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Transportation, education and homelessness top Bailey’s priority list

© Leesburg Today - 05/31/2015

Andrea Bailey says she's ready to represent the Potomac District on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors because of her diverse experiences -- as a corporate sales executive, small-business owner, military spouse and community volunteer.

But in addition to all of that, by running for local elected office, Bailey recently told a group of supporters, ""I came into my purpose.""

""I've been a community supporter, giving back, I was raised that way,"" Bailey said in speech delivered at a March event. ""But there's something about when you come into your purpose and you know that it's the calling God has on your life. You cannot refuse that purpose.""

Also, Bailey said she's convinced the county board, which has never had a black supervisor, needs a broader perspective.

""I made the decision [to run] … because I realized … that the board of supervisors in Prince William County needs to represent the complexion, the comprehension, the servitude of this majority-minority community.""

""It's the right thing to do,"" she added. ""Because this county board of supervisors needs to have someone who can stretch across the board and talk to anybody, understand the plight of anyone and serve.""

Bailey, 60, is the first black woman in recent memory, and likely ever, to run for Prince William's board, which has only attracted only a small number of minority candidates over the years.

She's vying to replace longtime Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, a Republican, who was elected to her post in 1991.

But before she competes with Caddigan in the Nov. 3 general election, Bailey faces fellow Democrat Derrick Wood, a Town of Dumfries councilman, in the June 9 primary. Wood, 37, is also black.

Bailey said her top four issues in the race are transportation, homelessness and human services, education and economic development.

Bailey said residents spend too much time commuting to work and supports extending Metro rail to Prince William and improving the local commuter bus system.

Bailey also wants to address overcrowded schools and would like to ""eradicate"" the county's ""tent cities"" by offering better services and solutions for homeless residents.

Bailey hasn't yet offered many specifics about how she'd accomplish those goals, other than to say county leaders need to focus more attention on such problems and reach out to nonprofits, local businesses and state or federal agencies for help.

Bailey says she believes she can be ""a catalyst of change"" on the board in building new partnerships. As an example, she cited a recent effort to connect Potomac High and Henderson Elementary, both Potomac District schools, with surplus computers available through the General Services Administration.

Bailey said such programs help bridge the digital divide among county students.

""I think it's essential that all children are provided equal footing when it comes to their education,"" Bailey said.

Bailey also said she'd push to expand mental health services and other supports needed to transition homeless residents out of the tent cities. Bailey recently visited a Woodbridge homeless camp with local volunteers and said the entire board should do the same.

""We live in a very safe and secure community, so how we can we have people living in the woods? … It came about because we're not providing adequate human service programs for people living in the woods,"" she said.

Bailey said the answer to such problems is not necessarily to raise residential property taxes but rather to expand the county's commercial tax base by attracting more businesses.

The county's economic development department works to do just that and regularly reports progress, including more than $1 billion in intended commercial investment last year.

She said she agrees with the supervisors' recent move to reform the county's Business Professional and Occupational License tax to provide more relief to small businesses, but said more must be done to spur commercial growth.

""I do think there needs to be a balance in terms of taxation across the board with all business owners,"" she said.

Bailey first lived in Prince William in 1975, when her husband, Cozy Bailey, was stationed at Quantico. Bailey is a native of St. Louis and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Webster University and a master's degree in human resources management from National Louis University.

Bailey has owned an event-planning business since 2003. Previously, she spent about 20 years working in sales and human resources for Xerox and USA Today. She and her husband moved to Brittney, near Dumfries, from Fairfax County after he retired from the Marine Corps in part to live closer to their church, First Mount Zion Baptist on Va. 234.

The Baileys have an adult son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia, who works in business development.

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