For the first time this century, Fairfax County’s Mason District has a new supervisor.
In his first week since succeeding Penny Gross, who retired in December after 27 years in the position, Andres Jimenez says he has been actively engaging with constituents to tackle issues ranging from transportation to art projects and economic development.
An immigrant from Bogota, Colombia, who has now lived in the Falls Church area for 12 years, Jimenez is the first Latino to represent Mason District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He also works as the executive director of the pay equity campaign Green 2.0 and previously served as an at-large member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
Winning a decisive victory last November over independent candidate Terry Modglin with 72% of the vote, Jimenez says that, since taking office on Jan. 1, he has been setting up his various social media channels, launching a new podcast and organizing several public forums across the district.
“I think that smart government is when residents don’t just come to you, it’s when the government — when the supervisor’s office — is going into the community and reaching out to residents…and asking them what is working, what’s not working, because only then can you really begin to make change,” he told FFXnow.
The dates for the public town hall and open house events have not been announced yet. However, Jimenez anticipates key areas will include transportation, housing and economic development.
“We do plan to go out into the communities [and] listen to the residents and make sure that we are prioritizing the needs of Mason District,” he said.
Pedestrian and traffic safety
Top on Jimenez’s agenda is addressing pedestrian and traffic safety concerns in neighborhoods like Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners.
Last year, the community advocacy group Fairfax Families for Safe Streets published a report showing that pedestrian fatalities increased in 2022 as a result of “underfunding for pedestrian-focused projects.”
“Unfortunately, there have been a lot of fatalities when it comes to the pedestrians,” Jimenez said. “…We need to really start working on figuring out not only why is this happening, but how can we solve this problem.”
In 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved $100 million for county-wide pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements that will be allocated to different projects through 2028. About $30.2 million has been allocated to date, according to the county website.
Jimenez emphasized his objective is to ensure that money is promptly allocated to projects in Mason District, adding that the money is “desperately needed.”
Jimenez identified a few intersections — such as Leesburg Pike (Route 7) at both Row Street and Columbia Pike — as high priority, focusing more on signal upgrades and other spot improvements than more comprehensive, long-term solutions.
In the coming months, Jimenez noted that he plans to consult with local stakeholder groups, such as the Bailey’s Crossroads 7 Corners Revitalization Corporation, to help identify projects that need immediate attention.
“We’ve already identified several initiatives — obviously Seven Corners, Bailey’s Crossroads and Annandale — that need help,” he said. “They need signage and they need timers and they need different ways to make sure that pedestrians are safe.”
Economic development and affordable housing
Jimenez says he’s also focused on threading the needle between encouraging economic growth in Mason District, while simultaneously curbing the threat of gentrification.
Jimenez believes the solution lies in adopting a “proactive” approach, focusing on supporting existing small businesses and striving to develop more affordable and workforce housing.
“So it’s walking with both feet at the same time, making sure that we’re honoring and respecting and highlighting the diverse small businesses that are already here in Mason District,” he said. “But we also need to make sure that we’re growing in a strategic way by bringing in new businesses that will attract consumers throughout the [D.C.] area.”
During the first year of the pandemic, Fairfax County distributed $52.5 million to over 4,800 small businesses and nonprofits affected by the health crisis through the RISE program which provided grants to assist with wages, employee health insurance, rent and other fixed expenses.
Jimenez noted that these types of programs need to continue and have been pivotal in helping “assist and make sure that small businesses do not go away.”
“We need to be proactive in how we not only look at Mason, but what we want it look like you know three to five to 10 years from now,” he said.
Investment in art
Lastly, Jimenez says he plans to collaborate with several local artists to create mural paintings across Mason District, celebrating its history and cultural diversity.
He envisions an Mason District artist task force that would “come together and start coming up with ideas of things that we can be doing to really enhance Mason.”
“We’re going to be doing a lot of mural painting throughout Mason, and that to me is just so in line with this idea that we’re a cultural hub,” he said.
“The murals program aims to fund at least two murals — one large and one small — per Community Revitalization District (CRD), of which Mason District has three (Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners, and Lincolnia),” a spokesperson for Jimenez told FFXnow via email.
Cost estimates are projected to be roughly between $8,000 and $37,000 based on size, bringing the total cost per CRD to about $45,000, per the spokesperson.
Jimenez’s office did not provide a timeline for when these projects would be completed.
Good Friday evening, Fairfax County. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier…
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Peace in Gaza: Prayer Liturgy and Community Discussion for Peace in Arlington VA, Sunday, Feb. 11, 10:15 AM
Prayer, liturgy, and community discussion for peace in Gaza, an immediate cease fire and resumption of humanitarian aid will be hosted by Nova Catholic Community. The focus will be Pope Francis’ call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, resumption of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and peace talks for a lasting and just peace for all people in the region.
Discussion will follow at Noon on US military role in the conflict and appropriate steps the US should take to foster peace and rebuilding. Light lunch served.
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