You may be surprised – or dismayed – to learn that the 10 men and women who occupy Fairfax County Board of Supervisors wield enormous power and influence over your everyday lives.
They set your tax rate, fund the public school system, and determine priorities and policies for issues ranging from affordable housing, homelessness and human services to economic development, traffic calming and the environment.
They manage a $7 billion budget, larger than the budgets of four states, and rule over a county with a diverse, well-educated population of more than a million people.
Their decisions can propel our community forward – or cost us our first-rate status in education, livability and culture.
If you happen to meet them this election season, thank them for the long-awaited Silver Line expansion, a success that directly benefits you and your property values. Or, you may want to chide them for the extra $185 you will pay in property taxes this year, or the generous $20,000 pay raise they gave themselves after increasing your property taxes.
They do want to hear from you.
What they don’t want to hear are complaints about potholes on your road. Not because they don’t care, but because they can’t do anything about it.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the state builds, maintains and operates local roads. Transportation funding, you will quickly learn, is a perennial hot topic in the Virginia General Assembly.
So is redistricting, also known as gerrymandering, which has kept the Commonwealth in another form of gridlock as Republicans and Democrats struggle ceaselessly for control of the legislature.
Another perennial problem is the socioeconomic divide between affluent Northern Virginia (NOVA) – where you now reside – and the Rest of Virginia (ROVA) – where a chunk of your tax dollars disappear. NOVA gets less back from Richmond than we send down there, and so Northern Virginians have the privilege of paying extra taxes (and tolls) to fund the badly needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure. It drives us a little crazy.
As a newcomer, you may wonder why we still call ourselves a “Commonwealth,” instead of just an ordinary state. Good question. Virginia retained this nomenclature – as did Kentucky, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania - when we adopted our first constitution in 1776, most likely to emphasize the fact that our new government was based upon the sovereignty of the people united for the common good. If we’re really honest, we are also very proud of the ruckus we kicked up with the British Monarchy when we declared our independence. There’s a reason our state motto is “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” Latin for “thus always to tyrants.”
So, dear newcomer: Wherever you are from, you are here now. In the Old Dominion, the Mother of Presidents. Let that sink in for a moment.
We hope you will appreciate the fact that you are here, reading this guide, during an important election season. We assume you will join the ranks of Fairfax County’s prolific electorate, where nearly 43 percent of residents cast their ballots last year, and vote on Nov. 3.
To make it a little easier for you, and give you the opportunity to feel like “political insiders,” we asked each of the 19 BOS candidates to give you their answers to questions specifically geared toward newcomers.
Their responses are unedited and enlightening. We hope.
1.) What should newcomers know about the impact the Board of Supervisors has on their daily lives? In other words - what do you do at the county level that's important enough to compel newcomers to vote in this election?
2.) To make newcomers feel at home, what’s a “must-see" place or event you recommend they check out in Fairfax County or your district?
3.) What’s your favorite sports team?
4.) Fairfax County gained national and global Twitter prominence earlier this year when outraged FCPS students started the Twitter hashtag #closeFCPS after school officials did not call a snow day when it actually snowed. What Twitter or Instagram hashtag would you like to see trending in the coming year about Fairfax County or your district?
Race: Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (At Large)
Incumbent: Sharon S. Bulova (D)
Home: Fairfax Station
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) We are the most grass roots level of government. Our Board is responsible for everything from ensuring clean drinking water, safe streets and neighborhoods, compassionate human services, attractive parks and libraries to funding our fantastic school system.
2) Hard to choose a favorite. Fairfax has the most wonderful park system with something for everyone to enjoy. I jog through the woods in Villa Park three times a week.
3) My current favorite is Fairfax County's World Police & Fire Games Women's Basketball Team. They won a gold medal at the Games and presented me with an autographed ball.
4) Trending: #FairfaxCounty/#model/EngagedCommunity
“I’d like to see #FairfaxModel become a trend for what we are doing in the area of mental health. I want others to look to us the way we are looking to Memphis and Bexar County for examples of how to adequately train public safety to deal with people suffering from mental illness and diverting those individuals from jail into treatment.”
Challenger: Arthur G. Purves (R)
Email Address: email@example.com
*Candidate Arthur Purvis did not respond to the questionnaire.
