I had the chance to meet Dennis Husch at a political meeting a few weeks ago. Speaking with a number of other northern Virginia (Fairfax County) candidates, he was the one who was the most impressive. It’s rare to see a politician who not only has the passion for the work involved with public service, but also the knowledge of local issues that real people care about.
Mr. Husch has a tough battle against incumbent Democrat John Foust in the Dranesville District. But if he can pull it off the Board will get an ally to conservatives that it badly needs.
People tend to ignore local elections but this is a mistake. The local level is where real progress can be made. There is more at stake for average Americans as the decisions made by local officials directly impact the community in which we live. For that reason I believe local races need much more exposure than they currently get. Mr. Husch was kind enough to answer a few questions for me to help meet that goal. If you live in Fairfax County, especially the Dranesville District, then this interview definitely gives you insight into your community and this election. If you don’t live in the district I’d recommend looking at this interview as an insight into the types of issues local officials deal with and how much more knowledgeable they generally are when it comes to things you really care about in your community.
Where has John Foust failed Fairfax County as the current Dranesville Supervisor?
“My contacts with Mr. Foust have always been very professional and very positive. What he lacks and what is missing from the democratic majority on the Board of Supervisions is vision and leadership. The passive, go-along-to-get-along leadership style is not what is needed in the Dranesville District or in Fairfax County. It has created our current taxation, sprawl and transportation nightmare. What we need is strong pro-ctive leadership that is able to solicit, understand and articulate a vision of the future of Fairfax County and set policies that will allow the County to achieve that vision. The tax and spend, spread the wealth attitude of the majority of the members of the Board of Supervisors must come to an end.
“Our real estate taxes have doubled, the County Staff has grown to 11,000. The unions are demanding increased taxes for increased benefits and retroactive pay raises. Because there is no vision for the future of Fairfax County, there are no goals and no plans for the future, meaning the County leadership will continue to exploit the taxpayers and continue to use us a their private ATM machines. We deserve better. We deserve safe communities. We deserve cost-effective, academically exceptional schools. We deserve real solutions to our transportation challenges. We need to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. We deserve a small, non-intrusive County government. With the right leadership, we can do better.
“Here are some examples of the lack of leadership, the lack of planning and its impact on Dranesville and Fairfax County taxpayers:
• “The County has committed to pay 58% of the cost of public facilities in Tyson’s Corner – streets, sidewalks, bike trails protected pedestrian street crossings. The commitment is about $991M and there is no plan for where the money will come from. No ‘plan’ means you and I will pay the bill. We deserve better and we can do better.
• “The County recognizes that the capacity of Route 7 from Tyson’s Corner to Georgetown Pike must be increased to handle the traffic increases caused by development in Tyson’s Corner and Loudoun County. The Virginia Secretary of Transportation estimates that cost at about $330M and there is no plan for where the money will come from. No ‘plan’ means you and I will pay the bill. We deserve better and we can do better.
• “The County has committed to pay 16.1% of the cost of the Metrorail Silver line from West Falls Church, through Tyson’s Corner to Whelie Avenue, to Route 28. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA) new plan will transfer the full cost of the Route 28 transit station and the cost of a parking garage to Fairfax County. Given the continuation of the current project management excesses, the total cost will certainly rise pushing the Fairfax County total commitment to around $1B and there is no plan for where the money will come from beyond the contributions from the phase 1 and phase 2 tax district. No ‘plan’ means you and I will pay the bill. We deserve better and we can do better.
• “In addition to you and I paying the bill for Tyson’s infrastructure, Route 7 transportation improvements and the Silver Line, the MWAA will increase tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to $11 one-way by 2020 to pay their share of the Silver Line development costs. That decision will cost commuters (you and I) more than $100 per week and more than $5,000 per year. Worse, the cost will force commuters off the toll road and into our residential streets to get to work. Such a strategy will certainly make businesses reconsider locating or relocating in the Dulles Corridor. We deserve better and we can do better.
• “When considering the viability of the Silver Line we must ask the question concerning why the federal government is providing 50% of cost for phase 1 and none of the cost for phase 2 (Whelie to Dulles Airport). The answer is straight forward: the ridership forecasts for phase 2 are not sufficient to justify a federal investment. If the federal government cannot invest in phase 2, how does Fairfax County justify their investment? The answer is Fairfax County can misuse their power and ‘force’ us to pay the bill. We deserve better and we can do better.”
What makes you a better candidate for the job?
