Candidates for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman on Sept. 23 offered starkly different visions of the county and its prospects during a forum at the Fairfax County Government Center.
Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) put himself forward as a “battle-tested candidate” and said the county’s future was bright.
“I’m very proud of this county and what we’ve accomplished,” McKay said during the forum, one of a number the candidates are participating in during campaign season. “We welcome people from all over the world. We’re successful because we invest in people.”
But Republican challenger Joseph Galdo painted a darker scenario, saying his real-estate taxes had risen at least twice the rate of inflation in the last five years.
“Fairfax County is becoming unaffordable for more and more of its residents,” said Galdo, who also expressed concerns about school overcrowding and failing infrastructure.
Galdo also raised allegations of impropriety, saying McKay had purchased a home from a developer and subsequently not disclosed this when reviewing an application from the builder.
McKay took umbrage, calling the accusation an attack on his character and saying he paid fair market value for the $850,000 home.
“It is entirely a witch hunt without merit,” he said.
The debate was hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area.
Queried about the need for affordable housing, Galdo said such options were disappearing because of the fast pace of development. County officials approve relatively few such housing units, when the need is for between 10,000 and 12,000 units, he said.
McKay countered that every land-use case in his district has had affordable housing, and that county officials have a forward-thinking policy that seeks to allocate such units all around the county.
Both candidates agreed on the need for body-worn cameras for county police.
“For me, this is an investment in justice and fairness for everyone in the county,” McKay said.
But Galdo balked at the proposed $30 million cost to equip all county police officers with such cameras, saying the program would be more affordable if the cameras were allocated to areas where there is a trust problem between residents and police.
McKay disagreed, saying, “One part of the community is not more important than another.”
Asked about whether Fairfax County is a “sanctuary” area from federal immigration enforcement, McKay said he did not think it was, but added the county did not support or participate in civil immigration enforcement.
Galdo cited concerns with undocumented immigrants and gangs such as MS-13.
“If we want to help our immigrant population, we need to rid their communities of the criminal element,” said Galdo.
Both candidates opposed vaping in or around county schools and took a cautious approach on installing roundabouts at some intersections, saying they did not work everywhere.
Asked to sum up their campaigns in one word, McKay chose “experience” and Galdo selected “responsive.”
A Fairfax County resident since 1982, Galdo holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Fordham University and a doctorate in physics from the University of Virginia. He is retired from federal service, having worked at the Department of Energy, Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army Foreign Science and Technology Center.
McKay, a lifelong Fairfax County resident, graduated from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from James Madison University and graduated from the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. He served for more than a decade as chief of staff to former Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) before being elected to that post in 2007.
Voters will make their selection on Nov. 5, during an election that will see a smorgasbord of other races on the ballot, including all Board of Supervisors, School Board and General Assembly seats, plus commonwealth’s attorney and sheriff.