The candidates for 34th State Senate District met at the Country Club Hills Commons in Fairfax City on Thursday to get some face time with constituents and discuss some key issues that involve citizens of Fairfax City. Issues discussed included transportation, education and jobs.
Sen. Chap Petersen has been serving in public office since 1998 as a city councilman, a state delegate and now is currently serving in the Virginia State Senate for the 34th district. He expressed his pride for the work he has done for the community and that he hopes to continue.
"We've kept our budget balanced, we haven't raised taxes, our unemployment is six percent, [which is] less than the national average. We've actually been creating jobs."
Gerarda Culipher, the self-proclaimed "new kid on the block," is a military wife who also happens to be a mother of three children and a lawyer.
"I am a first-time candidate and that is exactly what we need."
Culipher's No. 1 priority if elected is to improve transportation and traffic issues in Northern Virginia.
"We have working moms, we have working dads, we have GS, we have private sector -- and what do we all share? Sitting in traffic."
Matt Prestone, a resident of Country Club Hills, was concerned with the extension of the metro into Tysons Corner without plans to build enough parking around the new stations.
"How can you build all this infrastructure and not have places to park in the Tyson's Corner area."
"You're almost at cross purposes," said Petersen. "You're building a parking garage for people to drive to a place they're going to take the Metro to work. If you were to build a garage and ask people to commute to Tysons and take a train, then who would commute to Tysons to take a train anywhere?"
Petersen also explained that real-estate in Tysons is the most expensive in the area and that a standalone structure would have to generate incredible amounts of revenue to be worthwhile.
Not to be left out of the discussion, Culipher offered her opinion.
"I think it's a brilliant question and I'll try to triple the number of parking spaces!"
Culipher also urged residents to take a look at her seven-point transportation plan.
Prestone was glad he made it out to the meeting, even though had mixed feelings about it.
"I pay very little attention to state politics," Prestone said. "It's good to meet the people who are representing you."
Prestone added that he wished the local politicians would come out to the community more often, not just during election season.
"The goal in creating this event was to get our neighborhood informed on the upcoming election," said Jennifer Passey, vice president of civic affairs for the Country Club Hills Civic Association. "Many people, particularly because we have a lot of new young families and couples (myself included) who have recently moved into the neighborhood, are not familiar with the candidates up for election this fall."
About 320 households from Country Club Hills, and their neighbors in Old Lee Hills, were invited to the event.
"It is our first time hosting an event like this and thought it would be good for residents to put faces with names and keep it casual," said Passey.
37th district candidates David Bulova and Brian Schoeneman were also on hand to answer questions.
Check out Patch's Q&As with and for their stances on more local issues.