Former Dranesville District Supervisor Ernest Joseph Berger has died at age 88 in Johns Island, South Carolina.
During his time in McLean, Berger did not shy away from controversy. The former Dranesville District Supervisor and Army veteran came into office in 1994 with an array of conservative positions that put Berger at odds with many of his colleagues.
Friends and family of Berger praised his fiscal conervatism.
“Mr. Berger was an example of a true leader,” said Ann Green Baise. “He had a great business background, and he put that background to work for the citizens of Dranesville in a first rate way. An example of his foresight for the community was his appointment of Stu Mendelsohn to the School Board. He was a fiscal conservative and applied common sense to questions that arose in the community.”
A Washington Post article from 1994 said Berger worked to make financial reforms to Fairfax and run the county like a business, pushing for measures like converting the school bus system to a private company and easing restrictions on developers. Berger described himself as a bulldog when it came to watching the budget.
Despite the emphasis on fiscal policy, Berger also harbored a share of socially conservative positions that put him in hot water. According to the Washington Post article, Berger aggressively pushed for a Christian activist to be appointed to the Library Board in an effort to ban a gay newspaper from Fairfax County libraries.
“Ernie Berger was known to all as a strong Republican and a great man,” Fairfax GOP Chairman Steve Knotts said on the Fairfax GOP website. “We are thankful for Ernie’s service to Fairfax County; and we extend our sincere condolences to his many friends and loved ones.”
Photo via Fairfax County Government/Facebook
AU Prof Wins Republican Primary — “American University professor Daniel Gade won Virginia’s Republican Senate primary and will challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D) in November.” [The Hill]
Local Lauded for Social Media Efforts — “The Vienna Business Association on June 22 awarded its first annual Corporate Social Responsibility Award to Vienna resident Lydia Russo… Founder of the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group, Russo has raised money and social awareness and encouraged community action for food-insecure families, front-line workers, first-responders and Vienna restaurants.” [Inside NoVa]
Back to School Support — “Northern Virginia parents are generally comfortable with their students returning to school classrooms this fall, assuming precautions are taken to control the spread of COVID-19, according to a survey conducted on InsideNoVa.com.” [Inside NoVa]
FCPS Options for Fall — “Fairfax County Public Schools will offer students two plans for the upcoming school year: 100 percent online learning or part-time classroom instruction.” [Inside NoVa]
Hotels Housing Homeless — “At least six hotels are on board to shelter vulnerable persons around Fairfax County. According to the latest Fairfax County Health and Human Services update, 241 hotel rooms were occupied with 255 guests as of June 16. So far, 456 rooms in six hotels have been secured for the program.” [Patch]
Editor’s Note — Tysons Reporter is running Q&As with the candidates running for the Dranesville and Providence District seats on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week. The stories have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Featured here is Republican Eric Anthony Jones, who is running against Democrat Dalia Palchik for the Providence District Board of Supervisors seat, which represents Tysons, Merrifield, Oakton and parts of Falls Church.
After the previous Republican candidate for the Providence Supervisor seat died, Eric Anthony Jones decided to run to give voters a stark choice between him and his competitor, Dalia Palchik.
He previously served as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, with a focus on cybersecurity and energy policy, according to his website. His work took him around the world, letting him live in India, China, Russia, Bulgaria and Afghanistan.
Jones said at a recent candidate debate that he does not believe in sanctuary cities because they harm immigrants who became citizens or legal permanent residents through governmental processes. During his time as a U.S. Consular Officer in China, he interviewed more than 20,000 people and approved half of them to come to the United Staes, he told Tysons Reporter.
Jones also formerly taught as a college professor and now has two daughters in college and a son in high-school. If elected, Jones said education will be one of his top priorities.
Now retired, Jones has lived in Fairfax County for the last 27 years. Earlier this month, he jumped into the race for the Providence District seat and faces Democrat Dalia Palchik in the general election next week. (Current Supervisor Linda Smyth is retiring.)
Tysons Reporter met up with Jones to learn more about how he would want to improve capacity issues at schools and manage the county’s budget, along with other topics, if elected.
