Gary's Views on Local Issues
A New Direction for Fairfax
Fairfax County's Response to COVID19
Fairfax County is supposedly one of the richest counties in the country. Yet, like so many citizens, Fairfax County still lives paycheck to paycheck. The Budget demands new and higher taxes every year to keep the County from going under. Why? The Board of Supervisors over the past 24 years has been “Penny”-wise and pound foolish.
- Supervisor Gross was in favor of the meals tax referendum for “the schools”. Mason citizens voted against the Meals Tax.
- The 2018-19 budget nickel and dimes citizens by increasing fees and fines, then calls them “budget cuts”
- The Board approved $200,000 for a “Pilot Program" to fund civil legal defense for non-citizens facing deportation.
Gary’s education and professional experience analyzing companies and managing budgets for organizations large and small brings him to one conclusion: There’s all sorts of inefficiencies resulting from 24 years of “Gross”-mismanagement of Fairfax’s budget. Gary will fight for lower taxes.
Gary is in favor of:
- Adjusting the property tax asset threshold for inflation to give seniors who want to age in place some tax relief.
- Giving the County Executive and staff additional incentives to cut costs and find efficiencies.
- Converting Defined Benefit Plans to Defined Contribution [similar to your 401(k)] enabling higher salaries and a generous match that vests immediately.
- Eliminating the $38 car tax fee. Or, re-institute the decal to ensure those parking cars in Fairfax County are paying the appropriate fees.
- Focus on Mason's priorities for small dollar funds like additional park parking lot paving, new books in libraries, and bringing much needed repairs to Bailey's Community Center.
Fairfax County is working on a new Strategic Plan. The new Strategic Plan must incorporate Mason District's needs for RESPONSIBLE GROWTH.
- The office vacancy rate in Mason District is between 15% and 40% depending on the area? It's 50% in Skyline.
- Empty big box stores like K-mart, Sears, HHGreg litter Mason District's business districts. Empty parking lots, fenced in dirt areas, and underutilized density are frequent in Bailey's Corner and Seven Corners.
- Only 26% of Fairfax County’s police and fire live in Fairfax County. Only 60% of teachers can afford to live in Fairfax County. The people we depend on to rescue us, to teach us, and protect us, can’t afford to live here. After a 12 hour shift, and a two hour commute, they go home to their families tired and we expect them to be ready to do it again the next day. “Thank you for your service” is what citizens say. Gary Aiken believes the Board of Supervisors has a duty to do better.
Gary is focused on the following solutions:
- Revisit the Comprehensive Plan for Seven Corners and Bailey's Crossroads. The new homeless shelter (even a $17 million one) does not fit as the centerpiece for Bailey's town center.
- Bring innovative workforce housing initiatives to Mason District.
- Revitalize Downtown Annandale as an “old town" feel with a better road grid system.
- Convert empty big box shopping centers into dense mixed use.
- Sell county properties outright or into public/private development partnerships.
- Encourage business owners to join advocacy groups like local Chambers of Commerce, BC7RC, and Mason District Council. Support for these groups who provide crucial input to decision making are appreciated by Gary.
- Ensure adequate structured parking is available – since we have failed to bring mass transit to Mason for 24 years.
Gary’s been in real estate development and lending for 18 years. He knows programs that are working in other parts of the U.S., even across the river in DC. It takes a smart leader to get things done.
Our Natural Environment
Supervisor Gross is Chair of the Environmental Committee. While Fairfax County has focused on renewable energy solutions and expensive administrative overhead to fight climate change, the County is missing the “forest for the trees".
Gary Aiken is focused on pragmatic solutions to take care of our natural environment in Fairfax County – especially in Mason District with the Accotink, Holmes Run, Lake Barcroft watersheds.
Gary's advocacy is not ideological. It is practical and realistic.
- Moratorium on small site residential development or rezoning applications that will result in significant loss of permeable surface. During this moratorium, Fairfax County should examine best practices and new research to better inform its requirements of small builders in older neighborhoods.
- Require larger study areas that address the impact of large scale development on downstream neighborhoods and flood impact.
- Review the flood plains and plans to identify areas that need to be upgraded or downgraded in terms of risk to life and property.
- Budget more for stream maintenance and restoration projects.
- Create a “Clean Up Bailey's" professional, uniformed force to clean up trash and debris in commercial business districts and attract new investment.
- Re-invest in public parks, park staff, and road cleanup. This includes additional work on invasive species removal and maintenance and roadside nuisance tree and plant removal.
Citizens have paid over $3 billion for toll roads and higher tolls on them. Businesses have paid extra tax district money for mass transit. Fares go up.
In the last 24 years, the only transportation solution for Mason proposed by Supervisor Gross has been the Columbia Pike Trolley Car. Arlington wisely closed it down.
The Silver Line to Dulles is the second WMATA project in five years to have serious issues with concrete and structure. Ridership is 30% below expectations. We increased density without taking any cars off the road because we put the Silver Line in the wrong place.
