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Fairfax Special Election Is On

Amy Gardner

Weather may be an impediment for those wishing to vote today in the special election for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. But the election will proceed, Rokey Suleman, the county's general registrar, said early this morning.

Suleman was up at 2 a.m. to talk with state highway officials and the State Board of Elections about whether today's forecast warranted a postponement.

"The reports look good through the close of polls," he said. "The weather service says we dodged a bullet. It's going to snow but the roads will just be wet."

Suleman said county schools will also open on time, meaning sidewalks, parking lots and driveways at schools that double as polling places should be cleared early by school officials. More than half the county's 228 voting locations are in schools.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the special election to replace Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, who took a seat in Congress last month. Democrat Sharon S. Bulova of the Braddock District, the vice chairman and a 21-year veteran of the board, faces Republican Pat. S. Herrity, who was elected to the board's Springfield District in 2007. Two independents are also running.

Bulova is the mother of Del. David Bulova, and Herrity is the son of the late John F. "Jack" Herrity, a longtime board chairman in the 1980s after whom a parkway and government building in Fairfax are named.

Bulova has campaigned with a promise to keep Fairfax on its current track by protecting schools, the environment and affordable housing and continuing to encourage a development renaissance in Tysons Corner, Virginia's largest jobs center. She also touts her 17 years as chairman of the board's budget committee as evidence that she is better suited to lead Fairfax through its most challenging fiscal crisis in a generation.

Fairfax, with a $3.2 billion annual budget, faces a shortfall of about $650 million in the coming budget year, which the board is likely to address with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

Herrity has campaigned promising change, a gambit in a county where surveys show that residents are largely happy with county services. There is room for savings in the county budget, and property taxes are too high, Herrity has said on the campaign trail. He has also questioned the county's commitment to spending millions of dollars purchasing homes for its affordable housing program, and he has said the Tysons Corner redevelopment effort warrants closer scrutiny to be sure the infrastructure costs won't overburden taxpayers.

Although Fairfax has trended Democratic in recent elections, today's election is viewed as something of a wild card because of the likelihood of low turnout. In particular, Democrats were spooked by the close special election in neighboring Alexandria last month, in which Del. Charniele Herring won by just 16 votes to replace gubernatorial contender Brian Moran.

Today, Suleman expects turnout of about 10 percent of the county's 680,000 registered voters, he said.

By Amy Gardner  |  February 3, 2009; 4:45 AM ET
Categories:  Amy Gardner  
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Comments

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Posted by: beatles1 | February 3, 2009 5:31 AM | Report abuse

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