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Letter: Business, County Interests Push Density Despite Community Calls for Balanced Growth

This letter was submitted by Terry Maynard, who resides in Reston. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

As a Restonian who has worked hard on Reston planning and zoning for more than a decade, I was stunned by the letter mentioned in a recent Reston Now article. It was signed by 17 people — many of whom are associated with the leadership of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (GRCOC) — to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

One of the most stunning claims in the letter was that “Reston’s Comprehensive Plan was the product of a five-year planning process involving the full community.” The fact of the matter is that the Reston community was marginalized throughout this timeframe, and its contributions were opposed by developers and ignored by the county.

No community representative, then or now, has opposed reasonable residential and commercial development in the transit station areas. They have objected and continue to object to the excessive development proposed by private and county land use interests.

Only six of the two dozen primary members of the RTF studying Phase 1 for the transit station areas were Reston residents who represented the interests of Reston residents. They included representatives from three community organizations — Reston Association, Reston Citizens Association and Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners — and three independent “at large” residents.

The Task Force recommended 27,932 dwelling units — homes for about 59,000 people — in the station areas based on a study of multiple density and mix scenarios — a development level community representatives could live with. That was set at 27,900 when the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the Phase 1 plan in early 2014 — a number Reston community representatives could live with.

Then that Phase 1 planned station area dwelling unit number was raised by more than half to 44,000 dwelling units — 92,000 people — in mid-2015 by the BOS in the process of approving the Phase 2 plan without any community involvement or even foreknowledge. Yet the county insists it only revises plans every five years.

Community involvement in Reston planning was even more limited during Phase 2 for Reston’s suburban areas.  It included only four county-led and controlled community meetings and an open house. It was agreed that residential areas should remain “stable,” but the redevelopment of Reston’s village centers drew controversy. Draft county language to require a comprehensive plan amendment to redevelop village centers was dropped from the Board-approved mid-2015 Reston Master Plan because it would make the redevelopment approval process more cumbersome. This effectively shut off public comment on critical changes and eases development.

No meaningful commitment was made in the Reston Master Plan to provide needed infrastructure on a timely basis, despite the GRCOC letter saying, “The Plan requires that infrastructure be ‘phased’ with development.” In fact, that is illegal in Virginia and the RMP planning principles say it “should occur with development.” Language about specific infrastructures–transportation, schools, parks, etc., is vague and the proposals are inadequate.

Moreover, no meaningful funding has been committed to building any of the so-called “planned” infrastructure elements, which are all generally inadequate against even county policy standards, excluding the library where a $10 million bond funding may disappear in 2022.

Now the county is proposing to amend the Reston Planned Residential Community (PRC) zoning ordinance to increase allowable community-wide population density from 13 to 15 people per acre in suburban Reston and increase the allowable density on a single PRC property designated “high density” from 50 to 70 dwelling units per acre, including the village centers and several so-called “hot spots.” In its staff report on the proposed zoning density change, the county calculates roughly a quadrupling of planned housing in the village center areas from less than 1,500 to 5,800.

It also identifies three suburban residential “hot spots”– Saint Johns Wood, Charter Oaks and Fairway — for high-density redevelopment that would more than double the number of dwelling units to 1,863 residences.

The bottom line is that Restonians have had — and continue to have — limited access to the planning and zoning process throughout and their contributions and concerns have almost universally been ignored.

The cumulative effect of the new zoning in the station areas and the prospect of increasing the Reston PRC zoning density would be to allow Reston’s population to triple from its current 63,000 people to more than 180,000. At the same time, there is little or no assurance of the arrival any time soon of needed infrastructure that would maintain Restonians’ quality of life as a model planned community.

Now it is imperative that Restonians rise up and stop the county’s ill-considered PRC density increase proposal driven by Supervisor Hudgins. Attend the Planning Commission hearing on the PRC amendment at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Fairfax County Government Center wearing a yellow shirt. The presence of hundreds of Restonians will be as great a message to the Planning Commission as the testimony of Reston’s representatives and residents.

— Terry Maynard

File photo

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Fliers for White Nationalist Group Spotted in Herndon, Reston

Posters appeared yesterday in Herndon for Patriot Front, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist hate group.

Patriot Front tweeted that its “activists” put up the posters around Herndon. Last week the group said that it also put up posters in Reston.

