My closing remarks from the Candidate’s Forum – April 2016
Good evening, first I would like to thank Ed Calabria, the City of Fairfax Homeowners Associations and the American Legion for hosting this event.
My name is Michael DeMarco; I am a second term council member, seeking re-election on May 3rd.
My wife Joanne and I moved to Fairfax in 2000 and we have 3 children. We are both active members in the St. Leo’s Community.
I have worked for ExxonMobil for 25 years in various senior management roles including Finance, Marketing and Customer Service. I have degrees in Political Science and Economics from Penn State and Temple Universities and an MBA in Finance from Columbia University.
I am the city’s voting member on the Potomac Watershed Roundtable, the Virginia Municipal League’s Community and Economic Development Committee, and the Metropolitan Council of Government’s Air Quality Committee. I am also very active with Penn State University, serving in two Board of Visitor positions.
I am an attentive, thorough, and diligent individual, and will always give careful consideration to all issues, without regard to self-interest or whim.
I thank you all for being here this evening.
My vision for Fairfax has not changed since the first time I ran for this office, and we are making progress towards that vision. It’s slow and steady but we must stay the course.
We have the chance to have 5 key activity centers in the city that will be our economic heart for future generations, Fairfax Circle, Northfax, Kamp Washington, the Downtown and Pickett and Main. We all know the region is growing and if we are going to be competitive with the surrounding jurisdictions we must put forward our best efforts to attract new investment in these areas, to create places where people can live, work, shop and have fun. But it’s not easy, it takes time, it requires partnership, demands commitment and the most challenging, we must all embrace the change that it brings.
Change makes us uneasy, the sense that we are doing away with the old or giving up everything we know or knew. But without change there is no future and I further suggest without change we will be absorbed by those around us.
But even with change, if we get “our” formula of economic growth right, we will not only preserve but improve our neighborhoods, we will retain our sense of place, we will have the highest quality services and education, we will have a mix of housing choices for a diverse demographic, we will live in a safe, healthy and secure environment, and we will have the assets and the characteristics that will attract the next generation of residents, workers and businesses to the City.
But with growth comes people and with people comes traffic. Traffic is the biggest complaint I hear and why some resist the change that I’ve talked about. This is a regional issue that needs regional collaboration. But regardless of growth or no growth, all we can do as a region is manage congestion with the tools that we have. Creating activity centers, like the 5 I mentioned in the City, mitigates congestion by allowing variant activities in close proximity to one another. And demanding that we extend the Orange line of Metro is the best way to reduce the thousands of cars that pass through the city every day.
Small city, but working one or two issues alone isn’t going to carry the day. I promise that I will continue to be attentive, thorough, and diligent, and will always give careful consideration to all of the issues that we face both local and regionally to make us greater than great.
Thank you and I ask you for your vote on May 3rd.
I can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine living in a city where we have easy access to restaurants, shops, public transportation, and work. Traffic congestion is significantly reduced.
There is ample green space for our children to play. Our quality of life is better. We’re healthier and happier. We’re a community and a destination.
Dream or reality?
I believe this can be our reality and I believe in the City of Fairfax.
Get Involved. If you want this to be our reality, too, and believe this is the vision for the city, then you need to help me help the city implement a strategy on how to move forward. Strategy is about making choices and collectively, as a community, we have to choose which direction we want to move in. We have started on the right path, but need to do more to move away from the status quo and think “out of the box” on what can be!
Strategic Action on Many Fronts. Our strategy must be multifaceted and address Economic Growth, Quality of Life, Transportation, Education, Capital Investment, and Partnership with all community stakeholders. Components will include the kind of sustainable development we want and where, revitalizing our economic base, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, strong schools, programs for neighborhood and commercial revitalization, a mix of housing choices, a city-wide aging-in-place program, active support for real regional transportation solutions and effective leadership to do what we say.
