Braddock District Debate Turns Heated

Cook, Oleszek, Campbell vying for district supervisor.

The three candidates for Braddock District supervisor faced off Saturday in a debate that descended into a shouting match between independent candidate Carey Campbell and the debate’s host.

Host Denny D’Alelio and moderator Ellen Oppenheim warned Campbell multiple times that he was breaking the rules by levying personal attacks against Republican John Cook, whom Campbell repeatedly referred to as a “borrow-and-spend incumbent” and “ideological neo-con.”

The most heated moment came about two-thirds into the hour-long debate, when D’Alelio, who held the event on his front lawn in Annandale, said to Campbell, “If you keep talking that way, you will not be here any longer. I am the host here. I control the rules. If you keep doing personal attacks …”

Campbell interrupted: “It’s not a personal attack. It’s a statement of fact.”

D’Alelio told him, “You may think it’s funny, but you’re a jerk!”

“Is this maintaining decorum?” someone from the audience shouted.

Cook and Democratic challenger Janet Oleszek remained above the fray and did not respond to Campbell’s barbs toward Cook.

In the less dramatic moments of the debate, in response to a question about area traffic congestion, Cook said citizens groups could work with engineers for more friendly roadways. He also said Fairfax County should negotiate with the state to assume local control of local roads.

Oleszek said the supervisor should work at the state and federal levels to develop better relationships to benefit county roadways. Cook rebutted that those relationships were already in place. Campbell promoted bike-share programs, electronic roadway signs and passenger Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service.

Library Cuts and Money from Developers

On the subject of county library budget cuts, Oleszek said the county could make budget cuts elsewhere, sparing library funds – but did not specify where those cuts should be made.

“The library system is critical to the success of our students, our children, our seniors, and it is part of the civic life of Fairfax,” she said. “The fact that our local libraries have been reduced in hours is horrendous. And being closed on Sunday, I think, is a horrible situation.”

Cook said the decision to reduce library funding was a difficult one and that he has pushed for additional commercial development in Tysons Corner and elsewhere to raise taxes to fund public services. “Grow the economy, and we’ll have the money for the services we want,” he said.

Campbell – stressing that he was the most conservative candidate in the race – said local government spending was already too high.

He also told the crowd he supported having Fairfax County supervisors sign a pledge not to accept contributions from real estate interests with business before the board. Cook said he would not sign such a pledge, adding that he follows state law in disclosing all contributions.

“Why are we just saying one set?” Cook asked. “Why is it just real estate? Why not unions? Why not other people? Why not just interested citizens? The list could go on and on. … I vote the way I think is right.”

Oleszek said she would also decline to sign such a pledge but said any such contributions would not affect her governing decisions. “My values will always guide how I vote,” she said.

Education, Firefighters Among Priorities

All three candidates mentioned education first when asked what their highest priority would be if elected. Campbell also mentioned police and fire services, human services and rail. Cook said most education decisions are the job of the school board, and that taking care of neighborhoods and getting communities involved in schools were top priorities for him.

Oleszek and Campbell said they would spend more to add Fairfax County firefighter positions. Cook said having three firefighters per ladder truck – the point of contention – was appropriate, although a fourth firefighter might be added in the future. Oleszek, in a rebuttal, said the county needs four firefighters per ladder truck to meet current standards.

When asked about cuts to education, Cook said education funding is increasing and that local teachers deserve a raise. Oleszek said she would push for more federal money for the local school district.

Campbell responded, “I believe that we can take scissors and cut some of the county educational system. So, as the most conservative candidate, if you believe your property taxes are too high, I’m the one who advocates for the lowest property tax rate. And if we want a service, we’ve got to pay for it. That means we raise the business taxes or raise the property tax rates.”

Fairfax County residents, Campbell said, have told him they do not want property tax increases.

On keeping roadsides well-kempt, Oleszek called for better leadership. Cook called for county control of local roads rather than state maintenance and pushed for developing an Adopt-A-Highway Program, drawing applause. Campbell said he had personally picked up trash from roadsides and noted that to increase spending on roadway beautification would necessitate tax increases.

The candidates also weighed in on privatizing Metro – Oleszek was against the idea, Campbell said he would entertain it, and Cook said he would not sell the transit system, and that, in any case, no one would buy it.

In closing statements, Cook stressed the importance of working with local communities, seeking resident input and improving roadways. Oleszek said she would not reduce funding for education and public safety. Campbell advocated for more renewable energy use for the county.

Campbell added, “I have loved every second of this.”

