71°Partly Cloudy

Del. Ken Plum: Election Season Jitters

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The fall season brings beautifully colored leaves, wonderfully cool evenings and the ghosts and goblins of Halloween, but for me it also brings the jitters of the elections that occur the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every year in Virginia.

As one who has won many elections but has lost elections as well, the days and weeks leading up to Election Day can be nerve-racking. As well-planned as an election campaign might be, and as hard as the candidate and volunteers may have worked, outcomes are seldom certain. Last-minute attack ads or unrelated weather or news events can affect the outcome of elections.

An understandable question I often get is–why, without an opponent in this election, I would be nervous about it and would be campaigning so hard during the days and evenings leading up to it? There are several reasons.

The election season is the point in the year when the most people are paying attention to some of the issues on which I work throughout the year. It may be an old-fashioned idea, but I think campaigns are times when office-holders and office-seekers can have a dialogue about issues confronting the community and what should be done about them. Such discussions often get drowned out by all the trappings of campaigns like slogans, misleading brochures and commercials, and other distractions. My not having an opponent is not a choice of mine but should not keep me from having interaction with voters that I trust will leave all of us better informed. Not voting in the delegate race certainly is a choice voters have, but I seek votes as an affirmation of support for the work that I do.

I am also very active in political campaigns every year, whether I am on the ballot or not, because the outcomes of other campaigns are important to me. For example, this year it is critically important to me that Dr. Ralph Northam is elected Governor, Justin Fairfax is elected Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Herring is re-elected Attorney General. They share my values of supporting education, access to health care for all, common-sense gun safety laws to keep our neighbors safe, and ending discrimination in society. My efforts in the legislature can be enhanced or thwarted by those who occupy the executive branch positions.

The reality is that the outcomes of elections are determined by those who bother to vote. Presidential elections can get up to three-quarters of the voters to the polls, but state elections attract fewer than half of all voters. With the density of population in Northern Virginia, the large number of voters here can determine the statewide outcome. That is why I am working hard to help the get-out-the-vote campaigns that are now underway.

Above all, I get anxious this time of the year because I believe in democracy. Voting is one of the most critical ways we can respond to signs that some of our basic beliefs may be fraying. Let’s all participate in our democracy by voting this coming Tuesday, Nov. 7! Usual polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thank you.

32 Comments

Del. Ken Plum: Shades of the Old South

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Just when you think things are changing you can be shocked to realize just how much they stay the same. Politics in Virginia are a prime example.

For more than a century after the Civil War, the consistent factor in politics was race-baiting. The then-called Democrats in the South, who later became known as Dixiecrats and today are the conservative wing of the Republican Party, were successful with a variety of laws that disenfranchised African Americans. Even with the few African Americans who could get through the labyrinth of laws that included blank-sheet registration forms, literacy tests and poll taxes, the scare tactic employed by too many candidates was to suggest that their opponent was a lover of black people — but using a derogatory term. That fear of black people has its roots back to the centuries where black people were enslaved and brutal enforcement and fear were used to keep them that way.

The Civil War did not resolve the feeling between blacks and whites, and slave codes were replaced with Jim Crow laws that whites could use to assert supremacy over black people. For a candidate to take a position that could be interpreted as being favorable to African Americans would mean almost certain defeat at the polls. Only Supreme Court decisions and federal laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act created a more level political playing field between the races. Continued efforts to suppress the votes of minorities and to unnecessarily complicate the voting process are still employed by some trying to maintain a structured society of white supremacy.

More recently, those who want to keep or expand their political power have swept immigrants — whatever their status — into the realm of those who are to be feared and suppressed from participating in the democratic process.

Many strive to gain maximum political advantage through whatever means while at the same time wanting to keep the appearance of respect and patriotism. The recent television ad with scary images and references to fear and the MS-13 gang intends to scare voters into rejecting a compassionate medical doctor with an ad that fact-checkers have found to be untruthful.