The posters include slogans like “reclaim America” and “better dead than red.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front broke off from the alt-right group Vanguard America in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

A spokeswoman for the Town of Herndon told Reston Now yesterday that the town does not have any information related to the posters.

Via Twitter, a person in Herndon said he saw “some guy” posting the fliers “on the electrical box outside of an office park.” He encouraged people to “take them down and report it.”

93 Comments

Poll: Which Dining Option Are You Most Craving?

Who’s hungry for more dining options?

As Winter Restaurant Week winds down this weekend, foodies in Reston and Herndon may have noticed some changes to their dining options in an area. Over the last few years, the food scene has seen newcomers pop up and long-established restaurants close.

(For comparison, Winter Restaurant Week in 2016 featured eight Reston-area participants. That’s double the number of participants for this year and 2018.)

Last year alone, several restaurants and two dessert shops shut their doors in Reston Town Center at almost the same rate as new options — HoneygrowBalducci’sMason’s Famous Lobster Rolls and &pizza — popped up.

It’s a new year with new food. Openings already nearing for some of the seven restaurants coming to Reston and Herndon in the first three months of 2019.

Foodies, let us know your thoughts about which dining option the food scenes in Reston and Herndon really need.

8 Comments

Letter: Why You Should Care About the Reston Zoning Cap

This letter was submitted by Bruce Ramo, a member of community groups Reclaim Reston and Coalition for a Planned Reston. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

It’s a lot to ask of everyone in Reston to understand the minutiae of land use law. We have families and jobs and other responsibilities. And, after all, we chose to live in a planned community with loads of covenants and design guidelines. We can leave it to the “experts.” Except we can’t.

Like it or not Restonians have little say over how our community is being developed, and the elected official who should be watching out for us, our county supervisor, has retreated to a defensive posture. She frequently tells us “we just don’t understand” and has suggested that Reston, perhaps the most progressive community in Virginia, opposes the proposed increase in the density cap out of fear of “the other” sharing our neighborhoods. This is simply untrue. The community group Coalition for a Planned Reston proposed an increase in the required affordable housing levels for Reston–our supervisor did not support us.

So what’s the big deal about increasing the density cap, from 13 to 15 persons per acre, in the primarily residential areas of Reston called the Planned Residential Community district? The supervisor and county staff tells us that the increase is necessary to implement 2015 changes to the Reston Master Plan. Those changes allow significantly increased density in the Village Centers and other “hot spots” throughout established neighborhoods of Reston, far from the Metro stations.  We are also scolded about speaking up now because, as the story goes, the public had lots of opportunities back in 2014-15 to comment on changes to these portions of the Reston Master Plan changes called “Phase 2.” (Phase 1 involved only the transit station areas.)

Our supervisor and county staff frequently repeat the myth of significant community involvement in Reston Master Plan Phase 2.  However, the county disbanded the citizen “task force” set up for community review before the Phase 2 review. There simply was little in-depth public review of the changes that are the driver for increasing the density cap.

Why should you care? Because if the zoning density cap is lifted, the ability of the community to push back on significant high-density development in our established residential neighborhoods effectively will be eliminated. Sure, each of us can watch out for individual development applications, but the force of overall community oversight based on a reasonable density cap will have been taken from us forever.  

We have invested our financial resources, identities and emotional loyalty to Reston as a planned community. The density increase is an existential threat to those investments.

Take action to protect your hometown. Help maintain the current density cap and the modicum of control it provides over those who would rob us of a community grounded in diversity, environmental stewardship and quality of life.

Attend the Jan. 23 meeting of the Planning Commission at the Fairfax County Government Center at 7 p.m. (and wear your yellow shirts!)

Write to our County officials: Supervisor Hudgins: [email protected]; other Fairfax County Supervisors:  [email protected]; and the Fairfax County Planning Commission: [email protected].

File photo

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UPDATE: Snow and Slick Roads in Reston, FCPS Closed Monday

Update at 5:35 p.m. — Treacherous conditions have been reported on local roads as steady snow continues to fall.

Update at 4 p.m. — Fairfax County Public Schools will be closed Monday, the school system announced late Sunday afternoon.

Earlier: Snow is still falling on Reston, which has seen more than 7 inches of accumulation in what is now the snowiest D.C. area storm since 2016.

