The kids are back in school and that can only mean one thing in Virginia, it's election season!! In anticipation of the upcoming election, BTW has reached out to all Supervisor and School Board candidates to answer some questions about their candidacy. Today, we present the responses from Greg Bundrick, challenger in the Falmouth Board of Supervisor's race. We thank Mr. Bundrick for his time!
Tell BTW about yourself
My wife Janet and I have been residents of Fredericksburg and Falmouth since 2014. I received my Master’s Degree from Florida State University and began my career in social work in 1975 by doing community organization work in Jamaica, New York. Over a forty year career, I developed specialties of practice in the area of chronic mental illness, developmental disabilities and domestic violence. As a licensed clinical social worker, my most recent work was with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) in the area of quality assurance. I continue to attend RACSB monthly Board meetings to stay informed and involved with this fine agency. While In Santa Fe, New Mexico, I served on the governing board of a large homeowner association.
What drove your decision to enter the supervisor race this year?
For me, the question of why I am running for the Board of Supervisors has always been "How best can I serve my community?” The decision was greatly influenced by how the current Board member handled a situation earlier this year. The Board got my attention when it began to consider a conditional use permit for a neighboring piece of property as a commercial event center. The project in my view, would have created unsafe road conditions and disrupted the area with noise and nuisance. I observed Falmouth District Supervisor Meg Bohmke strongly pushing the project. I was stunned to hear Ms. Bohmke tell my neighbors at a town hall meeting that she did not need their approval to bring the matter back to the Board. It was obvious to me that she had lost any semblance of impartiality. At that point, I decided then to run for the Board of Supervisors and if successful work to ensure complete transparency on the Board and truly represent the people’s interest.
What differentiates you from the incumbent in your race? What, if any, mistakes do you think the incumbent or the board in general has made that you would not have?
I would not have advanced a project, as Ms. Bohmke did, that per plan, would bring 90 cars and 300 people per event (such as a wedding) through a residential area, up a curvy narrow part of Forbes Street to an event center, ignoring safety risks and the repeated concerns voiced by the neighborhood.
I will always make sure that people in neighborhoods receive ample notice about any Board of Supervisors’ meeting particularly when a project has a direct or even indirect impact on them. The Board continues to have a problem with providing advanced notice about items on the Board agenda. I will never try to influence the planning commission nor county staff and will insist only on transparency.
I will be proactive in exploring remedies to storefronts and local business shutting down and advocated for economic development and revitalization of the district. It takes initiative, effective use of government and county resources, partnerships and the business and private sector.
Recently, Ms. Bohmke said that business incentives are not the role of government.
During the time that Ms. Bohmke was on the School Board, the school district lost millions of dollars due to poor accounting practices. The real question for the sake of accountability is to what proactive and assertive extent did Ms. Bohmke protect students and constituents?
There was great news for the Falmouth District that voters approved a $2 million dollar bond for the construction of Musselman Park. After seven years, funds have wasted away and, as a result of inaction there is simply no park. Voters and people in the Falmouth District have a right to ask where the money went and why don’t we have a park? Had I been on the Board of Supervisors, we would have a Musselman Park.
I visited the new Stafford High School that was just built two years ago. Despite growth predictions, the building is able to accommodate only 200 more students than the previous one. Other Falmouth schools I have visited reported overcrowding problems. At a recent Board of Supervisor meeting, board members told the audience in the room to dial back concerns about schools, saying they are doing fine.
The conflict between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board has been epic but tragic, since it has had such a negative impact on the right of our children to receive a quality education. As a member of Board of Supervisors, I will develop and maintain an effective, respectful and professional working relationship with the School Board.
I will promote measured residential growth in the County and ensure that residential development does not overwhelm our schools and infrastructure. Ms. Bohmke has said in the past that she wants new housing to pay for itself. A house “pays” for itself it the homeowner pays more in real estate taxes than the County provides in services. We actually need good affordable workforce housing at the right price point in targeted growth areas for our police, fire and rescue, teachers, young professionals, seniors who want to downscale etc.
I will work to keep our environment safe. The Board must promote a proactive approach with the utility company to regularly inspect public pipes so we do not end up with sewage in the Rappahannock River. I will be the board member who talks about; preventing road waste and storm or farm runoff from entering the river, preventing erosion of public property, preventing water encroachment onto private property and protecting our air quality by opposing dangerous incineration facilities.