Challenger: Glenda Gail Parker (Independent Green)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Your commute depends on politics, More Trains, Less Traffic! Trains as fast as planes. Nationwide and local rail feeder systems. We need light rail to serve tourists and VRE service throughout the day and on weekends. The BOS can pressure the Virginia General Assembly and Virginia Congressional delegation to remove the barrier that prevents building rail mass transit and to encourage renewable energy – solar, wind, geothermal. Rail built anywhere in America benefits ALL of America.
2) Check out Channel 10’s Green TV on Cox, Verizon or Fios. Visit us on YouTube: search for Independent Greens of Virginia or GailforRailParker YouTube channel.
3) My hometown girls’ basketball team, the Kingston Princesses!
4) This is easy: #HHR4FXCounty #MoreTrainsLessTraffic #GailforRailrocks #www.GailParker.us
Race: Braddock District Supervisor
Incumbent: John C. Cook (R)
Email Address: email@example.com
Campaign website: johncook4supervisor.com
1) The Board of Supervisors is the level of government closest to the people. We fund schools, police and fire, parks, libraries, and services for the disabled. We oversee zoning enforcement; which includes rules against illegal boarding houses, uncut grass, junk piled in yards, and unregistered cars. We also approve land use applications, such as the size and scope of shopping centers and housing developments. In short, we handle just about everything you see except the roads, which are state-owned.
2) Go to dinner and a movie at Fairfax Corner, followed by shopping at great boutique stores.
3) Washington Nationals.
4) How about: #BraddockNights, #LakeAccotinkPark, #RenovateAudreyMooreRecCenter
Challenger: Janet S. Oleszek (D)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign website: janetoleszek.ngpvanhost.com
1) Newcomers to Fairfax County should know the famous quip “all politics is local.”
Local politics IS the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, who decide on issues and policies that direct our police, emergency and fire departments, while at the same time fund our public schools, parks, libraries and social services. Water, sewers and garbage collection are important duties of the Board too. So you can easily see that your vote will directly influence who will be making the decisions that affect your daily life and protect the quality of our community. In this election, we will be deciding on issues of importance such as the future of Braddock Road, which voters will be hearing more about from me.
2) Braddock District is home to some of the very best high school athletic programs in Northern Virginia, so come check out some of the games during fall sports season this year! You can meet me at the Friday night football games.
3) We are a baseball family. My sons and husband love the Nationals. Their love and enthusiasm for the game has rubbed off on me. Go Nats!
Challenger: Carey C. Campbell (Independent Green)
Email Address: email@example.com
Campaign website: votejoinrun.us/careyc
1) It's your money. Vote. Help decide how your taxpayer cash is, or isn't spent! The Board of Supervisors decides the property tax rate for our homes. It sets fees. The Board then decides how money is spent. How much? Over $7 billion bucks last year.
I'm the Independent candidate in the nonpartisan Braddock District race. I'm for Green Growth. Smart Growth. The Green New Deal. Positive eco-solutions for the economy. Invest in money-making infrastructure. Get a return on our investment. Rail, bikeable, walkable, pedestrian-friendly communities increase the value of our homes, businesses, communities. That grows revenue for our schools, police, and fire departments.
You can make all the difference by voting. Your vote. Your money. Our community.
It's about your money. Let's grow our community, and get solid returns on investments in our community.
I ask for your vote for Braddock District Supervisor!
2) Must see: This Plus Green house. Plus means it creates more energy than it consumes.
Check out my house. 51 solar panels. Geothermal heating and cooling.
The first year installed the solar and geothermal produced 10 times the energy the house consumed. I'm making money. You can too! The exact same way. Every quarter I receive a check for my (SRECs). Last quarter the check was almost $1,400.00.
Here's the check on my Facebook page.
4) #GreenBraddock, #GreenFairfax
Race: Dranesville District Supervisor
Incumbent: John W. Foust (D)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) The Board of Supervisors is the governing body for Fairfax County. No level of government has more impact on our daily lives. We set policies and approve programs for transportation, public safety, the environment, land use, housing and human services, economic development, and many other services. We adopt the County’s $7 billion budget, fund the schools, establish local tax rates, approve or reject land use proposals, and provide constituent services on a host of issues.
2) Dranesville residents should visit and enjoy our wonderful parks including Riverbend, Scotts Run Nature Preserve, Wolf Trap and Turner Farm to name just a few.
3) Pittsburgh Steelers
Challenger: Jennifer C. Chronis (R)
Email Address: email@example.com
1) The Board of Supervisors influences nearly every aspect of your day to day life. Paying real estate taxes? The Board of Supervisors sets the rate. Taking your kids to school? The Board of Supervisors funds the schools. Going to a park on the weekend? The Board of Supervisors manages the park system. Every one of the County’s 1.1 million residents is impacted by decisions made by the 10-person Board of Supervisors.
