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Monday, March 2, 2015

Swanson to challenge Gross in Democratic primary

Swanson
Jessica Swanson, a Ravenwood Park resident who works for the District of Columbia Public Schools, announced her candidacy for Mason District Supervisor March 2. Swanson will face off against Supervisor Penny Gross in the Democratic primary on June 9. Gross has been supervisor for the past 19 years and launched her re-election campaign last month.

“As supervisor, I will bring a new energy and perspective to Mason District while working to support our schools, to promote thoughtful and responsible development that betters our communities, and to improve transportation,” Swanson said in an email announcing her candidacy.

“A number of community members have encouraged me to run,” Swanson said. “These neighbors have told me that it’s time for a change and that they need a supervisor who will genuinely listen to their concerns and take their input into account.”

She said she and her husband Nate chose to live in Fairfax County “because we love its great schools, robust economy, and vibrant diversity – and now I feel like all three need a stronger advocate on our Board of Supervisors.”

As a former vice president of the Ravenwood Park Citizens Association, Swanson said she worked to promote “user-friendly, environmentally conscious growth in Mason District.”

Swanson, 31, has been a manager of teaching and learning strategies in the D.C. Public Schools since August 2013. She started her career as a middle school teacher with Teach for America and was a founding director of Girls on the Run D.C. She grew up in the St. Louis area and has lived in the D.C. area since 2006 and in Mason District since 2009.

She worked for two years on a campaign to fully fund Fairfax County schools and currently serves as the Mason District appointee on the Fairfax County School Board’s Human Relations Advisory Committee.

To get her name on the primary ballot, Swanson needs to submit 125 signatures to the Board of Elections by March 26. That wont be hard, but she acknowledges its going to take a lot of work and money to unseat a long-term, well-funded supervisor. Its a work in progress, she says of her campaign, but I wouldnt be doing this if I didnt think it was possible to win.


From conversations with people from different neighborhoods, Swanson believes there’s a “rising tide of dissatisfaction with the current Mason leadership. “People really are ready for a supervisor who is going to listen to them. It’s not just about holding town halls. It’s about hearing our feedback and developing a better approach.”

Gross “has missed some opportunities to support our schools,” Swanson said. She vows to work closely with Fairfax County Public Schools and the school board on closing the achievement gap, providing more financial support to schools, and addressing overcrowding.

While Swanson supported the establishment of Bailey’s Upper Elementary School, she said there should have been more community input. And she would like to pursue options for returning the Willston Center to FCPS as a solution to overcrowding, but it needs to happen quickly.”

Swanson also cited the need “to create more desirable neighborhoods” as a top priority. Redevelopment is needed in Seven Corners, she says, but there are concerns with the amount of density being considered and the transportation infrastructure should be improved first. Also, she says, more attention needs to be paid to revitalizing Annandale.

Swanson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois in 2006, earned a master’s degree in education from American University, and expects to complete a doctorate in education from the University of Virginia in 2016.

76 comments:

  1. It's not going to take much effort to sort out this one. From her website:

    "As Supervisor, I will advocate for fully funding FCPS' financial needs, as I have done for the past two years with the “Fully Fund FCPS” campaign...."

    That translates to yet another tax-and-spend liberal. We're already getting enough of that from Penny Gross. It'll be useful to see who Swanson's principal supporters are, but I'm guessing she's connected with Kaye Kory's bunch. I'm waiting to see how Penny responds to the school board's exorbitant funding demands. If she votes against raising the property tax rate, I'll have to bite down hard and vote for her. Otherwise, I'll sit it out and see who the GOP runs.

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    1. > If she votes against raising the property tax rate

      No one is going to keep property tax rates from rising. There's a question of degrees, for sure, but just look around at the how this area is being developed : Fedverly Hills. If you're looking for 0% property tax growth in FFXCO, you're pretty much stuck voting for the red-faced white guys in the tricorner hats. Look at Fairfax, Dunn Loring, Route 7, or even Reston. The writing is on the wall.

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    2. Which tricorner hats are you referring to - KKK hoods, or tin foil hats? Or both? Or other?

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    3. "3/3/15 9:17" You sound confused.

      There is a difference between property tax assessments and property tax rates. Yes, based on current population growth in the DC area it is likely property tax assessments in Mason District will go up over time.

