By Susan Laume:
Springfield District citizens reacted strongly to gun violence and transportation issues during Monday night’s debate between their Fairfax County Board of Supervisor candidates Linda Sperling, Democrat, and incumbent, Pat Herrity, Republican.
The audience, most wearing candidate T-shirts or stickers, selected seats in a partisan divide in the Rolling Valley Elementary School cafeteria, Monday evening, Oct 14. They appeared to have made their election decisions and had little remaining doubt where their candidates stood as time closes on the November 5th general election.
Sperling drew loud applause from supporters by calling for getting guns out of public spaces: “out of government buildings, out of schools, out of parks, and recreational facilities.” She criticized Herrity for a high gun association rating. Herrity said he supported keeping long guns out of vehicles, and a bill that would lessen the penalty of anyone convicted of a gun crime using an illegal gun, if the person who sold the gun was named.
Mass transit was the other emotive issue at the debate. Herrity pointed to his support for $400 million budgeted for planned county road, shoulder and sidewalk projects. Sperling applauded the road projects, but pointed out that wasn’t supportive of mass transit. She expressed the need for expanding options for useable, convenient options. “If it isn’t easy to ride the bus, people won’t ride the bus,” she said. Sperling also scored the biggest laugh of the evening by simply responding “No” and passing the microphone when asked if she supported tolls on the Fairfax County Parkway.
Sperling thanked Herrity for his past service on the supervisory board, but criticized him for taking partisan stands on issues and not getting along with other supervisors and county officials. To this reporter, Sperling’s statement recalled Herrity’s battle with the Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid over Kincaid’s termination of an agreement to cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this year.
Sperling summed up, “As a parent and mother, I care about whether our classrooms are overcrowded, and our children are protected. I want my husband to be able to get home to spend time with our family and neighbors. ….I have a personal stake” in this District.
Despite her challenger status, Sperling has tallied political endorsements from Fairfax County Firefighters, Fairfax Education Association, and Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, among others. Herrity did not cite endorsements, but listed awards from the Sun-Gazette, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Technology Council, and CEO magazine, some of which related not to his service as county supervisor but to his private position as chief financial officer in a technology business.
The debate was hosted by the Springfield Council, which will also sponsor an upcoming debate between Springfield candidates for Fairfax County School Board.
Susan Laume is a member of the Springfield District Democratic Committee and director of the Virginia Dog Army, an animal advocacy group. She and her dog work as a therapy dog team.
Photo: Linda Sperling (L) and Pat Herrity squared off at a debate on Monday/ Photos by Susan Laume
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