The election results for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last week reflected a stability that many Virginia counties apparently do not have. In fact, the re-election of all the incumbent Board members may have been a first in Fairfax County history, certainly in modern county history.
Virginia has about 550 county supervisors, and 407 seats were up for election. Several counties stagger their election terms so that some leadership continuity is preserved. Of the 407 seats, 304 incumbents sought re-election, but 69 of those members lost, or 23 percent of the total running for re-election. 235 incumbents, or 77 percent, won. There will be 172 new supervisors across the state, including Bath County, which turned over its board 100 percent; Cumberland, Dinwiddie, and Goochland Counties, which turned over their boards 80 percent; and nearby Loudoun County, which will see a 78 percent change. Only two of the nine Supervisors there are incumbents. The closest races were in Goochland County, where a longtime incumbent lost by six votes; Bath County, one race decided by just an eight vote margin; and Russell County, which had one seat decided by a mere 10 votes. Voters should be assured that their votes certainly can make a difference!
Most Supervisors across Virginia run without party affiliation. 193 Independents, 145 Republicans, and 69 Democrats were elected to serve in the coming term. At the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 77th annual meeting this week, several Supervisors were bid goodbye, and openings for new Supervisors on VACo committees will be available after the first of the year. VACo’s members include all 99 Virginia counties, and the conference focused on service delivery to our citizens. One important subject for all counties was what is being called “devolution,” or the attempt by the Commonwealth to turn over responsibility for maintenance of secondary roads to the counties. That responsibility and authority has rested with the Common-wealth, and funded by your state income taxes, since the early 1930s. As the price tag for maintenance goes up, the state is seeking to devolve the tasks to the localities. VACo members took a strong position opposing devolution. Most county supervisors in attendance were very concerned about the costs that would accompany devolution, and the fear that localities might be forced to take over a deteriorating system of roadways. The Governor’s budget, which will be made public on or about December 19, will most likely contain additional information about devolution, and it is anticipated to be a major legislative discussion in the General Assembly session which begins in mid-January.
At Tuesday’s VACo business meeting, Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins was elected incoming president of the group, succeeding Robert Adkins of Wise County. Cathy’s inaugural address focused on partnerships with the state and federal governments, and the importance of pre-K through 12 education as well as services for those less fortunate across the Commonwealth. I was very proud of her eloquent and forceful approach, and look forward to supporting her efforts in her year as President of VACo.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]