Of the five candidates running for the Republican nomination for Gainesville Supervisor, only two of them have any chance of winning. To varying degrees, the rest just aren’t ready for prime time. While poking fun at some of their antics can be enjoyable, at this point in the race doing so is simply overkill. The choice here is really between Peter Candland and Martha Hendley, and they’re both competent and qualified candidates who would do a great job as Supervisor. I give Peter Candland the edge here, but the difference isn’t that dramatic despite what the mailers going out in this district over the last week allege.
Peter is a solid campaigner with the right background for this district, and someone who really understands the strategic challenge of transitioning Prince William County from a bedroom community with little more than low-paying retail and service jobs into one that can bring high-technology and professional jobs to the county. The imbalance between the residential and commercial tax base is a long-range structural problem that needs to be fixed and the Interstate 66 corridor is the place to do it. This is the right pro-active focus for a supervisor representing Gainesville, and Candland has the right background to make this happen.
Martha’s focus is more on land use, which makes sense given that she’s been on the planning commission since 2004 where she has done an outstanding job trying to hold back residential growth and putting the brakes on some of the dumber ideas the school system has proposed to adjust to it. She knows the county’s comprehensive land use plan better than perhaps anyone else and used that knowledge to lead some rather important fights to control residential growth. Martha scares the daylights out of the developer community, which knows that we aren’t going to ever see another large-scale residential rezoning while she is on the Board of Supervisors.
It’s not that these candidates are exclusively concerned with these single topics, but they definitely have a focus. Which focus is the right one, right now? To me it’s the jobs issue. If we can make progress on getting more county residents commuting to jobs within the county rather than driving back and forth from Fairfax and DC, we solve all sorts of persistent problems, including transportation, budgets, and quality of life issues. That’s the harder nut to crack rather than just encouraging members of the Board of Supervisors to say “no” to rezoning requests.
That specific focus issue seems to be permeating the campaign operations of these candidates as well. Candland has been running a traditional campaign operation based on knocking on doors for months, hosting lots of well-attended campaign events, and raising money. Hendley has been focused more on her contacts among activists concerned about development issues and those on the Prince William County Republican Committee, hasn’t been knocking on doors until recently, has had spotty attendance at her campaign events, and is pretty much self-funding her campaign. It’s telling that Hendley waited to start polling until late in the campaign, and as soon as the numbers came in started sending out lots of attack mailers targeting Candland, which tells me she didn’t like how that poll came back and felt the needs to start going negative. Candland had polled earlier in the cycle, and didn’t seem to reorient his campaign afterwards, so I assume he liked what he saw.
As for Suzanne Miller, Steve Botello and Michael High, the only question is whether any of them will break above 10%. I’d be a bit surprised if they do.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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