Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Early in-person absentee voting for Fairfax County voters begins Thursday, October 21, 2021, at multiple satellite locations across the county. For voters who reside in the Mason District, the closest satellite location may be the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, or the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church. Voting hours are Monday through Friday, 12 noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, October 23 and 30, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and Sunday, October 24, from 1 to 5 p.m. Covid-19 protocols are observed in all county facilities, and masks must be worn. Please bring a current and valid photo identification to the polling place.


Only two states, Virginia and New Jersey, have statewide races during this “off-year” election cycle. Pollsters indicate that the results in reliably “blue” New Jersey are expected to retain Democratic control. “Purple” Virginia is another story, as polls show the governor’s race tightening, which may have an effect on the down-ballot races. In addition to governor, Virginians will vote for lieutenant governor and attorney general statewide, along with House of Delegates and, in Fairfax County, a school bond referendum. That’s a total of five slots to check on the not-so-long ballot, much shorter than the 2019 ballot for county offices, which had 14 slots for decision!


Former Governor Terry McAuliffe served as the Commonwealth’s leader from 2013 to 2017, created 200,000 Virginia jobs, and secured a record $1 billion investment in education during his previous tenure. An indefatigable and positive campaigner who always is in high gear, Governor McAuliffe had pledged to fight for increased funding for affordable and attainable housing, end gun violence, and stand fast against anti-woman legislation. The Commonwealth needs an experienced leader who can address, and find solutions for, the multiple real life needs and demands of its people. Terry McAuliffe is that experienced leader, and deserves a second (non-consecutive) term as Virginia’s governor.


Virginia will make history this year in electing a woman of color to the Lieutenant Governor position, regardless of party. Hala Ayala, a native Virginian who represents Prince William County in the House of Delegates, won a heavily contested Democratic primary in June. Delegate Ayala has a special interest in improving educational opportunities for all children, and was instrumental in expanding Medicaid to more than 400,000 Virginians. A vote for Hala is a vote for continuing progress in the Commonwealth.


Attorney General Mark Herring is running for his third term to that office. Mark comes from a local government background; I first met him when he was on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. His experience in local government gives him special insight into the myriad of legal issues that may affect provision of local services, but he also has fought on the national issues that affect us at the local level – ensuring marriage equality, fighting the Trump Muslim ban, and protecting a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. Mark has been a leader in the national fight to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the heroin and opioid crises that have devastated many families and communities.


A School Bond question on Fairfax County ballots this year asks voters to approve a $360 million bond to renovate existing schools and acquire property for future schools. The approved bond would contain funding for renovation planning at Bren Mar Park Elementary School in Mason District, but a third of the funding would support renovation of Falls Church High School, also in Mason District, long a goal of former School Board member Sandy Evans and me. Fairfax County voters generously have supported school bonds in the past, and it is time to do so again.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]