Another concern from the current campaign is the suggestion from a white female candidate for lieutenant governor that her black male opponent does not understand the issues well enough to discuss them “intelligently.” Disregarding the excellent academic credentials of her opponent, her comments had the tone of the past that one observer said seemed more appropriate for 1957 than 2017.

At the national level, there are daily statements and actions that hearken back to the racial climate of the Old South. This year in Virginia, we have a unique opportunity on Nov. 7 to make a statement with our votes that we reject the discrimination of the past. It is always important to vote, but it is more important than ever this year. Despite efforts to romanticize the Old South and the Confederacy, we need to learn the truth and understand why we need to move on.

44 Comments

Monday Morning Notes

Biden Stumps for Northam in Reston — During a roundtable discussion Saturday in Reston Town Center along with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, the former Vice President emphasized the importance of state politics at a time when he said the federal government has faltered in its responsibilities. Current Vice President Mike Pence was also in Virginia on Saturday, joining Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie on the campaign trail in Abingdon. [The Hill]

‘Light the Night’ Raises Funds for Leukemia Research — The walk Friday night at Reston Town Center was part of a campaign expected to raise $3 million in the fight against blood cancers. [FOX5]

County’s Earners On Par with Manhattan’s, Nation’s Wealthiest — Forbes magazine analyzed U.S. Census data to determine where the highest wage-earners in the nation live. Fairfax County tied with Manhattan for the highest percentage of resident full-time workers making over $75,000, at 49.2 percent. [Forbes]

Police Auditor, Review Panel Taking Complaints — Use of excessive force, abusive language, harassment, reckless endangerment and more concerns about Fairfax County police officers can now be submitted using an online form. [Fairfax County]

King Gets on the Stat Sheet — The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-6 on the season with a 33-17 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday, but South Lakes High School football alumnus Deon King did get on the stat sheet. Playing on special teams, King recorded a tackle of Texans’ punt returner Will Fuller V in the third quarter of the game. [ESPN]

14 Comments

$315 Million Public Schools Bonds Referendum on November Ballot

The ballot for November’s Virginia election in Fairfax County includes the question of the $315 million public schools bonds referendum.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted in July to advance to question to the ballot. Absentee voting begins Friday, Sept. 22. Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 7.

According to information provided by Fairfax County, the bond funding would be used to:

  • Plan and/or construct two new elementary schools
  • Relocate one modular building
  • Plan additions at three existing high schools (Madison, Stuart and West Potomac) to add capacity
  • Plan and/or construct renovations of 10 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools

One of the most expensive items on the list of projects to be funded is construction at Langston Hughes Middle School, for which more than $41 million would be budgeted. Another $1.3 million is on the list for planning renovations at Fox Mill Elementary School.

Click here for the full list of projects included.

The wording of the yes/no question is:

Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue capital improvement bonds in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $315,000,000 for the purposes of providing funds, in addition to funds from school bonds previously authorized, to finance, including reimbursement to the County for temporary financing for, the costs of school improvements, including acquiring, building, expanding and renovating properties, including new sites, new buildings or additions, renovations and improvements to existing buildings, and furnishings and equipment, for the Fairfax County public school system?

The sale of municipal bonds is a form of long-term borrowing that spreads the cost of major capital improvements over the years facilities are used. This method of financing ensures that current and future users help pay for the improvements. If approved, these bonds will probably be sold to large investment banking syndicates that will have to competitively bid for them. Once bought, they are typically resold to financial institutions, which then sell them to investors.

