Strengthening Our Local Economy
A vibrant local economy is the foundation of a great community. Economic opportunity and good jobs allow us to support our families and achieve our career goals. Revenues generated by a strong local economy enable communities like Fairfax County to provide the infrastructure, schools, housing, libraries, parks, police, fire and rescue, and many other programs and services that create the quality of life we all want for ourselves and our families. That is why John is focused on strengthening, diversifying and growing our local economy.
As Chairman of the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission, John led the effort to develop a strategic plan to facilitate the economic success of Fairfax County. The plan identifies numerous action items that will be implemented to achieve these goals:
diversifying our local economy;
creating places and communities that attract the workforce and employers of the 21st century knowledge-based economy;
improving the speed, consistency, and predictability of the county’s land use and development review process;
investing in natural and physical infrastructure to support a growing economy;
making and leveraging investments in education and work force training; and,
making county government more agile and supportive of economic development.
John is working with county staff and community partners to ensure that the action items set forth in the Plan for Economic Success are implemented and the County’s goals to achieve economic success are realized.
John also serves on several other boards and commissions that play key roles in economic development including the Northern Virginia Council for GO Virginia, a bi-partisan, business led economic development initiative that works to cause the diverse regions of Virginia to cooperate on economic development, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors.
Delivering Strong Fiscal Management
John serves as Vice-chairman of the Board’s Budget Committee and is a member and former Chairman of the Board’s Audit Committee. He believes that budgets should reflect a community’s priorities. Each year he works with the community to identify and define spending and revenue priorities. He works with community groups who advise him on budget decisions and he holds town hall meetings to discuss budget issues with Dranesville residents.
John helped lead efforts to develop twelve balanced budgets. He has successfully protected the county’s coveted Triple A bond rating, while investing in essential services like education, public safety, libraries, parks, mental health services, and affordable housing. To meet the County’s fiscal challenges without eliminating essential services or placing excessive burdens on County tax payers, John has advocated for increasing management efficiencies, cutting overhead costs, eliminating programs and services that are no longer needed or that could be consolidated into other programs, and supporting the County’s partners for service in the non-profit sector. Through challenging fiscal times, he has worked with the community and other elected officials to fund investments in the future like implementing full-day kindergarten to all the elementary schools in the county and expanding transportation infrastructure across the County.
Supporting a First Class School System
John believes our community’s most important obligation is to provide our youth with an opportunity to earn a first class education. He also believes that education is the key to creating opportunity in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century and that great schools are needed to attract employers to the County.
Schools are John’s number one funding priority. He has supported the Board of Supervisors efforts to fully fund the school budget so that the County can recruit and retain the best teachers and reverse the trend toward larger class sizes. He advocates to make class size and teacher pay raises budget priorities. Over the years, he has studied proposed school budgets and made numerous recommendations for improved efficiencies and cost reductions.
John was a leader on the Board of Supervisors, working with parent advocates, teachers, and School Board members, to expand full day kindergarten to all elementary schools in Fairfax County. He has delivered projects that made major improvements to high school stadium fields and that improved safety and access to schools for pedestrians and bicyclists. He has also worked to preserve funding for important school programs and to restore funding for proposed cuts to programs such as:
Language immersion programs
Music programs in elementary schools
Sports programs for high school freshmen
Mental health resources on campus
Many Fairfax County schools are old and in serious need of renovation, while many other school buildings are over-crowded and in need of expansion. John is working to improve and expand capacity of our school buildings. He served on the Board of Supervisors’ and School Board’s Joint Committee on Infrastructure Financing that identified more than $13 million annually for the infrastructure needs of the Schools. He has also been a strong advocate for increasing the annual cap on school bond funding, including the recent increase in the cap from $155 Million to $180 Million. John has also negotiated with developers for contributions of land for a new school and significant cash contributions for new school construction and improvements to existing school properties.
John believes we have one of the best school systems in the nation because we have great teachers and a community that values the importance of education. He will continue to support our schools and work with the community to make them even better
Creating Transportation Solutions
Congestion is a significant threat to our quality of life and our ability to attract and retain good jobs in our region. In addition to serving as the Chairman of the Board’s Transportation Committee, John serves on numerous county and regional groups that work to address those challenges including:
the Phase I and Phase II Dulles Rail Transportation Improvement District Commissions;
the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, and NVTC’s Program Advisory Committee; and,
the Route 28 Transportation Improvement District Commission.
