Gary Aiken, the treasurer of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, has launched a campaign to represent Mason District the Board of Supervisors.
If no other candidates surface, Aiken would face off against Mason Supervisor Penny Gross in the Nov. 5 election.
“Fairfax County is becoming less wealthy and less of a desired destination,” Aiken states in a press release announcing his candidacy. “The county government is not doing enough to encourage young families to stay here, especially inside the beltway – in Mason District. Our schools are old and overcrowded. Our firefighters, police officers, and teachers can’t afford to live here. Hate crimes have plagued churches and the JCC in Mason. While there’s growth from Tysons to Dulles, Mason District declines.”
Aiken blames this situation on “more than two decades of ‘Penny’-wise, pound foolish fiscal policies and ‘Gross’-mismanagement of taxpayer dollars by the Board of Supervisors.”
A resident of the Ridgelea neighborhood in western Annandale, Aiken is chief risk officer for the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, a life insurance company for members of the military. He has a degree in economics from the University of Maryland and an MBA from George Washington University.
He was student body president at his high school in Montgomery County, Md., but has never run in a countywide election.
“The one thing that really made me want to run” for supervisor, he says, is the attacks on the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and Bethlehem Lutheran Church – both were defaced with Anti-Semitic and racist graffiti – and the fact that no one has yet been arrested in the most recent incident, in October 2018.
He wants the county to have more resources so the police can solve these cases and prevent future attacks.
Another big issue for Aiken is pension reform. “I was disheartened when the board had a chance to do something substantive and passed on it,” he says. “The underfunded pension fund is two or three times larger than what the county is telling people.”
“Every year we’re pouring more money into the pension system,” Aiken says. “Because of that, we can’t fund other things, like new schools or public transportation projects and have to increase taxes year after year.”
“It’s not an easy problem to solve but it takes a mindset of someone from the private sector to understand it and has the wherewithal to deal with it,” he says.
To improve transportation, Aiken supports new underground Metro lines along routes 50/7 and Columbia Pike/Route 236.
He calls the above-ground Metro line to Dulles “a stupid idea.” Metro should be extended through areas that are already urban, like Bailey’s Crossroads, he says. “We have dense urban areas that could grow denser. The only way to do that is to have public transportation that makes sense.”
Aiken is also concerned with the lack of affordable housing, noting that only 30 percent of Fairfax public safety personnel and 60 percent of teachers live in the county. “There’s a lot we can do – from a public-private partnership standpoint – to provide more affordable housing, especially workforce housing,” he says. “There are tons of opportunities to do that in Mason District.”
Although he is seeking a position on the BoS, not the school board, Aiken has some ideas for improving the school system, including having all classes start before 9 a.m. and having Advanced Academic Programs at all schools, so students don’t have to be bused outside their neighborhoods.