Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity will seek to extend his 12-year tenure in his current position, declaring on Monday at the West Springfield Government Center that he intends to campaign for reelection in November.
It was a day of shifting expectations, as howling winds kept outdoor temperatures around 30 degrees with wind chill and forced Herrity’s office to change the venue for his announcement from the planned location of nearby West Springfield High School.
Herrity’s decision to seek reelection defied speculation that he would make a run for chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Current Chairman Sharon Bulova plans to retire at the end of the year.
With Braddock District Supervisor John Cook also stepping down when his term expires on Dec. 31, Herrity is the sole Republican county supervisor looking to return.
Herrity told The Washington Post in November that he was mulling a bid for chairman, but the paper reported in January that he remained undecided, weighing his desire for the position against the reality that the Republican Party has not won a countywide election in Fairfax since 2009.
Four Democrats are already campaigning to succeed Bulova, setting up the party’s first primary for board chair possibly going as far back as 1967, according to The Washington Post.
Evidently, Herrity determined that seeking reelection as the Springfield District supervisor would be preferable to the risk of a campaign for board chair, which would have required that he give up the seat that he has held for more than a decade.
“What I heard from my constituents is…there was a need for balance on the board – and I heard this from Republicans and Democrats alike – a need for commonsense conservative fiscal solutions, the need for somebody that is experienced and understands local issues,” Herrity said. “…I feel the best way for me to serve now is to be on the board and to be on the board as Springfield District supervisor.”
Herrity’s political career has in many ways echoed the trajectory drawn by his father.
Former Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Herrity represented Springfield District for a term before becoming chair in 1976. He held that position for 12 years, including periods when he was the board’s lone Republican.
A Washington, D.C., native and graduate of West Springfield High School, Herrity says seeing his father work inspired him to enter public service even as he simultaneously pursued a business career with local government contracting and technology companies.
Herrity currently serves as chief financial officer for the information technology government contractor Intelligent Waves.
Concerns about taxes, congestion, and declining teacher salaries led Herrity to first run for the Board of Supervisors’ Springfield District seat in 2007.
Herrity became the Republican nominee for Fairfax County chairman in 2009 when Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D-Va.) election to Congress necessitated a special election. He lost that election to Bulova by 1,206 votes, according to Fairfax County Office of Elections returns.
Since becoming Springfield District supervisor, Herrity has advocated for reforming Fairfax County’s employee compensation and pension programs, and he was the board’s most vocal opponent to a proposed 4 percent tax on prepared food and beverages that was defeated by voters in a Nov. 8, 2016 referendum.
Herrity says he decided to run for reelection, because he still feels passionate about working to address traffic congestion, taxes, commercial regulations, teacher pay and classroom sizes, and public safety challenges, such as the ongoing opioid crisis, human trafficking, and gangs.
Herrity hopes to continue chairing the board’s committee for the Fairfax 50+ Community Action Plan, which contains initiatives aimed at supporting the county’s older population.
He also says he is excited to see the work that comes out of the sports tourism task force that the board assembled in 2017 to examine how Fairfax County can take advantage of opportunities in that market to diversify its commercial tax base.
Opposition to President Donald Trump is strong in Fairfax County, which helped turn Virginia in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 when the rest of the south voted for Trump, but Herrity plans to avoid the challenges that other Republican candidates have faced in recent years by focusing on local issues instead of the state or national political climate.
“I think national politics and state politics are a mess right now. I think we need to rise above that at the local level, and I plan to rise above that at the local level,” Herrity said. “What we do at the Fairfax County board is nonpartisan. What we do is commonsense. We deal with people’s problems, and we fix it.”
Herrity will face a Democratic challenger in marketing professional and former George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College professor Linda Sperling, who announced her candidacy in November.
Primaries will be held on June 11, and this year’s general elections will take place on Nov. 5.