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Votes

John Foust, Dranesville Supervisor

Office sought: County Supervisor, Dranesville District

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Previous offices held; please include dates: None

Incumbents: when elected to this position: (?)

Occupation: Attorney

Current employment (include name and address of employers: Foust & Clark, P.C.

Previous employment: Worked 8 years as Cost Analyst and Capital Investment

Planner for large public utility.

Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates):

University of Pittsburgh, BA (Economics), 1973

West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, MBA, 1976

George Washington University, Law Degree, 1981

Community ties:

Have lived in Northern Virginia since 1981.

Have lived in McLean (Timberly South) for 16 years.

List a few current endorsements you are most proud of:

Fairfax Education Association; Sierra Club; Citizens Community Caucus (smart growth); Northern Virginia Central Labor Council, Platform for Active Civil Enforcement Pac; Virginia Partisans.

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?

I have been an effective advocate and leader for our community, and especially for children. I have served as President of McLean Citizens Association, Chairman of the Chain Bridge (McLean and Arlington) District of the Boy Scouts of America, member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Advocacy Committee of the Medical Care for Children Partnership (a public-private partnership that provides comprehensive health care to over 6,000 children of the working poor in Fairfax County), member of Fairfax County's Environmental Quality Advisory Council and active member of numerous other civic associations.

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.

The top five challenges facing my constituents and the general approaches to addressing them are:

(1) Supporting and improving our public school system by ensuring that we pay competitive salaries to our teachers and by working to provide funding to reduce class size and to renovate and improve school facilities.

(2) Reducing traffic congestion by expanding transportation options, especially mass transit, to reduce our dependence on single occupancy car trips.

Preserving open space and stopping sprawl by implementing smart growth practices that concentrate residential and commercial growth around mass transit stations and in older areas of the County that require revitalization and ensuring that affordable housing units be included in the residential mix.

Supporting our public safety officers by ensuring that they have the resources and training to protect the community and themselves in the event of a conventional, chemical, biological or nuclear disaster.

Controlling costs and diversifying County revenues to provide property tax relief to homeowners while continuing to provide adequate funding for education, public safety, and other essential services that make Fairfax County a great place to live.

There are many special challenges in the Dranesville District. Some of these challenges include the following:

Revitalization of the McLean Central Business District must be expedited and the impact of intense development in Tysons Corner must not be allowed to adversely effect the quality of life in the McLean area.

The recent announcement that "rail to Dulles" will be built in phases leaves Herndon without rail service yet Herndon residents who use the Dulles Toll Road and commercial property owners in Herndon will be required to pay for the rail to Tysons Corner.

In Great Falls, development pressure must not be allowed to destroy the beauty and rural character of the community.

Development pressure threatens the scenic and historic character of the Hunter Mill Road area.

Development pressure threatens the residential character of neighborhoods along Route 7.

3. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to

this office?

I am an experienced community leader and I have demonstrated that I will be an effective advocate for our community.

As the Dranesville Supervisor, I will be an advocate for the citizens, defending our communities and protecting our environment.

I will not put the goals of special interests ahead of the community's interests. I will not make deals with developers and other special interests in secret and without public input. I will not allow unchecked development and sprawl to destroy our neighborhoods, overcrowd our schools and roads, damage our environment and forever take away our remaining open space.

As a civic leader, I have a record of bringing people together to successfully pursue common goals and I have consistently recruited outstanding people to leadership roles in the volunteer organizations that serve our community. As President of the McLean Citizens Association, I have provided leadership on issues involving education, land use, transportation, the environment, and the County budget.

As a volunteer, I have spent many years working for the youth of our community including as a Cub Scout pack leader, Chairman of the McLean-Arlington Boy Scout district, soccer coach, and chairman of the Advocacy Committee of the Medical Care for Children Partnership.

As a citizen advisor to the Transportation Coordinating Council and as a member of Fairfax County's Environmental Quality Advisory Council, I have taken a leadership role in evaluating how transit and transit oriented development will reduce congestion, stop sprawl and make our communities more livable.

4. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?

I am an effective community leader who puts people first. Most of my opponent's career has been spent working as a County staff person.

