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Votes

Fairfax City Council Candidates Speak Out

Besides voting for mayor, Fairfax residents will choose six City Council members in the May 6 election. All Council candidates except Cristina Gaines responded to The Connection’s questionnaire.

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DeMarco

Michael J. DeMarco

An incumbent, he’s been on the City Council for two years. He and wife Joanne and children, Anna, Emilia and Antonio, have lived in the City of Fairfax since 2000. His interests include spending time with his family, sports, politics, genealogy, music and the arts. He was formerly chairman of the Fairfax City Economic Development Authority.

DeMarco sits on the Board of Visitors of Penn State University's College of Liberal Arts and is also a task force member for the Democracy Institute. He has degrees from Penn State, Temple and Columbia universities. Prior to receiving his MBA from Columbia, he was an assistant vice president in the Philadelphia National Bank's Public and Non-Profit Lending Division.

He’s worked for the ExxonMobil Corp. for 24 years in financial, marketing and customer-service positions. He’s currently the global process manager for the customer service organization.

Why are you running for re-election?

In 2012, I ran on a platform of strengthening the city's economic base by encouraging private investment, creating jobs and building a mix of housing choices to attract the next generation of city residents. That work is underway, but there’s still plenty to do. If reelected, I’ll work hard to deliver sustainable development projects along Fairfax Boulevard and Downtown Fairfax that will help revitalize the local economy and improve the city's ability to keep taxes low and services high. In addition, I’ll support the implementation of a new zoning ordinance that will speed up the application process, provide clear expectations to developers and keep neighborhoods attractive.

Qualifications?

I have a very strong educational and business background. I’ve served the City in several capacities since 2007. I’m dedicated to serve, I’m a hard worker and I’m serious about delivering on a vision for the City of being a community and a destination for all to enjoy.

Platform/issues:

My platform is to build and implement strategies and plans that will include targeted and appropriate development and redevelopment, small and medium-sized business support and growth, continued high quality and right-sized schools, residential and commercial property-revitalization programs, a mix of housing choices, a citywide aging-in-place program, Metro-area transportation solutions and effective leadership to build an active partnership with all regional and community stakeholders.

Why vote for you?

I don’t take public service lightly. I’ll always work hard to serve the City with honesty, integrity, fairness and to the best of my ability.

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Greenfield

Jeff Greenfield

An incumbent, he’s been on the City Council since 1994. He’s a lifelong City resident, and he and wife Lisa and daughter Alexandra reside in Windy Hill. He owns a small business.

Why are you running for re-election?

Experience matters. The City is at a crossroads, and experienced leadership is necessary to move the City forward. I have enjoyed making the City a great place to live and raise a family, and I am thankful for the support I have and continue to receive from the residents of Fairfax.

Qualifications?

Masters in Public Administration, GMU; B.A. Political Science, GMU; Fairfax High School; Eagle Scout; Northern Virginia Transportation Commission; Northern Virginia Transportation Authority; Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments – Board of Directors, Metropolitan Development Policy Committee, and Human Services and Public Safety Policy Committee; and the Livable City Task Force.

Platform/issues:

  • Quality Education: We must continue to work with our School Board to ensure we provide the necessary funding to guarantee our children’s success through in-school programming and continued before- and after-school programs.
  • Fiscal Management: The Council will grapple with another tough budget. It will take experience and discipline to adopt budgets over the next few years that maintain the lowest tax rate consistent with sustaining our outstanding services.
  • Economic Development: We must continue to focus on a vibrant, economic-development program in order to continue providing outstanding services. It is our strong economy that permits us to have low tax rates. Continued redevelopment of the Fairfax Boulevard (Route 50) corridor will place the City in a strong position to continue providing those services and be able to compete in the region.
  • Transportation: Dedicated funding now available to the City will enable us to focus on projects and initiatives that will help manage traffic in our community. Working with our state legislators to ensure local monies are available through the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will be imperative to our success.

Why vote for you?

My reasons for running today are the same as they were in 1994 – my love for the City, desire to help people and belief in giving back to my community. I have a record of demonstrated, effective leadership while serving on the Council. I have worked to maintain and improve the quality of life residents have come to enjoy and will continue to do so. I respectfully ask the residents to continue to place their trust in me and return me to their City Council on May 6.

