This past Thursday, I emailed all four candidates for Fairfax County Board Chair – Alicia Plerhoples, Jeff McKay, Ryan McElveen and Tim Chapman – regarding the Fairfax County Strategic Plan Survey. This is a short questionnaire by Fairfax County, about what residents want the county’s strategic plan to focus on. I thought it would be interesting to see how the four candidates for Fairfax County Board Chair would respond to these same questions. As I wrote to them, “I’d love to post your responses on Blue Virginia, as I think this would help readers understand what your priorities are for Fairfax County and what your focus would be if you’re elected Chair.”
The first response I got, a few minutes ago, is from Jeff McKay. You can view his questions and answers below. I will publish responses from the other candidates if and when I receive them. For now, thanks to Jeff McKay for responding so quickly!
- What do you believe are the most important issues and opportunities that Fairfax County will need to address in the next 10-20 years?
The overarching challenges come from balancing growth with our strong desire for livability, affordability, and opportunity for all in our diverse community. We can’t just serve families or businesses, transportation corridors or cul-de-sacs. We have to serve everyone.
- A quality educational system
- Safe streets and neighborhoods
- A clean, sustainable environment
- Livable, caring, affordable communities
- A vibrant economy
- Efficient transportation network
- Recreational and cultural opportunities
- Taxes that are affordable
- Please share your vision for Fairfax County by completing the following statement: Ten years from now, I hope Fairfax County will be a place where _________________.
Fairfax County is the economic engine of the state, a safe and welcoming community, a community that ensures equity in all decisions, and a place where all people can succeed.
- What are three things you believe Fairfax County Government does well?
- We invest in our people. We know our educational system is the envy of our state, region, and nation. We also know that we have some of the best safety net programs for our most vulnerable residents.
- We acknowledge that we have challenges. We face them together. We change for the better as we grow and we engage our community.
- We manage our resources very well. We are rated “triple A” by all three major rating agencies.
- What are three areas in which you believe Fairfax County Government could improve?
- I led us in adopting a “One Fairfax” policy, which requires us to approach every issue through a lens of equity for all. We have begun to turn this good intention into concrete action, but we have much more to do to make this something everyone in Fairfax knows about, supports, and is proud to be part of. This effort will help us increase affordable housing opportunities, improve struggling schools, bring quality infrastructure to all corners of the County, and ensure the zip code you live in does not determine your future success.
- We have adopted a “Fairfax Green Initiative” to coordinate and accelerate already existing programs and create new environmental strategies to reduce our carbon footprint, address climate change, and make Fairfax County more efficient, more energy self-sufficient, cleaner, and smarter. We have to move the needle and lead the region in this regard. We have to always measure our environmental success and always improve.
- We have begun multi-year budgeting, and we have embarked on a broad-based strategic planning exercise. Still, we can do much more to pro-actively anticipate and plan for the future. This is a never-ending effort.
- What would you choose as the top 3 priorities for the County over the next 3-5 years?
My top 3 issues are the ones I listed in the answer above. We also know we will have unexpected challenges beyond our control (real estate meltdown, sequestration, Federal Government shutdown). How we respond to those challenges and keep our momentum going will be critical. We have to be willing to learn as we go, adapt and change, while remaining a vibrant place for everyone to live, work, raise a family, do business, play, and grow old.