Personal Attacks Par for Course on Campaign

Personal Attacks Par for Course on Campaign

As the Republican primary in the Springfield District nears, personal attacks begin to appear.

As the Republican primary for the Springfield supervisor race approaches, the candidates' claws have come out.

The incumbent, Elaine McConnell, is riding on a wave of past accomplishments while her challengers, Linda Clary and Stan Reid, look at McConnell's accomplishments as fodder for their campaign.

"We're going to the voters and earning their votes," said Clary. "I haven't noticed anything negative at all."

One of Clary's campaign flyers, entitled "Don't Be Fooled By Elaine McConnell," features a cartoon of a donkey, the Democrat's symbol, coming out of an elephant costume, implying that she's a Democrat in disguise.

"The Republican platform is not to raise taxes," said Clary. "It's contrary to the Republican party principal. I think that's a factual representation that Elaine is pro-tax."

The flyer then points out five examples of when McConnell "voted with the democrats."

McConnell has been through several political races as a supervisor in Springfield, but she said this one has taken on more negativity than before.

"Never this hate, never this kind of thing," McConnell said. "She knows nothing about my record. I've had eight Democrats on the board. You have to form some sort of reconciliation. Both those candidates lobbied against the homeless shelter on [Route] 29."

Stan Reid's campaign thus far has consisted of posting roadside signs and knocking on doors. He hasn't flooded the area with rhetoric and doesn't think it's needed. He hasn't seen any negative campaigning, either.

"We have three different approaches of campaigning," Reid said. "I haven't seen any [negative campaigns]."

Reid indicated three problems in the Springfield District, if not the whole county: sprawl, tax rates and traffic. That's where the finger pointing came in.

"Our supervisor seems to be AWOL (absence without leave) on helping people in the neighborhoods," Reid said. "Elaine's had 20 years to figure this out and this is what we got."

McConnell did recall having Reid in her office before he announced his platform, dismissing the possibility of opposing her.

"He sat right there in front of me and said 'oh I wouldn't run against you.' That degree of dishonesty bothers me," she said.

Reid denied ever talking to McConnell about running for supervisor.

"Never," he said of that discussion.

ALTHOUGH CLARY didn't align herself with the anti-tax group that suggests lowering the real estate tax rate to $.76, she does feel a 5 percent cap is possible.

"My goal is to cap property taxes so they don't increase any more than 5 percent a year," Clary said. "It slows down [government growth] but keeps up with inflation and population. The growth of government has far exceeded the growth of population. The taxpayer really knows how to use his money more than the government."

Targets of her reduction in government are the expensive government centers and police stations, for example.

To McConnell, the 5 percent cap in real estate taxes "means they're anti-schools and anti-public safety."

McConnell fired back with a plan of her own which she called "the pay as you go" plan, that never made it past the Board of Supervisors.

"It would have saved over $1 billion in 10 years," McConnell said. We're [Virginia] 42nd in the nation of being taxed. You can't give people the services and schools we do [without the money]," she said.

"I hate negative campaigns but hers [Clary] is so negative," McConnell said. "We're going to probably answer with the truth."

Reid's answer is to bring the county's 670 programs to the table and decide which ones to cut. Two on the top of his list were the Board of Supervisors budget and the 35-40 boards and commissions that are part of the county operations.

"We don't need all those," Reid said. "Why don't we lay out those 670 programs on the table? Do we all agree with those or do we not? Let's let everybody see what they are. Maybe a teacher's salary of $34,000 is more important than the Board of Supervisors' budget of $500,000."

Reid claims that he shares interests with Republicans in the western part of the Springfield District, which is something he said that McConnell lacks.

"She has no endorsements from any Republicans," Reid said. "I have all three of our elected officials supporting me." and named Sen. Jay O'Brien (R-39th), Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-37th) and De. Tim Hugo (R-40th).

"Why isn't [U.S. Rep] Tom Davis [R-11th] supporting Elaine?" he asked.

IN THIS ELECTION, the Davis Store issue looms in the background of everything. The Davis Store at the intersection of Wolf Run Shoals Road and Clifton Road has grown through the years and was at the center of a zoning issue earlier in the year. Clary, who lives in that area, was aligned with the coalition that tried to get the property rezoned from a "country store" designation to a gas station designation. That would have put it under higher environmental scrutiny. The zoning board rejected the proposal and the original zoning remains in place.

McConnell claimed the coalition's efforts have landed them in hot water with the store owners, the Crump family.

"They got a $1.3 million lawsuit against them," she said.

Clary acknowledged that but said the case would be thrown out. The first case against the coalition was dismissed

"The Crumps sued the coalition and the community and that's been dismissed," she said.

The Crump family refiled the suit, but Clary said nothing changed with the Crumps' assertions and the second suit will be thrown out as well.

"We filed a motion to be dismissed," Clary said. "It really is a frivolous lawsuit. It was a couple of million, he [coalition's attorney] expects it will be dismissed again."

Bob Dively, McConnell's campaign manager, heard that Clary runs a business out of her house which is not in compliance with the zoning at her Clifton residence. Dively only heard about the home business from area residents and didn't feel that a home business without following the proper channels was appropriate for someone running for an office, although he hasn't investigated it himself.

"A couple of people mentioned it to me," Dively said. "If there is a violation, I think it's improper."

Clary's business, a resort property management company, has its main office in Florida. She has one other employee at her home and compares the work she does there to that of a real estate agent or a reporter writing stories on a home computer.

"It's within the zoning," Clary said. "It's a very common practice in this area. It's not the headquarters. It's not the main place of business."

A spokesperson at the Fairfax County Zoning Enforcement said that a home occupation permit is needed in certain areas but was not specific. According to Tammy Miller at the zoning administration, if a person receives business phone calls or stores paperwork, "you will need one" she said. "If you're using a part of it as an office, you do need one."

Such permits are provided by the county at no charge.

Dively isn't surprised by the negative campaigning though.

"Everybody denounces it [negative campaigning], but it works," he said. "I think they do it more than they used to."

Dively was the author of a letter in the May 8 edition of the Centre View referring to McConnell as "the Margaret Thatcher of Fairfax County," which provoked a response from Phillip Rodokanakis, the vice president of Communications of the Virginia Club for Growth. Rodokanakis called it an attempt to "cover up McConnell's liberal tax and spend record," he wrote.

The primary election is June 10 at all the regular election polls in the Springfield District.