Grassroots campaigning has emerged as the primary strategy in the race for Fairfax County’s Braddock District supervisor between incumbent Sharon Bulova (D) and her opponent Carey Campbell (I).
Door-to-door greetings, attendance at community events and volunteer coordination are the key tools in this year’s campaign for the district said Bulova, Campbell and their campaign staff members.
"It’s classic ‘GOTV,’ it’s classic get out the vote, the old tried and true," said Campbell, chairman for Virginia’s Independent Green Party who is running for his first public office on a ticket of increased attention to rail alternatives for transportation. "We’re going one door at a time, one person at a time and one commitment at a time. That’s how we’ll get our message across."
Bulova, who is running in her fifth campaign for Braddock District Supervisor, is focusing on getting out her message of continued support for more transportation opportunities and increased senior and recreational facilities through attendance at community events and candidate forums.
"I’m able to use the community outreach opportunities that I have during the course of my normal job as Braddock District supervisor," to spread the word about her candidacy, said Bulova. "I’m attending several community events on just about every day of the week."
WHILE BOTH candidates have avoided placing campaign signs on road medians, with Bulova choosing to instead place signs in volunteers’ front lawns, the two are both expressing a desire for new transportation alternatives.
For David Gillis Jr., an independent candidate for Fairfax County’s Sully District and volunteer coordinator for Independent Green candidates throughout Fairfax, the campaign is an effort to spread the word about the benefits and possibilities of light rail transportation in Northern Virginia.
"We want to meet people face to face and shake hands … after that it’s pretty much word of mouth," Gillis said. "When people learn a little about what we’re doing, it sparks an interest and people start to talk amongst themselves and maybe even volunteer."
For those people whom the candidates meet during their attendance at community events and regular neighborhood walkthroughs, learning about Campbell or other independent candidates is more a call to action for support of light rail, he added.
"This is why we are running, to see [the proliferation of light rail] as a usable solution for the transportation problems in this area," Gillis said. "I think in every campaign we ‘re getting more people to see that."
The campaign message and public enthusiasm over the Independent Green candidates' message has not just affected the voters, Campbell said.
"It’s not just me, but the other candidates who are out there, they see this desire [for more light rail] in the people," Campbell said "And that’s going to have a positive difference, both on election day and beyond."
AS BULOVA is already touting the benefits of not just light rail, but other transportation alternatives in her campaign, Campbell’s message is essentially complementary to her own, she said.
"We both want the same thing, and that’s improved transportation in Northern Virginia," she said. "I think that anyone who knows my message about extending the Virginia Rail Express [VRE] and exploring other transportation options will see that."
The nature of this year’s campaign has allowed for Bulova to stump more often for other candidates that she supports as well, including fellow Democrats Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerry Connolly (At-large) and State Senate candidates J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen in Virginia’s 34th District and George Barker in Virginia’s 39th District, she said.
"I’m essentially interested in helping out the team," Bulova said. "In order to get people out and win races you need to make sure people know the issues and there needs to be an energy to the campaign … and I’m trying to help bring that."
Energy has been no problem for state Democrats in this campaign said Peggy Kugler, a Lorton resident and veteran manager of the Bulova campaign. An overall dissatisfaction with the policies of the Bush administration has led to a surge in political involvement throughout the region, Kugler added.
"Ever since January … everyone has seemed so energized," Kugler said. "Every weekend, during the week since really the November  elections there have been activities on every level."
"I think people are realizing that it starts at the grassroots level, that if you’re going to change nationally you have to start locally," she said.