Sharon Bulova | Chairman Of The Fairfax County Board Of Supervisors

Sharon_Bulova
Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova is unlike the majority of politicians and public officials in the DC area, mainly because of her clear rejection of the “stepping stone to bigger and better things” philosophy. For Bulova, local government is more vocation than job. Smart and thick-skinned, Bulova has been providing skillful and efficacious leadership as Chairman since 2009, prior to which she was Braddock District Supervisor for 20 years.

Sharon_Bulova2Originally a volunteer for the Civic Association in her Fairfax City neighborhood, Bulova believes “an informed and engaged community is a well-served community.” Her commitment to her Fairfax County community unimpeachable, Bulova wields her seven-year incumbency as Chairman so as to facilitate long-term financial investments in infrastructure, public safety, and education. Bulova has been instrumental in the transformation of Tysons Corner and the similar revitalization of older commercial and industrial areas around Northern Virginia into vibrant, sustainable communities. As one of the founders of the Virginia Railway Express, Chairman Bulova is hard at work on completing Phase II of the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport, which is set for completion in 2019. Additionally, Bulova sits on the governing board of the Fairfax County Initiative to Prevent and End Homelessness. Despite a seemingly endless to-do list (which includes addressing the chronic I-66 gridlock and discovering a balance between affordability and quality of life in residential Northern Virginia), Chairman Bulova remains confident in her vision for the future of Fairfax County.

What have been your biggest challenges in public office?
Time management! As Chairman and before that as Braddock District Supervisor, I can tell you it is not easy to make time to read, write, meet with constituents, and get out into the community for events while ensuring “quality time for family” and personal time for health and exercise. Another day in the week would help.

What is the most important issue you’ll be tackling this year?
I’ll be leading our Board, in partnership with Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and many county agencies, in the creation of a “Diversion First” program. Diversion First aims to reduce the number of people with mental illness in local jails by diverting nonviolent offenders experiencing mental health crises to treatment, rather than bringing them to jail. We are also adopting changes to some of the practices our police department employs when responding to critical incidents. I think we have the opportunity to become a model for police departments throughout the nation.

“THERE’S NO OTHER LEVEL
OF GOVERNMENT WHERE
YOU CAN MAKE POSITIVE
CHANGE HAPPEN AND
TANGIBLY IMPROVE THE
LIVES OF OTHERS ON A
DAY-TO-DAY BASIS.”

As a woman in public office, what type of obstacles do you face?
Throughout my long political career I have never experienced obstacles because I am a woman.

What advice would you give young women entering a public service career?
I was inspired many years ago when I watched President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and heard him say, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Public service is a very satisfying place to be. I am especially happy to be serving in local government. There’s no other level of government where you can make positive change happen and tangibly improve the lives of others on a day-to-day basis.

What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment in public office?
I was a founder of the Virginia Railway Express during the early ’90s. Now, years later, I’m excited to be fostering the extension of Metro’s Silver Line from Falls Church to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun. I’m proud of my record for being able to bring parties together for the common good.

At the end of the day, what do you hope to achieve personally and professionally?
Professionally, I hope to instill a positive, collaborative culture in Fairfax County government and our community that lives on even after I’m gone.

Personally, I hope to encourage my children, grandchildren, and loved ones to enjoy and support one another. Bringing people together in a positive way is my overarching goal.

In 2011, Washingtonian Magazine named Chairman Sharon Bulova one of Washington’s 100 Most Powerful Women. What makes Bulova powerful is her rare ability to mediate between extremes to devise constructive solutions. There’s no room for in-fighting in local government. On the role of politics, Bulova sagely calls for bipartisanship. “While we come from different parties,” she remarks during her 2015 speech inaugurating the Board of Supervisors, “there is no such thing as a Democrat storm drain or a Republican turf field.” It’s a message we could stand to hear more often around the Beltway and beyond.

PHOTOS BY ALEX MANGIONE