Local Commentary

The Little City Weed

Fairfax County wants to become a city just like Falls Church City. It is a fine idea neighbor. A mighty fine idea.

Allow me, pardoning the temerity, to share a few thoughts about how Fairfax might make the transition from being a behemoth megalopolis to something a little more scalable as a community.

First, you will need a new name. The Fairfax brand has nearly 300 years of baggage. It makes me think of prissy noble people with land grants, accents, and pale children. Plus, there is the built-in conflict with tiny Fairfax City. The county could, of course, simply finish its annexation of Fairfax City. But rolling up such a charming community in the middle of the night and turning it into a dog park would set exactly the wrong tone as a new friendly-city neighbor. And it would probably unnecessarily make the good people of Vienna nervous.

So think about finding a new name. My only advice is to avoid naming yourself after a building which can be taken over by political conservatives and orthodox true believers who do not cotton much for gay people or women in charge. Not hating, just saying.

You will also need a mayor. There is something cheery and friendly about having a mayor. “Hi Mayor! Saw you at the park this morning … have a great day!” just oozes quaintness and approachability. Whereas, “Welcome, Honorable Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors” makes people feel like they are late to a deposition.

Keep in mind, Munchkinland had a mayor with a big sash, a sunny disposition, and a great hat … not a BOS Chairman with security detail. Just something to think about.

Finally, to really become a successful city, Fairfax would have to scale back on political ambition. It is a tough ask, I know, for a sprawling county which is all too aware it has nearly twice the population of Washington DC and which has unofficially adopted “If We Were a Country We Would Have the Fifth Largest Budget in the World” as its motto.

City politics is much simpler. We bundle our tax rate so we do not embarrass our friends. We cut the grass in our medians so people can read the yard signs. We plow our streets so commuters can get to where they need to go. Our local elected officials do not compare themselves to world leaders, become members of congress, or amass an army of political supporters who wear blue t-shirts and march in local Memorial Day parades. Just as a purely hypothetic example. No, our city elected local officials serve a few years and then go back to teaching school, tending gardens, or sitting on their porches, yelling at kids, and writing pithy pointed letters to the editor of the mighty Falls Church News-Press.

By the way, Nick, many thanks for the use of your space.  Hope the plug was not too subtle, and I promise to mostly always use the opportunity for purposes of good.


Michael Gardner is quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.