2nd Annual Tour de Mount Vernon 36-Mile Bike Ride

Saturday 11/04 at 8:30 am – Workhouse Arts Center to Mt. Vernon

Supervisor Storck is hosting a 36 mile bike ride in and around Lorton. Please take a look at the link below and sign up to join the ride!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tour-de-mount-vernon-tickets-37870732380?aff=affiliate

2nd Annual Tour de Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck invites you to join him for a community bike ride on Saturday November 4, 2017, at 8:30 am- starting and ending at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

The Mount Vernon District is home to many cultural and environmental resources and the ride will provide an opportunity to visit some of its hidden treasures. Here is a link to the route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/25850969

  • Route Highlights:
  • Workhouse Arts Center (ride starts and end here by Bldg. 11)
  • Woodlawn and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House
  • Pohick Bay Regional Park
  • George Mason’s Gunston Hall
  • Mason Neck State Park – The country’s first bald eagle preservation refuge
  • Liberty Crest at Laurel Hill – Adaptive re-use of the former Lorton Prison

The Tour de Mount Vernon will bring cyclists on a 35-mile ride on paved trails, and in a few areas, the ride will be on the road, with safety monitors along the route. This will be a fun ride with some challenging sections on the route. And, to add to the fun, you can collect “poker cards” at specific locations that will qualify you for prize drawings at the end.

Grab your bike friends and family to ride this scenic route, enjoy the outdoors, and the find the hidden treasures of the Mount Vernon District.

Registration:

Fee is $20.00 per rider. You must pre-register by Oct 30.
No walk-up registrations are permitted.
We require a first name and last name for each ticket.
Event is rain or shine, see policies below.
Registration includes Mt. Vernon Socks and a $5 donation to Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling

Volunteers:

Volunteers are needed the day before and day of the ride! Log on to sign up here:
If you plan to volunteer you do not need to complete a registration via Eventbrite.

Policies:

  1. NO REFUNDS due to event cancellation or if the purchaser cannot attend the event. Event is rain or shine.
  2. NO TRANSFERS of registration to other riders
  3. Children 15 and older welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Experienced riders only, please.
  4. Helmets are required for the ride, no exceptions
  5. SAG support courtesy of SPOKES. Mobile Maintenance and flat repair courtesy of Wheel Nuts.
  6. You’ll be required to sign a liability waiver on the day of the ride.

Agenda on Ride Day:

* 7.45 – 8.30 am Packet pick-up at (includes rider #, Map, Socks)
* 8.30 – 9.00 am Riders roll for group start
* 11:30 am – 1:30 pm – Ride complete. Food, Fun, and Prizes at Workhouse Arts Center

Contact: Sue Bernstein Susan.conway@fairfaxcounty.gov or 703-780-7518 at Mt. Vernon District.

Mount Vernon: Crowd Fills Candidate Forum

Mount Vernon Gazette

Tim Peterson

Without an incumbent running for Mount Vernon District supervisor, the candidates meet and greet event at the Sherwood Regional Library was understandably crowded. Republican Jane Gandee is running against Democratic primary winner Dan Storck to replace longtime supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), who announced he would not seek re-election last year.

The League of Women Voters hosted the debate on Sept. 16; it’s one of numerous such events taking place across the Fairfax County leading up to the November election.

Each candidate was given several minutes for opening statements, then each had about a minute to respond to questions submitted by the audience. Some questions were directed at specific candidates, not giving their opponent a chance to respond, while others elicited a response from both candidates.

On the supervisor side, Gandee touted her business acumen as owner of a ServiceMaster National Capital Restoration franchise, as well as her community leadership: serving on the Rising Hope Mission Church board and as vice president of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce.

Storck has served several terms as Mount Vernon School Board representative, but also highlighted his own medical service business.

To replace Storck on the School Board, Karen Corbett Sanders, a former vice president at Verizon and Parent-Teacher Student Association president for West Potomac High School, is facing W. Anthony Stacy, who works for Booz Allen Hamilton and served as chief of staff for The Nature Conservancy’s philanthropy department.

In light of the meeting two days earlier of the Fairfax County ad hoc commission to review police policies, several of the questions for the supervisor candidates dealt with the death of Natasha McKenna and whether there should be independent civilian oversight for the police and sheriff’s departments.

“I think we have to make significant changes,” Storck said. “I’m committed to whatever the task force recommends, but I haven’t decided about an oversight board yet. I have no objection, but I want to see the task force response first.”

