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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Democratic primary for Mason Supervisor next week

With the Democratic primary for Mason Supervisor just a week away, the campaigns of the incumbent, Penny Gross, and challenger Jessica Swanson are shifting into high gear, with marathon door knocking and phone banking taking on a new intensity. At the same time, both campaigns are accusing one another of being bankrolled by special interests.

Any registered to vote in Mason District can vote in the Democratic primary next Tuesday, June 9; the primary is not restricted to Democrats. Voting takes place at the same precinct where you normally vote, and you will need to bring a photo ID.


In-person absentee voting will be available on Saturday, June 6, at the Mason Government Center, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

You can also vote absentee in person at the Fairfax County Government Center 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. today,  tomorrow, and Friday; 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 4; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

Gross, currently the vice chair of the Board of Supervisors, has served on the board for 19 years, and is emphasizing her experience on the campaign trail. “People recognize me when I knock on the door,” she says. “Most people say I’m doing a very good job. I’ve always run on my record.”

“We’re hitting lots of doors and talking to lots of voters,” Gross says. The top concerns she’s hearing about are schools, road paving, which is a state issue, and the environment, including the tree cover, clean water and storm water.

Swanson, manager of teaching and learning strategies for D.C. Public Schools and a former vice president of the Ravenwood Park Citizens Association, is new to politics. The top concerns she’s heard from voters deal with land development, schools, parks, and libraries.

“In the past three months, I’ve been so encouraged by the incredible coalition that has come together to support this campaign,” Swanson says. “These supporters believe, like I do, that we need to invest in our schools, make smarter development decisions, and truly incorporate community input.”

She invites the public to an event at JEB Stuart Park June 3, 7 p.m., to talk about ways to involve the community in thinking about how the park can be improved.

Swanson is counting on dissatisfaction among some residents with Gross’ failure to meet Fairfax County Public Schools’ demands for increased funds and Gross’ pro-developer attitude.

In fact, Gross has gotten some large contributions from real estate companies, including $3,000 from First Potomac Realty Investment LP in April, $2,000 from the Northern Virginia Realtors Political Action Committee in May, and $4,500 from the Realtors Political Action Committee of Virginia, also in May.

As of June 1, the Gross campaign reports receiving a total of $168,555. Gross has also locked up endorsements from the Washington Post and a slew of local and state Democratic politicians and labor unions.

A statement issued by the Swanson campaign reports receipt of a total of $119,384 in contributions since March – from 395 donors with a median donation of $50 – and blasts the Gross campaign for taking in more than $200,000 in donations from developers and the construction industry since 1998.

Gross, in turn, accuses her opponent of being “bankrolled with $87,000 in contributions from the controversial Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), which was described in an article in American Prospect magazine as ‘the Trojan horse of the privatization of public education.’”

Swanson, a former teacher in D.C., says LEE “supports teachers and former teachers of any party running for office.”

“As a first-time candidate, I need all the help I can get to get my message out, especially in a race where big developers have their thumb on the scale,” Swanson says. Noting that she’s “fully committed to public education,” Swanson says, “LEE’s support indicates that the stakes are high for our kids here in Fairfax, and my teacher colleagues, families, and folks who believe in a quality education for every child have invested serious money to help get us across the finish line.”

A poll conducted for the Gross campaign April 6-8 by Global Strategy Group puts Gross ahead by 45 points among likely Democratic primary voters. Swanson notes that poll was taken before she started actively campaigning and a lot of people didn’t know much about her. According to data from her campaign, “it’s extremely close.”


The winner of the Democratic primary for Mason supervisor will face off against independent candidate Mollie Loeffler in the general election Nov. 3.

88 comments:

  1. I can think of numerous reason not to vote for Penny Gross. However, I can't imagine any reason to replace her with a neophyte like Jessica Swanson. The real campaign begins next week when Penny has to defend her dubious record (or lack thereof) against Mollie Loeffler.

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    1. Give me a neophyte who can focus on Mason District.

      According to Supervisor Gross' biography she (1) represents Fairfax County on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), which she chaired in 2009; (2) she was elected chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission in June 2014; (3) she represents Fairfax County on the INOVA Health System Board of Trustees; (4) she represents Fairfax County on the Potomac Watershed Roundtable, which she also chairs; and on the state and national level, (5) Supervisor Gross became President of the Virginia Association of Counties in November 2014; (6) she currently is vice-chair of the National Association of Counties’ Energy, Environment, and Land Use Committee; (7) she completed a one-year term as President of the National Association of Regional Councils Board of Directors in June 2014 and (8) she was appointed to the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) to the Chesapeake Executive Council, which she chaired from March 2006 until August 2008, and continues to serve.

