My Last Welcome Letter For Connection Newcomers

My Last Welcome Letter For Connection Newcomers

When I was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1987 the Braddock District was called Annandale. Fairfax County’s population (now 1.15 million) was approximately 746,600. There was no VRE (Virginia Railway Express Commuter Rail System) nor was there a Springfield Franconia Metro Station or a Fairfax County Parkway. When I took office as a freshman Supervisor in January 1988, Fairfax County was, for the most part, a rapidly growing suburban bedroom community. Tysons was still just a shopping mall.

I will be retiring at the end of December, after serving 31 years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors — 11 years as Chairman and 20 years before that as the Braddock District Supervisor. What I have come to understand over these many years is that the one thing you can be certain of is that things will change. Indeed, a lot has changed over that span of time.

During the past decade while I have had the honor to serve you as Chairman, Fairfax County has:

  • Navigated the financial crises caused by the Great Recession with the County’s coveted triple A bond rating by all three rating agencies still intact;

  • Welcomed Metro’s Silver Line to Tysons and Reston, with a station at Dulles Airport to open next year;

  • Ushered in new land use plans for Tysons and other aging commercial and industrial areas of the County in need of revitalization;

  • Reengineered our police policies to include more transparency and de-escalation tactics with a focus on the sanctity of life;

  • Created Diversion First, a program for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities, experiencing an encounter with law enforcement to receive treatment instead of incarceration;

  • Updated the County’s Environmental Vision to include a new focus on Energy Efficiency and Climate;

  • Strengthened collaboration between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board in the areas of budget development, land use planning and joint environmental initiatives;

  • Reduced homelessness by nearly 50% employing a Housing First strategy to put a roof over homeless individuals’ heads and connecting them to resources needed to help them get back on their feet;

  • Lastly, and most importantly, our Board, in partnership with the School Board, established One Fairfax, a social and racial equity compact, to ensure that ALL residents of Fairfax County have access to equitable opportunities for success.

I have been deeply honored to serve the residents of Fairfax County for these many years. I will really miss this job! Jurisdictions throughout the country look to Fairfax County as a leader and innovator, and I am proud, working with my colleagues on the Board and our excellent County staff, to have led our county to where it is today. Fairfax County is an awesome place, with a culture of engagement, acceptance of different cultures and backgrounds and a willingness to work together to resolve conflicts.

Fairfax County is poised for many exciting opportunities ahead. I am confident the next Board of Supervisors, in partnership with members of the community, will continue the positive momentum we are known for.