City Council-Alexandria: Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet
0
Votes

City Council-Alexandria: Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet

Question & Answer

photo

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet



Republican

Age: N/A

Education including degrees and institutions: BS Engineering, West Point; MS Public Administration, Shippensburg State College, PA

Offices held, dates: None

Occupation and relevant experience: President of Van Fleet Associates a Governmental Relations Company based in Alexandria; Company founded in 1981

Community involvement: President, Old Town Civic Association (3 years), Member Waterfront Commission (8 Years) , Board Member of the Federation of Civic Associations (15 Years)

Website: www.vanisyourman.com

Email address: van@vanisyourman.com; vmgthehill@aol.com

Twitter handle: twitter.com/vanisyourman

Name three favorite endorsements: Bob Wood, Monique Miles and Fernando Torrez

QUESTIONS:

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

Our debt has ballooned 300% in the past 10 years, from $130 to $540 million. We have a yearly debt service of $66 million, which will jump to $80 million when the Potomac Yard Metro Station development occurs. Our AAA bond rating could be in jeopardy, as we have massive infrastructure costs projected for our schools and for our combined sewer system. The City's Five Year Projection estimates that the debt will increase an additional $128 million and property taxes will rise 21% by 2020. This is only sustainable if property values continue to increase. A complete efficiency and effectiveness audit of all the city’s financial accounts is absolutely necessary.

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

I am a 30-year Alexandria resident. I am a 23-year Army Veteran. After graduating from West Point I served in a number of assignments throughout the US, Germany and Vietnam. I am currently the President of Van Fleet Associates, an Alexandria based governmental relations firm. I am very adept at reaching across the aisle and working with other parties and individuals representing the other side of the arguments on a vast number of issues. I have served 3 years as the President of the Old Town Civic Association, eight years as a member of the Waterfront Commission, and 15 years on the Board of the Federation of Civic Associations where I was served as the Vice Chair.

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

Council Members need to be proactive in pushing for excellence in our schools. Early education is an absolute must along with smaller classes and apprenticeship programs. The scholarship apprenticeship program my campaign instituted during this election cycle is a terrific model for teaching high school seniors how the inner workings of their local political system and government operate. In the future, all candidates for Council should consider using this program. When elected, I will work very closely with our School Board members to help insure that our Alexandria schools are academically on the top rung in all of Northern Virginia.

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

From my many years of being active participant in monitoring our local government, I have learned that the most effective and innovative ideas originate from the citizens. Alexandria is one of the most educated cities in the U.S. Our citizens possess a vast amount of knowledge on just about every subject matter imaginable. Therefore, It would be an extremely rare instance that I might disagree with the positions postulated by the citizens residing in one of our numerous neighborhoods. This Council has failed miserably to adequately address the many needs and desires of the citizens in almost every neighborhood thus making poor decisions regarding a myriad of issues throughout the entire city.

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?

That is why an efficiency and effectiveness audit is so important. When former Governor Wilder chaired a commission to do a complete state-wide efficiency and effectiveness audit, his group was asked to identify permanent and sustainable savings. In response, the Wilder Commission pinpointed over $3 billion in accounts receivable that were not collectible and $1.3 billion in inefficiencies. On a smaller scale, Alexandria needs to replicate what the State has done. The purpose of the audit needs to be widely disseminated from the start, and the audit should include at least the following: identification of redundant and ineffective services; streamlining and consolidating agencies and programs; reviewing use of technology to improve service delivery and to reduce costs; and lastly, identifying and recommending management tools in order to make the services more efficient.

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

Our safety net is the most important city service provided to our citizens. At present the Alexandria Police Department (APD) is under staffed. That affects each and every one of us daily as we look to them to provide us with protection against not only against violent crimes but also in insuring our streets are safe and trafficable.