Another inch or two is possible before the storm winds down tonight, forecasters say.

VDOT crews have been working hard to clear roads throughout Fairfax County, but officials are still urging residents to stay home due to slick conditions.

Earlier this afternoon Virginia State Police said troopers in its Fairfax Division have responded to 34 crashes and 52 disabled vehicles since midnight. Statewide, more than 230 crashes were handled by VSP during that timeframe.

“Drivers be advised — looks can be and are deceiving!” state police said. “Highways may appear to be clear, but slick and icy conditions still exist.”

“On the second day of winter weather across northern Virginia, drivers are asked to continue to avoid unnecessary travel for crews to safely clear accumulating snow,” VDOT urged.

As of 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Fairfax County Public Schools had not yet announced whether schools will be open Monday. Arlington and Alexandria, meanwhile, have both announced that schools will be closed tomorrow.

More scenes from around Reston and Herndon, via social media:

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Snow is Sticking on Reston Roads as Gov. Declares State of Emergency

Roads throughout Reston are becoming snow-covered as this weekend’s winter storm gets underway.

Some 6-12 inches of snow is expected to fall on Fairfax County over the next 24 hours or so.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency tonight (Saturday) ahead of the worst of the storm.

Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency today in advance of the anticipated effects of winter weather expected this weekend including snow, ice, and high winds throughout much of the Commonwealth. This will likely result in downed trees, power outages, and transportation impacts. The executive order is designed to help Virginia mitigate any damage caused by the winter weather event and to streamline the process that the Commonwealth uses to provide assistance to localities and communities impacted by storm effects.

“I am declaring a state of emergency in order to prepare and coordinate the Commonwealth’s response to anticipated winter storm impacts, including snow and ice accumulations, transportation issues, and power outages,” said Governor Northam. “Virginians should take precautions to stay safe as we begin experiencing winter weather effects.”

Snow is now accumulating on local yards, parking lots and side roads throughout the Fairfax County. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect through Sunday evening.

From the National Weather Service:

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM EST SUNDAY… * WHAT…HEAVY SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 10 INCHES EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND AND NORTHERN AND NORTHWEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…UNTIL 6 PM EST SUNDAY. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT DUE TO SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY ROADS. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL, KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT, FOOD AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1. &&

VDOT, which is responsible for clearing snow from roads in Fairfax County — except for those that are privately owned — is urging residents to remain inside during the storm if at all possible.

More from social media:

File photo (above) by Mara Gifford via Twitter

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Poll: Are You Affected by the Government Shutdown?

The partial federal government shutdown is nearing the two-week mark with no immediate end in sight.

Parts of the federal government shut down on Saturday, Dec. 22, after Congress and the White House failed to reach a spending deal. It remains unclear if or when the White House and congressional Democrats could negotiate a deal as President Donald Trump keeps a firm stand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall.

Yesterday (Jan. 2), Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo closed, joining National Parks around the country, according to news reports. Even though people got very concerned very quickly after the zoo’s beloved live “panda cam” went dark, the pandas and other animals will continue to get fed.

One place not affected by the shutdown — the Newseum — is offering federal workers who show their badge free admission.

Trump’s third government shutdown is impacting locals and visitors in the Washington, D.C.-area from furloughed federal workers to surprised tourists. (The longest government shutdown was 21 days during Bill Clinton’s presidency, in case you were curious.)

Now, on day 13, let us know if your work or D.C. plans have been affected by the shutdown.

File photo

32 Comments

Letter: The Folly of 15

This letter was submitted by Dennis K. Hays, the president of the Reston Citizens Association. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

Fairfax County has proposed to increase the population cap of the Reston Planned Residential Community district (PRC) from the long-standing 13 persons per acre (ppa) to as many as 15 persons per acre — which when combined with already approved projects would add an additional 30,000 people above our current population for the established, primarily residential areas of Reston. Please keep in mind this doesn’t include the areas around the Metro, where the county is on track to authorize building enough high rises to add an additional 80,000 residents.

Here are 10 reasons why the cap should be left alone. There undoubtedly are more.

1. If the ceiling (13) is shattered, there is no new ceiling: Fourteen or 15 today will be 16 tomorrow, 17 the day after and 20 down the road. The current 13 ppa has been in effect since Robert Simon created Reston. Does anyone believe the county will stop at 15?