      However, there is no need to increase the property tax rate unless we are forced to provide for gold-plated, prep school level public school facilities for every child; which appears to be the desire of Jessica Swanson and her supporters who want to turn Mason District into a clone of the ridiculously over-priced and unaffordable City of Falls Church.

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    4. Yeah, like she has a magic wand and is going to get money from a bottomless money sack.

      "She vows to work closely with Fairfax County Public Schools and the school board on closing the achievement gap, providing more financial support to schools, and addressing overcrowding." How????

      Maybe she knows a lot about education methods but not about paying for them. The devil is in the not-so-subtle details.

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  2. OMG where do I sign up with my real name?!

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  3. "new energy and perspective to Mason District while working to support our schools, to promote thoughtful and responsible development that betters our communities, and to improve transportation......"
    HAVE I DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN? If not, where can I join in the march to victory?

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  4. This is wonderful news! Good Luck Jessica. Let me know if you need more signatures for your petition!

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  5. " where can I join in the march to victory?" If you read carefully, you'll notice that Jessica Swanson doesn't have credentials to do more than run for the school board. That position is already held by another Democrat albatross. Despite her reference to development, she also seems to lack any business or other non-education-related experience. That's a definite drawback and suggests that she may be little more than a stalking horse for supporters who will be "helping" her make crucial decisions about shaping the development of the Rt. 7 corridor. So, you might want to wait a bit before going all in with Jessica Swanson.

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    1. Even if all that you say is true, Ms Swanson has 150% more on tap than "One Cent" Gross has ever had the capacity to imagine in all of these years. Gross's greatest credential was that she "fogged the mirror" with the backing of her LB buddies and short shrift developers.

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    2. What business record did Penny Gross have 20 years ago? Penny still doesn't have a business record because Mason District remains in the 1950s.

      Jessica is smart and can learn fast. We need all the all the candidates we can get to have a real community discussion on what we want Mason District and Fairfax County to look like in the 21st Century. I get tired of people wanting all the county services including good schools but not wanting to pay for them. Yes we can be smarter about the money but come on.

      Go Jessica.

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    3. CREDENTIALS?

      LOOK WHAT THE GRO$$ CREDENTIALS HAVE WROUGHT.

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    4. "LB Buddies" - I live in LB and don't know what you are talking about. There are many people in LB who are thrilled there is someone else running.

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  6. I know you have many votes on my street.

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  7. Thank God.

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  8. Anonymous Mason District Resident3/3/15, 9:06 AM

    Curious about working at DCPS. Will she want to transport over educational methods from DCPS? No thanks.

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    1. "Jessica is smart and can learn fast. " Seriously? This isn't the Mason District of twenty years ago when a concerned civic activist might have had the leisure to learn how to govern. Jessica Swanson has lived in Mason a relatively brief period of time period of time and plainly lacks the credentials to hit the ground running. Frankly, this smacks of cronyism and I suspect we'll eventually discover whose interests Swanson is intended to promote.

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    2. Can she beat Return to Sender should RTS get nominated?

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    3. "Can she beat Return to Sender....?" Hard to say. The Know Nothings are powerful in this area.

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  9. where can we sign the petition for her to run?

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  10. Anything to prevent the construction of the $150 million "Penny's Palace" on the Willston School site to waste more taxpayer money and further increase real property taxes.

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  11. I understand. Many readers don't like Penny. That's understandable. I've voted against her in every election she's contested. But, that doesn't mean I'm committing to support Jessica Swanson's "Anyone But Penny" campaign. Mason needs a supervisor who has substantial leadership experience and will promotes fiscal discipline. That clearly isn't Jessica Swanson.

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    1. And it has never been "One Cent"... so how can you judge Swanson?

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  12. So question for Jessica - if she wins will she resign her position with DC Public Schools? Will she be a FULL TIME supervisor? Yes or no?

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    1. I guess no . . .

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  13. Ms. Swanson's candidacy has Kay Kory's fingerprints all over it (and probably Tina Trapnell's too). Good ole Kay Kory - stabbing her fellow Democrats in the back since 2009...

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    1. Right. Because having a coronation of Penny Gross is much better than actually exercising democratic principals to see if there is... gasp... a better candidate out there.

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    2. That's not the point. The point is that Kaye Kory has no problem stabbing her fellow Dems in the back so longer as it furthers her own political career. We don't a candidate who is simply a puppet of Kaye.

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    3. Kaye Kory would destroy Penny Gross in an election for MD Supervisor. She obviously does not want the job.

