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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Penny Gross is running for re-election

Penny Gross speaks to residents at the annual Mason District Holiday Town Gathering.
Mason Supervisor Penny Gross will run for re-election to the Board of Supervisors in 2019, she announced at her Holiday Town Gathering Dec. 10.

“I love my job. I really do. I consider Mason District my family,” Gross told the audience of several dozen people at the annual event at the Mason District Government Center.

Currently the vice chair, Gross was first elected to the board in 1995 and is currently serving her sixth term. She plans to host a campaign kickoff event in February. The election is Nov. 5, 2019.

If re-elected, Gross would bring some stability to the board, as big changes are expected in 2020.

Chair Sharon Bulova announced earlier this month that she will not run for re-election. Supervisor Jeff McKay (Lee) is running for the chairmanship. James Migliaccio, who represents the Lee District on the Planning Commission, is running for McKay’s seat on the board.

Pet Herrity (Springfield), one of two Republicans on the board, is reportedly also considering a run for the chairmanship. Linda Sperling is running for the Springfield seat on the board.

Both John Cook (Braddock), the other Republican, and Linda Smyth (Providence) announced they are not running for re-election. James Walkinshaw, the chief of staff for Rep. Gerry Connolly, is running for the Braddock seat on the board.

Two candidates are running in the Democratic primary for the Providence seat on the BoS: Providence school board member Dalia Palchik, who already received the endorsement of Sharon Bulova, and Erika Yalowitz, vice president of the Providence District Council.

Gross’ Holiday Town Gathering featured entertainment by the Reflections Quartet, an all-female barbershop group based in Fairfax, door prizes, a review of the past year in Mason District, and a bit of news from Gross.

Gross has been in discussions with the owner of the Kmart property, who is “looking for opportunities to redevelop,” she said. “There’s an opportunity to do something really great there.” It won’t be a Wegman’s, as those stores need a much bigger space.

There’s a possibility that a Chik-fil-A could come to the former antiques center property on Little River Turnpike, although that is far from a done deal, Gross told the audience.

The bowling alley on Markham Street will be redeveloped as an entertainment center as the owners who had planned a high-end apartment project on that site decided to sell the property instead.

Gross predicts Amazon’s plans to locate a new headquarters in Crystal City will have a spillover effect, with some employees choosing to live in Mason District and a possibility the project could boost redevelopment opportunities.

Gross listed some of the highlights of the past year:
  • Bryan Hill took office as county executive in February and presented his first budget, which fully funded the employee compensation plan. The board later shaved half a cent off the proposed tax increase.  
  • Gross’s civic leadership series last winter offered civic association leaders a chance to learn about emergency management, code compliance, and other county services. The 2019 series starts Jan. 12.
  • The Mason Police District pilot-tested a new body camera program. “Preliminary results show great promise,” Gross said. A report on the pilot will be submitted to the BoS in early January. 
  • The Jefferson Fire station has been demolished and will be replaced with a new bigger building. Renovations and an expansion of the Edsall Fire Station will start in 2019.
  • A bond referendum passed by voters last month will provide funds to renovate the Seven Corners Fire Station and the Mason Police Station. 
  • Among land use issues in 2018, the board adopted a new zoning ordinance on short-term rentals and approved an expansion of the Vulcan plant. The redevelopment of Graham Park Plaza will start next year, and a proposal by Christopher Land for a 55+ community on Gallows Road will be considered in January. 
  • Sidewalk projects along Route 50 and Route 7 and several traffic calming projects were completed in 2018 and more will be done next year. 
  • Roads in subdivisions throughout Mason District were repaved in 2018.
  • A temporary roundabout was installed on Ravensworth Road with federal funding. 
  • Ground was broken on the new Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter. 
  • A temporary, interactive public art project was installed in Seven Corners last spring.
  • The Spotlight by Starlight programs drew thousands of people to free concerts at two local parks. 
  • JEB Stuart High School was renamed Justice High School, and Justice students participated in a new free bus pass program. 
  • In September, the huge St. James sports complex opened in Mason District, and on the same day, a new golf similar was unveiled at the Valis Family Golf Learning Center at the Pinecrest Golf Center. 
  • In October, the big event was the hugely successful Taste of Annandale. This street festival “is getting so large, it might need a new venue,” Gross said.
  • Extensive improvements at Backlick Park were unveiled last month. 
  • Both the BoS and school board passed the One Fairfax resolution, with calls for both bodies to consider equity issues when considering policy proposals.  
  • As chair of the BoS Environment Committee, Gross is working on a way to reduce utility costs for county facilities. A free exchange program allowing residents to turn in regular light bulbs and get more efficient bulbs was extremely popular, with long lines at the library.  
  • Among the volunteers Gross chose to honor in 2018 were the Community Labor Force, the Sheriff’s program that uses inmates for public maintenance projects. 
  • Gross’ motions to support the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were approved by the board. “Only one more state needs to ratify the amendment,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be great if that was the commonwealth of Virginia?” 


