- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2003

On Tuesday, voters in Fairfax County will choose a new chairman of the county Board of Supervisors. The ideological and political differences between the candidates, Republican Mychele Brickner, and Providence District Supervisor Gerald Connolly, a Democrat, could hardly be greater.

Perhaps the most critical difference comes on the issue of local taxes. Mrs. Brickner wants an annual 5 percent cap on tax increases. “There are things the county could be doing to address wasteful spending and inefficient spending that they have not been,” she said. But, according to Mr. Connolly, the cap would prove disastrous to county finances and would cause its bond rating to drop. Mrs. Brickner counters — rightly — that Mr. Connolly is part of a Democratic majority on the Board of Supervisors who sent property taxes soaring by 53 percent over the past four years.

Another difference is that Mrs. Brickner (a school board member who led the fight to bring an auditor to that agency) wants the county to hire an independent inspector to examine its books, a move opposed by Mr. Connolly. But the federal government has inspector-generals in virtually every agency. We don’t understand how a local government spending more than $2.5 billion a year could do without one. As the Northern Virginia Journal put it in endorsing Mrs. Brickner: “We do not accept the premise that tightening the county’s belt means destroying needed programs and services. Three months after the Democratic majority on the board [of superiors refused to lower the real estate tax rate enough to avoid yet another tax hike, a $39 million…year-end surplus mysteriously appeared. If the county staff can find $39 million sitting around, who knows how much an inspector general might turn up?” We strongly agree with these sentiments.

There is also much to like in Mrs. Brickner’s transportation plan, which includes innovations such as High Occupancy Toll lanes to ease road congestion, an innovative idea that can go a long way toward reducing gridlock. In short, we believe that Mrs. Brickner would do a better job of holding the line on taxes and serving as guardian of the public purse than Mr. Connolly. We endorse Mychele Brickner for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

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