Gandee and Storck both attended the commission’s public forum at Walt Whitman Middle School, where protesters demanded justice for McKenna, the 37-year-old woman who died in February after she was forced into shackles and tasered four times by Sheriff’s deputies in an attempt to transport her to Alexandria police.

“It was probably three of the most difficult hours of my life,” Gandee said, referring to the forum. “It was distressing, there was some confusion and blame placed on the Board of Supervisors, while she was with the Sheriff’s department.”

The School Board candidates each fielded a number of questions about the $100 million projected budget shortfall the school system is facing, the recent addition of gender identity to school nondiscrimination policy and changes to the Family Life Education curriculum.

“Reading, writing and arithmetic should always be at the core of what children learn,” Stacy said. He added he doesn’t think there is “social engineering” at the core of Family Life Education and “parents should have the option to opt out.”

Corbett Sanders responded that the Family Life Education curriculum is “very full and there’s an opportunity for parents to read it before it’s taught — if they’re not comfortable then they can opt out.” Sanders commented on her Catholic faith, saying that it doesn’t compel her to “dictate to others.”

For both alleviating the financial crisis with Fairfax County Public Schools and improving transit along the Route 1 corridor, all four candidates agreed on the need to bring more businesses to the area, develop private partnerships with the schools and seek more money from the state of Virginia.

After the question-and-answer session was over, residents had a chance to meet with candidates one on one.

“I thought they did very well,” said John Tolleris of Mount Vernon. “I was impressed with all the candidates.”

Allyson Carter is president of the Walt Whitman Middle School parent teacher association and recently moved to the Mount Vernon area. “I enjoyed the opportunity to hear them speak, it was very beneficial,” she said. “My impressions were they were very well prepared, with a lot of knowledge and experience.”

Dan Storck Kicks Off Campaign for Mount Vernon District Supervisor

Adam Ebbin, Dan Storck, Joana Garcia, Karen Corbett Sanders
Adam Ebbin, Dan Storck, Joana Garcia, Karen Corbett Sanders

Storck gathered with supporters at Hallowing Point Pavilion in Mason Neck.

Patch.com

Mary Ann Barton

Dan Storck kicked off his campaign last weekend to represent the Mount Vernon District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, according to his campaign.

Storck gathered with supporters at Hallowing Point Pavilion in Mason Neck.

The campaign thanked the following people for helping with the campaign kick-off: Anne and Linwood Gorham, Tim and Barbara Rizer, Kimberly and John Kern, Christine and Christopher Morin, Kim and John Pionzio, Diana and Jim York, Missy and Keith Salisbury, and Carol Corso and Kim Winnard

Campaign Kickoff at Mason Neck

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and support this weekend’s past kickoff event. It was a fun event at Hallowing Point Pavilion in Mason Neck. A special thank you as well to our host committee whose efforts were vital to the success of the event: Anne and Linwood Gorham, Tim and Barbara Rizer, Kimberly and John Kern, Christine and Christopher Morin, Kim and John Pionzio, Diana and Jim York, Missy and Keith Salisbury, and Carol Corso and Kim Winnard.

If you have any photos from the event that you’d like to share, please email the campaign at info@danstorck.org.

Lorton and Mount Vernon: Bennett Joins Former Opponent Storck’s Supervisor Campaign

Mount Vernon Gazette

Tim Peterson

She didn’t beat him and now she’s joining him. Nearly two months since Dan Storck won the Democratic primary election for Mount Vernon District supervisor, his campaign announced former opposing candidate Candice Bennett has joined up as the Storck team’s director of communications.

Storck, who represents Mount Vernon on the Fairfax County school board, is running to fill the seat being left by supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), who has said he will be retiring after serving since 1988.

“I am joining Dan’s campaign because I believe that as supervisor, Dan will work on the issues that are most important to our district,” Bennett said in a statement, “including empowering our seniors to age in place, revitalizing the historic Route 1 corridor and increasing educational opportunities by fully funding our schools.”

Bennett is based in Lorton, where she runs a multiple-industry research and consulting firm.

In a statement, Storck said Bennett “brings an important voice and perspective to our communications.”

“It was a hard-fought primary and I think it shows our district that the Democratic Party is united to win this race in November,” he added.

Debate Set for Candidates for Mount Vernon District Supervisor Seat

Republican Jane Gandee to debate Democrat Daniel Storck. Winner in November will represent area on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Lorton Patch

Mary Ann Barton

Mount Vernon District Supervisor candidates Dan Storck and Jane Gandee will debate the issues Sept. 16 at Sherwood Regional Library.