I am an advocate for the community. My opponent is an advocate for developers and other special interests. She serves on the Fairfax County Planning Commission where she decides land use issues that effect our community. At the same time, she works for a lobbying firm that obtains local government zoning and permit approvals for developers and other special interest groups. My opponent claims not to see the conflict of interest in serving in a position of public trust as Dranesville's Planning Commissioner while working for a land use lobbyist that represents developers and other special interests. I will avoid such conflicts and bring the highest standard of integrity to the job of supervisor.

In addition to my community leadership, I have the educational and professional experience that is needed to address the challenges that face our community. We need to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent effectively and only on the programs and services that are a priority for our community. I have run a business for 12 years, I worked as a cost analyst and capital investment planner for eight years and I have a Masters degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on finance. Our community will spend billions of dollars on essential government services as well as billions of dollars to construct projects like Dulles Rail. Through professional experience I have developed an expertise in evaluating costs and performance and in protecting public owners from construction risks, delays and cost overruns.

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.

To reduce congestion and improve air quality, we must emphasize transit solutions that provide options to single occupancy automobile trips. I support the following plan for addressing congestion:

(1) Emphasize mass transit, including rail to Tysons and Dulles Airport.

(2) Emphasize growth around transit stations and in older areas of the County where revitalization is needed and public facilities are in place.

(3) Encourage mixed-use development, including affordable housing, so people can live and work in same community and not have to commute.

(4) Evaluate and implement other transit options like expanded feeder bus service to rail stations, light rail and bus rapid transit.

(5) Improve key road intersections.

(6) Make communities more pedestrian and bicycle friendly by expanding and improving sidewalks and trails and by developing mixed-use communities.

(7) Encourage HOV.

(8) Encourage telecommuting.

With regard to transportation funding, Northern Virginia is not getting its fair share from the state. The state must adjust its funding formulas to recognize the severe congestion problem in Northern Virginia. The state should allocate a greater percentage of transportation funds to transit. As demonstrated by 9/11, the federal presence makes our region a target for terrorism. The federal and state governments must recognize the unique need for transportation funding in Northern Virginia.

I support rail to Dulles but I do not support the current funding plan for Dulles Rail. Dramatic increases in tolls on the Dulles Toll Road are not fair nor is it fair to require commercial property owners in Herndon to pay an additional property tax to finance rail to Tysons Corner.

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?

The investments that Fairfax County makes in public schools are effective. The children are learning, the schools are safe and the School Board is working to ensure our tax dollars are wisely spent.

However, I believe we must constantly strive to improve efficiencies and results. I believe we can implement performance based budgeting techniques to constantly review our priorities and the programs and services we are funding as well as the results we are obtaining. We must find ways to fund key priorities like increasing teacher salaries, reducing class size and improving and expanding school facilities without increasing the tax burden on homeowners.

I believe that in making funding decisions, the Board of Supervisors should place great weight on the recommendations of the Superintendent and School Board. However, the Board of Supervisors is ultimately responsible for balancing all County priorities and approving school funding.

We must continue to make public education a priority for this County. It is our obligation to the children. Also, although only 25% of households have children in the schools, the entire community benefits economically from the fact that Fairfax County Public Schools are recognized as among the best in the country.

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?

It is unfortunate that the Virginia General Assembly continues to reject a smart growth agenda in favor of the agenda of the development community. Fairfax County must continue to work with other high growth counties across the state and private groups concerned about the environment and local autonomy to obtain enabling legislation for adequate public facilities, impact fees and strong tree preservation ordinances.

Under the existing planning and zoning process we can do a better job of coordinating land use and transportation planning. We can use increased densities and other smart growth principles to encourage transit oriented development and revitalization of older areas of the County that already have public facilities in place. The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan incorporates many smart growth concepts but this planning must be expanded and then those plans must be implemented. We should also amend the zoning ordinance to evaluate requests for Special Exceptions based on the scale of the proposed use.

The voluntary proffer process is an inadequate tool for managing development. At a minimum, the County should have authority to impose impact fees and adopt an adequate public facilities ordinance and a strong tree preservation ordinance. My opponent opposes impact fees and an adequate public facilities ordinance. I believe they are essential to enable local government to cope with additional demand for services and public facilities that comes with additional residential construction. If these tools are not made available to the County, then we must improve the current proffer process by refusing to approve applications that are not "by right" unless and until adequate proffers are included in the application. Decision makers must also have the strength and courage to stand up to developers and not be intimidated by threats of litigation when they know they are right.