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  14. I look forward to supporting Jessica Swanson's candidacy and role as our next Supervisor!

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  15. "...if you're looking for 0% property tax growth in FFXCO, you're pretty much stuck voting for the red-faced white guys...." Those FCTA types with their fuzzy math and unreadable graphs aren't exactly getting much traction. The real issue is whether taxpayers are willing to foot an unending series of unequalized annual tax increases to fund a feeding frenzy by various interest groups. For example, the FCPS are spending millions to put elementary school kid in intensive foreign language classes while large numbers of grade school kids in Mason remain functionally illiterate. So, it would appear more appropriate to redress those sorts of glaring disparities than to give Jessica Swanson and her counterparts free reign to continue ratcheting up taxes.

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    1. Good point.

      But not sure what's worse: Being taken for a ride by Gross and the developers or worrying about Swanson being taken for a ride by interest groups.

      I personally think things are bad enough to take a chance with Swanson, if only to try to flush out the better entrenched malignant interests at work.






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  16. GO JESSICA! IT TAKES GUTS TO DO THIS AND SHE HAS MY VOTE. SHE WILL LISTEN - UNLIKE THE CURRENT MONARCH.

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  17. Swanson says "improve transportation?" The street car got the boot, no one has the balls to bond new construction in FFX for metrorail, no wants another hideous elevated rail like they have on Route 7 in Tyson's. What options are left Amazon drones? I have yet to hear anyone state what they define as better transportation options...... Uber, more white van? No Metrorail or lightrail means continued slums in the inner suburbs. Come on people get serious!

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    1. One of the reason Mason has lagged behind in development is because it's been easier for developers to build in the outer part of the county. It's simpler to build on relatively open ground that to fill in an area like the Sears site. Now that the economy is improving, I expect to see more interest in developing neglected areas of Mason, particularly those that border Arlington. That includes those immigrant apartment blocks. However, one sure fire way to destroy the potential for further development is to adopt the NIMBY attitude that's reflected in the comments on this site. This area desperately needs to attract more businesses in order to relieve the burden of taxation on home owners. However, that will not happen if Mason is perceived as hostile to business. This area is no longer a pastoral suburb, so its time to bring residents' expectations into line with reality. Developer want to build here because potential customers are interested in what they're building. The question is whether it will be worth anyone's time to build here if the NIMBY'S have their way. I'll look forward to hearing what Jessica Swanson has to say about this issue, but her complete lack of experience in this area hardly gives me cause for optimism.

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    2. You comment sums it up well. We didn't learn when Mason resisted Metro to Skyline, now we resist new development that may attract new commercial activity.

      It seems that Mason continues to be on a track of self-determined destruction. Hopefully, our current or next Supervisor can educate the constituency that this constant push back of development will determine an outcome that none of us want: more white vans, no new commercial tax base for education and these phantom transit improvements!

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    3. i don't think most people on the site are NIMBY but more wanting smart growth like Arlington that is forward thinking and not more strip malls that are dated and aren't want people want to move next to. Ask a 20 year old if they would like to live near Cinema Drafthouse on Columbia Pike or Best Buy.

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    4. "3/3/15, 9:22 PM"
      + 1,000

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    5. > if Mason is perceived as hostile to business

      If by "business" you mean simply increasing the density of pharmacies, banks, and fast food ... great, let's get hostile!

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    6. Mason has been very friendly to business, under one cent the number of title loan places has soared.

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    7. Exactly. We here in Mason District DO want development, but we don't want to settle for pharmacies and fast food. We deserve better.

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    8. You are not going to bring in better commercial development until the density calls for it. Business works on one fundamental principal: supply and demand. Arlington has upscale retail because it encouraged the residential density around metro stops. The idiots that make up the FFX constituency, continues to the think that government can change that. The government can only create incentives not mandates. And the last we want the leadership to is dabble in more unsuccessful social engineering. Mason cannot mandate business to develop retail that would fail. Mason needs a shot of Geritol: increase density for millenniums, provide convenient transportation options that get people to work faster than their cars, develop multi-use development so that jobs are closer to home or accessible by mass transit that does not sit in traffic, and you will schools turn around and Mason prosper. Without this combination of ingredients, Mason will fail regardless of the leadership that gets voted in.

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    9. > Business works on one fundamental principal: supply and demand.

