It takes a person with solid credentials to fill the shoes of a six-term incumbent on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. But with 79-year-old Elaine McConnell (R) deciding to retire rather than run again for her Springfield District seat, Little Rocky Run’s Pat Herrity believes he’s just the man for the job.
Although it is his first foray into politics, Herrity has already compiled a distinguished history of community service — and he is the son of the late Jack Herrity, who chaired the Board of Supervisors from 1976-1988.
"I didn’t have to look far for a mentor, someone who demonstrated that you should give back to the community," said Pat Herrity, 47. "And he literally gave his life to the county. Right up to the day he died [in February 2006], he was running [again] for Fairfax County [Board] Chairman."
Pat Herrity, his two brothers and sister all grew up in West Springfield, and his mother Justine still lives there. He graduated from West Springfield High in 1978 and from Virginia Tech in 1982 with a bachelor’s in accounting. He worked as an auditor for Arthur Andersen in Tysons Corner for four years, followed by jobs for a series of government contractors.
Herrity also became involved with the Northern Virginia Technology Council, won its President’s Award in 1997, headed its Transportation/Telework committee and founded the Chief Financial Officer Forum. He was also instrumental in the push for the Techway, or "Outer Beltway."
FROM 1998-2006, Herrity was active in the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, served on its board of directors and founded and chaired the Northern Virginia Government Contractors Council. He also founded and chaired Transportation Choices, promoting the use of HOT lanes/mass transit. In 2003, Herrity received the Chamber’s top award, the Chairman’s Award.
In October 2005, he became chief operating officer/chief financial officer at Arrowhead Global Solutions in Fairfax. He’s still there and describes the company as "a premier provider of integrated communication solutions for the U.S. government." His other honors include the 1998 Greater Washington Technology CFO of the Year Award; and in April of this year, Herrity was named Top Chief Financial Officer by Smart CEO magazine.
Active in sports, Herrity has coached SYA soccer and rugby and was a co-founder of Potomac Inline Hockey and coaches some of its teams. "I’m a big believer in youth sports," he said. "And I’m going to help [Sully District Supervisor] Mike Frey (R) try to get rid of that field fee. We ought to encourage kids to be involved in youth sports, which teach teamwork and leadership, and not discourage their parents by making them pay a field fee."
Herrity has also served as a coach and assistant coach of the Reston Raiders ice hockey team and captains the Ashburn Ice Hogs, a men’s ice hockey team. Herrity plays center or right wing on that team, on the Scrubs of Ballston and on the Ashburn Oldtimers.
He and wife Nancy, who works part time in human resources for Delex Systems in Tysons — where the couple first met — have a son and daughter, Sean and Valeria, who both attend Liberty Middle School. They’ve lived in Little Rocky Run for 14 years, and Pat Herrity serves on the homeowners association.
He considered running for political office before, but was busy with his family and volunteer work. "Your family has to be ready for it, and you need to have that ‘fire in the belly,’" said Pat Herrity. It’s been in the back of his mind and, now, McConnell’s decision not to run for reelection provides him with the opening.
"My family could support this decision," he said. "I could do it financially and, most importantly, it’s really that burning desire to get something done and make a difference. While I’ve worked on transportation from the outside, you’ve got to be at the table to make a difference."
So, not surprisingly, Herrity’s major issue is transportation. "I don’t see Fairfax County treating transportation as a priority," he said. "I look back to my dad’s day when it was a priority and we got things done. Things have changed in the county since then but, if you look at Prince William County and the amount of money it’s been able to put into transportation projects via proffers and bonding, Fairfax County pales in comparison."
He says many creative solutions exist and a great deal can be done at the local level. "I’m a big fan of HOT [high-occupancy transit] lanes because of their carpool and mass-transit benefits," said Herrity. "You get people who choose to pay for the additional capacity that we couldn’t afford to build otherwise. They get an express trip and we get carpool lanes — and the ability to do mass transit in those lanes — and the people in the other lanes get reduced capacity in those lanes."
Telework, staggered work hours and special tax districts would also be helpful, he said, and they should start at the local level. He said I-66 needs to be fixed now. "Route 236 and Braddock Road are disasters because of I-66 and, unless something’s done, it’s going to choke the businesses and destroy our quality of life."
Herrity said he’d look at a HOT lane solution "where we could put in a bus rapid-transit lane/express-bus lane beginning in Manassas. But it starts with somebody making transportation a priority and that’s what I intend to do."
HERRITY SAID the Fair Lakes Parkway/Fairfax County Parkway interchange project needs to be moved along, and BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) presents huge challenges. Noting that the military plans to move 22,000 government workers and all their contractors and services to Fort Belvoir, Herrity said, "Elaine’s worked hard to get the parkway there finished, and we’ve got to get it done; we need creative solutions."
While noting that his top three issues are "transportation, transportation and transportation," Herrity is concerned about other things, as well. "Our residential, real-estate taxes have more than doubled in the last eight years," he said. "And are we double-better off?"
Herrity also plans to focus on the county’s commercial tax base. "The Board has a target of 25 percent, but last year it was only 17 percent," he said. "I would target it to exceed 25 percent to relieve the homeowners’ burden. And I’d take a critical look at the county’s spending programs and budget. We need to see which programs in the budget are effective and which are not."
He said it’s also important to "protect our neighborhoods from the influx of gangs and make sure we’re not putting illegal-immigrant work centers in neighborhoods."
He also wants the Occoquan Watershed protected from development and degradation.
"Our residents expect a certain quality of life, and we need to protect it," he said.
Herrity said the South County area needs both an intermediate and an elementary school. Regarding teachers, he said, "In Fairfax County, we had an unwritten polity that our teachers would be the highest paid in the community, and they’re now in the middle of the pack. We write a big check every year to the school system; it shouldn’t be a blank check. We need to make sure it’s going to the places it should go — and that’s the teachers."
He believes people should vote for him for supervisor because of his leadership, experience and vision. "I’ve got a history of demonstrated leadership in both sports and business," said Herrity. "I’m a consensus builder."
Stressing his experience in transportation, taxes and business, he said: "I have a vision for what needs to be done, and I hope to get people to buy into it and push it through."