      No wonder she's too busy to listen to her constituents!

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  2. A neophyte? It's the County Board of Supervisors, not the POTUS. Maybe a neophyte is exactly what we need on the Board, rather than the same old boys and girls network.

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    1. LOL. I do think that having a say in the several billion dollar county budget is a HUGE responsibility, and is not something to be taken lightly.

      Message for Jessica Swanson: We already spend enough on schools. If it were up to you and others like you, we'd spend 100% of the county budget on education, and disband every other county service.

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    2. AMEN!

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    3. The Mason District Representative will represent about as many people than the entire population of the City of Alexandria. Hardly a job for a beginner.

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  3. I would have no issue voting for a neophyte. The offices have enough support staff to help a new face get up to speed with the status of key issues. As long as she can stand up to the BOS, that's good enough for me. Reading that Penny is only getting more support from developers turns me off even more. Additionally, the more I read about the Greer case, the dirtier the entire BOS seems.

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    1. So, according to your logic, anyone off the street would be a suitable alternative to Penny. However, providing on the job training to a recently arrived completely inexperienced candidate is just too generous. Especially since Jessica Swanson hasn't even bothered to superficially outline how she plans to "fully fund" the Fairfax schools or even describe exactly what that means. That's pretty negligent considering that this issue represents the only plank in her campaign platform. I understand the opposition to Penny. She hasn't deigned to respond to any of my inquiries in years and that alone is reason enough for me to vote against her. However, that doesn't mean I'm desperate enough to vote for he "anyone but Penny" candidate. Especially since Mollie Loeffler represents a viable alternative. So, it's time to send Jessica packing and begin the real election race.

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    2. Well yes, I would rather have most anyone off the street than Penny. I do not believe she represents the tax paying residents of her community at all. I believe she represents the developers, and uses the under privileged to get her re-elected, ignoring the middle class of this community completely. I believe the way she handled the Bailey's upper school is shady at best, and her flip flopping on the Wilston Center is pandering. I believe a message needs to be sent, and I plan to do it with my vote.

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    3. i agree, time to send a message. elected officials should be held responsible for their lack of doing anything for years.

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    4. Penny hasn't been held "responsible" because Mason residents vote according to party label. To date, her major achievement has been to support Connolly and Bulova. With the exception of Buzz Hawley, she really hasn't ever encountered strong opposition. And even Hawley only managed to collect 41% of the vote. What's different this time is that Mason has finally begun to attract the interest of developers. However, it's become increasingly evident that Penny simply isn't up to the challenge of managing the transformation of large tracts of real estate. Without new leadership, she going to continue stumbling along for another tumultuous four years. So, I'm hoping Mason voters can look past their party affiliation and giving Mollie Loeffler a shot at improving the quality of life in Mason.

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    5. i agree with you but people should vote for Jessica as even though she probably won't win, its good to show that people aren't happy with Gross which will also help make the Fall election more of a contest as perception is reality.

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    6. Everything about Jessica Swanson's agenda suggests she's a virulent tax and spender with close ties to an interest group that's promoting the expansion of charter schools. The tab for that would be enormous. So, voting for Swanson wouldn't be a symbol of opposition to Penny. It would represent an endorsement of rampant spending to undermine the integrity of our public schools.

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    7. 1. As a taxpayer, I think Bailey's Upper School is tremendously successful: it addressed school crowding by getting kids out of trailers and into state-of-the-art class rooms in less than one year and about half the per-square-foot cost of a new school.

      I do not know how this can be considered "shady." In fact it is EXCELLENT government.

      2. Flip-flopping on Willston? There is a reason that the school board has not wanted the property for 35 years. The facility houses services that are used by the neighbors that would be disrupted that may not be best served by a facility that is only a school - that is why Penny proposed a mixed-use solution.

      A Supervisor's role is to serve ALL of her constituents and a good portion of her constituents need the services provided at Willston.

      Pandering? No, it's called leadership.

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    8. 1. In November 2013, the electorate voted on a bond referendum for an "Eastern Fairfax (Bailey's area) Elementary School." Instead we got an office building in Seven Corners -- outside the boundary of the Bailey's ES population. I wonder how much $$ it's costing taxpayers to bus hundreds of kids out of bounds? I wonder how much it's costing taxpayers to shuttle parents to Bailey's Upper ES to attend events such as Back To School Night? How much are we paying to bus the kids back to the original Bailey's for events such as Field Day? Also, it's a good thing the classrooms are state-of-the-art (yes, I've seen them), because the outdoor play space in a covered parking lot is underwhelming ... and there is no field. They only have to wait another school year for the gym and beefed up outdoor play space. I wonder how much we had to pay to move the human services that were being previously housed at this Bailey's Upper ES site to Little River Turnpike? We have a different definition of EXCELLENT government, and good uses of taxpayer money. Next you'll be saying you like Gross for her transparency on issues!

