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February 19, 2015

Warzinski opens campaign for Marshall supervisor

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
After her husband’s Air Force career that required 10 moves in 23 years, Kate Warzinski and her family settled on 10 acres near Orlean in 2002.
I think she is a very educated, very level-headed person. I am impressed by everything she has accomplished.
— Madge Eicher, 1983 Republican candidate in Marshall District
Katherine Warzinski
• Age: 52

• Home: Orlean

• Office sought: Marshall District supervisor, four-year term starting in January 2016.

• Party: Republican

• Work: Registered nurse, Fauquier Hospital, since 2008.

• Experience: Family practice, pediatric and specialty clinic nurse and positions with Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Army, University of Maryland Systems Research Center and American College of Health Care Administration, 1983-89.

• Education: Master’s degree, nursing, James Madison University, 2014; associate’s degree, nursing, Lord Fairfax Community College, 2008; bachelor’s degree, business administration, University of Maryland, 1983.

• Organizations: Marshall Ruritan Club, Mountain Vista Governor’s School PTO, Marshall Business and Residents Association, Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce, Fauquier Hospital Education Committee and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute volunteer.

• Family: Husband, John; six children, ages 15 to 25.
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The Marshall District supervisor candidate describes herself as a typical, busy, working mom, suddenly motivated to seek elective office.

Juggling lots of responsibilities, Katherine “Kate” Warzinski in the last couple of years finished her master’s degree in nursing — and took a greater interest in county government.

Mrs. Warzinski, 52, recently declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination to succeed Peter Schwartz, retiring after two terms on Fauquier’s board of supervisors.

“If you had asked me a year and a half ago if I were going to get involved in county politics, I would have said, ‘No way’,” she said during a recent interview at her family’s home near Orlean. “That was the furthest thing from my mind.”

An appointment in late 2013 with a McLean physician treating one of her six children started Mrs. Warzinski on the path, however. Dr. Hasan Abdallah told her about his plan to develop the Opal Gateway project, including a pediatric rehabilitation clinic.

“I started going to board of supervisors meetings and trying to figure out what was going on,” she said. “I couldn’t understand how it could be so hard” for Dr. Abdallah to win approval of rezonings and special exception permits to develop the 100 acres along Route 17.

She read county ordinances, testified at public hearings and wrote letters to the editor.

The supervisors in February 2014 voted, 4-1, to approve Opal Gateway. By then, Mrs. Warzinski had talked with lots of people, some of whom encouraged her to get more involved.

“I think she is a very educated, very level-headed person,” said Madge Eicher, a Republican who ran for Marshall District supervisor in 1983. “I am impressed by everything she has accomplished.

“She manages her time well. She does her research.”

Mrs. Eicher, who owns property in Opal, also supported Dr. Abdallah’s project.

Before the Opal debate, Mrs. Warzinski had focused much of her attention on Fauquier County Public Schools.

“I think we have a great school system, better than Fairfax,” she said. “It’s much more personal.”

Three of her children have graduated from Fauquier High and have gone on to careers in veterinary medicine, environmental engineering and computer programming.

She believes Fauquier County must do more to encourage business growth to create jobs for people who grow up here and so the tax base can expand to provide greater support for public schools, law enforcement and fire/rescue services.

“They deserve it,” Mrs. Warzinski said of better pay for teachers and county government employees.

To her, Opal Gateway serves as a case study of the difficulties businesses face here.

“I had hoped it would happen in a few years,” Mrs. Warzinski said of the clinic’s opening. “But, with the water issue, it looks like it could take seven years. This is something that should happen right away. We need to make it happen.”

Often, business prospects go elsewhere or Fauquier companies planning to expand move out, she said.

County government must make good on its decades-old promise to provide public water and sewer in the “service districts,” she added. That will require a combination of county and private sector funding — as planned in Opal, according to Mrs. Warzinski.

She also thinks Fauquier must address the $18 million in potential annual tax revenue it foregoes on property under “land-use” valuation.

“I support conservation, but we have to find a way to pay for that,” she said.

Mrs. Warzinksi expressed strong support for agriculture but questioned giving “the same tax break” for open space that “lies fallow.” She called the tax break for open space “a disincentive” to make that land available for grazing cattle or hay production, which would help farmers and the rural economy.

Consistently she returned to the theme of business growth as the key to Fauquier’s future.

Broadband Internet access — still a challenge in her neighborhood and other rural areas — deserves more attention from county government, the Bethesda, Md., native suggested.

She laughingly described her own experience last year, when bad weather knocked out her satellite-based service at home. Preparing for a presentation by videoconference for her graduate studies in nursing at James Madison University, Mrs. Warzinski drove to Warrenton in search of a good Wi-Fi connection.

She found one at Panera Bread but had to shield her screen, depicting graphic anatomical images, from folks eating soups and salads there.

Additionally, the county’s rapidly-aging population will pose great challenges for local government, she said. Her campaign will stress more opportunities for young people and more jobs in Fauquier.

An Air Force veteran, her husband commutes four hours a day to and from the Pentagon as a defense contractor.

“He’d love to work at Vint Hill,” she said. “Why can’t we have more opportunities here?”

Similarly, she believes the county must do more to encourage “affordable” housing for teachers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other local government employees who live elsewhere because of high prices in Fauquier.

During her husband’s military career, the Warzinskis moved 10 times in 23 years. Buying a home on 10 acres in rural Fauquier has fit the family’s lifestyle perfectly — other than the commute, she said.

“But, we probably couldn’t afford (to buy) it today,” she added.

Mrs. Warzinski described herself as an advocate of “small government . . . that allows people to make money with their businesses . . . without a whole lot of encumbrances. Yes, government should prevent you from infringing on others, but it shouldn’t overreach.”

Her campaign officially started with an announcement Jan. 29 at a meeting of conservatives in Warrenton.

With no competition so far for the Republican nomination, she would face independent candidate Mary Leigh McDaniel in the Nov. 3 general election.

Although recently licensed as a nurse practitioner, Mrs. Warzinski has put her medical career on hold to focus on the campaign. She continues to work part-time as a nurse at Fauquier Hospital.

Admitting she still has a great deal to learn, the candidate said she plans to go door-to-door and wherever Marshall District voters gather.

“I understand the importance of yard signs” and fund-raising, she said. But, the idea that a candidate for supervisor might spend “tens of thousands of dollars . . . makes me sad. It shouldn’t have to be that way.”
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