Dennis Husch of Herndon, Virginia has announced his candidacy for the Dranesville District seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in the November, 2011 elections. Mr. Husch believes the solution to solving government fiscal crises at all levels lies not in debating the symptoms such as underfunded government services, but rather “changing the policies and assumptions that have created and are maintaining the current expanding bureaucracy.”
In a recent discussion with NOVA TownHall, Mr. Husch outlined what he sees as the major challenges currently facing Fairfax County: “education, budget, transportation and improving the responsiveness of the government to its citizens.”
MESSAGE FROM THE 2010 ELECTIONS
Mr. Husch sees the results of the November, 2010 elections as a clear message to those responsible for public policy:
Taxes are too high, spending is out of control, government is too big and intrusive, and anyone seeking public office who does not ascribe to “first principles” will be rejected by the voters. As Thomas Jefferson noted, citizens will only take so much intrusion from the government before they take back their government. November was an indication that “we the people” have had enough: What people earn belongs to them; the people have personal responsibility and rights given by God – not the government; the people will decide locally how to manage and improve their quality of life; and the people will force the federal government to constrain its activities as demanded by the Constitution. Politicians who ignore the voter proceed at their own political peril.
Regarding the Fairfax County public school system, Mr. Husch notes that
Education costs represent over half of the county budget and we all need to ensure that money is being properly allocated to provide students with the best possible education. I have concerns about teacher-student ratios (class size) and making sure those ratios are consistent across all schools in the county. I am also concerned about the “tooth-to-tail” ratio – that’s the comparison of the number of front-line classroom teachers to the number of administration/central office personnel.
During his terms on the Herndon Town Council (1994-2010, 2006-2008 as Vice Mayor), Mr. Husch has spent 16 years preparing and reviewing municipal budgets – along with 40 years preparing competitive corporate budgets during his professional career as an operations analyst and program manager (click here for Mr. Husch’s Curriculum Vitae).
If elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Dennis Husch intends to apply his budget management expertise toward creating a more efficient government, “not through arbitrary spending cuts or moving problems to future years, but by changing the policies and assumptions that have created and are maintaining the current expanding bureaucracy.”
The budget is the place where real impact can be made; not just as a superficial attempt to reduce taxes, spending and the size of government, but as the place where the core policies can be validated and changed that drive the preparation and the magnitude of the budget … In every case the policies and the assumptions applied determine the magnitude of the budget: Change the policies and the outcomes can be much different.
It is unfortunate that many times elected officials are drawn into budget discussions that don’t really solve problems. For example, suppose there is a need to reduce spending by the police force and there is a discussion of how many new police cars will be purchased. If the number is reduced from 70 to 50 there certainly will be a reduction in spending, but the spending problem is not really solved – it is just moved to the next budget. Eventually the police cars will have to be replaced. The opportunity in this example is to discuss the policy being used to determine how many police cars are needed and the criteria (age, mileage, maintenance history) applied to determine when the police cars should be replaced. A change in the criteria will result in a change in the number of replacement vehicles needed not only for this year but for future years.
It is also unfortunate when the response to a call for reduced spending (due to reduced revenues or a demand by citizens for fiscal responsibility) by the bureaucracy is a proposal to cut the number of teachers, police or firefighters. Such initial budget proposals must be met with disdain and summarily rejected as the bureaucracy’s attempt at self-preservation and not a valid response to the demands of the citizens whom they serve.
Transportation policy is as critical in western Fairfax County as in any part of the U.S. Mr. Husch believes that Fairfax County Board decisions in the coming years can mean the difference between success or “continuing disaster.” In the short term, he thinks spot improvements can make a difference. These include lengthening turn lanes, improving intersections, synchronizing traffic lights and repairing roads and shoulders.
But as residents of Fairfax and Loudoun counties will learn in the near future, some of the most significant upcoming public policy decisions will involve funding the Metro system. Having served on the Phase II Tax District Commission for MetroRail, Mr. Husch thinks our focus should be on the fiscal implications of the “larger picture:”
For example, construction of the Metro Silver Line from Wiehle Avenue to Dulles Airport to Loudoun County will be paid for by increasing the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. At what point does the magnitude of the tolls force traffic off the Toll Road and onto neighborhood streets and Route 7? The funding and operation of the Silver Line must be accomplished in the context of the unintended consequences that could further exacerbate our current traffic congestion problems. No plan for spot improvements will offset a bad funding plan for the Silver Line.
Public policy specifics aside, it could be argued that most electoral sea changes in America recently have resulted from elected bodies that have ignored the will of their constituents. Dennis Husch has seen this simple law at work during his tenure in Herndon and in the U.S. as a whole, and he believes it should be instructive for those seeking to serve on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors:
Improving the responsiveness of government to the needs of those they serve will be the most important and rewarding part of the job for anyone elected to public office. Constituent services – bringing the service and expertise of the government to the citizens – must be the first task. For 16 years on the Herndon Town Council I accomplished that task and I look forward to continuing that service on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The first step in that process is to remind the government that they work for the citizens…
Because of government overreach and out of control spending, people are suffering and worrying about their and their family’s future. They gather at their kitchen tables to establish priorities and budgets so they can live within their means. Governments at all levels – county, state and federal – must do the same thing. I sincerely believe that the voters have awakened and will demand these governments formulate plans to live within their means, reduce taxes, reduce the size of government and cease the usurpation of our individual liberties. Irresponsibility will not be rewarded with votes.
In light of the fact that it is early in the 2011 election cycle, and because of the redistricting process which will take place as a result of the 2010 U.S. Census the boundaries of the “Dranesville” District will not be determined for several more months, we asked Mr. Husch this closing question: However your district is defined after redistricting, it is likely to include voters unfamiliar with your career of public service in Herndon. What are the main things people should know about Dennis Husch?
I am an experienced leader who has served eight consecutive terms on the Herndon Town Council and who has served on several Fairfax County and Virginia Commonwealth boards. I have a demonstrated record of being a fiscal conservative, an advocate for lower taxes and an advocate for a transparent and open government that serves the citizens of our community. While others may speak of an open and transparent government, I know what it really is and how to do it because I’ve done it.