Ensuring that we have a system of strong public schools is my passion. For over 30 years, I've been an advocate for students, parents, and teachers, as an elementary school teacher, PTA leader, and member of the Fairfax County School Board.
Good schools are the center of strong communities. They are an important factor in maintaining real estate values, essential to a strong economy. They provide a skilled workforce which attracts business to the area. Fairfax County Public Schools provide equal opportunity for kids from diverse backgrounds to live up to their potential; they encourage students to do amazing things; and they promote the inclusion and assimilation of our newest residents. Funding our public schools is a core requirement of local government, and in Fairfax County, 71% of the school budget comes from the county.
Since 2008, the school budget has been pared down by nearly half a billion dollars, and the result has been hundreds of positions eliminated; class size increased three separate times; programs cut; and teacher pay allowed to stagnate and fall below that of neighboring jurisdictions. The cost per pupil has remained at 2009 levels when adjusted for inflation, and the school population has increased by 13,000 students since 2011.
As Sully District supervisor, I will fight to ensure our schools receive the funding they need to remain one of the best systems in the country. From the classroom to the school board, and as a community leader and former teacher, I have fought for students, teachers and parents; and I will continue that work as a member of the Board of Supervisors.
Sully District was carefully built around environmental treasures that we must protect. In fact many of our neighborhoods- Rocky Run, Bull Run, Cub Run and others are named after the streams that run through our district. As your Supervisor, my priorities concerning the enviornment will be:
- Tree Preservation- Sully District has some of the best tree covering in all of Fairfax, including many older large trees. I will work to protect our trees and require that developers taking down large numbers of trees replace them elsewhere within the district.
- Stream Protection- Fairfax County has not always prioritized our streams, and the EPA rated some in the county as the dirtiest in Virginia. The county has since been doing a better job on these issues, but we need to ensure that our streams remain healthy and support the ecosystems in the parks which surround many of them.
- Open Space- When new projects are brought to the Board of Supervisors, I will work to ensure that they include adequate open space for the community to enjoy. Land management is critical to what runs into our streams.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors voted to raise their pay to $95,000 a year- a $20,000 a year increase. Fairfax County was once a place where Supervisors could work part time and keep another full time position as our state legislators do. That is no longer acceptable in Fairfax County. No other county employees are paid $95,000 a year for part time work and it isn't right for Supervisors to have a special deal.
If elected as Sully Supervisor, I will do this job full time. In addition, I pledge the following:
- I will maintain office hours of at least 40 hours per week.
- I will not support any pay increases for the Board of Supervisors.
- I will make myself available at nights and on weekends, as I have as a School Board member, for events and community meetings.
- I will work to establish ethics rules to require that all Supervisors do the same and that no one be allowed to draw full-time pay from the county for part-time work.
When most of Sully District was built, young families populated our area looking for good schools and housing priced more reasonably than in the eastern areas of the county. Decades later, our population is growing older with more people choosing to retire here in Sully and age in homes they have lived in for years. This creates a whole new set of issues and opportunities that we need to focus on in western Fairfax.
As Sully Supervisor, I will immediately convene a task force to look into issues of aging that are specific to western Fairfax. I believe we can improve our transportation infrastructure for seniors, so that they will not need to drive if they don't want to, especially in rush hour or after dark. We need to focus on senior-friendly redevelopments that provide great dining and entertainment options closer to home. I also want to find ways to better involve our senior population in the community, utilizing their special skills in a number of areas, such as volunteering in our schools.
By creating a comprehensive plan for seniors in western Fairfax, we can build the infrastructure that will allow the Sully District to be a great place to live, work, play, and even retire!
Sully District residents face the longest commute times in Fairfax County. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I will work to better link regional land use planning with transportation resources with the focus on relieving traffic congestion.
The current discussion over the future of I-66 requires close examination, since there are significant changes being considered. State plans would increase the HOV lanes from HOV-2 to HOV-3, and allow for non-HOV vehicles to use those lanes by paying a toll. I have been following this process and believe that community input is needed to evaluate the impact of any changes. I will be an advocate for the community so that the final plan will meet the needs of Sully District residents.
Additional transportation funding became available due to the state transportation bill of 2012. For those resources to come to western Fairfax, we will need a Supervisor focused on building the public support to put our important projects first. Earlier this year, after hundreds of residents in the Mt. Vernon area showed up to town hall meetings, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) changed the project list and added another $11 million dollar project for that area. I will work to organize our community associations in Sully District to do the same when the next funding is decided in 2017.