Steve Stombres agrees that economic development and fiscal responsibility will be the new council's biggest challenges. But environmental concerns also weigh heavily on his mind.
The two-term councilman hopes his emphasis on tank farm and recycling issues will give him an edge in the May 1 election.
"It was pretty obvious that I could make a difference on the council, but it was hard to come in and just have an impact," he said about his first term in 2008. "I thought recycling was where I could make a difference."
Stombres went to work improving the city's recycling rate. He took recycling on as his pet project, measuring how much Fairfax City residents and businesses recycle, helped modernize green ordinances, trained volunteers and created the Environmental Sustainability Committee.
"We have our highest recycling rate in jurisdiction history," he said. "In 2007 our rate was under 39 percent. Now it's over 50 percent."
He hopes to keep improving that rate along with touting other green council initiatives, like energy efficiency and an energy audit of government buildings.
"I learned pretty quickly that this is a green city," he said. "People care about the environment."
Stombres also hopes to bring relief for tank farm incidents from the Virginia Department of Enivornmental Quality to Fairfax City.
The Pickett Road tank farm has a long history of major and minor spills, as well as accidents at Pickett and Main Street. In 1990, an underground leak caused about 250,000 gallons of diesel oil, gasoline and other chemicals to contaminate the surrounding neighborhoods, according to news reports. The cleanup cost hundreds of millions of dollars and troubled Mantua residents for years.
"If the tank farm gets fined for a spill by the DEQ, the city doesn't get it," he said. "We do get paid for cleanup and inspections, but we should get a part of that fine too. Our community is the one impacted by these spills."
As for this election's hot topics...
Stombres wants the council to make it easier for businesses to come into the city. He hopes to replace lost parking in downtown Fairfax and improve parking signage so customers know where they can find a spot.
Downtown success, he said, is reliant on having the right balance of businesses. Stombres wants to redevelop Courthouse Plaza and bring an anchor business in to draw more customers.
The most important thing to remember in developing Fairfax Boulevard, he said, is to have community buy-in. Fairfax Boulevard may be the economic engine for the city, but it also runs through a number of quiet neighborhoods. He looks forward to implementing smart growth in areas along the 50/29 corridor but warns that such growth can't effect the quality of residential areas.
"I have a record on issues that I'm proud of," Stombres said. "I've been able to work with everyone on the council on different issues and I've been successful. I feel like I can work with everybody, build that consensus we need to move forward."