John Cook Top Choice for Fairfax County Supervisor

Saturday, March 7, 2009

FOR THE FIRST time in 21 years, someone other than Sharon S. Bulova (D) will represent the Braddock District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Ms. Bulova's successor will have to help guide Fairfax through a challenging budget crunch -- and that's only part of the job. Residents knew they could turn to Ms. Bulova, elected as chairman of the board last month, when there was a broken traffic light at their street corner or a pothole in front of their driveway. The next Braddock supervisor must match that zeal for constituent services.

Both candidates in Tuesday's special election, School Board member Ilryong Moon (D) and Kings Park Civic Association President John Cook (R), are worthy successors. (Carey C. Campbell, an independent, is also on the ballot.) Mr. Moon has more experience with countywide issues, but Mr. Cook has the more intricate grasp of neighborhood ones. Mr. Moon would bring welcome ethnic diversity to the board as the first Asian American elected official in Northern Virginia; Mr. Cook would bring welcome ideological diversity as one of only three Republicans on the 10-member board. It's not an easy call, but based on his ability to present a different point of view without being reactionary or doctrinaire, Mr. Cook has the slight edge.

Mr. Cook's tenure as the leader of the Kings Park association since 2006 has been impressive. At a time of declining civic involvement, membership in the group, which represents a community of 1,100 homes, has grown significantly. That can be attributed to Mr. Cook's efforts to educate members about the neighborhood and to hold community-building events. Mr. Cook, a lawyer, also showed the ability to cross party lines in working with Ms. Bulova on a pilot program that targeted zoning violations, such as houses filled with boarders.

Mr. Moon is a hard worker with a compelling life story: He moved to the United States from Korea at age 17, earned a degree at Harvard, graduated from William and Mary Law School and became a successful lawyer. As a member of the School Board for 10 years, he has grappled with budgets that exceed $1 billion; as a former member of the county's Planning Commission, he is fluent in development issues. Mr. Moon would be a high-profile voice for immigrants in an increasingly diverse county.

While Mr. Moon's experience with county government is both extensive and impressive, our concern is that he would be another yes vote on a board that is sometimes too devoted to consensus. For example, Mr. Cook raises

legitimate concerns about the county's costly affordable-housing program; Mr. Moon's position on that issue, and other difficult ones, is less than clear.

With such qualified candidates -- and with so much at stake for the county -- Braddock residents have every incentive to vote on Tuesday.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company