First elected in 2002, Robert F. Lederer, the five-term mayor of Fairfax City, announced in December that he will not run for another two-year term, and will retire in June. R. Scott Silverthorne, a current city councilman and Gerald T. "Jerry" O’Dell are vying for the seat. The Connection contacted O’Dell repeatedly, through email and phone, and he did not respond to questions. Here are Silverthorne’s responses:
*19 year veteran of the City Council
*Lifelong resident of the City of Fairfax
*Executive search consultant
Q: How do you balance and maintain vibrant economic development in the City of Fairfax with the City's "historic" quality of life?
A: It’s critical to include all the stakeholders including neighborhood leaders, developers and Historic Fairfax City, Inc., as we work together to promote responsible economic development to grow our local economy and minimize future tax increases. Promoting tourism will also serve as another means to develop local jobs, increase revenues and take of advantage of our historic resources.
Q: How would you close the gap in the City's budget deficit? (Would you consider selling the City's water to a utility?)
A: Much of our fiscal 2013 deficit is driven by increases in school tuition costs, based on the County’s proposed tuition contract, and a rapidly growing student population within the City of Fairfax. While we are early in the budget process, this year’s budget is uniquely challenging and will likely require a combination of budget cuts (all expense items should be on the table), along with some revenue increases. It’s my view that the council must continue to balance low tax rates with outstanding city services which is the hallmark of our community.
Q: Given that the City sits in the middle of Fairfax County - yet maintains its independent status - how do you plan to work with County and other regional decision-makers?
A: I am very proud of the working relationship between the city and the county. For years, the two jurisdictions have met quarterly to discuss issues of interest between the two bodies. One of the best examples of our strong relationship was the construction of the state-of-the-art regional library located in the heart of Historic Fairfax, which was a collaborative effort. Development just outside the City’s borders, transportation matters and the water use, are just a few of the issues that the new city council and the Board of Supervisors will be discussing in the near future.
Q: What do you think are the top 3-5 issues facing the City of Fairfax in the next decade?
A: Managing growth in a way that complements our small-town atmosphere, while moving the city forward with an aggressive economic development plan will be critical to the future of the City. If elected mayor, I will also pursue the creation of a strategic plan, and a full review of our City Charter. Finally, I will work with the City School Board to mitigate overcrowding at some of our schools, largely driven by an exploding student population and placement of county students into Fairfax City Schools.
Q: Why should people vote for you instead of your opponent?
A: The mayor has to know and understand the community. After nearly two decades on the city council, I am the most experienced and prepared candidate on the ballot. If I have the privilege of serving, I will never forget the virtues of what made our City great: our people, common sense leadership and our proud traditions.