Stafford City Council meetings are known to be contentious, but now with two seated council members and the current mayor announcing plans to run for mayor in the May election, what can the public expect from future meetings?
“The meetings should be interesting. There will be political posturing, it will be one of those things. We’re all gonna run a strong and aggressive campaign, I am and they will,” said current Mayor Leonard Scarcella.
Councilmember A.J. Honore, who has publicly butted heads with Scarcella, announced his intent to run for mayor last month. So has Councilmember Wen Guerra, president of the Stafford Economic Development Corp.
Adding a twist to the race, last November voters approved term limits taking effect for the mayor’s seat. Scarcella has been mayor for 49 years. Among the changes in the 13 amendments approved by voters is a move to allow no more than four consecutive terms, or 16 years, for the mayor.
Scarcella joked that he will be 94 if he completes those four consecutive terms.
“I will have to get that changed when I’m 94,” he said. “But seriously, I feel like I’m capable and qualified good Lord willing, I still feel there are some things I want to accomplish.”
Mayor Pro Tem Virginia Rosas has often served as the voice of calm when the meetings turn to shouting matches.
“The currently seated members of city council are all veteran members and each member recognizes the strengths and the challenges of the City of Stafford, especially in maintaining the fiscal management of zero property tax. The mayoral candidates have a genuine interest in promoting the city but of course, the methods and approaches of each candidate will be distinctive. The voters will decide the administration style they prefer when they cast their vote for mayor,” she said.
“Regardless of who is elected, the city council meetings will move forward and things will get done,” she added.
Councilmember Cecil Willis was not initially aware last month that the three would be vying for the mayor’s position.
“Anytime three individuals seek the same position, confusion can result,” he said. “Hopefully, if it turns out to be true, they will remember why the people elected them in the first place. They were elected to serve the people and make the best decision they can for the good of all citizens of Stafford. They were not elected, in my opinion, to advance any personal agendas or engage in personal political maneuvering while serving on council.”
“Several years ago, I and council survived a situation which I have no desire to see repeated. Nor do I think the citizens would have any interest in witnessing again. Stafford has a lot of important issues facing it at this time. All members of council need to be focused on resolving these issues correctly and not trying to one-up each other politically,” said Willis.
Honore said his role is to look out for the residents.
“I am committed to ‘honor the mayor,’ I will continue to serve with the mayor and other candidates with the same respectful demeanor and the same ‘discretion and discernment’ that will best serve our residents,” said Honore, whose tagline on his email states, “Stafford’s next mayor.”
For Guerra, “at the end of the day, I think all three of us have the best interest in heart for the City of Stafford. It’s not going to interfere with my decision-making process to bring Stafford to a higher level of quality of living economic growth, to perpetuate zero property tax.
“I’ve been a member of city council for 17 years I’m the president of the EDC and I was involved in joining in both parties to bring in The Grid, which is going to bring lots of revenue for the city to perpetuate zero property tax. I’m also working on other projects I can’t disclose that till it materializes but I’m working hard behind closed doors on economic growth,” said Guerra.