This past Tuesday, September September 28 the City Council met for a regular meeting. They followed up on their September 15 meeting at which City staff presented to Council the Connecting Fairfax for All Stakeholder Advisory report and recommendations.
Council discussion clarified that accepting the report would move them into a thorough and thoughtful review, and did not mean that they were necessary endorsing it. The City unanimously approved the resolution to receive the report.
Prior to the vote, Susan Gray, Director of Historic Resources for the City, shared a review of the project so far, and shared the City staff’s recommendations.
- On Oct 27, 2020 the council approved the process of the stakeholder project. As part of that approved process, the Engage Fairfax platform was used to solicit city resident input and to archive the listening and learning sessions.
- To create the Stakeholder Advisory Group, the City staff conducted interviews of over 80 applicants. A 16 person group was approved, representing all the city precincts and the diversity of our city.
- 11 listening and learning sessions were held February through June 2021. Sessions included academics and professionals addressing topics including Confederate nomenclature, the city’s civil war history, and past discimination and how that still impacts our communities today. Sessions also focused on what other area cities are doing to address these topics.
- The Stakeholder group met 14 times in addition to the listening and learning sessions. They were aided in their discussions by representatives from the George Mason conflict resolution department.
- Consensus was reached within the Stakeholder group and their recommendations presented to some City Council members September 9 and again to all Council and the mayor on September 14.
- The recommendations include:
- Redesigning the city seal and specifically removing the human figures of Thomas VI Lord Fairfax and Confederate Captain John Quincy Marr.
- Not removing two monuments: the monument to Confederate dead and the United Daughters of the Confederacy monument, in the City cemetary. They recommended adding contextual information to help visitors interpret those monuments.
- Adding content to some historical markers to also add context.
- Renaming at least 15 streets or highways with names with confirmed links to Confederate military and political leaders.
Susan Gray explained that the resolution the City Council was voting to approve in this meeting was for the Council to receive the final stakeholder report and support further implementation of its recommendations. She said the City staff requested that Council endorse the report and it’s consensus recommenations, offer timelines and process recommendations for implementation, and to present next steps for further exploration of broader topics of racial and social equity in the City.
She shared the City staff’s recommendation that the Council conduct an October 12 work session on this topic and that they schedule additional work sessions as necessary. The staff recommended that the mayor and Councilmembers Stehle and Miller be designated to work with City staff and others to develop processes and protocals including cost, legal reviews, and community outreach.
She explained City Council will be updated monthly on progress, next steps, and needs to impliment any or all of the Stakeholder Group’s recommendations or Council directives or actions.
The Council discussed the resolution. Councilmember Janet Miller agreed with the recommendations and emphasized the importance of ongoing community and stakeholder engagement.
The City’s Engage Fairfax site is available to post comments, ideas, and questions.