Guest Commentary, Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts

When I first moved to the Washington, D.C. area, The Byrds had a hit recording that emulated Ecclesiastes – To Everything There Is a Season (popularly known as Turn, Turn, Turn).  As a young Hill staffer, the song was more a peace anthem than a life plan but, over time, I have come to learn, and accept that, indeed, there is a season and a “time for every purpose under heaven.”  Some of the times noted in the song are especially appropriate for those of us who are privileged to be elected officials – a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to build up, a time to speak and, sometimes, a time to keep silent.

Elected officials have additional seasons that require our attention and participation – snow season, budget season, campaign season, for example.  Mindful that Virginia’s 2023 campaign season is nearly upon us, I announced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that I will not seek re-election in 2023, and will retire when the current term is completed on December 31, 2023.  

Of course, there is lots more to do, but there always will be lots more to do.  I love my job, appreciate and respect my colleagues, and treasure all of Mason District, and the residents who have placed their trust and confidence in me for the past 27 years.  In many ways, my constituents are family – many have shared their deepest dreams, as well as fears, with me, and sought advice and assistance from my office.  We’ve shared successes and disappointments, proving once again that, at the local level, at least, politics is all about helping people resolve problems, not partisanship or power.  

During the next year, my staff and I will endeavor to provide the same robust constituent services as we have done for nearly three decades.  I will continue to serve on local, regional, and national bodies, work on policies that will help restore our local streams and the Chesapeake Bay, advocate for safer streets and attainable housing, and a myriad of other issues that affect our communities.  Also, with Nick Benton’s approval, I plan to continue doing the most disciplined thing I do each week – submit my FCN-P column by the deadline!  Writing a weekly newspaper column never was on my “bucket” list, but I deeply appreciate Nick’s encouragement and generosity since I wrote my first column in 1997.  A constituent, who was both a columnist and book author, suggested that I should engage a ghost writer because he thought I wouldn’t have the time to devote to a regular column.  I did not follow his advice, writing nearly every word myself, without an edit from Nick!  

We are so fortunate to be in Northern Virginia and, especially, Fairfax County, an outstanding place to live, work, play, worship, and learn.  I am proud and grateful to have had a role in ensuring these opportunities for our diverse community, and I look forward to the continuing success of Fairfax County and the region.