Tysons Reporter: How do you plan on tackling affordable housing in Fairfax County?
Jones: I am in favor of affordable housing. I’m in favor of market-based but non-subsidized measures for housing. One of the things we have to face is that we live in Fairfax County, 400 square miles, 1.1 million people, 3,000 people per square mile. The fact of the matter, the reality is that the land here, the ground is very expensive.
I’m not for subsidized housing here, using tax money for that. I do believe, for example, that if there is an impoverished family of four that it’s better given a certain amount of money to help them in terms of welfare for the truly needy. I think it is better to — with the given amount of money — to be able to support three families instead of one family. That’s done by living in areas that are not so expensive.
What’s happening is that a lot of areas are getting new buildup, such as here in Mosaic, there was basically an open, unused lot or areas where they had large older styles malls. Those can be transformed into units.
I think a creative way mentioned by several people is that there are many elderly residents that are living in the houses where their children grew up in. Elderly residents are a large population who want to stay in Fairfax County. They have relatively large houses and I think the county can help facilitate ways in which elderly people with room in their houses can work out rentals. Elderly people can find reliable renters that they feel safe with. They want someone around, someone to call in case they fall on the floor.
TR: The county is currently looking at adding a new school to Tysons. Is that enough to address capacity issues? What should be done for all the incoming students?
Jones: We have to look at the facts of increased population and demand for schools. I am for expanded school facilities. Overcrowding has resulted in a lot of trailers.
I’m fully in support of salaries and benefits, expansions for teachers and also supporting teachers in terms of discipline regulation that are favorable to teachers, students and maintaining a proper learning atmosphere.
In addition, I believe we should look at charter schools, which offer students and parents a choice. Charter schools are not an attack on teachers or anything like that. I see it as a creative way of giving parents and students public choice while also helping to relieve the burden of overcrowding.
I support teachers and their potential to attract and maintain quality. I think we need to address the issues of pensions.
Pensions are a ticking time bomb anywhere. Expanded school facilities of both existing schools and new school construction to help alleviate overcrowding. I want to reduce the use of trailers and the solution to that is more school construction.
TR: What are your top three priorities when it comes to transportation?
Jones: One is the expansion and improvement of roads, large and small. There is a certain reality we bump up against that the terrain is such in a lot of these places that you can’t expand the roads, you’d wipe out a lot of, not just the trees, but the way the terrain goes.
We have these watersheds, we have these beautiful parks as a result and deer in an urban setting. We need to protect those. It’s a constraint on how we can expand our roads.
Number two is providing expansions for public transportation, reliable public transportation so people can get to work and back. The density of the area helps us there because it means you don’t have to worry about going as long of a distance and connectors for people go farther out.
I think there is some potential for expansion, for example, working with Maryland and Virginia, to figure out the modern era. We need to have another way of crossing the Potomac [River]. That will relieve a lot of the congestion you get.
TR: What are your top three plans to tackle climate change?
Jones: There is a stark choice between me, Dalia Palchik and the current Board of Supervisors. I am for energy policy here. It should be consumer-oriented, based on cost-benefit analysis and be affordable energy, reliable energy and clean energy.
I see the Green New Deal policies as unrealistic, coercive [and] expensive. Those proposals would be job-killing, net-job killing and bet against economic prosperity.
I have a fundamentally different way of looking at it. There is not a good analysis and convincing evidence of how much role is being played by natural forces and fluctuations and the factor of CO2 concentration increases as a result of fossil fuels.
I’m against the Green New Deal and the fundamental things behind it. People should realize electricity does not start with a wall socket.
TR: How will you manage the budget?
Jones: The budget is $8 million per year. The budget itself needs continued scrutiny. I think we should have more competitive bidding and more transparency. It’s important to keep our budget under control.
If you look at the last 20 years, our taxes paid per capita have gone up three times faster than the inflation rate and three times faster than the earnings rate and salary rate.
Transparency of all transactions, more public input on transactions, more competitive bidding and much more scrutiny for our budgets.
On the flip side, I think its priorities should go especially to the school system and teachers and maintaining and improving the quality of education.