John is working on real solutions to congestion that emphasize public transit, including busses and heavy rail, to reduce the number of cars on our roads. Both Phase I and Phase II of the Silver Line project go through his district and John has been active working on funding and delivering those projects. John has also worked to expand bus service to the new Silver Line Metro stations.
In addition to transit improvements, John is focused on delivering essential road improvements around his district. He led the effort to get funding and approval for the $300 million plus on-going expansion project for Route 7 from Tysons to beyond Reston. When completed, that project will dramatically reduce neighborhood cut through traffic in Great Falls and McLean. John is also working with transportation staff from the county and the state, as well as numerous impacted residents, to mitigate the terrible congestion caused by lack of capacity at the American Legion Bridge and the inadequate capacity of the Beltway on the Maryland side of the bridge. Since taking office, he has also obtained funding and approval for numerous traffic signals, intersection improvements, and road safety and traffic calming improvements.
John is working to make our communities safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians. Since he took office in 2008, more than eighty pedestrian and bicycle improvement projects have been completed, are underway or have been funded in the Dranesville District.
Making Smart Decisions About Land Use and Growth
John was raised in a small town in Western Pennsylvania where the local economy was devastated when the steel mills closed. He knows the hardships families and communities suffer when the local economy is depressed and there are no jobs. Living in Northern Virginia for 38 years, he has also seen and experienced the many benefits of working and raising a family in a region with a strong and growing economy. John believes that as our region grows, we must make smart land use decisions that protect established neighborhoods and provide adequate infrastructure to address the traffic and other impacts of that growth. John believes we must implement intelligent land use policies that are coordinated with transportation improvements, including road, pedestrian and bicycle improvements in and around transit oriented developments.
John played an active role in planning for transit oriented development in Tysons and in the Dulles Corridor, and he led the planning effort for transit oriented development at the Innovation Center rail station. He is also working on plans to revitalize the McLean Central Business District and to bring transit oriented development to the West Falls Church transit area.
While concentrating growth in transit areas, John is also focused on protecting established neighborhoods from the impact of that growth. He has delivered many miles of soundwalls along major road and rail projects and has advocated for several Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments to protect the character of established residential neighborhoods.
Delivering Infrastructure to Strengthen Public Safety, Protect Neighborhoods, and Improve our Quality of Life
During the eleven plus years John has been on the Board, he has delivered numerous projects that strengthen public safety, protect our neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for Dranesville residents. Many of the projects he delivered were sought by residents for years, sometimes decades, before he took office. John listened to his constituents and delivered for them by leading the efforts to approve and fund those projects.
Completed, underway and funded renovation, expansion and new construction projects John played a leading role in delivering include:
fire stations at Great Falls, Wolf Trap and Herndon;
Government Center/police station in McLean;
soundwalls on I-495 and on the Connector Road between I-66 and Route 123;
sound box at the West Falls Church rail yard;
Spring Hill RECenter, including the exercise rooms and gymnasium;
senior center, adult day health care center and two childcare centers at the Lewinsville Center;
82 units of affordable housing for seniors at the Lewinsville Center;
ADA accessibility improvements at the Great Falls Grange;
Dolley Madison library;
Tysons Pimmit Library;
McLean Community Center;
undergrounding of utilities in the McLean Central Business District;
several major stream restoration projects;
six major sanitary sewer expansion projects;
over 80 pedestrian and bicycle safety and accessibility projects;
projects to widen Route 7 from Tysons to Loudoun County;
several road improvement projects including the turn lane at Walker Road and Georgetown Pike and the expanded ramp at the Toll Road exit onto Centreville Road; and,
traffic signals at Georgetown Pike and River Road, Georgetown Pike and Seneca Road, and at Spring Hill School on Lewinsville Road.
Supporting Our Parks and Preserving Local History
John is working to ensure that current and future residents have the opportunity to experience and enjoy a great park system and open spaces in the County. He led efforts to increase the amount of the 2008 and 2012 Park bonds so that long sought-after projects in the Dranesville District, like the pedestrian bridge at Clarks Run in Riverbend Park and the gymnasium at Spring Hill RECenter, could be built.
