Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon S. Bulova (D) packed her bags late Friday for a 10-day trip to Turkey to explore possible economic exchanges and to strengthen cultural ties with Northern Virginia’s small population of Turkish immigrants.
Bulova, who said her trip will not cost taxpayers anything, was scheduled to depart Friday night for Istanbul as a guest of the American Turkish Friendship Association. Her itinerary includes several towns and attractions near the capital, Ankara, and a stop in Kecioren, which is Fairfax County’s newest sister city.
“I look at it as casting bread upon the waters,” Bulova said Friday. “You never know what linkages might play an advantage or a role.”
Bulova said she is paying her own air fare both ways and that the City of Fairfax-based American Turkish Friendship Association will pay some of her expenses in Turkey. She said she also plans to list the trip on financial disclosure forms.
Bulova’s travel companions included fellow Democrats Sen. Richard Saslaw (Fairfax), Sen. Barbara Favola (Arlington) and Del. Robert H. Brink (Arlington), she said.
Turks make up a tiny fraction of Fairfax County’s population of 1.2 million people. Still, according to Census Bureau estimates, the roughly 3,200 Turks who live there make up about 40 percent of the people of Turkish descent living in Virginia.
At a meeting on Jan. 24, the county board agreed to form a sister-city partnership with Kecioren, a district of Ankara with a population of about 800,000 people. The county also shares sister-city partnerships with Harbin, China, and Songpa-gu, a district of the South Korean capital, Seoul.