2) One of my favorite places to visit in Dranesville is Great Falls Park. From nature trails to gorgeous views, the park is a must-see!
3) Washington Nationals (Go Nats!)
Race: Hunter Mill District Supervisor
Incumbent: Catherine M. Hudgins (D) *Running Unopposed
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Welcome to Hunter Mill District. As member of the Board of Supervisors, I serve the citizens by making policies that enhance and protect lives. The district, with over 126,000 residents, recently celebrated the new Silver Line to Tysons and Reston, expanded bus services, preserved 35 percent affordable housing in Lake Anne village redevelopment, renovated two schools and opened a new police station. Most importantly, I work in partnership with citizens, making our community the best for all.
2) Some favorites, anything in Lake Anne, Reston Town Center, Viva Vienna, historic Church Street and Frying Pan Park
3) Favorite sport is tennis!
4) How about - #doittogether
Race: Lee District Supervisor
Incumbent: Jeffrey C. McKay (D) *Running Unopposed
Email Address: email@example.com
Campaign website: JeffMcKay.net
1) The County Board is the elected body closest to the people and has the most direct impact on residents’ quality of life—everything from zoning enforcement to schools, libraries, parks, human services and transportation. We set the property tax rate. We are where residents go for information and assistance, often for matters involving the state and federal government even when they are not our responsibility.
2) The new Springfield Town Center—light years away from its predecessor and a vibrant shopping and dining center that appeals to residents and visitors alike.
3) The Saints
Race: Mason District Supervisor
Incumbent: Penelope A. "Penny" Gross (D)
Home: Falls Church
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign website – pennygross.com
1) The Board of Supervisors makes more decisions, property tax rates, land use, stormwater, traffic, even garbage pick-up, affecting our everyday lives than anyone at the state or federal level. Policies get implemented at the local level, the work gets done at the local level, and local elected officials are truly accessible to the people they serve -- at the office, park concerts, community events, the grocery store -- local elected officials are always open for business!
2) Green Spring Gardens any time of the year; Spotlight by Starlight free summer concerts at Mason District Park and Ossian Hall Park.
3) Oregon Ducks football!
Challenger: Mollie A. Loeffler (Independent)
Email Address: email@example.com
Campaign website: Mollie4Mason.com
1) Broadly, Supervisors set local tax rates, develop a budget which provides funding for schools, parks, libraries, public safety and other public facilities and services and make decisions on land use, zoning and ordinances. A primary responsibility of the Supervisor is providing constituent services within their District. Supervisors help address code enforcement, traffic calming, storm water, human services, parking disputes, road maintenance and development. All of these affect your quality of life - Vote!
2) Mason District is home to some of THE BEST locally owned ethnic restaurants around. Top events include the Fall Annandale Parade and Taste of Annandale.
3) GO NATS - or any Mason District Little League Team my sons are on.
Race: Mount Vernon District Supervisor
(*No incumbent. Mount Vernon Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D), 78, announced in February that he would retire after nearly 30 years in office.)
Candidate: Daniel G. "Dan" Storck (D)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign website: DanStorck.org
1) The Mt. Vernon District Supervisor, one of ten Board members, decides key issues that affect every aspect of residents’ lives from development, schools, public safety, taxation, land use, transportation, human services support, etc. The strength and quality of life in our community derives from these services and harnessing the skills, talents and interests of our residents. As your current elected representative and your future Supervisor, I will continue to strongly engage and improve our community.
2) From the Mount Vernon Estate to the Workhouse Arts Center, our many parks to our river trails, exploring our heritage and natural beauty are musts.
3) Our many high school sports, concerts and plays always provide a great variety of first class entertainment!
4) #MtVernonRocksn#GeorgeSleptHere #GeorgeReallySleptHere
Candidate: Jane R. Gandee (R)
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
Campaign website: Janegandee.com
1) The Board of Supervisors has more impact on the daily lives of people in Fairfax County than any other level of government. The Board sets the property tax rate which could make a difference in whether you buy that new house. The Board makes decisions on land use that affect economic development. The Board sets the priorities to ensure a great quality of life for everyone in Fairfax County. This election is about our community and how we live.