John is also focused on preserving the natural and historic heritage of our region. His efforts have included:
supporting the community led effort to nominate Georgetown Pike into the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Historic Register;
protecting the historic Georgetown Pike when VDOT proposed a plan to widen a portion of Route 7 that would have damaged the historic roadbed of the Pike and diverted commuter traffic through Great Falls;
leading the Board’s effort to adopt a Resident Curator Program so that historic properties like the Turner Farm House will be preserved;
obtaining funding so that the historic Great Falls Grange building could be made accessible to all Great Falls residents including seniors and residents with disabilities.
playing a lead role in the Board’s decision to support a request for funding by the organizers of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial;
helping to preserve the equestrian culture in Great Falls and other portions of the county by proposing and obtaining approval for a zoning ordinance amendment to permit small scale riding lesson operations to be licensed as home occupations; and,
proposing and obtaining approval for a significant reduction of the filing fee for special permit applications for riding and boarding stables.
Protecting our Environment and Fighting Against Climate Change
John is working to ensure that our children and future generations have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and a future that is not harmed by the adverse impacts of climate change.
John served for many years on the citizen council that advises Fairfax County government on environmental issues. As Chairman of the Council’s legislative committee, he studied and advocated for a broad range of legislation to protect and improve the environment. As Supervisor, John has supported policies and approved projects that protect trees from destruction by developers and improve our streams. He obtained funding and approval for several major stream restoration projects in the Dranesville District and he helped pass the County’s first-ever Tree Conservation Ordinance.
Recently released reports by national and international experts continue to raise very alarming concerns about climate change and its on-going and potentially devastating impacts. John believes the evidence demonstrates that we need to develop a greater sense of urgency about addressing the man-made causes of climate change. He believes that everyone, especially government at all levels, has a role to play in the battle against climate change and the work that will be necessary to implement resiliency plans to address its impacts. John believes that “business as usual” is no longer acceptable in Fairfax County. He believes we must adopt new and aggressive programs, goals and actions that will reduce carbon emissions by County Government, Schools, residents, and businesses.
John is acting on his belief that we all must do our part to implement effective steps to deal with the climate change crisis. He has led the Board of Supervisors’ efforts to develop policies and implement projects that will reduce carbon emissions and address climate change and its devastating impacts. When the Board revised its Environmental Vision Statement, he led efforts to place greater emphasis on the County’s role in fighting climate change. He also led efforts to adopt the County’s Commercial-PACE program. He fought for a much more aggressive approach to fighting climate change when the Board adopted its first ever Energy Operational Strategy. And he worked to fund several environmental initiatives to address climate change, including:
LED bulb replacement for more than 50,000 streetlights;
at least $4.5 Million per year for energy saving investments;
an RFP that will consider solar power purchasing agreements for about 130 County, School, Park Authority and Housing Authority facilities; and,
staff and consultants to conduct outreach and prepare a community-wide energy and climate action plan.
Supporting the Most Vulnerable Members of Our Community
Fairfax County is a very wealthy community with a high cost of living. Because of its great wealth, it can be easy to overlook how many Fairfax County residents actually live in or near poverty. In 2017, more than 77,000 (or 6.8%) Fairfax County residents earned less than the Federal Poverty Level. (The FPL was $12,060 for an individual and $24,600 for a family of four). Income at the FPL would not come close to covering the cost of basic living expenses in Fairfax County (like food, housing, child and health care and transportation.) Approximately 3 times the FPL is considered a living wage (about $35,000 for an adult and $78,000 for a family of four.) In 2017, over 286,000 county residents (or 25.2%), including over 84,000 children, lived in households with incomes less than three times the FPL. John supports Fairfax County’s long tradition of providing services and resources to assist the most financially vulnerable members of our community.
In addition to the financial challenges faced by many residents, there are numerous other challenges that potentially adversely impact all or most county residents including:
lack of housing that is affordable at low and moderate income levels;
the opioid crisis;
mental health issues;
aging in place issues for seniors; and,
issues related to physical and intellectual disabilities.
John has supported the Board’s efforts to develop programs that address these issues and he has worked to ensure that those programs and services are adequately funded.
In addition to the services provided by County agencies, John supports funding for numerous non-profit organizations that deliver essential services (like food, housing, mental health, family services and transportation) to the neediest and most vulnerable members of our community.
