As a public service, the News-Press is offering all the candidates for the Falls Church City Council and School Board in November’s election an opportunity to present their candidacies to our readers. This week’s statements are from City Council candidates Robert LaJeunesse and Dan Sze.
I’m running for City Council because I like to fix things. Although there is a lot to cherish in the City, our leaders’ preoccupation with private development and surplus budgets has left a lot neglected. They have courted growth without building the capacity needed to ease the growing pains of denser development. By simply assuming a fiscal posture similar to our neighbors, we can make sorely-needed infrastructure investments that will improve our attractiveness and broaden our tax base without raising individual tax rates. Investing in our long-run viability as a vibrant City is a better way to meet any future financial obligations than preemptively collecting taxes – which destroys economic activity. We have been paralyzed by a fear of spending and borrowing for too long. It is time to make tangible public investments in basic infrastructure and stop trading on the reputation of the City and schools. It is time to “get the government you’ve already paid for.”
The major initiative of my campaign is to “leverage” the revenues from recent and forthcoming private development to improve the equity, livability, and infrastructure of the City. The first thing I would fix is the dilapidated parks and trails. I would then invest in biking and traffic safety and efficiency. I would also pursue bike-share facilities at both Metro stations and at least one in the middle of the city. We need to replace or renovate many of our public buildings in order to retain our excellent teaching staff and city employees. Yet, in a small city, there is a lot more sharing that can be done. We can afford to expand the City’s recreation facilities, for example, by sharing them between the school system and the rest of the community. I will work to find other synergies in administration, maintenance, and public services. Since the larger infrastructure projects will require a bond referendum, I will use my background in economics to achieve the best financing, scale, and scope for these projects so that Broad Street has more say in the outcome than Wall Street.
In addition to improving the balance between public and private infrastructure, our development policy should preserve and foster the “craftiness” of Falls Church. We have craft beers, arts and crafts, farmers’ market vendors, and many other boutique establishments that differentiate us from Tyson’s Corner. We should ensure that these locally-owned businesses are given a level-playing field in their competition with large corporations and absentee landlords. Our land use policies should not be driven by the maximization of tax-revenues-per-square-foot alone. Such a view ignores the social, health, and environmental value of alternative land uses.
Lastly, as a compassionate community, we should implement a living wage ordinance akin to those in Alexandria and Arlington. This is an important first step in improving equity and fairness in the City.
To learn more about my ideas and background, please visit my website at www.boblaj.org and remember to “Fix the Mess with LaJeunesse” on November 5.
Dan Sze concluded a three-plus decade career in Federal Service in 2012. He and his wife, Elisabeth, have resided in the City of Falls Church since 1988. Staying here was the decision they made after his retirement from full-time employment.
Dan is running because he is passionate about preserving, enhancing and celebrating what’s special about the City of Falls Church: “I am convinced that it is the people that make our City special. I want to be of service to everyone who lives here. Those of you who have children in our great schools, and all those, like me, who do not have children in the schools, but take pride in our schools’ achievements. And I want to make sure that if you want to stay in our City you can do so.”
Dan’s life’s work has been to ensure environmental stewardship while advocating for appropriate, intelligent development. He has worked the past decade in clean energy technologies. Before retirement, Dan was with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as Deputy Director of State Energy Programs. He also provided interagency liaison and senior advisor functions. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Infrastructure and Business Management Systems. For the five preceding years (2000-2005), Dan was the national program manager of Rebuild America, a DOE-sponsored network of state, community, and business partnerships focused on energy efficiency and energy technology projects in buildings and infrastructure. During his management, partnerships were involved in 2 billion square feet of projects and over $3.0 billion in energy-efficiency investments.
At DOE since 1991, Dan Sze has also been involved with oversight and management policy, project management leadership and defense program analysis. Dan has also worked for the Department of Defense in procurement, construction management and supervisory engineering positions with the Navy, including Program Manager of the Trident Submarine Base at Kings Bay, GA. He held a commission as a State Department Foreign Service Officer, playing a key role in the reopening of our mission in Havana.
Dan attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and holds a Bachelors of Architecture from Howard University and a Master of Science in Urban Design from Columbia University. He was first registered as an Architect in 1982. Examples of his work stand in the D.C. metropolitan area and other locations in our nation.
In the past Dan has served the City of Falls Church as Vice-Chair of the Economic Development Authority (2002-2006) and City Council (2006-2010). He was appointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals in 2013. While on City Council, he chaired the Appointments Committee, served as liaison to the Planning Commission, founded the Economic Development Committee and served on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee.
“I look forward to discussing how, together, we can: preserve and enhance our world-class school system; achieve environmentally-sustainable economic development while creating a well-designed city; have fair and reasonable taxes; and celebrate our quality of life. I ask for your vote this November.” For more information, please visit dansze.com.