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City Council Candidates Answer Your Questions

By Susan Larson

UPDATE: April 28, 2014
Billy Withers’ answers have been added.

“Mr. Billy Withers, who is running unopposed for the council seat for Ward 2, was kind enough to deliver his answers to me today (April 24),” Paul Cymrot said in an email to me.

“He does not seem to have answered all the questions, but he did answer some, so I am adding his replies to my window.”
Original Story with Mr. Withers’ answers added.
I was walking along Caroline Street Monday evening when a window display at Riverby Books caught my eye.  Taped to the glass were pages of questions posed to the candidates for Fredericksburg City Council and their responses.

“With the elections coming up, we thought it might be nice to ask some questions to the candidates,” store owner Paul Cymrot had written.

“Please check back in the weeks leading up to the election for additional questions & answers. If you have a question for a candidate, please come inside and tell us. We’ll be happy to pass it along.”

I’d covered the April 10 candidates forum and was preparing my own list of questions to email to the candidates.  But here in downtown Fredericksburg a business owner was conducting his own “low tech” survey for the citizens.  I went into Riverby Books and left a note asking Paul if I could publish his Q and A on Fredericksburg.Today.

“Susan, Thanks for your note & for noticing my front window,” Paul responded in an email.
“I’d be happy for you to do anything you like with it.”

And so here it is, unedited as sent by Paul.

The City Council Election will be on Tuesday, May 6.

In Ward 1, Brad Ellis is running unopposed.

In Ward 2, Billy Withers is running unopposed.

In Ward 3, Richard Friesner is running against Tim Duffy

In Ward 4, Bea Paolucci is running against Chuck Frye, Jr.
Have you ever run for office before?  What and where?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: Yes, for an appointment to City Council in 2008 and for election to City Council in 2010.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers: Yes. City Council. Fredericksburg. 2002-2006

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: I’ve never run for public office. I have been appointed by the City Council to the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and Wetlands Board. I was elected to the St. George’s Episcopal Church Vestry and served one term, but that election is a much different process than this one.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: This is my first campaign for public office.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: I was a write-in candidate in 2010 and seeking to be re-elected for another term as the Ward 4 representative on City Council.
What do you do for a living now? Why? Are you good at it?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: I lead a Practice Area focused on Strategy & Decision Support for a small consulting firm. I perform a variety of cost estimating and financial analyses. I also lead and conduct Economic Analyses, Business Cases, and Feasibility Studies to help clients make data-driven decisions.

I enjoy working with people and organizations to help them plan strategically, solve problems and make informed decisions.

I’ll let my record speak for itself. I’ve been grateful to have many Peer-Reviewed Papers focused on my client work involving cost analysis, financial analysis, and decision support models published in professional journals (i.e. ICEAA World and National Estimator). I am regularly asked to make presentations of my work to Local International Cost Estimating & Analysis Association (ICEAA) Chapter events, National Conferences, and International Conferences.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers: Retired from Fredericksburg S&L/Savings Bank 2011. Because I enjoy it. Yes

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: I currently work in the Admissions office at George Mason University. I run a program that recruits students to study Environmental Science or a related discipline and also work with a similar program that focuses on Journalism and media. This position allows me to continue to work in the environmental field (I have a BS/MS in Environmental Science) and work with the next generation of leaders in our community and nation. The post allows me to use management skills (I manage eight full-time staff and a large number of part time or student staffers) and a budget of $2M annually. This work is a lot of fun and it is rewarding, both personally and professionally.

While not perfect, I am good at this work. I love the students and feel like we are making the world a better place.

Previously, I have managed a private environmental consulting office in Richmond, VA for about 3-years, worked for the US Geological Survey, and for the Boy Scouts of America at a summer camp.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I am currently Assistant Principal at Walker-Grant Middle School in Fredericksburg City Public Schools. I have worked at Walker-Grant since 2007, and I enjoy working with students, their families, and teachers. I feel very connected to the community through my work. My success as a teacher and administrator are directly connected to my City Council campaign. I have the experience and skills in bringing people together to solve problems. I also know through my work how important it is to truly listen and understand the perspectives of others in order to move forward productively, a skill that will serve me well on Council. I have also taught at Mary Washington College for 10 years part-time, and I was a teacher and administrator at Fredericksburg Academy for 12 years. I was selected “Teacher of the Year” for Walker-Grant Middle School and Fredericksburg City Public Schools.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: I work for HGP, Inc. as the office manager/bookkeeper and for the constituents of Ward 4 and YES, I am very good at both.  I was a Vice-President and Market Branch Operations Manager for Signet Bank for 26 years.
How long have you lived in Fredericksburg?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: 9 years

