DeMarco Runs on Smart Growth, Big Picture Platform
Meet him at three upcoming campaign functions.
It isn't Michael DeMarco's first time running for city council. He made a last-minute bid for a seat in City Hall in 2010 and fell short of taking Councilman Dan Drummond's spot by under 200 votes. (Whereas Christina Gaines and Jerry O'Dell needed 1,000-plus votes.)
This time he's determined to do it right. While incumbent candidates are wrapping up their campaign events, DeMarco plans to continue into April with two get-togethers and a rally scheduled in the next 10 days.
"I'm running to do something, not be something," he said.
DeMarco wants to see the council take a more business approach to running Fairfax City. He touts "smart growth," a strategy based on mixed use developments, as a way to ease some of the city's traffic and business vitality issues.
"They'd have a combination of retail, commercial, residential, green space and pedestrian-friendly features," he said. "They'd be in major Fairfax nodes, like Fairfax Circle, Northfax, Kamp Washington and Fair City Mall."
It's the kind of strategy that would take planning to work, he added. Those kinds of mixed-use developments would likely only suit the existing strip malls and fringe areas of the city limits, and would need easy access to public transportation.
If done right, DeMarco believes it could help ease congestion and boost the city's economy. But creating a successful plan for Fairfax isn't just a matter of planning out individual developments or getting bogged down in the details. DeMarco wants to see the council change its role in revitilizing the city.
"I don't believe we have a strategy and longterm vision [right now]," he said. "Everything [the council] does tactically is really adhoc. Let city staff take care of that and let the council work on strategy and vision."
DeMarco hopes for change in the way the council interacts with its volunteers, particularly the group he chairs, Fairfax's Economic Development Authority (EDA).
"Volunteers are marginalized by this council," he said of the city's Planning Commission and EDA. "They're smart. They're important too. But they haven't been afforded the opportunity to do their work effectively. I could do more good changing that mindset on the council than I could as chair of the EDA."
The Planning Commission and EDA are made up of volunteers who advise the council on capital improvement plans and economic growth. DeMarco believes that their recommendations are taken too lightly.
Take the Kitty Pozer Park debate as an example.
"The EDA played an aggregate role in buying that property. We spent $2.3 million on it and weren't going to cast a shadow on the park," he said. "Now we're getting what, 30 parking spots? That's not fiscally responsible. So we got no value for money we spent and lost 30,000 square feet of retail space."
Talk to DeMarco at Providence Square from 2-3:30 p.m. on March 25, at Jerry and Judy Turcott's Cobbdale home from 7-8:30 p.m. on March 26, and at Vespucci from 6-8 p.m. on March 30. Click here for more details.