Carey Campbell September 25, 2011 at 04:42 AM
Rachel Leonard, thank you for your story. Thank you for working late to get the story posted. Enjoyed the read. Some important events and pieces of the debate were not included. The videos here give broader context. 1. According to www.VPAP.org the "host" of the debate are campaign donors to the borrow and spend incumbent. 2. What both people you cite kept demanding was that Mr. Campbell not refer to the "borrow and spend incumbent" as the "borrow and spend incumbent" . And then they made some absurd claim that call the the borrow and spend incumbent neocon such was a violation of some rules made up on the spot. It is an accurate reference. Instead of saving the carryover budget funds, the borrow and spend incumbent borrowed money that will be needed in fy 2013, just 9 months from now, and he voted to spend that money. That's borrowing from tomorrow and spending today. It is a fact. What Carey Campbell did was take up the fight for Free Speech. And Mr. Campbell won. The video above "Campbell fights for Free Speech" shows the exchange. The other Video is the Campbell close from Braddock debate 2. The "Moderator" and "timekeeper" of the debate proved they were highly partisan. Mr. Campbell simply defended his rights to state the facts and exercise free speech. In Mr. Campbell closing remarks video, also above, he thanks everyone, and says "God bless you all".
Rachel Leonard September 25, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Mr. Campbell, Thank you for your feedback. I look forward to covering this race as it progresses in the future.
BurkePatriot September 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM
What is considered personal attacks? Calling an individual a name in a political contexts is wrong? Whether it is true or not that is for the public to decide. If some disagrees with a statement it shouldn't be shouted down or suppressed by the crowd or host. I don't agree with the independent candidate in many issues but I do agree with his right to say what he wishes to say as long as it is not words that children and old women run for cover. Someone please help me understand the rule of limiting what candidates can say. In liberty,
Will Radle September 25, 2011 at 04:01 PM
I want to publicly thank Denny and his family for hosting another great event. As a candidate for chairman, I enjoyed attending and speaking with everyone. Thank you!
Linda Bartlett September 25, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Debates are Ms Oleszek's weak point, and that's an understatement. That is why her one condition for the debates was the inclusion of Campbell, who will never attract enough votes to qualify to be in the debates on his own. He fills for her the typical Democrat position of no substance, all personal attack, and he provides a distraction from her incompetence. Without Campbell yesterday would have been perfect and sensible people would be praising the D'Alelio family for their civic mindedness. Once long ago in this country every town had events like this where voters could listen to the candidates, and where their local issues would be explained, debated and solutions offered. This event was an attempt to recapture some of that civic involvement and save for one man in his quest to get Ms Oleszek elected it would have been a total success. But, as in a classroom of 10 year olds, it only takes one little boy desperate for attention to mar the experience for everyone. In addition, his claim to be conservative and independent does not pass the smell test. It is only far left ideologues who confuse freedom of speech with bad manners. One last note. There were plenty of Vets in the audience backing both Cook and Oleszek. They were all ashamed of Campbell's behavior and would not like the general public to judge all Vets by the dishonorable behavior of this one envious little man.
Benjamin Tribbett September 25, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Linda- Your comments about Janet having a condition of Carey being in the debates in order to participate are *totally false*. I've been working as Janet's rep in working out the details of these debates, and that has never been a condition of anything. Both campaigns agreed to having Carey in the September debates.
Will Radle September 27, 2011 at 03:20 PM
I am proud and thankful Democratic and Republican senators and delegates helped me get on the November ballot for Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. I am honored Independent Greens trust me to address their concerns. I was the only candidate for Chairman in attendance. Denny and his wife have made his personal leanings well known. His civic mindedness and open transparency are to be commended and encouraged. I believe Carey Campbell was ill advised to turn to his opponents to ask whether he will participate in future debates. He is qualified on the ballot. The voters have three choices for Braddock Supervisor and will hopefully make an informed decision. I encourage candidates to focus on the solutions they bring and try to drop the labels. You each have a positive message and a good fight. Bring it to the people.
Will Radle September 27, 2011 at 04:09 PM
We need to bring Fairfax County up to public safety standards. The incumbent chairman was wrong to hoard $28.69 million for unspecified use in 2013.
Shirley Jones September 27, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Campbell won the debates.Carey Campbell has always run as a christian conservative. As a christian at the debates, Carey Campbell was treated in a very unchristian way. Carey Campbell has a two decade history of serving in the community, 30 years service as a veteran to our nation. Carey Campbell was restrained, respectful, and courageous in the debate. He fought for free speech. Campbell is an honorable, and beloved man. Campbell told the truth when referring to the "borrow and spend" incumbent. The record proves it. It was absurd that the timekeeper tried to censure Mr. Campbell's words.
BurkePatriot September 27, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Trains,trains,trains. Isn't that the mode of transportation we had when their wasn't any cars? Will their be stables to park our horses? The majority of people want the independence of a car not the form of transport for cattle. Forcing people to pay for regression when they will never need it nor want it is immoral. Mr. Cambell is a conservative? Fiscally responsible? That is two no's. In liberty,
Carey Campbell September 30, 2011 at 04:30 AM
Carey Campbell has an impressive article about the issues out tonight.
Will Radle September 30, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Where can we find your article, Mr. Campbell?


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