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Loftus

Nancy Fry Loftus

Born and raised in Fairfax City, she attended John C. Wood Elementary, Lanier Middle School and Fairfax High. She received her BA from Virginia Tech and then lived at home in Fairfax while earning her JD from George Mason University School of Law. She and husband Connell Loftus, who also grew up in Fairfax City, live in Little River Hills with their daughters, 12 and 8.

Loftus has practiced law for 20 years. She was a clerk in the County Attorney’s office during law school, then worked for a small Fairfax firm focused mainly on real-estate development work. She returned to the County Attorney’s Office in 1997 and is still there. Her practice is primarily in the areas of tax, collection and assessments, bankruptcy, fiscal policy and utilities regulation.

Why are you running for election?

I have spent my life in the City and have always been very passionate about my hometown. I have numerous reasons for running for election, but feel that there are three main issues that face our City: development, taxes and the budget.

Platform/issues:

The real-estate tax rate has grown 47 percent since 2007 and 16 percent in just two years. This increase has cost hard-working families $1,000 more each year on their tax bills. The City budget has also grown, with spending up 19 percent in the last two years. Just as families and businesses must sometimes make hard choices, the City must do the same in order to keep the budget and taxes at a level that can be sustained by our citizens. Our real-estate tax rate used to be the lowest in the region, but now Arlington and Alexandria both have lower rates.

The City is also facing the challenges of new development and re-development. At the same time, the City is embarking on a complete re-write of our zoning ordinance. Whoever is elected to this Council will determine the character of our City for years to come.

I believe it’s important to move our City forward while ensuring that any new development is of the proper size and scale, without encroaching on our current neighborhoods. Further, City regulations, such as the sign ordinance, must be efficient, fair and predictable for our business community. Many business owners have expressed great frustration in navigating the City approval process. We must listen and incorporate code changes accordingly.

Finally, in 2012, I was appointed to the City Charter Commission to review our City’s founding documents. That Commission returned a recommendation, on a narrow 4-3 vote, to amend our 50-year-old City Charter to extend the terms in office for Mayor, Council and school board from two-year terms to four-year terms. I feel strongly that this proposed Charter amendment is not in the best interest of the City.

Doubling the term in office may serve the politician, but it is of no benefit to the citizens of Fairfax City. As a friend said recently, “I would rather vote for a great council every two years, than be stuck with a terrible council for four years.” I could not agree more.

Qualifications?

My professional experience as an attorney, especially in tax, fiscal policy and real-estate development work, would be an asset for the Council. In addition, my familiarity with local government issues would prove valuable when facing Council concerns. Finally, my personal familiarity with the City, having lived here my entire life, and having parents and family in the City, give me a perspective of the City that would be beneficial if I am elected to serve on the Council.

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Meyer

David Meyer

An incumbent, he’s served on City Council since 2008. He’s lived in Fairfax for 33 years and he and wife Cindy have two children, Louisa and Elliot. Meyer is a senior executive with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Why are you running for re-election?

To serve the citizens of the City of Fairfax and, with my colleagues on Council and many engaged and concerned citizens, make the City an even better place to live and work. We owe future generations our commitment to create and recreate our community so that they will receive a legacy of a healthy environment, outstanding schools, safe neighborhoods, and a tradition of celebrating the arts and culture in a diverse community with those shared values that strengthen local democracy.

Qualifications?

For 33 years, my family and I have been engaged in our community. I have served as president of the Old Lee Hills Civic Association, president of the Fairfax High PTA, a board member of Historic Fairfax City Inc., an adult leader for youth mission trips at Fairfax United Methodist Church, and an Assistant Scout Master for Troop 187.

I have served on the City Council for six years. I co-authored “Fairfax, Virginia, A City Traveling Through Time.” Professionally, I have a Master of Public Administration degree and 35 years of federal service, with extensive experience in public budgeting and finance, contract management, and project planning and leadership.

Platform/issues:

For many years, commercial activity in the City has funded the superior services that have been our trademark in the Northern Virginia region. In recent years, revenue from our commercial sector has remained relatively flat, thus putting greater pressure on our real-estate tax to fund city operations. Future demands to provide quality education, environmental protection (especially stormwater maintenance), public safety, public works, improved transportation systems, and recreation, arts, and historic preservation will require new and enhanced sources of revenue.

