Leadership seemed to be the watchword at Tuesday’s debate between Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly, and his Republican challenger, Great Falls litigation attorney Gary Baise. The hour-long debate was sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and held at the Westin Tyson’s Hotel before a packed ballroom of area business leaders.
In his opening statement, Mr. Baise surprised everyone by making non-specific attacks on Chairman Connolly’s leadership without revealing his own agenda. In response, Chairman Connolly said that, in the past four years, gang-related crime has decreased by 32 percent, 1,500 affordable home units have been preserved, schools have the highest SAT scores in the state, the real estate tax rate of 89 cents is the lowest in county history, and his four-year transportation plan was supported by voters in the last transportation bond referendum. Another transportation bond referendum is on the ballot November 6.
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping comment was made by Mr. Baise who compared illegal immigration to the heroin trade. He suggested a task force could solve illegal immigration in a humane way, but his heroin comment belied any sense of humanity in that approach. People at my table were dumbfounded that a candidate who wanted to lead Fairfax County would take such a negative attitude toward the county’s proven accomplishments.
Chairman Connolly, in his closing remarks, said that Fairfax County is an extra-ordinary place, with a quality of life envied by others across the country. Even so, Connolly said, “our best is yet to come.” The strategic investments made by the Board of Supervisors, with the support of the community throughout the years, provide a firm foundation for continued success for Fairfax County and all its residents.
Diversity and religious freedom combine during September this year as the Jewish observances of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah occur at nearly the same time as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Freedom of worship is a hallmark of this country and its Constitution. May it ever be thus!
Mark your calendars now for the 28th Annual Mason District Park Festival, to be held on Saturday, September 29, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., at Mason District Park, 6621 Columbia Pike in Annandale. Rain date is Sunday, September 30, same hours. The festival will feature live entertainment on the showmobile stage, arts and crafts vendors as well as county and business displays, fire and police booths, kids rides, an old-fashioned hayride through the park, and food. Admission and parking are free. The Festival provides fun activities for the entire family, and I look forward to seeing you there.