Purvis Dawson, Mount Vernon District Supervisor

Purvis Dawson, Mount Vernon District Supervisor

Office Sought: Mount Vernon Supervisor

Occupation: Fairfax County Police Department (Hired 2/23/1981)

Position: First Lieutenant

Assistant Station Commander, Fair Oaks District Station

Previous Assignments

Mount Vernon District Station

Mason District Station

Franconia District Station

West Springfield District Station

Fair Oaks District Station

Technical Services Bureau - Field Support Division - Police Headquarters

Public Safety Communications Center

Criminal Investigations Bureau - Major Crimes Division (Detective)

Part-time Occupation: Assistant Service Manager, Mike Pallone Chevrolet, Inc.

7722 Backlick Road

Springfield, VA 22150

Part-time employee for the past 15 years.

Schools: Graduated in 1977 from Groveton High School

(Fairfax County Public School System)

Northern Virginia Community College

Annandale Campus

1986 Graduate (Associates Degree in Police Science)

George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

2002 Graduate

Bachelor's Degree in Administration of Justice

Graduated with High Distinction

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 a Fairfax County Police Officer for the past 22 years. My top public service accomplishment has been serving the citizens of Fairfax County in various capacities throughout my career. I am especially proud of my service to the communities of the Mount Vernon and Franconia District Stations when I was assigned to the Crime Prevention Unit and the Neighborhood Patrol Unit. I was the Mount Vernon District Station Crime Prevention Officer from 1984 to 1990. I was the Neighborhood Patrol Unit Supervisor, better known as the 'Bike Team Lieutenant' at Franconia District Station from October of 1999 to July of 2000.

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.

1. Double - Digit Real Estate Tax Increases over the past four years.

2. Transportation Issues

3. Development/Revitalization

4. INOVA-Mount Vernon Hospital (potential closing/relocation)

The real estate taxes on homes in Fairfax County have increased an average of 53% over the past four years and in some areas of the county, to include the Mount Vernon District, increases have averages up to 72%. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will work on reducing the real estate tax burden on our citizens. Spending needs to be controlled, programs need to be evaluated for their effectiveness and efficiency. (The 'lines of business' that the County performs need to be evaluated).

Transportation Priorities; Work with the Department of Defense, the Fort Belvoir Command Structure, Congressional, State and Local officials in designing and the eventual implementation of an East - West roadway through Fort Belvoir Military Reservation to replace the Woodlawn Road - Beulah Street connection to Telegraph Road. This roadway has been closed since the September 11, 2001. This was a vital link between the communities separated by Telegraph Road on the north-west boundaries of Fort Belvoir. This should have been a priority two years ago. The completion of this project is a major priority that not only effects the citizens of the Lee and Mount Vernon Districts, but also had a major effect on public safety response times. (2a) Completion of the Fairfax County Parkway - Fort Belvoir Link. Currently this section of the parkway is scheduled for construction in 2006. The timetable for this project needs to be moved-up. This link is vital and would greatly enhance the traffic flow on the parkway while reducing the congestion on the Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Backlick Road. (If elected, I would work with Federal, State and local leaders to expedite this project). [2b] Route One; Development and Transportation need to be brought into balance along the Route One corridor. As we develop both residential and commercial areas along the Route One corridor, the transportation needs have to be in balance with the approved development. We need to ensure that turn-lanes are in place for both North and South Bound Traffic lanes. Intersection improvements such as adequate turn lanes with proper traffic light signalization (turn arrows). Medians installed from the Fairfax County Parkway south to the Prince William County Line along Richmond Highway.

[3] Route One Revitalization: Continue encouraging both residential and commercial development along the Route One corridor, using a balanced approach. [4] INOVA-Mount Vernon Hospital; I will work with the Community, the Hospital Administration, Employees of INOVA, Federal, State and Local leaders in keeping INOVA-Mount Vernon Hospital at its current location. The current atmosphere with the INOVA administration appears to be hostile in nature with the approach being used now. I would attempt to "bridge the gap" and establish a positive dialogue with INOVA-Mount Vernon Administration (Susan Herbert) and the Board of Trustees of the INOVA Hospital System. The moving of the hospital would have a negative effect on the community (users of the hospital & its Emergency Room) and businesses that have located around the current facility. The INOVA crisis is unique to the Mount Vernon community and is a priority item to be resolved. The community needs to be assured that INOVA-Mount Vernon will remain at the present site, on land purchased by County Tax Payers and leased to the INOVA Hospital System. This is a partnership that must be repaired!

