The Connection asked candidates in contested races to respond to the following questionnaire. This week's questionnaire features responses provided by Jay Jeyanathan who is challenging incumbent Stephen Snow for the Republican nomination for the Dulles District Supervisors' seat. The winner will fac e Democrat Stevens Miller in November. The Republican Convention is slated for June 9, beginning at 9 a.m., at The Community Church in Ashburn. Some answers were edited for length. Complete responses are available on our Web site, www.connectionnewspapers.com.
What are the three biggest problems facing the Dulles District? How would you address each one?
Jey Jeyanathan, challenger: All the issues we face in Dulles are inextricably linked to dealing with uncontrolled growth. In my opinion the three biggest issues are
Ever increasing taxes, transportation and traffic and a diminishing quality of life: overcrowded schools, lack of services, long commute times cutting into family time.
This is how I would deal with each of these issues:
Ever increasing taxes: We as a county are paying the price for uncontrolled growth with an ever increasing budget for schools, services, fire and rescue and infrastructure expenditures. Increased taxes come in numerous forms — personal property, real estate, fees for services, bond servicing etc. Additionally there is a stealth tax associated with the cost of water and sewer in Loudoun that is passed to the user of those services in the form of increased rates and fees.
There is no short-term solution to this problem as we are working on paying for schools and services promised to recently built communities. As a strategic planner I would therefore balance growth so that the portion of the tax revenues from commercial activities increases. This brings tax revenue with no corresponding expense to provide services. This is a mid- to long-term solution that requires Loudoun to make some hard choices to promote commercial development over residential development. We have a lull in residential real estate with more than 30,000-plus homes approved but unbuilt and more than 3780 resale homes in Loudoun. We can therefore hold off on infrastructure expansion to places like the Dulles transition areas except to meet the needs of emergency services.
This will allow us to hold off on additional expenditures and strategically allocate resources and moderate our tax increases. Once we catch up and keep our promises to existing communities, we can then consider infrastructure expansion to new areas.
Transportation and Traffic is affecting us all. We know that we have bottlenecks on Route 50, Waxpool Road, the Greenway, Braddock Road, 606 and other roads in Dulles. I am promoting a "Live, Work, and Play in Loudoun" model in my campaign so that we encourage shorter commutes that reduce stress on our roads. To do this we need jobs in Loudoun not Tysons or D.C. I do not presume to have the "answer" to traffic and congestion in Dulles but I know we need a multipronged approach to traffic not the single-minded rampant growth for roads approach of my opponent. You cannot solve the problem of traffic just by building more roads. I would use all of the following in formulating a solution:
developer contributions and impact fees to help with funding
Public-Private Partnerships such as the Route 28 taxing district to expedite change; increases in state funding — accountability in Richmond for their responsibilities and our fair share on state funds; enhancing public transport services — Metrorail and commuter buses on Route 50 and Loudoun County Parkway; commuter alternatives — telework, high-speed broadband services, live/work communities, economic development around Dulles Airport and Route 50 to reduce long-distance commuters.
I would like to see a public-private partnership do for Route 50 in Dulles what was done on Route 28. We have a significant residential component on Route 50 and smaller businesses so an equitable way of sharing the cost would have to be worked out. As a fiscal conservative however, I am committed to making sure that any levy on Route 50 show tangible benefits to the residents and businesses on Route 50. As a small business owner I would be willing to pay to enhance my business opportunity, get my workers to work on time and help my customers get to my services. That is a win-win proposition in my opinion.
I would also like to see more commuter buses servicing Route 50 like the 7 TO 7 ON 7 service. I think Metrorail service to Dulles is a great idea but we need to make sure our road network supports getting people to that service in the future.
Quality of Life means good schools, accessible services, a responsive government and having the time to spend enjoying life with your family. Adequate school funding and successful schools are critical to attract businesses to Dulles and enhance our commercial tax base. I would work with the School Board to come up with ways to give Dulles and Loudoun kids the best educational system we can afford. I would like to see more cooperation between businesses and schools to offset some of the operating and infrastructure costs. Competition is also good for Dulles as we see with the medical services being proposed for Dulles South. As a wealthy county I would use our clout as a desirable place to do business to our advantage in negotiations with developers and get the highest level of services.
Our QoL is diminished, however when promises made to existing communities are not kept. Gum Spring Road from Kirkpatrick Farms to Route 50 needs to be widened as promised. The QoL of the residents on Gum Spring is severely affected by safety issues, congestion and a long commute just to get to the main artery Route 50. The county was promised improvements to this road for years and if we want to maintain our QoL we must insist that promises made to communities are fulfilled by the county and the developer.
Stephen Snow, incumbent: I would rather focus on our enormous opportunity to create America’s best place to work, live and raise a family. We can fulfill that promise by maintaining our excellent schools, taking care of our youth, getting people to work, home, shopping and recreation quickly and safely and creating the infrastructure to attract world-class businesses. But realizing this unique opportunity is really about building a compelling "Dulles Community," a concept at the heart of everything I do.
Besides receiving more funding from Richmond, what can be done at the local level to improve traffic and transportation in the county? Please provide an example.