2. The county bases its proposal on numbers that are rough estimates at best, gross misrepresentations at worst. The county has provided no established methodology that can be used to arrive at accurate numbers. The county promised to meet with the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) and the Reston Association to agree on a methodology before any action would be taken. We’re still waiting.

3. There are thousands of dwelling units (what the county calls where we live) that have been approved but not yet built (1,400 at Spectrum alone). How will all these already authorized residences affect roads, schools, first responder services, and parks? The county counts them for cap purposes, but not for the provision of services.

4. The county doesn’t count people who live in affordable or workforce housing as part of the cap, despite CPR’s frequent complaints. These neighbors of ours have kids in school, drive to work, go to the library and play ball in the parks just like everyone else. So why are they second-class citizens in the county’s eyes?

5. Although the county is in a frenzied hurry to authorize new high-density construction, they are in no hurry to provide the needed infrastructure that should go along with it. Reston has received no funding from the county in its current transportation budget. There is no land for additional athletic fields or open space confirmed. The Master Plan calls for infrastructure to be phased in with development. County officials talk for hours about their “plans” for roads, schools, parks, etc. but when pressed they are forced to admit they have no funds, no identified land and no timetable for the required infrastructure.

6. Why the push to raise the cap now? Even using the county’s questionable numbers there aren’t any development proposals that take us over the 13 ppa limit. So what is the rush? Why not use this time to assess how we grow in phase with the services needed to support our neighborhoods?

7. Until five years ago the county had an official on the Planning staff dedicated to working on Reston proposals. This provided some coordination. They haven’t replaced that official. Now the county can’t say specifically where the development allowed by their increased cap will go, although it doesn’t take much to figure this out — initially it will go to build high rises in the Village Centers, take parking spaces away from the library and push again on St. Johns Wood and the other “hot spots” the county believes should be more urban. And by urban they mean you will only walk, bike or Metro to work, the grocery store, the movies, to see family and friends and everywhere else. And then they will come for the golf courses.

8. The Reston Master Plan was changed in significant ways after community representatives had signed off on what they believed to be the final version. Leaving that aside for the moment, the Virginia Code calls for Master Plans to be reviewed and updated at least every five years. The Master Plan for the Metro areas is up for review next month. The PRC portion must be updated no later than next year. Yet the county has taken no steps to begin the review process. Given all that has happened, isn’t it time to pause and take stock?

9. The more you dig into the county’s assertions, the shakier they become. The CPR and the Reston Association met with county officials in four sub-groups last summer. It became immediately apparent that a lot more information and data was needed to properly review and assess the issues surrounding the cap. We had agreement coming out of all four meetings that the additional information would be developed before any action on the cap was taken. CPR and RA asked over 30 specific questions. On Dec. 11 the county responded by sending a blizzard of paperwork — that restated what we had already been told but provided no new information. Why hasn’t the county met its commitment to answer these questions? Could it be that the answers would be more damning than not answering?

10. The county speaks often of the need for “community involvement” and the Master Plan lists community participation as the foundation stone on which all else rests. So why has the county refused to meaningfully engage with its citizens? We remain ready to work with the county to further the unique vision of Reston as a balanced, welcoming community that takes to heart our motto of “live, work, play.” Is that too much to ask?

If you agree that raising the cap is unneeded and counterproductive, please let our Fairfax County Supervisor ([email protected]), the other supervisors ([email protected]), the Planning Commission ([email protected]) and the Department of Planning and Zoning ([email protected]) know. We can make this a Happy New Year if we act together.

— Dennis K. Hays

29 Comments

South Lakes HS Student Struck, Killed in Hit and Run

Fairfax County Police are still looking for the driver who killed a Reston teen who was crossing the street Saturday evening.

The victim was identified by police Sunday as 16-year-old Marvin Daniel Cruz Serrano, who friends are remembering as “kind and selfless.” The South Lakes High School student was struck by a vehicle while returning home from work at Reston’s Cafesano, NBC 4 reported.

“At about 5:40, officers responded to the report of a pedestrian hit-and-run crash on South Lakes Drive and Castle Rock Square in Reston,” police said in a press release. “The teen was attempting to cross South Lakes Drive… when he was hit by a vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“There is a crosswalk at the intersection and detectives are still conducting their investigation to determine if the teen was using the crosswalk,” police added. Police are now seeking information that can lead them to the driver, who fled the scene.