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

I am a life-long resident of Fairfax County, a product of the Fairfax County Public School System, and a County employee of the Police Department. My father went to Mount Vernon High School and graduated from it in 1955. He was raised in the New Alexandria section of Fairfax County. My wife of 15 years, Sherri (Scott) Dawson, was also raised in Fairfax County. I have "deep" roots in the Community that I not only grew-up in but have served as a public servant for the past 22 ? years. Honesty, integrity and having a strong moral character are very important traits that I have "lived" my life by. I have been a supervisor in the police department for over (8) years at various ranks and have a reputation of being a hard working, well liked supervisor, who takes care of his "troops" and gets the job done. I have a reputation for speaking up for others and doing "the right thing." I served on the Employee Advisory Council of Fairfax County for almost (8) years. I was the E.A.C.'s Chairman for just under (2) years. I represented County Employees before the Board of Supervisors, the County Executive and the Civil Service Commission and worked to protect the rights of employees and improve working conditions during my tenure on the E.A.C.

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

My opponent has been a member of the Board of Supervisors for the past 16 years while maintaining his job as a practicing attorney in the Northern Virginia area. If elected in November, I plan to retire from the Fairfax County Police Department and be Mount Vernon's full time Supervisor, even though the position is a 'part-time job.' I have a strong work ethic and proven leadership abilities from serving as a police officer for the past 22 years. I have a reputation within the Fairfax County Police Department of being a dependable individual, a team player, and one who gets the job done. I am a consensus builder and one who finds a way to 'bridge the gap.' I believe in teamwork and cooperation and I have faith in people. I look for the best in others and I always strive do the right thing. My moral character and integrity have the highest priority in my life. My family is extremely important to me. As an average income earner, who is supporting a wife and three children, I can identify with the struggles and needs of the citizens in Mount Vernon and Fairfax County.

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.

The Republican Candidates for the Board of Supervisors have been working on transportation alternatives for the past several months. On September 23, 2003, Mychele Brickner, Congressman Wolf and Congressman Davis along with Republican candidates for the Board of Supervisors, the State Senate and the House of Delegates announced a six-point transportation plan that we as elected candidates would pursue. The plan provides for $180 million for prioritized transportation projects that include key road widenings, intersection improvements, and transit related construction. The plan also supports the implementation of innovations to include High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along key roads, and the use of disciplined growth to help ease congested County roads. [Please note: We do not advocate 'No Growth,' but 'Smart Growth' balancing our residential and commercial growth with our transportation needs]. The Republican endorsed plan calls for the 'creation of a panel of civic and business leaders to gain input in identifying transportation priorities.' The Board of Supervisors has not put forth a Transportation Bond before the voters since the 1990's. If we are looking towards "Richmond" to resolve all of our transportation needs, it is just not going to happen with the current budget climate the Commonwealth of Virginia is experiencing. [Note: The County Executive recommended to the Board of Supervisors that approximately $4 million dollars of the $39.5 million dollar "surplus" be spent towards spot improvements. It was decided at the September 15th public hearing not to fund the County Executive's request].

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?

In the FY'04 budget, the Fairfax County Public School System received a transfer of $1,359,371,934, which amounted to 53.1% of the General Fund disbursement. Our school system needs to ensure that funding is directed at the students and teachers, not at additional administrative staffing. Class size is a priority! As a product of the Fairfax County Public School System, I am a strong advocate of public education. I would encourage the school system to create an Inspector General position to examine and focus on the spending habits of the school system. Evaluate programs for their efficiency and effectiveness. Are the programs making the grade? We need to eliminate waste and redundancy to free up funds that are needed to educate our children. The same type of Inspector General concept needs to be utilized in the General County government as well.