Fairfax County has a very large and diverse immigrant community. Under the current federal administration, many immigrants who have no criminal record are being placed in immigration enforcement proceedings. Many of them have the right under immigration law to remain in this country, but they get separated from their home and family and removed from our community because they are not able to afford legal representation to prove their entitlement. To help address this inequity, and to help ensure that immigrants without the resources to retain legal assistance will be able to protect their rights, John was a co-sponsor of the recently adopted Comprehensive Universal Representation program. This program will fund non-profits that work to protect the rights of County residents in proceedings that determine whether they can legally remain in the country or will be deported. While there are other programs available to provide legal representation to any indigent, including immigrants, in criminal proceedings, the Comprehensive Universal Representation program is focused on immigration enforcement proceedings.
Delivering Workforce and Affordable Housing
One of the most frequently expressed concerns by the County’s business leaders is that lack of affordable housing for the workforce limits our ability to grow the economy. Fairfax County needs more affordable housing so our workforce, including our teachers, police officers, firefighters and other families of moderate income, can live in the community where they work and serve. To help meet this demand, John has approved plans for transit oriented development projects that will deliver hundreds of housing units that are priced to be affordable to families living on moderate incomes.
While finding housing that is affordable in Fairfax County and across the Washington Metro region is difficult at almost all income levels, the problem is particularly acute for persons and families making 60% or less of the Federal Poverty Level. John supports the County’s efforts to preserve and expand affordable housing. He requested that the Redevelopment and Housing Authority staff develop a comprehensive strategic plan that the Board could implement to maximize its efforts to address the low-income housing crisis. Staff is working with housing advocates and the community at large to complete that plan. In part as a result of this planning effort, the Board has committed to significantly increase funding and its commitment to work with the non-profit and private sectors to preserve and develop housing for low income County residents.
John is delivering affordable housing in the Dranesville District including the 82 units of independent living for low income seniors at the former Lewinsville elementary school site. The unique template created for that project involved the creative use of a public-private partnership. That template can be used going forward to deliver similar projects throughout the County. Recently, John obtained Board support to loan more than $7.7 million from the County’s Housing Blueprint funds to an affordable housing developer who proposes to build 274 units of affordable housing in the Arrowbrook development near the Silver Line’s Innovation Station. That loan helped the developer qualify for a 9% tax credit from the state which made it possible for the project to move forward.
Celebrating Our Diversity and All County Residents
Fairfax County is large and very diverse. John believes our diversity is a great asset and is one of our greatest strengths. He works to ensure that all County residents are treated fairly and receive equitable treatment. He supports the goals of the One Fairfax initiative to promote fairness and justice in the formation of public policy that results in all residents having an opportunity to fully participate and prosper. John regularly reaches out to members of minority and interfaith communities to encourage and support their participation in civic affairs. He works to ensure we are a community that does not discriminate against anyone regardless of their sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, national origin, sexual preference or gender identity.
In 2013, John sponsored the first LGBT Pride Month recognition by Fairfax County, and he has sponsored similar resolutions each year since then. He also initiated the effort to have the Board of Supervisors affirm that harassment, retaliation and any other form of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is prohibited by County employees, volunteers and vendors, and to declare that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by any person or entity contracting with the County is considered sex discrimination and will not be tolerated in County contracting.
Making County Government More Transparent, Accountable, and Responsive
John believes that Dranesville residents deserve a Supervisor who respects their concerns and conducts the peoples’ business in a fair and open manner. He listens to his constituents, respects their opinions, and always tries to be their advocate. He brings people together to discuss issues, search for consensus and solve problems. He always makes sure his constituents have a meaningful opportunity to influence decisions that impact their lives before those decisions are made.
John believes that any government, especially local government, must be transparent and accountable. That is one of the reasons he has served on the Board’s Audit Committee since taking office in 2008, including seven years as Committee Chair. That is also why he supported creating the Auditor of the Police position and establishment of the Civilian Review Panel to monitor police activities. John also strongly believes that considerations of transparency and accountability demand that the County implement police body worn cameras.
John believes that a fundamental responsibility of any elected official is to provide outstanding services to his or her constituents. John and his staff are working to make government more accessible and responsive to Dranesville residents. They are recognized throughout the District for the excellent services they provide. Many of the issues they work on impact large segments of the community. For example, during significant storm events, John and his staff work tirelessly to assist residents with VDOT issues like snow plowing and Dominion Power outages. And every day, John and his staff work with individuals and neighborhoods to resolve issues like zoning and building code violations, complaints about speeding and other traffic safety violations, housing and human service needs, stormwater run-off issues, and many, many other issues, both large and small.