The debate is set for Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the League of Women Voters. The library is located at 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane.

Gandee, a Republican, has raised $52,988 ($33,323 from the candidate and $9,937 from her company, ServiceMaster); Storck, a Democrat, has raised $115,079 ($92,510 from the candidate).

In other campaign news, the Dan Storck for Supervisor campaign announced today that former Democratic candidate Candice Bennett has joined the campaign as director of Communications.

The seat is currently held by Gerry Hyland, a Democrat who is retiring after serving on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors 1988. The Mount Vernon district includes Lorton, Belvoir, Newington and Huntington.

“I am joining Dan’s campaign because I believe that as supervisor, Dan will work on the issues that are most important to our district, including empowering our seniors to age in place, revitalizing the historic Route 1 corridor and increasing educational opportunities by fully funding our schools,” said Candice Bennett. “During the primary I had the chance to get to know Dan and I know he will carry on Supervisor Hyland’s legacy. ”

A successful small business owner, Bennett has operated a research and consulting firm based in Lorton for more than 10 years that provides high-level strategy to a wide range of clients in a variety of industries, including consumer electronics, financial services, academia, hospitality, industry associations and professional membership organizations. Prior to starting her firm, Bennett was a director at Penn, Schoen and Berland, a Democratic polling firm in Washington, D.C., where she worked with a wide range of clients, including the Democratic National Committee and Tim Kaine for Lieutenant Governor.

“I’m thrilled that Candice has joined our campaign as she brings an important voice and perspective to our communications,” said Storck. “It was a hard-fought primary, and I think it shows our district that the Democratic Party is united to win this race in November. I look forward to working with her.”

Dan Storck won the Democratic Primary on June 9. He has lived with his wife and children in the Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County for more than 25 years. He has served the community as a successful healthcare entrepreneur, the president of three non-profit community development organizations, a youth coach and for the past 12 years, representing the Mount Vernon District on the Fairfax County School Board.

Dan Storck Wins Mount Vernon District Supervisor Democratic Primary

Storck will face Republican Jane Gandee in fall election.

Mary Ann Barton

It appears that Dan Storck has won the Democratic primary in the Mount Vernon District Board of Supervisors race, according to final tallies from the state Board of Elections Web site.

Storck has represented the area on the Fairfax County School Board. Unofficial results show that he garnered 2,616 votes; his closest competitor in the race was Timothy Sargeant who came in with 2,437 votes.

Storck took 67 absentee votes; Sargeant took 82.

Vying for the seat, after the announced retirement of longtime Supervisor Gerry Hyland, were:

  • Daniel G. “Dan” Storck
  • Candice L. Bennett
  • Timothy J. Sargeant
  • John R. “Jack” Dobbyn, Jr.

Sargeant sits on the Fairfax County Planning Commissioner and Storck currently serves on the Fairfax County School Board.

Hyland, a Democrat who has held the seat since 1988, announced his retirement earlier this year from the county board of supervisors.

The Mt. Vernon District includes Lorton, Belvoir, Newington and Gunston.

Check back with Patch after the polls close.

Fairfax County Supervisor Gross fights off challenger in Democratic primary

Washington Post

Antonio Olivo

Longtime Fairfax County Superviser Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason) fought off a spirited challenger in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, while county school board member Dan Storck beat out three other candidates for the nomination to succeed retiring Supervisor Gerald L. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon).

With all results in, Gross, 71, secured 56 percent of the 5,095 votes cast, according to unofficial results. Her challenger, Jessica Swanson, 31, got 44 percent.

Gross, who is running for a sixth term, raised more than twice as much money overall for the campaign as Swanson, a D.C. public schools administrator.

But in the last quarter, Swanson outraised Gross nearly four to one, mostly due to a large donation from Leadership for Educational Equity, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that helps teachers and other educators run for public office.

She used the money to hammer Gross for her support of a redevelopment plan in the Seven Corners area of the district that local residents worry will create too much housing density and traffic while displacing low-income immigrants.

Swanson also criticized Gross for supporting county budgets that fell short of what Fairfax school officials say they need to meet growing demands in the school system of 187,000 students.

Gross characterized Swanson as a political neophyte who represented outsider interests more than local community concerns. She also trumpeted her success in bringing three new schools to the district during her 19 years in office.

Gross’s victory was closer than she initially expected.

“I’m trying to take a deep breath,” she said after the results were in. “I’m thrilled to win. I think we proved that the high-road campaign that I always try to run carried the day and people in the Mason District realized they have a good supervisor with a lot of experience who told the truth.”