      2. In the past, Penny has told the public that the BOS is doing the school board a favor by not letting them have the property, because of it's state of disrepair. Nice way to take care of those neighbors using Willston today. Gross did not propose a mixed-use solution. The community has been calling for the building to be a school -- in fact, the Bailey's parents asked for the site many years ago when it began experiencing overcrowding. These parents even asked if the Woodrow Wilson Library site could be used as a mixed-use site, but Penny said no to both options. She's going along with a mixed-use solution, because the public (over 300 petitioners) have called her on her plans for a human services facility to be built there ... mmm, the same human services that were moved out of the current Bailey's Upper ES to Little River Turnpike. What will it cost us to move them to Willston? Again, you have a different idea about leadership than I do.

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    9. Why don't we just sell the Mason District to L.E.E.? Let them own and operate it.

      Oh wait, we will do that if we elect the candidate from L.E.E., Jessica Swanson.

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    10. VOTE PENNY OUT AT ALL COST - !!!! SPREAD THE WORD TO THOSE WHO LIVE OUTSIDE THIS AREA - THOSE ARE THE ONES VOTING HER IN - AND THE FOOLS VOTING "D"

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    11. 1:35 Anon
      1. If you think that spending $250 per square foot for new school buildings that take six years of planning and construction is fiscally more responsible than $100 per square foot for Bailey's Upper School that was completed in less than a year, than we will NEVER agree on what is good government.

      2. Leadership is making decisions that are benefit the COMMON GOOD over 300 petitioners who think that the Wilson Library should have been razed to make way for school construction. Thank God we do not govern by referendum let alone by petition! And I'm sure there are posters in this blog that would be appalled that one would suggest sacrificing a library for a school. Any accusation that developers are in the "back pockets" of supervisors are indicative of a puerile understanding of the development process - every development in Fairfax County must run the multi-layered gauntlet of hearings by the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, local neighborhood approval, and BOS hearings. If you do not think they are transparent then you are not looking. Every meeting is publically televised and retroactively available on-line.

      3. Funding schools? The BOS funded over 98% of the requested budget. I cannot believe that this is the only tangible plank in Ms. Swanson's campaign. Fifty percent of the entire Fairfax budget goes to schools. And by the way, $/student does not equal quality education.

      Quality teachers equal quality education.

      And when you identify yourself and come out from hiding behind "anonymous" perhaps we can have a fruitful discussion about this but as long as the Blog crowd hurls invectives the Annandale Blog remains a cesspool of uninformed hate, slander, and libel.

      Good luck with your facile candidates who will be "learning on the job."

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    12. 1. The school has yet to be completed. Include the other costs I mentioned (bus transportation -- not to mention the logistics/maintenance associated with the transportation), in addition to the cost to build the human services facilities on Willston ($125 million), and I'd say we could have a new discussion on fiscal responsibility.

      2. I agree that leadership is about benefiting the common good. Unfortunately, Ms. Gross has chosen to ignore many of the common good in this area by busing hundreds of children out of their boundary; displacing human services recipients from Seven Corners to Little River Turnpike; not retrofiting the Willston Site for the current occupants; and planning to spend $125 to build a new human services site there. The petitioners were not proposing to raze Woodrow Wilson library, or to sacrifice a library for a school ... but I explained that previously. In this case, Ms. Gross did not look at the common good, but instead sided with the library board when asked about a multi-use facility. Unfortunately I've become more familiar with the supposed role of the Planning Commission, etc. than I ever cared to. I've attended numerous meetings, watched on TV, and have the archived meetings website links bookmarked ... it's a necessity in this district because of the lack of transparency by Supervisor Gross.

      3. We agree that quality teachers equal quality education. Unfortunately our teachers are leaving for one of the other counties who believe in pay raises for teachers, not just for Board of Supervisor members.

      The interactions I've had with Ms. Swanson demonstrate that she has perhaps one of the most important qualifications for this job, she's a good listener.

      I would hope that whether we identify ourselves or not, we could have a fruitful discussion.

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    13. Penny was a neophyte at one time in this role. Every candidate has to start somewhere. I have no problem with a fresh face. The support staff will help get a new person up to speed. Bailey's school was shady because how the property was procured from private ownership with property value manipulation, and threats of imminent domain. I sat in meetings where the community BEGGED for the Wilston site to be reconsidered and were dismissed. Suddenly after Ms. Garza and I believe Mollie Loeffler petitioned the BOS, Penny is flipflopping what a great idea. Again, the more I read about the Greer case, the more I smell rats on the entire BOS. New leadership is required to let the entire county know Mason is ready to move forward.