Updated 11/1/19 — Martin filed the campaign finance report that was due on Oct. 15 on Thursday (Oct. 31), which leaves him missing one report.
Earlier: The general election is less than a week away, and the Republican candidate for the Dranesville District Supervisor race hasn’t filed two campaign finance reports.
Ed Martin, who is running against Democrat John Foust, faces thousands of dollars of civil penalties after missing the reporting deadlines earlier this summer and as recently as Monday.
Martin is running on a platform to cut taxes, improve traffic problems and increase transparency in local government.
Martin’s campaign committee, Friends of Ed Martin, filed its first report, which covers April to the end of June, on July 15.
Martin then missed three deadlines — Sept. 16 , Oct. 15 and Oct. 28, the Virginia Department of Elections confirmed to Tysons Reporter earlier this week.
Friends of Ed Martin filed a campaign finance report covering July and August — which was due on Sept. 16 — yesterday (Wednesday), according to Virginia Department of Elections records that Martin emailed to Tysons Reporter.
Both reports say that Martin hasn’t raised or spent anything.
But an emailed statement from Martin claims that he has raised some money.
“When I filed to run in June, I registered and subsequently filed my first report. Due to a clerical error, my most recent report was delayed and will be filed by the end of this month,” the statement said. “Unlike my opponent who raises money all year round, my campaign is grassroots and is less than $5,000.”
For candidates who have filed campaign finances reports late – or not at all — the State Board of Elections sends a letter with a civil penalty to the candidate.
If it is not paid within a set amount of time, enforcement then becomes the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s responsibility, Patricia Ferguson with the Virginia Department of Elections, told Tysons Reporter.
Election officials and staff cannot waive or reduce the penalties, according to State Code.
“These penalties are automatically imposed if a report isn’t filed,” Brian Worthy, a spokesperson for Fairfax County, told Tysons Reporter.
“Martin’s campaign was fined $100 for failing to file the campaign finance report that was due on Sept. 16,” Worthy said, adding that the campaign is also subject to a $1,000 penalty for failing to file the Oct. 15 report.
“Another $1,000 civil penalty is applicable if we don’t receive [the Oct. 28 report],” Worthy said.
Martin seemed surprised when Tysons Reporter asked about the fines.
“I got a letter saying that we’re not in compliance,” Martin said. “I don’t think we got a fine. If we have, I haven’t seen it.”
Editor’s Note — Tysons Reporter is running Q&As with the candidates running for the Dranesville and Providence District seats on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week. The stories have been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.
Featured here is Ed Martin, who is running as a Republican against Democrat John Foust for the Dranesville District seat, which represents McLean, Great Falls, Herndon and portions of Vienna and Falls Church.
Ed Martin is a radio host, president of a conservative think tank and Great Falls resident. Now, he wants to become the Dranesville District Supervisor.
Originally from New Jersey, Martin has worked as a lawyer and headed up the Human Rights Office for the Archdiocese of St. Louis from 1998-2001, he told Tysons Reporter.
Fascinated by President Donald Trump’s tweets, Martin wanted to write a book about them and ended up teaming up with an artist to create three Trump coloring books featuring the president’s tweets.
He now runs Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, a conservative group named after the controversial social leader known for opposing the Equal Rights Amendment. Martin moved to Great Falls shortly after the 2016 election, he said.
Tysons Reporter met up with Martin to talk about how he would want to help seniors age in place and address capacity issues at public schools in the county if elected to the Board of Supervisors.
Tysons Reporter: What are your top three goals to help people age in place?
Ed Martin: My wife is a geriatrics physician so her specialty is seniors, so for 15 years I’ve been hearing from her the details of what they call the “grey tsunami” — it’s the number of people who are in the Baby Boomer generation that will age out.
One observation, broadly, is there is a growing — especially in government — distrust in what’s happening. More transparency in what is going on is more important than ever. The second thing, the taxes have gone up, up, up. I think the taxes are too high. I think we need to lower the cost of taxes.
