Gary Perryman saved some money, cut his long hair, dressed up and rallied the high school kids to help him run for council this year.
A self-admitted man of "modest means," the Westmore Civic Association president is running a modest campaign. He saved up some money to pay for voter cards and recruited his grandson and other students to help him knock on doors. Perryman didn't rally his followers for campaign funds, choosing instead to do what he can on a dime and see what happens on May 1.
But before all that, he had to clean up.
"A friend came up to me and said if you're going to do this you know the majority of your voters are 40 and older. A lot of people are going to look at [your long hair] and say you're not serious," Perryman said. "Well I can't do much about about the face, but the hair..."
His strategy for preserving Fairfax City's small town identity sets him apart from the five incumbents and two other relatively new candidates running for council this year.
"I'd like to see the city stay kind of the way it is," he said. "I don't want this place to turn into an Arlington or an Alexandria."
Perryman said he came to Fairfax with his family in 1956. He moved outside the city limits for his job as an electrician in the U.S. Navy, but later moved into the house next door to the one he grew up in.
"The City of Fairfax is living proof that bigger isn't better. The taxes are lower, it's nicer, cleaner," he said. "We do have problems and need some growth, but a proper kind of growth."
Perryman was one of the louder opponents to the . He'd rather see a development project with only a couple of floors, plenty of parking and a few residential units in that location, rather than "six floors of several hundred" units.
And, he said, Fairfax Boulevard needs a facelift.
"Some of old motels towards Fairfax Circle are in a timewarp. Those are the places that need to be brought up to date," Perryman said. He approves of the city's penchant for turn-of-the-century columns and bricks, as well as other improvements to buildings that will attract business.
Perryman supports . He points out that businesses in and around the center of downtown aren't getting the activity they need because consumers either don't want to park and walk or don't know that the parking is there.
"A business needs several things to thrive. It needs place, product, accessibility and parking. We control last two and the last two aren't there."
So far Perryman is pleased with the response he's received from voters. He attributes this to his "common man" image, something, he said, voters haven't had a chance to vote for in a long time.
"I can't tell you the last time the average Joe has been on the council," Perryman said. "They don't see the world the same way. I live off a very modest income. I live in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. To me, $50 is a lot of money."
Perryman doesn't have a campaign website or a Facebook page. You can email him at Gary.A.Perryman@gmail.com or call him at 703-273-5947.