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Votes

Cathy Hudgins, Hunter Mill District Supervisor

Office sought: Board of Supervisors, Hunter Mill District

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Previous offices held; please include dates:

Incumbents: when elected to this position: 1999

Occupation: Public administrator

Current employment: Full time member of the Board

Previous employment : Chief aide to Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; Telecommunications manager and consultant

Education: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 1965 BS Degree in Mathematics Education; George Mason University, 1994, MPA

Community ties: Former PTA Board member and President, Member and Treasurer of Northern Virginia Family Services, Reston Association Education Committee, Member, Tenant, Landlord Commission, Member and President, National Council of Negro Women

ENDORSEMENTS:

Fairfax Education Association, FirePac Local 2068 of Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, Northern Virginia Realtors Association, Fairfax Council of PTAs, All major political leaders - Governor, Lt. Governor, and local officials

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term.

Landmark approval of Comprehensive Plan changes to provide transit oriented development (TOD) for the transit station areas in the Dulles Corridor because of its long-term impact on how the corridor will develop in the coming decades.

Why shouldn't voters blame you for current problems in your district?

While there are always more problems to solve and issues to address, I believe I have worked collaboratively with the citizens of Hunter Mill District to find solutions to community problems. I was pleased to see such a positive outcome in getting support for the Southgate Neighborhood Center. I initiated changes that now provide for better pedestrian safety and enforcement and I am pleased with the progress we have made with the NoViTrail connecting Vienna neighborhoods to Meadowlark Gardens and beyond. Again with citizen input we preserved Old Reston Avenue and maintained its historic character. I worked hard to identify funds to construct Stratton Woods Community Park.

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.

Transportation: Getting rail to Dulles and improving public transportation. Hunter Mill District is impacted more by the need for the rail project mostly through our commercial success that brings more traffic to the area with few transportation alternatives.

Housing: Continuing to find more tools to build more diverse housing

Environment: Getting control of water quality issues by improving our streams and using better tools such as low impact development to protect our streams

Taxes: Tackling the imbalance of needs against a call for limiting revenues when there are few options left for local government

Health & Human Services: Maintaining the county's commitment to protect the more vulnerable in the community by employing the more costly measures of prevention over intervention.

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

I bring experience, knowledge of the district and the ability to solve problems and get things done. These are critical measures of leadership needed to represents the needs of others. I have a long history of working in the community and being a leader. I always use that experience to help me in my decision making-how to communicate with people and how to find the solution that best serves everyone.

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

I bring to the job experience, knowledge of the district and the ability to work with the community to solve difficult problems. Using these skills I can be effective with Board colleagues and other partners to develop effective policy for the county and the citizens of Hunter Mill District. Voters will know from my experience and my temperament that decisions I make will be well thought out and will have the best interest of the community.

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.

Our transportation network must include rail, buses and pedestrian and cycle facilities. I have actively supported and advocated for rail to Tysons and through to Dulles. I believe my support for the project and my working relationship with state officials has resulted in the Dulles Corridor and Reston included in Phase I of the project. My support for public transportation has provided increased bus service in the corridor, including increasing mid day service from the corridor to West Falls Church. I initiated numerous initiatives for pedestrians and cyclists, including new legislation for greater crosswalk safety and increased enforcement for violators, change in signalization for pedestrians, and increase transit amenities such as bus shelters, pathways and lights. Rail is the county's most critical transportation initiative. We need assurance that the federal government will join the local partners and match our financial plan. In working with the business community we must better utilize the tools available through Commuter Connections. As a member of the TPB Value Pricing Task Force I hope to identify other alternatives that reduce congestion and encourage more use of public transportation.

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?

While there is a continuing decline in the number of families without children in school, I believe the majority of families recognize that our outstanding school system is the leading contributor to the success and attractiveness 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?

