It was billed as the long-awaited debate between Fairfax Board Chairman John F. Herrity and Supervisor Audrey Moore, but Herrity yesterday had a different idea. He refused to spar.
Herrity, a normally combative Republican, came to the "debate" with one purpose in mind -- to continue his crusade against a report by the Greater Washington Research Center which recently warned that Fairfax County could face severe fiscal problems in the coming years.
He told a reporter that he agreed to the debate, which Moore, a maverick Democrat from Annandale, had been requesting for months, because he knew it would draw considerable public attention. But he explained that his strategy was simply to address the group, the Northern Virginia Press Club, and ignore Moore.
The two supervisors did briefly debate a few issues at the Springfield Hilton, such as county taxes. Herrity said there would be "no need for a tax increase" this year and that he did not anticipate one the following fiscal year, although he added that it is difficult to predict that far down the road.
Moore agreed that there would probably not be a tax increase next year because of the scheduled county board elections. But she said that after the election, "either taxes will have to go up, or services will have to be cut."
The two supervisors also briefly debated the proposed Springfield Bypass, the only topic they had agreed in advance to discuss. Herrity argued that the planned 35-mile, cross-county highway would help commuters within the county, while Moore countered that the revised route would do little to relieve the congestion on Old Keene Mill Road.
Herrity refused to be drawn into a debate with Moore over development in the county, the controversy Moore came prepared to discuss.
After the forum, Moore went up to Herrity and suggested another debate. He brusquely replied that the only way he would debate her again is if she offered herself as a candidate for his job and then he would debate her "anytime and anywhere."
He later told a reporter he had "better things to do then run around the county" debating Moore.
Moore said she was "really taken aback" by Herrity's response. She added that it placed her in a "dilemma" because she was "not particularly" interested in running for chairman, but she believed "these are important issues that should be debated."