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    14. Bailey's was completed in a year and got kids out of trailers at a fraction of new construction. That is good leadership by the School Board and by the BOS.

      Willston - if it ever gets transferred to the school board, which is no where near happening - will not be a school for five to six years. It needs to be funded, designed, and constructed - that will take a LONG time.

      How this is not considered successful government is a testimony to misinformation and hyperbole.

      To be sure, Penny more than 20 years on Capitol Hill as a paid staffer to the Senator from Idaho among others. She was no neophyte to government and did not "learn on the job."

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    15. Hey Shumate - you don't even send your kids to public school - glad you are so ready to spew your taxpayer thoughts - but you don't have a child or dog in the fight.

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    16. Regarding some of the points above...

      1. Although Supervisor Gross likes to take "credit" for Upper Baileys, the only thing she did was not get in the way of it unlike she did with both the library and Willston sites. Whether it's a good solution or not is kind of a mute point right now.

      From the Washington Post:

      “… the situation at Bailey’s Elementary stumped Tistadt… Tistadt said he was unable to win over the Board of Supervisors, specifically Supervisor Penelope A. Gross… Tistadt said he offered Gross multiple options to alleviate the crowding at Bailey’s, including a plan to renovate a nearby county library into a state-of-the-art education facility using schools money. Tistadt said none of the options were taken seriously. ‘They give one excuse after the other,’ Tistadt said.”

      2. No one wanted to “sacrifice a library for a school”. The plan was to build them together like the new Reed-Westover Library/School in Arlington. One of the reasons it supposedly couldn’t be done was because it wasn’t properly zoned for a school even though it is next to a school in a neighborhood. Somehow though a year or so later they were able to change the zoning to build a school in an office building on a busy road.

      3. “There is a reason that the school board has not wanted the property for 35 years.” - From what I understand, the property was more or less taken from FCPS in 1981 and they did not have much of a say in it. There have been requests since early as 2012 to give the Willston site back to FCPS.

      4. I know plenty of hill staffers that does not make them qualified for public office. Jessica Swanson has no less experience than Supervisor Gross did when she came to office. Everyone has to start somewhere.

      5. Since 2008, FCPS has 2,175 positions and nearly a half-billion dollars from their budget yet student population continues to rise and the BoS refuse to fully-fund the schools. Next year there is a predicted $100 million deficit. FCPS’ cost per pupil ranks 5th of the 10 Washington area school systems. There are many articles about this so I won’t go on and on, but I will say, that one of the primary thing that attracts families and businesses to Fairfax is FCPS. If our schools continue to decline this will affect everyone in Fairfax not just those with children.

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    17. My tax dollars and Mr. Shumate's tax dollars are apparently subsidizing your children's education. I'd rather more of my money be spent elsewhere. So, I do have as many dogs as you do in this fight.

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    18. And someone subsidized YOUR education (I'm assuming you don't have children) that's how public school works. My children go to a mix of public and private school and I don't mind that I'm "subsidizing" other children's education. Some day these children will be running the country so I think that's a good thing.

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    19. actually, my parents paid for my education. No tax subsidies involved. Meanwhile, it's not spending on education that bothers me. Its the never ending demands of the FCPS for more and more money at the expense of other programs and services in the county that directly benefit everyone not just families with children.

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    20. Dear Anonymous 4:47:
      1. What a coward. I post my name, you hide behind "anonymous". Call me out for where I send my kids to school: shameful.
      2. "Dog in the fight?" Really? I pay taxes. Because my wife and I want a faith-based education for our children has no bearing at all in my interest in good leadership at Mason District.
      3. I have been active in community leadership since 2008 with the Parklawn Civic Association and I've worked with Penny on several issues. She has been responsive, attentive, professional, and she has delivered tangible results. You will also see me walking around the neighborhood picking up litter IN LIEU OF COMPLAINING to the county about it. (Perhaps we should all tap our inner libertarian.)
      4. For those of you who think that Penny is not responsive, perhaps you need to remember that you are just one of over 140,000 constituents. Your issue is one of 140,000 potential issues. Yours will be addressed appropriately but it might take time, perhaps months, or years. Keep your expectations realistic and your approach productive and you might actually ACHIEVE results. Work with the County, not against it. Hurling invective and insults is completely counterproductive.
      5. So, if you'd like to have a thoughtful debate, come out from under your comfortable cloak of anonymous and engage me in a real conversation.
      6. And Mrs. Shumate would really appreciate an apology for your insensitive remark.
      7. Ellie, you should monitor your comments more professionally.
      8. Call me if you really want to have a debate, if you have the nerve: 703-462-4298.

