Looking for Trust

For the last six years, I have lived in the Gainesville District. During this time, I have been actively involved in various issues to ensure we receive our fair share of county services that we desperately need.

Because of this, I would hope those running for public office would present themselves honestly so we will be able to cast our ballots with some assurance that we know something about the candidates we are voting for, what their experience is and what they stand for. I am writing because of concerns I have about the way Don Richardson, a School Board candidate from my district, is portraying himself in his campaign literature and in several recent public appearances.

In February, I read Mr. Richardson's announcement for School Board and noted be mentioned he had saved on a school board in Scotland as part of his qualifications and experience. Not being familiar with European school systems and how their school boards operate, I wrote to the British Council's Cultural Department at the British Embassy in Washington and requested information an Scottish school boards.

Their education information officer wrote that "the term school board" is not the same as in the United States. In Scotland, each school has its own school board, comprised of teachers, parents and some members of the local community. The teacher and parents are elected to the board, while the local community members are co-opted. School boards, in the U.S. sense, would be closer to the Scottish Local Authorities, which are responsible for the provision of education locally.

From this statement it is clear that the local authorities (more or less like our Board of County Supervisors) are responsible for governing education, not their school boards. Mr. Richardson does not explain this very important difference in his brochure or when he talks at public meetings.

Another concern I have is that while Mr. Richardson has publicly stated his support for our much needed middle school and high school, he was not present at any School Board meetings last fall or in January to support the Catharpin middle school. He never attended those meetings or spoke before the School Board, as so many parents from our district did. For someone who was planning to run for School Board and is now claiming to be so concerned about our needs, he was conspicuously absent during this crucial time.

If I can't trust Mr. Richardson to present his positions and qualifications with integrity, how can I believe he will serve with integrity on our School Board? As parents, we expect honesty and integrity from our children. Shouldn't we also expect these same values from someone who wishes to represent us on the School Board?

GAIL M. COSTELLO

Haymarket

Not a Family Event

We strongly oppose the Equus Gaming Co.'s request to locate the Virginia Turf Club in our Haymarket community on James Madison Highway.

In 1996 a bill was passed in Congress that created the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, largely through the leadership of Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.). Concerns about America's obsession with gambling led to this effort to evaluate the impact of gambling on the economy, on families and on gambling addicts. The commission completed its work in June. The facts are in, and they are not pretty.

Let's first acknowledge the truth--that the Virginia Turf Club will be a gambling facility with 77 hours a week of available gambling opportunities. This will not be a family recreational facility, and it is not another form of entertainment for fun-loving folks. Its reason for existence will be to satisfy and provide solely for the needs of those who gamble.

The commission found that gambling has engulfed this nation and has penetrated every age group. It threatens the very foundations of the family. It is addictive, progressive and dangerous. Gambling destroys marriages, undermines the work ethic, increases crime, motivates suicide, destroys the financial security of families and is related to any number of other social issues.

The commission also found that there is another concern that should pose major worry. It is the alarming penetration of gambling into the world of children and teenagers. Now, I ask you--is this the type of facility we want in our community? Again we want to reiterate--this is not a family recreational facility.

We strongly recommend that the Prince William County planning staff, Planning Commission and Board of County Supervisors reject the Equus Gaming Co.'s application for a special use permit to build the Virginia Turf Club.

CHARLES W. KIDWELL

DIANE R. KIDWELL

Haymarket

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