More from FCPD:

Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit are asking anyone with information on the fatal hit-and-run crash over the weekend to come forward. 16-year-old Marvin Daniel Cruz Serrano of Reston was hit while crossing the street Saturday night, and the driver left the scene. The car involved was likely a sedan based on witness accounts, but we don’t know the model or color. The vehicle would have heavy front-end damage but still be drivable.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Crash Reconstruction Unit witness phone line: 703-280-0543. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by visiting http://www. fairfaxcrimesolvers.org, or calling 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). They can also be sent in via text by texting “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES (274637). Text STOP to 274637 to cancel, or HELP to 274637 for help. Message and data rates may apply. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1000 if their information leads to an arrest.

We are able to share Serrano’s identity publicly, despite him being a juvenile crime victim, because his family provided our detectives their written consent.

Map via Google Maps

32 Comments

Poll: What do You Think About Wegmans Coming to Town?

You have probably heard the news by now: Reston is getting its first Wegmans.

The 80,000-square-foot Wegmans will be a part of Brookfield Properties’ $1.4 billion development by the Silver Line’s planned Reston Town Center Metro station.

The nearly 4 million-square-foot mixed-use development dubbed Halley Rise, formerly known as Reston Crescent, will be located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive.

The project includes New housing, offices and public green space.

The developers are now eyeing neighbors for Wegmans in the 250,000 square feet of planned retail space, which could support between 20 to 30 tenants. A bowling alley concept, movie theater, fitness center and restaurants are all under consideration, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The Wegmans could open as soon as 2022, which is when the first phase of the project is slated to be done. The second phase is aiming for completion in 2026.

With the new development beginning construction in 2019, let us know your thoughts about Halley Rise and the new grocery option.

Photos via Halley Rise and Fairfax County and handout via Brookfield Properties

14 Comments

Letter: Praise for Crafthouse’s Donations to California Wildfire Aid

This letter was submitted by Spencer Abraham. It does not reflect the opinions of Reston Now. We publish article and opinion contributions of specific interest to the Reston community. Contributions may be edited for length or content.

As a resident of McLean whose family owns a retail store in Reston, I was extremely excited to read the Nov. 21 article in Reston Now entitled “Crafthouse Donates Part of Bottled Beer Sales to California Wildfire Aid.”

The article indicated that Reston’s Crafthouse brewery was donating 10 percent of all bottled beer sales through Dec. 15 to aid in the cleanup of the areas that were destroyed by the recent wildfires in California.

Although my home is in Northern Virginia, I attend college at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. Fortunately, the area around my campus was not affected by the recent destruction, but we were close enough to smell the smoke from the fires and to understand, up close, just what damage had taken place.

A number of my friends from school live or have family members who live in the communities where the fires struck, and I know from them just how deadly they were and the incredible expense that will be incurred as the affected areas clean up after the infernos.

Therefore, it made me especially happy to read about the commitment made by Crafthouse and proud that businesses from my home area — a full continent from where the fires raged — were willing to help out. I salute Crafthouse and thank owner Evan Matz for his decision to help and the customers whose purchases and donations are providing the funds sent to California. Many thanks all around.

— Spencer Abraham

Photo via Crafthouse/Facebook

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Thanksgiving Morning House Fire Displaces Herndon Residents

A fire broke out in a Herndon house early Thanksgiving morning, leaving four residents temporarily without a home for the holiday.

The fire broke out in an attic above the garage, shortly after 3:30 a.m. this past Thursday, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue. Investigators determined that it was sparked by a malfunctioning box fan.

Firefighters worked to “aggressively” extinguish the flames, but because of the damage the four residents — along with two guests — were not able to stay in the house.

More from a fire department press release:

On Thursday, November 22, at approximately 3:38 a.m., units responded to a reported house fire in the 600 block of Stuart Court in the Town of Herndon.

Units arrived on scene of a two-story, single-family home with no visible sign of smoke or fire. Crews quickly located a fire in the attic space above the garage. Firefighters worked aggressively to extinguish the fire. No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported.

