Democrat Babur Lateef ,who is seeking to replace Board Chairman Corey Stewart (R), said he plans to release a campaign platform this week that focuses on issues that have directly impacted his family, including the foreclosure crisis.
An opthamologist with his own practice in Prince William, Lateef said his business took a hit during the recession. He said he fell behind on his mortgage payments last year and his home went into foreclosure.
Lateef said his brother and sister-in-law were able to purchase the house when it went up for auction, but now Lateef, his wife and four children are tenants in the home they once owned.
“The [foreclosure] issue is troubling for a lot of folks in the county and as a candidate running for office, I can really relate,” the 39-year-old said. “Corey hasn’t been there to address these issues and the race should be about someone who will address the problems of the people in Prince William.”
If elected, Lateef said his first action would be to create a foreclosure task force of homeowners, policy experts and banking officials. Lateef said the county should adopt an ordinance that requires lenders who evict families to show proof to the county sheriff that they have given the family a proper eviction notice and that the family has exhausted all avenues to save their home.
Lateef said he wants to work with local, state and federal officials to require banks to give homeowners 45 days notice before a foreclosure, up from the current 14. He also wants to draft a plan that would allow families facing foreclosure to apply certain county payments, such as their personal property tax, to their mortgage.
“We were fortunate to have family that could help us through that very difficult time…but most Prince William families are not as fortunate,” Lateef said. “It’s why I care so deeply about addressing the foreclosure crisis in our county.”
Besides tackling the foreclosure epidemic, Lateef said he will focus on education, traffic, jobs and development.
Lateef said he supports a bus-rapid transit system both in the county and along Interstates 95 and 66. Bringing metro to Prince William is another priority, Lateef said.
On the job front, Lateef said he wants to work with state officials to expand the governor’s opportunity fund and develop a small-business leaders round table in the county. Lateef said he supports the plan to revitalize Route 1 and wants to see more mixed-use development in areas that can support the growth, not in the rural sections of the county.
Lateef, who has received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va), is one of a handful of candidates hoping to unseat Stewart. Haymarket Town Council member Robert B. “Bob” Weir (R) and accountant John Gray (I) have also announced plans to run in November.
Those challenging Stewart say they are concerned Stewart’s focus is not on the county but on running for higher office.
Stewart, who is one of a handful of potential GOP candidates also considering a race for Sen. James Webb’s (D) seat in 2012, said in March he will seek reelection for county chairman and focus on economic and job growth. He would not say whether he intends to seek higher office in the future.
“It is something I’ve been thinking about, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s a good idea to plan that far ahead,” Stewart said. “I really enjoy my job and have made a lot of progress I now what to expand on.”