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    21. Nice try Daren. You've been outed by an anonymous taxpayer. Maybe the people in this town prefer to remain anonymous because the administration you support has a reputation for using its authority to punish its critics. Let's see, you are a electrical engineer? You work in the industry that has been so generous to Supervisor Gross. Many donors, one very grateful industry. I'll send you an application for the hypocrites club.

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  4. Wow, $87,000 from ONE organization? If that is true, I find that not only a major red flag, but also stunningly hypocritical. Not even a close comparison to multiple donations of < $5,000 (since that is all that is included in this article). And whether you agree with it or not, the LEE clearly has a specific position on schools issues.

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    1. Nearly 3/4s of the entire campaign war chest from one entity! Yet the article helpfully tries to reframe the type of support Swanson is receiving: "...a median donation of $50..."

      Sounds like I need to learn more about the LEE, in the event that they...I mean, Swanson...win on Tuesday.

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  5. Yeah, Jessica Swanson's ENTIRE campaign is essentially being bankrolled by ONE special interest group. Basically she has been bought and made for. There is no comparing a $3,000 donation from a developer to almost $100,000 from ONE donor (LEE). This is really stunning.

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  6. no way she is 45 points ahead. if she was, she wouldn't be calling and harassing me every night and flooding my mailbox with spam.

    i could care less about jessica's experience. i plan on voting for her and then voting for molly in the general. having two people run against each other with new ideas is a good idea.

    lets have some term limits on the old people with tired ideas.

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    1. All that campaign mail is intended to get out the vote. Voter turnout in off year primary elections is notoriously low. There's always a risk that a small group of dedicated voters can swing an election. That could be a problem for Penny because of all the opposition she's created over the Seven Corners, Willston, Spectrum and Moncure development proposals.

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  7. Jessica Swanson disgusts me. Heck, Penny has screwed a bunch of things up and I will be voting as well as voting for Mollie Loeffler, our next Supervisor this fall.

    But to litter our mailboxes with pictures of Penny looking haggardly in grainy black/white is insulting to people of my age. And to accuse Penny of being in someone's pocket when she took 100K from one organization that buys elections. I did a little research, it is dark money SuperPac.

    I was going to not vote or vote for Swanson. But I will be voting for 1cent Gross this time as I think Swanson's Koch Money would beat Loeffler whereas Loeffler v 1cent Gross is winnable.

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    1. how can you actually vote for Penny in one election if you want her to lose the next? that logic is flawed.

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    2. Not if you see the winner of the Democratic primary as the de facto winner of the general election. Since Tom Davis retired, Mason voters have largely been a bunch of knee jerk Democrats. So, if Jessica Swanson wins, then the next supervisor will presumably be a political novice whose agenda will inevitably both undermine public education and cause taxes to skyrocket. So, as much as I disdain Penny, she's still preferable to Jessica Swanson.

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    3. no!!! vote Penny out at any cost. The best way is through this primary. Jessica can learn as she goes.

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  8. Just read the report, for all the whining and harassing Clyde Miller does about Penny at public hearings....he could only muster up $400 to kick Penny out. That man is a lunatic. He berated me for my Penny support just this week in my own neighborhood. I hate that I am scared to support Penny in my own neighborhood.

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    1. Are you claiming that Clyde Miller donated $400 to Swanson's campaign, or to Loeffler's campaign?

      I recall reading comments by a Clyde Miller opposing the proposed apartment building/elementary school on the land near Bailey's Crossroads best known for the now-closed Safari Lounge that in December of last year was the site of an unsolved homicide. Mr. Miller's comments, to be charitable, were nonsensical.

      I would appreciate learning which candidate Mr. Miller is financially supporting in this election so I know who to avoid.

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    2. The bully in question, Mr. Miller, has given his money to Swanson.

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    3. I have had the same reaction to Mr. Miller. I very much hope he is not involved in the Loeffler campaign like he has been the Swanson one.

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    4. Gross berated and belittled Miller when he confronted her about her cozy relationship with the developers picked to guide community engagement.

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  9. I thought I was an Anyone But Penny voter. I did.

    But now I see that Teach for America is behind Jessica Swanson's efforts.

    I will grit my teeth, and hold my nose, and vote for Penny in the primary. Because I do not want the LEE/Teach for America at the helm of Mason District. The only thing that I want less than our current failing public schools are a stratified system of failing public schools and charter schools. I will vote against Teach for America and their charter school privatization of education scam at every chance that I get, and this will be one of them!

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    1. Damn teachers. Give me the developers!

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    2. Yes. At least I know what developers want, and they have no interest in handing over FCPS to charter school barons. The Charter School movement has been after Fairfax County for a while- they want a piece of the billions that we spend on education every year.