  1. Time for fresh ideas and some development in stagnant Mason District. Enough. The biggest accomplishment in recent years was the result of neighborhood protest of the DMV move and getting the Glory Days, which was against Mason District's plans, not facilitated by them.

  2. Wegmans could work in that space if they made a multi level property, similar to how Tyson's corner is implementing the Wegmans. They could add restaurants below, redsign the parking lot, and even add green space. This would really capture Annandale.

  3. Mason and Fairfax12/11/18, 3:54 PM

    Go Penny! always responsive to my neighborhood - never misses our events. good luck :)

  4. Oh God, NO!

  5. How's that for a lump of coal in your stocking? Still proud I voted for Bill Bailey. - Sparky

  6. Mason is cursed. Penny Gross just doesn't know when to quit. She is going to take us all to the grave with her.

  7. Ms. Gross may be vulnerable to a challenger who offers fresh ideas and is not a prisoner to past experience. If no one steps up, then, as the saying goes, we get the government we deserve. There is still time for a challenger to organize a campaign, but the window will begin to close as 2019 unfolds.

    At the same time, Ms. Gross isn't to blame for all of Mason's problems. She appears to be a committed public servant. But, it's time for a change after 25+ years. Mason needs to move in a new direction. If folks, including Ms. Gross, step back and look at the situation objectively, it's tough to say Mason is moving forward. For example, while I love Chick-Fil-A, is a fast food restaurant in the middle of downtown Annandale really the best we can do? What about a craft brewery, like Caboose or Audacious Aleworks? The site is perfect for such an establishment or other creative use of space that can bring the community together and serve as an impetus for further growth. Likewise, we need a supervisor who will push back against attempts to concentrate poverty in Mason. FFX needs more affordable housing . . . spread out across the County, if we're truly concerned about outcomes.

    It's not exciting and doesn't bring headlines, but what is needed is a rep without pretension. Not an ideologue, right or left.

  8. How about a Supervisor who asks her community what they want? Where are the public surveys, where are the ideas and engagement with the people who live here rather than those who want to take away what is special about this area? Where is the vision?

  9. YAY! Run, Penny, run! Here's to another 4 years..we appreciate your hard work and dedication.

  10. There is a vision, to keep the Dump a Dump; and to outdump all the districts in Fairfax.

  11. Truly time for Ms Gross to not run again. Her time is up. We need new ideas. She has none. The same ole same ole. Just take a look at the Mason District. Crowded, traffic, trash, signs up on every intersection that should come down, dead trees, high grass (not all Mason District but DOT); nevertheless in her District. Really fed up with the high taxes being used to support her benefits and retirement...70 cents out of $1 goes to retirement and benefits and she voted against changing the retirement age, as well as reducing the benefits. This is the reason why..when one can continue to make HUGE income from our taxes then why not continue to stay. VOTE HER OUT AND GET SOME FISCAL CONSERVATIVE INTO MASON DISTRICT. DOES MORE FOR HER POLITICIANS THAN FOR THE TAX PAYER. The reason not to vote her in is Bailey Crossroads and the crime.

  12. how much will it take for her not to run again? i wonder if we match what the developers give her every year if she will step down.

  13. I would be interested in some fresh ideas, but we need CANDIDATES who can go toe-to-toe with Gross. If you are passionately against her, look around you: are you the one for the job? If not, look around. Who do you know?

    It's highly unlikely that someone will suddenly apparate and take her down!

