Mayor John Mason gathered his family on stage Sunday, Feb. 17, kicking off his campaign and setting his sights for the election in May.
"Repositioning the city for the 21st century, that's the path I think we need to continue on," he stressed to a full room of constituents. The party doubled as a "Taste of Fairfax" as well, with area restaurants supplying food for this gala.
There is a twist this year, though. Mason does have his first opponent in several years, Councilman Robert Lederer.
"I do have an opponent, and that's healthy," he said.
Lederer likes the race as well.
"I think a good honest airing of the issues is good for the city," he said.
Mason has been mayor of Fairfax since 1990 and before that was a member of the City Council from 1986-90. He's relying on his track record to speak for itself. A strong economy, a livable and vibrant city, long-term plans for schools, a comprehensive system of "parks, trails and green space," and a transportation network that utilizes several modes of getting around were keys to his success in the past, he said.
Goals for the future include the revitalization of the Lee Highway corridor and rejuvenation of residential housing.
"All those challenges require effective leadership," he said.
Director emeritus of public information for the Fairfax County Police Department, Warren Carmichael, supported Mason. He liked Mason's track record.
"Change for the sake of just changing does not accomplish anything," he said.
Lederer is a five-term voting member of the Fairfax City Council and lifelong resident of the city for the past 46 years. He was on the council from 1982-90 and then again from 1998 until now.
"I'm pretty familiar with politics in the city," he said.
Quality of life in Fairfax is a concern of his. The cornerstone of his campaign is residential rejuvenation, intelligent growth and a representative government. Increasing citizen input is key, according to Lederer.
"We have to take our communication to the neighborhoods. The level of citizen input has deteriorated," he said.
Vijay Kohli likes to have a choice. He looks at transportation as a main concern of the city, if not the whole region.
"Having opposition will be interesting. Hopefully it will bring out some of the issues like transportation. It's going to get worse and worse, there's got to be some solution," he said.
The City of Fairfax representatives are nonpartisan, and Mason attributes this to the proximity of the federal government. The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from being affiliated with either party, and several members of the Council are also government employees.