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  10. I see this primary as being about one issue: Do you want charter schools taking $$$ away from FCPS? If so, vote Swanson. If not, don't.

    LEE clearly agrees with me, to the tune of nearly $100,000. This primary is not about development (an issue that LEE couldn't care less about), it's about charter schools.

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    1. Jessica Swanson is managing her campaign as if she's running for high school student council. I can't believe she didn't see this issue coming and address it before Penny could spin it to make her look like a LEE stalking horse. By this time next week, I'll be happy to see Jessica in my rear view mirror.

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    2. You'll have plenty of time to gaze into your rear view mirror stuck in traffic with Gross and the developers in charge.

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    3. totally agree with the last comment. don't be scared of change. it can't be any worse than what we have.

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    4. Yes, it can be worse. That kind of logical fallacy is anathema to good government. Change for change sake is stupid.

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    5. Change for the sake of change could be a fallacy but consider the following: Adjusted gross income began leaving Fairfax County just one year after Gross first became Supervisor and the total loss accumulated during her tenure now amounts to over $6 billion, while the rest of the state gained considerably in AGI. Human trafficking, virtually non existent before she arrived, is now a common feature of the Mason District landscape. The schools? Once the finest public school system in the world many of our schools are now threatened with loss of accreditation. What does that do to property values? Code enforcement, barely exists and gets no attention from the Supervisor. I agree that Penny is as strong, smart and tough as ever but that is really the problem. She is just as strong in her conviction that the people who built Mason District don't deserve what they worked for for 20, 30 or 40 years. She is just as smart, brilliant actually when it comes to making excuses for her many dismal failures, just as tough minded when it comes to denying justice for the enslaved and unprotected migrants in our district as long as her plans for redevelopment progress and the County debt swells from unwise spending and shrinking property tax revenues. Penny's Palace (Willston), her plan was to finance $120,000,000 not with bond referendum which would require voter approval but by a Economic Development Authority bonds which are virtually invisible to the voter until the County's once super solid AAA bond rating is threatened by a hair thin financial reserve. It goes on and on. You would have to be brain dead to not think it a time for change.

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    6. Your statement above is a fantastic summary of all the reasons why I would not vote for Penny Gross. If anyone has ever dealt with her over land use development issues you would know what we are talking about. It's always Penny's and the developer's way or the highway. I say vote for change, we desperately need it. Jessica Swanson would be great.

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  11. It's simple -- if you're ready for a change, vote for Jessica Swanson on Tuesday. If you're a Mollie Loeffler supporter, vote for Jessica Swanson on 'Tuesday. In the past I was a Penny supporter, but her arrogance and indifference to the issues of neighborhoods and children has led me to look elsewhere. As for campaign contributions, take a look at how much money the Gross campaign has received from developers over the years ... very enlightening!

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    1. Change to what?

      A teenager with no experience on anything who is underwritten by a charter schools SuperPAC? Give me a break.

      Vote for Penny. Don't let outside, dark money buy an election for someone who just moved here to run for office.

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    2. Again, simply stated, I am hoping for a candidate who will work with the community, who is respectful, and who is transparent. I'm not sure you would understand or appreciate these characteristics, by the way you speak of Ms. Swanson ("teenager").

      We do agree on one thing. I don't plan to let outside, dark money buy this election. I've had enough of developers who live outside Mason District funding Ms. Gross and deciding what our communities should look like. I've had enough of developers who live outside Mason District funding Ms. Gross and influencing the types of schools our children go to, while the rest of Fairfax County has schools with gymnasiums, pools, fields, playgrounds, bathrooms where children don't have to go outside to get to, etc.

      It's time to try something different.

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    3. you 90? calling Jessica a teenager. so no one in there 20s and 30s can hold office? just people who should be retired and lost touch 30 years ago?

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    4. "If you're a Mollie Loeffler supporter, vote for Jessica Swanson on 'Tuesday..." Sure, I'll do that. But, only if you can guarantee me that the voters in this overwhelmingly Democratic district will then turn their backs on the Democratic candidate in the general election. Party affiliation counts for a lot in Mason, especially considering that most voters don't keep up with the issues as diligently as those who post here. So, my advice is to cast your primary vote based on the assumption that the winner will be elected supervisor.

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  12. Penny is FAR from perfect. FAR from it. But I would rather have a Supervisor with warts than a Supervisor who is bought by one dark money organization. Jessica will be beholdened to LEE her whole career.

    I have been in Virginia politics since 1981 when I moved here. Never seen one organization bankroll a candidate like this. If it comes down to LEE vs. Mason, Jessica would have no choice but to choose LEE.

