Office sought: Supervisor, Dranesville District, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Party Affiliation: Republican
Previous offices held; please include dates: N/A (except for McLean Community Center Governing Board in the mid-1970's.)
Current employment: Travesky & Associates, Ltd., 3900 Jermantown Road, Suite 300, Fairfax, VA 22030
Previous employment: 16 years as Administrative Aide (Chief of Staff) to two former members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (Nancy K. Falck and Robert B. Dix, Jr.)
4 years as Land Use Assistant, ShawPittman (law firm)
Education: Lasell Jr. College, Auburndale, MA -- Associate of Arts -- 1961.
Bachelor of Individualized Studies (Public Administration) -- George Mason University -- 1980.
33-year resident of McLean; Current Dranesville District member, Fairfax County Planning Commission; Planning Commission representative to the Board of Supervisors' Revitalization Policy Committee; Served as Chairman and Board Member of McLean Community Center Governing Board (during planning and construction and grand opening); Served on Board and Committees of McLean Citizens Association; Co-Chaired Planning and Land Use Committee of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce; Served on Fairfax County Civil Service Commission (Board of Supervisors' appointment); Chaired Fairfax County Minority Upward Mobility and Retention Task Force; Participated on Fairfax County Tree Preservation Task Force; Former Chairman, McLean Trees Committee; Past president, Kent Gardens Elementary PTA; former Board Chairman, McLean Chamber Orchestra; Member, St. John's Catholic Church.
(Husband former Little League Coach; President of McLean Babe Ruth; President and/or Board member of Kent Gardens, Longfellow, and McLean High School PTAs)
Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce (NOVABizPAC)
Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, Local 2068
Northern Virginia Association of Realtors
NVBIA, Affordable Shelter Political Action Committee
Fairfax County Council of PTAs "Top of the Class" rating
1. What is my top public service accomplishment?
The ability to negotiate, facilitate, build community consensus, work with people has enabled me to resolve a number of community issues and problems as Administrative Aide to two former members of the Board of Supervisors. As the Dranesville District Planning Commissioner, my most recent "success story" relates to an application by the Potomac School to construct additional classroom facilities and add more students. The relationship between the surrounding neighbors and representatives of Potomac School was not a positive one when this request was submitted to the County. A previous application by the school to add students was very contentious. There was mistrust. There were continuous traffic concerns that had not been addressed. A lawsuit had been filed. I held meetings with both parties, expectations were made known, pertinent issues were identified, and a framework was established for further discussion. The outcome was a positive neighborhood recommendation, a consensus on traffic reduction and mitigation measures, and a handful of speakers, all in favor of the application. One neighbor expressed concern over the location of a screening barrier, but that was also resolved.
2. What are the top five problems facing your constituents and what approaches will you use to solve them? Describe one challenge (or more) in your district that is different than other parts of the county.
Top five problems: Continuous double-digit residential real estate tax increases; managing transportation; managing infill development and growth; protecting environmental resources; improve pedestrian/trail access. I might note that these are not necessarily problems, but issues that are important to Dranesville residents. To imply that we have many problems in the County is not an accurate statement in my opinion.
The County needs to diversify its sources of revenue to reduce the tax burden on residential property owners. We need to work with the General Assembly in obtaining more taxing authority. State should raise the cigarette tax. We might ask for a larger share of our income tax to come back to localities. Consider a hospitality tax. Control County spending.
Continue to provide and encourage transit alternatives -- improve and add bus service in the district. Expand rail in the Dulles Corridor. Continue actions to strengthen residential development criteria. Implement planned higher density mixed-use development around proposed future transit stations. Continue to obtain conservation easements and implement other measures to protect environmentally sensitive areas and preserve open space. Work with the community to establish priorities. Continue to work with trails groups to complete sidewalk/trail connections, secure easements, identify funding resources.
Challenge in Dranesville that is different: Probably the effort to reduce the continuous double-digit real estate tax increases for residential property owners. Four years in a row for many. Some have more than doubled in those four years. We have an aging population, and we must diversify our tax base to allow these residents to remain in their homes.
3. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?
Experience in working on constituent matters. Experience in developing County policies and procedures. Sixteen (16) years of experience in working on issues that a Board member must deal with every day. Knowledge of county policies and regulations. Experience in working on transportation matters. Ability to hit the ground running the first day on the job. Consensus builder. Facilitation experience. Problem solver. Knowledge of pertinent state and federal policies and regulations. Ability to work with people. Sense of humor. Good listener. Interested. Will be a full-time Supervisor.
4. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent?
(I'm the good looking one). By comparing the level of knowledge and experience in dealing with constituent issues and concerns, in understanding County policies, procedures and regulations, in consensus building. I have a public voting record on County policies and regulations Chesapeake Bay Act amendments, strengthened residential development criteria, updated trails plan, new dark-sky friendly lighting ordinance, Affordable Dwelling Unit Ordinance revisions. These are some of the policy issues that I have worked on with citizens and the business community and voted on as a Planning Commissioner. No on-the-job training needed. The ability to attend the first Board meeting and have a complete understanding of the various matters to be considered. The ability to move into the office on January 1 and hit the ground running. I will be a full-time Supervisor.
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.
Continue to seek funding from the State to improve bus/transit service. I do support rail in the Dulles Corridor. I also think it is important to have conductivity in our pedestrian and trail network. The Board has not included funds for trails/sidewalks in the budget for at least the last three years. Surely, some funding can be included.
Support consideration of a transportation bond referendum to fund projects such as intersection improvements, completion of the widening of Route 7, spot improvements, and other similar projects to help better manage our traffic. We need to work with VDOT to complete the project to synchronize all of the traffic signals in the County. Support implementation of HOT-Lane concept on one of our major roads on a trial basis.
