At a time when few politicians have the courage to openly talk about tax increases to address huge budget deficits, Marc Greidinger, a candidate for the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, says a tax increase is “absolutely necessary.”
Greidinger, a Democrat, is hoping to unseat the Republican incumbent, John Cook, as supervisor for the Braddock District. Cook won a special election in March 2009 to fill the seat vacated by Sharon Bulova’s election as chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Other candidates may surface for the Braddock District seat, including Democrat Ilryong Moon, an at-large member of the Fairfax County school board. He is expected to announce whether he is running this week.
“I believe in supporting county services by paying for them,” Greidinger says. He faults Cook for proposing deep budget cuts while Fairfax County has significant needs for emergency services, transportation, and community services and while county employees are in their third year without a pay increase.
The budget proposed by Fairfax County Executive Anthony Griffin doesn’t have a deficit, but “it’s balanced on the backs of county employees,” Greidinger says. “I don’t think we should be doing deficit spending,” as that might jeopardize the county’s triple A bond rating, he says.
Greidinger doesn’t yet have a detailed plan for raising revenue, but says, “everybody needs to pay their fair share.” Any increased taxes should target people “who can most afford to pay.” He wants to “avoid hitting older people too hard” and doesn’t support a car tax because that tends to be regressive. But he says property taxes might be more fair because “the house you live in reflects the amount of wealth you have.”
When asked whether he thinks it is a good idea politically to propose tax increases, he says, “I don’t think we should be afraid of the tea party. Risk-taking is part of the reason you get involved in politics in the first place.”
Greidinger would also look for efficiencies in the budget. For example, he doesn’t think the Police Department’s expensive new computer system works very well and says it wasn’t properly tested. Computers have been installed in every patrol car that are supposed to integrate records management, report writing, and GPS tracking. When Greidinger went on a community ride-along with police officers from the West Springfield station, he says, “it only took 10 minutes to realize it was a problem,” he says. “The police officers were shaking their fists at it. It’s a horror.”
Greidinger faults Cook’s criticism of the watershed implementation plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, which was approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell. He says Cook claims the plan “violates individual property rights” by requiring homeowners to have a permit to resurface their driveway. “It’s sheer idiocy to make a claim like that,” Greidinger says. “There is nothing in that plan regulating people’s driveways.”
Greidinger, a lawyer specializing in civil rights and environmental issues, says he would be “a full-time supervisor, unlike Cook,” who continues to practice law.