Fairfax residents voice priorities as county searches for new exec

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

BURKE, Va. – It’s the largest jurisdiction in the region with more than a million people. The man who has run it for 11 years is leaving, and now Fairfax County residents have specific issues they want addressed as the search begins for a new county executive.

Roads, schools, the size of local government and how government responds to the people topped the list at a public forum Monday night in Burke.

Joseph Walker, who attended the meeting with a Boy Scout seeking a merit badge, thinks those running the local government are doing a good job.

“I don’t think (they) have changed much,” says Walker. “Things are going well.”

Lonnie Dickinson, a county maintenance supervisor and one of the county’s 12,000 employees, is worried about affordable housing.

“You got the ‘Tea Partiers’ up there saying the county employees make too much money,” he says. “Well, if you look at my salary, I don’t make enough to live in the county.”

Roads and transportation are also a top priority. John Schroeder, who has lived in the county since 1971, says he’d like to see better mass transit.

“There’s not a great deal of transportation that’s really excellent,” he says. Adding it’s not competitively priced.

Fairfax County is run by a county executive appointed by the 10-member elected Board of Supervisors. Tony Griffin is leaving the county executive’s job after 11 years at the helm of day-to-day operations.

Matt Viands, another county employee, says he’s worried about the county’s ability to maintain a stable pension fund over the next 15 to 30 years. Continued cutbacks in state aid are hurting, he says.

“The question is, where does the revenue come from to maintain roads?” says Viands. “Is it going to be tax dollars?”

Supervisor John Cook, R-Braddock, who set up the town hall-style meeting, says he wanted the entire board to do similar meetings as they search for a new county executive, but he says they rejected the idea.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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