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Virginia Politics
Posted at 03:42 PM ET, 11/04/2011

Pr. William candidate Lateef focuses on foreclosure solutions — and faces questions about his own

One of Babur Lateef’s biggest supporters is … Babur Lateef.

Lateef, a Democrat running against Corey Stewart for a spot on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, has given his campaign $27,750, according to the latest campaign filing reports.

He is the second biggest donor to his campaign, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Many candidates keep campaign coffers flush with donations from their personal bank accounts. But both Stewart and John S. Gray, an independent candidate also challenging Stewart, have raised questions about Lateef’s finances because of the situation surrounding his home foreclosure last year.

Gray and Stewart have said it looked like a strategic default. In 2010, Lateef’s house, which he bought for $1.2 million several years before, went into foreclosure. His sister-in-law bought the house at auction for $616,000, and the family is renting it back to Lateef and his wife while he rebuilds his business.

Lateef, an ophthalmologist, said Friday his eye-care practice is going much better, allowing him to put up his own funds to show his campaign to unseat Stewart “is something I truly, truly believe in.”

He said that when the economy plummeted in 2007, much of his income went with it. Lateef said much of it came from LASIK eye surgery. As demand for LASIK, considered a cosmetic surgery, tanked with the economy in 2006 and 2007, Lateef said he started to rebuild his eye practice. He’s starting to see his rebuilding efforts come to fruition, he said.

Furthermore, Lateef said his practice suffered as a result of immigration policies passed by the Board of Supervisors and championed by Stewart in 2008. The policy asked local police to check the immigration status of those arrested.

Lateef said many of his patients were Latino and, like many businesses on the eastern side of Prince William, his practice was severely affected when thousands left the county.

Lateef said, however, that the focus on his personal finances is beside the point.

“There are a lot of pressing issues in this county,” Lateef said. The foreclosure issue is one, and Lateef has argued that he is in a unique position to propose solutions. Prince William has been ravaged by rampant foreclosures, and just under half of all homes are “underwater,” meaning homeowners owe more than their homes are worth due to the dropoff in the housing market.

Lateef has proposed lengthening the time from notification of potential foreclosures to the actual bank foreclosure. Banks should be required to take steps to avoid foreclosure, such as considering mortgage modifications, he said.

Lateef has also focused his campaign on transportation solutions, such as bringing Metro to Woodbridge.

Stewart, meanwhile, has focused on the county’s improving economy.. Prince William has been lauded by CNN Money and Forbes Magazine for a strong economy that is producing jobs, something Stewart has frequently brought up. Stewart says the county’s business-friendly approach, approval of needed office and commercial space, and investment in public infrastructure in a down economy have helped the county continue to grow.

Tuesday is Election Day.

By  |  03:42 PM ET, 11/04/2011

 
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