WASHINGTON - FOX 5 is talking to leaders in our region about the major issues they are tackling in 2018. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Sharon Bulova joined us on FOX 5 News to discuss some of the major items on the county's radar.
Funding for the embattled transit system for the D.C. region has been a hot issue throughout the years. But who will provide the funding and where is it going to come from? We asked Bulova about her thoughts on this.
“I think the derailment [Monday] really just punctuated the need for additional funding to make sure that we are restoring Metro to a state of good repair and keeping it in a state of good repair,” Bulova said. “At the General Assembly, the outgoing governor has put a vehicle on the table that legislators are now working with to make that funding source work for Virginia, but also to be matched with Maryland and D.C. And we are hoping also to have the federal government also participate in a greater way.”
We asked her how likely the state of Virginia will be able to work something out to provide the funding for Metro.
“I am hopeful,” she said. “Remember, we just had an election where Democrats won more seats, but especially, I think that members of the General Assembly understand that the Metro system is what makes our economy work in Virginia and in Northern Virginia especially. So it's critical that we have the transportation system to support our economic development.”
She added, “This is tracks, these are stations, these are cars, and it's the infrastructure that we are talking about that absolutely needs more funding. We are convinced of that in the region. I chair the Metro strategy group with the Council of Governments. We are convinced that additional funding, essentially $500 million at least annually, is required in order to provide the infrastructure improvements that are importantly needed.”
COMBATING GANG VIOLENCE
There have been many murders tied to the MS-13 gang over the past year, including crimes that have happened in Fairfax County. What is the county doing to combat this problem?
“What we are trying to avoid is MS-13 being rooted in Fairfax County or in the region,” Bulova said. “We have had gang activity in the past in the '90s, and what prevented MS-13 from spreading was prevention, intervention, suppression. And we are returning to that positive formula because it worked in the past. It will work again and Fairfax County is increasing funding to really target and tailor our approaches to all of those methods in areas that especially are needed in order to address the gang issue.”
POLICE BODY CAMERAS
Fairfax County will be launching a pilot program for body-worn cameras for police officers in 2018. We asked Bulova where she stands on whether body camera footage should be released to the public in certain cases.
“I think it depends on the footage and what actually was captured,” she said. “So some privacy issues need to be addressed. But we are rolling out body cameras – a pilot that will help answer some of those questions. This will roll out in the spring, in the March timeframe. The pilot will last probably four to six months and it will be in three of our stations. These are large areas, so it will be in Reston, Annandale and in Mount Vernon. Half of the officers will have body cameras. The other half won't. So we really will have an opportunity to test how this will work in Fairfax County.”
“That is the goal – to try to make sure that we are striking the right balance between making sure that we continue to provide quality services, high quality of life for our residents, but to be able to do so with taxes that are affordable for our constituents,” Bulova said. “So the process begins – the superintendent of schools just released his budget. Our new county executive Bryan Hill just had a meeting today with Scott Brabrand, the new superintendent of schools, and the two of them will be working to try to make sure that we are providing the needed funding for our schools and other services, but also to be sure that our taxes again are affordable to our residents and to our businesses.”