Unchallenged Candidates Focus on Agenda

Unchallenged Candidates Focus on Agenda

Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) is heading into his first election with no opposition. This has allowed him to spend the time he'd usually be campaigning to meet with constituents and catch his breath and focus on the issues facing his district. Several other supervisor’s races are uncontested, so Kauffman's not alone.

In 1995, Kauffman was in a five-way race with one Republican, one Libertarian and two Independents. Then in 1999, he was up against Bob Jones, a local builder.

Besides not having to post signs all over the roadside, he saw another time-management advantage.

"You're able to spend more evenings with the community on new issues than you're spending defending previous actions," he said.

Kauffman still has an agenda, though, highlighted by juggling the needs of the growing senior population and the growing student population. Both need attention, which can equate to funding.

"I'm striving to find a balance to services in both," Kauffman said. "The wage-earning, taxpaying demographic is getting smaller."

In the transportation arena, Kauffman wants to concentrate on managing demand on the existing transportation system.

"Adding capacity is not the total answer," he said.

One idea that Kauffman is exploring is a bus line along the Parkway instead of the north/south route that all the existing public transportation is fixed on.

"Fairfax County main street is the Fairfax County Parkway," he said. "We should have a link between Franconia-Springfield transportation center and the Reston-Herndon Transportation Center."

Other transportation concerns include "hot lanes," where commuters pay tolls on certain lanes, and widening Beulah Street and Telegraph Road. Beulah is already under way and will be completed next year, but Telegraph remains on the wish list. It's been on the county’s six-year plan for 18 years, but Kauffman has tried to limit residential construction in the area so that traffic won't get worse.

"That's one of the reasons we acted to 'downplan' the Telegraph Road Corridor," he said. "Downplanning," property is maintaining the current zoning and not allowing property to be rezoned at a higher density.

Instilling a sense of community combats the transportation dilemma as well. Encouraging people to look in their neighborhoods for entertainment and shopping eliminates the need to get in the car to a certain extent.

"They want amenities close to home," Kauffman said.

Most of the things come down to budgetary decisions, though. When Fairfax County was the leading dairy producer in the state, circa 1890, the problems of today were nonexistent.

"This is a county that is facing real urban challenges," Kauffman said. "Now we're a major economic engine."

IN THE SPRINGFIELD District, Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R) has been through several elections unopposed. This spring, she ran against Republicans Stan Reid and Linda Clary in the primary and won. She had a Democratic challenger in 1992 and ran for the chairman position against Kate Hanley in 1995.

In the coming four years, McConnell has several items on her agenda, with the most important being the communications center at Camp 30 on West Ox Road. It will house an updated 911 center for the police and fire as well as a Virginia Department of Transportation facility.

"My main thing is having the joint communications center built and manned. I've been working on that for years," she said.

Transportation projects McConnell wants to see completed are the widening of Burke Lake Road, widening Rolling Road from Old Keene Mill Road to the Fairfax County Parkway, and straightening Popes Head Road. Ball fields are another concern of McConnell's, and her attention is focused on a 95-acre tract of land near the Parkway and the Mott Center.

"Were trying to get athletic fields at the Popes Head facility. We call it the ‘Pope's Head assemblage.’ We've got some money for it," McConnell said.

Other projects include fire stations at Crosspointe, Fairchase and the Town of Clifton.

"We're looking for a mini fire station for Clifton," she said.

Lidar guns for traffic enforcement as well as dredging the Occoquan River are also on the agenda.

SUPERVISOR SHARON BULOVA (D-Braddock) is coming up on her fifth term in office, having faced opponents in the first few elections. In 1987, her first opponent was Pat Mullins, who went on to be chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party, and then Red Jenkins in 1991, who was the basketball coach at Woodson High School. Then in 1995, the Target store at Roberts Road was the big issue, and Paul Ramono was her opponent. In 1999, she had no opposition.

"The thing I'm proudest of is the VRE [Virginia Rail Express]," Bulova said, of her tenure as Braddock supervisor. "We are going through growing pains. Trying to accommodate the significant increase in ridership is our biggest challenge right now."

Currently, Bulova is working out the details for a five-level parking garage at Burke Centre. Then she wants to take it to the streets, making the VRE service accessible to other parts of the district. One way she's doing that is with EZ Ride, a shuttle bus system where passengers would be picked up at neighborhood sites. Another idea is a bus route that would start at the Burke Centre VRE station, go up Roberts Road, on Sideburn Road to George Mason University. This would enable students and residents to have access to mass transportation.

"It would leverage an existing mass transportation facility," Bulova said. "Our county staff is looking at that."