Reston is a great place to talk about "smart growth" The county has learned a great deal from the Reston zoning and we are emulated, to some extent, in other parts of the county. I believe the Comprehensive Plan changes in 2001 for the transit station areas were indeed deserving of the landmark recognition. I believe more tools may assist the county in places that have not used mix use development as effectively as Reston. Transfer of Development Rights, if granted enabling authority by the state, is one tool to manage growth. Transit oriented development also provides an opportunity to balance the increase of residential with other uses and the associated infrastructures.

8. What are your top environmental priorities? Please address air quality, water quality, open space, etc.

My top priorities include reducing congestion in order to contribute as much as possible to the reduction of air pollution. This can be done by bring rail in the corridor, increasing bus service and working with businesses to increase telework. A major issue is water quality and its relationship to the health of our streams.

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

I think we have a safe district and a safe county, however, we must always be attentive to anything that happens in the district. I 2000 the middle school principal came to me with the concern that he was seeing the recruitment of very young children into gangs. We established a Focus Group to work together in the community to stem this problem. The group continues to meet and work with all entities that have the care of our children. While we still must be concern with the gang issue, the important thing is our community is not putting heads in the sand and not addressing the problem.

Homeland security does present an additional responsibility for our police, fire and health officials. What we must remember that at the local level with must always be concern about the day to day issues. That's where our community policing comes in. Getting out into the neighborhood and knowing the activity on the street and the community getting to know the officers is the best way to help with national security type issues. Our police are engaged in the community before there are problems, and that makes preventing and solving problems much easier.

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 want the community to see our police doing the things to keep the community safe. I do not want to see that relationship ruined by extending the authority of our local police to issues that are clearly national security. While we will always be called upon to provide assistance, I want the integrity of the police to remain in tack. When the police get engaged in issues as those surrounding the Patriot Act, I am concern in a growing multicultural community will withdraw and we will lose there involvement and send the wrong signal as to who and what is the role of local police.

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?

I believe our economy has been based for several years on low wage employees. This type of economy does little to help bring people out of poverty without a strong hand of government or other help. Because the wages are low and the areas of employment for many do not include opportunities for employees to grow and move up, we will continue to have increase rather than decline in the number of families living in poverty. Fairfax County is a major employer. We must always look at our own employees as well as who does business with the county and how they treat their employees. When the majority of people we are assisting with child care, health care and housing are working, often multiple jobs, something must point to wages they earn in this economy.

12. Should counties have the taxing authority of cities?

Yes

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.

Counties, specifically Fairfax County, need greater taxing flexibility to generate the revenue to meet the communities needs. I am fearful of proposals like that of my opponent to cap real estate taxes, which will further tie the board's hands in trying to meet the many demands of the county. In the past two years we have had to cut services to county programs and we have not picked up services that are mandated by the state but have lost state funding. These represent direct reduction of services to Fairfax County residents. The board will be pulled in this direction more and more, and I believe it will mean a significant decline in the quality of services to our residents. Nearly eighty percent of our budget funds education, public safety and health and human services. The reductions will effect those areas where there are significant funds and that means these core services. This year's debate is about what kind of community do we want to be and how are we willing to pay for it.

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.

While the county executive is responsible for the operation of county government, the Board of Supervisors can influence that direction. I believe under the current county executive, there has been greater openness in dealing with county employees. Fairfax County is a large bureaucracy and is just slowly ridding itself of the old boy standards that were present in the 1980s. I think we are making progress in changing, but there is more to do. Organizations must have the confidence that they can, to some extend, work creatively and not loose faith with managers should they fail. Managers on the other hand must develop confidence in their own leadership and respect for the capacity of their employees.

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?

While I think it is important to be above even the perception of conflict, we are guided by the code and always have available to us legal advice. Since I have been on the Board, the members have had relative few disclosures, which seem to indicate to me that members do not receive the majority of contributions from the developers and their agents who appear before the Board. I think the important element is whether the citizens feel they have access to the members of the Board and whether that access can provide genuine influence equal to that of developers. I believe the land use committees in Hunter Mill District serve me well in letting citizens know that I listen to them but also that I expect the developers and their agents to listen to the citizens. I have heard from both sides that the process makes for better land use decisions and that provides for a consistent process in arriving at a decision.