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Franconia sign (via Fairfax County)

General Robert E. Lee has suffered another defeat in Virginia — the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has voted to rename the Lee District to the Franconia District.

The board unanimously approved changing the county code to reflect the new name on Tuesday (Dec. 6), formalizing a change that it had already supported in June.

The name change is the latest in a series of efforts to disentangle localities from names honoring Confederate leaders, though Fairfax County’s release noted that there is no conclusive historical evidence that the district was named for Robert E. Lee.

Still, the release said the general perception is that the name honors Lee. Name changes for that district and Sully District were recommended in March by the county’s Redistricting Advisory Committee.

While other officers like John Mosby have also been brought up for discussion, Lee has been an easy and iconic target for renaming. In 2019, Arlington renamed its Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty, and Fairfax County Public Schools renamed Robert E. Lee High School for Rep. John Lewis in 2020.

Supervisor Rodney Lusk helped launch the renaming initiative last March and said it’s been an issue on his mind for years:

Back when I was a candidate, I heard from many in the community about their desire to have conversations about [the name]. For me, as an African American and a proud resident of this district for the past 22 years; whose lived my life, raised my two African American daughters under the signage of the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center, under the signage of Robert E. Lee High School, it’s been a conversation I’ve carried in my heart for many years, and I know that’s true for many others in our community… As we turn the page and continue to write the history of our community; we’re not erasing history, we’re making it.

Staff said much of the groundwork required for the name change has already been laid out. The last changes will be updates to the county’s GIS mapping and election precincts, which will all be completed this spring.

“Residents deserve a community that better reflects them,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “We can’t go back and change history, but we absolutely have a right to decide what it is in history we want to celebrate and what it is in history we want to learn from and do better.”

The county release said the renaming will also include:

  • Lee District Rec Center, which is now known as the Franconia Rec Center
  • Lee District Park is now called Franconia Park
  • Lee High Park is now Lewis High Park
  • Lee Residential Permit Parking District is now the Lewis Parking District
  • Lee Community Parking District is now renamed the Franconia Parking District

The day after the Board of Supervisors vote, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced that its board had unanimously approved renaming three of its facilities:

  • Lee High Park to Lewis High Park
  • Lee District Rec Center to Franconia Rec Center
  • Lee District Park to Franconia Park
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Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk plans to run for reelection in 2023 (courtesy Friends of Rodney Lusk)

The 2022 general election is still almost five months away, but at least one Fairfax County supervisor already has his eyes on 2023.

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk announced yesterday (Monday) that he will seek a second term in the office, though it may bear a different name by the time voters hit the polls.

“Some of the names may have changed, but the community that makes this the only place I’d ever want to call home has remained the same,” Lusk said in the video. “By remembering who we are, by remembering where we’ve come from, by remembering the commitments that we’ve made to each other, I know that we’ll build a community that we’ll all be proud to remember.”

Representing an area west of Route 1 that includes Springfield, Franconia, Kingstowne and Hybla Valley, Lusk is the first county elected official to publicly declare his intentions for the next local election cycle.

All 10 seats on the Board of Supervisors and all 12 school board seats will be up for grabs next year, when the general election will fall on Nov. 7 with potential primaries on June 20. The ballot will also have races for the Virginia General Assembly, commonwealth’s attorney and sheriff.

Elected in 2019 to succeed Jeff McKay, who now chairs the Board of Supervisors, Lusk worked for the county for 32 years and served on the planning commission and Fairfax County Park Authority board before becoming the Lee District supervisor. He was the first African American man elected to the county board, according to his campaign website.

In his campaign announcement, Lusk notes that the Route 1 workforce development center he cited as a top priority during his first campaign came to fruition with the opening of the Lee District Community Center in early May.

He also highlights his role introducing a board matter in January 2020 proposing a co-responder model for certain 911 emergency calls, where police would be accompanied by unarmed mental and behavioral health specialists. The program was introduced as a pilot in March 2021, and funding to make it permanent was included in the most recent budget approved in May.

In a statement to FFXnow, Lusk said priorities over his first four-year term have also included expanding access to affordable housing, full funding for schools, bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, criminal justice reform, and addressing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As I seek a second term, I’ll continue to champion each of these critical priorities, while leveraging those successes to build a community that is both equitable for our residents, and attractive to our business community,” Lusk said.

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Morning Notes

Wall art by Starr Hill Biergarten at The Perch in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Board to Adopt New Budget Today — “Board of Supervisors set to adopt FY23 budget tomorrow, May 10. It fully funds @fcpsnews employee compensation and invests in priorities. $96 million balance to reduce real estate tax rate, increase affordable housing, parks, among others.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Lee District Gets New Community Center — Elected officials and community members gathered on Saturday (May 7) to cut the ribbon for Fairfax County’s new Lee District Community Center, which will provide recreation, educational workshops, and other programs to residents in the Buckman Road area on the west side of Richmond Highway. The center also hosts a workforce training and development center. [Neighborhood and Community Services]

Metro Reports Higher-than-Expected Ridership — “Ridership has already surprised their conservatively-estimated projection of 28 million rides by nearly 40% through the first three quarters of the fiscal year…The numbers bode well for the region’s economic recovery as tourism rebounds and more workers return to the office, but it is less welcome news for train and bus riders who are experiencing more crowded vehicles.” [DCist]

Great Falls Road Closure Starts Today — “Springvale Road will be closed for 48 hours starting Tuesday to allow VDOT crews to reconstruct the road’s approach to Route 7. During the closure, drivers on Springfield Road can access Route 7 by taking Georgetown Pike to the Utterback Store Road.” [Patch]

Mental Health Services Facility to Be Renamed — “Fairfax County officials on May 12 will celebrate the renaming and dedication of the former Merrifield Center as the ‘Sharon Bulova Center for Community Health’…Bulova served as chairman through 2019, when she retired after 31 years on the board.” [Sun Gazette]

Route 7 Bus Service Plan Inches Forward — “Plans to create a bus-rapid-transit, or BRT, line using Route 7 to connect Tysons to Alexandria continue to move forward, with the next installment to hire a consultant that will guide the next phases of the project.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Fort Hunt Teacher Reflects on Three-Decade-Long Career — “Reading Specialist Jill Norris joined the staff of Stratford Landing Elementary School in Fairfax County last August after a break from a 35-year career as a teacher. ‘To share my passion for reading and writing with kids and teachers,’ is what brings joy to Norris.” [ABC7]

It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 46. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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