A total of four occupants and two visitors were present at the time of the fire. One of the occupants awoke to flickering lights and an odor of smoke. The occupant alerted the others and called 9-1-1. The six occupants self-evacuated prior to fire department arrival. Working smoke alarms were installed but did not activate due to location of the fire.

Fire Investigators determined that the fire was accidental in nature and started in the attic space over the garage. The cause of the fire was a malfunctioning box fan located in the attic.

Four residents of the home were displaced because of the fire. Red Cross assistance was offered and accepted. Damages as a result of the fire were approximately $75,000.

Map via Google Maps

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Weekend Discussion Topics

Before we head off into the weekend, let’s take a look back at the biggest stories on Reston Now in recent days.

  1. Breaking: Four Men Arrested After High-Speed Chase
  2. Developing: Body Found on Browns Chapel Road
  3. Updated: Incumbents Return but Cunningham Ousted from Herndon Town Council
  4. Cow Attempts Daring Escape During Lunchtime Stroll in Herndon
  5. Fairfax County Planning Commission Approves Midline Project

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, email us at [email protected] or submit an anonymous tip. We’ll resume our regular publishing schedule when we return from our Veterans Day holiday.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below.

Photo via FCPD

3 Comments

Five Seats Open in 2019 Reston Association Board Election

Reston Association has issued a call for candidates for the 2019 Board of Directors’ election. Five seats are open.

The following seats will be open next year: an at-large seat for a three-year term, apartment owners representative for a one-year term, Hunters Woods/Dogwood district representative for a one-year term, North Point district representative for a three-year term and Lake Anne/Tall Oaks district representative for a three-year term.

Interested candidates must complete a candidacy statement form. RA’s elections committee will validate candidates in late January and the election will begin on March 4.

The nine-member board is responsible for setting the mission and goals of RA, policies and procedures, monitoring finances, approving budgets and setting the assessment rate.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Town of Herndon Candidates Gear Up for Final Stretch Ahead of Council, Mayoral Election

Candidates for the Herndon Town Council are gearing up for election day on Nov. 6.  Over the last month, fundraising totals for Grace Wolf Cunningham, a current councilwoman running for reelection, surpassed her opponents who are also vying for seats on the Council.

Cunningham reeled in nearly $7,000, moving her ahead of funds raised by other candidates — even after factoring in a $3,000 loan she took from herself. Ten candidates are vying for six town council seats: Cunningham, Jennifer Baker, Cesar Del Aguila, Pradip Dhakal, Signe Friedrichs, W.J. Sean Kenis Jr., Bill McKenna, Sheila Olem, Joe Plummer and Roland Taylor. Baker, Cunningham, Friedrichs, McKenna and Olem are incumbents.

Mayor Lisa Merkel is running unopposed and reeled in $4,374 between Oct. 1 and Oct. 25, including donations from Cunningham, and State House Rep. Jennifer Boysko, Fairfax County Board of Director John Foust. She had roughly $2,345 cash on hand.

Most other Council candidates brought in roughly $1,000 in contributions over the past month. Baker raised around $2,519 and was left with $1,542. Dhakal received more than $4,000 over the last reporting period through 51 contributions, largely from the Indian community.

Del Aguila raised nearly $900 and was left with $677 in his campaign coffers, a number similar to Kenis Jr. who raised nearly $2,000 but was left with around $692. Friedrichs received nearly $610 and was had roughly $1,200 in his coffers. McKenna received around $1,528 and was left with a little over $1,000. Olem held on to most contributions, with around $1,015 raised and $3,682 in the bank. Plummer raised $1,161 and had just $390 remaining.

Data for Taylor was not available because he is a self-funded candidate and is only required to file campaign finance reports at the conclusion of his campaign.

Donations across campaigns were common. For example, Merkel donated to the several council candidate committees, including that of Cunningham, McKenna, and Plummer. 

Alliances have also emerged during a recent civil suit filed by Olem, Del Aguila and Friedrichs against Cunningham alleging she engaged in the malicious prosecution against them. A judge is likely to make a decision on the civil suit following the election.

Cunningham’s legal representative, State Sen. Chap Peterson, called the lawsuit a “distraction.”

 “My client, the Honorable Grace Wolf Cunningham looks forward to Election Day and continuing to represent her constituents and achieving results. Once Election Day is over we will deal with whatever legal issues remain,” Peterson wrote in a statement.

File photo

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