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Candidates Highlight Safety Concerns

Along with education, law enforcement played a major role in county’s growth.

Law enforcement agencies are an integral part of any community. In Fairfax County’s case, the quality work of those agencies played a major role in the economic and population growth experienced over the last couple of decades.

According to Jeff McKay, the Democratic candidate for Lee District county supervisor seat in the November election, Fairfax County’s school system and safety are two things that make it a desirable place to live in. "These are the two things that really shape the quality of our life. These are the two things the employers look at," said McKay, who is running against Republican Douglas Boulter. The reason why law enforcement agencies in the county have provided quality public safety, he said, is because of the quality of the officers patrolling the county’s streets.

However, that quality may be in danger. "Things are changing. We’ve had recruitment issues," said McKay, who has spent the last 12 years as Supervisor Dana Kauffman’s chief of staff. Kauffman, 52, is retiring from the Board of Supervisors, and is not seeking reelection in November. If elected to the board, McKay promised he would do everything in power to fund public safety programs and law enforcement agencies, so they could continue to provide quality service. "Anyone who suggests we’re doing enough, I don’t agree with them," said McKay.

Dranesville District supervisor candidate John Foust, also a Democrat, is concerned the county’s financial commitment to the metro extension to Dulles may affect the police and other county departments. "Cost overruns could be devastating," said Foust, who is challenging Republican incumbent Joan DuBois in November. In 2003, Foust lost to DuBois by 510 votes. If elected, Foust vowed to use 26 years of professional experience in construction contracts and litigation to protect the county’s taxpayers and Dulles Toll Road users.

THE TWO CANDIDATES met with retired Fairfax County police officers at Pan Am restaurant on Nutley Street on Wednesday, June 20. Vienna resident and retired police investigator Jim Riddel said local politicians and candidates with a good record of promoting law enforcement agencies endorsed McKay and Foust. According to Riddel, supervisor Sharon Bulova, former state delegate and candidate for state senate Chap Petersen and county’s Commonwealth Attorney candidate Ray Morrogh have all voiced their support for McKay and Foust to him. "That says a lot about these two people," said Riddel.

As a retired police investigator Riddel is interested in issues affecting law enforcement and senior citizens. "A good supervisor listens to his constituents, hears their concerns and advocates aggressively for them," said Foust, promising to listen to all of his constituents, if elected. Riddel said that is what retirees in the county want to hear. "That is what we need to help senior citizens with," he said.

In his 12 years as Kauffman’s chief of staff, McKay has been involved with the county’s Committee on Aging. Kauffman championed the committee, which looks at opportunities to help the aging population of Fairfax County stay in Fairfax County. McKay said the main issue in the committee’s discussions has been public safety. "Elderly are deciding more and more to stay here" instead of working in the region and retiring elsewhere, for example Florida, said McKay. "One of the major issues for them to stay in their houses is public safety," he said.

PUBLIC SAFETY ASIDE, the candidates spoke about other issues they wish to tackle if elected to the county board in November. McKay said zoning violations are a major issue confronting the county. In the Lee District, he said, he wants to revitalize the area around Springfield Mall. A third issue he wishes to tackle is providing more athletic fields, which would also act as a deterrent from gang activity for young people.

However, all of those issues still carry with them components of two major factors in county’s growth, he said. "Everything comes back to education and public safety," said McKay. "Even our land-use decisions should have a public safety component."

Foust said the issues confronting Fairfax County are quality of life issues, and that includes his concern of the implementation of the metro extension to Dulles. Also, he said, more needs to be done to keep young people from joining gangs. "We need more for our children, provide them opportunities only we, as adults, can give them," said Foust. As far as land-use decisions are concerned, he said he understands the region would continue to grow. However, more could be done to prepare for more people coming to the region. "We have to do a better job of anticipating the impact of our growth," such as building proper infrastructure and roads to accommodate the new people, said Foust.