Ahead of the June 9 Democratic primary, The Gazette and Connection solicited responses from each of the candidates vying to move forward to the November election.
Name: Dan Storck
Occupation: Business owner and Mt. Vernon District’s School Board member
Community involvements: Dan’s public service began 25 years ago when he brought his neighborhood together to fix a leaky pool with declining membership. Since then, he’s served many years as a youth coach, PTA president, Good Shepherd Housing Board president and more. He’s been the District’s elected School Board member since 2004.
Family: Wife of 39 years, Deb, and three adult children
Favorite quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” — Abe Lincoln
Q. Approximately half of the county budget is devoted to the local school system. According to the superintendent there is currently a budget gap between what is needed and what the current Board of Supervisors has transferred to them. If elected what steps will you take to deal with what the School Board says is needed to fully fund the needs of the school system?
A. Budgets are statements of principles. I firmly believe that education is the cornerstone for continuing to move our communities forward. Job creation, public safety, development and tourism all rely on quality schools. That is why, as your next supervisor, sufficiently funding our schools will always be my top priority. When we prioritize funding for our schools first, we will be making long-term investments that will create great economic opportunities in our district.
As a School Board member, I have the experience and reputation of bringing folks together and finding creative solutions to solve problems. I’ll use that skill set to make sure that we are identifying and eliminating every duplicated dollar spent, to ensure that we are providing the services that matter for our citizens.
Q. Local property taxes are the primary source of funding for all the county’s needs. The growth of property taxes continues to rise, and is now a source of hardship for low income families and those living on a fixed income. If elected what will you do to deal with the growth of property taxes and the continued reliance on property taxes as a primary source of county government spending?
A. I believe the county is overly reliant on residential property taxes, which does not fairly distribute the tax burden on our residents, especially our seniors, resulting in uneven funding for important investments like schools, public safety and capital improvements. This must change. We must start by growing our businesses and commercial properties’ value, thereby generating increased tax revenues, then diversifying the sources of revenue. l have been a vocal advocate for Virginia giving cities and counties the same taxing authority (cities have more) and giving voters the opportunity to approve a meals tax. I am also an advocate for achieving greater home rule from the state so that we could implement a fairer, more progressive tax system for our residents.
Q. The Mount Vernon District and immediately surrounding region is undergoing a variety of infrastructure pressures as it copes with the needs of a growing population, expansion of Fort Belvoir, and the most significant Route 1 road and mass transit expansion in half a century. If elected, what will your transportation priorities be and how do you propose to fund them?
A. Our transportation issues have to be addressed through short and long-term goals and planning. In the short term, we must continue the Richmond Highway improvements including eliminating the last section of four lane highway, increasing the quality, timeliness and communication improvements necessary for smart bus rapid transit and building public infrastructure that grows private investment. Continued increased funding, expansion and ridership will demonstrate our need, readiness and ability to support the extension of the Yellow Line to Hybla Valley and beyond.
Additionally, the continued renewal and revitalization of the Richmond Highway Corridor is absolutely essential to our success as a district. I will continue to partner with our friends in Lee District to make sure that improvements are made to the highway to alleviate congestion and create more jobs.
Q. Meeting the needs of the low and moderate income population in the Route 1 corridor is a continuing high priority. How do you plan to finance the continuing needs of this population in light of the growing financial pressures on the county budget for all services?
A. Growing businesses and creating jobs is the best way to help our residents, and my plans for growing jobs in Mt. Vernon will make a real difference. However, there are some business that don’t belong on Richmond Highway; payday lenders and auto title loan shops. These places of “business” take advantage of low income residents when they are at their most vulnerable, and I believe that is wrong.
The county and our non-profit community organizations must continue to grow their public-private partnerships. From my experience running a large non-profit human services organization many years ago, being Board President of Good Shepherd Housing and through my work with all these parties on the School Board, I have seen the leverage and power that these complementary organizations can have on the challenges of families and poverty. Giving our residents a “hand-up” and a way forward to self-sufficiency has been most efficiently and effectively done through these county and non-profit partnerships, and I look to expand them further.
Q. The fastest growing minority population in Mount Vernon is senior citizens 55 and older. What steps will you take to support the transportation, housing, and resource needs of this growing seniors population?
A. I strongly support seniors who wish to remain in their homes and believe that our public and private sectors must be harnessed to providing opportunities and support for them and their families to do so. As supervisor, similar to the annual “Education Summit” I started on the School Board, I will hold an annual “Senior Summit” to bring together our seniors, family members, public and private sector organizations to ensure that we are providing the highest levels of support, information and services to our older residents.
Q. Why should voters support you for Mount Vernon supervisor instead of one of the other Democratic candidates?
A. When I see a problem, I bring folks together and we fix it. That has been my record throughout all of my years of public service. When I volunteered to fix up my leaky neighborhood pool, that’s what we did. When I became president of Good Shepherd Housing, that’s what we did.
And I didn’t run for the School Board because I thought it would be easy. I recognized that we faced some stiff challenges; more needy kids, higher testing requirements and less funding, but I felt strongly that I could bring folks together and find solutions. I’ve accomplished a lot in my three terms by operating in that manner. We built South County Middle School ahead of schedule and under budget, we’ve increased resources for STEM initiatives, we’ve greatly expanded job-ready skills certifications for students, and I identified ways to save money by doing more with less — just like we did when my initiative, Smart Services, Smart Savings, saved $1 million by sharing services with the Board of Supervisors.
With my Masters in Business Administration, broad community and board relationships, governing and budgeting knowledge, I am ready from day one to advocate for the residents of Mt. Vernon District and make sure that we get our fair share. I ask for your vote on June 9.