Other transportation improvements with limited funding are spot improvements at a few choice intersections, in particular Braddock Road and Ox Road, or Route 123. It is a major intersection in the district, exacerbated by the shopping center and GMU nearby.

"The whole intersection with Ox Road and Roanoke Street is a problem area," she said.

Bulova has already completed work at Wakefield Chapel Road and Little River Turnpike and now targets intersections at Guinea Road and Lake Boulevard and Little River Turnpike.

"It's just making those intersections work better," she said. "We have money to do most of this stuff."

IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Del. Dave Albo (R-42nd) had competition in the form of Democrat Dave Collins in 2001. This election, he's unopposed, leaving him more time to focus on the issues in West Springfield. He categorized the issues in two categories: "local" and the "big picture," he said. Local issues mostly concern roads and traffic. Widening Rolling Road and straightening some of the curves in Hooes Road are on the top of Albo's to-do list.

"Both of those projects are funded," he said.

On the stretch of Hooes between the Fairfax County Parkway and Silverbrooke Road, the curvy nature of the road presents a danger.

"We probably need to bank it, put guardrails up," he said.

Although Albo recognized that local projects were predominately about roads, the South County High School is one area he's keeping his eye on as well. The public/private partnership is one area Albo takes some credit for implementing for that school. Other schools followed that project's lead.

"A lot of other jurisdictions are using this," he said, of the public/private model.

As far as the big-picture items are concerned, Albo has his eye on some legal issues. One issue is for driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenders. Albo wants a mandatory one day in jail for first offenders.

"We want to give them 24 hours to think about it," he said.

Another issue is the education funding formula in Richmond. He previously submitted a bill, which was backed only by the Northern Virginia delegates. This time, he wants to get the bill in, to establish a starting point so it cannot get reduced past a certain point.

"The funding factor should include a factor for urban areas," he said.

He wants to rewrite the criminal code to "eliminate laws that have never been enforced," as well as re-evaluate punishments and eliminate unconstitutional items still in the criminal code.

BEING UNOPPOSED denies Del. Vivian Watts (D-39th) an opportunity for a good discussion on the issues, so she uses her time to attend other candidates’ debates to see what people are talking about. Although she's not part of the discussions, this information-gathering tactic helps hone her platform in the coming term.

"I go just to hear what the people are concerned about," she said.

What Watts is hearing in large part has to do with taxes and spending. As a member of the House Finance Committee, she has an eye on Gov. Warner's (D) tax reform plan. She's behind getting more money from the state for the Northern Virginia area, but the issue is more complicated than some have assessed it, which is a 19-cent return from every tax dollar sent to Richmond. Watts has never seen a good analysis of the funding formula

"I've never seen anything as low as 19," she said. "They're not looking at the total picture."

Besides taxes, the next item on Watts' agenda is transportation. The Metro is a big transportation aspect in her district, and extending the service with eight-car trains is her priority.

"We ought to be able to fully utilize the system," she said. "It all comes down to funding."

In the education arena, Watts wants to relieve the homeowners of the funding burden for schools. Presently, a large chunk of the money for schools comes from real-estate taxes.

Watts was a delegate from 1982-85 and then resigned to work in Gov. Baliles (D) cabinet until 1990. In 1996, she wanted to get back into the political arena, so she defeated Tim Hugo for a seat in the General Assembly. In 2000, she beat Republican challenger Chris Craig.

"The General Assembly is a long-term proposition," Watts said. "I've always represented a swing district."

SCHOOL BOARD member Judith T. "Tessie" Wilson just finished her first term on the School Board and is looking forward to maintaining the momentum with her agenda going into her second term unopposed.

"I'd like to continue with success in my schools in the Braddock District," she said.

One success that she's had is obtaining corporate sponsorship to fund some programs. With the large number of non-English-speaking students in school, Wilson looked at the lack of books available in foreign languages. She approached the Korean Embassy and got them to supply over 1,000 books for her schools. Wilson even approached a restaurant association for funding the culinary arts program at Annandale High School. In return, she got them to contribute $100,000 toward the program, which has accelerated since.

"We were able to really upgrade the equipment. It is popular now," she said.

In addition, Wilson also got 18 new computers from Compact Computers over the past year.

Woodson High School is another school in her district that needs help. Renovations are planned for August 2006, with a bond referendum on the ballot this November. Wilson has pushed for this renovation and feels her constituents know the popularity of this effort.

"That's one of the reasons I'm running unopposed," she said.

In 2000, as a newcomer, Wilson beat Ilryong Moon, who is running this year for an at-large seat on the School Board.