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  13. First Ms. Gross' supporters claim Ms. Swanson is in the pocket of the Fairfax County School Board and Dr. Garza. Now Ms. Gross' supporters claim Ms. Swanson is in the pocket of LEE and charter schools. It can't be both!

    Instead of spewing innuendos, let's look at the facts. Ms. Swanson works for District of Columbia Public Schools; is the Mason District appointee to the Fairfax County School Board’s Human Relations Advisory Committee; and serves on the Fairfax Democrats’ Education Committee.

    Now let's look at what's happened under Ms. Gross' watch. FCPS has grown by over 22,000 students since 2007, and growth is expected to continue, especially at the middle and high school levels, for at least another five years. Since 2008, the school district has cut 2,175 positions and nearly a half-billion dollars from its budget. And Fairfax County ranks 6th in the DC area (behind Arlington County, DC Public Schools, Alexandria City, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County) on per-pupil spending on school operations. Bottom line: we can't expect our schools to excel if we're cutting funding and positions, at the same time enrollment is increasing.

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    1. "Ms. Swanson works for District of Columbia Public Schools"....how they doing?

      "Serves on the Fairfax Democrats’ Education Committee."....very impressive. I am sure they make very very important decisions.

      Good try. She is a novice, put up by a big money Super PAC. And to blame all of our school's ills on Penny is even more ludicrus than to see Swanson has a credential to speak of.

      Eat your hearts out NIMBYS!

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    2. In discussing Jessica Swanson, all you've done is summarize her group memberships. I'll bet that's because you have no idea what she really stands for. When exactly has Jessica Swanson ever spelled out her agenda? To date, all I've read are glittering generalities about "fully funding" the schools and a reference to reassessing the desirability of imposing a restaurant tax. That's hardly being forthcoming. What's really suspicious is her failure to address her affiliation with LEE and where she stands on the issue of charter schools. What Jessica seems to be counting on is that voters are discontented enough with Penny to vote for her regardless of her agenda. However, I'm reasonably confident that she won't convince more than a few disgruntled voters to take her vague representations on faith.

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  14. Penny Gross has a 20-year record to run on. Voters would be wise to consider her record before supporting her in the primary or the general election. Gross refused to give the Willston campus back to FCPS and instead chose to put our kids in an office building (Baileys Upper), all while spending close to $1M planning a palacial county office building ($125M) for the Willston site. This is an outrageous abuse of power. Let's put county offices is existing vacant office buildings (~40% vacancy rate in Bailey's Crossroads) and put our kids on a school campus.

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  15. Why haven't there been any public debates between Penny and Jessica?

    All the campaign mail I have gotten is mostly spin without relative context.

    Somebody please help us. . . .

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    1. Homeowners Associations tried to schedule one but Penny would not commit to a date.

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    2. Surprise Surprise! Shouldn't our officials be required to debate if they want to keep their job? The blog should write about the fact there were no debates and why.

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    3. There's a difference between primaries and general elections. The respective political parties run primaries according to their own rules. So, if you want a debate, talk to them. Furthermore, if Penny believed her early polls, there was no purpose to debating Swanson. All that would have done is elevate the latter's profile. However, there will likely be at least one debate between Penny and Mollie Loeffler during the general election. Debates have become a de facto requirement even though no law compels a candidate to participate.

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    4. Both were invited to 3 debates, Jessica said yes to all three, Penny said no. #WHATISPENNYAFRAIDOFF?

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  16. This is what happens when outside money pours into a small area like ours. It tears up neighborhoods. I hope the overlords at LEE, in whatever corporate bunker they are in, are happy.

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  17. Let's look at Penny's 20 year record. Revitalization - none, Economic Development - none, Preservation of Green Space - none, which is difficult to do when you approve every development that comes your way in spite of the legitimate concerns of the adjacent neighborhoods (Courtland Park, Malbrook, Willow Run, Ravenwood Park). and touting your environmental credentials Of course, there is the upside of getting campaign donations from the developers and builders. Transportation Improvements - none, . Human Services - closing the Annandale Day Care Center and moving social services from 7 Corners to Annandale and now desperately attempting to move them back.

    Not much to write home about after 20 years.

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    1. Excuse me anonomous, but you and the other anonomous commenters critizing Penny Gross post different realities that are logically inconsistent, which demonstrates both stupidity and an inability to grasp reality.

      On the one hand you have the anonomous commenters who aspire to be Occupy Wall Street leaders whose followers defecate on police cars and urinate in the street. These dopes claim that Ms. Gross is in the pocket of developers because over the course of years she has accepted individual donations in the single thousands from these developers. Meanwhile, these same commenters claim its so fantastic and gloriously democratic that Ms. Swanson's campaign is 3/4 funded by an over $80K donation by one group.