The top one I would describe now is the cost of living here. It’s not just for seniors by the way. If you talk to the cops — and the cops endorsed me, one of the PBAs endorsed — those guys and gals are telling you they can’t live here. They can’t afford to live in Fairfax County. That’s a big one, I would say the taxes.
What’s the vision for development here? How do you put together the pieces that let people move? I think we have a wonderful community [in] Fairfax County, especially in Dranesville District, has some incredible strengths and volunteers and pockets of communities, churches and synagogues that want to do things — how do you build that together?
In Great Falls there’s a center that has come together to support seniors. That’s got to happen more. We need creative solutions. I think that’s going to include the possibility of ride-sharing so that more people can stay.
TR: How would you address affordable housing in the county?
Martin: The biggest thing I think helps with affordability is lowering taxes and the costs. That would be the number one thing. I would say the number one thing is to lower the cost of living here, whether that’s for a cop and his family or an individual. And that’s the best way I know how to do that is to cut taxes, lower cuts, cut regulatory costs and the schools are what draw people here.
They are willing to tolerate some of the high real estate prices because the schools are so good in the Dranesville District, so I think that’s the biggest concern people have now. How can I trust to move there if we’re having something that looks like boundary changes — what does that mean? Confidence in the school system is going to be really important.
TR: What do you think about developers setting aside units for workforce housing and contributing to the county’s housing fund?
Martin: I’m a little bit cynical of set-asides. I would like to see how well they work. I don’t believe they work as well as we’re told. They tend to be window dressing for everyone to feel good.
TR: More broadly — not just about McLean High School — how would you want to address capacity issues here in Fairfax County both before it’s an issue and once a school is over capacity?
Martin: The Board of Supervisors gives an extraordinary amount of money to the School Board. Which means we should have — I know it’s possible to have [because] I’ve talked to Tom Davis, the former congressman who was a Fairfax County Supervisors and I’ve talked to Pat Herrity about it — the Board of Supervisors can have a lot more influence than currently is perceived on what the School Board does.
It’s how you spend money that makes a difference. So if you look at spending priorities and you say, “Why hasn’t McLean High School had whatever could be done to eliminate the many trailers?” — whether it means a building project, whether it means expanding the existing school — we should have been doing that instead of spending money on everything else.
Fairfax County is not broke. I think we’re misspending our money.
TR: Would you want to build a new school? Would you want to try to look at renovations or additions to existing schools?
Martin: I think the preference should be on the students who are in a school being able to stay in their school. If you have room for trailers, you have room for some buildings. Maybe it’s not one-for-one, but I think McLean [High School] could creatively expand their school.
TR: What do you think of the electric school bus idea?
Martin: I don’t know enough about the cost of it. I’m not against electric cars or electric buses if they work. I know sometimes the cost of something can be deceptively cheaper on the front end — it looks like it’s going to save you — I don’t think I know enough. I like the idea of electric cars. The good old fashioned buses work pretty well.
TR: Do you have any plans to encourage wind and solar power use among constituents and if so, how?
Martin: I think wind and solar [power are] fine. I would not be in favor of incentivizing with either taxes or anything like that. Dominion gets a bad rap for not succeeding in a variety of ways, but they have to be a partner going forward. I think that’s a different question.
Over time you need to find partnerships where things can be creatively done and I think Dominion could make some things more likely in terms of renewables. I think it’s fine to encourage people.
TR: What are your top three transit infrastructure priorities?
Martin: The number one is to get a grasp on what’s happening in Tysons because it’s impacting Dranesville.
I think the Leesburg Pike has to be addressed more significantly. If I could those two together, you hear people complain about the Georgetown Pike and some of it’s a windy road and will be forever, but some of it around the Great Falls Park is because in the summer the park is full up.
I think the third issue is what is the future going to be? I mean we have a problem that’s a wonderful blessing with these businesses moving in and the people moving in, but I don’t think we really understand the scope of the problem. I think we have to be creative. It might mean there’s more ride-sharing — I’m a sort of fan of watching the market disrupt through Uber and Lyft and all — but coming up with how to alleviate traffic congestion in the district.
