City Council-Alexandria: Lieutenant General (Retired) John R. “Bob” Wood
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City Council-Alexandria: Lieutenant General (Retired) John R. “Bob” Wood

Question & Answer

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Lieutenant General (Retired) John R. “Bob” Wood



Republican

Occupation and relevant experience:

  • US Army (Retired), 36 years
  • Founder, Star Strategies Group, Alexandria small business, 2009 - 2013
  • Senior Executive, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, International, 2013 - Present
  • Community involvement:
  • Member, Alexandria Waterfront Plan Workgroup
  • Co-Founder, Capitol Post (Veteran Service center and Business Incubator, Alexandria)
  • Board member, Old Town Civic Association
  • Board member, The Fairfax Military Retirement Community, Fort Belvoir

Website: WoodforCouncil.com

Email address: woodforcouncil@gmail.com

Twitter handle: @woodcitycouncil

Name three favorite endorsements: Alexandria PAC for Education (Teacher endorsed); Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR); Carlyle C. “Connie” Ring, Former Member of Alexandria City Council, Former Alexandria School Board.

QUESTIONS:

What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?

Restoring trust in city government. We need to rebalance perspectives, representation, and experiences in our City Council. We confront challenges to our collective future from debt, development, business, education, and environment. These challenges can certainly be solved, but not with the same, single set of voices and old set of assumptions and ideas. One way is no way to guide change in today’s complex environment. Too many residents feel ignored, underrepresented, and underserved. The result is decreased engagement and ultimately loss of trust. We need the energy and involvement of our remarkable citizens in active and constructive conversation to evolve the city and build its future. I will listen, consider, understand, and represent all of our city’s residents to the very best of my ability as a respectful, on occasion critical, but always productive member of council in support of our residents.

What distinguishes you from your opponents and why should voters choose you?

In my 36 years of military service and, now, my 6 years in both small and large business, I’ve had the education and experience needed to help Alexandria solve its present problems and build its future. From lieutenant to lieutenant general (3 stars), I led small and quite large organizations, managed entire communities, resolved local to international disputes, and solved complex problems requiring judgment, tact, and innovation. As the Army’s senior strategic planner, I helped change the Army to succeed in the post 9/11 world. I’ve been a School Board President, a University professor at West Point (Economics, Finance), and head of the Army’s Command and General Staff College (staff training for U.S and international officers). In business, I’ve founded a successful small consulting business in Alexandria, a business incubator for veterans, and now manage the largest line of business and revenue for a major non-profit organization working in the Federal information technology space. I bring experience, education, and dedication to support our citizens and our city.

Beyond funding, how else can city government help the school system?

I see three issues facing our Public Schools and several steps to help solve them:

a. Serving the needs of a transient and extremely diverse student population while meeting and advancing education standards for all students.

b. Promoting excellence in education, across all functions, within available resources.

c. Convincing citizens that their “return on investment” of tax revenues in public education is not only sufficient but also increasing.

Diversity in our schools is a driving demographic fact. Understanding student needs requires outreach, counseling, and adaptable education programs. Celebrating excellence in education must match sports reporting in the press. The appearance and condition of our facilities must reflect the city’s care and support for public education. Community contact, conspicuous commitment, and regular communications can affirm the value and quality of our schools. Ultimately, the performance of our schools must be at least as important to the city and its residents as any bond rating or other accolade.

How do you convince citizens that you are truly listening to them even when you have to disagree with them?

The courtesy of an answer is an important first step. A sincere and thoughtful effort to understand the point being made is another step. I find I learn something from every conversation, every citizen, in every aspect of city and community business. If I disagree, it very often is in degree or in some aspect of detail. An explanation of my position is most often inclusive of citizen comments to the amount possible and not dismissive as just wrong.

Any number of economic hiccups beyond the city's control (federal government, economic downturn, etc.) could force re-ordering of city budget priorities. For reductions, which three areas would you turn to first?

a. Redundant management functions across all city entities and city services are natural areas to investigate for potential consolidations and cost savings.

b. Restructured debt obligations and/or reduction of borrowing

c. Delay or extend capital investments and capital intensive replacements

If you were given $1 million to spend any way you would like for the betterment of the city, how would you spend it?

I would invest it in Pre-K schooling, particularly to expand the facilities to support our non-profit educational partners who do so much, for so many, with so little.