Four years ago, when Democrat John Foust lost the race for Dranesville District supervisor to Republican Joan DuBois, McLean resident Darren Ewing was one of the people who voted for DuBois and helped bring her into office. Now, Foust is challenging DuBois for a second time, but this November, Ewing plans to cast a different vote.
“There is just issue after issue where the current leadership is failing,” said Ewing, who considers himself a Republican. “I voted for her the first time around … but it’s really almost bizarre this lack of leadership. I think her heart may exactly be in the right place … but it’s a leadership style that doesn’t work in a sophisticated county that is so close to D.C. A lot of these people have worked in the federal government and understand process, so when you try and dump things on them and say ‘well this has already been done,’ it just doesn’t float. This is where John’s leadership style opposes hers.”
For his part, Foust thinks DuBois’ failure to listen to her constituents for the last four years has given him the upper hand in this year’s election.
“Over and over again, whether the issue was the Tysons tunnel, public waterlines in Great Falls, the Hunter Mill Land Use Task Force, clear-cutting of park land for the supervisor’s new offices, denying citizens the right to speak before the Board of Supervisors on concerns about the Bechtel contract, or her letter to local newspapers charging that all her constituents know how to say is ‘no,’ the incumbent supervisor has demonstrated a disregard and lack of respect for the opinions of her constituents,” said Foust. “Far too often, when she does respond to the community’s desires, it is only after her constituents have had to fight for their right to be heard. I am the stronger candidate because as supervisor I will listen to my constituents and solicit and respect their opinions. I will not cut secret deals with developers and other special interests and I will make sure my constituents have a real opportunity to influence decisions that affect their lives before those decisions are made.”
Foust said he appreciates the booming economy brought about by growth in Northern Virginia, but also believes that strategic planning and foresight must accompany intense development.
“I … believe the future of our economy and the quality of life in our community depend on our elected leaders doing a better job of addressing the congestion and other impacts caused by growth,” said Foust. “One reason I am the stronger candidate is that my opponent is too pro-developer and does not seem to understand the need to balance growth with available infrastructure, like roads, transit, schools and parks. As supervisor, I will use all powers available to me to demand that growth be balanced with available infrastructure, and I will work to protect county taxpayers by demanding that developers pay a fair share of the cost of infrastructure required to serve their projects.”
HOWEVER, not everyone feels that DuBois is ignoring her constituents. McLean resident Clark Tyler said he has many reasons for throwing his support behind DuBois in the upcoming election, but one in particular stands out.
“I don’t look at any partisan differences — I’m a liberal Democrat for heaven’s sake — but she picks up the phone when I call,” said Tyler. “It’s not like I hate John Foust. He’s a good friend, and it’s a hard choice, but as I said, Joan answers the phone. And she’s got an excellent staff — if I call up with an issue, no matter how off the wall it is, they always listen.”
Tyler, who is president of the Hallcrest Heights Homeowners Association, said DuBois has been exceedingly helpful when it came to the issue that mattered most for the residents of his community.
“She’s been very supportive of the thing that has annoyed us most, and that was getting a noise wall between us and the [Dulles] Toll Road,” said Tyler. “She also helped fix the intersection of Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road. We got several spot improvements there … so it’s stuff like that — she makes it happen.”
DuBois said she has a proven track record.
“Dranesville, as well as all of Fairfax County, has had many successes since I became the Dranesville District supervisor,” said DuBois. “Since assuming office in 2003, I have been an effective leader with the ability to deliver positive results.”
DuBois cited her past actions as evidence of what she has accomplished.
“I support the county’s environmental initiatives to preserve our tree cover, add to our open space and protect our streams and watersheds,” said DuBois. “To fulfill these goals, I voted to fund hybrid vehicles for our county fleet and utilize wind power technology. I also authorized the construction of new county ‘green’ buildings. I worked to ensure the permanent protection of over 100 acres of open space from development through conservation easements, including the Salona property in McLean. I provided funds for local stream stabilization projects and the completion of the Cross County Trail.”
In addition, DuBois said, contrary to what her critics might say, she listens to all of her constituents.
“As supervisor, it is critical to balance citizen interests and opinions,” said DuBois. “The past four years has not been without tough decisions that I have made to ensure we are moving together in the right direction as a community. That’s why I voted against the expansion of Tysons Corner Center and continue to be a strong advocate for the Dulles Rail project, including the tunnel option.”
Clark Tyler said it is precisely these hard decisions that make him sympathetic to DuBois’ position.
“Being a supervisor is one of the toughest jobs,” said Tyler. “She works all the time. She’s in there in the morning, and till late at night, and going to all these meetings — it’s a tough job and I can’t imagine anybody wanting to do it.”