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The Long Memory of Cyrus Katzen

Steve Fehr

Dentist-developer Cyrus Katzen is among the biggest donors to Fairfax County campaigns. He's got it to spare. The owner of the Culmore Shopping Center in Baileys Crossroads gave $15 million to American University for the arts center that bears his name and that of his wife, Myrtle.
Since 1996 he's given Fairfax Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly more than $52,000, according to the non-partisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). Supervisors Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) and Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield) have also been recipients of Katzen's largesse.

One elected official you won't see on his list is Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason). It's been more than a decade since Gross and Katzen tangled over a vacant lot used as a popular soccer field in her district, at Glen Carlyn Road and Leesburg Pike.
Gross was working with Katzen to develop the property while preserving the field. Katzen sold the parcel in the mid-1990s, with assurances from the buyer that the field would stay. But it was subsequently re-sold to a North Carolina company that used the ballfield as part of the site for an Eckerd drugstore.

Bad feelings remain on both sides. This year Katzen has contributed just under $10,000 to Gross' opponent, Republican Vellie Dietrich Hall. It's helped Hall raise $200,000 for her campaign, just behind Gross' $224,000.
Katzen did not return a phone call.

Gross declined to discuss it for the record until she could call back with a terse prepared statement: "In all things as an elected official, I work with a variety of people, including Dr. Katzen, on issues relating to the common good, regardless of whether they support me or not."

By Steve Fehr  |  October 25, 2007; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Election 2007 , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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