Democratic supporters are in full dudgeon about electing Sharon Bulova tomorrow, as seen at BluCo. However, in their fervor they are inadverently stating exactly the reason why Fairfax County needs to vote for Pat Herrity tomorrow…because the status quo of Team Bulova is not the way to get us where we need to be.
Team Bulova offers many reasons for supporting their candidate are many, but the stated reasons all boil down down to this: she has been on the board for twenty years and has experience. The unstated reason is that she is a Democrat.
Fair enough. But ultimately these reasons are inadequate, misrepresented, and serve as proof that a new direction is needed.
Example: BluCo cites a letter by Fairfax Dem Chair Scott Surovall, who asserts:
Since being elected in 1987, Sharon Bulova has presided over the growth of Fairfax County….
But of course Mr. Surovall knows this is untrue. The typical definition for the word “preside” suggests either someone who is either leading or controlling. Ms. Bulova has not lead the board during her terms in office, nor has she controlled the local economy…unless you mean working with a majority of the board, which has always-under GOP or Dem control-sought to help local business development.
Well, except for the brief interregnum when Audrey Moore was chair…you remember her, Ms. Bulova’s better known patron whose elevation to chair in 1987 allowed Ms. Bulova to succeed her?
Ms. Bulova has not lead the county. She gained her seat through the virtual coronation, and she has spent her time as the loyal courtier for a series of Democratic leaders. She has proven herself to be a great wingman to a succession of county chairs, but at no time has she provided or revealed the capacity for original vision and leadership.
She has experience, as pointed out at AIAW. But others have noted that the experienced can typically point to results created by that experience…but all that can be offered by Team Bulova is a yawning silence.
Examples…my friend AIAW cites awards for Fairfax County being a well run county as an achievement…but my reading suggests these awards typically are the result of the professional staff or in counties where the elected leader of the county is also the working leader of the county (as we see in Maryland with their elected County Executives). I don’t think getting out of the way of the professional staff is really an achievement. Ms. Bulova is cited as representing the county on state and regional boards, where she works hard to “find…solutions”, yet no solutions are cited.
But at the same time Ms. Bulova is cited for doing great things but undocumented things to boost the local economy and creating an efficient local government, she is have no responsibility for the budget shortfall. I do not see how one can supposedly be so involved and so critical in making things happen that they bear absolutely no responsibility when affairs are less than perfect.
Ms. Bulova and her supporters take Mr. Herrity to task because he says he can say “no”. They think that is a horrible way to govern. Perhaps that is because for twenty years Ms. Bulova has constantly said “yes”…to developers who have slammed in housing without adequate infrastructure support, to every new initiative they can think of, to an educational structure that tries to tie quality of education to the amount of money they can spend. The luxury of high property values meant she could to this without real inspection, and ignore the fact that although tax rates have stayed down, county taxation and spending have skyrocketed to the point that some county residents will find they will be paying double the taxes now that they were barely five or six years ago. But there seem to be few times she said “no”, and it has created an illusion of an endless supply of funds an a mindset to fully spend that endless supply.
For instance, Mr. Survall argues that Mr. Herrity is misrepresenting Ms. Bulova on the matter of the School Board $130 million administrative building purchase. What Mr. Surovall doesn’t address is more telling.
At a time when older HS in the county-including tech magnet Thomas Jefferson-need significant upgrades, when the county has to use almost a thousand trailers as classrooms, when teacher salaries vis-a-vis other jurisdictions are dropping, did the school board think they would get Board support for such a purchase? Could it because the County BOS, where Ms. Bulova is supposed to be such a leader, has not previously held them to a strict standard to justify their spending? Could it be that with the seemingly endless supply of money, she and her colleagues didn’t have the political will exercise reasonable fiscal scrutiny and promoted a free spending attitude?
Ms Bulova may claim credit the good things that happened during her tenure, but she also carries the responsibility for the bad things that happened during that time-especially things that she helped create.
Speaking of which, has anyone heard her explanation about why in November 2007 when she and ChairGer were running for reelection the county budget was just fine, but within a month the county had a 220 million dollar deficit? Have you heard her explanation how someone with such leadership abilities and fine grasp of county government could not have seen this deficit looming?
No? Maybe that is because she has not done so. She has not explained how she and her most recent patron played us false in 2007 about the state of county finances. She has not explained how this came to happen, and whether her failure to alert us to the problem was because she didn’t see it coming or saw it and chose not to talk about it…in other words, was it misfeasance or malfeasance? Perhaps she is a little hesitant to admit that she and her patron used smoke and mirrors and were less than candid with their fellow citizens because they were unwilling to defend themselves or the practices they had followed that may have caused the deficit.
Free spending and smoke and mirrors. This is what the status quo offers as leadership…and it is not adequate to our needs.
Pat Herrity offers a fresh perspective. He has a background in financial oversight that his opponent, despite being chair of the county Budget Committee, clearly does no possess. He is not wed to the policies of the past, and can examine what we are and help determine where we need to go without being emotionally tied to policies and spending that may need to change.
Some will say he doesn’t need to be chairman to accomplish these things. I disagree. When you are on the short end of an 8-2 minority, it is too easy to be ignored by a status quo majority that does not see where or offer plans as to how things should change. The Bully Pulpit of the Chairmanship will his voice would be heard, and not smothered by the weight of the majority. Ms. Bulova, on the other hand, can easily do all the things she currently is-or is not-doing right from where she sits.
Fairfax County needs new leadership with a different take on spending, the financial acumen to spot where savings can be had and the political will to say “no” when needed. The status quo candidate surely has many good points, but in these critical areas, the ares that will drive all else the BOS does, she is sadly deficient.
There is one candidate who can shine the light on our county spending. There is one candidate who can bring the tight scrutiny of reality and commonsense to our county finances. There is one candidate who believes our tax money should be spent on the needs of the county, and not dispersed or hidden or revealed simply to enhance the political aspirations of the BOS majority.
We have a clear choice. Take the time tomorrow to make it happen.
Vote Pat Herrity for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on February 3, 2009.