Break the Wheel Interview
Break the Wheel, an online publisher that follows local government, interviewed Meg Bohmke on October 30, 2017.
Tell readers about yourself.
Our family moved to Stafford County 20 years ago from southern California to be closer to family. My professional career was in Public Finance, specifically structuring municipal bonds for cities, counties and school districts for public facility projects throughout California. When we moved to Falmouth, I decided to stay home with the children and work part time jobs and be active in their schools.
Our three children graduated from Stafford County Public Schools and were active in many academic and athletic programs and received an exceptional education. I was the treasurer for the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at Falmouth Elementary for six years and treasurer of Stafford High School’s PTO for three years. For eight years I worked part-time, as the Finance Coordinator for the Rappahannock Area Regional Adult Education Program. This program provides federal and state funds for students earning their GED and citizens learning English as a second language.
What drove your decision to enter the Supervisor race this year?
I have enjoyed serving the citizens of the Falmouth District and Stafford County when on the School Board and as a Supervisor. I believe my contributions to the Board’s decisions have helped to generate solid results. Specifically, I want to continue to make progress in transportation projects, public safety and economic development. Also, it is imperative that we improve teacher and support personnel compensation as well as deputy and fire and rescue compensation. I want to be a part of these important decisions in our County budget.
How do you utilize your skills to address the issues in the previous question?
I enjoy the challenge of gathering information on agenda items so that I can make the most informed decision for the taxpayers. Our staff provides excellent background work on new issues, but I believe that my independent research and dialogue with staff provides an even deeper understanding of a project and this additional effort generates better outcomes. I am a good listener and enjoy engaging in conversation with citizens on large and small items impacting the County. I welcome input from the community and believe I am elected to represent all the people in the Falmouth District and Stafford County. I come prepared for Board and committee meetings and am very thorough in my work and ask a lot of questions.
Scott Hirons, my school board colleague and I have had a strong working relationship for the last four years. We have not always agreed on every matter, but we have mutual respect for each other. We talk frequently and meet to discuss complicated matters when necessary. This relationship will only become stronger as we work through budget challenges in the next several years.
What differentiates you from the incumbent (or other challengers) in your race? What, if any, mistakes do you think the board, in general, has made that you would not have?
My public finance work experience gives me the necessary background to understand, evaluate and solve complex financial matters. I already understand how all of the County departments function and the budgeting process. I also have a good working relationship with county staff, our five constitutional officers and partner agencies in our region.
Being a 20 year resident in the Falmouth community, being a former school board member and being well versed on the County budget sets me apart from my opponent.
What skills do you think you bring to the table that makes you a particularly good choice for the job?
I believe my financial background with 13 years of experience meeting the funding needs of cities, counties and school districts gives me the necessary skill set to be an effective supervisor. So many of the decisions that we make are financially driven and I enjoy analyzing financial matters that come before the Board. Additionally, I am able to work collaboratively with other board members and staff to reach a consensus and improved solutions.
What are the most pressing issues that you feel face Stafford County?
Right now our biggest challenge is congestion on our roads, Interstate 95 congestion and turnover and compensation of teachers, support personnel and public safety personnel.
At a recent transportation meeting we voted to meet with our senators and large government employers to bring the jobs to this region and allow employees to telework. Since people in the rural areas do not have broadband some type of building space would have to be rented to provide adequate work space. These conversations are taking place with members of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization also known as FAMPO.
In the Falmouth District we are designing improvements at the intersection of Enon Road and Route 1 and will be designing improvements on Leeland Road to address the traffic volume with the VRE commuters.
Since the hiring of Dr. Bruce Benson, Superintendent we began working together to address teacher compensation and a joint health care benefit package.
Our School Division continues to experience strong growth and the school Board must evaluate the future need for the sixth high school and the next elementary school. Where these facilities will be located and what year construction will be initiated are key decisions for the schools and the county budget. Our current Board of Supervisors is working with the School Division on a joint Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the first time in Stafford history. A scoring/ranking system will prioritize the projects so the County and School projects are evaluated together to address and fund the most needed facility projects.
We must continue to encourage future businesses to Stafford County. Compared to other large counties our commercial development percentages are lower than we would prefer. If we increase the commercial development it will help shift the tax burden from residential to a more balanced approach with both commercial and residential.
How do you to plan to utilize your skills to address the issues in the previous question?
I plan to continue to communicate with my constituents, fellow Board members and staff to gather information so that I can make informed decisions. One of my strengths is my ability to listen to all sides of an issue and ask questions. Additionally, my years in public finance have honed my analytical skills and I enjoy analyzing data and problems to determine what is best for the community.
The relationship between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors has long been a rocky one. Are you willing to work hand in hand with the School Board to deal head on with some of the major problems?
Of course I am willing to work cooperatively on school issues. The school division is our largest partner agency. People continue to move to Stafford County because of our 30 accredited schools and because the cost of housing is much less than northern Virginia.
We have a Joint School and County committee made up of three school board members and three Supervisors. The Joint Committee meets quarterly or more often as necessary. The Joint Committee was established six years ago to review and discuss school construction projects and hot topics.
The appointed members do not vote on any of the items on the Joint Committee agenda. Any school board member or Board of Supervisor may attend the meetings and speak during the meeting. This very informal setting with the committee members, County Administrator and the Superintendent of Schools is a very productive forum to anticipate funding needs and possible controversial issues. The Board of Supervisors has one of the best relationships with the School Board since the hiring of Dr. Benson, Superintendent of Schools. His leadership on skills has brought together the School Board and Board of Supervisors together for the first time in quite some time.
On November 7th the citizens of Falmouth will vote for who they believe will best serve the people of the Falmouth District. If I am re-elected I will continue to work hard to serve the people and will be honored to represent the Falmouth District residents for another four years. I take the job of supervisor very serious and always remember the oath I recited in front of the judge. This is my word to people of Falmouth and Stafford County.
Thank you for providing me this opportunity to share my comments, opinions, and ideas to Break the Wheel.