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Votes

Distinguishing Differences

Republican candidates for Springfield District Supervisor try to set themselves apart.

Springfield Supervisor candidates Patrick Herrity and Stanley Reid hear many of the same complaints when talking to their potential constituents.

"Traffic is a nightmare," said Phil Warner on a recent spring evening when Reid walked up his driveway near Fair Lakes.

Warner, who has lived in Northern Virginia for over 20 years, also told Reid he knows several people who have moved out of Fairfax County because it had become too expensive.

Both Herrity and Reid say congestion and higher taxes are issues they want to tackle if elected to represent the Springfield District on the Fairfax Board of Supervisors. The challenge for the two candidates, both Republicans, is to convince voters of their differences before the June 12 primary.

Both Herrity and Reid criticize many of the board's decisions on development and land use. They also said they wouldn't be likely to support programs like the One Penny Fund, part of the board's affordable housing initiative.

But the candidates say they have different experiences and opinions on several other issues that set them apart.

HERRITY, who said traffic relief would be his top priority, emphasizes his strong ties to Fairfax County.

A lifelong resident of Fairfax County, Herrity has a robust family legacy to live up to if elected. One of the three large buildings that makes up the Fairfax County Government center complex is named after his father, Jack Herrity, who chaired the Board of Supervisors from 1976 to 1988.

He also said that he has been heavily involved in transportation issues as a member of the business community.

Herrity fought for HOT lanes on the Beltway as a member of the executive committee of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. The candidate was also a founder of the Northern Virginia Technology Council's transportation committee, he said.

"I think probably the biggest difference [between the two candidates] is experience. I have been in and around county issues my whole life," said Herrity.

Reid, who ran for the same position four years ago, has also been involved with the local business community as chair of the Fairfax County Small Business Commission. He was also chair of the Springfield District Republican Committee.

For Reid, the greatest issue in Fairfax — and the one that causes its traffic and air quality problems — is sprawl and over development.

Members of the Board of Supervisors have allowed builders to overdevelop the county without assuring that the appropriate infrastructure is in place. The overcrowding is contributing to poor air quality and other environmental problems, he said.

The current board has gotten too cozy with local developers, according to Reid. Reid 's candidacy is different from Herrity's because he has refused to accept money from developers, he said.

"I am not funded by developers. I don't want to be in a conflict of interest by accepting their money," he said.

Campaign finance reports from January to mid-April 2007 reveal that neither candidate appears to have taken major campaign contributions from developers during the first quarter of the year. Herrity, who only jumped into the race March 25, had raised $2,825 in private contributions and taken out a $5,000 loan as of April 16. Reid, who entered the race in December, raised $575 and received a personal loan of $40,000 during the same time period.

WITH TRANSPORTATION as his top priority, Herrity said that the county needs to focus more attention on building new roads and getting private funding for new road construction. Fairfax should look to Prince William County, which raised a considerable amount of money for road improvements through development proffers and bonding, for example, he said.

"During my dad's 12 years as chairman, more money came from the private sector for roads than from local, state or federal funds," said Herrity.

The candidate would push for more HOT-lane projects on major corridors such as Interstate 66 and increasing mass transit options. He was wary of supporting the extension of rail service up to Centreville up Interstate 66, saying he would want to know what the most financially prudent mass transit option would be.

"I would support whatever would be the most cost-effective method for a corridor. If you don't have the density, rail doesn't work," said Herrity.

Reid said he would push more extended rail service out to Centreville and would want to expand bus routes to serve more residents and neighborhoods.

"I strongly favor mass transit options in our communities and I think the supervisors should lead by example. It wouldn't hurt them to take the bus to the government center. I would take the bus where I could," said Reid.

Developers, not taxpayers, should pay for the additional infrastructure needs since sprawl continues to be the major aggravator of congestion, he added.

Reid said he would like to see the county hold off on approving development projects until the projects’ builder had agreed to pay for the roads to support them, he said.

LOWERING TAXES is also at the top of the list of things to do, said both candidates.

The county needs to find a way to increase the commercial tax base to provide more stability and more relief for Fairfax residents, said Herrity.

"The commercial tax base needs to be 25 percent [of the total tax base.] We hit a high of 27 percent and we have since fallen back to 17 percent. That 10 percent swing has fallen on homeowners," said Herrity.

The county should take a close look at what it needs before determining what the residential real estate tax should be. Currently, the county does things backward by collecting money from taxes and determining the budget based on what is collected, said Reid.

If elected, Reid would also inject more transparency in what programs are included in the county budget. The candidate said he would list all 720 of Fairfax's government programs on his Web site, making its easier for the public to follow the money.

Certain funding, like the millions of dollars given to the Fairfax Economic Development Authority every year, could be cut. Reid said taxpayers money should not go to funding the authority's offices overseas in Japan, Pakistan, Israel and other locations, he said.

"We are practicing affairs in Fairfax County," he said.

EITHER Herrity or Reid will face Democratic candidate Mike McClanahan in November, though Republican activists are confident their party will win the general election.

"I am really pleased we have two great candidates. I firmly believe the seat will remain in Republican hands," said Jim Hyland, chairman Fairfax County Republican Committee.

With the exception of one term in the late 1970s, the Springfield supervisor has always been a member of the Grand Old Party, said Hyland.