The 2012 Fairfax City mayoral and council candidates have similar goals. They believe in economic revitalization, emphasize a focus on Fairfax Boulevard and Old Town, and love the taste of .
But two candidates stood out from the crowd Thursday night at the debate.
Council candidate Gary Perryman portrayed himself as a common man standing up to preserve the small town nature of Fairfax.
The 56-year Fairfax resident and Westmore Civic Association president cleaned up for his campaign. He cut his signature long hair, dressed up and still embraced his everyman roots throughout the debate.
"I'm not a college graduate or a business man," he said, adding that his common-sense philosophy will likely appeal to voters.
Perryman argued against big development in Fairfax City. He said the city was going through an identity crisis, trying too hard to be like other thriving metropolis' in the area. Instead of overhauling the city everyone knows and loves, he said, the council should work on giving areas of Fairfax Boulevard a face-lift and focus on accessibility and parking to draw customers.
"I see this city as an oasis in a well," Perryman said. He spoke against giving up the city's water business and throwing in with Fairfax County. Doing so, he said, would force city residents to give up some of the freedom they enjoy from the county.
Mayoral candidate Jerry O'Dell touted his Tea Party roots and argued against raising taxes and seizing property for development.
He agreed that the city shouldn't give up its water supply and rallied against sharing services with Fairfax County. Unlike any other candidate, O'Dell spent much of his time on personal attacks and his own beliefs regarding marriage, abortion and President Barack Obama.
For the most part, the other candidates went down the table agreeing with their rivals on their key goals for the city. Economic redevelopment dominated the night, with the remaining candidates agreeing that the council should focus on targeted mixed use at Fairfax Circle, Northfax and Kamp Washington in the next few years.
No one else was willing to make a call on whether the city should join Fairfax Water, saying the issue was too complicated for a snap decision. Michael DeMarco and Perryman agreed that the call should be put on the people in the form of a referendum. The others encouraged public feedback but said the council would be better able to make a fair, informed decision on the water issue.
They all said the city needs to make strides in attracting new businesses and making a more friendly, thriving atmosphere to bring more customers downtown and across the city limits. David Meyer, Eleanor Schmidt, Dan Drummond and Steven Stombres suggested revising and updating zoning ordinances to give interested businesses more certainty that the city will accept them. Catherine Read would like to see more community spaces and new ideas in the revitilization process. Jeffrey Greenfield emphasized the importance of more public transportation options.
Mayoral candidate Scott Silverthorne said he looks forward to rallying the council under a strong consensus and starting some of the targeted development projects in the coming years.
There will be two more candidates nights this month:
- April 15: Country Club Hills Commons, 10050 Spring Lake Terrace, sponsored by Country Club Hills, Old Lee Hills and Westmore civic associations
- April 18: Henry Lodge Masonic Temple, 10503 Oak Place, sponsored by Cobbdale Civic Association