Stewart Defeats Pandak In Board Chairman's Race

Corey A. Stewart, with his mother, Bev Stewart, greets voters at the Washington Reid precinct at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge.
Corey A. Stewart, with his mother, Bev Stewart, greets voters at the Washington Reid precinct at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
By Kristen Mack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Corey A. Stewart, whose campaign was a referendum on Prince William County's effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, won a strong mandate yesterday in his reelection to a full four-year term as chairman of the Board of County Supervisors.

Stewart defeated Democratic challenger Sharon E. Pandak, who conceded just before 11 p.m.

"We are never going to stop defending our communities from the effects of illegal immigration. Ever!" Stewart shouted, as he went from cradling his sleeping toddler to giving an impassioned speech within a matter of seconds.

"This is a spark that has lit a fire across the commonwealth and the rest of the nation. We are never going to stop telling the truth. This community strongly supported this crackdown on illegal immigration and tonight laid to rest any other idea."

Stewart (R-At Large) defeated Pandak in last year's special election to replace Sean T. Connaughton (R), who resigned to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Pandak said the only reason she challenged Stewart again was because she did not want to leave the county's fate in his hands. She said Stewart neglected the biggest issues facing Prince William, including an anticipated budget shortfall, to push through a crackdown on illegal immigrants that "means nothing."

Stewart, who ran in 2006 on a slow-growth platform, started his term as chairman by passing a year-long freeze on applications for residential development. He also pressed to keep tax bills flat by squeezing county services and trimming staff. In June, however, illegal immigration became Stewart's signature issue, when he championed a plan to deny some county services to illegal immigrants and enlist police in immigration enforcement.

Although the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution last month to curtail the services it can legally withhold -- including help for substance abuse, homeless assistance and county programs for the elderly -- Stewart drew the ire of some of his colleagues, who accused him of electioneering from the dais.

"I think this is a vindication for what we've done to crack down on illegal immigration," Stewart said at the GOP election night party at the Old Hickory Golf Club. "This is a tough year for Republicans overall, but we bucked that trend because we're addressing the issue that a strong majority of voters are concerned with."

Pandak, 54, a lawyer and former county attorney, has lived in Prince William for 20 years. During the campaign, she emphasized her experience and familiarity with the county. She had a larger campaign staff than Stewart and outraised him throughout the campaign.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company