FAIRFAX COUNTY, for so long the economic dynamo of Virginia and in some ways of the Washington region, has been struggling with the after-effects of the Great Recession and, even more, the impact of sequestration in a locality that thrived for decades on government spending.
The tensions arising from that double shock contributed to contentious deliberations over the county’s $3.8 billion general fund budget, in particular demands for higher spending to maintain its excellent public schools. Those tensions, in addition to preexisting challenges posed by traffic, the urbanization of Tysons Corner and the revitalization of older areas of the county such as along Route 1, are in play in this year’s races for the county’s Board of Supervisors.
The board has a record of scandal-free and relatively nonpartisan governance; it is critical that it stay that way. In a previous editorial, we offered an endorsement for the board’s chairman, Sharon S. Bulova (D). The following candidates, denoted in bold type, are our endorsements in the most competitive other races:
Braddock District. Republican John C. Cook , the steady, substantive incumbent, has done an excellent job training a spotlight on domestic violence and sexual assault on college campuses, a sustained focus that has earned respect on both sides of the aisle. In a rematch of his 2011 race against Democrat Janet S. Oleszek, an uninspiring former school board member, Mr. Cook is an easy choice.
Dranesville District. There is no more conscientious board member than the two-term incumbent, Democrat John W. Foust , a tireless advocate for projects — trails, traffic lights, better road alignments — that attract little fanfare but improve communities. Mr. Foust has also been instrumental in devising forward-looking strategies to address the effects of slower federal spending in the county. By contrast, his Republican opponent, Jennifer C. Chronis , a federal contractor, has little history of involvement in local issues. It shows: She says taxes have risen excessively but offers no realistic ideas for spending cuts, while at the same time suggesting that public schools are underfunded. That’s not a convincing platform, or even a coherent one.
Mount Vernon District. In an open-seat race, Democrat Daniel G. Storck , a longtime school board member, is by far the better bet to succeed Gerald W. Hyland, a Democrat who is stepping down after 28 years in office. Mr. Storck is deeply versed in education, land use and senior citizens’ issues. The Republican candidate, Jane R. Gandee , a small-business owner, has scant knowledge of the county’s challenges.
Sully District. The departing six-term incumbent, Republican Michael R. Frey, has been a constructive consensus-builder. The Republican vying to succeed him, John P. Guevara, a technology consultant, is cut from different cloth: He has ranted against advocates who would put illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship — though his parents, originally illegal immigrants, eventually became citizens — and suggested that the federal government regards conservatives as terrorists. That kind of toxic rhetoric would be unhelpful on the county board, as would his stated desire to arrest day laborers and his insistence that some public school programs are wasteful — though which ones he cannot say. His Democratic rival, veteran school board member Kathy L. Smith , is a better pick — and easily the more informed candidate.
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