This sounds like a lot and it sounds like it will cost a lot of money. That is why it is critical to focus on those components of economic growth that will support and pay for the quality of life characteristics that we all hold so dear.
“I went back and looked at my earlier campaign notes from four years ago… it is very consistent.” I talked about implementing redevelopment projects that we thought would come as a result of the master plan.” The key here is in the past few years, discussion of redevelopment of Fairfax Boulevard and the Master Plan has generated “interests from developers in the City to invest in the Circle, Northfax, and Kamp Washington. Hopefully, within the next two years we will see this come to fruition because it is sorely needed, not just from a residential standpoint, but to attract young families in the city and build up the commercial revenue base.”In order to compete, we must continue down this path.– Michael J. DeMarco March 29, 2014
What Kind of Growth. Studies show that businesses are moving to where the people are and not vice versa and so we must be pro-business and pro-people at the same time, they most go hand-in-hand.
The county is attracting large employers. In the past several years, Hilton, Volkswagen, Northrop Grumman, the SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) and Bechtel moved their headquarters nearby. So the county that surrounds us is smartly implementing economic growth strategies that are building a strong core of economic activity.
We can’t pretend nor have the wherewithal to attract large companies in the city. But we don’t necessarily have to.
We can attract the kinds of companies that share the same life qualities we want to maintain. Our focus should be on those ancillary businesses that have contracts with these larger companies but need to be located in close proximity.
Attracting the Next Generation. Several years ago Forbes Magazine published its list of “America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well.” The City of Fairfax placed third on that list. And although the city is a great place for entrepreneurs and small business, the measures keeping Fairfax out of the top spot are its entertainment and cultural offerings as well as the number of young and educated people. “Fairfax is a great place to raise a family and start a business, but few highly educated people ages 25-34 call it home.”
So despite this great accomplishment, unless we implement a strategy that focuses on our strengths and addresses our weaknesses, I think our competitive economic position will continue to weaken and therefore, our level of amenities and city services will diminish.
Considering our own city demographics, if we’re serious about the future viability of the city, then we must be serious about what it will take to attract young professionals and most importantly small to medium sized businesses to the city. These young people are not going to come to the city unless we have the quality of life amenities to attract them. Smart economic growth helps us deliver those amenities to the community, supports those ancillary businesses that are providing local jobs and ultimately enables the city’s ability to build on our arts, historical, cultural and parks attractions.
A recent study by Northeastern University states that as the baby boom generation starts and continues to retire, by 2018, the US will have more jobs than people to fill them.
[And if you consider our own city’s demographics, approximately 30% of our population today is aged 50 or older and by 2018 will either be retired or close to retirement.] This is another reason why we need to attract these young professionals and small to medium sized businesses to the city.
These are our realities and we must address them. Economic Growth is not an abstract term. It takes many shapes and forms and we need active participation from everyone to support development, re-development, business recruiting and expansion, small business advances, all while actively shaping regional mass transit solutions, public works projects, code enforcement and zoning. And when done right, Economic Growth has a direct and positive impact on our quality of life.
A Great Place for Entrepreneurs. Again, four years ago Forbes Magazine published its list of “America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well.” The City of Fairfax placed third on that list, a great accomplishment and one of which we are all very proud. And if you go back to that Forbes report, they list the strongest categories that helped determine their ranking. Here is what they said about our city, “A great place for entrepreneurs. Fairfax has the second highest number of sole-proprietors of any place measured on our list, [one of the highest numbers of small businesses per capita], and as a result, its [business] start-ups per capita rank first [of every city, town or borough of under 100,000 people].”
As a former President recently said, economic growth .…. can effectively advance the public good when government, businesses and the community work together to share …. [a vision] and to implement lasting solutions. When our collective …. [vision] is more about strengthening the future than maintaining the present, and when our …. [economic] interests are aligned with our social ones, we will be closer to the kind of place we want all our children and grandchildren to live in.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration and your vote on May 3rd.