- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2003

There have been no vacations this summer for the two candidates running for the top government job in Fairfax County.

Republican Mychele B. Brickner and Democrat Gerald E. Connolly said their door-to-door, seven-day-a-week campaigns are running on overtime because voters will elect a new chairman of the Board of Supervisors in little more than two months.

Mr. Connolly, an incumbent board member, said the Nov. 4 race is a fight for the “heart and soul” of the county in which voters will chose between his experience and Mrs. Brickner’s “narrow ideological agenda.”

Mrs. Brickner said Thursday she cares about social issues but is now more focused on such core concerns as traffic, government waste and high taxes, which she blames on Mr. Connolly.

During Mr. Connolly’s time on the board, Mrs. Brickner said, taxes have steadily increased.

“Do we want more of the same?” she asked.

The 52-year-old Mrs. Brickner, a county Board of Education member, has $77,000 on hand in campaign funds, compared with Mr. Connolly, 53, who has $276,000.

However, Mrs. Brickner raised $108,275 in June, nearly double the $59,649 Mr. Connolly raised that month.

A source following the race said the fund raising and support from such powerful state Republicans as Rep. Thomas M. Davis III still does not mean Mrs. Brickner has gained momentum.

“Not the way I see [Mr. Connollys] endorsements rolling in and the response he’s getting from the business community,” the source said.

Mr. Connolly has endorsements from unionsrepresenting county firefighters, police, sheriff deputies and teachers.

Mrs. Brickner, a mother of three who defeated John F. “Jack” Herrity in the primary, served two terms on the Board of Education. During those terms, she developed a conservative reputation steeled by boldly defeating a plan to distribute a questionnaire asking higher schoolers about their sex lives.

Mr. Connolly said Mrs. Brickner would take away the quality of life residents treasure to pursue her narrow ideological agenda.

In response, Mrs. Brickner said the chairman’s job is to focus on the county budget, not ideological matters.

“Mr. Connolly prefers to focus on personal attacks rather than talk about his record on taxes and traffic,” she said.

August will be an important fund-raising month as the candidates prepare for September’s stretch run. Both have set the goal of collecting $750,000.

“I think I’m on target for what I wanted to be doing right now,” Mrs. Brickner said.

A series of debates is scheduled for September that could prove difficult for the newcomer Mrs. Brickner.

She has been studying the issues and meeting with residents almost daily, but Mr. Connolly is an aggressive debater.

“He’s extremely sharp,” thesource said. “He has a good grasp and comprehension of the county government from all sides.”

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