Gross will face independent Mollie Loefler, 45, in the November general election.

In the Mount Vernon district, Storck, 61, won 44 percent of the 5,698 votes cast, according to unofficial results. His closest competitor, county planning commissioner Tim Sargeant, grabbed 40 percent of the vote.

Storck focused his campaign on bringing new development to the district’s busy Route 1 corridor, alleviating traffic along that thoroughfare and creating more workforce housing in the district.

He said he believes his call for more support for Fairfax schools resonated with the district’s voters.

“I think people recognize our schools are in need of better support,” he said, vowing to push for more funding from the county if he wins in the November general election. “When you’re funding schools at 2008 levels and your kids who are coming in are needier than ever before and the state continues to raise your standards, something has got to give. I don’t see how we have an alternative.”

Sargeant and the other losing candidates — county human service council member Jack Dobbyn and local business owner Candice Bennett — focused on similar themes in the district that includes the Fort Belvoir military complex and stretches from Mount Vernon south into Lorton.

Storck will face Republican nominee Jane Gandee in the November general election.

4 Democrats compete in Fairfax’s sometimes divided Mount Vernon district

Washington Post

Antonio Olivo

The Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County is physically divided by the sprawling Fort Belvoir military base, a sort of modern-day Mason-Dixon Line in an area that is sometimes at odds with itself.

To the north and to the south, civic groups function apart from one another, clashing at times over who gets more resources and more desirable development and who has more problems with traffic and other suburban ills.

With Gerald W. Hyland (D), the county supervisor who has represented Mount Vernon for nearly three decades, preparing to retire, four Democrats will compete in a June 9 primary for the chance to represent an area that can feel like two distinct districts.

The candidates all say that they want to unite Mount Vernon and boost quality of life for all residents. But they have different ideas for how to do it.

Local business owner Candice Bennett calls for workforce housing. County Human Services Council member Jack Dobbyn says he wants high-density development that will draw sought-after retail. Fairfax County School Board member Daniel G. Storck (Mount Vernon) talks about bringing health-care workers to live near two major hospitals. And Planning Commissioner Tim Sargeant says the unevenly developed Route 1 corridor must be improved — but not remade into a poor imitation of Reston or Tysons Corner.

At political forums in recent weeks, the candidates agreed with residents who complained of deteriorating sewer lines and other infrastructure, troubled schools and a sense that the district was falling behind other parts of the county.

“Fairfax County is on the rise; it’s growing,” Dobbyn, 33, said. “But it feels like we’re in the shade somehow. We need to take the shade off of Mount Vernon and move forward together.”

Hyland has represented Mount Vernon since 1988, ushering in improvements that include plans for a $188- million mixed-income development on the site of the former Lorton prison.

During that time, the district in southeastern Fairfax has changed from a quiet community with breathtaking views of the Potomac River and historic tourist attractions — including George Washington’s estate — to a fast-growing area of 127,000 residents beset by unevenly performing schools, clogged roads and pockets of poverty.

The district stretches south from Alexandria into Lorton. Its voters have consistently backed Democratic candidates — including President Obama during both of his presidential campaigns — and the winner of the upcoming primary will have that advantage in November’s general election against Republican nominee Jane Gandee.

Hyland has not endorsed any of the candidates and did not respond to requests for comment on the election. Civic groups say that the area’s complex needs require a strong leader to fill his shoes.

“There’s a huge divide in this district,” said Nick Firth, president of the South County Federation, a Lorton-based group of homeowners and civic associations. “One big question for the next person is: ‘How are you going to handle the relationship between the two parts?’”

Bennett and Sargeant live in the district’s southern section. Dobbyn and Storck are residents of the north. All four candidates said they want balanced development and vowed to focus more on Route 1, which straddles the Mount Vernon and Lee districts and is the area’s main commercial corridor — and another source of divide. While recently opened shopping centers on the Lee side thrum with activity, the aging businesses and car title loan companies on the Mount Vernon side are far less appealing for residents.

A massive road-widening project near Fort Belvoir is supposed to eventually ease congestion along Route 1 and open up new development opportunities. There is a plan to build 329 apartments and 144 townhouses on 33 acres lining the highway, which has sparked a debate over affordable housing and density in the area — already home to three trailer-park communities and to schools that have among the county’s highest proportions of students on free and reduced-price lunches, an indicator of poverty.

Holly Dougherty, executive director of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses worry about an over-concentration of poverty without enough resources or jobs to serve low-income residents.

