Office Sought: Mount Vernon Supervisor
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Incumbent: Elected 1988
Occupation: Full time Supervisor, attorney
Current Employment: Attorney
Hyland and Hyland
616 S. Washington St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Previous Employment: United States Air Force - Colonel, retired
Lived in Mt. Vernon since 1969.
Education: BS Economics - Holy Cross, 1954-1959
LLB - Georgetown Law Center, 1959-1962
LLM (Taxation) - George Washington University, 1968-1969
Fairfax Education Association
Fairfax County Council of PTA's
Fairfax Federation of Teachers
Fairfax County Firefighters, Local #2068
1. What is your top public service accomplishment? Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term. Why shouldn't voters blame you for current problems in your district?
Revitalization of Richmond Highway (Route 1), bringing over $317 million in new investment and eliminating 28 blighted properties. Served as Chairman of the Revitalization Policy Committee which recommended changing development rules to encourage re-development of older parts of the county, such as Route 1.
2. What are the top five problems facing your constituents and what approaches will you use to solve them? Describe on challenge (or more) in your district that is different than other parts of the country.
- The state of the economy resulting in reduced sales tax revenue, lower investment returns and reduced state funding has required greater dependence on the real estate tax as the principal revenue generator to pay for the cost of government. Coping with Homeland Security requirements and the sniper killings added almost 80 million in unexpected expense to Fairfax County.
- Saving Mt. Vernon Hospital
Re Mt. Vernon Hospital: a citizen committee has been formed to oppose moving the hospital and a major lobbying effort will continue to convince the Inova Board of Trustees and Board of supervisors to keep the hospital at its present location.
Re Growth: push for an adequate public facilities law and concentrate density near METRO stations.
Re transportation, pressure the State to fund improvements to Route 1, push for light rail on Route 1, and a replacement for Woodlawn Road.
Push State to adequately fund Standards of Quality.
- Double digit increases in assessments
Re tax increases, push for equal taxing authority as cities to diversify revenue options.
3. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?
Citizen involvement in government decision-making and developing consensus is my touchstone for representing constituents.
As an attorney I have been trained to determine facts and issues and to seek solutions to problems.
As a citizen activist, I have involved myself in every significant aspect of life in Mount Vernon – civic association; President of Hollin Meadows PTA; member of Citizens Advisory Committee to Police Department; member of Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of Human Rights Commission; President of United Community Ministries; and member of the Board of Zoning Appeals.
For 30 years I have worked to make Mount Vernon a better place to live, work and educate our children
4. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent?
Experienced in dealing with a diverse community and a multiplicity of issues at the local, state and national level, I have a much broader background to bring to bear in solving citizens' problems. Knowing who to call to help with a citizen's concerns and having developed relationships of mutual trust and respect – these allow me to 'cut to the chase' and solve problems.
5. What specific solutions will you propose for the transportation dilemma? Please address funding, prioritization, air quality, bus service and other non-rail public transportation solutions, expansion of rail service, and any other possible approach.
HOT lanes, added lane to I-95, light rail on Route 1, rail to Dulles are a must. State and Federal officials must be lobbied for increased funding for transit and necessary road improvements.
6. Fairfax County now dedicates more than 50 percent of its budget to the public school system. How will you measure the effectiveness of this expenditure? What do you see as the biggest challenges? Is this sort of expenditure sustainable given that fewer than 25 percent of households have children in the schools?
SOL scores, number of students pursuing college, percentage of drop-outs, and the overall ranking of schools nationally provide a measure of effectiveness. The challenge is to have adequate funding to provide quality education to a diverse student population. Fifty percent of our budget to schools is not only sustainable, it is necessary if we are to enjoy the quality of life we demand for our citizens. Excellent schools are the bedrock for economic development, increasing property values, and essential for the future of Fairfax County.
7. Many parts of Northern Virginia are approaching buildout, and the current economic climate favors residential over commercial construction. Do local governments have the tools they need to control and guide growth? How will state and local governments cope with the additional demand for services that comes with additional residential construction? What are the important features of "smart growth," and can more emphasis on smart growth help offset some of the effects of suburban development?
