Bio and Q&A with Gerry Connolly

Bio and Q&A with Gerry Connolly


Candidate: Gerald E. Connolly

Political Party: Democrat

Current Position: Third term as 11th congressional district representative. Currently serves on the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Government Reform.

Born: Mar. 30, 1950 in Boston, Mass.

Residence: Mantua

Spouse: Cathy

Children: Caitlin Rose, 23

Education: B.A. in Literature from Maryknoll College. M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard University

Previous Organizations: Served as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (four years), Providence District supervisor (nine years), chairman of the Fairfax County Legislative Committee, vice-chair of the county’s Economic Advisory Committee, chairman of the Board of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), member and chairman of the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), chairman of the regional Emergency Preparedness Taskforce, Fairfax County representative and president on the Board of the Virginia Association of Counties (VaCo), a term as Mantua Citizens Association (MCA) president and two terms as Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations president.

Q: What do you think are your top three accomplishments in office?

A: * The Silver Line. I wasn’t alone, but I'm very proud of my championship of the Silver Line and the fact that it's up and running and succeeding. It took 19 years to sort of get people to reimagine it and get it built. It was a long, tough struggle.

  • My environmental record: I got the first comprehensive environmental plan adopted in the history of the county. Out of that grew lots of different things, one was the cross-county trail.
  • My work in IT. I've worked a lot with our business community to promote high tech. At the federal level, I've co-authored the first major comprehensive rewrite reform of how the federal government procures IT (FITARA). That would've been an obscure topic for us, except for the roll out of the health care website, right?

Q: If you’re re-elected, what be would your top three priorities?

A: * I’m going to continue to push my FITARA (Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act) bill until we succeed.

  • I will work to make Congress more functional. I’m seeking out Republican partners, working across the aisle. Every bill I've introduced, pretty much, I've always got a republican co-sponsor.
  • As the chairman of the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Caucus, I hope to continue building on what I’ve done on the environment.

Q: Give our readers three reasons they should vote for you on election day.

A: * I get things done. I'm not somebody who rests on promises. I've got a record.

  • I'm a fighter for our region, our quality of life and our economic interests.
  • I have a vision for where I'd like to see our country move: to stay competitive, to reinvest in itself. We have to invest in education, research and development and infrastructure. We're giving up our future to the competition. We're now investing only 2.4 percent of our GDP in infrastructure. It used to be 6 percent. In China today it's 9 percent.

Q: How would you show off northern Virginia to an out-of-town friend?

A: The four new stations on the Silver Line in Tysons. Or the Mosaic District, to eat in one of the restaurants there. Or Reston, it’s such a vibrant community with lots of good restaurants there as well. I also like taking people to our historic locations, Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall or Civil War battlefields.

Q: Tell us something you think people would find surprising about you.

A: I spent 20 years in the private sector in IT, working for two companies. They were both federal contractors in IT and defense and life sciences, broad spectrum. It gave me a great perspective in when I look at contracting issues.

Q: Who are some of your heroes?

A: * Saint Thomas More, Chancellor of England under Henry VIII, sacrificed his life rather than give in to the idea that Henry could break with Rome and become the head of the Church of England. He’s a model of great courage and principal.

  • A Lutheran minister theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer fought against the Nazis in Germany and lost his life in a Nazi prison because of his involvement in the anti-Hitler movement. He was one of the few voices of courage in the church, Catholic or Lutheran, in Germany. He saw the establishment collapse in front of this irrational passion known as National Socialism and concluded we have to match that passion with our own: How passionately do you believe in what you say you believe? It better be high if you're going to counter that.
  • Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt are my three favorite presidents, favorite political leaders. They had incredible qualities of leadership that got tested.

Q: How do you relax, off the campaign trail?

A: When I had time, I used to do Civil War tours with Ed Bearrs, who’s now in his 90s. I love to read. And get together with friends for intimate dinners. Once a year, I go up to my native New England, visiting with my family in Cape Cod.