Supervisors Toy with Statehood

Supervisors Toy with Statehood

Would Northern Virginia be better or worse off without the rest of the state?

In the Braddock District, Supervisor Sharon Bulova put on her "what if" hat and toyed with the idea of a separate state.

"It certainly is appealing, the main advantage would be having the flexibility to govern ourselves," she said.

At this year's General Assembly, Bulova felt that the needs of Northern Virginia weren't understood by the rest of the state.

"Northern Virginia is unique and not necessarily like other parts of Virginia. Even when we tried to help ourselves, we were not even able to put that question to our voters. We have very little in common with the rural parts of Virginia," she said.

The two biggies — education and transportation — are still the predominant issues according to Bulova.

"We are a donor jurisdiction," she said.

OVER IN LEE DISTRICT, Supervisor Dana Kauffman thinks statehood is an extreme suggestion but an attention getter.

"It's an extreme suggestion that might help us bring about a needed change," he said.

Kauffman had some thoughts on traffic management for the area, and not the department of transportation.

"I would welcome Fairfax County assuming responsibility for traffic management," he said.

Kauffman cited past attempts by Reston to become an independent city and Fairfax County to take over the secondary road system. He also noted the current tax system is flawed, but the far off notion of becoming a separate state was not the solution.

"Instead of splitting off, local government needs the power to do what they do best and state government needs to retain what it does best," he said.

"It would take a whole new funding structure to perform all the tasks and create a total state government structure," Kauffman said. "This is not a new idea, Supervisor Martha Pennino suggested this back in the late 1980s."

"What should be considered is more discretionary control over local spending," Kauffman said. "It would be the best thing in the world, particularly for an urban county, to have more control over its destiny."

“WE NEED THE ABILITY to raise revenue that assures balance without creating a maze of taxes. That [statehood] would be a solution to a problem that would create a bigger problem," he said.

Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) brought the question to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors but only in jest. Her sabre rattling was based solely on the tax situation.

"I would assume if we were a state we could set our own rules," she said, looking at the current return we get from Richmond.

"When you only get 19 cents like we get now, how could we fail?" she asked.

The distance from Richmond creates a margin of error when the legislators are looking at the particular problems in Northern Virginia. A capitol in the immediate area would eliminate that margin, McConnell said.

"If you're closer to home, you know the problems. One-hundred miles away, you don't really know," she said.

McConnell also looked at the current situation where some rural counties oppose development but still want the tax base.

"As long as the rest of the state doesn't move to make it financially viable, things won't change. I know one county, it took seven years to let a McDonald's in," she said.

Mount Vernon Gazette reporter Chuck Hagee contributed to this story.