I am committed to a focused effort to redevelop under-performing and non-performing commercial sectors in the city with superb, mixed-use development projects that enhance the quality of life for our residents and add substantially to our tax base. This sustained effort over the next decade is the most viable path forward for our City to ensure we are a competitive and thriving community for the next 30-50 years.

Why vote for you?

My vision for our future is creative, dynamic, yet realistic and based on common sense. I am an effective consensus builder and problem solver and try each day to stay focused on our strategic goals while solving problems consistent with our long-range objectives. I place a high premium on citizens’ views and ideas; we have an engaged and thoughtful electorate, and I am responsive to citizen requests for services and support.

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Miller

Janice Miller

A homeowner in the Providence Square Condominiums, she’s been a City resident since 1970. She’s a widow with four grown children (Tim, Ben, Adam and Betsy) and four grandchildren (Drew, Matt, Zach and Alexa). Miller is a travel counselor and former middle-school teacher. She served on City Council from 1992-94 and is an incumbent City School Board member with nearly 30 years of service.

Why are you running for election?

I want to represent residents’ views on City Council. With the departures of two incumbent members, I believe I will bring a strong voice and decades of community experience to City Hall.

Qualifications?

My qualifications include extensive experience as an elected and appointed official, as well as an active school and community volunteer. I’ve provided robust leadership on the City of Fairfax School Board as chairman and I’ve held leadership positions with youth organizations such as Fairfax Little League (first female president), FPYC (girls basketball coordinator) and PTA organizations. I have a solid record as a consensus builder, working collegially with other elected officials, residents, fellow volunteers and city staff members to get the job done.

Platform/issues:

Local government is all about taking care of business. Issues demanding thoughtful analysis and conscientious deliberation include:

  • Carefully assessing opportunities for future economic development;
  • Fostering neighborhood renaissance and renewal throughout our community;
  • Continuing and improving leisure programs for residents of all ages;
  • Partnering with our School Board to provide excellent opportunities for all students; and
  • Judiciously and sensibly evaluating our annual budget.

Why vote for you?

My years of public service have offered a unique perspective of our community, and my leadership as chairman of the Fairfax City School Board has prepared me to be a dependable, productive and caring member of the next City Council. The lessons I’ve learned as both an appointed and an elected city official will serve our community well.

I value collegial working relationships with other elected officials and staff, thoughtful review and analysis of city business matters, listening to our citizens and providing outstanding constituent services. I pledge to do my best for each city resident.

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Schmidt

Eleanor “Ellie” Schmidt

An incumbent, she’s currently serving her second term on City Council. Her family moved to Fairfax City in 1969. She grew up in the City and attended Fairfax Elementary and Lanier Middle School and graduated from Fairfax High. She lives in Country Club Hills and is executive vice president and chief compliance officer at Cardinal Bank.

Why are you running for re-election?

I feel that giving back to the community is essential. The City of Fairfax is a special place. We have a unique, small-town atmosphere, yet have the advantages of a metropolitan area. We are a community with our own sense of place. We enjoy a rich history, a wide variety of cultural and recreational activities, as well as superior citizen services - all at a low tax rate relative to the Northern Virginia area. I would like to continue my work to preserve the quality of life we enjoy in the City.

Qualifications?

In addition to my work on City Council, I have served on many boards and commissions and in leadership positions in service organizations including the City of Fairfax Band Association, Historic Fairfax City Inc., Kiwanis Club of Fairfax and the Independence Day Celebration Committee. My 30-plus years of service to the community, coupled with my business and finance experience, provide the qualifications needed to be effective on City Council.

Platform/issues:

The City of Fairfax is now at a crossroads. With aging commercial and residential areas, we are facing redevelopment opportunities. I would like to continue my work on Council dealing with these opportunities while preserving the character of our City of Fairfax. It is a matter of balance. In the coming months and years, it is essential to focus on a sensible approach. During the next two years, I will continue efforts to:

  • Review development and redevelopment opportunities – We must take a balanced approach as we move forward to enhance and redevelop aging commercial and residential areas in a way to appeal to a broad range, including families, seniors and the university community, while maintaining the character of the City.
  • Promote economic development – A vibrant business community is crucial to the success of our city. A strong commercial base will provide economic vitality and a strong balance between the commercial and residential tax base. It is important to maintain an environment that is business-friendly and to streamline processes to the extent possible.