“We all feel the need to help people,” Dougherty said. “But you get to a point where you’re not helping people when you’re putting them into schools that are failing or areas where there is no employment.”

Sargeant, 60, says his 13 years as a county planning commissioner will help him bring new energy to the area. “We’re not going to be Tysons or going to be Reston,” Sargeant said. “It will be our version of that kind of new development for the future of the Route 1 corridor.”

Storck, 61, who co-founded a Washington-based health group that offers holistic care to patients, said he wants to market new housing to people who work at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital and the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital for military veterans.

“There’s an opportunity to attract people with those skills,” Storck said. “These are underutilized, underdeveloped assets of Mount Vernon.”

Bennett, 39, said she wants to create more workforce housing for teachers, firefighters and police officers. “They need to live close to where they work, but how do they do that on their salaries?” said Bennett, who owns a marketing research company for businesses and nonprofit groups.

Dobbyn — who owns a social media marketing company for real estate agents — said he supports higher density development to lure restaurants and retail stores that voters say they want. “That’s what they’re looking for: population density,” Dobbyn said about new businesses. “People who have money to buy their products.”

But in some of Fairfax County’s oldest neighborhoods, such talk brings additional worries. Sabrina Campbell, who lives near Washington’s estate, said the aging sewer lines in her neighborhood are becoming overburdened, leading to floods outside her house during heavy rains.

“A lot of the infrastructure that we have is severely lacking and behind,” Campbell said during a recent candidates’ forum.

Storck said that voters are upset by signs of disrepair in the area. “There’s a lot of pride in Mount Vernon, and people see with their own eyes how it’s changing,” he said.

Gale McBrien, who recently moved back to her home in a leafy neighborhood after years of living in Mexico, said she was surprised by the levels of poverty in some portions of Mount Vernon and the hulking McMansions that have been erected in other parts.

“This is not the same community I left,” McBrien said one recent day after Bennett knocked on her door in search of a vote. “So much has changed.”

Mount Vernon: Candidates Seek Primary Victory

At forums, four candidates seek to differentiate themselves.

Mount Vernon Gazette

Jerry Fill

Mount Vernon residents have not experienced such intense political competition to choose a Democratic nominee for an elected local office in a generation. The reason: Democratic Supervisor Gerry Hyland’s decision to retire after 28 years in office. 

The open seat on the Board of Supervisors has attracted four Democratic candidates with a variety of backgrounds and experience. Candice Bennett, a resident since 2008 and a business consultant, lives in the Lorton area and this is her first run for elected office. Jack Dobbyn, a native son, attorney and Woodlawn youth league coach is a self-employed businessman and current advisory committee appointee of Hyland’s. Previous to this he ran unsuccessfully against Republican Del. David Albo of Springfield. Tim Sargeant, a current Hyland appointee to the Fairfax County Planning Commission, works in community relations for Dominion Power. He lists among his accomplishments playing a central role in the Lorton area redevelopment and having a hand in developing the plans for numerous other development projects throughout the county over the years. Dan Storck is a small business owner and the current elected Mount Vernon District representative to the Fairfax County School Board.

This past week these four candidates took time out from campaigning to participate in not one but two debates just a few days apart, signaling that the heavily contested Democratic primary election is just around the corner — on June 9. 

First, the candidates attended a Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate at the Belle Haven Country Club on May 14. After brief introductions, candidates responded to written questions prepared by the Chamber members in advance. 

All four candidates supported placing a meals tax on the ballot as a referendum, although Bennett said she objected to the tax. The current Board of Supervisors has already turned down Hyland’s Meals Tax proposal; therefore, it will not appear on the ballot this fall. 

Sargeant, similar to the others, supports affordable housing in the North Hill area but added that he would want to be assured that sufficient transportation and other infrastructure was in place or planned prior to approving a plan for affordable housing. 

When asked if they would work full-time as a supervisor if elected, each said they would keep their present jobs, Sargeant at a part time level, Dobbyn and Storck work for themselves and have flexibility to adjust their schedules. Bennett said if elected she would work full-time as a supervisor. 

A question came up from the audience about lack of adequate senior citizen transportation services that threatened seniors to go into a seniors facilities and prevented them from aging in place in their homes. All conceded this was a need but a complicated issue. Storck suggested that more attention should be given to co-locating of services, and use Uber transportation. Dobbyn stressed the need to develop or redevelop communities that are more walkable, and to promote ridesharing as an option. Sargeant also stressed the need to plan more walkable communities through improved community planning. 

