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Transparency FROM BTW: Who I am, what I am trying to accomplish and why

Recently, many of you have read about my efforts to bring some much needed transparency to our local government process. However, while many appreciate those efforts, a few have pointed out that they are skeptical of a "woman behind a curtain." So, in the interest of fair play, I thought I would share a bit about myself with you.

I have done this once before, back in March when a reader on FB questioned my motives. Now, my motives have been questioned again in a much more.....public venue, so it's time to revisit (click the link for more on that fun, little episode.) There are a lot of new readers since March, so I will have to repeat myself just a bit for those who have been here since the beginning.

First of all, I am a 15 year Stafford resident, mother of three wonderful children and wife to a prominent blogger, Steve Albertson (if you are a conservative, check out his site I have long been involved with schools through PTO work, first at Margaret Brent Elementary, then at Rodney Thompson Middle. Schools have always been a passion of mine but I have never attended School Board meetings or been an activist in any way in the past. I kept my involvement to my children's schools.

In February 2017, the issue of the Colonial Forge High School redistricting came to my attention. I was a bit late to the conversation because my family is in the Mountain View district. Normally, I wouldn't have gotten involved except that I happened to be the PTO President at Rodney Thompson Middle at the time. Many RTMS families could have been affected by the change and there was a lot of concern in our community. So I attended the Rock Hill redistricting public meeting in my role at RTMS PTO President in the interest of getting information out to RTMS parents who couldn't attend. I had absolutely no idea at the time that this small act would snowball into such a huge undertaking.

Feedback from parents who read my recap was overwhelmingly positive so I continued to cover the issue. It got to the point where I was doing so much work that it started to make sense to share my findings with all of Stafford County, so Break The Wheel was born. As the Forge redistricting wrapped up, I started to cover the elementary school redistricting, then growth in the county, proposed housing developments and so on. The response continued to be supportive and positive so I kept researching and writing. I will continue to do so as long as there is interest. I think people respond to my outsider's perspective backed by data and research.

I did not start the blog for any of the following reasons:

- To create drama for drama's sake: Any one who knows me personally knows that I genuinely hate drama and will have no part of it. I attempt to write my posts for informational purposes and I stick to facts. If facts create turmoil, so be it. But I am not "stirring the pot" just for fun or attention.

- To get blog clicks/FB likes: Honestly, I don't give two figs about Facebook. I did not even have a personal profile before I started the blog and only created one because it is a requirement to have a FB page. If you saw my personal page, there is very little there. Suffice it to say, I am not a social media whore. Honestly, if no one read the blog, I would probably stop because why bother? But even if only a few people find a benefit from my posts, if only a few have been motivated to learn more and engage, then I am satisfied. It is not about amassing an army of followers for me

- Financial gain: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (wipes eyes, catches breath)...there is no money in what I do. In fact, it costs money to host my blog, it costs time that I could spend doing other things. I do have a life outside of this blog but my laundry pile would say otherwise.

- To take down or be a mouthpiece for any specific politician: I could have made this blog a partisan one but chose not to because all Stafford residents need to be involved in these conversations, regardless of political affiliation. I do not speak for anyone but myself and I try to let facts speak for themselves. In the interest of full disclosure, I am close, personal friends with Wendy Maurer, our current Rock Hill Supervisor. However, I am not a tool for her agenda or anyone else's. I have interacted with and had many beneficial conversations with most of our School Board members and many county Supervisors. I will continue to talk to anyone who expresses interest because it's how I learn. But what ends up in a post will always be supported by facts and will never be mindless bluster to support or negate any one public servant.

-Running for office: I have had people suggest that I run for School Board when the Rock Hill district election comes up in 2019. It is flattering but I have the feeling that people much more knowledgeable and capable than I will likely step into the ring. I most certainly did not start this blog with that goal in mind. I enjoy writing and educating our citizens, that is enough for me for now. If there are no qualified candidates when the time comes, next year!, I might consider it. But as the Magic 8 ball says, it is "very unlikely."

I am no expert on any of these issues. There has been a huge learning curve for me as I have jumped in, feet first, into the machinations of our local government. When I am wrong I admit it, check out my "Eating Crow" post for proof of that. When people think I have unfairly judged them, if it is someone I respect, I post that, too. My ultimate and only real goal is to get information out to Stafford County citizens that they may not have time to get themselves or that they may not be able to get elsewhere.

Oh, and I have also been asked what Break The Wheel means. Dork Alert: I am a big Game of Thrones fan (show, not books.) It's a bit hard to explain if you don't watch the show but I will try. In the story, the woman in the image above (who has three dragons) is trying to take back the throne of the seven kingdoms that was stolen from her family. She says to a man that she is going to stop the ever changing rotation of the few wealthy families in power who have no real concern for those they rule. The man states that many have tried to stop the wheel in the past but they have always failed. She then says, "I'm not going to stop the wheel, I am going to break the wheel." I liked the imagery, it's very powerful.

Of course, I am not storming the Courthouse with a team of dragons raining fire on our elected officials. The type of light I shed is much more subtle. But the sentiment that we have to break the bad patterns of the past in order to forge a new future is something I can relate to and something Stafford needs to do. I will continue to play my part in that reshaping, one small blog post at a time.