As someone who has coached basketball, run his own business and been a member of several Virginia boards, Mike McClanahan hopes to add Springfield District Supervisor to his résumé.
McClanahan, a lifetime Virginia resident, is the Democratic candidate running for Springfield District supervisor, a seat occupied for the last 24 years by Elaine McConnell (R). Republicans Stan Reid and Pat Herrity will be facing off in the June 12 primary to see who will represent their party in the November election.
Residing in the Northern Virginia region for about 25 years with his wife, Michelle, and son, Jacob, McClanahan works 16-hour days — balancing his campaign and small business, among other things.
"I’m lucky enough to have my own business, Zebra Strategies, LLC., because I can have control and flexibility over my hours," said McClanahan.
Zebra Strategies is a small company that provides leadership and management training. At the moment, McClanahan is making arrangements for someone to take over most of his tasks.
"Mrs. McConnell also ran her own business and was on the board at the same time, so I’m hopeful," said McClanahan. "I would also like to add that I think Mrs. McConnell did a very good job. She created a collegial atmosphere,"
McClanahan has not always been involved in politics; he previously worked in the media, once working for the Washington City Paper and for Comcast as the regional director of advertising in the Baltimore/Washington area.
How long have you lived in Virginia?
I have lived in Virginia my entire life. I actually grew up south of Virginia Tech. I have lived in Northern Virginia for about 25 years.
What do you love most about Virginia?
I love that Virginia has so many different areas. Northern Virginia is mostly urban and cosmopolitan but there are also rural areas in Virginia. And just to the east you have the beaches. There are so many atmospheres.
Why did you want to run for this position, Springfield District Supervisor?
The Board of Supervisors is the closest form of government to an actual constituent. Fairfax County doesn’t have just everyday issues they also have issues that they look at from the 30,000-foot level. The decisions made now have a great impact.
How did you acquire your interest for politics?
I’ve always been interested. From the late 1980s to about the early 1990s when I got cable television, I would watch the Board of Supervisors. I just thought it was interesting. I feel like we have an obligation to be a part of the dialogue. Being a coach and being on several boards, I get the most fulfillment from communal participation. It’s just for me — giving back to the community.
When stepping into a position most people strive to make improvements. What would you say that you would do to make improvements?
Establishing a Metro would be great. But of course these goals cannot be achieved over night. However, I would like to see more community leaders and more community involvement.
What are your goals or main priorities if elected?
The Springfield District has so many different neighborhoods. In the western area my main goal would be transportation. A Metro is needed there. The central area, which includes Clifton, doesn’t have county public water, which is an issue. The eastern area, West Springfield and Burke, is an area where land-use decisions are critical.
Have you held any other political positions?
I haven’t held any previous elected positions. I was appointed to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Citizen's Advisory Council and I am executive director and chairman of the board of SAFE-D [a non-profit organization that deals with "safety skills for teen drivers"]. In 2006, I was also appointed to the Fairfax County Bond Referendum Committee.
When you were little, what did you want to grow up to be?
Everything from a cowboy to a lawyer.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I think the fact that I grew up in the heart of the Appalachians would be the most surprising. It’s a very poor area. I didn’t know we were poor because everybody else was poor. But I think my parents did a very good job because I didn’t realize it, even during the harder times.
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
A lot of people: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln. I just finished a book called "Jack" about John F. Kennedy. I read a lot so in a way I feel like I have already met them.