Jeyanathan: I am a telecommuter and home-based worker. I work from home most days and commute only when I have to meet clients. While I don’t believe every job is telecommuting friendly I strongly believe that with the county promoting telecommuting we can reduce some of the traffic problems we see. Our team project for Leadership Loudoun involved transportation so I have become more focused on down to earth practical things that county government can do rather than multiyear solutions whose effect we won’t see for awhile. We need to do both the long-range transportation planning but also pick the low hanging fruit. I included some alternatives in question number one. Making more services available online and promoting high-speed network services allow many workers to work from home. Many of the knowledge businesses are suitable for home based offices. I would help companies find ways to implement this through county economic development services.
Putting county government online and putting the new county offices in an easily accessible location are just some of the things we could do to set an example for other businesses.
Also at the local level we need to coordinate better between jurisdictions. We need to comprehensively plan road improvements so that rights of way and the size of the roads do not change haphazardly causing stop and go traffic.
Snow: It’s actually about what has been and is being done. Like the Route 50 and Waxpool Road task forces, public-private partnerships to devise proactive solutions to growing traffic congestion … front-loading road improvements in all applications … and increasing proffers for secondary roads and other infrastructure to more than $40,000 per house. In other words, we are getting things done now on transportation and intend to redouble these efforts.
How do you define smart growth and provide an example of a project, real or hypothetical, which you believes illustrates smart growth?
Jeyanathan: Smart growth is a term that was misused by incumbent supervisors to describe what they have done to the county the last four years. I have therefore refrained from using that term. I prefer the term balanced growth. To me the term balanced growth means building communities that are adapted to their environment, have a live, work, play model to allow the community to develop while reducing the impact on its neighbors and are integrated into the larger development picture of the district or the county. We have tended to look at projects recently on their internal merit alone. While many projects may have good features they must be looked at in the context of their overall impact on the county. Integrated comprehensive planning is key to reaching the larger goal of a thriving county. So growth that considers transportation impacts, schools, public safety, and fiscal and quality of life impacts would be working towards that balance needed to make the county successful. I think the Arcola/Route 50 revitalization project would be one I would consider working toward balanced growth. It brings mush needed services to Dulles South, revitalizes an area under economic distress, has had transportation impacts analyzed if not completely resolved and is integrating into the whole Brambleton/Arcola/Loudoun Valley Estates area.
Snow: Smart growth is exemplified by the Eastgate community, which received consistent 9-0 votes from the board and is the perfect example of a mixed-use community where citizens can live, work and play. The rest of Route 50 is also planned to allow our citizens to enjoy exceptional amenities while maintaining the unique ambiance that characterizes Loudoun County.
How would you meet the rising needs of county departments, schools and citizens? Please provide an example.
Jeyanathan: Rising needs are a function of the rampant and undisciplined manner in which Loudoun has been allowed to grow. Policy changes such as developer initiated CPAMs caused an enormous workload for county departments. In Loudoun, everything in government stems from the Board of Supervisors. That is why I am running to change the direction of the BoS. We can reduce the chaos we have in government by good governance and a collegial working environment. We can reduce the burden on schools, county departments and the citizenry by having a BoS that is ethical, stable, predictable and consistent in its views. We have swung between extremes in viewpoints every four years, catering to special interests and I believe a balanced approach to the fundamental issue of growth will help stabilize our growing needs.
Linked to this however is a need for a revenue stream to fund the rising needs of our county. We need more commercial revenue to create the 70/30 residential/commercial mix of revenue that is considered ideal. So I would not take light industrial land around our economic engine Dulles Airport and rezone it to residential thereby increasing our service burden. Instead I would encourage relocation of businesses around the airport and increase our commercial tax base. This will over time give us a solid basis for our tax revenues and allow us to meet the needs of schools, the county government and our citizens. We have created an imbalance by promoting rampant residential growth. It is time to correct that while we have the opportunity. The most desirable jurisdictions to live in have always been those that avoided the temptation to grow too fast too soon.
Snow: Government can never meet all the needs of the Dulles community. That’s why I have spearheaded the human services committee and other public-private partnerships such as the Loudoun Youth Initiative, a cutting-edge, unified program that has earned recognition from the White House and George Mason University, and public-private efforts to deliver the Gum Springs Library, historic preservation projects and public safety improvements.
What is the key difference between you and your opponent?
Jeyanathan: The main difference between me and Mr. Snow is integrity. My career and business has been built on integrity in my dealings with others. I work cooperatively and truthfully with all interests to resolve issues. Candor, in my opinion, has been severely lacking in my opponent and his ethical stances are difficult to comprehend for someone who is used to the strict conflict of interest rules of the federal government. To put it succinctly, I serve the interests of residents of Dulles and Mr. Snow serves development interests.
Snow: I believe that leadership is not about a divisive agenda, character attacks and "gotcha" politics. It’s about bringing people together in a Dulles community to address issues affecting citizens’ everyday lives. Our accomplishments have involved many caring, committed people, and I look forward to achieving our vision of America’s best place to live by expanding that circle and bringing even more people into the process.