Transportation and Growth
In the last thirty years, Chesterfield has grown in population from 175,256 to over 343,000 people. Our community has grown not only in population but also in its diversity. Community members now must face traffic that rivals northern Virginia during the morning and afternoon commutes. The Powhite Parkway extension needs to be built to relieve traffic congestion on 360. Transportation is a major issue and I will be committed to working with residents of the community, county staff and members of the General Assembly to find and implement solutions for Chesterfield. I pledge to work collectively with school board, community members, and county staff to better prioritize infrastructure projects.
Education and Schools
Chesterfield County has excelled through the years in providing a quality education for our children. Planning and managing the growth of the school infrastructure is equally as important as a good countywide comprehensive development plan. We need to ensure we are funding new construction in the areas of growth in the County while we maintain existing facilities at a high level. I will also listen to the concerns of our community members and the teacher’s association. Chesterfield County needs to establish a salary structure that will attract and retain great teachers.
I have said many times over the years what good does it do to build the best schools, roads, shops, and parks if people don’t feel safe. The police, sheriff, fire, and ambulance services provide the central core of government services. Since 2008, the police department has hired 475 officers and had 439 officers leave employment for a variety of reasons such as retirement and involuntary separations. In the same time frame, 154 officers left employment to seek other jobs that offered better pay and benefits. The cost to recruit and train one officer is $131,000.00. We spent over 20 million dollars to train 154 officers and then they left to work somewhere else. There is a recruitment problem in public safety across the United States. Providing an environment where the employee feels appreciated for their service is essential no matter what business you’re in.
Over the years, I have often heard candidates say they want to be the champion for public safety. This promise usually changes once they get elected due to conflicting priorities. Where were they when we were fighting for an increase in pay and benefits or when healthcare was taken away? Have you seen them at any public safety events? They have lived here in our community, but never spoke up. Now that they are running for office, they will promise anything.
I have served my community as a volunteer firefighter for 7 years, a police officer for 32 years and had the honor of serving as the President of the Chesterfield Fraternal Order of Police and the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police. As Legislative Chairman, I worked with local, state and federal elected officials on legislative and budgetary matters that impacted the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.
In 2007, I lobbied in the General Assembly to pass SB1166 to increase the retirement multiplier for police, fire and sheriffs from 1.7 to 1.85%. The retirement multiplier had not been increased since 1990.
In 2012, Senator John Watkins introduced SB498 to create a Hybrid retirement plan. I fought against the passage on behalf of all public safety with other organizations and we were able to stop the General Assembly from changing the retirement plan for from defined benefit to the hybrid defined contribution plan.
In 2015, Delegate Jones carried HB2204 which was sold to public safety as an improvement of the Line of Duty Act. After the legislation passed, widows of our fallen police officers were notified that if they were to remarry they would permanently lose their line of duty benefits. Survivors, the FOP and other public safety lobbyists we were able to grandfather in the survivors of fallen public safety if they had remarried by July 1, 2017.
I spoke in front of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors against taking retirement health care away from all county employees. I lobbied to have the Board of Supervisors set aside 6.5 million dollars in a retirement health care trust fund to provide a health care retirement stipend for county employees who would be eligible and grandfathered to keep the healthcare they were promised when they were hired. The fund was created and still exists today.
I have participated in three studies for police pay during my career. These studies resulted in providing pay increases to match surrounding localities and a career development track. These tracks provide a way for officers who do not want to move up in rank, but can be compensated for years of service.
Since 2000, I have served on the Police Memorial Committee organizing and participating in our Police Memorial Service held each year in May. This committee also designed, funded and oversaw construction of the memorial to honor the Chesterfield County Police officers killed in the line of duty. The memorial is located on the grounds of the 1917 Historic Courthouse on Rt. 10.
Chesterfield provides a Peer Support program for our police officers as an alternative before stress negatively affects them on the job or at home. These police officers are trained by mental health care professionals to listen, provide support, assistance or referrals when needed. As a Peer Support Team member, I provided this care to our officers for 16 years.
If you honor with me with your vote, I will continue to be the voice for public safety and all county employees. I believe actions speak louder than words. The first duty of our government, be it local or federal, is to keep us safe. The Board of Supervisors needs a public safety perspective and I am the only candidate to provide it.