In anticipation of the upcoming election on November 7th, BTW has reached out to all Supervisor and School Board candidates to answer some questions about their candidacy. Today, we present the responses from Mark Dudenhefer (R), current House District 2 Representative and challenger in the Garrisonville District Supervisor race.
Tell the readers about yourself
My name is Mark Dudenhefer and I have been a resident of the Garrisonville District since 1995. I retired in 2004 from the Marine Corps after 30 years commissioned service at the rank of Colonel. I’ve earned a BS degree in economics from LSU, an MBA from Tulane University and a Master in Computer Information Systems from the University of Phoenix.
I was elected and served on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors for 6 years and was elected Chairman for 2 of those years. In 2011, I was elected to represent the 2nd House of Delegates District in Richmond where I served 2 terms. I also served on the House Education and Transportation Committees. In addition, I’ve served on the Joint Committee on the Future of Public Elementary and Secondary Education in the Commonwealth, the Virginia School Readiness Committee, Stafford Armed Services Memorial Commission, George Washington Regional Commission, Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Quantico Growth Management Committee, Fredericksburg Regional Jail Authority, Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, and the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Board.
I am married to Kay and we have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. There is nothing more important to me than my family and I derive great joy from my grandchildren.
I have performed a lifetime of service and leadership.
What drove your decision to enter the Supervisor race this year?
I was elected to the board shortly after retiring from the Marine Corps. It was not a follow-on career path I would have chosen but God and circumstances had other ideas. I will not dwell here on those circumstances, but if you are interested, you can read about them on my web page, www.dudenhefer.com.
Those circumstances drove me through 8 elections. I learned that to make a difference I would have to be a decision maker, not a grieving dad.
The reasons that drove me to run 13 years ago burn just as hot in me now as the first time I ran. I will always stand for safety for our families and especially our children.
I am often asked why I would leave the House of Delegates to run for the local board. Well, the answer is quite simple. I can better make a difference and follow that burn in my heart serving on the Board of Supervisors. I gave a speech on the House floor about this subject and it can be found on YouTube (click the link to view.)
What differentiates you from the incumbent in your race? What, if any, mistakes do you think said incumbent or the board in general have made that you would not have?
I will not speak negatively about the incumbent except for her voting record, and concentrate on the Board in general.
I believe that the Board has lost its direction. There is too much bickering and backstabbing. This detracts from their true mission. The forward planning has suffered. I think their intentions are good, but there is an absence of leadership and statesmanship.
I will be a full time supervisor and will come prepared for every meeting. Every member of the Board of Supervisors and School Board looks forward to working with me because they have a history of working with me and know that I will listen to their concerns, work diligently on solutions, get things done and not create more controversy.
What skills do you think you bring to the table that makes you a particularly good choice for the job?
I believe that I have a proven, verifiable record of being a consensus builder and leader. While I was chairman, we initiated many of the positive things going on in the county that are finally being realized. When I announced my retirement from the House of Delegates, as many Democrats as Republicans stood and while wishing me well also stated they wished I would stay.
Planning is a process of identifying goals and objectives, formulating strategies to achieve them, arranging or creating the means required, and implementing, directing and monitoring all steps. I did this when elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2010. The financial guidelines that we put in place have resulted in a AAA Bond rating, the highest a county of Stafford’s size can attain. We abolished our BPOL tax and lowered property taxes. We created a business friendly environment. We executed an aggressive road-building program. We built new parks. Every road project and park you see recently completed or under construction in Stafford was initiated while I was on the Board of Supervisors, many while I was Chairman. It takes more than three years to complete any road project, contrary to the incumbent's claim. I initiated the Transportation Bond Referendum that provided funding for many of the existing road projects. We rewrote our Comprehensive Plan that had languished since 1988. We had a plan and aggressively implemented all the steps to accomplish our goals.
No plan can succeed if the people tasked with implementing it are not on board. This takes respectful discussion, research, building a consensus, and leadership. I am proud that I was an integral part of this process.
In addition, I gave another speech in the House of Delegates that clearly addresses what I believe is important and how I worked to get a significant piece of legislation passed. I will continue to work to solve significant issues here as long as I’m given the opportunity.
What are the most pressing issues that you feel face Stafford County?
Growth has been and will continue to be a serious problem. We don’t solve that problem by approving more and more new housing developments. In just 3 years, the incumbent has voted to approve 1,343 new housing units above the by-right building that is difficult to contain. From the occupants of these new units we will require new schools, more teachers, more fire and rescue personnel and new roads.
I believe that unless there are extraordinary circumstances, we should not approve new homes. The state legislature needs to fix the proffer laws so that development pays a lot more to build the infrastructure required because of the over building. Until that time, we should not approve any NEW REZONINGS for residential development.
It is time to buy the property to build high school #6 and another elementary school. We also need to renovate several old schools that are not equiped to meet modern day needs. What we don’t need is a new sixty seven million dollar ($67,000,000) courthouse. Where are our priorities? As of the writing of this piece, all school and road projects have been removed from the Capital Improvement Plan for the next 6 years. That’s disgraceful!
Recently, the incumbent voted to give a developer a $16 million tax incentive to bring another grocery store to north Stafford. How many grocery stores do we need? We have not provided incentives to any other store to open in Stafford. What was she thinking? Incentives of this type should only be considered to bring a totally new business to Stafford that will provide significant revenue in the form of additional property and sales taxes from outside the county or create a significant number of new jobs. The county considered tax incentives when negotiating with LEGO Land to open a park in Stafford. This was a legitimate use of this strategy.
How do you plan to utilize your skills to address the issues in the previous question?
The key to success as defined by actually getting things done is the ability to build relationships and trust with other board members. Many board members have approached me and said that they know that when I give my word on a particular issue, I mean it. This establishes strong relationships and hard-earned trust. I don’t adhere to the “I’ll take my ball and go home” approach to problem solving. Somewhere in addressing all issues is a solution that will work. I will always work to come up with those solutions.
I have a lifetime history of building relationship, aggressive planning, exhibiting leadership, competent budgeting, working with staff and being a good steward of the taxpayers tax dollars.
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 to deal head on with some of the major problems others have left for you?
At the recent NAACP forum (can be watched on the NAACP facebook page), Ms. Sellers said she doesn’t need to work with the school Board to get things done. Really? I’m not much for endorsements, but one I am proud of is the endorsement I received from every School Board member. The question you should ask yourself is WHY? After trying to work with the incumbent for the last 3-1/2 years compared to their prior dealings with me, they have concluded that we can accomplish much more in making our schools the best they can be with me on the Board of Supervisors. They know we won’t agree on every issue, but I will attend every meeting with an open mind and a focus on getting things done. We are committed to building strong, working relationships and trust. We must move away from issues that have divided us in the past and forge a new vision for the future.
Any final thoughts?
I will be a full-time supervisor, committed to making Stafford a great place to raise our children and grandchildren. There is much work to do, but with proper planning, positive working relationships and leadership, Stafford can be the place we all want it to be. Please vote for me, Mark Dudenhefer, for Garrisonville District Supervisor on November 7th.
It’s important to know what makes your representatives tick. In addition to the above, please watch the following videos that I believe answer that question.
In-State tuition for Active Duty Military personnel
Memorializes Gwyneth Griffin
Thanks to Mr. Dudenhefer for participating in our interview series. If you would like to learn more about Mark, you can visit his webpage at dudenhefer.com or his Facebook page.