  14. NOOOOOOOO --- please, Lord, this is the WORST NEWS!!! Will we EVER get ride of her? Please!!!!!! LEAVE!!!! Go home! Leave!

  15. Penny is completely delusional if she thinks by sticking around that she would be a beneficial asset to the Mason. She has been not more than a detriment since elected 20 some odd years ago.

    Please do the kind thing, step down and retire. I'll even throw a party for you!

  16. So many people whine but very few run for office themselves. Try the job out. I am sure it is easy.

  17. We all understand that it is a hard job. PG has been more concerned in politicing than taking care of her constituents.

    The decline of Mason and the lack of new development and investment is a testament to her ineffectiveness. That is why we need someone new with a fresh vision and the capacity to handle internal and external forces in play. PG has proven during her tenure that she does not have that capacity.

  18. Let's start a list of people we can recruit to run against her. Does't Jim Webb live in Mason?

  19. Who in the world would want to clean up the mess that Penny would leave behind. This would be like taking John Kelly's job.

  20. thats like saying someone shouldn't run against Trump b/c he ruined our country!

  21. I really do wonder if Penny believes she is doing a good job and that Mason is moving in the right direction. If the above highlights are supposed to be a list of her accomplishments, then I'm confused. Most of the "accomplishments," on their face, seem to be due to the efforts of others, to not really have anything to do with her or the BoS, or are of questionable value (e.g., citizens passed the bond referendum, VDOT paves the roads, a resolution to consider subjective "equity" issues).

    To the 12:06 pm comment - If a challenger had announced a run already, I'm sure this blog would have covered it. I suspect Penny will run unopposed or against a fringe candidate that no one will vote for. She'll win re-election and think she has a mandate. Very sad. But, the citizenry shares some of the blame - once apathy sets in, it's very difficult to root out.

  22. alot of complainers on here but no one willing to step up to run against her. hence the problem.

  23. If Gross did her job there wouldn't be this many complainers. The physical condition in the heart of Mason's Baileys and Seven Corners screams of incompetence, neglect and an electorate that is apathetic. It's clear to me that Gross does not have the bandwidth to address the urbanization of Mason.

    It's really unfortunate that we do not have any contenders. Maybe they are just afraid that she is going to send out postcards with her contenders' photo and Trump holding hands.

  24. I agree. It's time for her to realize that just because she doesn't want to retire, doesn't mean she shouldn't. Showing up at events doesn't mean she has the vision or the desire to move Mason forward. She's simply posing for the photo op and pretending she cares. Since moving here 15 years ago, I have seen no major changes to truly improve and enhance Mason. I look at where I moved from in Arlington, and that entire area has completely reinvented itself during the same timeframe. Why can't Penny do the same for us? My opinion is she's comfortable doing what she's been doing for the past 15 years - including cutting deals (let's not forget the whole Bailey's Homeless Shelter fiasco). No one calls her on it and she keeps getting away with it. The fact is, the same old, same old doesn't cut it anymore. Mason COULD be such an invigorating and great place to live. Until we get someone in office who CAN and WILL stand up for us and bring LIFE into Mason, we're going to be stuck in the same pot hole rut we've been living in.

  25. If Penny Gross really cared about Mason she would retire. That would be the most humane thing that she could do. She needs to let go and let the younger bright stars tackle the many problems she no longer has the energy to tackle. Mason is like a dull diamond. It has great potential but not a promising future if Penny Gross continues to remain supervisor.

  26. Are you kidding me? Please no. And, her “accomplishment list” is a joke. New fire stations, a 55+ community on Gallows that is traffic nightmare, a new community homeless shelter, and sidewalk projects (that don’t include Columbia Pike but rather focus on Sleepy Hollow rd.?). Please Penny retire. We’ll be fine, in fact better, without you. Have you tried volunteering?

  27. "Gross predicts Amazon’s plans to locate a new headquarters in Crystal City will have a spillover effect...." Sounds like Penny, even though a staunch Democrat, has bought into Reagan's "trickle down" economics...And, that is what Mason District will get with her "leading" the way - the trickle.

  28. We will get the trickle of Pennys while Arlington's treasury overflows with revenues of gold. I can kick myself for buying a house in Mason. If I wanted to live next white vans I would have moved next to a car dealership. Thank you Penny Gross.