“Annandale Road is a mess. Fix it!” “Old Columbia Pike has deteriorated to the point of uselessness. Fix it!” “My driveway apron is crumbling. Fix it!” “I hit a pothole and now my car needs repair. Who’s going to pay for that?”
These are samples of the pleas I receive every day, and weekends, too, at my office, at the grocery store, on the doorstep. Once, even, in the dentist’s chair! Local elected officials handle a lot of everyday complaints – drainage, traffic calming, burned out streetlights, missed garbage pick-ups, domestic and wild animal issues, etc. In Virginia, however, filling potholes, paving, snowplowing, and other road maintenance operations, are the responsibility of the state, not the county. Under the laws of the Commonwealth, Fairfax County has no legal authority for road maintenance. That is solely the purview of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that maintains and controls roadways in Fairfax County. So all those complaints about road conditions should be routed to the local delegate and state senator – theoretically.
Problem is, state delegates and senators usually are not as well-known as the local district supervisor, who also has a nearby office and staff to assist constituents. I once asked a delegate how he handled all the constituent calls he got with only one part-time aide. His response? “Oh, they never call me. They know they can call you.” So, when a constituent communicates his/her concern about a road issue, my staff and I work with VDOT staff to address the problem, even though local officials have no legal authority or decision-making role in what gets fixed, paved, or plowed. That responsibility lies squarely with the state, whose funding is determined by actions of the Virginia General Assembly. Your state income tax dollars provide funding for VDOT operations, not county real estate taxes. Nevertheless, responding to constituent inquiries and concerns is a priority for me, whether a local or a state issue.
Now for some good news: State Senator Dick Saslaw has advised me that Annandale Road will be repaved by VDOT this year, hopefully alleviating a lot of angst and anger about the condition of the road. A few other roadways in Mason District also are scheduled to be repaved this year: Old Columbia Pike, Elmdale Road, Evergreen Lane, and Jayhawk Street, just to name a few.
Congratulations to Winnie Lebo, Mason District’s Community Champion for 2015. Winnie and other volunteers were honored Friday at the annual Volunteer Fairfax Service Awards breakfast. Winnie Lebo is an unsung heroine. A simple conversation with a group of friends became the St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Outreach Ministry to Westlawn Elementary School. When the church wanted to “adopt” a child for Christmas gifts, Winnie reached out to a guidance counselor at Westlawn. Very quickly, Winnie’s assistance for one family turned into identifying needs – food, warm clothing, school supplies, and toys – for more students. Everywhere you turn at Westlawn, you can see the fruits of Winnie’s efforts. She inspires others, and asks them to reach a little deeper, so that children in need can be helped. Thank you, Winnie Lebo.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.