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FairfaxDemocrats reject Herrity appointee for anniversary celebration

Democrats reject Herrity appointee for anniversary celebration

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Free speech sometimes carries a price.

Fairfax County supervisors on Feb. 22 declined to appoint an outspoken critic to serve on a county commission preparing for the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026.

Springfield District Supervisor Patrick Herrity (R) had tapped Great Falls resident William Denk for the commission. But Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville), who oversees the district where Denk lives, asked that Denk’s appointment be pulled out from the slate of prospective appointees for separate consideration.

When Herrity then moved for approval of Denk’s appointment, the eight other Democratic supervisors present (Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik was absent and caring for a newborn baby) did not second Herrity’s motion, which killed it.


The board’s action occurred without any discussion, or even the mention of Denk’s name. The final board agenda for the meeting, updated after the meeting and posted on the county’s Website, mentions supervisors’ approval of the list of board and commission appointees with an amendment, but does not disclose what happened and leaves a blank space for Herrity’s nominee on the 250th Anniversary Commission.

Those on both sides of the issue offered pointed remarks afterward.

Foust “pre-whipped the other board members not to vote for my nomination. That’s obviously what happened. That’s very abnormal,” said Denk, who added he was not surprised by the action. “Foust used good parliamentary rules to retaliate against me. I would think they would like diverse viewpoints on the panel, but maybe not.”

Denk, a 40-year Fairfax County resident who for decades served on the McLean Citizens Association, now belongs to the Great Falls Citizens Association. He has criticized Foust and other county officials in the wake of drag-queen story presentations at Dolley Madison Library, the availability of explicit LGBTQ books in local schools and the juxtapositioning of some of those books next to the Bible in a holiday display case at Dolley Madison Library.

Herrity quickly got county officials to reverse course on the latter two items, Denk said, although the School Board later voted to retain the books.

Foust said appointees to boards and commissions must be able to work together respectfully and in a professional manner and that it is “unproductive and unfair” to other members if some try to advance their positions by “engaging in nasty ad hominem attacks.”

Denk has a history of making such unsupportable personal attacks and did not have the required support from a majority of supervisors to serve on the commission, said Foust, who provided several e-mails from Denk as evidence.

“This is not the first time this nominee ‘shoots from the hip’ and accuses people of improper motives . . . without doing the appropriate research to ensure his fact are correct,” Foust said.

Supervisors typically approve slates of board, authority and commission appointees unanimously and without discussion during early portions of meetings. Herrity, who like Foust first began serving on the board in 2008, said he could not recall any other instance in his tenure when supervisors rejected such a nominee.

Herrity said Denk had been brought to his attention by Springfield District’s History Commission appointee. While some boards and commissions require that appointees live in the districts of their nominating supervisor, that was not the case for the 250th Anniversary Commission, he said.

Foust disagreed, saying it was “very rare” for supervisors to appoint people from outside their districts.

“Most supervisors believe their constituents should be represented by people who also live in their district,” Foust said. “And most supervisors are usually able to find qualified candidates who live in their own districts to serve.”

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