I have been endorsed by the Sierra Club and advocates for smart growth (the Citizens' Community Caucus). I believe that we can reduce congestion, preserve open space, make more affordable housing available and improve and protect our environment by adopting smart growth principles. Smart growth principles emphasize encouraging compact residential, commercial and retail development around transit stations. Residents and workers are encouraged to drive their cars less and ride transit more. By encouraging mixed use development, people are given the choice of living and working in the same community. By encouraging affordable housing as part of the residential mix, people of all income levels who work in the community can afford to live there.

8. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality,

water quality, open space, etc.

My top environmental priorities are preservation of open space and protecting and improving the quality of our air and water resources.

Preservation of open space must be a high priority for the Board of Supervisors. We should: (a) purchase more land for the park system; (b) protect land through the zoning ordinance; (c) work in public private partnerships to purchase land and conservation easements; (d) emphasize transit oriented development to reduce sprawl; (e) obtain authority for an adequate public facilities ordinance; (f) lobby the state to create an automatic and substantial funding source for statewide land conservation efforts; and (g) take advantage of matching grants from the state and private foundations when available.

The region's non-compliance with air pollution standards is a serious problem (both in terms of the environmental consequences and potential financial consequences). The County should develop its own strong air quality control program and work with the Council of Governments to develop a strong air quality control program for the region. The County should emphasize transportation and land use planning that minimizes vehicle miles traveled and reduces emissions from automobiles. The County should ensure that school buses and other vehicles in its fleet are less polluting. The County should work with COG and the private sector to reduce pollution from construction equipment and other pollution generators.

There is much that we can do to protect water resources including: (a) working on implementation of the recommendations of Regional Pond Subcommittee and the Infill Residential Development Study; (b) implementing the revised Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance; (c) increase efforts to restore stream valleys and stabilize stream banks; (d) emphasize smart growth principles to preserve open space and reduce sprawl; (e) obtain authorization for and implement a strong tree preservation ordinance; (f) increase inspections and enforcement of regulations relating to erosion and sediment control; (g) complete mapping of perennial streams; (h) increase funding for storm water management in the County's Capital Improvement Program; and (i) reduce the number of storm water control waivers that are granted.

9. Are residents safe enough? How do public safety officials balance new

demands of "homeland security" with other safety and quality of life

issues?

Residents in Fairfax County, particularly Dranesville, are generally safe. However, there are public safety issues that must be addressed. There is no doubt that with the CIA and other homeland security installations, as well as numerous government defense contractors, Fairfax County is a potential target for terrorism. In addition, local news accounts and discussions with Fairfax County public safety officers suggest that gang activity in Fairfax County is on the rise. Public safety has always been, and always should be, a high priority for our County. Fairfax County has excellent police and firefighters but we need to ensure that they have the resources to protect us and themselves in the event of a conventional, nuclear, chemical or biological disaster. In addition, the federal and state governments must recognize that Northern Virginia is unique as a target for terrorism. Both the federal and state governments should invest in a transportation system that will enable evacuation in the event of disaster and both should invest in our local police and firefighters as the first line of defense and rescue in the event of a disaster.

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?

I am very concerned about civil liberties and public access to private information in light of the federal government's response to September 11, including the Patriot Act.

Homeland security is essential. However, we must be extremely sensitive to how our reaction to Sept. 11 impacts our constitutional rights including freedom of religion, speech, assembly and privacy; protection from unreasonable searches and seizures; due process and equal protection; equality before the law and presumption of innocence; access to counsel in judicial proceedings and a fair, speedy and public trial.

I do not believe that the federal government's response to Sept. 11 has demonstrated an acceptable attempt to balance the need for security with the need to protect our constitutional rights.

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?

Our ability to improve and expand our local economy is restricted by lack of affordable housing and the severe traffic congestion in our region. I support smart growth principles that encourage mixed-use developments around transit stations so people can live and work in the same community and have access to public transit. I support including affordable housing units in the residential mix of these transit-oriented developments.