Tysons Reporter has learned that a retired foreign service officer is joining the race for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ Providence District seat.
Eric Jones started working for the U.S. State Department in 1990 and retired in 2016, according to his LinkedIn.
Jones and his wife Yelena, who is a realtor, bought their home in Fairfax in 2005, according to The Washington Post.
Jones has been endorsed by the Republican Party, Pat Ferguson, who works in Fairfax County’s Office of Elections, told Tysons Reporter.
His name is expected to show up on the Virginia Department of Elections’ list of candidates on Monday, Ferguson said.
The previous Republican candidate for the seat, Paul Bolon, died from a heart attack in August at the age of 69.
Jones will face Democratic candidate Dalia Palchik on Nov. 5.
Image via Fairfax County Republican Committee
Friends, family and colleagues will soon have the chance to commemorate Paul Bolon, who was in the race for the Board of Supervisors’ Providence District seat before he died.
Bolon, 69, died from a heart attack at the Inova Fairfax Hospital after meeting voters on Sunday (Aug. 11), the Washington Post reported. A retired economist and manager from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Bolon was running as the Republican candidate against Democrat Dalia Palchik.
Palchik posted on Facebook:
I was extremely saddened to learn overnight about the passing of my opponent, Paul Bolon. Paul and I did not know each other well, but we were both looking forward to honestly debating important issues, at a time of such bickering and division. All of my thoughts are with his wife and children today, I’m so very sorry for your loss.
His colleagues took to Twitter to remember him as a “great man.”
“I was very saddened to learn of Paul’s untimely passing — he truly was a great man,” Srilekha Palle, the Republican candidate for the Sully District, tweeted.
Joe Galdo, the Republican candidate for the Board of Supervisors’ chair, tweeted, “We lost a good candidate and a great man.”
Tim Hannigan, the chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said Bolon was a “personable, unfailingly civil, generous and always kind” person.
“Paul Bolon was a great candidate. A professional economist, he brought a clear-eyed, analytical perspective to issues facing our county,” Hannigan said. “As our committee’s Providence District Chairman, he served with distinction as a very effective grassroots leader and a tireless advocate for Republican values and Republican candidates.”
The memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Fellowship Baptist Church (11032 Oakton Road), followed by a reception at the Bolon residence.
Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee
Paul Bolon died over the weekend while campaigning for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ Providence District seat.
Bolon, 69, had a fatal heart attack after meeting voters in the Providence District on Sunday (Aug. 11) and died at the Inova Fairfax Hospital, the Washington Post reported. He was running as the Republican candidate against Democrat Dalia Palchik.
“Paul Bolon was a great candidate. A professional economist, he brought a clear-eyed, analytical perspective to issues facing our county,” Tim Hannigan, the chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said in a statement. “As our committee’s Providence District Chairman, he served with distinction as a very effective grassroots leader and a tireless advocate for Republican values and Republican candidates.”
Hannigan added that Bolon was a “personable, unfailingly civil, generous and always kind” person.
Bolon was a retired manager from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and economist.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24.
New Alcohol Policy for Fairfax Parks — “The Fairfax County Park Authority has updated its policy on the use of alcoholic beverages in county parks, allowing for expanded alcohol consumption under specific conditions… [this] comes in response to an increasing number of requests for alcohol use at park facilities for gatherings and events of all types.” [Fairfax County]
GOP Going Extinct in Fairfax — “The loss of two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (D-10) means Republicans are down to one lone elected official in Northern Virginia, Del. Tim Hugo (R-40). The blue wave that started last year unseating Republicans like Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67) and Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) continued this year, when state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-10) was able to flip a seat that had been in Republican hands since… 1980.” [Connection Newspapers, NPR]
Nov. is Adoption Awareness Month — Fairfax County is marking Adoption Awareness Month this month. There are currently 196 children in foster care in the county. [Fairfax County]
Mike Tyson Still Dominates ‘Tysons’ Headlines — Although he’s been retired from professional boxing since 2006, Mike Tyson still pops up almost daily for anyone who has set a Google Alert for news about “Tysons.” [Twitter]