  • Preserve the residential character of our neighborhoods – Sustaining the quality of our residential neighborhoods is also key to our success. Encouraging the rejuvenation and revitalization of our aging neighborhoods will help to maintain property values and keep the residential vacancy rate low.
  • Maintain a Well-disciplined approach to budgeting and spending – We need to manage our fiscal responsibilities in order to keep overall taxes as low as possible, yet attend to our infrastructure and preservation of the quality services we enjoy.

Why vote for you?

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the city on City Council for the past four years. I share the love our citizens have for Fairfax City and want to continue to work hard to preserve what we all find so dear. My years of service to the community, coupled with my business and finance experience, provide the qualifications needed for the job. I would appreciate the opportunity to continue my service.

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Stehle

Jon Stehle

He and wife Stephanie and children Zoe, 5, and Cooper, 18 months, have lived in Oxford Row Townhome Condominium for seven years. He’s a senior analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Why are you running for election?

The City is a great place to live. With two current council members deciding not to run for reelection, the voters of the City will have the opportunity to bring a new energy and perspective to the next Council. I am running because I want to ensure that the City remains a great place to live for future generations. I believe I will bring a perspective and energy that will benefit the decision making of the Council and, as a result, the entire City. As Councilmember Steve Stombres noted, a new face on the team “can be invigorating to the Council, the City staff and the community as a whole." This is a role I would be honored to fill if chosen as a member of the next team.

Qualifications?

It has been and continues to be my job, both professionally and as a leader in community organizations, to evaluate, make recommendations and track the improvement of programs. For the past three years, I have been the President of the Board of Directors for Oxford Row Townhome Condominium, after serving on the Board for two years. During my tenure, I have led the creation of a strategic plan to increase the transparency of the budget, including a yearly report to the community to show our progress.

Further, I led the engagement efforts with the community to implement a three-year, landscape-improvement plan. As my fellow Board member Libby McKnight noted, “I have been on the Board with Jon Stehle for five years now, and have been impressed with his dedication, organization and fiscal stewardship.”

I am also a Board member of American Association for Budget and Program Analysis, including serving as president for two years. While president, I led the transformation of the organization from a paper to a digital organization while improving the member experience and cutting administrative costs in half. Before working for the GAO, I was a budget and program analyst for a separate federal agency

Platform/issues:

Over the next two years, we have the opportunity to continue to ensure the City remains a great place to live by implementing the vision of the future for the City of Fairfax stated in the City’s comprehensive plan. This vision ensures that we embrace and build on our traditions by taking advantage of the targeted, smart development opportunities awaiting the City’s approval. Fundamental to these actions is the successful completion of the modernization of the zoning code.

Over the longer-term, maintaining a ratio of 55/45 or better of commercial to residential tax revenue should be a target the City adopts. This approach ensures the City will continue to have a healthy and prosperous commercial base and the appropriate corresponding mix of residential options. These options should include mixed-use development and senior housing.

By making targeted increases to residential density, the City has the opportunity to maintain its small town atmosphere by allowing residents to age in place and continue to call the City of Fairfax home. At the same time, the City will have the opportunity to attract the next generation of City residents. As the City’s comprehensive plan notes, we must build on our traditions, and now is the time to continue to move forward.

Why vote for you?

The next team of six on City Council will have the opportunity to shape the future of the City. I will bring the perspective of the young families now making the City of Fairfax their home. I look forward to learning from the experience of current leaders and joining the team as a member of Council from the western side of the City.

As former Mayor John Mason noted in his endorsement of my candidacy, “There are two open seats in the upcoming City Council election; Jon should fill one of those seats. He’s a strategic thinker, but pragmatic. He understands where we need to go – ensuring a strong economic base while retaining a sense of community. He can help the Council move forward.” I look forward to the opportunity to work as part of the next Council to ensure our city remains a great place to live now and for future generations.