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Time for a Change

Mike McClanahan hopes to replace Elaine McConnell this November.

It's time for a change in the Springfield District, and Mike McClanahan is certain that change should start with him.

"We need to have move forward in both the Springfield District and Fairfax County," said McClanahan, who is running for the seat soon to be vacated by long-serving supervisor Elaine McConnell (R), who is resigning her position at the end of this year.

Local government is closest to the residents of the community and better able to understand and meet their needs, McClanahan said, and those leaders are responsible for providing the leadership their residents deserve.

Like anyone else running for elected office, McClanahan wants to address the many transportation problems plaguing the county.

"It's clearly the number one issue, it affects the quality of life," he said.

The Board of Supervisors needs to focus on what can be done now to fix the problem instead of only looking at bigger projects that take years to complete, he said. One of his plans, if elected, is to fix the timing at various intersections along the Fairfax County Parkway and possibly build a cloverleaf intersection at the intersection of the Parkway and Fair Lakes Parkway.

Funding needs to come from Richmond, he said, because Fairfax County pays so much in taxes and some of those dollars ought to be returned to the area.

"We don't want to mess with our Triple A Bond rating" by looking for bonds to finance road projects, he said. "We've already paid taxes, we need to get the money we deserve."

SECOND ON McClanahan's list is education, which he calls the "linchpin" in Fairfax County's appeal to newcomers.

"I'm deeply concerned about the number of teachers who leave the county after five years," he said. "We need to offer incentives to keep our teachers here, like a tax credit for owning a house in the county or possibly looking at giving them something or continuing their education."

The No Child Left Behind requirements are hurting Fairfax County because it is not fully funded, he said. The large number of students who have difficulty on the Standards of Learning test in English are having problems not because they can't learn, but because they need more time to become proficient in the language.

"In theory, No Child is a great idea. In practicality, it leaves a lot to be desired," he said. "The federal government, by not fully funding it, is leaving a huge burden on the taxpayers."

In a statement that will most likely set him apart from other candidates, McClanahan labeled immigration a "red herring" issue.

"This is all political ballyhoo," he said. "It's the politics of fear, we're going to be afraid of 'those people.' It is a problem, but there needs to be a better way to solve it" that doesn't put the burden solely on local police, he said.

LEGISLATION ON the books in Prince William and Loudoun counties are "feel good" steps to reassure concerned citizens but don't carry much weight and can lead to profiling, McClanahan said.

A more important issue in his district are the changes to Fort Belvoir and the Engineer Proving Ground in Springfield, mandated by the federal government from the Base Realignment and Closure commission (BRAC) decision of 2005.

"The EPG is in no shape" for the 8,500 workers now expected to be moved there by Sept. 12, 2011, he said.

If done properly and with the cooperation of federal and county governments, the addition of those military workers could bring an economic boom to the area and revitalize business and real estate markets there.

"How we handle the development in Springfield affects the entire district," he said. "The state and federal government has a responsibility to get this done, but it will impact local citizens. It is incumbent on the Lee, Mount Vernon and Springfield Districts to have a seat at the table to talk about the effects of BRAC."

Fairfax County is a good place to live, with good schools, low crime rates and a high quality of life that is "second to none" in the region, McClanahan said. He has a commitment to protecting that way of life and doing all he can to make it even better, if elected to office.