Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpEarly voting at satellite locations began on Oct. 13, and record numbers of voters are turning out for the first federal election since the Trump administration took office in early 2017. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6, and voters are reminded to vote at their local polling places on Election Day. Registered Fairfax County voters may vote absentee-in person at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, from 3 – 7 p.m. weekdays. The satellite polls also are open on Saturday, Oct. 27, and Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Senator Tim Kaine is running for re-election, against Republican challenger Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. The Senate race has garnered lots of attention, because of Mr. Stewart’s vow to run a “vicious campaign.” The general consensus seems to be that he has done exactly that, using fear and slander as his tools. Virginia deserves a respected, thoughtful, and experienced Senator; Tim Kaine is that person.

Mason District shares two congressional districts, the 8th and the 11th, and has skillful representation by Congressmen Don Beyer (VA-8), former Lt. Governor and Ambassador to Switzerland, and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Both face untested GOP opponents, but the districts will benefit from experienced leadership, particularly when government employees are facing pay and benefit challenges by the current administration.

Also on the November ballot are two Virginia Constitutional Amendments and a public safety bond referendum. The first constitutional question would allow a surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran to continue to claim a property tax exemption for moving into a different primary residence. Presently, the surviving spouse may claim the exemption only as long as he/she is living in the home shared with the deceased veteran. The second question would authorize a local government to provide a partial property tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made to the property. Both of the constitutional amendment questions would authorize local governments to provide exemption from local property taxes, but do not provide any funding to compensate for the local tax losses.

The final question on the ballot is Fairfax County’s 2018 Public Safety Bond Referendum, asking for approval of a maximum of $182 million to renovate or replace four aging fire stations including Station 28 at Seven Corners; renovate the Mason District Police Station, the Criminal Justice Academy, and the Police Evidence Storage Building; and upgrades to the Adult Detention Center and the Courthouse. Fairfax County voters traditionally have supported bond questions, which allow the county to borrow money, similar to a mortgage, to construct or renovate facilities. The fire and police stations, especially, are subject to heavy 24/7/365 usage by police and fire crews that work around the clock to ensure the safety and security of Fairfax County residents and businesses. The county’s excellent Triple-A bond rating, and the Board’s strong debt management guidelines have saved taxpayers more than $815 million on bond and refunding sales, compared to industry benchmarks of other municipal bond issuers.


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.