There is a grossly inadequate supply of affordable housing in Fairfax County. Many families of low and moderate income who work in our County cannot afford to live here. Lack of affordable housing adversely affects the entire community by contributing to sprawl and congestion, by depriving the community of the benefits of economic diversity and by limiting the available work force. As Supervisor, I will work to include more residential projects under the Affordable Housing Unit program. I will support and encourage non-profit groups that build affordable housing. And I will work to make affordable housing part of our efforts to revitalize older areas of the County.

I will also support programs like the County's Medical Care for Children Partnership, a public-private partnership that provides comprehensive health care to over 6,000 children of the working poor.

12. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

I believe the residents of Fairfax County should be able to decide for themselves how we will fund County government and how we will manage growth. I support state legislation that would give counties that authority, including the authority to tax like cities. However, I believe Fairfax County has a tremendous opportunity to expand the tourism industry and I do not support selectively burdening the tourism industry with new state or county taxes.

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.

An unfair burden has been placed on property owners to pay for County services. For the fourth year in a row, homeowners in the Dranesville district were hit with double-digit percentage increases in our property tax bills. This is not fair and it cannot be sustained.

We need a plan to pay for education, public safety and other vital services without increasing the tax burden on homeowners. To do that, we must prioritize spending, reduce costs and diversify County revenue sources.

We must ensure that we are only spending tax dollars on programs and services that advance the priorities of our community. And we must ensure that the programs and services that we fund are achieving their objectives.

We should adopt performance based budgeting to constantly evaluate how we spend our tax dollars. We should focus on the budget process to control costs and ensure that each dollar we spend contributes to advancing the priorities we set for our community.

We need to review the County's current Pay for Performance procedures to determine whether they are equitable to both County employees and County tax payers. We need to pursue authorization for an adequate public facilities ordinance. People who have owned their homes for many years should not be expected to pay all the cost to provide public facilities to new projects.

We can control costs by using creative ways to provide essential services at minimal cost to taxpayers. For example, we can expand the use of public private partnerships to provide services and to invest in open space preservation.

We can reduce the tax burden on homeowners by increasing County revenues generated from commercial real estate and commercial activities. An expanded economy will increase revenue from commercial property taxes as well as the County's share of sales tax and other taxes based on economic activity. We should work to encourage new business and expansion of existing ones, especially in areas served by mass transit and in older commercial areas of the County where public facilities are already in place. We should also focus on expanding tourism, an industry that can generate substantial revenue for the County while placing very little burden on the County taxpayers.

New development creates demand for more schools, parks, trails, and playing fields. We should ensure that developers pay their fair share of these infrastructure costs to serve their projects. We should seek state authorization to impose impact fees on new development.

We can diversify County revenues by ensuring that Fairfax County receives a fair deal from the state. Less than 20 cents of every tax dollar we pay to Richmond is returned to Fairfax County. That is not fair. We should diversify County revenues by working with our area legislators to get a fair deal for Fairfax.

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.

The Board of Supervisors must establish policy and objectives and hold the County Manager and his staff accountable for ensuring that those policies are implemented and that those objectives are achieved. County Supervisors must constantly strive to understand the problems and issues within the bureaucracy and how County programs and services are being delivered. The Board of Supervisors should work with the community to establish priorities and then use performance based budgeting techniques to constantly evaluate how tax dollars are spent. I have worked with Fairfax County staff and the staff of other local governments on many issues over the years. I believe that Fairfax County has an excellent staff. I do not doubt that there are some departments that resist change and are unresponsive to citizens and elected officials. However, I believe that is the exception. I believe that the most critical issue in terms of managing the Fairfax County bureaucracy is to ensure that they are given direction to work on programs and services that are the priority of the community. Programs and services that are not needed should be eliminated and duplication and redundancy should be minimized.

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?

We need campaign finance reform. The current system gives too much influence to developers and other special interests who do business with or before the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors. I believe that only individuals (not corporations and other business entities) should be permitted to contribute to Supervisor campaigns. I believe the amount of individual contributions should be limited. However, I am concerned that this will give an unfair advantage to an individual who could self-finance a campaign. To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, at an absolute minimum, there should be very stringent disclosure requirements concerning any Planning Commissioner or Supervisor who has a financial interest in any land use applicant (or person or entity opposing a land use application) that comes before the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors.