Making Fairfax County More Business Friendly

Fairfax County is at a crossroads. For years, we’ve benefited from a strong economy supported by rising Federal expenditures. As the Federal Government has reduced contractor spending, our local economy and tax base have been negatively impacted. Economic growth in Fairfax County is now lagging the US economy as a whole, and employment growth is not keeping up with increases in our population.

In 2014, economic growth in northern Virginia was virtually stagnant at a mere 0.4% and Virginia lost its spot as the most business friendly state in the nation. Here in Fairfax County, our economy is suffering from both the Great Recession and the sequestration cuts implemented in 2013.  Today, there are over 19 million square feet of commercial office space sitting vacant, a 24 year high. The commercial tax base has fallen to a mere 18.7% of total revenues, the lowest in a decade. For homeowners, this means the tax burden has significantly shifted away from commercial landowners to residential property owners. In the last 3 years alone, the average residential property tax bill increased 17%.

As Supervisor, I will make it a top priority to restore a strong local economy that provides employment opportunities to our residents and the resources needed to preserve and enhance our quality of life. This starts with making Fairfax County more business friendly and attracting employers that are not dependent on Federal spending to invest in our community. The County’s current economic development plan, which took over 5 years to create, contains over 90 actions that are not prioritized and have no clear ownership. As a business executive, I know that a plan this large without any accountability will not succeed. I will urge the Board to create and execute a concise and prioritized plan with clear objectives for building a vibrant, diversified economy.

When I talk to business owners, both small and large, they routinely tell me about the cumbersome and costly regulations they are forced to navigate in order to do business in Fairfax County. I will fight to create a more positive business environment by streamlining regulatory processes and eliminating unnecessary red tape. This starts with reforming our outdated zoning ordinances and holding County regulatory staff accountable.

Prioritizing Education Resources to Support Teachers and Classrooms

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) are one of our countys greatest assets. As a graduate of FCPS, I know first-hand the value that our school system delivers. It is because of my FCPS education that I was able to attend UVA on an Army ROTC scholarship. However, FCPS currently faces many serious challenges that will require strong, collaborative leadership to address.   

Rapidly rising student enrollment and an increasingly diverse student body are increasing the shoolsfinancial requirements at the same time that County revenues are stagnating. As evidence, the Superintendent has announced the FY2017 budget projects a $100 million deficit. Additionally, we are losing our best teachers to surrounding counties because our compensation is not competitive. The quality of education for our children will deteriorate if these trends continue and in Dranesville, we are already feeling the impact. Herndon and McLean are the 2nd and 3rd most over crowded high schools in the County, and Coates is the most overcrowded elementary school in the County. It is projected to be more than 80% above capacity in 2018.  

As Supervisor, I will be a strong supporter for our public schools. I will work hard to improve the relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board. Within 30 days of taking office, I will meet with our School Board members and the Superintendent to begin collaborative dialogue around proactively addressing our challenges.

I will support tough investment decisions that will ensure our limited tax dollars are focused on where they will have the highest impact – in our classrooms and with our teachers and students. Restoring strong economic growth to Fairfax County will be the most effective way to generate the revenues we need to ensure our schools remain the best in the nation and that we retain our best teachers. I will ensure we do just that.

Prioritizing High Impact Transportation Improvements & Stopping $17 Tolls on I-66

Transportation continues to be one of the top challenges we face daily as residents of Fairfax County, and specifically as residents of the Dranesville District. Despite the 2013 tax increases to fund transportation projects, our corridors are still some of the most highly congested in the nation. Route 7 is one of the most chronic chokepoints in Dranesville, yet there is currently no funding allocated for its widening from Reston Avenue to Jarrett Valley Drive.

In addition to Route 7, other corridors such as 66, 495 and the American Legion Bridge contribute to the nearly 1,000,000 hours Northern Virginians waste in traffic every day according to VDOT. Exacerbating our transportation challenges are the ever-increasing tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, which are projected to increase 70% by 2023. Dranesville needs a strong advocate to ensure we get our fair share of the tax dollars we are paying each day for transportation improvements on these highly congested routes.

As Supervisor, I will fight tirelessly to secure full funding for the completion of Route 7 widening through Dranesville. I will ensure that we focus our precious transportation resources on high impact projects that move the most people in the most efficient manner with the least amount of congestion. This includes finding viable solutions to I-66 that bring short term congestion relief, while preserving the corridor for future expansion of Metro when the density warrants it. Finally, Dulles Airport is a critical asset to our region and our economy. To protect the airport and those who use it, I will not support tolling the airport access road. 

As a proponent of funding transportation projects that reduce congestion for the largest number of people, I am 100% opposed to the proposal to toll I-66 inside the beltway. This proposal, concocted by Richmond, is nothing more than poor transportation planning and will result in drivers paying up to $17 for a round trip commute. Those who cannot afford these tolls will be forced to take neighborhood roads, which are already clogged because of a lack of infrastructure. Charging people to drive on roads that they are being taxed to pay for, without adding a single new lane to them, is simply wrong and I will be the leading voice against this proposal on the Board of Supervisors. 

Ensuring More Efficient and Responsive Government

The Board has responded to the shift in our economy by relying increasingly on Fairfax County homeowners to shoulder the tax burden.  In FY2016, Fairfax County homeowners will pay on average over $800 more in property taxes than they did in FY2013. This represents a 17% increase in the last 3 years; a period in which family incomes have been virtually stagnant.    

Despite these tax increases, our County finances are deteriorating. The County Executive has warned of a $107 million deficit in FY2017, and the Superintendent is projecting another $100 million deficit for the public schools. Combined, the Board of Supervisors has over a $200 million budget deficit to solve. Additionally, the Countys triple-A bond rating, the credit score used to determine interest rates on bonds, has been officially placed on “Negative Outlook by one of the rating agencies. Despite serious future budgetary challenges and recent tax increases, the Board of Supervisors decided to give themselves a 27% pay raise. I would not have supported this pay raise.

As Supervisor, I will apply my extensive business experience to ensure that County taxpayers get maximum return on their tax dollars. I will eliminate waste wherever I find it, and hold my fellow Supervisors and County agencies accountable for results. I will put taxpayers first by setting priorities, making tough funding decisions, opposing burdensome tax increases, and protecting our triple-A bond rating by boosting reserve funds.

Throughout my career, I have demonstrated a strong ability for collaborative leadership – bringing both sides to the table to solve tough problems. Addressing our financial challenges will require just that. When elected, I will call for more public meetings of the Boards Budget Committee to allow adequate time and effort to properly address our financial challenges. I will also call for regular, biennial line item reviews of the budget to enable proper determination of our program effectiveness. 

Fighting Human Trafficking

Often characterized as modern day slavery, human trafficking is a scourge to our region and an issue that the Board of Supervisors should be confronting much more proactively. Although tracking statistics on this heinous crime is difficult, the numbers paint a grim picture. In a 12-month period, more than 100 victims were recovered and another 267 have been identified in Fairfax County. The creation of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force has led to an increase in awareness and collaboration across local governments in the region. Fairfax County is playing a role in combatting this crime, but we can do more.

As Supervisor, I will support doubling the number of personnel in the Police Department who are dedicated to investigating human trafficking and will fight to create the first shelter for its victims in Fairfax County. Today, the nearest shelter for victims is in West Virginia. Fairfax County is the center of human trafficking crimes in Northern Virginia, and the County should step up its efforts to significantly increase the fight against it. I will champion this effort.

Leading the Fight Against Lyme Disease and Proactively Managing the Growing Deer Population

The rural nature of much of the Dranesville District is one of the many aspects that make it a special place to live. Unfortunately, along with the positive elements of a rural landscape come challenges. Fighting Lyme Disease and effectively managing the growing deer population are two such challenges.

Lyme Disease is one of the most pressing yet little known issues facing the Dranesville District. This debilitating illness is especially a concern to residents in heavily wooded areas – a large percentage of the District. The proliferation of deer ticks, the top carrier of the disease, is of particular concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Lyme Disease is the 6th fastest growing disease in the United States. Because of its serious nature, and the relative difficulty in detecting and treating it, government leaders at all levels need to be on the forefront in the fight against Lyme.

One of the biggest challenges in fighting Lyme Disease is the medical community’s lack of awareness around cutting edge detection methods such as one newly discovered at George Mason University which has nearly 100% sensitivity in early stage detection. As Supervisor, I will work with the County Health Department to ensure our health professionals are educated on new methods for the detection and treatment of Lyme and that we employ them accordingly. I would also work with our state and Federal leadership to ensure Lyme Disease is classified as a chronic disease, enabling doctors to treat it on a long term basis and prescribe medications accordingly.

Exacerbating the Lyme Disease threat and causing excessive property damage and accidents is a rapidly growing deer population. In Fairfax County, there are approximately 4,000-5,000 collisions between vehicles and deer reported annually.  In the Great Falls and McLean areas alone, which have more than twice the healthy deer density, incidents are so commonplace that civic associations have taken steps to raise awareness. The damage caused by the large deer population is not isolated to vehicles. Plant and landscape damage is pervasive, and deer ticks are the #1 carrier of Lyme Disease.

As Supervisor, I will ensure the County is more proactive about deer management in Dranesville. Our residents should be able to enjoy the rural nature of the District without unnecessarily risking damage to themselves or their property. The County should focus its resources on controlling the population in Great Falls and McLean, and developing deeper and more active relationships with deer management programs that use volunteer manpower to curb the population. 

Bringing Strong, Proven Leadership to the County

Having lived here for nearly two decades, I care deeply about Fairfax County and have a strong appreciation for the quality of life that we enjoy.  Preserving and enhancing that quality of life as the needs of Fairfax County continue to evolve will require strong and proven leaders who can make tough decisions about our investments and our future.

I will be that leader for Dranesville.  I have strong beliefs and principles, and am willing to make tough decisions. Throughout my military and business career, I have succeeded by bringing people together to solve tough problems.  I know when to stand my ground and when to find common ground.  I am the kind of pragmatic, results-oriented leader the County needs during this critical time.