(Ward 2) Billy Withers: 70 years

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: My wife, Bethany an administrator at the University of Mary Washington, and I moved to Fredericksburg in 2007 after meeting and marrying in graduate school. We have made this our home and are raising our family here because we love the small town feel and BIG town amenities. My parents moved here last year to be closer to our two delightful boys (Benjamin 3.5-yrs and Samuel 7-months) and we all feel this is a great place to live, work, raise a family or retire.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I came to Fredericksburg as a college student in 1991 and basically never left town. I lived in Charlottesville for one year and Spotsylvania County for 5 years.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: I moved to Fredericksburg in 1988 from Alexandria, Virginia.
 How many votes do you think you will need to win?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: One. While I am now running unopposed for this election, I continue to have Meet & Greets, Town Halls, and walk door-to-door to let people know what I stand for and why I want to continue serving the citizens of Fredericksburg.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers: [did not reply]

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: I hope a lot. Historically not as many people vote in the city elections as those in November. As I have gone door to door, it’s been nice to talk with people that haven’t voted before. The more people that participate in the process the stronger and more representative it become… this is a good thing.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I hope to get one more than a majority of the votes. My expectation is that about one thousand people will vote in this election, but hopefully more.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: 1,986 which is one more than my opponent IF every registered voter in Ward 4 voted.  Unfortunately, the voter turnout for Ward elections in the City is very poor.  I wish more people would engage and participate in local elections.
How often do you eat out & where do you eat?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: [did not answer this one]

(Ward 2) Billy Withers:  2 to 3 days per week.  La Petite, Renato, café New Orleans’, Kenmore Inn, Goolrick’s, Foodi, Castiglia’s, Sammy T’s, Happy Clam, Primavera, Parthenon.  We do go to Bravo’s and Bonefish on occasion.

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: We eat out about once-a-week. We have been just about everywhere in town at least once and LOVE restaurant week (and the kid’s week). We enjoy supporting Chef owned restaurants in the City. Some of our favorites are: -Bistro Bethem -Kybecca -Foode -Soup and Taco Etc. -Battlefield Restaurant -Paul’s Bakery -Coffee: at Hyperion Espresso, or if taking the VRE 25 30 Espresso or Goolrick’s if in town for the workday…I really like coffee. -Try Castiglia’s wine dinner, you will like it. -Bethany also really likes Bangkok Café downtown and Hibachi Buffet in Central Park -Our kids love any place that has ice cream (or chocolate) as a dissert option

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: My wife and I don’t often eat out, but when we do, we like to go to Castiglia’s, The General Store, Hyperion, Home Team Grill, and our favorite, Parthenon.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: A couple of times a week; since we live downtown, Hamilton and I walk to many of the downtown restaurants.
Where do you buy your groceries & why?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: Wegmans. We enjoy the shopping experience and the quality of food available. We also appreciate the option to by discounted groceries (i.e. Wegman’s brands) or high-end specialty items all within a single store.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers:  Giant, Wegmans, Butcher shop. Because they are all good stores and convenient.

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: Mostly at Giant in Eagle Village, we like to go to the farmer’s market after the Saturday run/walk with the Fredericksburg Area Running Club AND we just signed up for the Fredericksburg Area Community Supported Agriculture Project (FACSAP) for this growing season. Bethany is really excited about the CSA.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: We mainly shop at Wegmans and Costco—Wegmans for the quality of the products and Costco for the convenience of purchasing non-grocery items at the same time. We also shop at the Giant at Eagle Village.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: Wegman’s (selection, quality, specialty brands), Olde Towne Butcher (great meats, fish, sausages – support a downtown merchant and neighbor), Farmer’s Market (local, wonderful produce and specialty items), Giant (when I need something fast).
How often do you come downtown and why?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: Four to five times per week to take my daughter to pre-school, eat lunch or dinner, and have business meetings.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers:  Almost every day.  We walk downtown most every morning (weather permitting), we go to church downtown, we shop downtown and we eat downtown.

