Five Democrats are running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor after Cathy Hudgins, the current supervisor, announced plans to retire earlier this year. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements for each of the candidates.
Statements, which are in question-and-answer format, are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.
What inspired you to run for this seat?
Our local government is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we make change that affects each of us on a daily basis. I have led a life of service around the world, across this great nation, and right here in Fairfax County. I want Fairfax County, and specifically the Hunter Mill District, to be the leader of a progressive vision of community. It is time for change in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Many of our supervisors have done an incredible job of governing over the past 20 plus years, but the county has changed drastically since they first took office. We need new leadership that reflects the desires and diversity of the community.
As a grassroots community organizer, I understand the benefit of building a community from the ground up. I understand the importance of engaging voters in decisions that will affect their lives. I have walked miles and worn out shoes knocking on doors and talking to residents about their concerns, asking for their input and expertise, and advocating for those concerns before our elected officials. I bring a proven track record of leadership and a collaborative working style which will help me serve the Hunter Mill district with compassion and integrity.
What are the three biggest concerns you have for Reston? What do you plan to do address them?
Problem 1: Climate Change
Solution 1: We need a multi-faceted and bold approach to addressing climate change in Fairfax County. I would like to see us increasing the minimum LEED standard to Gold for any new construction and renovation — with an incentive for Platinum. Placing solar panels on schools and government buildings is a start to reducing our dependence on carbon-based fuels, but we also need to encourage our businesses to do the same and reduce our overall energy use. We must also reduce traffic congestion by lowering the cost of and increasing the use of public transportation systems. Additionally, we can initiate several consumer-oriented changes like a single use plastics ban, an increased emphasis on waste reduction, and the introduction of front yard gardens and zero-scapes.
Problem 2: Affordable Housing
Solution 2: I have a S.M.A.R.T.E. (Safe, Mixed Income, Accessible, Reasonably Priced, Transit-oriented, and Environmentally Sustainable) housing plan. This plan is comprehensive and would incentivize new construction and renovations to include percentages of housing accessible to various income levels. In addition, we need to be creative and use the concepts of tiny or small houses, add-on mother-in-law style apartments, utilizing existing offices and other buildings for new housing and community space, and creating community based housing.
Problem 3: Education
Solution 3: Our teacher and staff pay needs to improve and we need to bring equity across the school system. For both safety and to improve the learning environment, we need to address the overcrowding and excessive use of trailers. We need to ensure we are providing the best education for all of our students and that includes offering apprenticeships for those not choosing to attend a four-year college, or skills based learning for students of differing abilities. I also value our language immersion programs as they foster a broader world view and allow our students to develop new ways of problem solving. In order to address inequities in our education system perhaps the greatest impact will be through offering universal free pre-K programs. Finally, I will work hard to ensure our curriculum and school environment is inclusive and welcoming.
How can the county improve how it manages growth and development in this growing community, especially as it relates to infrastructure needs, transportation, and affordable housing?
We need to ensure as growth and development occur, they are accompanied by appropriate infrastructure support and completion. This includes ensuring we look at new school facilities as well as number and locations of first responder services and other community services. In addition, we need to re-examine some long-term infrastructure plans to determine if, as changes in lifestyle create new modalities of travel, we are planning well for our future needs. One of my biggest concerns in developing housing that falls within the 30% of income level is that it needs to be integrated throughout the community and especially near transit. We cannot make the mistakes other communities have done and have transit oriented equate to high cost “luxury” housing. Making our community transit-friendly means we need to be sure areas are walkable and have appropriate lighting for safety and ease of use. We must also look to emerging technologies to encourage more environmentally sound and commute-friendly transportation options.
What do you hope to accomplish in this position?
It is essential we address climate change in a bold and impactful way. If we don’t do this, all other decisions will not matter. My hope is to accomplish this while listening and responding to the needs and desires of our residents. I will ensure the voices of all residents are heard, including those who work two jobs, have a person with a disability at home, or simply cannot afford to make it to a meeting. I will help maintain a vibrant economy through support for our locally owned small business community, ensure needs of families are met through an excellent education system and affordable housing, and make our county the leader in addressing climate change. For over 30 years I have led a life of service: in the military and in communities in which I have lived. I would be honored to continue serving you as your next Supervisor.
Photo via Shyamali Hauth