Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

Falls Church and Northern Virginia winners

For many years, I-495 was the demarcation line between Republican and Democratic elected officials. No more. November’s election reduced Republican hold on Northern Virginia state Senate seats by 2. Now there is only one Republican Senator in Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax Counties—Fairfax Senator Ken Cuccinelli, who was declared a 92-vote winner over Democratic challenger Janet Oleszak.

In other races, Loudoun County voters elected a majority of Democrats to the Board of Supervisors, and returned Delegate David Poisson and Senator Mark Herring, both Democrats. Republican delegates Joe May, Tom Rust and Bob Marshall, who share portions of Loudoun County were re-elected, along with Democrats David Poisson and Chuck Caputo.

More importantly, as I suggested in my last column, 4 Senate Democratic pick-ups, including Chap Petersen and George Barker, will undoubtedly result in several key committee chairs for Northern Virginians, including Mary Margaret Whipple, along with Dick Saslaw, Patsy Ticer and Janet Howell, all of whom either represent Falls Church or areas bordering Falls Church.

More balance to the judiciary

In Virginia, Governors can only make temporary appointments to the judiciary. If those appointees are not approved by majorities in each legislative body, the legislature can replace the sitting judge with no gubernatorial veto.

Therefore, the strong likelihood of more regional balance to the Virginia judiciary will be gained. Northern Virginia has lost seats on the Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court because the current Republican majorities in both legislative bodies replaced them with candidates from other regions.

With a divided legislature, more power will rest with each region. Local bi-partisan nominations are more likely to be approved. And it is much more unlikely that Northern Virginia nominees will rejected for partisan or regional reasons.

Merrifield revival

In the past 30 days the Board of Supervisors has approved land use applications that should re-make Merrifield from largely uncoordinated industrial and commercial uses to a new town center. Along with a new nearby smaller, but important neighborhood center, key links to creating a “downtown” that includes mixed residential and commercial uses will be forthcoming.

Land owned by the Multiplex theatre and adjacent to the mixed uses now being completed on Gallows Road will form the approximately 30 acre-core of the town center. Developers committed to 12% workforce and affordable housing, as well as specific actions to reduce traffic demand, including shuttle buses, plus expanding the grid of streets and park areas.

Gallows Road/Lee Highway

At long last, utility relocation and right-of-way acquisition is well along for the improvement of the Gallows Road/Lee Highway intersection. It will cost more than $60 million. Needless to say, this project is critical to the success of the Merrifield re-vitalization. One knowledgeable Merrifield leader has suggested that approaching $1.75 billion in transportation and re-development is now underway in Merrifield.