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: We come downtown frequently for a variety of reasons. I drive thru daily on my way to work. I go downtown about once per week as part of a regular running routine, and on Saturdays we run with the Fredericksburg Area Running Club (meets at Hyperion at 8am), then go to the library and farmers market with all the kids. We also attend St. George’s Episcopal Church downtown each Sunday.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: We come downtown about every other week, usually for walking or running errands to shops. This is in addition to going to church downtown.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: Daily; I work downtown and represent the Downtown on City Council so I am always meeting with merchants/residents downtown.
Talk about your personal experiences parking downtown.
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: I park downtown each time I come downtown as noted in question 7. Whether it’s at 8:00 am, lunch-time, or evenings, I’ve never had a difficult time finding a parking space. I am happy to use the parking garage if street parking is not available. I’ve been vocal during Council work sessions and during my campaign about the need to tightly couple future economic development with the construction of an additional parking garage downtown. My desire is to construct a new parking garage within the next two years as part of our overall economic development strategy. My thoughts and ideas on this issue, and other important issues facing the city, are available at www.bradellis.org .

(Ward 2) Billy Withers:  Parking has not been a major problem for me.  I don’t mind walking a couple blocks to get to my destination.

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: Sometimes we walk (or run) from home downtown. When driving we have “gotten lucky” and found “the spot” right where we were going, or had to walk a few blocks. We have even parked in the deck from time to time. That being said I’m fine with walking a few blocks to get where we want to go, but I understand that can be hard for others.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I have had very few negative experiences with parking downtown. I am not opposed to walking a few blocks to get to my destination. I am aware, however, that parking poses a challenge for many business owners, for their own parking and for their customers. I support efforts to build another parking garage even as plans proceed to take away current parking with the development of the proposed river front park. I also support efforts to improve parking around the train station.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: For the most part, I have not had difficulty finding parking downtown although at times it is difficult to find a spot.  City Council is working very hard to find additional parking opportunities downtown.
Do you ever have occasion to come downtown in the evenings? 
 What is that experience like? How might it be better?
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: Yes, as noted in question 7. I, along with my family, enjoy coming downtown to eat dinner and enjoy, for example, a First Friday evening or live music sponsored by the museum in the Fredericksburg Square. Our experience could be improved with more dining options and additional events.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers:  Yes.  We eat downtown frequently.  We normally find downtown pleasant.

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: Yes, I often visit the downtown area to attend meetings for the Planning Commission or City Council. Also, we frequently go downtown on a Saturday or Sunday evening for dinner or just to walk around and window shop. And I can’t forget First Fridays, the Christmas Parade and 1st Night! These times are enjoyable and we feel safe, the area is generally well lit and we usually see other people doing the same thing. To make this experience better, I would like to see more shops open later and think that the Main Street Initiative will do a lot to improve this experience and I look forward to working with and supporting that program.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I have spent countless evenings downtown over the past thirty years, and cannot remember a single negative experience. In the past, there was a problem with many stores being closed early, but I think that issue has improved.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: Yes, quite often. [what is that experience like?] Excellent. Many people out and about, especially in nice weather; a nice mixture of tourist and residents and age groups; always friendly and engaged. [How might it be better?] Later shop hours; additional music venues/concerts/special events.  Our new Main Street Initiative is currently addressing this; stay tuned.
If the preservation of the historic district gets in the way of economic growth, which direction ought we to go? Explain.
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: Historic preservation doesn’t “get in the way of economic growth.” Economic growth can be done smartly by enhancing and complementing our existing history. The history we are making today will be available for future residents to enjoy another 100 years from now thanks to improved technology and building materials.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers:  I see no reason why economic growth, if done properly would not enhance the historic district.