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 Governments "govern" their growth by the localities comprehensive plan. The current Board of Supervisors has had a tendency to amend the county's comprehensive plan and add (+) density without balancing the transportation needs that go along with the development. It is my understanding between the time period of 1995 and 2001, some 40,000 plus housing units were added to the comprehensive plan that were not originally anticipated. The problem with the additional authorized housing is that adequate transportation planning was not included. The Board of Supervisors needs to balance "building" with "transportation." The majority of the Republican candidates running for the Board of Supervisors support smart growth. As addressed in another question, we have not had a transportation bond since the 1990's. The Board of Supervisors needs to address the transportation problems that we face in Fairfax County and not wait for Richmond to address the problems and congestion for us. The Comprehensive Plan is our tool to manage growth. There is no "vested right" that mandates the Board of Supervisors to change the comprehensive plan. We need to add more lane miles with our growth and create a balance with our transportation needs. Encourage the use of public transportation such as rail, metro, bus, the use of car-pooling, tele-commuting and the use of flex time.

9. Are residents safe enough? How do public safety officials balance new demands of "homeland security" with other safety and quality of life issues?

As a member of the Fairfax County Police Department for the past 22 years, I believe we have one of the finest police departments in the nation. The Department's authorized strength is just under 1,300 sworn officers. I do believe the police department does an outstanding job protecting our citizens and maintaining peace and order. In the FY'04 budget, fifty-two new police officers were authorized under the Justice Department's universal "matching grant" hiring program. The police department recently received approval to "apply" for (16) sixteen new police officer positions in the next fiscal year also through the Justice Department's Community Policing Universal Hiring Program. As our population increases, we need to ensure that we continue to hire additional police officers to keep up with the county's growth and demands for service. Our agency created an Intelligence Unit shortly after the Terrorist Attacks of 9-11-01. This unit works hand and hand with Federal, State and other local law enforcement agencies. They are very proactive and perform a vital function for the police department. The police department has a full time Gang Unit that is extremely effective in dealing with the gang problem in the county. The men and women of the Fairfax County Police Department do an outstanding job in maintaining peace and order. In order to for Fairfax County to have one of the lowest crime rates in the area, we need to continue hiring officers to keep up with the growth and the calls for service. Community policing is a fantastic tool that creates and fosters partnerships between the police and the communities that we serve. These partnerships help us balance the demands of "homeland security" and the "quality of life" issues in the county. If we are to maintain peace and order, then our authorized patrol strength in the county will have to continue to grow as our population grows. Programs such as the United States Department of Justice, COPS grant-program is an excellent example on how to hire additional officers. The county needs to continue exploring grant opportunities to meet our public safety needs. [Additional avenues to pursue: Explore public-private partnerships, seek out additional grant opportunities, expand the Volunteers in Police Service Program, the Auxiliary Officers Unit and implement a Reserve Officers Unit].

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?

Low wage workers are important to the County. As I stated in our interview last week, we need to bring more tax relief to the citizens of Fairfax County to encourage people to make Fairfax County their home. Housing costs are soaring as your question states. We need to encourage more public-private partnerships to help finance housing for our lower waged workers and ensure that transportation links are available. Health care is not just a Fairfax County issue, it is a national issue that needs to be addressed at all levels of government. As a county employee with health coverage for my family, I have seen yearly increases to my own insurance coverage. If elected, I would explore ways to provide health services to the uninsured and/or underinsured. Once again, the need for public ñ private partnerships in solving this problem is apparent and we need to reach out to all segments of society for help.

12. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia has appointed a commission to examine Virginia's Tax System. Unfortunately, the commission will not make their recommendations available to the public until after the November 4, 2003 election. The Real Estate Taxes collected make-up 58.4% of the Countyís receipts. Personal Property Taxes make-up 18.6% of the budget followed by other local taxes (14.6%) such as Local Sales Tax, B.P.O.L., Utility Tax, Auto Licenses, and other. The County Executive has noted that "the County found itself in the precarious position of relying almost exclusively on residential real estate assessment increases to balance the budget." We need to explore other avenues of revenue without taxing our citizens and businesses out of the County. Tourism is a source of revenue that we need to capitalize on in the County. With the opening of the Smithsonian Museum in Chantilly, and all of the other historical attractions in and around Fairfax County, we need to attract tourist to our county, which would boost county revenues. Taxes in general need to be examined in the county, but are not the "complete" answer to our budget dilemma. Our spending habits need to be examined along with the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs and services we are delivering to the public.