Gary can help get transportation right. Here’s what Gary will champion:
- New underground Metro lines for Route 50/7 and Columbia Pike/Route 236 to connect Mason to Tyson's, the Pentagon and National Landing.
- A second Potomac Bridge northwest of the American Legion Bridge will take traffic off of 495 and ease the bottle neck at the Route 50 and 236 exits.
- We must encourage autonomous vehicle experimentation and development in Fairfax County and ensure that our streets allow for pickups and dropoffs that move cars out of the flow of traffic.
- Insist that approval of any redevelopment of the INOVA and Fairview Park sites in Providence District include a plan for traffic congestion in/around/and through Mason District.
Neighborhood safety is also crucial. Gary will:
- Find alternatives to speed bumps and roundabouts including on-demand flashers to alert drivers to pedestrian traffic.
- Identify, if possible a cut through trail route connecting the WO&D trail to National Landing through Mason District.
- Increase restrictions on street parking around intersections near schools and school bus stops.
Let’s be bold about transportation. Bike lanes and sidewalks won’t solve congestion. Technology and Bold Initiatives will. We also must remember that Mason citizens treasure the quality of life that makes living here worthwhile.
Mason District has been the scene of multiple horrific Antisemitic and Racist attacks in the past 18 months. The JCC was attacked twice. The Bethlehem Lutheran Church was attacked several times. County leaders give us thoughts and prayers and let’s come together as a community. No one has been caught.
Drugs, gangs, and opioid problems. What’s the response? Supervisors Herrity and Cook have supported Gang Task Forces and Diversion First. Those solutions are working, but Mason District still has problems.
Gary will fight against solutions to problems that don't exist and will fight for solutions to real problems in our community.
- Gary opposes body worn cameras and the Civilian Review Panel. Read Gary's rationale here.
- Gary is for more officers and community policing. Police officers showing up at community events builds on the trust that already exists in our Mason District community.
- Gary is for affordable local housing solutions for first responders and their families.
Mason District is the most diverse in Fairfax County. 18% Asian Americans. 18% Mexican, Central and South American. 10% African American. That diversity is growth and strength. Still, our immigrant and poor communities are the most vulnerable to crime. Gary Aiken will fight for your right to be safe in Mason.
Virginia is #1 for business. If you look to Tyson's Corner, Reston, Herndon, Dulles, Arlington, and Alexandria you can see why. Here in Mason District, we've been passed over.
Gary believes the solutions lie in reform and finding new innovative ways to spur business in Mason District.
- Make Mason a 5G starter area. Encourage businesses to invest in start-ups that test 5G technology in our back yard.
- Eliminate all regulations that don’t materially protect the public (and the cost of compliance and administration with it!).
- Attract new information- and bio-technology-based businesses.
- Create better amenities spaces and walk-able downtown or “old town" areas that attract entrepreneurs and young families.
- Build a direct bus route between National Landing and Skyline and create a small business incubator program in Skyline.
- Create an ecosystem of busineses utilizing the fact that Mason is directly between INOVA and Amazon.
The Board of Supervisors doesn’t directly manage the school system, but we have a voice and money.
As the parent of fourth and sixth grade students in FCPS, going through the famous FLE curriculum, Gary Aiken will always prioritize public schools. But…
- No new government buildings until we renovate every school and build a couple new ones.
- No more name changes. More Teachable moments.
- No forced bussing of students. Let's keep our community schools.
- Strive to start every class in Fairfax County before 9am. Before care is a burden on parents and late start times are rough for commuters.
- Emphasize American History and Civics and the obvious goodness of America.
- Pay our current teachers better today. No more future retirement promises we can’t keep.
In Mason District, Gary will advocate for:
- Selling the Willston site back to FCPS to alleviate overcrowding at Glen Forest ES and other schools.
- A full renovation of Falls Church High School.
- Ensuring that Thomas Jefferson High School admissions remain merit based without regard to the ensuing demographic distribution.
“One Fairfax”. What’s That?
“One Fairfax” is a new county-wide policy to ensure equity. Doesn’t that sound nice? We all want equality. That’s what the United States is all about: equal rights, equal protection, equal opportunity. Congress and Richmond have passed laws and Fairfax County has hiring practices that ban many forms of discrimination.
That’s not what One Fairfax is about though. One Fairfax is about equality of outcome. If that’s not clear enough, then try this: It’s about dirty politics. It’s a top down, bureaucratic mission to direct county contracts and cushy county jobs not necessarily to the most qualified, but to the interest group that’s the most aggrieved at that moment. And who’s going to monitor that “progress”? More bureaucrats. Will they make the parks cleaner? No. Will they reduce crime? No. Will they protect us from fire or rescue us in medical emergency? No. Will they make wise development analysis? No. Will they mean more teachers and newer schools? No. Will they ever achieve perfect equality or even be able to measure it? Never.
Then what exactly is the point of “One Fairfax”? Ask Penny.