In the almost 19 years since I accepted Nick Benton’s request to write a weekly column for the Falls Church News-Press, I’ve tried to focus on issues and events of general interest in Mason District and Fairfax County, and away from electoral politics. However, for the first, and perhaps, only time anyone can remember, there is a primary contest for Mason District Supervisor on Tuesday, June 9. And it involves me.
When I first ran for Mason District Supervisor, I promised that I would provide “Leadership That Listens.” I promised that I would work as hard as I could to represent the people of Mason District fairly and equitably on the Board of Supervisors. I promised that I would be a “hands on” leader with energy and enthusiasm for my constituents, and for my job.
I spend every day as Mason District Supervisor working hard to keep those promises, which I renew with gusto every time my name is on the ballot. I always listen to all points of view in our community, and weigh all the factual information carefully before making a decision. Whether working on new environmental policies, interceding with the Virginia Department of Transportation to address speeding and traffic in neighborhoods, building new walkways, or revitalizing our older commercial areas, we work together as a community to achieve mutual goals. All of this is accomplished in an honest and collaborative fashion, for that is the Mason District way – based on facts, respect for differing ideas, and honest and open discussion.
Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be happening in this campaign. Distortion, innuendo and outright lies seem to dominate the mailer of the day. Here’s the truth: I voted against the proposed Supervisor pay raise. The vote was on March 3, 2015, and I was one of four Supervisors who voted no (Cook, Gross, Herrity, Smyth). State law does not allow Boards of Supervisors to raise their own salaries, but only the salary of the next board. State law also requires that the action must be taken prior to April 15 of an election year, making it ripe for campaign fodder.
The FY 2016 budget included $2.01 billion for the school transfer – almost $67 million more than last year, or 99.8 percent of the schools’ total request – and funding for public safety, human services, compensation, stormwater, parks, and libraries. I could have voted against the $3.7 billion county budget because it had $100,000 included for salaries for the next board, but that would have broken faith with my constituents who expect, and support, funding for schools, public safety, etc. I always vote for school funding, which has increased 156 percent since FY 1997, while the school population has increased only 20 percent. It would seem that, faced with those statistics and my vote for the budget each year, one would be hard-pressed to say that I don’t support schools and public education.
The Mason District Democratic primary is next Tuesday, June 9, at your regular polling place. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thank you for your support.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.