2) While Mount Vernon is a local treasure, the home of George Mason, Gunston Hall, is a “must see” for newcomers. Situated along the Potomac River it is a beautiful place and Mr. Mason authored the Virginia Bill of Rights which was used as the template for the U.S. Bill of Rights. I also recommend the Friday night concerts at Grist Mill Park.
3) I stay true to the Redskins and keep hoping that RGIII will come through for us. Growing up in West Virginia and loving football our family was happy to be somewhere with an NFL team.
Race: Providence District Supervisor
Incumbent: Linda Q. Smyth (D) *Running Unopposed
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) The Board of Supervisors collectively provides local government in Fairfax County. What does that mean? Supervisors set the local tax rates and approve the county budget, which provides funding for schools, parks, libraries, public safety, and other public facilities and services. In other words, what we do touches our residents’ everyday lives. And when residents have questions or problems, we are the ones they call for answers and solutions.
2)The Merrifield Fall Festival is a great event. Coming October 17 at the Mosaic District, it features food, entertainment, children’s activities, and fun for everyone.
3)My favorite sports team is the St. Louis Cardinals (I grew up in St. Louis).
Race: Springfield District Supervisor
Incumbent: Patrick S. "Pat" Herrity (R)
Email Address: email@example.com
Campaign website: patherrity.org
1) I am a firm believer that government closest to the people – the Board of Supervisors – must be the most responsive. I take pride in the job I do working to resolve residents issues – from land use, to public safety, to schools, to transportation and neighborhood blight. I also believe communication is critical and I hold townhall meetings, attend HOA meetings, and publish a newsletter – sign up at:http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/springfield/herrity-report-newsletter.htm. – I look forward to serving you.
2) The Town of Clifton for Clifton Day, Paradise Springs Winery, Burke Lake Park almost any day, and the Children’s Science Center Lab at Fair Oaks Mall.
3) I prefer playing sports but like watching the Washington Capitals and Virginia Tech Football.
4) #WSHSJobs – I will be holding my second annual job fair for teens and recent graduates at WSHS on March 12, 2016.
Challenger: Corazon S. Foley (Independent Green)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) As full-time Springfield Supervisor, I will provide leadership and community engagement for affordable taxes to maintain outstanding school system and safe neighborhoods. Vote for me, Corazon S. Foley, because the incumbent is not doing his job of constituent service to improve our quality of life, particularly for seniors. In particular, he has ignored our proposed solutions to redress unfairness toward Springfield senior taxpayers and families: other districts have 17 permanent senior centers, Springfield District NONE!
2) My three Burke history books describe former Coffer properties in Springfield: Burke/Coffer home (1825); and Braddock: Second Coffer Home (1790); Little Zion Baptist Church (1891).
3) The Burke/West Springfield Senior Center Without Walls (BWSSCWoW) Line Dance Teams won for three years the gold and silver medals in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics -- and have been providing public service with free performances at numerous community events.
Race: Sully District Supervisor
(*No incumbent. Republican Supervisor Michael Frey, 58, announced in January that he would not seek a seventh term in November. In 1990, Frey became the Sully District’s first and only supervisor.)
Candidate: Kathy L. Smith (D)
Email Address: email@example.com
Not on Twitter
1) The Supervisors make decisions that affect our quality of life. Our strong schools, which attract families and business to the county depend on the BOS for over 70 percent of their funding. Setting policies which attract business, making land use decisions, providing parks, libraries and human service needs are among the important decisions that supervisors make. They also provide constituent services so that people are able to navigate through the system.
2) Sully Plantation is a great place to visit, but I also recommend high school plays which are a great activity for children and adults.
3) Washington Nationals
Candidate: John P. Guevara (R)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) The Board of Supervisors is as local as politics gets; they facilitate our quality of life by influencing our property values and taxes, deciding how much in funds our schools receive, and selecting which programs and services the County will provide for residents. As your Supervisor, I’ll work to spend our tax money more efficiently and ensure we’re providing quality services with maximum return on investment, promote traffic solutions that ease congestion, and work to reduce class sizes as well as recruit and retain the best teachers with better pay.
2) Cub Run Rec Center! They’ve got everything! My family and I enjoy relaxing by the pool and riding one of the coolest water slides in Fairfax County.
3) My sons and I root for the Nats and the Dodgers.
4) This is great! My opponent doesn’t use Twitter, but my team and I have been working hard to push #Sully to promote events and issues that our district cares about. I have also been pushing #endsummerhunger for students and families that are confronted by hunger when school is out. I would also like #savefcpsteachers to start trending because it’s crucial that we recruit and retain the best teachers we can for our children.