Falls Church Council member Dan Sze dies

Falls Church Council member Daniel “Dan” X. Sze died after a battle with esophageal cancer.

“The news of Dan’s passing has hit me hard,” said David Tarter, mayor of the Northern Virginia city, in a news release.

“He was a friend who cared deeply about the best interests of our city and its residents and tirelessly advocated for its betterment. He will be sorely missed. On behalf of the City Council, we mourn his passing and send his wife, Elisabeth and family our deepest condolences.”

Tarter disclosed Sze’s cancer during a July 20 council meeting.

Sze had been elected three times to the council, first from 2006 to 2010, then from 2014 to 2017 and again in 2018.

Falls Church Council member Dan Sze
Falls Church Council member Dan Sze. (Courtesy Falls Church government)

A longtime resident of Falls Church, Sze held multiple positions with the city over the years, including as the vice chair of the Economic Development Authority and as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Falls Church credits Sze, who served on regional and statewide policy boards, with being an “an outstanding leader for environmental stewardship.”

According to the Falls Church:

He led the City policy that all new or renovated City facilities must achieve LEED standards, and he strongly supported the new high school design for net zero carbon emissions. He encouraged City staff to push the envelope in all areas relating to sustainability — including moving the City fleet to bio fuels, installing LED streetlights, and purchasing renewable electricity. He was well known for pressing private developers on green roofs, stormwater detention, and higher LEED standards in new buildings in the City. With wit and good humor, backed by deep knowledge and expertise, he tirelessly advocated for the City and region to use new technologies to improve the environment and people’s lives.”

Sze had a long career with the federal government in the energy, defense and state departments. His last position before leaving full-time employment in 2012 was with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy as Deputy Director of State Energy Programs.

According to a biography posted on the Falls Church government website, Sze worked on “major policy and regulatory initiatives under six American presidents.”

“His staff and Council colleagues will certainly miss his intelligence, his hearty greetings, and the jovial conversations they shared with Dan. He was a one of a kind public servant, and we know his legacy will live on in the many projects he championed,” said City Manager Wyatt Shields.

On Facebook, fellow council member Letty Hardi said she was heartbroken to hear of Sze’s death.

“I could always count on Dan to inject a smart and insightful (and sometimes left field!) perspective into any discussion. I am grateful to have learned from him,” she wrote.

On the Falls Church government’s Facebook page, people are posting similar messages about Sze’s kindness, thoughtfulness and creative solutions to problems.

Falls Church will lower the city flag outside City Hall to half-staff for seven days.

The City Council plans to pause for a minute of silence at its Aug. 10 meeting to remember Sze.

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