrial park commercial space. Although most mixed-use, higher-density developments are more successful near the intersection of major roads, we are doing a disservice to our existing residents when we leave empty commercial buildings and we don’t address the existing problem areas before building new developments. This is a challenge for the CEDA as most developers prefer to develop in an area that is more likely to be sustainable. We need more job opportunities in the county so residents can work closer to home.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: In order to support and improve the county infrastructure, I would expand the county’s business community. Initially, I would support streamlining the county’s permit processes in order to get businesses up and running in a more efficient matter. I would encourage citizens to be engaged earlier in the process without jeopardizing the developers’ financial backing but allowing us to get a better result and get the increased business revenues to pay for every district’s infrastructure. In addition, I would increase and adapt our young workforce through business internships and apprenticeships with our school Career and Technical Centers, so we have sustainable business models for the future. This way, our residents have a better quality of life where they can work, play and live in Chesterfield.

MATOACA

Kevin Carroll

Republican Retired Chesterfield police officer

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Matoaca District?

Answer: Managing growth and timely infrastructure improvements are always a challenge for any community. Growth is good but can have consequences in several areas that affect our residents. As I talk to voters, one complaint that comes up often is traffic and road conditions. Funding new and aging infrastructure will be a significant challenge. Fixing roads and bridges is a public safety and quality-of-life issue. Growth also affects natural resources such as the water supply.

For our schools, we need to address overcrowding, the teacher and bus driver shortage, and safety. Finding a solution to the school bus schedule is a priority. Like the rest of the country, we have a firefighter and police officer shortage. Response times for calls for service continue to increase because of growth. If you dial 911, you need us there as soon as possible. The needs of Ettrick and Moseley are vastly different. In the Ettrick area, we need to encourage investment and work toward revitalization.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: The Powhite Parkway Extension needs to be built to relieve traffic congestion in western Chesterfield. I want to work with all stakeholders to develop a plan to make this happen.

My goal will be to work collectively with community members and county staff to better prioritize infrastructure projects. As leaders, we need to better predict population trends based on development and maintain timely infrastructure improvements that directly affect quality-of-life issues. Chesterfield County has developed a Microsoft-based forecasting tool as “a long-term value proposition” that will help elected officials make more reasoned, well-informed funding decisions about schools and all of Chesterfield’s public infrastructure.

Our Utilities Department has proposed construction of a new water treatment plant on the Appomattox River that is expected to cost $253 million and includes acquisition of land. However, I don’t know what plan is in place to pay for this project that is necessary to support the amount of growth that is planned for our community. This will need to be funded.

To address our public safety, bus driver and teacher shortage, we need to review our recruitment and retention measures. We need to be competitive in order to keep the employees we have invested in.

I would like to see an upgrade of our school security systems to ensure we provide a safe and secure environment for our children to learn.

With the creation of an enterprise zone in Ettrick, an opportunity has been created to spur investment and development. I will work with the community partners in Ettrick to find the right investment fit to meet the community needs. Ettrick is a beautiful part of Chesterfield that has much to offer. Renovation of the Ettrick train station, a new Ettrick Elementary School and fire station will add value to the quality of life in Ettrick. Attracting people to visit and perhaps move to the area will encourage business growth.

Shajuan Mason

Democrat Attorney

Question: What are the top issues facing Chesterfield and the Matoaca District?

Answer: Many of our neighbors have lost respect and trust in our Board of Supervisors. In my opinion, that is our biggest problem. It is difficult for the county to thrive and move forward in a manner that is conducive to the entire county if strained relationships exist between the BOS and its constituents. The constituents I have spoken with have shared they are being ignored and that developers and other outside interests have more influence over the BOS. Another issue that our county faces is that our development is not compatible with our resources. We are constantly trying to catch up with the various developments that have occurred within our county that has contributed to overcrowding in our schools, issues with transportation and infrastructure, and a lack of resources regarding public safety. We need to improve how we manage our development and ensure that the appropriate resources are available to accommodate the said development. This would allow us to take a more proactive approach regarding our planning versus having to react to projects/developments, which tends to have a sense of urgency to find a solution. It may be best to plan in a manner that is data-driven and includes the input of our constituents.

