This past Saturday, I had the privilege of conducting the annual Mount Vernon Town Meeting for the first time. Gerry Hyland, my predecessor and its initiator 28 years ago, joined me and drove our virtual “bus” as he gave a tour and spoke of the past year’s challenges, changes, and accomplishments. Afterward, he passed the “keys to the bus” to me, along with his strong words of encouragement to continue meeting the needs of each member of our community. I then talked about my plans and initiatives for moving the Mount Vernon District forward.
The keys to our continued growth and development are our people; building and fostering relationships within and between communities, organizations, businesses and core constituencies is the foundation for everything we do. Relationships become better through communication and engagement. Our office is committed to both. The annual town meeting, our regular e-mail newsletter, newspaper articles, social media, meeting attendance, etc. are our ways of better connecting and, hopefully, meeting your needs. We look forward to it.
My theme during the town meeting virtual “bus” tour was “Accelerating into the Future.” Our planned transportation improvements, which we are calling “Embark,” are integral to new development and job growth. Over the next decades, the Embark process will result in major changes in the Richmond Highway Corridor as we expand the highway to provide more lanes, bus rapid transit and, eventually, extension of the Yellow Line to Beacon Hill, Hybla Valley and, even later, beyond. The first phase of the Embark process is planning-focused, bringing people together to recommend changes to our area’s Comprehensive Plan.
These Embark plan changes will result in smart growth transit-oriented development with increased densities and other changes in areas near the highway that are essential to ultimately secure the billions of dollars in public transportation funding necessary for modernization. This process and these changes will also directly support our local economy by bringing in new residents, improving tourism to our historic sites, facilitating the continued expansion of our hospitals and health care services, growing Fort Belvoir and providing other business opportunities.
I heard your voices clearly at Mount Vernon’s 29th Annual Town Meeting and your hundreds of e-mails and phone calls about how we can streamline and improve county and school services. Schools and their funding have always been, for this former School Board member, my first priority. Quality schools are crucial to our future and will continue to have my full funding commitment. I also support the changes recommended by the County Executive to increase police and firefighter personnel and human services benefiting the district.
I urge you to sign-up to speak at the Budget Public Hearings scheduled for April 5, 6 and 7 at the Fairfax County Government Center. I am working now, so that someday soon, you will be able to testify for those hearings at our local South County Government Center.
It is an honor to represent you. Please contact me anytime at 703-780-7518 or MtVernon@fairfaxcounty.gov.