Most Fairfax County voters know that, in Virginia, we have elections every year, just like clockwork.
This year, though, the momentum that developed in the Presidential and Congressional elections of last November continues to February 3, when Fairfax voters go to the polls to elect a new Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Former Board chairman Gerry Connolly resigned his local position before being sworn in as the new Democratic Congressman from Virginia’s 11th District. The seat left vacant will be filled in a special election on Tuesday, February 3, at your regular polling place. You also may vote absentee in person at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, or by mail. Call 703/222-0776 for more information.
Four candidates are vying to succeed Connolly. Board Vice Chairman and current Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova, a 21-year veteran of the Board, is the Democratic nominee. First-year Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, son of the late Chairman Jack Herrity, is the Republican nominee. Two other independent candidates are Carey Campbell and Christopher DeCarlo. Last Thursday, Vice Chairman Bulova and Supervisor Herrity squared off in a well-attended debate sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. The debate was moderated by Channel 8 news-caster Bruce DePruyn; panelists were WTOP anchor Bruce Alan, NewsChannel 8’s Beverly Kirk, and reporter Kali Schumitz of the Fairfax Times.
Much of the debate focused on transportation, Tyson’s Corner, and the local challenges of the global economic downturn. Vice Chairman Bulova said that, as a “rail person,” she is committed to improving rail opportunities in Fairfax County. She is one of the founders of the Virginia Railway Express (VRE), and created the VRE Operations Board to govern the commuter system. She has been a champion of the Rail to Dulles project, and will ensure that the federally approved project moves forward. In an interesting contrast, Supervisor Herrity said, in response to a panel question, that he had been part of a lawsuit to stop the project in 2002.
Supervisor Herrity said that he supported a tunnel option for Rail to Dulles through Tyson’s Corner, a position gently admonished by Vice Chairman Bulova, who reminded the audience that the Rail to Dulles project went through several iterations over the years, and the preferred alternative was adopted by county, state, and federal decision-makers long before there was a suggestion of a tunnel. She also expressed support for the work done by the citizen-led Tyson’s Task Force to develop Compre-hensive Plan language to transform the Tyson’s area into a transit-oriented urban center that can attract new businesses and new residents to the Commonwealth’s “economic engine.”
Vice Chairman Bulova stressed her long-time chairmanship of the county’s Budget Committee as a leadership strength in the current economic crisis. She said that, in the downturn of the early 1990s, she led the effort to ensure that Fairfax County could weather future economic storms and maintain its Triple A bond rating, one of only 22 counties across the nation to merit such a designation. Supervisor Herrity said that he has experience as a Chief Financial Officer and mentioned that he received four major business awards prior to his election in 2007.
In her closing statement, Vice Chairman Bulova reminded voters that she has the experience to move Fairfax County forward, a special skill needed in difficult times. Fairfax County voters would be wise to heed her message, and support her continued leadership.