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 addressed the Real Estate Tax question in person during our interview last week, however I will try to expand more on the question. The Real Estate Tax assessment needs to be controlled. As I knock on doors speaking to the residents of Mount Vernon, the overall concern being expressed to me is the double digit real estate tax increases that have been occurring over the past several years. The spending needs and habits of the county must be addressed. Programs need to be evaluated for their overall effectiveness and efficiency. The "lines of business" in Fairfax County need to be examined and spending must be prioritized. The overall County Budget needs citizen input now, and not after the budget has been presented to the Board of Supervisors in February, 2004. I reviewed a memorandum dated July 28, 2003, addressed to the Board of Supervisors from the County Executive. He states, "In addition, FY 2005 represents the fourth consecutive year of agency budget reductions, and it is likely that reductions will be more programmatic in nature." If programs are going to be eliminated and/or reduced, then we need the input from our residents, our business owners, and our employees now, not in April of 2004. In the County Executive's memorandum, he also notes that the FY' 2005 budget redesign effort will include links between agency strategic plans and the County budget. Now is the appropriate time for input on next year's budget if we are going to curtail spending and have tax relief. My stand on yearly real estate tax increases is that the taxes should not go up more then the rate of inflation and the rate of population increase. I did not sign the 5% tax cap pledge because I strongly feel that tighter spending controls and program evaluation can solve the double ñ digit real estate tax increases. We need to eliminate the TAX and SPEND attitude. During my interview, I stated that we need to challenge our employees and truly include them in the budget process. Given the proper avenue for expression of ideas, I believe that County Employees can help solve our budget dilemma. Please note: The Board of Supervisors placed $10 million dollars in reserve on September 15, 2003 for the FY' 2005 budget. In the County's publication on the FY' 2004 Adopted Budget Plan, "the Financial Forecast for FY 2005 reflects a deficit of approximately $12.3 million." My question to the current Board of Supervisors is why did we not encumber additional funds for the FY 2005 reserve account? By placing only $10.0 million dollars in the account, we are already short by $2.3 million dollars if the budget projections hold true.

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.

During my interview with the Connection, I spoke about the County Executive's visit to agencies throughout the county on the first Friday of each month. This is an outstanding outreach tool to county employees. The County Executive spends between two and three hours with the employees answering questions and explaining program changes etc., during his Friday visits. As a Board member, I too would go out and meet with county employees. I believe that we need to not only challenge our county employees more, but make them part of the equation for helping solve our budget dilemma. County employees can bring a lot of resources to the table. When the former County Executive proposed a "pay for performance" system, he mobilized several hundred county employees to take part in the design of the pay for performance system. We had various levels of employees "at the table" with managers, supervisors and agency heads. County employees, when treated fairly and given a chance, can be very creative with problem solving. County employees are a valuable resource. As far as measuring their performance, include them in the process. How do they rate themselves? What can they do better? What are they doing well? Public perception, how are they perceived? {"Perception is one's reality"}. Communication is a two ñ way street. The lack of communication between employees and management is often the cause for poor performance, especially when it comes to expectations. Accountability; both management and employees need to be held accountable for their job performance. If someone is not performing, then the performance needs to be documented and corrective action taken, to include training and counseling. If no improvement in the employees' performance over a period of time, then the employee needs to be released from their employment. No double standards!

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?

A member of the Board of Supervisors, one needs to be beyond reproach. His or her integrity and character need to be impeccable. If you have an "interest" or "relationship" with a matter before the Board of Supervisors, then reveal it! This is not a difficult question to answer, if you have nothing to hide, then be out in the forefront and reveal relationships with the applicants that have matters before the board. Excuse yourself from a vote when appropriate - most of all, don't deceive the public that elected you to serve. Anyone can avoid "conflict of interests allegations," you just need to reveal the relationship and "do the right thing." Perception is one's Reality!