With the primary election less than two months away, the race for the Democratic nomination for the Providence District supervisor is heating up. Incumbent Linda Smyth kicked off her campaign on Wednesday afternoon, April 18, with a gathering of supporters in Falls Church.
"I need your support in the election, but also your commitment that you will continue doing all those things to make Fairfax [County] the best it can be," said Smyth, addressing her supporters. She said the Providence District is dealing with many complicated issues, which include the extension of Metro through Tysons Corner and the planning for the future of that community. Other communities in the district, too, face issues related to future development and growth in the area.
"Linda Smyth was the first to talk about low-impact development," said Gerry Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (D-At Large). He added that Smyth is a true advocate for the environment, someone who leads by example on the issue. "The Herrity Building will be a green building because of Linda Smyth," said Connolly, referring to one of the buildings in the county government center’s complex.
In addition to Smyth’s advocacy on the environment, Connolly said the Providence supervisor proves herself in day-to-day activities. For example, she secured the opening of the Oakton library later this year. A resident of the Providence District, Connolly said: "I need her. More importantly, you need her."
SMYTH’S CRITICS — including her opponent in the June 12 primary, Charlie Hall — argue that Smyth, in her position as the district supervisor, does not scrutinize development plans enough. However, Smyth’s appointee on the county Planning Commission, Kenneth Lawrence, said he is the one who makes the recommendations for approval of development plans. Lawrence added that Smyth has never tried to influence him in any way.
"It’s easy to show up after three years of undermining your officials and come up with an agenda," said Connolly, referring to Hall.
Lawrence also defended the planning decisions the county has made in recent years. "I hope they [the critics] stop and think why we’re making these recommendations," he said. "We’re not making them to make people unhappy. We do it to try to manage the situation rather than it manage us."
The county is facing a difficult period in terms of growth, according to Lawrence. The issues stem from the fact that the county is changing, and has been for the last few years, from a suburban county into an urban county. "We have to manage that growth," said Lawrence.
SOME REPRESENTATIVES of the law enforcement community attended the campaign kickoff as well. Vienna resident Jim Riddel, a 42-year resident of the county and retired police investigator, said Smyth has helped the active and the retired police. "This board that’s in office now has done more for the police department, the fire department and law enforcement than has been done in a long time," said Riddel.
Although members of the public do not always agree on certain issues, said Smyth, she understands that there is a basic agreement within the community. "Making Fairfax County a good place to raise families," she said is that understanding.
"We’re looking forward to a great campaign," said campaign manager Sean Corey. "We have a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm."