Pat Herrity for Chairman Kick-off Recap
Close to 300 people crammed themselves inside the American Legion Hall in Springfield to join Pat Herrity as he kicked off his campaign for Chairman of the Board. Pat was introduced by the other half of the Republican delegation on the Board, Supervisor Mike Frey of Sully, as well as Congressmen Frank Wolf and Tom Davis. The moment was especially bittersweet for the crowd and Davis, leaving office in a few weeks and introducing a man running for the office he once held.
Pat spoke before the large crowd and spoke passionately about the issues the upcoming election will be about: the budget, transportation, education, and the right way to do affordable housing in Fairfax County. Pat also struck a chord we’ve been hearing for the past two years from Democrats: Change. The difference is that Pat had no hesitation diving in and giving specifics about what he saw wrong with the county and what needs to be changed.
To be brief, we have a county whose government is the largest landlord. We have a school system that in recent years has increased more spending in administration and bureaucracy than in teacher pay. We have roads in need of repair and hours wasted daily sitting in traffic while the Board drags its feet issuing bonds to improve transportation. We’ve had property taxes increase as homeowners struggle for economic relief. And we’ve had an abdication of leadership from Gerry Connolly and Sharon Bulova as our budget now faces a half-billion dollar shortfall.
I don’t envy Bulova, who is running on the only thing she has: the past 16 years as Budget Chairman. If I were her, I’d be wishing I had experience in the private sector or real-world accomplishments than playing second fiddle behind Gerry Connolly all this time. And I’d really be wishing I had more when her 16 years of being Budget Chairman has resulted in an unprecedented budget crisis that requires a serious focus on responsibility that just isn’t her cup of tea.
Of course, Bulova (as Connolly did) will try to evade culpability by blaming President Bush and the economic downtimes everyone else is facing. And it’s true; the state budget has a shortfall, Prince William County has a shortfall, and Arlington County has a shortfall. Yet their shortfalls are 3% to 5% under, while Fairfax County is at 17%. We’re in a much deeper hole, and it can’t be just explained away by blaming Washington D.C. We need to look at what we’ve been doing for the past few years to find a way out, and more importantly we need someone who is willing to do more than blame others.
As Mike Frey said, Sharon Bulova drove this bus to the edge of the cliff. Do we really want to keep her on the gas pedal?
For his part, in addition to his year on the Board of Supervisors, Pat is a chief financial officer at Arrowhead Global Solutions, Inc., and has proven real-world experience of turning companies around financially. He’s fought for transparency and citizen involvement in the budget process, something Bulova and Connolly have resisted strongly against. And showing off his budget skills, he submitted a complete substitute budget last year that didn’t raise taxes and fully funded the County’s top priorities. (You can read about it here). It was rejected without much consideration from the Democratic majority.
The conventional wisdom is that Fairfax County is a Democratic stronghold, that Fairfax Republicans are in tatters, and that Connolly’s local machine will turn out for Bulova. But I see some underlying movement that threatens to turn the conventional wisdom on its head. Democrats have an advantage here, yes, but after electing a Democratic President, Democratic Senator, and Democratic Congressmen, there is less impetus for them to go all-out for a February special election. Republicans have suffered losses, yes, but we have a strong candidate with high name-ID and the issues on his side running a credible change campaign, and who enjoys widespread and unified support from the party. And Gerry Connolly’s machine barely edged did worse than expected against Keith Fimian in a race he was supposed to win by a huge margin.
The underwhelming Connolly machine is also running against a revamped Tom Davis machine, with all-stars Nick Meads and Frank Puleo, among others, running a tight ship. To bring in that kind of firepower shows that Pat Herrity is in this to win it.
Simply put: this race is very winnable, and it will be on the backs of those knocking on doors (not just making phone calls) and getting our people to the polls in an election where the turnout is projected to be possibly in the single digits. And yes, it will be on the backs of donors, both big and small. In a truncated special election campaign, $20 from readers like you means more than $200 would mean to a typical Congressional campaign.
Stay tuned to this site and Herrity’s campaign site (www.patherrity.org) for updates over the next few months as we look to restore common sense solutions to a County in desperate need for them.