      Thanks, grandpa. You want another warm coke while you settle down for some TV?

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    10. "3/4/15, 12:20PM"
      Thank you for keeping it real.

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    11. Nice ad hominem 1:36, but he's completely right. People on this board want whole foods, mosaic, and trendy shops without the supporting demand. Title loans, pharmacies, and fast food arrive here because that's what the demographic calls for. Until the demographic shifts plaintive calls for a Wegmans for the 18 old white people that would shop there is just going to fall flat. Hell, Mason couldn't even support a BLOOM.

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    12. Adam - I cannot agree more. The biggest asset for Mason regarding real estate value will always be its location. Even without glamorous mass transit, it is only a 10 min express bus ride from Bailey's Crossroads to the Pentagon.

      While the street car might be dead, mass transit is not. Bailey's Crossroads and Seven Corners could support a Mosaic-like development.

      Build well, the demographics will shift and the high tide will lift all boats - schools, property values, citizen involvement, and pride of neighborood.

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    13. Thanks Anonymous 3/4/15, 12:20 PM, you nailed it.

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    14. Remember, folks--part of why we get more pharmacies and title loan places is that those are the sorts of businesses that can easily establish themselves on the small parcels zoned commercial throughout the district. Even the strip malls you decry can be easily developed when multiple commercial parcels are combined. But so long as any proposals to allow other uses are opposed at every turn, we'll get more "by right" development of the kind you don't like.

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  18. Swason likes to make pie-in-the-sky statements!

    First she should work in solving the problems with the DC money systems which keeps wasting money with little to show. He just makes up "feel good" statements but provides no rational path on how to accomplish and fund them.

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  19. It will be so refreshing to see a November election between two people who are not named Penelope A. Gross.

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  20. While I have some heartburn with Penny, she is experienced and knows her stuff. The problem with Ms. Swanson - while she seems nice- is that she sounds like a one-issue candidate, has almost no experience, and would very weak against the expected Republican opponent. Basically a vote for Jessica ensures that a Republican will win in November. Sorry, but I'd rather have Penny as Supervisor.

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    1. Not me, I'll take a Republican over Penny and I'm a Democrat. Obviously you have only dealt with Penny on items you agree with or you have dealt with her from a distance. She is a tyrant. Mason District could have had economic development in the past 20 years if Penny had encouraged it and worked for it. Don't ask me what she was doing but she wasn't working for Mason District. Sorry.

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    2. The problem is that Penny has spread herself a bit thin as Deputy Chair of the BOS. My suggestion to Penny would be to focus on her district and less on the overall county issues. Although it has given her clout in the county it has hurt her in Mason. I would that Penny use the reset button (and not the one Hillary used with Russia) and think about next steps to reinvigorate your relation with your constituency.

      Don't know much about Swanson, but she seems inexperienced as someone that can take on the many problems Mason faces.

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    3. Mason District hasn't been properly tended to since Tom Davis was supervisor. The reason Penny Gross keeps getting elected is because she's successfully ridden Sharon Bulova's coattails. That's why Penny is Deputy BOS chair. However, this hasn't been a beneficial relationship because Mason still lags behind the other districts in education and infrastructure. Most of the blame for this belongs to Democatic voters who have uncritically continued to reelect Gross. Since the GOP typically receives only about one in three votes here, the upcoming Democratic primary will be the real election. So, the race boils down to a contest between an uncommunicative, arrogant incumbent and an early 30 something challenger who is a relative newcomer and lacks meaningful credentials. That's hardly an attractive prospect.

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    4. I think it is too late for Penny. She may know how to sit in meetings and throw the term "constituents" around - but she doesn't know anything about people and helping her own district. Look around. I vote for CHANGE!

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    5. i'm a left wing socialist who will vote for a right wing nut over Penny over again. she does not care about the citizens what so ever

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  21. Mason District residents DID NOT resist the Metro. They accepted the huge project predicated on rail coming to Baileys.. Arlington and Fairfax, officials caving to NIMBY'S in Arlington, prevented Metro coming to the area.

    Of course, Mason isn't pastoral and hasn't been for decades. The question: When there is no money for current improvements to an aged infrastructure (including schools),is the addition of thousands of apartment units and strip malls considered "smart growth"?

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    1. "is the addition of thousands of apartment units and strip malls considered "smart growth"?"

      Depends. How much decorative glass and aluminum do they have on them? Bonus points for giant LCD TVs displaying tips on going green.

