Virginia Requires Masks in Schools — Gov. Ralph Northam issued a public health order yesterday (Thursday) requiring universal mask-wearing in all K-12 schools in response to concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant. Fairfax County Public Schools announced a mandate on July 28 that had some exemptions for fully vaccinated individuals, but the district updated its policy on Wednesday (Aug. 11) to require masks indoors for everyone. [The Washington Post]
Fairfax County Opens for Vaccine Site Requests — “Businesses and community event organizers can now request to host a vaccination team to provide COVID-19 vaccines or education/outreach services so that people can learn more about the vaccines. Requests will be reviewed and matched with an outreach or nursing team from the Fairfax County Health Department.” [FCHD]
Route 7 Traffic Changes Coming Next Week — Utterback Store Road in Great Falls will be closed from 9:30 a.m. on Monday (Aug. 16) to 2 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 20) while crews remake the intersection for the Route 7 Corridor Improvements Project. Construction, which will continue until 2024, will also require westbound Route 7 lane shifts from Reston Parkway to Reston Avenue on Aug. 17 and between Utterback Store and Springvale roads on Aug. 19. [VDOT]
Senate Infrastructure Bill Boosts D.C. Area — Metro would receive $150 million annually for capital improvements over the next eight years from the $1 trillion infrastructure funding bill that the Senate approved 69-30 on Tuesday (Aug. 10). The bill allocates more than $8 billion to Virginia for highway and bridge repairs, public transit support, and expansions of the state’s broadband and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. [DCist]
This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.
Thomas Jefferson’s election as President of the United States is referred to as a “bloodless revolution” because in the major shifts of power in world history it occurred without the violence that marked previous changes in who controlled government. While electing a president has caused some consternation over time, the rule of law has been followed rather than having a resort to physical engagement determine the outcome.
While I and others had hoped for a giant blue tsunami wave to occur with the outcome of the 2018 mid-terms elections, a more apt description of the outcome might be that a wave of blue change came upon the land. Leading that change was the first outcome announced by the media with the election of Democrat State Senator Jennifer Wexton to the House of Representatives defeating incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock by a landslide and flipped a district that had been Republican for nearly forty years. Not only did Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton get an overwhelming share of the popular votes, but she assembled an army of volunteers like that seldom seen in elections. She won in the best tradition of the bloodless revolution with volunteers who carried her message door to door.
Downstate in Congressional District Seven an earlier voter revolution had swept the Republican House Majority leader out of office in a primary and replaced him with a true-blue Tea Party candidate. That candidate went on to win the general election only to find himself defeated this year by a first-time Democratic candidate Abigail Spanberger. The incumbent Republican Dave Brat has spent most of the campaign seeming to dodge any engagement with Spanberger who would challenge his right-wing economic theories that had left most people shaking their heads to understand him.
Joining Wexton and Spanberger as winning Democratic candidates was Elaine Luria who won in District Two in the Virginia Beach area against former Navy Seal and incumbent Scott Taylor. In a district that has a strong military presence, Luria was able to flip the district from red to blue.
At the end of the evening of vote counting, Democrats that had been outnumbered in Virginia’s congressional delegation seven to four found themselves in a majority of seven to four. A state that was once considered red has Democrats not only in all of its statewide offices but now as seven of its congressional representatives. A congressional delegation that had only one woman ended with three.
In the Senate, former Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine who represents Virginia along with Senator Mark Warner in the United States Senate easily defeated a strong Trump advocate, Corey Stewart, by landslide numbers. The next step for Democratic gain comes with the state elections in 2019. With the State Senate and the House of Delegates being controlled by a single vote in each, it is reasonable to expect that the blue wave will continue throughout the state.
The shift in power in the U.S. House of Representatives was a bloodless revolution with a major shift in power. Looking ahead, the Senate seats up for election in 2020 could bring the tipping point.
Every parent of two or more children has experienced this scenario: Two children in the back seat of a vehicle get bored. When no one is looking, the first child pokes or pinches the other. The victim yells or screams with lots of drama as to how they have been hurt or offended.
That gives the second child license to strike back just as the parents take note of what is happening. At that moment it looks like the second child is the offender and is given a punishment. The first child is amused, giggles and enjoys that the brother or sister having done nothing is suddenly in trouble.
This little tale is innocent enough as children grow up and learn through experience how to interact and relate to others. Not so innocent and very serious is the situation we have been witnessing for more than a year. The administration uses vile language that is offensive to all but some of its most ardent supporters.
The advocates for democracy and a fair and sane governmental framework criticize the administration. Representatives of the administration respond with name calling, falsehoods and extreme claims and criticisms. Any response by those who disagree is received with further name calling and false claims. Who is to blame for this exchange?
The administration has been successful at pointing fingers at their critics putting them on the defensive. These exchanges can be really tough to unravel especially with an administration that is willing to make up their own reality and tell out-right lies to justify their actions. Shouting matches often ensue; in the worst cases threats are made, and in an all-too-frequent occurrence violence takes place.
While I fully understand the desire on the part of some to yell and scream (I do so to myself frequently), the vile language and threats are examples of speaking past each other. I want to express in as strong terms as I can how upset and concerned I am about the actions of the government and this administration over the past months. I view them as a real threat to our democracy, immoral, and the lowest point we have seen as a society.
I will be present at as many vigils and marches as I can to join with those who want major and immediate changes to what is happening to our country. I will not call for nor participate in violence. I will support court actions to stop harmful activities by the administration as much as possible.
Most importantly I will work for Senate and Congressional candidates who are committed to stopping the damage of this administration and taking back our country from the special interests that have been allowed to run rampant in using the government for their personal profit. I will be tireless and will work to enlist people to join me and the thousands who are committed to reversing these dangerous directions.
I am not going to let the administration convince anyone else that someone else hit first. We need to stick together, be strategic in our responses, and be smarter than they are to reverse what is happening in our country. We can do that this November at the ballot boxes.
U.S. Senate candidates Mark Warner (D) and Ed Gillespie (R) will talk about Virginia’s role in business and technology at a “Battleground Forum” sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
The forum — not a debate — will take place at the Center for Innovative Technology, 2214 Rock Hill Road, Herndon, at 11 a.m. Visit the Chamber website for ticket information.
Incumbent Warner, first elected to the Senate in 2008, and challenger Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chair, have made similar appearances around Northern Virginia in recent weeks, including another Reston forum last week. at that event, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Warner defended his reputation as a centrist when Gillespie said that Warner’s voting record showed across-the-board support for President Obama.
A poll released last week by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University showed Warner leading Gillespie 53 percent to 31 percent.
Friday’s event is presented in partnership with the Loudoun County, Prince William and Fredricksburg Regional Chambers of Commerce.
Photos: Top, Sen. Mark Warner/file photo; Bottom, Ed Gillespie/file photo