      Then there are the true dim-bulbs such as yourself, who complain in one short comment that under Ms. Gross there has been no Economic Development, in your words - "None" but on the other hand also complain that Penny approves every developer's proposal.

      I will be happily voting for Penny Gross in this primary election to prevent the coalition of raving fools coalescing behind Ms. Swanson win this election.

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    2. Such bitterness, insults and dismissive condescension.

      I'd swear it was Gross herself.

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  18. Twenty years is too long to be in office. Too long.

    Penny Gross dismisses her constituency at public meetings, she does not show respect for the taxpayers who pay her salary and fund the public programs in our community. It's shocking how rude and condescending she is. It's unreasonable to expect that everyone will agree on every controversial issue, but our local elected leaders should demonstrate common civility toward community members and be able to have an intelligent, reasoned discussion.

    It is time for a change.

    Jessica Swanson has my vote.

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    1. I completely agree. I will be voting for Swanson.

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    2. I agree. Also, see the well reasoned comment to Penny's article in the Falls Church News Press: http://fcnp.com/2015/06/04/a-penny-for-your-thoughts-news-of-greater-falls-church-196/

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  19. Can someone explain to me what is NIMBY about wanting all of our public schools to have standard facilities for our kids? Would the folks in McLean have been happy about an elementary school with no gym, no green space, no auditorium, and no playground? Would the BOS have even dared to sneak a renovated office building with a $20M price tag into the school system up there? It's disrespectful to Mason District to treat our residents differently than residents in other districts.

    New construction of elementary schools in our area is $20-25M. The cost of Bailey's Upper is no savings. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/fy2014/advertised/cip/public_schools.pdf The fresh paint, new walls, new carpet and big windows can't hide the fact that Bailey's Upper does not offer its students the same facilities that are offered in every other elementary school in the county.

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  20. In addition to singlehandedly destroying our public schools, I am guessing that Jessica Swanson will outlaw abortion and force prayer in schools as well. The fear-mongering about the young Democrat Swanson shows how scared the Gross camp is.

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  21. This campaign has been awful on all sides. Don't know who to blame or be mad at. Will not be voting,

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  22. I hope you will vote Nov. 3.

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    1. Have hope! I will be voting for Penny Gross this primary election. I will be voting for "Leadership you can believe in" not for a bunch of vague promises that sum up to

      "Trust me not to screw-up too much as I learn on the job" and

      "Don't be surprised if your taxes go up significantly to fund the school improvements I am committed to passing, even if you can't afford to pay the higher taxes, because you were warned."

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    2. Hope triumphs over experience. Gross will only give us more of the same.

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    3. My taxes (through raising property assessments) have gone up 30% in 14 years. Penny taxes and spends foolishly. Don't be duped.

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    4. I was curious as to whether there was any truth to the whole OMG MY RATES HAVE GONE UP A BILLION DOLLARS and found this link, which was neat.

      https://newcuriousthoughts.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/fairfax-county-property-tax-rates-historical-chart-version-2/

      I wonder if there is any other good data out there.

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    5. Fascinating, Adam. Property taxes were much higher in the 1970s!

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  23. Thanks to mgates for this link. All Mason residents should read the 4 VERY important comments at the end before stepping into the voting booth. http://fcnp.com/2015/06/04/a-penny-for-your-thoughts-news-of-greater-falls-church-196/

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  24. I would be very interested to hear from Penny supporters how they justify her role and actions in the John Greer case. Please explain why she should even be considered for re-election in the climate of this lack of transparency. I'll hang up and listen to your comment.

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    1. The Washington Post has done an excellent job of documenting how the County Attorney's office deliberately chose to keep the BOS out of the loop. I recommend that you read those articles and get all the facts before you try and frame Penny. And, btw, Penny was a vocal critic of former Fairfax prosecutor Robert Horan's refusal to indict the SWAT officer who shot Sal Culosi. So, I don't consider her to be a rubber stamp on the issue of police shootings. What's unclear to me though is why you're still commenting. Earlier in this thread, you stated that you'd vote for anyone off the street before you'd vote for Penny. So, I wouldn't exactly expect you to be unbiased when it comes to relating facts.

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    2. Not the biggest Penny supporter, but I certainly am more predicating my vote on one police-related incident. John Geer was no angel and his family settled for a large chunk of money funded by taxpayers.

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  25. For the people on this who are still undecided and do not have a deep-seeded "Anybody But Penny" hatred....please read this if you do nothing else.

    http://bluevirginia.us/diary/13389/in-fairfaxs-mason-district-mysterious-newcomer-vs-reliable-incumbent

    Let's be careful who we put into office and whose interests these people serve.

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