Widening Route 1 came up as a concern that it has the potential to wipe out some small businesses. Would the candidates support an economic impact analysis as part of the widening planning? All supported such an analysis while also saying they support moving forward without delay in the Route 1 widening effort. 

In their closing remarks each provided the audience with their personal brand of experience that they viewed as what best qualified each of them for the job of supervisor. Bennett approached the qualifications from the point of view that she is a newcomer but will not be looking to the past for answers and will be a creative thinker. Her proposed partnering with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to award small business incubator micro grants. 

Dobbyn, a lifetime resident who lives with his wife and children in an area where his daughter attends a school with classroom trailers and is in need of upgrading, made the case that improving the academic performance of his daughter’s school and the other schools in the region would be a very high priority. He added, win or lose, he said is here to stay and is committed to helping the Mountt Vernon community long term. 

Storck, who has stood for election successfully several times as Mount Vernon representative on the Fairfax County School Board said that he is dedicated to the community, having raised his children here and has been working for many years in the school system first as a PTSA leader and a youth league coach and then as a School Board member. He said his success as a leader on the School Board has saved the taxpayers money and promoted innovative approaches to education programs, and demonstrates that he will be an effective supervisor who will get things done. 

Sargeant pointed to his many years on the Planning Commission and his record of community leadership in a variety of planning projects such as the Laurel Hill development area among several other development projects. He expressed his concern that seven Mount Vernon schools of the 17 schools county-wide not fully accredited were within the Mount Vernon District and that it would be one of his top priorities to turn the schools around and restore them to full academic accreditation. He also committed to establishing a satellite office for the School Board member in his own governmental center office so that the two of them could more closely collaborate on strategies to improve the academic performance of the Mount Vernon schools. 

Storck countered then and several days later at the Democratic Committee debate that the problems require more money and teachers to improve academic performance. He argued that turning around these schools is far more complex than it might appear. 

Two days later, at the Democratic Committee Political Forum, this issue was raised once again. Dobbyn, and Sargeant both weighed in on the issue and said improving these seven schools would be a high priority on their agenda if they were elected supervisor. In response, Storck said timprovement is definitely needed and repeated that more money is needed to improve and expand teaching programs at these seven schools.

At the Democratic Committee debate, a list of nine questions was prepared prior to the debate by the debate organizers. The moderator, Kris Amundsen, kept tight control on time. The bulk of the attention was devoted to six questions as follows:

  • Did the candidates support the creation of an independent citizen police oversight board? Three of the candidates support creating an oversight board, the fourth, Storck, said he would await the recommendations of the current ad hoc police practices commission before deciding. Attention has been devoted to this issue since 2009 when the police shot and killed an unarmed victim, David Masters, who was fleeing the police following the theft of flowers from a store on Route 1. Masters was shot and killed while sitting in his car near the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Route 1. This police shooting and several other police shootings, including a recent shooting of an unarmed Springfield man, John Geer, prompted the Board of Supervisors, facing mounting criticism, to form an Ad Hoc Police Practices Commission. The commission is now reviewing police policies and practices and is scheduled to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in October.
  • Reacting to a quote from the superintendent of schools that “we cannot cut our way to excellence,” each candidate was asked to respond to what they would do about the budget shortfall in school funds if elected. Each had a slightly different take on the strategy; but all conceded that financially shortchanging the school system was a bad idea and they supported full funding. The discussion, directly and indirectly, focused on the poor performing schools in Mount Vernon. All the candidates believed that the county has to do something about providing additional money for education. Focus was on addressing the small contribution from the state due to a state allocation funding formula that punishes the county and candidates said that it should be revised. Sargeant also referred to the need for improved collaboration with the School Board.
  • Would the candidates support a meals tax; increase in property taxes; and/or state authority to tax other sources such as a sales tax on non-food items. All four candidates supported a referendum on the meals tax. Bennett supported placing it on the ballot but said she personally did not support a meals tax. All the candidates supported looking for alternative sources of funding. 

In the two debates, the candidates generally agreed on the greatest overarching issues facing Mount Vernon: the county’s financial strains and over-reliance on property taxes, the need to turn around the poor performing public schools in Mount Vernon, and the need to continue the momentum to widen Route 1 and extend mass transit programs to cope with the traffic mess. 

June 9 is the date of the primary election to determine who will be the Democratic nominee on the ballot in the November general election. Virginia primary elections are open to all, whether a Democrat, Republican, or independent .