Vienna officials receive VML award

Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco, Town Council members Tara Bloch and Carey Sienicki ,and Town Manager Mercury Payton accept a Green Government Challenge Award at the 2018 Virginia Municipal League Conference in Hampton.

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 20 lauded former Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco for 17 years of public service, calling her an “incredible asset” for the town and county.

“She will long be remembered for her capable, noteworthy and outstanding public service,” the resolution read.

Chairman Jeff McKay (D) read the board’s resolution and praised DiRocco for her diligent advocacy – “always with a smile” – and ability to work with all sides to resolve complicated issues.

DiRocco first was elected to the Vienna Town Council in 2009 after serving for six years on the town’s Planning Commission and Transportation Safety Commission. The Council appointed DiRocco mayor in spring 2014 following the death of Mayor M. Jane Seeman and she subsequently was elected to the first of three full terms that May. DiRocco served as mayor until June 30 this year.

DiRocco did “revolutionary” things for the town during her tenure as mayor, said McKay, singling out the town’s recent surge in sidewalk construction, the mayor’s Friday-morning walks with constituents and her support for environmental-sustainability initiatives, including having Vienna pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for town building projects.

Towns and counties do not always get along, McKay said, “but I’m very proud that in Vienna we’ve always had a strong partnership, with cooperation on so many issues that are important to our constituents.”

Having worked with DiRocco on the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, McKay said she helped advance issues important to the region.

Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) said DiRocco had shown fortitude and humor as that commission’s chairman.

“I’m sure you have an ego, Laurie, but I never saw it,” Gross said. “But there was always the quiet strength and everybody knew that you were in charge. Without really raising your voice or looking askance at anybody, we all just knew you were that quiet leader there.”

Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill), who began serving on the board in January, said DiRocco had been a “tremendous resource” during his initial months in office. He credited her with advancing such projects as the planned new Vienna Police Headquarters and the proposed shared parking garage at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library, and supporting small businesses after the pandemic struck in March.

“You’ve done your time,” Alcorn said. “The community is better for it and we’re better for it.” DiRocco’s thoughtfulness, willingness to listen to the entire community and cooperativeness in solving problems within Vienna and surrounding jurisdictions had been a “model and an inspiration,” said Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence).

“You definitely have left a very positive mark on the town of Vienna and on our county as a whole,” Palchik said.

Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution honoring DiRocco, but because pandemic-related health restrictions eschewed the usual elbow-to-elbow group photo afterward.

Virginia’s towns have a unique arrangement because they rely on their surrounding counties for health and human services and public schools, but also have their own governing bodies and separate governmental agencies, DiRocco said.

The former mayor thanked county officials for their partnerships and support of the town, but also for honoring Vienna’s independence.

DiRocco also thanked the supervisors for their service during the pandemic and their prompt disbursal of federal CARES Act funds to the town.

“I know that it’s not just a health pandemic, it’s also an economic crisis, and you’re dealing with a lot of social-justice issues and social unrest,” she said.  “But we really appreciate the steady hand of Fairfax County throughout all of this.”

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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