Fairfax County’s 13th Urban County Board of Supervisors will be inaugurated next Tuesday, December 15. The swearing-in ceremony certainly is less grand than a presidential inauguration – held in the Government Center Forum, not on the steps of the Capitol – and there is no parade. Similar to the presidential oath, albeit longer, the Board of Supervisor’s oath is as follows:
I (name) do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me as (insert title) of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, according to the best of my ability, so help me God.
In addition to the returning Board members and Chairman Sharon Bulova, two new Board members, Kathy Smith (D-Sully), and Dan Storck (D-Mt. Vernon), will be sworn in, as will Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh, and directors of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. Supervisors-elect Smith and Storck will be shifting from serving on the School Board to the Board of Supervisors, so they already are aware of the dynamics of working with boards and the community. The learning curve can be steep, however, as the Board of Supervisors has responsibility for so many facets of services provided by local government. Although the swearing-in by Circuit Court Judge Penny Azcarate is on December 15, the new term of office does not begin until January 1, 2016.
According to many observers, Fairfax County Board members enjoy an unusually high level of camaraderie and cordiality among themselves. That does not mean that all members agree on all issues all the time, but governance in Fairfax County generally is blind to partisan political posturing. Issues at the local level are people issues – and need to be resolved, not demagogued. Thoughtful, deliberate debate can result in positive outcomes for everyone.
One of those positive outcomes is the “tapestry” of our community, woven carefully to be inclusive of our very diverse community – demographically, ethnically, economically, socially, linguistically – respecting differences in faith and upbringing and outlook, but always seeking that “sweet spot” of understanding. It’s not easy, but very much worth the effort. And it is the responsibility of elected leaders. Quite frankly, I am appalled by calls to restrict immigrants and visitors from other parts of the world, just by virtue of their country of origin or faith. That’s been tried before, with shameful results. We are a nation of immigrants; our tapestry should reflect that, be whole and colorful, as our nation is, not excluding certain hues or weaves. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as Mason District Supervisor, and that inclusiveness is what I will be thinking about as I rise to take the oath of office, for the sixth time, next Tuesday.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]