What skills do you bring to the table that make you a particularly good choice for the job?
I have had years of experience working with individuals, groups and communities to solve problems, engaging and learning from others and using personal talents and initiative towards positive outcomes. I have worked professionally and volunteered with government and the private sector to accomplish goals that improved communities and the lives of individuals. I am a relentless advocate for people; I carefully analyze and research issues, explore options and seek ways to bring people together to find solutions
What are the most pressing issues you feel face Stafford County?
Growth and Development/Housing
Stafford County has faced staggering growth and development. The Comprehensive Plan stipulates that 80% of growth should occur in targeted growth areas and 20% in rural areas, but that guidance has often been ignored and now statistics show that only 60% of residential growth is occurring in target areas, while 40% is taking place in rural areas. This is a formula for sprawl and stress on infrastructure and services, including police, fire and education. Growth in various sectors of our system has not been synchronized. There are too many houses and not enough schools and other services, and the roads are seriously lacking in their ability to carry the number of cars using them.
Another problem is that the available housing is insufficient to accommodate our work force, including police, rescue, and teachers, and young professionals. The Board of Supervisors has allowed growth to occur without an adequate economic base or centers that would support the expanded development.
Stafford County’s low economic tax base of only 18% has placed a significant burden on homeowners. There are too many empty storefronts. People have to drive out of their communities to shop and work. Residential growth should complement economic development so people can either work or shop locally. But we must be wary of developers who say if the county approves more housing, they will provide more commercial development. We already have land zoned commercial that is not being used, plus we have the empty buildings.
It is an indisputable fact that teachers and support staff in surrounding districts are paid more and Stafford County has not provided funding sufficient to recruit and retain teachers. This has been a chronic issue and violates the right of students to receive a quality education. Despite the fact that Stafford County is the sixth wealthiest county in the nation, the following facts remain:
For the 10 years prior to 2009, SCPS received 69% of the county budget. Now, the transfer including debt is about 51.2%
The Stafford County per pupil contribution of $4,444 is 27% below the state average of $6,084
SCPS ranks 35th out of 132 districts in total per pupil funding.
Stafford County has significant transportation problems resulting from sprawl, unrestrained residential growth and a low business tax base, as well as our location along interstate transportation corridors. Seventy three percent (73%) of people drive themselves to work and only 3% use mass transit. Sheriff and rescue services have considerable difficulty responding to calls on a timely basis due to congested roads. Stafford must increase the number of alternate routes and expand its commitment to public bus service and rail, and local economy which keeps cars off roads.
The old pipes running along the Rappahannock River are a constant risk for cracking and allowing sewage to flow into the river. Automobile exhaust, storm and farm runoff are major pollution sources. Storm water flows off paved parking lots differently than green areas. Talk of building incineration facilities at the regional landfill at the northern end of the Falmouth District is concerning in that air quality would be at risk should such a facility be built. Furthermore, I understand that there is movement of fluidic mass under the landfill which should be treated to prevent contamination of nearby neighborhoods.
How do you plan too utilize your skills to address the issues in the previous question?
The Board of Supervisors must first identify and prioritize the problems and engage a broad based coalition of interests. The Board of Supervisors must determine availability and sufficiency of resources to address problems and determine if resources are adequate to our values and priorities. Generally, there are many options and strategies to solve problems; most important is to discard overly rehearsed lines in favor of a new commitment bold solutions. With all due respect, Ms. Bohmke has not demonstrated proactive leadership on the Board of Supervisors.
Since almost all aspects of my background and experience in social work has involved coordinating with individuals, groups and communities across a broad spectrum to solve problems, I believe I have developed the skills, talents and experience to serve as an effective member Stafford Board of Supervisors. I will seek to have a respectful working relationship with all members of the Board of Supervisors.
The relationship between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors has long been a rocky one. Are you willing to work hand in hand with the School Board?
The last four to eight years of feud between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors will be written as a tragic legend of missed opportunity, dodging of accountability and a denial of rights for students. I am absolutely willing to engage the School Board in full partnership to map a way forward so students receive a quality education and teachers and support staff receive competitive compensation and good working conditions.
If you would like to learn more about Greg Bundrick, please visit him at bundrick4bos.com or on his Facebook page.