“I have the municipal government experience, the business experience, the strategic planning experience to encourage the development of a vision for the Dranesville District and Fairfax County. I have the experience and expertise to build the broad consensus to establish the goals and policies to achieve that vision. I understand the value of a tax dollar and the impact on the community when our money is taken from us and used (misused) by government to further private political careers or to implement social-engineering experiments. I understand that government needs to focus its resources on public safety, education, the truly needy, transportation and improving the quality of our lives. We deserve better, we can do better and I have the experience and the energy to be a vocal representative of the majority of the taxpayers in the Dranesville District.
“While an elected official I advocated for the creation of a 20-year vision of Herndon’s future and the creation of goals and policies to achieve that vision. I fought to lower real estate taxes and reduced that tax burden by more than 20% on Herndon residents. (.32 to .26). I pressed for a major decrease in spending and advocated successfully to reduce the budget by almost 18% between 2007-2010 at the height of the economic downturn allowing Herndon’s citizens to keep more of their hard-earned money. I advocated for and was successful in creating a policy to limit capital borrowing which assured capacity to cover emergency situations. I advocated for documenting the 10-year cost of ownership for all new capital projects before they were approved. I advocated for comprehensive land use planning so that Herndon would control development, redevelopment and the impact of Metrorail transit orientated development. The citizens of Herndon deserved lower taxes, smaller government and they did not deserve to be victimized by overzealous development.”
Recently Governor McDonnell declared the state would not put up any more money that what is already committed to the Dulles Metrorail extension. Where do you stand on the issue?
“The Governor’s decision rightly reflects the prudent course for spending tax payer dollars. He joins the federal transportation administration in refusing to invest in the Silver Line phase 2. The leadership of Fairfax County has to my knowledge never identified the full scope of their commitment or have they told the tax payers how they plan to fund their $1B investment. MWAA is totally irresponsible and unaccountable in their plan to tax the users of the Dulles Toll Road to fund the construction and operation of the ‘rail to Dulles.’ It appears that no elected official (read someone accountable to the taxpayers) is willing to identify themselves as responsible for raising taxes to pay for the Silver Line. Delegate Jim LeMunyon’s bill in the 2010 General Assembly to require the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to approve all increases in the Dulles Toll Road tolls was scorned, rebuffed and rejected. We deserve better, we can do better and I will work to create an transparent and responsible government.”
Are you concerned this project could turn into Virginia’s own Big Dig fiasco?
“The funding strategy for rail to Dulles is very curious. The business owners created a tax overlay district to fund the project but they capped their total contribution. The federal government capped their investment in phase 1 and denied funding for phase two. Fairfax County and Loudoun County limited their financial exposure (prior to the new MWAA plan ) to ~16% and ~5% respectively. What has not been capped or protected is the toll road tolls. No articulated plan or identification of the source of funding for the Counties’ contributions means that you and I will pay for rail to Dulles through increased real estate taxes and skyrocketing tolls through at least 2040. Since MWAA is not accountable to anyone, they will simply raise tolls as high as they want for as long as they want with no real incentive to control costs. We deserve better than what occurred in Boston.”
Every couple of years the county flirts with the idea of becoming a city. Do you think that’s a good idea?
“My understanding of the rationale for Fairfax County becoming a city is to allow the County to take responsibility for its secondary roads and become the recipient of state maintenance funds. The state provides per-lane-mile funding for maintenance.
“There are many other strategies that could be implemented to provide the funding for Fairfax County road maintenance. Adjustments in spending priorities, consolidation of redundant government functions (HR, PR, vehicle maintenance, etc.), reorganization of, and new policies for the Housing Authority, and development of a long-term plan to significantly reduce the size of government would all contribution to increased available of maintenance funds. Fairfax County’s veiled attempt to get more tax payer money from the state is typical of out-of-control bureaucracies. The answer is not more money, it is simply changing priorities and more efficient use of current resources.”
How would you describe your political philosophy?
“For over forty years I have raised my right hand and sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and for sixteen years I swore to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I take those oaths seriously and their foundation principles of individual responsibility, individual liberty, a government that serves the people and focuses on its core responsibilities, minimal taxes, minimal government intrusion, and recognition that your property and what you earn belongs solely to you and not the government.”
Is there a person, book, personal story or something else that you point to that shaped your political beliefs?
“My political beliefs were shaped by my family and my forty-year association with the military. The focus on mission, clear lines of authority, individual accountability, the force multiplier of the ‘team’ concept, conservation of resources and an evaluation based on results all served to establish my public service principles. I still work to understand the impact of Devine Providence on our country’s history and future and I continue to be amaze at what I see. The whole notion that man can (and must) govern himself, that God has given each of us the rights scripted in our founding documents, and that government is only a mere contrivance to allow individuals to pool resources for national security, community projects and protection of the most-needy among us.”
You can learn more about Dennis Hush at his campaign website.
You can read more from me at Moore Common Sense.