Question: What should be done to address those issues?

Answer: I would lead the charge in restoring the relationship between our Board of Supervisors and the constituents. Restoring trust in the leadership will allow us to conduct business more effectively, provide balance where it is needed and tackle the issues with transportation, overdevelopment, affordable housing, competitive pay, infrastructure, etc. We must work together and focus on the needs of our neighbors while keeping them informed. We are losing many of our workers to other localities because they are earning competitive salaries elsewhere. We need to take care of our own better. We must work together and develop working relationships that are focused on the best interests of Chesterfield County versus selfish agendas or helping a select few. We must develop a more positive working relationship that promotes communication, transparency, collaboration and accountability. I would try to make the Board of Supervisors meetings more peaceful, family-friendly and safe. This includes modifying the agenda so that the pressing issues are not held at the end, providing child care, and ensuring the meetings do not end so late so that all of our constituents (seniors, families with children, etc.) can return safely to their homes.


Business
Bon Secours signs deal to buy Southside Regional Medical Center and two other hospitals in Virginia

One of the Richmond region’s major health care providers is buying three hospitals in Virginia, including Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg.

Cincinnati-based Bon Secours Mercy Health, a not-for-profit Catholic health care system with more than 40 hospitals, announced Monday that it has signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire the three hospitals from affiliates of Community Health Systems Inc., a Franklin, Tenn.-based owner of 102 hospitals in 18 states.

In addition to the 300-bed Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, the deal includes Southampton Memorial Hospital, a 105-bed hospital in the city of Franklin; and Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, an 80-bed hospital in Emporia. They are Community Health Systems’ only hospitals in Virginia.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Bon Secours said Monday that both companies are working to finalize a deal and expect it to close by the end of this year.

In the Richmond area, Bon Secours operates St. Mary’s Hospital, Richmond Community Hospital, Memorial Regional Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center. It also owns Rappahannock General Hospital in Kilmarnock.

Southside Regional Medical Center has a 50-acre campus and employs about 380 physicians working in more than 40 specialties. The hospital also has seven satellite outpatient centers, according to its website.

In July 2018, Southside Regional Medical Center opened a 24-hour emergency care center in Colonial Heights. The facility has 10 exam rooms, diagnostic imaging and lab services.

Southside Regional Medical Center traces its roots to the Petersburg Home for the Sick that opened in 1884. The name changed to Petersburg Hospital in 1886 and to Petersburg General Hospital in 1953.

The name changed again to Southside Regional Medical Center in 1986.

In 2003, the Petersburg Hospital Authority sold Southside Regional to Community Health Systems.

The new owners built a new $145 million hospital, which opened in July 2008, relocating the hospital from 801 S. Adams St. near downtown Petersburg to Medical Park Boulevard.

Community Health Systems has been selling hospitals as the company seeks to stem losses related to declining admissions.

The company sold 11 facilities and closed three others in 2018. It reported a $788 million loss for 2018, less than its loss of about $2.4 billion in 2017.

The company announced in August that it had sold nine hospitals to date in 2018. Later in August, it announced that it had completed the sale of two hospitals in Florida, and in September, it sold a hospital in Bluefield, W.Va.

The deal to sell the Virginia hospitals comes less than a week after Bon Secours named a new president for the health system’s Richmond market. Faraaz Yousuf was named to replaced Toni R. Ardabell, who left the role earlier this year for a job at Inova Health System in Northern Virginia.

Yousuf, who will start the job on Dec. 1, currently is responsible for strategic planning for Bon Secours Mercy Health’s Atlantic Group, which includes five states from New York to Florida.

When the deal is complete, Southside Regional Medical Center and Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center will become part of the company’s Richmond market, led by Yousuf, a spokeswoman for the health care system said.

Southampton Memorial Hospital will become part of Bon Secours Mercy Health’s Hampton Roads market, which is led by Amy Carrier, the spokeswoman said.

