Choices in Fairfax

Monday, February 9, 2009

ONLY A WEEK after voters elected longtime supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (D) to chair the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Braddock District Democrats go to the polls tonight and tomorrow to choose her possible successor. Three qualified candidates -- Ilryong Moon, Janyce N. Hedetniemi and the Rev. Ronald F. Christian -- are vying to be the Democratic nominee in the March 10 election to replace Ms. Bulova, who represented Braddock for 21 years. None of the candidates offers much of a break from Ms. Bulova, but, considering her popularity in the district, that's not necessarily a bad thing. We know it must seem as if Northern Virginia is attempting to set a record for most elections held in the shortest period, but it's important for voters to cast a ballot. Turnout is likely to be anemic, and the election may hinge on a few dozen votes.

Ilryong Moon, a School Board member for 10 years, is the only candidate to hold an elected office. The first Asian American to win an election in Northern Virginia, Mr. Moon has a compelling biography: An English as a Second Language student who emigrated from Korea when he was 17, Mr. Moon managed to graduate from Harvard University and earn a law degree from the College of William and Mary. In a county in which about one-fourth of the residents are foreign-born, Mr. Moon would bring a welcome grasp of immigration issues. He was also the only School Board member to vote against plans for a new headquarters, a sign that Mr. Moon wouldn't always move in lock step with the Democratic majority.

Jan Hedetniemi, president of the Oak Hill Citizens Association for 10 years, would bring an extensive knowledge of neighborhood issues and a demeanor similar to Ms. Bulova's. As Braddock representative on the Tysons Land Use Task Force for four years, Ms. Hedetniemi has been a leading advocate of the mixed-use redevelopment of Tysons Corner. She says that she would also work to stabilize the finances of Virginia Railway Express.

Ronald Christian, who founded Lord of Life Lutheran Church near Twinbrook Road Area Park, has an unmatched grasp of affordable housing. Mr. Christian is chairman of the county's Redevelopment and Housing Authority and also director of the county's Lutheran Housing Service, a nonprofit that works to provide affordable housing to the needy. Mr. Christian would also make emergency preparedness a priority.

John Cook, president of the Kings Park Civic Association, won an uncontested primary yesterday to be the Republican nominee. Carey C. Campbell, an independent, is also planning to run in the general election.

The Democratic Party voting will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at Kings Park Library at 9000 Burke Lake Road. Absentee voting is scheduled for 6 to 9 tonight at the library.

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