Reston, VA

Eight candidates are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council for the 2021-2022 term. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements, which are edited for typos and formatting only. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Featured here is Stevan Porter. 

I am Stevan Porter and I am running for one of the six seats on the Herndon Town Council. An IT professional and paramedic, I have lived in the Town with my wife Johnise since 2008.  We both love Herndon – its history, its small town feel, its local businesses, and most importantly its wonderful and diverse people.  These are things to treasure and preserve while recognizing the Town will continue to grow and change.

I entered this race to bring different perspectives, skills, and experiences to the Herndon Town Council.  We must avoid echo chambers and I believe lively and well informed discussions are critical to making the right decisions for our community. In both professional and volunteer roles, I have excelled by carefully listening to people, getting a comprehensive overall view of the situation, and then seeking the best approach possible.  Sometimes this means going with tried and true solutions and other times it requires taking new and innovative approaches.

What would your top three priorities be as a council member?

My first priority is to promote engagement of the entire community – its residents, its businesses, and its organizations. A healthy Herndon requires that we not only consider all these perspectives without partisan bias but also find ways to actively involve all stakeholders in the solutions.

The second priority is transparency and easy access to data. In order for the community to be fully engaged it also has to be well informed. The workings of government should be as transparent as possible and as much data freely available to our community members.  I would seek to streamline FOIA processes and make them as easy and inexpensive as possible.  This includes financials, police performance data, project information, and deliberations of the Council and its various boards.
The third top priority is support for the small businesses that are so important to Herndon’s small town feel.  During the COVID crisis we found a variety of creative ways to streamline and relax various processes.  We should seriously consider these and other measures even after the emergency ends.

What is the top challenge the town faces currently and how do you aim to address it?

Prior to COVID-19 I would have said infrastructure improvements needed to support all the ongoing growth and development efforts. In particular we are expected to max out sewage processing capability by the middle of this decade.  Water, traffic, and parking are also major concerns.

With COVID-19, however, the top challenge has shifted to revenue concerns.  Due to good management, Herndon is in a much better place than many localities but we are taking a big hit in excise taxes and anticipate hits in real estate taxes – particularly on the commercial side.  This will make budgeting very difficult.

To address this, we are going to have to look at spending priorities.  Raising taxes in this economy would be a bad idea and would only further hurt our residents and businesses.  This in turn could lead to actually reducing tax revenues.

As a community we need to determine what services the Town should continue to provide and how to do it.  We must look into innovative approaches that better leverage the resources and capabilities of our residents, businesses, and organizations.  I think we can still continue to provide many of the things our community has come to expect but how those services are provided may look very different.

Listening to different perspectives and ideas is critical to how I approach problem solving and to making Herndon the best it can be for all of its people, businesses, and organizations.  I hope people will learn more about me at www.porter4herndon.com or on Facebook (@Porter4Herndon).  I look forward to earning your vote for Stevan Porter for Herndon Town Council this November.

A previous Reston Now post mistakenly stated Porter did not submit a statement.

Photo via Stevan Porter

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