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: This doesn’t have to be an either or question. I think that we can continue to develop as a City and at the same time celebrate our many historical assets. The current comprehensive plan calls for increases in density in the downtown historic district. As that plan is updated now is the time for people to voice their opinions on the direction of density within the historic district and you can do so by emailing me at [email protected] or calling at 540.455.0340.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I believe we have to preserve the natural and historic resources of the river and downtown in order to properly promote economic growth downtown. The quality of life in the region depends on protecting this legacy.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci:   The Historic District is an asset we have inherited and need to preserve.  Economic growth can occur while still preserving our Historic District.  It shouldn’t be an either or issue, but if it comes down to that, the preservation of the Historic District should come first.
 All 4 of the city’s wards contribute to giving Fredericksburg its unique character. All 4 contribute to its financial survival as well. Describe one way in which your ward is giving more than it’s getting to the general well-being of Fredericksburg, either culturally or economically or by some other criteria. Describe one way in which your ward is getting more than it’s giving. Explain.
(Ward 1) Brad Ellis: The city does not operate as separate Wards. Every decision a Ward Representative makes impacts the entire city. The individual Wards have their own representative on Council and constituents regularly reach out to their Ward Council representative on various issues as a result and this is a good thing. I’ve never thought of Wards “giving” or “getting” per se. What I can say is that Ward 1 offers different shopping and dining experiences in Central Park than those available in the Historic District, for example. Ward 1 also offers residents an option to have large newly constructed homes close to walking paths and trails.

(Ward 2) Billy Withers: [did not reply]

(Ward 3) Richard Friesner: Ward 3 is full of amazing artists, savvy business owners, dedicated parents, and many many people we would all like to have as a neighbor. All of these people contribute to our cultural diversity and economic vitality. As I have gone door-to-door for this election, I’ve had the pleasure to meet many of these people. This region of the city often gets less attention than the downtown historic district and is in need of several neighborhood upgrades (like sidewalks and lighting). I am committed to working with the great folks all over the city to improve these aspects for our Ward 3 neighborhoods. Additionally, I’m committed to increasing opportunities for economic development along the Rt. 3, Rt. 1 and Lafayette corridors.

Our community is a great place to raise a family, run a business or retire…but we can make it even better. That effort is going to take commitments from all of us to support each other, our local business and schools. In a time when the region is growing quickly in population and the country’s economy is improving (although only slightly) we need to all work together and support our community. From shopping locally, to volunteering with many of the great service organizations within the City, and looking out for our neighbors there is more work to be done. I’m excited to be part of this by listening and representing the views of the people of the City’s 3rd Ward on the City Council.

(Ward 3) Tim Duffy: I find it difficult to calculate how one part of the City receives or gives more than another. I understand how the taxes paid by downtown businesses and property owners in neighborhoods like mine (College Heights) contribute to the public good in our community. It is important that these burdens be shared fairly.

I also believe that the well-being of the City depends on maintaining a business-friendly environment that simultaneously promotes a high quality of life for all citizens of Fredericksburg. I believe that prudent public investments, as well as public-private partnerships, can advance this balanced approach. We all benefit from better parking and more attractive cityscapes. I participated in the recent vision planning session of the Main Street Initiative program, which seems very promising. I believe there is much more that we can do to advance the City of Fredericksburg as a major hub for heritage tourism, commerce, as well as culture and the arts—not just regionally, but nationally and internationally.

We need to support the quality of life and attend to amenities in the outlying neighborhoods in conjunction with investments in the downtown. The neighborhoods in Ward 3 are diverse, but they share some common issues. Code enforcement for rental units is one issue where the City can act to protect the investment of resident homeowners. Some neighborhoods in Ward 3 bear the burden of traffic more than others (along Lafayette Boulevard, Twin Lake Drive, Routes 1 and 3, for example). There are other issues that need to be addressed that benefit outlying neighborhoods and downtown merchants alike, such as improving the entrances to the downtown and improving parking. I also believe a city our size should be more pedestrian friendly, which can be advanced by improvements of these corridors as well as through the expansion of trails.

(Ward 4) Chuck Frye Jr.: [did not reply to my questions]

(Ward 4) Bea Paolucci: We are a small City of 10 square miles and I don’t believe one ward receives or gives more than another.  We shouldn’t “pit one Ward against each other”; it’s the totality of all the Wards that makes Fredericksburg the great City it is.  I just won’t go there.

Editor’s Note:  I’ve invited Paul to share more questions and answers as they are complied.  If you have a question you’d like answered, drop by Riverby Books at 805 Caroline St. in downtown Fredericksburg or send me an email at [email protected]  I’ll share the questions with Paul. -susan

See Fredericksburg Election 2014 for more information.
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