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Derrick Wood champions stronger schools, transportation solutions

© Leesburg Today - 05/31/2015

Until a few years ago, Derrick Wood said he was fairly typical of many. He wasn't interested in local politics or municipal government.

The 37-year-old was running his own mobile barbeque catering business. He and his wife were raising three children.

""I was totally apathetic to the local political system, until I had some trouble with my barbeque,"" he said.

Wood had come to an agreement with a Dumfries business owner to set up his Dyvine BBQ In Motion in her parking lot.

That ended when he was a given a ""cease and desist"" notice from the town.

He attended his first Dumfries Town Council meeting to find out why. He learned there wasn't an ordinance addressing mobile food vendors at all and little was being done about it.

That's when he decided to run for town council. He lost his first race, but in 2012 he won a seat during a special election. In 2014, he won again, this time for a full four-year term.

""My whole life has been about service. I served in the Marine Corps. I serve people barbeque through my business. Now I serve on the Dumfries Town Council,"" Wood said.

He decided he wants to make a bigger impact.

""I became the solution to my own problem,"" he said.

As a councilmember, he pushed the town to address the mobile food vendor situation. It now has an ordinance that does. Wood, did, however, recuse himself from that vote.

""I wondered how I could become the solution for other problems,"" he said.

Running for the Potomac District seat on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors was his answer. Wood will face Andrea Bailey in the June 9 Democratic Primary. The winner of that contest will challenge long-time Republican incumbent Maureen Caddigan.

Wood announced his candidacy in January and since then has set a goal of knocking on the doors of 200 to 300 Potomac District residents each week.

He said the concern he hears about most from voters is overcrowding in the schools. And, he sees its impact on his children as well when one of them is having a problem with a math and the teacher, with 30 students in the class, doesn't have time to help explain, for example.

He wants to help lead the effort to change that.

Transportation is always a big concern in the county. Wood supports a federal effort led by U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th, to fund a transportation study on bringing Metro to Woodbridge.

""I want to look at transportation options. I know that transportation is key in bringing in commercial revenue that we are lacking in the county,"" he said.

""A strong local school system, behind a strong transportation infrastructure would help bring in more jobs for a strong economy,"" Wood said.

Another issue concerning voters is the continuing decay of the U.S. 1 corridor with its endless outdated strip malls, he said.

""I want to see the zoning laws changed so we can bring in some redevelopment, mixed-use, smart growth,"" he said. ""I want to see a new Potomac and I have a vision based on what I've heard the voters want.""

Wood said he wants to use the experience he has gained on the Dumfries council at the county level.

""I want to get in it and serve up some solutions,"" he said.

Among the accomplishments while serving on the town council, Wood highlights helping to create a revitalization zone which would allow business to get low rate interest loans. He championed creating the Dumfries Parks and Recreation Commission and serves as its chairman. The commission holds an annual concert series, fitness days as well as providing for community gardening. Wood also supported funding a school resource officer at Dumfries Elementary School.

""I think my running for office is sparking interest from a whole new generation, especially among African-American men and women to want to get involved,"" Wood said.

Wood said the lack of diversity on the board of supervisors likely comes from people not being able to relate to local politics.

""I didn't either, until I had a problem,"" Wood said, adding he always encourages black residents to participate in local government. ""Don't just sit around and complain. Become the solution to your own problem.""

Wood served eight years in the Marine Corps. He holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree in Business Management from Stratford University, where he also works as a community and military outreach manager.

Wood was recently named one of the ""Top Leaders Under 40"" by the Virginia Leadership Institute.

For more information, visit http://www.DerrickWood.com.

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