For years, Tom Davis (R-VA-11th District) was known as a voice for the government contracting community in Northern Virginia. Now Gerry Connolly, Democratic nominee for US Representative from Virginia’s 11th Congressional District, is looking to fill those shoes. “He [Tom Davis] has been a voice for the industry, an advocate for what we do here in the 11th Congressional District and I would expect to play a similar role, both in protecting the federal workers who live in this district and in making sure that federal contractors get a fair shake and a fair hearing and that there is a balanced approach in the Congress as it approaches federal contracting,” says Connolly. Connolly recently shared these and other thoughts with us on what he’d bring to the table as a member of Congress.
What background would you bring to bear in protecting local government contracting jobs in Northern Virginia?
Gerry Connolly: I’ve spent 20 years in the federal contracting technology sector — first as the head of SRI International’s Washington office and now working for SAIC. I have direct experience advocating for the government contracting community by working with the Northern Virginia Technology Council, working with Information Technology Association of America and trying to make sure that we protect this industry and the critical services it provides to the federal government.
Having interacted with the federal contracting world for the better part of 20 years gives me a huge leg up in the next Congress. Also understanding the congressional process. I worked for 10 years in the United States Senate. I understand the legislative process. I’ve written a lot of legislation. I’ve organized a lot of oversight hearings. I can hit the ground running in those scores to make sure that the interests of the 11th Congressional District are protected.
What top issues would you focus on that are also of important to the local government contracting community?
Gerry Connolly: One of them is making sure that the dialogue in Congress is balanced. Sometimes some members of Congress have attacked the federal contracting industry as if it were monolithic and as if one or two bad apples somehow characterize the behavior of all. That is simply unfair. I will be a passionate advocate for making sure that those critical services are there for the federal government. I will also be advocate for the industry. What is the industry in the 11th Congressional District? It is primarily federal IT contracting both directly with federal workers in the federal workplace and increasingly in the outsourcing business of federal IT contractors both large and small. So protecting that industry and advocating for that industry will be a very important part of my job as congressman.
Throughout this race, what topics have business owners and executives been bringing to your attention?
Gerry Connolly: The biggest right now is the economy. How are we going to turn around this economy? How are we going to restore the liquidity to the markets? How are we going to bolster sagging consumer confidence? And as we move forward how do we make sure that the federal government isn’t so swamped in red ink that it can’t really make strategic investments as we move forward in education, technology and the environment. Those are growing concerns for everybody but particularly within the business community.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Gerry Connolly: As chairman of Fairfax County I’ve been endorsed by virtually every business group. I’ve been able to successfully put together very broad coalitions of support from the environmental community, from the business community, from the labor community and I’ve done that again in this race. Fourteen years of experience of helping to manage the largest local government in Virginia is very relevant experience. I’ve had a lot to do with making sure that the outsourcing activities make sense. We have a vigorous IT program in place. Last year Fairfax County was named — I’m very proud of this —the number one digital county in the United States out of 3,000 counties. We’ve been named the “Best Managed County” in the United States out of 3,000 counties. I am very proud of what we have accomplished here. I’d like to bring that same standard of getting things done — and getting them done well — to the United States Congress.