Supervisor Says He Will Not Seek Reelection
Thursday, January 25, 2007
T. Dana Kauffman's first taste of life in the public sector came on the back of a trash truck in Fairfax City. He said the experience convinced him that a college degree might afford a better way to begin a government career.
Thirty years later, Kauffman (D-Lee) is finishing his third and final term on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He announced Monday that he would not seek reelection in the fall.
Kauffman, 50, who also served as Metro board chairman in 2005, said a number of reasons prompted him to give up his seat. Family obligations, satisfaction with having met objectives -- and disappointment over lack of progress on other issues -- all entered into the decision.
Mostly, he said, there was a feeling that it was time to go.
Kauffman departs after playing a key role in the establishment of cash proffers (payments from developers for school construction) and winning broader recognition of the importance of concentrating future growth around mass transit centers.
But he expressed frustration at "having to fight to advance a long-range vision and basic common sense" for the extension of rail service to Dulles International Airport. He said he is also concerned that the county and federal governments have not thought through the impact of the 21,000 new workers expected at Fort Belvoir by 2011 as part of military base closures and realignment.
With no reelection campaign, Kauffman said he intends to spend his remaining time in office working on neighborhood issues such as junk cars, illegal boarding houses and construction by unlicensed contractors. They are part of a cluster of what he sees as long-neglected "street-level" problems plaguing communities throughout the county.
"We cannot ignore these issues as they multiply, house by house and street by street," he said.
Kauffman said he has no immediate career plans, but that he was interested in remaining in the public sector or working for a nonprofit group. "My wife likes me better in the public sector," he said, explaining that most government work requires the patient building of coalitions. His time in private business, where quicker results are usually expected, left him more on edge.
His announcement, rumored for weeks, brought a series of tributes from board colleagues. Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D-At Large) called Kauffman's decision "a terrible blow" for local government, especially in transportation policy. He credited Kauffman's leadership, both as chairman and Fairfax representative, with helping to steer Metro through a difficult period of management and service problems.
"I'm not sure Metro would have weathered the storms of the last few years without his steady hand," Connolly said.
Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), whose district borders Kauffman's, called him "an elected official's elected official."