I support consideration of public/private partnership mechanisms, but I continue to monitor the Route 28 project to see if this concept really works. Improvements to I-66 are a priority. I would favor extending rail in the corridor and I support funding to study the possibility of adding another lane in each direction on I-66 inside the Beltway. Interchange improvements at the Beltway and I-66.
Traffic is not going to go away that's the reality. It is imperative that we offer alternatives to the car and manage our current and future traffic. Support provisions for mixed-use development where possible.
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?
Our public school system is one of the most valuable assets this County has, and it will continue to receive the highest percentage of the budget. I believe you can expect this sort of expenditure to be sustainable, but as I have previously noted, we need to diversify our revenue sources to relieve the homeowner of some of the burden. I feel it is most important that funding for education be focused on the classroom. There are required performance measurements in place at the instructional level. However, the state does not have an accountability system in place to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of a school system's non-instructional areas. It is imperative that local school systems develop such measures, and that is an initiative I would support. The recently Gibson Reports prepared for the school system contain ample information for the FCPS to establish and apply such performance measurement standards.
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?
Most of Fairfax County can no longer be considered strictly suburban in nature. We are an urban area. Fairfax County has the tools to control and guide growth with its Comprehensive Plan. For a number of years the County developed in isolated patterns, and that plan was noted as a positive model. We are what we were planned to be nodes of residential development, retail, industrial, and commercial. For the most part we need a car to get from one node to the other. Now a different trend is evolving and it is sort of cyclical in nature. That trend is to have a mix of uses in closer proximity to reduce automobile trips. The old village type atmosphere, or an urban style. That is my definition of "smart growth"?
The voluntary proffer system has worked and will continue to work. The residential development criteria were recently revised to provide additional goals for voluntary contributions for services.
I also have wondered why the County never gook the step to study asking for voluntary contributions from commercial developments to fund public facilities other than roads. It is the creation of jobs that brings people here to live.
8. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality, water quality, open space, etc.
Air quality we must continue to urge our federal officials to implement stricter emission standards for SUVs and other similar vehicles. We see more and more of those on the roads in this area every day. They are an air quality problem that must be dealt with.
Water quality is affected by several factors, and one of the most important is downstream erosion caused by inadequate stormwater management measures. Perhaps waivers were granted when they shouldn't have been. More funding is needed to maintain the stormwater management ponds that have been constructed. More monitoring needs to be done. The one good thing is that we do have an increasing number of citizens who are trained to monitor water quality in our streams on a regular basis. The recent efforts to identify and map the perennial streams in the County is a positive step in the right direction, as are the continuous amendments to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance.
The dedication of land for open space to trusts established specifically for this purpose seems to be gaining in popularity. I support this effort. The Park Authority has designated some of its bond referendum funds to purchase and preserve undeveloped areas. I believe that in the Parks bond under consideration for 2004, some of the funds are proposed to be designated for that purpose as well. Conservation/scenic easements are also increasing in number, and I have negotiated the implementation of such easements to preserve open space and protect environmentally sensitive areas in conjunction with several land use applications in the district.
9. Are residents safe enough? How do public safety officials balance new demands of "homeland security"? with other safety and quality of life issues?
In my opinion, Fairfax County is one of the safest jurisdictions in the country and certainly the safest in this metropolitan area. I feel very safe. With regard to homeland security and balancing demands, certainly some the ways we do things like increased airport screening become a necessity. But too much of a big brother oversight mentality could drastically affect our daily lives. It is important to maintain that delicate balance. Under normal circumstances we are at risk. We can't live in a box.
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?
Most of my response to this question is stated in No. 9. I am not familiar with the specifics of the Patriot Act, but we must maintain a balance in our desire for public access to information. The "need to know" concept should be maintained.
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?
Maybe low-wage is too low for this area. In the military, for example, depending on where you live you get a housing allowance and other cost benefits. Those workers that we consider to be low wage are very important to the local economy. The perform services that are in very high demand in this area. The increasing demands of health care for our low income and immigrant population is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, but it not something that the county alone can resolve. Improved transit service will help to provide transportation alternatives. The County needs to continue to pursue alternatives to provide affordable housing. The Affordable Dwelling Unit Ordinance alone is not the answer. What is affordable? I know that the Department of Housing and Community Development is studying other possible affordable housing options, and they should be encouraged to continue that effort.
12. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?
Frankly, I don't know. Watch what you ask for. Cities have more responsibilities with regard to providing services. With that taxing authority might come the burden of funding for some services like some road maintenance for example.
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 do not endorse the 5 percent tax cap and did not sign the pledge. Flexibility is important, and I don't want to be elected to make budget and fiscal decisions under such an imposed cap. As I have previously mentioned, the goal should be to pursue other sources of revenue to reduce the burden on the residential property owners. Increases in property values are not a bad thing they are certainly better than prolonged decreases in property values. The issue is not to have those real estate taxes be our one major source of revenue. Then the property values can continue to increase, but the taxes can be lowered.
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.
Change is inevitable, and any workforce must deal with change. Guidance of your workforce starts at the top. Let's face it, we all need motivation from time to time. And we need to be trusted and allowed to make judgment decisions. Perhaps we need some changes in top management? Don't have an atmosphere where employees are afraid to make decisions. I have some thoughts on what I see may be some problems within the County workforce, in departments where I think some changes should be made perhaps in process and in management responsibilities. However, I don't think it is appropriate for me to be specific at this time.
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 am awaiting the Supreme Court decision on the issue of campaign finance reform. As it stands now, all contributions over a certain amount must be disclosed on a regular basis. I would certainly be willing to consider specific recommendations at the local level, but it is the State that makes those determinations. All contributions over a certain amount also have to be disclosed as part of any development application. That figure is $199. You know honesty comes from within yourself. I can't be bought!