As many of you already know, I have decided to run for Mayor in the upcoming election. We need to do much to improve the quality of life for our residents. I seek your help and support in becoming your Mayor and bringing about much-needed changes to make HERNDON A FIRST RATE TOWN. Please consider the following in making your decision.
MY PERSONAL VALUES: A sense of fairness in society, efficient and effective government, respect for and use of different points-of-view, excellence in education and fair competition in sports are some of the values that I hold dear to my heart. Life is often not fair, but we can make it so in countless ways. This I learned after coming to the US in 1968. I have often taken bold positions to advance this goal. The nascent corruption in several countries during the 1960s, the conservative bend of economics at Carnegie-Mellon University, and the high levels of business & personal taxes caused by government waste formulated my views about efficient and effective government. The establishment of highly competitive engineering institutes by the Indian government gave impetus to my views about education, and participation in college sports affected my attitudes about youth sports. These and other values are reflected in almost everything I do.
LOWERING THE TAX BURDEN: The town budget has increased by 30% since 2012 (including 11% this year) and we face capital expenditures of $22 million for downtown development and $42 million for the Metro Area over the next two years. If we do not begin to take concerted actions now, Herndon will become a very uncompetitive community in a few short years.
In 30 plus blogs, I have documented how our government makes its decisions, takes our money, and affects our quality of life. It is clear that time and time again, in countless ways, the costs have been shifted from developers or other stakeholders to us with or without our knowledge and, sometimes, without regard for our needs or values. For example, the taxpayers were supposed to pay 40% of the downtown garage, but will end up paying 80% of it. We can and we will take every actions possible to stop the shift of costs to you. Click Summary of the Articles to examine examples of the shifts of costs to you.
Our taxes also increase as a result of our government’s outdated policies. We will modernize all of our policies as quickly as possible. Finally, Fairfax County imposes unreasonable and unfair burden on us. It appears nobody wants to take on the County and its supporters. I am willing and able, and I will begin the County tax fight with your help as quickly as I can.
I want to assure you that if I am elected your Mayor, you will never wonder if I have taken every action possible to reduce your tax burden. You can hold me accountable for making this promise.
CHANGING THE WAY OUR COUNCIL WORKS: The current system in which the Council reviews new policies, programs and projects, and considers public comments essentially at the end of the process, must be changed. My research, during the last four years, has made it abundantly clear that sound and cost effective decisions can only be made if the council is engaged at the start of the process. My investigations into the Shared Parking program, President’s Court development, the Cultural Art Center and the Vine-Haven development strongly support these conclusions. Should I be elected, I would focus on working with my fellow councilmembers to bring about the desired changes. It is important that council, not the mayor (who is just another councilmember under the Town Charter, except for ceremonial purposes) or the Town Manager guide the process.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AND THE VALUE OF YOUR VOICE: During my first campaign for the council, I had promised to show up in homes and businesses whenever people were concerned about the effects of the Town’s programs and policies. Little did I know that response to citizen request would become the second hallmark of my public service and would give me valuable insights into why we have so many issues related to, among others, Stormwater, Parking, New Developments, & Traffic Calming in almost every part of the town, (Click “Personalized Constituent Service“ for details). Some of the concerns point to systemic problems with the way town government interacts with the developers and our citizens.
Our residents have sought my help because they know I will take the time to investigate, document the facts, and get to the heart of the problems to find long lasting solutions. Listening to our citizens and providing one-on-one help will always be the hallmark of my service. I shall always respect our citizens’ ideas and consider their concerns meaningfully.
OPEN GOVERNMENT: The experience over the last four years has given me a completely new perspective about what a transparent government can and should be. Never before has a council majority voted as a block, and taken concerted steps to make itself unaccountable, rendered its decision-making opaque and misused the close-door meetings. (Read, “The Bad and Ugly Art of Buying a Contaminated Property, Parts I and II”; and “Race to Un-Accountability”, for instance). Open and participatory government maximizes a community’s economic well-being and builds trust; therefore, this is a decisive moment for Herndon. What we do here will define us for the foreseeable future. I will take bold actions to help make the government most transparent in the country. Among other things, we should:
- Record close door meetings (when and if permitted by law)
- Restore the past practice of keeping detailed written summaries of council discussions during public meetings
- Record Council Work Sessions and keep summaries of council discussions
- Keep records of the Mayor’s and town staff’s discussions with developers and stakeholders
- Require the staff to make its analysis transparent, and
- Provide reasonable amount of information to our citizens free of charge under FOIA
In other words, we should make every effort to make sure that our residents can make informed decisions, comment on proposed policies or take part in government affairs meaningfully.
MY BACKGROUND: A Mayor’s chief duties are to provide policy guidance to the staff and to faithfully consider the views of the councilmembers. My experience of almost a decade in fashioning settlements in large environmental contamination cases, where every participant’s views had to be taken into account, should help me to consider the views of any councilmember. My experience of 15 years in representing large companies in environmental enforcement cases and negotiating with state and Federal enforcement officials should help us to negotiate with officials from other jurisdictions on the one hand and developers on the other. Finally, my experience of 30 years in Policy Analysis and my education in Engineering, Economics and Policy Analysis should help provide appropriate guidance to the staff in almost any area. The experience of the last six years, of course, has helped me to understand the town politics, its people and institutions. I have demonstrated that I am ready to provide the leadership. Kindly take a look at my Agenda For The Future.
Thank you for your kind consideration.