Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Fairfax County’s 11th Urban County Board of Supervisors took the oath of office on Wednesday evening, December 12, before hundreds of onlookers at the Fairfax County Government Center. The soaring glassed atrium resounded with repeated applause as Judge Stanley P. Klein of the Fairfax Circuit Court, attired in a black judicial robe, administered the oath of office to each of the 10 members of the Board, as well as to the constitutional officers and the directors of the Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors dates back to December 1870, a result of the ratification of the Underwood Constitution in 1869, which required each county to establish a board of supervisors as its chief administrative agency. Previously, a county court system provided governance. Nearly a century later, the voters approved a change to the urban county form of government, essentially a new charter for Fairfax County. Included was the ability to elect a chairman at-large instead of rotating that office among the supervisors. The new board that took the oath last Wednesday is the 11th under the new charter. More information about the history of the Board of Supervisors can be found in Fairfax County, Virginia A History, by five authors, including Nan Netherton and Mason District resident Donald Sweig.

The new board takes office on January 1, 2008, and includes three new members: Democrats John Foust and Jeff McKay, who will represent the Dranesville and Lee Districts respectively, and Republican Patrick Herrity of the Springfield District. They will join returning Board members Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) Mike Frey (R-Sully), Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), Linda Smyth (D-Providence), Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), Chairman Gerry Connolly, and me.

In his inaugural remarks, Chairman Connolly pointed out that local government is the place where we get something done for the community, to leave it a better place than we found it. Local government is expected to provide results. “Action is the yardstick by which we are measured,” he said. “We must deliver.” Chairman Connolly cited numerous initiatives, including responses to weather-related disasters, community-based gang prevention programs, the county’s 20-year Environmental Vision Plan, and expansion of county-owned parkland that demonstrate investments that pay off for our citizens every day.

“We must sustain the strategic investments our citizens have entrusted to us,” Chairman Connolly said. His list included ensuring a high performing school system; a vigorous environmental stewardship; a public safety system second to none; a human services network that enables the aged, the young, and those in need to lead productive lives; affordable housing for those who serve our economy; 10 percent of the county as permanent parkland; and a transportation system that is multi-modal and provides choices for our commuters. He concluded with a reminder of the importance of respect and civility toward other viewpoints and an unwavering commitment to a government that works.