In perhaps his last appearance as a Congressman-elect, Don Beyer addressed a couple hundred attendees at the annual Democratic Road to Richmond brunch on Sunday. In a brief talk, he demonstrated his diplomatic skills honed as Ambassador to Switzerland, and looked forward to serving in the new Congress, representing the 8th Congressional District of Virginia. About half of Mason District is in the 8th; the other half is represented by 11th District Congressman Gerry Connolly, who also spoke to the brunch attendees. Both men said they looked forward to serving together on behalf of Northern Virginians, but also commented on the need to get things done in Congress. Economy and infrastructure are two items high on their agenda. Both men were sworn into office on Tuesday as the 114th Congress got underway.
At the state level, the Virginia General Assembly begins its “short” session on January 14 in Richmond. Traditionally, the General Assembly meets in a 45 day session in odd-numbered years, and the longer 60-day session in even-numbered years, unless called back into session by the Governor. At the brunch, State Senator Janet Howell (D-32) and Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44) outlined their expectations for the coming session. Both indicated that many legislative initiatives will face significant challenges in Richmond, due both to philosophy and a dire state budget. Senator Howell also commented about the very real possibility that the General Assembly will have to address redistricting as a result of court challenges.
At the local level, Board Chairman Sharon Bulova outlined the county’s legislative requests for the General Assembly. Of primary importance, Chairman Bulova said, is a concern that changing funding formulas will create severe problems for local governments in meeting the needs of constituents. Local governments, she said, are willing to work with the Governor and the General Assembly to find solutions to budget shortfalls, but changes to funding formulas in the past have been detrimental to local government budgets, and should be avoided.
On a happier note, the World Police and Fire Games, coming to Fairfax County from June 26 to July 5, will bring more than 12,000 athletes and 30,000 visitors from public safety departments across the globe. Last held in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2013, the bi-annual event is the largest multi-sport event in the world, larger than the Summer Olympics. The Games will provide an opportunity to showcase Fairfax County, Northern Virginia, and the metropolitan region. All of the competitions are free to spectators, and most of the sports venues will be in Fairfax County.
This week’s snowstorm was surprisingly heavy, after initial weather service reports of only one or two inches. It was a reminder, though, of the need to be prepared for any eventuality. Having a full tank of fuel, clearing windshield and all vehicle windows (and the roof) before setting out, and paying attention to road conditions and those around you are good rules of the road. Stay safe.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.