My Goals and Priorities for 2013 as We Begin the New Year

It’s that time of year when people make resolutions and set agendas. So, here’s my list of some of the things I expect to work on in 2013.

Transportation: Several transportation projects that have been in the planning stages the last couple of years will move to construction. This includes Mason’s Campus Drive (a connector road around the Braddock/Route 123 intersection), improvements to Braddock Road and Roanoke River at George Mason, and the County’s new Connector bus service from the Burke Centre VRE lot to Tyson’s via the 495 Express Lanes.
    Speaking more broadly, the Board is expected to pass a plan for funding Tyson’s transportation improvements and the State will debate yet again whether to provide additional funding for transportation.
    Anticipating little or no meaningful action there, I will continue to suggest that the County think outside the box and consider new approaches, such as transferring ownership of secondary roads from the State to the County, along with changes in State funding formulas and new funding authority for the County. We cannot continue to allow our neighborhood streets to crumble from lack of maintenance, and our population increases and business growth demand additional transportation capacity.
    Finally, in my role on the Operations Board for the VRE I will continue to push for the expansion of that system, which is near capacity. Almost 10,000 riders a day come off the roads due to this successful rail service, which has reached a 95 percent on time performance record.

Land Use: The Braddock Land Use Committee is up and running and considering a number of new development proposals. I will ask the Committee to develop an approach to infill development so all applications can be measured by similar criteria. I will also involve the Committee in a Comprehensive Plan Review for the south side of Lee Highway from Shirley Gate to the Fairfax County Parkway.

Neighborhood Leadership: I will sponsor a Braddock Neighborhood Conference this Spring, modeled after our successful neighborhood colleges, to provide our civic associations, HOA’s, community pools, PTA’s, scout groups, and others with training on how to run successful organizations and to review legal requirements, financial management, and other aspects of association governance.

Neighborhood Safety: I hope the Board of Supervisors will continue to move forward with my proposal for a new campaign against speeding and unsafe driving in our neighborhoods. This year the Board is funding traffic calming measures that were part of my proposal. Other aspects include a County public awareness campaign and providing the means for police to increase enforcement.

County Budget: We are in for still another couple of rough years with the County budget. The fear of federal government cutbacks and in-sourcing has frozen office expansion and, consequently, commercial land appraisals. The result is less money available to fund the County budget. I hope the Board of Supervisors will try to reach a bipartisan compromise budget to deal with these difficult choices, as we did with the FY2010 budget at the height of the recession.

Helping People with Disabilities: I believe our first priority in our human services programs should be to help those who cannot be fully self sufficient. This includes people with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance abuse. We need to get the budget for the Community Services Board under control while making sure we fully serve the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. We need to provide services for all of the ‘ID grads’ so they can have the same opportunities as their neighbors. We also need to help the homeless.
Funding these programs may require cutbacks in other programs that serve those who are more self sufficient.

Northern Virginia Training Center: Under the terms of a settlement agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Commonwealth has agreed to provide community-based housing for people with disabilities who currently reside in State-owned Training Centers. The Commonwealth plans to close the Northern Virginia Training Center in 2015. It is important that the Commonwealth provide for the housing stock and services that current residents require.
I am working with County leaders to advance a plan for the County to acquire the site and use it to provide services to the disabled and other populations in need.

Health: Much of our national and state news will deal with the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, including the potential and necessary reform and expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid system. But we also need to look at society’s lifestyle choices.
    I am especially concerned about our children and the incidence of obesity, lack of exercise, and mental health issues such as depression that can lead to teen suicides. The County, schools, juvenile justice system, and human services agencies need to work together even more to promote healthy, happy, and successful children.

    These are but a smattering of the many issues that will cross my plate this year. I hope you will continue to be involved in your neighborhoods as active, engaged citizens. If my office can help you in your efforts, please let us know. We are here to serve you.

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