By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 18, 2006
RICHMOND, March 17 -- Katherine K. Hanley, a former Fairfax County board chairman and a familiar face in Washington area politics, will be named by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to be Virginia's secretary of the commonwealth, according to sources in Fairfax and Richmond.
Hanley, who led Fairfax for eight years and helped guide the Metro transit system for almost a decade, would fill the job Kaine (D) originally offered to Daniel G. LeBlanc, the former labor leader rejected this month by Republicans in the House of Delegates.
The announcement will be made by the governor Monday, according to three sources, each of whom declined to be identified because they did not want to upstage Kaine. Delacey Skinner, Kaine's communications director, declined to comment.
Reached in Reston, where she lives, Hanley replied playfully to questions about the appointment.
"Really? Your sources tell you that? You'll have to ask the governor," she said.
As secretary, Hanley would serve as one of Kaine's chief advisers, offering recommendations to the governor on filling more than 4,000 appointments to hundreds of boards and commissions, including the trustees of public colleges and universities.
Once nominated, she will have to be confirmed by the legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. Hanley is a longtime Democrat who began her public service career as an activist, became a school board member in Fairfax and then was elected to the Board of Supervisors.
Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, was enthusiastic about her selection.
"That's exactly the type of mainstream appointment that I think is great," said Albo, who helped lead the effort to block LeBlanc's appointment.
Albo had criticized LeBlanc, saying he wanted to restore voting rights to violent criminals, an accusation LeBlanc denied. Other House Republicans criticized LeBlanc, who had served as the head of the AFL-CIO in the state, for opposing the state's right-to-work laws.
But Albo predicted that Hanley would be confirmed easily in the legislature.
"I'll definitely vote for her," he said. "I don't think she'll have any trouble because I'll give her two thumbs up."
As chairman of the Fairfax County board, Hanley directed the affairs of a government that is larger than that of many countries, with a $3 billion annual budget and more than 1 million residents. Always energetic, she often ventured from one civic association meeting to another, many times late into the night.
As a member of Metro's board of directors, Hanley pushed for the regional transit system's expansion. She has fought hard to extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport but has always added that it must go through Tysons Corner.
Hanley did not run for reelection in 2003, in part because she was considering a primary challenge against Rep. James P. Moran Jr., a fellow Democrat who had been weakened by controversy over some of his statements. In the end, Hanley decided not to run against Moran.
For the past several years, she has worked on behalf of an arts group in Reston. Her name surfaced several months ago as a possible candidate for secretary of transportation, but Kaine selected Pierce R. Homer.
Her successor as chairman in Fairfax County, Gerald E. Connolly (D), praised her practical and political skills and said Kaine will be lucky to have her.
"Kate is a public figure of extraordinary talent and will make a great contribution to Governor Kaine's Cabinet in the next four years," Connolly said. "It's a very good thing."
A source close to Hanley said she plans to keep her Reston condominium but also have a place to stay in Richmond, near the Capitol, were she to be appointed.