After serving seven consecutive terms as the Mason District Supervisor and attending more than 700 Board of Supervisors meetings, the Dec. 5, 2023 meeting will forever be etched in the memory of Penny Gross, who currently serves as vice chair. It was her final board meeting with colleagues. “I am going to hand the gavel to her so that I can read the following resolution. Nothing awkward about that at all,” Chairman Jeff McKay said, smiling.
McKay told how Gross, first elected to represent the Mason District in 1995, helped move Fairfax County and the entire region forward. She served on many regional, state, and national bodies, including as chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and president of the Virginia Association of Counties and the National Association of Regional Councils.
Gross has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Virginia Association of Counties' Jefferson Cup, the Department of the Army Public Service Commendation Medal, the Elizabeth and David Scull Metropolitan Public Service Award, and the Frances H. Flanigan Environmental Leadership Award from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, to name a few.
McKay added that Gross kept residents informed with her “Penny for Your Thoughts,” columns and provided irreplaceable leadership and guidance to her colleagues and constituents.
After reading the resolution, McKay shared some personal thoughts, one of which “hit him” last week. The chairman is responsible for reorganizing the board every four years and appointing members to committees and regional groups. “Penny's name just kept popping up, and when I was trying to sort through who was going to fill all these roles, I needed more than ten supervisors in the next four years.
“No one has made a bigger difference region-wide and statewide from this board than Supervisor Gross has,” McKay said. He mentioned her candor and tough love .“Not every conversation around this dais is always easy, and Penny has stood firm her ground on the things that are important to her.”
In Gross’ commentary, “Penny for your Thoughts: Dec. 7, 2023, she tells of her “inauspicious” first official Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 8, 1996. It coincided with the biggest blizzard ever to hit the Washington metropolitan region. “According to the county attorney, the Board was required, by law, to meet on the advertised day, in the vernacular, “come hell or high water.” To read Gross’ account of her first board meeting, visit https://www.fcnp.com/2023/12/07/a-penny-for-your-thoughts-december-7-13-2023/. “Many [meetings] have been challenging, but none more so than the efforts expended to attend that first one.”
A video shown at Gross’ last Board of Supervisors Meeting on Dec. 5, 2023, captured snapshot moments of her years as a supervisor.
In one part, Gross referred to a song based on the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. “To Everything There Is a Season,” popularly known as “Turn! Turn! Turn!” It was with that reference she announced at the Dec. 6, 2022, Board of Supervisors Meeting that she would not be seeking re-election for the next term.
Andres Jimenez sworn in; first Latino male elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Mason Democrat Andres Jimenez is the first Latino male elected to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Jimenez’s election recognizes Virginia’s growing Latino population. Virginia has one of the top-ten fastest growing Latino populations in the nation, with 11% of Virginians identifying as Latino while only holding 2% of the state’s elected offices.
Jimenez ran on a platform that includes protecting our environment, achieving equity and access for all based on the One Fairfax initiative, increasing access to housing, and investing in Fairfax County’s schools and smart transportation solutions.
Jimenez is the Board Secretary for the Culmore Clinic and Executive Director of Green 2.0, a national nonprofit that focuses on placing people of color in positions of leadership in environmental-focused foundations and environmental advocacy groups.