Insider vs. Outsider in Race For Springfield Supervisor
Thursday, June 7, 2007
In the Republican primary for Springfield District supervisor, voters will choose between reviving a Fairfax County political dynasty and sending a message that developers wield too much influence in county politics.
Pat Herrity, 47, whose father, John F. "Jack" Herrity, sat on the county board for 16 years in the 1970s and '80s, faces Stanley L. Reid, 49, whose campaign centers largely on his refusal to accept campaign contributions from builders and developers. Both want to replace Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield), who is retiring after six terms.
The candidates have embraced similar positions on the broad issues facing Fairfax County. Both say that county taxes are too high, that the county must spend more on road improvements and public transit, and that it must exact more concessions from developers, such as money for roads, in exchange for the right to build.
Yet in other ways, Herrity and Reid are painting starkly different portraits of themselves for voters of the sprawling Springfield District, a suburban territory that stretches from just west of the Mixing Bowl nearly to Centreville and that forms most of the county's southern border with Prince William County. Although most of Fairfax County is predominantly Democratic, Springfield remains a Republican-leaning domain where the winner of Tuesday's primary will carry the advantage in November against Democrat Mike McClanahan.
Herrity, an executive with the government contractor Arrowhead Global Solutions, is keen to capitalize on the legacy of his father, who, as chairman of the county board for 12 years, led Fairfax County during its transformation from sleepy bedroom community to regional economic engine.
Herrity has the backing of McConnell and most of the county's Republican establishment; he is also the choice of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.
Herrity's key campaign message is to spend more on roads and to lower taxes. He would do so, he said, by making developers pay more for the right to build, and by increasing the county's commercial tax base. Although Herrity supports efforts to allow high-density, transit-oriented development near Metro stations, he is concerned that it puts residences on potentially valuable, tax-producing commercial land.
"If you only have residential taxpayers, your taxes go through the roof, because those taxpayers are also demanding expensive services," he said.
Reid, 49, characterizes himself as a political outsider -- although, unlike Herrity, this is not his first attempt at elective office. Reid lost to McConnell four years ago. He also is a longtime Republican activist in Fairfax County, and he was a political appointee in the Department of Energy during the Reagan years. Reid owns Strategic Sciences, a management company that works with government-contracting technology firms.
His principal issue is that Fairfax County government is driven by developers.
"Frankly, I think it is a conflict of interest if you accept development dollars and vote on land-use decisions," Reid said. "We need one person on the board who's not going to have a conflict of interest, and I'm willing to lead the charge on that."
Reid also said he thinks the current board has allowed too much commercial development in residential areas and has done too little to prevent clear-cutting. On budgetary matters, he said the county tax rate is too high, but he also said the school system needs to put more teachers in the classroom to reduce class size.
Both want to beef up county zoning enforcement to crack down on crowding and illegal boarding houses. Both support efforts to revitalize struggling commercial areas and to encourage transit-oriented development. Both say the county should spend more money on mass transit.