Fairfax County Declares Local State of Emergency

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting in order to address the COVID-19 pandemic. During that meeting they passed a resolution declaring a local state of emergency. According to Chairman Jeff McKay, “this declaration streamlines and expedites Fairfax County Government’s access to emergency disaster funding and it allows the county to use its authority to procure goods to address the emergency.”

Of course, this move comes after the Commonwealth of Virginia has declared a statewide state of emergency and other localities in the region have passed similar measures. The local state of emergency can still prove extremely valuable, however, as it provides some flexibility and authority for the county to quickly respond to needs that are specific to Fairfax County. Supervisor Kathy Smith addressed this in an email she sent out to constituents earlier today.

“The local emergency declaration is primarily a financial mechanism that provides greater flexibility and authority for the county in purchasing hard to find resources and supplies,” Supervisor Smith said. “It also increases the authorities granted to the county to protect the health and safety of the community and provide emergency assistance in such a rapidly evolving incident.”

Since it seems like there’s constantly updated information related to state and local action related to the coronavirus, it’s worth noting that Fairfax County does have a text alert system set up to help provide the public with any info they might need. To sign up, you can text FFXCOVID to 888777.

Jeff McKay Says Voters Showed They Support One Fairfax

During the campaign, Republicans in Fairfax County essentially tried to turn the election into a referendum on One Fairfax. The policy essentially requires elected officials to take into consideration the impact policy decisions would have on communities who don’t traditionally have a seat at the table, but the GOP tried to portray it as some sinister plot that would destroy the region.

In the various school board campaigns, for instance, conservative candidates decried it as a “radical agenda” that would force students to be bused all over the county. There was even some talk about how Fairfax students would even be bused outside of the county to schools in Prince William. They claimed these efforts would not only be horrible for students, but would end up lowering home values and harming the entire community.

All of this was an attempt to channel the rhetoric used by folks who opposed integration during the civil rights movement in hopes that it would win them a few votes. Fortunately, the tactic was soundly rejected at the polls as every single Republican candidate lost their school board races and we saw other gains in Fairfax County.

During a Fairfax County Democratic Committee meeting on November 19th, Supervisor Jeff McKay (who won his bid to be the next Chairman of the Board of Supervisors) spoke about how the message of One Fairfax helping to ensure all residents have an opportunity was well received by voters. They rejected the divisiveness the GOP was trying to stir up and embraced the message of hope and inclusiveness.

“I remember years ago sitting down with Supervisor Hudgins and talking about this concept of One Fairfax, which we thought was pretty normal stuff,” McKay said. “We’re in a progressive area, we want to fight for all people. We want to give all everybody an opportunity to succeed. This should not be hard stuff.”

McKay also stressed how this wasn’t just something leaders suddenly started talking about recently. It’s been a concept that’s been discussed openly for years as Fairfax has been trying to create a more welcoming community that recognizes the benefits of having a diverse population.

“We were talking about this before Donald Trump was in office, about how we double down on that,” the Chairman-elect said. “It wasn’t a response to Trump, it was about being a Democrat in progressive Fairfax County.”

“If you told me years ago that Republicans would try taken this issue and divide our community and think that running against One Fairfax, that unites all of our people in every corner of the County, and guarantees equal opportunities for people,” McKay added, “if you would have thought that would be what the Republicans would have run against the Democrats on, that is absurd.  And the voters saw right through it.”

In other words, running against a policy that brings people together in order to make a stronger community is a horrible campaign strategy. And the voters made it clear they wouldn’t support bigotry and divisiveness here in Fairfax County.

For those who are interested, here’s a recording of McKay’s remarks.

Voters and Democratic Leaders “Strongly Reject” Tim Chapman’s Negative Campaigning

Tim ChapmanConsidering how most of the Democrats who represent Fairfax endorsed Jeff McKay shortly after he entered the primary for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and many activists quickly got behind his campaign, the race wasn’t supposed to be all that exciting. What did gather a lot of attention, however, was Tim Chapman’s decision to run an extremely negative campaign almost from the outset.

For those who don’t know, Chapman is a developer who has identified as a Republican in the past and even gave tens of thousands of dollars to right wing extremists like Ken Cuccinelli before deciding to enter the Democratic primary for Chairman. Chapman then proceeded to go extremely negative during the campaign and launched attacks against McKay instead of trying to build up his own candidacy.

In a time when there’s a lot of concern about corruption of public officials and many Democrats have expressed concerns about their party’s leaders being too close with the business community, one of the biggest attacks Chapman launched was an accusation that McKay used his position as Lee District supervisor to get a good deal on a home he purchased. Ironically, Chapman was trying to draw negative attention to McKay’s relationships with developers even though Chapman himself is a developer.

Throughout the primary, Chapman frequently decided against talking about his own background and instead decided to focus in on his various attacks on McCain. This wasn’t lost on leaders inside the Democratic Party and people spoke out during the campaign and in post-primary analysis last night.

While speaking at an election night party in Springfield last night, Rep. Gerry Connolly went after Tim Chapman (without directly mentioning his name) for running a negative campaign. He accused Chapman of running “a smear campaign” and claimed the election results showed how voters want a more substantive debate from local candidates. The comments appeared to resonated with the crowd of long time Democratic activists who appreciate the need to run a civil campaign that can hopefully unite the party after a hard fought primary.