“Bon Secours Mercy Health is strategically focused on how we can best fulfill our mission and meet the needs of our patients and communities,” John Starcher, Bon Secours Mercy Health’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Southeastern Virginia is a very attractive growth market, and we look forward to continuing to invest in the health and well-being of area residents, while ensuring our facilities are places where associates want to work, clinicians want to practice, people seek wellness and communities thrive,” Starcher said.


Plus
Justin Verlander is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But he's never won a World Series game.

WASHINGTON — Justin Verlander has a glittery list of accomplishments to carry into the Hall of Fame one day.

The former first-round pick out of Old Dominion University has a long list of Hall of Fame credentials: MVP, Cy Young Award, rookie of the year and eight-time All-Star.

There’s just one blemish: Verlander is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to go 0-5 in the World Series.

The former Goochland High School standout can take care of that when the Houston Astros try to win their second title in three years in Houston on Tuesday night.

“That would obviously be a moment that would be — that I would cherish in my career if that were able to happen,” Verlander said.

The Astros lead the Washington Nationals 3-2 after Gerrit Cole dominated the Max Scherzer-less Nats in a 7-1 victory in Game 5 on Sunday. Scherzer was unable to pitch because of neck spasms and a nerve issue. Cole allowed just three hits and one run in seven innings.

Verlander is in his fourth World Series. He was 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts with the Detroit Tigers in 2006; 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in one start with Detroit in 2012; and 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA when Houston won in 2017.

The 36-year-old right-hander took the loss facing Stephen Strasburg in Game 2. He allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings in Washington’s 12-3 win.

Strasburg will be on the mound in Game 6 in a rematch. He limited Houston to two runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings.

“I really don’t look at the opposing pitcher,” Strasburg said. “It’s ... the hitters that I’m facing. That’s my job.”

Verlander is 14-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 30 postseason appearances. He was the American League Championship Series MVP in 2017 after being traded to the Astros that August.

His 3,006 strikeouts rank 18th on the career list. His 225 wins rank 70th.

He extended his stay among baseball’s elite by reinventing his game earlier in the decade.

Verlander was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA during his MVP year in 2011. By 2013, his arm hurting and his high-90s velocity dropping, he slipped to 13-12.

Verlander had core muscle surgery (abdominal area) after the season.

He gave up a league-leading 104 earned runs in 2014 while going 15-12. In an article by Bleacher Report in 2018, Verlander credited his wife, supermodel Kate Upton, for turning him around mentally and getting him to see a physical therapist to help his flexibility.

“I went out and pitched [after the surgery], but I wasn’t healthy, definitely the whole body hurt, arm hurt,” Verlander said earlier in the World Series. “So then going into that offseason I made massive adjustments in pretty much everything I do from my body maintenance to my workouts in the offseason to in-season maintenance to my throwing mechanics.

“Looking back at it, it was probably the lowest point in my career, physically and mentally. But had I not gone through that process, I don’t know if I’d be the pitcher I am now at my age. So honestly, I look back and I’m thankful that I didn’t seriously hurt myself, and I’m also thankful for the lessons I learned in that time.”

Verlander has gone 37-15 with a 2.55 ERA the past two seasons. At 36, he thinks he “can get pretty darn close” to 300 wins, a number that distinguishes the game’s best pitchers.

“I feel good,” he said. “I think the changes I’ve made the last few years to my body and how I pay attention to things is going to allow me to pitch deeper than I would have otherwise.”

Verlander is one of several players in the World Series who played at Virginia colleges. He and Nationals reliever Daniel Hudson went to ODU a few years apart. Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and reliever Sean Doolittle were teammates at the University of Virginia.

“It’s pretty cool how well-represented Virginia is as a whole,” Verlander said. “Growing up playing against Zimm, he gave me a sly little look [when he was on first base] the other day after I [fielded a ball he hit, fell and] threw the ball off my shin ... which was pretty funny.

“I remember going all the way back to my ODU days, him and I played golf together. From then to now, a lot has happened in both our lives, but [it’s] pretty cool to have our lives interconnect like that and to end up on this stage.”