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    2. According to a discussion I had with Connolly, the voters of Fairfax voted not to have metro brought into Fairfax at the time Metro begun its construction. I guess FFX thought it was Georgetown.

      Sorry but FFX you don't have the money or the clout of Georgetown to be the bigots they portrayed to be 40 years ago but you did manage to be as stupid.

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  22. Gross has been there too long. Look around Mason District. If this is what experience gets you, I'm willing to take a chance on a fresh start. How badly could Swanson screw things up at this point?

    We know just where Gross is trying to take us. She certainly has the wherewithal to continue to politically orchestrate outcomes while distracting us with staged community engagement theater.

    Despite the malaise, congestion, and the street car fiasco, Gross arrogantly persists in her rambling stock monologue that goes something like: "I've tried and tried to tell you people. And you just don't get it. You couldn't possibly understand the complexities of development and local government."

    I'm guessing she'll be more interested in neighborhoods as the Swanson challenge takes shape.

    If for only thank reason, I'm voting for Swanson in June. If Gross survives, I may even cross the line and vote Republican or Independent come November.

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    1. "How badly could Swanson screw things up at this point?" Based on her lack of qualifications, I'd say she could make you wish you'd never heard of her. Voting for the ABP (Anyone But Penny) candidate is an act of desperation.

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    2. I totally agree. Much as Penny needs to be challenged, this neophyte is not the one to do it.

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    3. Desperate times, call for desperate measures...

      FOrget ABP. I think,

      "Swenson -- She's not Gross"

      is simply irresistible.



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    4. Avalon Bay and Atlantic properties sure did.

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    5. If only Penny's put her experience to good use. Can you really point to anything she's done besides a library, high rise school, and voting herself a pay raise?

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    6. I bet Swanson makes a better frozen dinner than Penny!

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    7. "Can you really point to anything she's done...." When was that ever an issue? Penny has been winning by comfortable margins and running virtually unopposed for years. And, during that time, she's never had to run on her record. She's run as a staunch supporter of Sharon Bulova's agenda and too many knee jerk Democratic voters have found that to be sufficient. Replacing her with a novice isn't going to change anything. It could even make things worse because Jessica Swanson's uncritical support for "fully funding" the schools is guaranteed to ramp up taxes. I hope the Republicans can find a respectable candidate to contest this election because it's become abundantly clear that the Democrats are unable to provide the innovative leadership Mason desperately needs.

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  23. I hope everyone here knows that the Fairfax Board of Supervisors gave them selves a raise. They wanted to increase the pay to $95k from $75k, but they settled for $90k. I've never gotten a 18% pay raise, unless I moved jobs. From the watchdog.org site....

    FAIRFAX COUNTY BOARD VOTES FOR PAY RAISES

    The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to raise the salaries of the next board to $90,000 ($95,000 for the chairman), from the current $75,000.

    Supervisor Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, was one of four dissenters on the 10-member board. He issued this statement:

    “I could not vote to fund a raise at a time when our county executive says 'we cannot afford to fund all of our priorities,' while we have a 19 percent commercial office vacancy rate, our AAA bond rating remains in jeopardy, and property taxes are set to increase yet again."

    "Our residents don’t have the option to simply increase their pay," said Herrity, noting that the $155,000 in annual salary increases for the board will be compounded by higher pension and benefit costs.

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    1. On that note, I will reference an old homage: you get what you pay for!

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    2. And, they've totally botched the police shooting of Mr. Geer. Didn't know! Really! What kind of leaders sit on their hands waiting to be briefed by an attorney when there are such serious allegations of police misconduct. Good thing this isn't Ferguson.

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    3. "Supervisor Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, was one of four dissenters on the 10-member board." In other words, his wasn't a deciding vote, so - as usual - he's decided burden everyone with his sanctimony. What a bore.

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    4. Maybe I missed something, but what the heck are you talking about and what does this have to do with this blog matter?

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    5. The raise goes into affect next term and it also raises their retirement benefits. So yes, it may be why Sup Gross is running for another term rather than retiring.

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  24. After reading all of these comments, I know I am doing the right thing by moving out of Mason District. I cannot take the bad schools, the apathetic residents and the stupidity I read in these comments! Good luck with everything!

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    1. Good riddance! Apathy abounds everywhere, by the way.

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  25. Go Jessica. I support you 100%

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