Congress has gone home to campaign. For those who live here so close to the Nation’s Capital, it’s really not such a big deal, since our legislators merely have to cross the Potomac to be in their home districts. We read about congressional actions nearly every day, and hear the radio and television ads with their focused messages to Congress all the time. Defense procurement, labor issues, human suffering, global politics – the Washington Post’s full page ads tend to be more political than in many home-town newspapers.
Congressional candidates in Northern Virginia are very familiar to voters. Longtime Congressman Jim Moran (VA-8) has been in office nearly 20 years, following long service at the local level as an Alexandria City Councilman and Mayor. Understanding the local perspective is an important prerequisite to serving in Congress. That is why Jim has such a good record on environmental issues, and continues to fight for the 8th District from his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee. He knows that his constituents are concerned about restoring the Chesapeake Bay and maintaining green space along the Potomac River. He also has been very responsive to concerns about the BRAC 133 project that built a huge office building at Seminary Road and I-395. A potential 6500 workers will occupy the space by this time next year, guaranteeing significant traffic and parking issues. His recent town hall meeting on the issue featured very pointed comments to Department of Defense staff responsible for the project. Jim noted that the Seminary Road installation is in a very urban area and needs roadway and transportation demand management now, not after the fact when the workers have moved in.
Congressman Gerry Connolly, who is seeking his second term as the 11th District representative, also has a stellar background as a local elected official. His election to Congress in 2008 followed 13 years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, first as Providence District Supervisor, then as Chairman. Many 11th District residents are current or former government employees and contractors, and so the proposed cuts in defense spending may have serious implications for local workers and their families. Questioning whether Defense Secretary Gates’ plan actually would save money, Gerry called for hearings on the matter. Smaller contractors may bear the brunt of the cuts, and push them out of business. That would mean more unemployment, possible foreclosures, empty office space, and reduced revenues to localities that come from home town businesses here in Fairfax County.
A longtime supporter of Rail to Dulles, Gerry also is looking out for commuters who must drive. He recently was advised by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that his request that all drivers on I-66 be able to use the HOV-only ramps at Stringfellow Road and Monument Drive during off-peak hours has been approved. Opening the ramps to all traffic has been a goal since Gerry was on the Board of Supervisors and, as soon as signage and final planning is complete, the ramps will be accessible for everyone.
Fairfax County registered voters may vote absentee in-person at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, from October 18 – 30, Monday through Friday from 2:30 until 7:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Please bring a current and valid form of identification. Another voting option is by mail; the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot by mail is October 26. More information is available from the Fairfax County Office of Elections, www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb, or call 703-222-0776. The deadline to register to vote in the November election is October 12.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]