After flipping control of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors from a 6-2 Republican majority to a 5-3 Democratic majority, Ann Wheeler, the chairman-elect, said Tuesday’s elections give her hope.
In a press conference Tuesday, Wheeler said she wants to improve the school division, preserve open space in the Rural Crescent, fix roads and bring economic development to the County.
“It’s time we shut the door on divisiveness and negativity, we have a wonderful county, we have wonderful county staff and we have an educated workforce,” Wheeler said. “It’s a great place to live and we’re going to work together so everyone knows that.”
Dozens attended the news conference Wednesday afternoon where Wheeler and fellow Democrats gathered at the county’s McCoart government building. Supervisor Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, was the first African American elected to the board when he won a special election earlier this year, and he ran unopposed on Tuesday.
Angry said he looks forward to working on developing trust. “We’ll have issues we’ll have to address,” he said. “I’m very excited about this opportunity.”
Angry was one of four African Americans elected Tuesday to serve on the board. The others included Andrea Bailey in the Potomac District, Kenny Boddye in the Occoquan District and Margaret Franklin in the Woodbridge District.
“It’s great we can come together and embrace the change,” Bailey said. “So help us to do good. When we’re not doing good, tell us what to do to be better.”
Voter turnout this year was higher than 2015, and Boddye said he still wants to see increased engagement.
“We are the most diverse community in Virginia,” he said. “I appreciate this moment and look forward to working with all of you.”
Franklin said she’s excited and ready to serve as supervisor.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “This won't be easy, it won't be fast, we have to be realistic and set priorities, but I think we can do that if we work together, both Democrats and Republicans, and we really have a full vision of what this county should be. Like my campaign slogan, together we have created a new start. We’re ready to get to work, and you all can trust us.”
Emmitt Fletcher, a Coles District resident since 1979, said it means a lot to him that the board of county supervisors now better reflects the county’s population, which is majority minority.
“I feel like it’s a milestone for the county,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to have these people represent the diversity in the county.”
Fletcher said he looks forward to a brighter future for everyone.
“I would like them to work on campaign promises and be responsible,” he said. “As voters, we’ll hold them accountable.”
Fletcher said he thinks the election results will reflect on the county.
“Prince William will become the best place to live in the U.S.,” he said. “I think it’ll attract more businesses, give people more opportunity to access education. We’re doing that with the election.”
Resident Karyn Trader-Leigh said the results of the election on Tuesday are a signal of what’s to come in the election in 2020. The county has been red in the past and was purple under former President Barack Obama.
“Clearly it went blue,” she said.
The historic changes also mean changes locally.
“I think minority voices will feel like they will be better represented,” she said. “They’ve been under represented. The shift from Corey Stewart is clearly gone.”
She said it will be important to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans and to ensure that no one feels disenfranchised.
Boddye said he wants to look into how to address traffic on Old Bridge Road.
Boddye said the new board’s lived experiences will bring a different kind of understanding of the county to the board.
“If we invest in people and help people, we’ll do the right thing and be better stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Boddye said.