Fairfax County's Mason District, once known for its liberal constituency, has evolved into a conservative stronghold, according to the results of a questionnaire answered by 1,200 of the district's 60,000 residents.
"There's no question that the Mason District has clearly changed over the past decade," said Robert W. Beers, administrative aide to county supervisor Thomas M. Davis III (R-Mason).
Beers, who complied and tabulated the 15-question survey for Davis, said the conservtive trend reflected in residents' answers could be attributed to an aging population of retirees on fixed incomes, fewer families with school-age children and a preponderance of single family homeowners worried about taxes.
The questionnaire, distributed in March through civic associations, drew responses from a large cross section of the district, which encompasses Annadale, Bailey's Crossroads and Seven Corners in the eastern part of the county, according to Beers.
The most surprising result, Beers said, was the overwhelming support for the right of voters in a referendum to initiate and repeal laws or recall elected officials. Eighty-three percent of the respondents favored having the powers of initiative and referendum.
But, while the respondents favored giving voters such sweeping powers, only 62 percent supported having elected rather than the current form of appointed school boards. Beers said he expected that number to be higher than those favoring initiative and referendum.
When asked how often they used Metrobus, 79 percent said once a month or less, while only 11 percent said they use it daily. Beers said the answer probably is a result of the fewer responses from apartment dwellers who tend to ride the bus more than homeowners. Homeowners responding to the questionnaire outnumbered apartment residents nearly four to one, Beers said.
Most of the respondents, 77 percent, oppose the $50 million plan to relocate the county government offices, while another 63 percent said they would oppose a bond referendum to build new schools in western Fairfax.
Fiscal conservativisum also was apparent when 70 percent of the respondents said they would favor eliminating federally subsidized local programs if the federal government cuts back funding for them.
"I think they feel that it wouldn't do much good to cut federal funding at the federal level and shift the burden to the local level," Beers said. "It wouldn't accomplish much in terms of cutting taxes."