Commentary, Local Commentary

Penny for Your Thoughts

Another tragic vehicle/pedestrian crash, this time near Oakton High School in the Providence District, killed two teen-aged girls walking home from school, and sent another to the hospital with serious injuries. The teen driver and a passenger from the striking car also were injured; two other passengers in that car ran from the scene, but later were identified by police.

The driver of the other vehicle, which had paused for the students to exit the crosswalk before turning, also was struck by the speeding car and was treated by paramedics at the scene. Per Virginia Code 19.2-11.2, Virginia law enforcement agencies are prohibited from directly or indirectly identifying deceased juvenile victims of a crime, so the teens’ identities have not been released. The girls’ deaths were the 9th and 10th pedestrian fatalities in Fairfax County this year.

It can’t be said too many times — driving is a privilege, not a sport. Slow down (the speed limit on most neighborhood streets is 25 mph), pay attention, stay off your devices and, in the case noted above, be aware of vehicular movement ahead of and behind you. Ten pedestrian deaths in less than six months is ten too many. This carnage must stop!

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which runs the popular Tax-Aide program at the Mason District Governmental Center during tax season, is sponsoring two interesting webinars this month. Jump Start Your Job Search, on Tuesday, June 21, from 12 — 1:30 p.m., is designed to help you make a smooth transition into the job market or a career change. RSVP at

A second webinar, Retirement Planning: Strategies for Today and Tomorrow, on Tuesday, June 28 at 7:00 p.m., will focus on taking charge of your financial future. RSVP at
The primary election to select a Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District is underway.

Tuesday, June 21, is the actual Election Day at local polling places, which will be open from 6 a.m. — 7 p.m. Voters also may cast a ballot in-person during early voting at any one of several satellite polling places in the county. Two satellite locations in Mason District are the Mason District Governmental Center (6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale), and the Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd, Falls Church). Voting hours for both locations are 1 — 7 p.m. this week, and 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, which is the last day to vote absentee in-person. A ballot drop box is also available at both locations during voting hours.

Congressman Don Beyer is running for a fifth term representing the 8th Congressional District of Virginia which, because of decennial redistricting, now includes nearly all of Mason District, demarcated by the I-495 Beltway. Using the new boundaries, if you reside inside the Beltway, you probably are in the 8th District and are eligible to vote in the Democratic primary currently underway. The candidates are Congressman Beyer and newcomer Victoria Virasingh. I’ve known Don Beyer since the early 1990s, when he was Lieutenant Governor under two Virginia governors, Democrat Douglas Wilder and Republican George Allen. Don’s lifetime of public service includes an appointment as United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein under President Barack Obama.

In Congress, Don has a seat on the coveted House Ways and Means Committee, a nod to his experience as a business owner. However, it is his empathy for constituents who face severe challenges that demonstrates Don’s obvious concern and search for solutions.

We need more people like Don Beyer in Congress — officeholders who will go the extra mile to help, not because it might improve their re-election chances, but because it is the right and moral thing to do. I’ll be voting for Don Beyer, and hope you will, too.

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