Deciding to step down in 2023 was not easy, but Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) is ready to try some new challenges.
“I love the job and the people I work with, but I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my family and do other things before I decide to fully retire,” said Foust, who announced his intentions at the Board of Supervisors’ Aug. 2 meeting.
Foust, who first was elected in 2007, spoke with the Sun Gazette Aug. 9 about his future endeavors and what he hopes to accomplish before departing the board.
He plans to stay involved on issues he cares about – such as affordable housing, economic development and climate change – and seek part-time consulting opportunities that “take advantage of the expertise that I’ve developed over the years.”
Foust lauded the constituent services delivered by his staff, many of whom have been with him for most of the time he has been in office. He also was proud of his involvement with the Board of Supervisors’ Economic Advisory Commission and Economic Initiatives and Housing committees and with helping implement full-day kindergarten in county schools.
Foust has been frustrated that the National Park Service still, after many years, has not signed off on swapping its Langley Fork property in McLean for Fairfax County’s nearby Langley Oaks Park.
“It’s disappointing and I lay that at the feet of the National Park Service,” he said. “They’ve got some good new leadership that we’re working with, and I really want to see that deal done before I leave office.”
Some community members were surprised, and others not, when Foust announced his decision not to run again, but most were positive about his track record.
Several members of the McLean Citizens Association (MCA), of which Foust previously was president, praised his tenure as supervisor.
Glenn Harris, who chairs MCA’s Transportation Committee, said he was “immensely grateful” for Foust’s dedication and service. In addition to his standard eight-hour workday, Foust regularly attended numerous night-time and weekend events, he said.
“Through tireless work, pragmatic judgment and shrewd political insight, John has greatly advanced the interests of Dranesville residents and promoted effective transportation, education, recreational and economic initiatives within Fairfax County,” Harris said.
Longtime MCA board member Merrily Pierce agreed.
“We owe him much gratitude for his steadfast leadership on a wide range of issues, for defending our positions before the Board of Supervisors, for representing us with integrity and, above all, without political rancor,” she said. “May Dranesville District residents realize how fortune we have been.”
Foust has been a “capable, pragmatic and responsive supervisor,” which was not surprising given his business and law degrees, financial and legal jobs, and extensive volunteer work in the community, said Louise Epstein, chairman of MCA’s Budget and Taxation Committee.
“After the Great Recession and when COVID hit, John realized that the county needed to tighten its belt,” Epstein said. “When the MCA lobbied supervisors to make the county pension plans financially sustainable, John was one of the few who genuinely understood the moving parts. I will miss working with John on budget issues, and hope that our next supervisor has a similar approach.”
Local resident Paul Rothstein had specific wishes for the remainder of Foust’s term.
Speaking for what he said were 18 fellow constituents, Rothstein said he hoped the supervisor would protect the community from the impacts of burgeoning development along the McLean/Falls Church border.
“The people of the West Falls Church Metro area hope that Supervisor Foust will, during his last 16 months in office, support our needs regarding traffic, building height, pedestrian safety and density issues, especially at the soon-to-be former Virginia Tech site,” Rothstein said.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D), who went through Sorenson Institute training with Foust and first was elected to the Board of Supervisors with him in 2007, credited Foust with “major accomplishments,” especially regarding affordable housing.
“You’ve made Dranesville District a much better place to live, thanks to your leadership,” McKay said at the board’s Aug. 2 meeting.
Del. Rip Sullivan (D-McLean-Arlington) wished Foust and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Jerome, the best in the future.
“I am happy for John and Marilyn as they move into their next phase, but selfishly – as a very satisfied constituent – I am saddened to lose John as my supervisor,” Sullivan said. “He has been a remarkably dedicated and effective public servant – I’d even say transformative – with his fingerprints all over the great strides that Fairfax County has made during his time on the board. We’ll miss him and his leadership.”
Serving in public office “broadened my perspective,” Foust said. “I think I was always someone who was concerned about the plight of other people, but it educated me as to how serious some of the challenges are out there and I learned about the tools that are available to address them.”
The supervisor joked he was proud still to be in office, as the first Democrat to win a two-way race in Dranesville and the first supervisor in that district in more than a century to serve at least three terms (he’s currently in his fourth).
As for potential successors, Foust said the community is ripe with them.
“One thing that Dranesville District does not lack is quality people who are actively working on behalf of the community all of the time,” he said.
“I hope that several good people step up. It’s an awesome job with an opportunity to do some amazing things.”