Why Fairfax needs Pat Herrity and not the Status Quo

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.


4 thoughts on “Why Fairfax needs Pat Herrity and not the Status Quo

  1. First – my name is spelled Surovell.

    You suggest that Sharon shouldn’t be able to take credit for the good things that have occurred in Fairfax because she doesn’t preside of the Board. Given that no member of the BOS “controls” the BOS, then no member of the board can take credit for anything good that’s happened in Fairfax? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Sharon has been very involved in setting priorities as Chair of the Budget Committee and has been very involved in development practices in Braddock District for over 22 years.

    Braddock District is probably the third most Republican Supervisor District in Fairfax County (which is why it is the only one entirely within the 11th Congressional District) and Sharon has held it virtually without challenge that entire time. She does a good job and her constituents know it – Democrats and Republicans.

    Also, Herrity and his supporters continually seem to want to blame Bulova for this budget deficit caused by an unprecedented housing market collapse and economic crisis. I didn’t hear Herrity predicting it either. Pretty soon Herrity is going to start blaming her for tomorrow’s weather.

    Pat seems like a nice enough person, but he doesn’t have the experience for this job yet – especially given that we’re facing our worst recession since the Great Depression. It’s the wrong time to take a gamble on someone who is untested and ideological.

  2. Mr. Surovell, Thank you for stopping by the blog! For those who do not know, Mr. Surovell is the Chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee…and an ardent backer of Ms. Bulova

    I apologize for the misspelling. I followed the lead of your friends at Blue Commonwealth, who spelled your name “Surovall”. I assumed that those you lead would spell your name correctly.

    I don’t believe I said Ms Bulova shouldn’t take credit. I did take issue with your contention that she “presided” over the growth. Unless you are assigning some new definition, it really isn’t fair to suggest she presided over the growth-she did not lead the Board either by dint of authority, vision, or example, nor did she control the growth. What I did say is that she should not be able to take the credit for the all good and be absolved of blame for things that did not go well.

    Pat Herrity did not predict a housing collapse, but one would think that someone who has had a hand in development issues for 22 years and chairs the Budget committee for so long might have had some awareness that things were not right…but Ms. Bulova ran right on for reelection like nothing was wrong. By the same token, it is Sharon Bulova who during those two decades had a hand in the tax and spend policies the Board has followed over the last ten years that were serving to dot the landscape of our schools with trailers and cause our teacher salaries to decrease.

    I will again mention something that Pat Herrity did not do. He did not run for office in 2007 either not being aware of or not mentioning huge deficits that were just over the horizon. That was Sharon Bulova, veteran member of the BOS and Chair of the Budget Committee. This inconvenient truth was reported by the Washington Post in December of 2007.

    Lord, to hear her and Gerry back then was to experience the sincerity of Captain Renault in Casablanca voice his shock that there was gambling going on in Rick’s cafe…just before he pocketed his winnings.

    I am not sure that a District that gave 51% to John Kerry in 2004 and increasing majorities to other democratic candidates since then really has a claim to being in any degree anything but a Democratic district. If Ms. Bulova is so well regarded in her district, then perhaps it is the best thing for her to stay there.

    Mr. Herrity is by profession capable of the job, and he is not inextricably married to the policies and practices that got us where we are. Team Bulova has said you cannot govern by saying “no”, but that is exactly what will have to be done to repair the current deficit.

    You don’t hire the same mechanic who messed up your car to try to fix it…you get a new one. Ms. Bulova’s experience may be helpful in weathering the current fiscal crisis, but she has not shown that she has the vision or leadership to be the person to lead us out of it.

  3. Bwana:
    Agree 100%. Pat is the right agent for change. Good Luck to Pat Herrity today. Everyone in Fairfax county today, please be careful going to the polls. Take care,


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