Local government needs more tools to control and guide growth. Passage of adequate public facilities legislation to require the provision of infrastructure to accommodate growth is essential. I agree with advocates of smart growth who emphasize transit, pedestrian, bicycle and local streets first, create more town centers and traditional neighborhoods, protect open space and our air and water and provide more affordable housing close to employment centers. In addition, significant residential density should be located near METRO. Finally, local government must attract and keep businesses to fill empty office space to increase the value of commercial property and provide additional revenue.
8. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality, water quality, open space, etc.
Air quality is my number one environmental issue as we are in a serious "non-attainment" area which threatens our health. Emphasis needs to be placed on transit, cleaner burning fuels, more trails and bicycle facilities. Tele-commuting needs to be encouraged even more and bus fares and transit fares need to be reduced.
Water quality can only be enhanced by providing an effective storm water management system in Fairfax County and funding such a system with a storm water management fee.
Re preservation of open space – we should seek voter approval of bonds to acquire land, change the Comprehensive Plan to encourage more parkland and open space, press developers for more proffers of open space, develop a stronger tree ordinance and require more natural landscaping on county facilities.
9. Are residents safe enough? How do public safety officials balance new demands of "homeland security" with other safety and quality of life issues?
Fairfax County has the lowest crime rate of any jurisdiction our size in the United States, but we have been challenged to have adequate resources to meet Homeland Security requirements and the sniper attacks.
Increased funding from the Federal government to meet the threat of terrorist attacks is essential.
Finally, keeping our streets safe, our homes protected, and – most important – providing for the personal safety of all our citizens is paramount. These needs come first.
10. Do you have any concerns about civil liberties and public access to information in the wake of the Patriot Act and other responses to Sept. 11?
Yes, I do have concerns about our civil liberties in the wake of passage of the Patriot Act. The need for government to investigate and obtain information should not contravene Constitutional safeguards. Prohibiting searches without a warrant and a showing of probable cause are basic protections. The Act should be re-visited by the Congress in order to permit only those powers absolutely necessary for homeland security and balanced with the protections guaranteed by the Constitution.
11. Working poor families in Northern Virginia face a daunting cost of living, with little in the way of affordable housing, health care, child care and transportation. Are low-wage workers important to the local economy? What do you propose to address the needs of these families?
Many jobs in the services part of our economy are filled by persons making minimum wage or slightly higher with no medical insurance provided. These workers are an essential part of our workforce. We must expand our Primary Health Care Clinics, change the rules and to require Affordable Dwelling Units in mid-rise and high-rise developments and increase our support for child care for low income families.
12. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?
There is no justification for counties not having the same taxing authority as cities – the law should be changed as it will allow us to reduce the dependence on the real estate tax to raise revenue.
13. What proposals do you have for mitigating the effects of soaring property values and related taxes? Do you endorse the 5 percent cap on property tax increases? If you support a cap on property tax increases, please name at least one service provided by county government that you currently use that you would be prepared to live without.
I support legislation to permit seniors over age 65 to defer payment of increases in real estate tax until the sale of their homes or upon death. In addition, I support the present law which gives counties the right to defer taxes for all homeowners limited to the excess over 105 percent of the assessment increase of the preceding year. Although in the past I have proposed, albeit unsuccessfully, to seek legislation limiting the amount of assessment increases, I have not supported the 5% tax cap on property because it would have had a dire negative impact on public safety, education and our quality of life.
14. Fairfax County has more than 10,000 full-time employees. How should the Board of Supervisors guide such a large bureaucracy? How do you measure the effectiveness of such a work force? We’ve heard stories of departments that resist change and are unresponsive to both citizens and elected officials. How would you address these concerns? Please give specific examples.
For 10 years I have served on the Board of directors of the National Association of Counties. During that time no county in the United States has received more awards than Fairfax which attests to the quality and competence of our workforce. The rating by Governing Magazine that Fairfax County is the best managed county in the country further supports the job performance of our employees.
That said, there is always room for improvement. Our new Pay for Performance program is intended to reward excellence. Personally, if I receive a citizen complaint concerning our workforce, I call the individual directly to get the facts and to resolve the issue and, if necessary, I have occasionally involved the supervisor. In my experience, we have an incredibly competent workforce who perform extremely well across all disciplines in our government.
15. What campaign finance reform do you support? How should the county avoid conflict of interest, or even the appearance of conflict, given the Board’s role in approving development and zoning changes and contributions by development interests?
I believe the present law is adequate.