Connolly also highlighted how you can’t just combine negative campaigning with spending enormous amounts of money and expect to win a race that’s truly about building relationships with the community. In the Congressman’s opinion, this is especially the case when the enormous amount of money being spent also draws attention to how Chapman had donated enormous amounts of money to extremely conservative people like Ken Cuccinelli and now hopes to represent the Democratic Party on the ballot in November. That simply reeks of opportunism.

During his victory speech at the same event, Jeff McKay touched on many of the same points Connolly mentioned — though his comments were also part of larger remarks about what he hopes to accomplish during the campaign and once he’s Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. He specifically thanked Ryan McElveen and Alicia Plerhoples, for instance, but paused after their names in what was perhaps an attempt to make sure people realized he left off Chapman’s name (a move that received a few chuckles from the crowd). He also pointed to the election results as evidence that voters “strongly rejected” the negative campaign tactics Chapman used.

McKay was definitely correct that the results represented a sound rejection of Chapman’s campaign. He was the only candidate who failed to reach the 10,000 vote tally (he received 6,848) or reach double digits in terms of percentage of the overall vote (he received 9.8 percent). Chapman was also the only candidate who failed to win a single precinct, which truly says something because it means he couldn’t even get people in his own neighborhood to support his candidacy.

Looking at the latest campaign finance reports, it’s also painfully obvious that Chapman was trying to use his personal wealth in order to buy himself a spot on the Board of Supervisors. Over the course of the campaign, he loaned the campaign $845,094 which is $200,000 more than the $583,093 McKay raised and about five times the amount Plerphoples ($144,016) and McElveen ($113,840) raised for their campaigns.

When you break it down statistically, Chapman loaned himself $123.41 per vote that he won in the primary. This is wildly inefficient as McElveen only raised $9.94 per vote, Plerhoples raised $6.57 per vote, and McKay raised $19.64 per vote. In other words, Chapman’s totals were more than six times the amount per vote than his nearest competitor in the category — and that doesn’t even factor in how McKay has money left over for the general election. Since Chapman was trying to use his business background as part of the reasoning behind why voters should support him, his inability to spend his own money efficiently should provide a clue as to how unqualified he is for the position.

As most candidates who lost their respective primaries are already taking on a tone of trying to help their party’s nominee win in November, Chapman’s negative campaigning has left a lot of people with a sour taste in their mouth. Since Alicia Plerhoples is going to be active with Virginia Democracy Forward and Ryan McElveen will remain active in the community as well, their contributions to the political conversation might result in their name being mentioned for future political opportunities. Chapman, however, is unlikely to be at the top of any Democrat’s list for positions representing Fairfax County.

Ryan McElveen Launches Campaign For Chair of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

ryan mcelveenAs 2019 has arrived, more and more attention is being devoted to the state and local races we have this year in Virginia. In Fairfax, Sharon Bulova recently announced she won’t be seeking another term as Chair of the Board of Supervisors and candidates have been stepping forward to replace her. Supervisor Jeff McKay announced his candidacy almost immediately after Bulova’s announcement and quickly became the front runner after securing a lot of support from the political establishment in Fairfax. He won’t necessarily have a carefree path to the nomination, however, as Ryan McElveen officially announced his campaign in an online video released earlier today.

McElveen has served as an at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board for the last seven years and often speaks about the importance of education and making sure we support both teachers and students. As the son and husband of teachers, McElveen appears to be committed to promoting good education policy even if he moves over to the Board of Supervisors. In the video he released announcing his campaign, he promised to advocate for universal pre-kindergarten “so that every child in Fairfax County can be prepared to enter the global workforce.”

Of course, his campaign will focus on more than just education. He’s also calling for more “innovative and sustainable infrastructure” that would address transportation issues and help ensure the entire community can take advantage of modern technology and public buildings and parks. Furthermore, he’ll be working to promote an economy that works for everyone — something that’s crucial in a place like Fairfax where more and more people are being priced out of the community.

While McElveen’s announcement has intrigued a lot of people and he definitely cannot be ignored during the Democratic primary, he’s facing a challenge if he wants to win. Jeff McKay has more name recognition (though, sadly, not many people can name their County Supervisor or School Board member) and has received some big endorsements. Sharon Bulova endorsed McKay almost immediately after announcing she wouldn’t seek reelection, for example, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (who served in the role before heading to Congress) has also backed him. These endorsements can help with the initial fundraising efforts while McElveen is simpy trying to get things going.

Looking at the latest campaign finance reports, which were filed at the end of last June, McKay had just under $90,000 cash on hand. While that’s not a staggering amount of money, it’s noticeable that to the fact that Ryan McElveen hasn’t raised any money the last two years and only raised about $15,000 for his last election in 2015. Granted school board races aren’t very expensive and the candidates therefore don’t need to devote as much time and energy to fundraising, but it’s still a hurdle that McElveen will have to overcome.

With all that being said, McElveen has already been on the ballot county-wide while McKay has just been representing the Lee District. This could give him a slight benefit as he’ll be more familiar with parts of the County outside of Lee. His association with the Brookings Institution might also bring him some connections that could prove worthwhile during the campaign, though McElveen’s work there has been primarily foreign policy realm — specifically relating to China.

In the end, having two experienced candidates in the race who both have a history of standing up for progressive causes can only help make the eventual Democratic nominee stronger in the general election. But considering how some folks thought McKay would have an extremely easy path to the nomination, McElveen’s campaign certainly is an interesting development.