Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

A dinner-time telephone caller wanted to know, first, if I was a registered voter, and then if I supported President Obama, was worried about the fiscal cliff, opposed choice, or favored the Tea Party. The tagline identified the call from something nebulous with 2012 in the title. The respite from political surveys since Election Day has been welcome but, since Virginia is one of only two states with a gubernatorial election this fall (the other is New Jersey), it appears that the polling cycle has started again. Maybe it’s better to let the answering machine pick up!

At the local level, you don’t need a poll to identify issues. They are what those in local government work on every day. Calls and emails, along with face-to-face conversations at the grocery store, the library, or even the dentist’s office, highlight what’s on constituents’ minds. Speeding in neighborhoods can be addressed in several ways: police enforcement (ouch!), drivers’ paying attention to the speed limit, or instituting a traffic calming plan with speed control devices to slow traffic. Road maintenance – potholes, signals out, stop signs down, sight distance issues – are the responsibility of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that maintains and controls roads in Fairfax County. My office interfaces with VDOT staff on a daily basis to ensure rapid responses to constituent inquiries.

Vigilant prosecution of multiple occupancy complaints in Mason District has reduced the number of cases reported to the Department of Code Compliance by more than half, from 332 in 2008 to 157 in 2012. More than two-thirds of the cases have been resolved, either voluntarily or via court action. Multiple occupancy complaints may be registered with my office (703-256-7717), or directly with the Department of Code Compliance (703/324-1300). Please be sure to have the specific and correct street address of the property in question when you call.

The crime rate in Mason District and Fairfax County is very low, thanks to involved neighbors, and an extraordinary police department that values positive relationships with the people they serve. Recent reports indicate that break-ins occur when doors are left unlocked or valuables are left in the open where they can be seen. Police advise that you keep your doors and windows locked at all times. One community policing officer told me that “unless you are ready to kiss the person on the other side of the screen door, keep it locked.” Good advice to heed. Likewise, vehicles need to be kept locked, even in your own driveway, to avoid an unpleasant surprise the next morning. Our community is a safe one, but it takes personal responsibility to keep it that way.

This weekend celebrates the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. Behind all the pomp and pageantry is the certification, once again, that our nation is built on a system of laws and free elections. For the 57th time, that is cause for celebration. God bless America!