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Ex-Mayor Says Bye to Falls Church

6-Year F.C. Mayor Offers Some Parting Advice

photo1Daniel Gardner, who had the second-longest term of service as mayor of Falls Church in the City’s 60-year history from 2000-2006, cautioned the City not to “become too insular” in some parting comments to the News-Press as he and wife Deborah leave Falls Church for a new homes in Rockville, Md. and Lake of the Woods, Va.

6-Year F.C. Mayor Offers Some Parting Advice

 

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FORMER FALLS CHURCH Mayor Dan Gardner (center) is shown in this 2001 photo with Edna Frady (left) and Mike Curtin (right) attending a summer mixer at the office of the . (Photo: News-Press)

 

Daniel Gardner, who had the second-longest term of service as mayor of Falls Church in the City’s 60-year history from 2000-2006, cautioned the City not to “become too insular” in some parting comments to the News-Press as he and wife Deborah leave Falls Church for a new homes in Rockville, Md. and Lake of the Woods, Va.

Gardner presided over the most aggressive era of new mixed use development growth in the City’s history, which became stalled by the recession in recent years.

The developments ran from the City’s first, the Broadway, to the Byron, Pearson Square, the Read Building and approvals for a new $330 million City Center development, which fell silent due to the recession.

Having raised their children in Falls Church, and put them through Falls Church City Schools, Dan and Deb Gardner moved from their single family home to a unit in the new Byron before commutes to Deb Gardner’s new job in Greenbelt, Md., made a move to Rockville necessary.

A farewell celebration for the two is slated for tonight at a local restaurant, with many friends from the community expected to be in attendance.

Meanwhile, Deb Gardner continues her new work as a senior advisor to the director of the Bureau of Health Professions of the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dan Gardner has landed a new position, just announced this week, as the executive director of the Arlington Academy of Hope, a U.S.-based non-profit that provides an all-around education, basic health care and economic development opportunities for poverty-striken children and their communities in rural Uganda.

This follows his retirement after many years’ service as the Director of Readiness and Training in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. He formally retired in May.  That duty included a trip to Afghanistan in November 2008.

Deb Gardner recently relinquished her post as president of Falls Church’s Citizens for a Better City (CBC), and Dan has asked to be replaced as president of the non-profit Falls Church Education Foundation (FCEA), though he plans to remain on its Board of Directors.

Not since Carol DeLong’s four-term, eight-year run as mayor of Falls Church had anyone served as long as Gardner, who voluntarily relinquished his role after three terms in 2006. Between the terms of DeLong and Gardner, there had been six successive mayors who’d served two-year terms.

We have a tremendous city, the ideal of a city. People here need to keep open minded and open hearted. I am concerned there is a potential of not going in the right direction now, or at least that the direction has gone flat.

Gardner was first elected to the City Council in 1998, taking the reins as mayor in 2000. In 1999, he was part of “Team Falls Church” in the three-day, 340-mile bicycle ride from Raleigh, N.C., to Washington, D.C., through the City of Falls Church in support of causes associated with fighting AIDS.

It was only 13 months after his first election as mayor that final approval for the first of the major mixed use projects was achieved by the City Council, on Sept. 10, 2001. The next morning, Mayor Gardner appeared at the monthly morning meeting of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce to explain the achievement.

He left early for work, and when Chamber board members emerged from the Original Pancake House into a clear-skied morning, news of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was first reported that included a plane flying into the Pentagon, where the mayor had left to work less than an hour earlier.

A quick call to City Hall by the News-Press was met with the assurance that Mayor Gardner was OK, that he was in a different part of the building than where the plane hit. He later told of walking away from the Pentagon in the aftermath of the attack, not sure if a second plane was on the way or not.

In some final remarks before their going away reception tonight, he said he had concerns for Falls Church “becoming insular,” both in terms of the differences between the “haves” and the “have nots,” and in terms of its ability to work closely with its jurisdictional neighbors.

“We have a tremendous city, the ideal of a city,” he said. “People here need to keep open minded and open hearted. I am concerned there is a potential of not going in the right direction now, or at least that the direction has gone flat.”

He hailed the “team effort” that went into the accomplishments of his four years as mayor, noting that the mixed use projects represented a “new step for the City.”

He cited the construction of the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School as an example, saying it involved “a tremendous level of effort and community interest to get it done.”

“We listened before we acted, we had a team spirit and had good relations with the City staff,” he said, crediting the late City Manager Dan McKeever, adding, “Without taking anything away from (current City Manager) Wyatt Shields.”

 

 

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