Also on the ballot will be the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates. To find your polling place, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Image courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

37 Comments

Friday Morning Notes

Lake Anne Brew House Earns Best Brewery Spot — Determined by the results of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, Lake Anne Brew House is one of three breweries that have shared the title of Best Brewery from Virginia Craft Beer magazine. [Virginia Craft Beer]

Gillespie, Northam Confirmed for Debate — The two gubernatorial candidates will participate a debate in Tysons on Sept. 19, hosted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” will moderate. [NOVA Chamber]

Former Clyde’s Chef Now in Charlottesville — Patrick Carroll, who formerly served as executive chef with Clyde’s of Reston, has been tapped as the new executive chef at Three Notch’d Brewing Company in Charlottesville. The craft brewer is investing nearly $3 million to expand its restaurant. [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]

Terry McAuliffe on ‘The Daily Show’ — The Virginia governor was on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” earlier this week, talking about how he challenged the Trump Administration’s voter fraud commission. He also weighed in on the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare. [The Daily Show]

Suspected Child Predator Nabbed — Jerberth Adallir Palma, 43, of Springfield, was arrested July 13 by Fairfax County Police and charged with numerous sex crimes against children. Detectives believe there might be other victims.  [Fairfax County Police Department]

12 Comments

Del. Ken Plum: Looking Ahead to the November General Elections

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

With the conclusion of the political party primaries last week, the general election is now teed up for Nov. 7.

There were some surprises coming out of the Democratic and Republican primaries. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam easily won the Democratic primary to be the nominee for governor, even though there was discussion beforehand that polls indicated a tight race. Polling for primaries is notorious for being inaccurate because with a typically light turnout, the universe of potential voters is almost impossible to determine. Former one-term Congressman Tom Perriello has a great deal to offer and will hopefully stay on the scene for future opportunities. Although the term “establishment” was grossly overused in describing Ralph Northam, his service in the state Senate plus his active role as lieutenant governor made him well known and greatly admired throughout the state.

Justin Fairfax gained everyone’s admiration after a primary loss to Attorney General Mark Herring four years ago led to his active campaigning during the interim time, making him well known for this primary. He was also well known for his work as an attorney. If you review the areas where Ralph Northam did well and compare them with where Justin Fairfax was strongest, you create a strong statewide team that will be nearly impossible to defeat. Attorney General Mark Herring was not challenged in a primary and will be on the ballot to succeed himself in November. There is no one-term limitation with the attorney general and the lieutenant governor as there is with the governor.

The greatest surprise of the primaries may have been on the Republican side to pick a candidate for governor. Ed Gillespie who has been mentioned for years as the next Republican governor of Virginia barely got through the primary with a shockingly strong showing by Corey Stewart, who is known for his anti-immigrant work in Prince William County and for campaigning with a Confederate flag. He has the distinction of being so over the top that he was fired by the Trump campaign. Turnout was especially low in the Republican primary, and Stewart was just over a percentage point from taking out Gillespie. It will be interesting to see if the folks who voted for Stewart will vote in the general election or decide to stay home.

The Republican primary for lieutenant governor was a slugfest between two state senators, with Sen. Jill Vogel winning after a mud-slinging campaign that left neither candidate looking good.

All 100 seats for the House of Delegates are up for election this fall with a record number of contested elections. Historically, it has been difficult to recruit candidates to run for the House of Delegates, but events of the past year have brought forth more candidates than ever before. There was a record number 27 seats where the candidates were determined by the primary because there was so much interest in running. Democrats will certainly pick up seats in the House of Delegates getting closer to shifting or sharing power in that legislative body.

While I am uncontested in my race for the House of Delegates, you can still expect to see me campaigning. It is a good way to stay in touch with constituents and to increase turn-out for the statewide elections. Expect a busy fall of campaigning leading up to the fall elections in Virginia that will send a signal to the nation as to the public’s reaction to national events.

11 Comments

Local Gubernatorial Primary Votes In Line with Statewide Election Results

Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam stormed to victory in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary election, while Republican Ed Gillespie scratched and clawed his way to the nomination — results that showed locally as well as statewide.

About 1 in 6 registered voters in the Hunter Mill District showed up to vote on the Democratic ballot in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary election, while only about 1 in 20 did so on the Republican side.

In the Democratic race, Northam won every precinct in the district except one (McNair, who vote at McNair Elementary School in Herndon). Northam gained 7,670 votes in the district, which he won by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin over opponent Tom Perriello. Countywide, Northam won with a little over 60 percent of the vote, and he took the race overall with about 56 percent of the vote statewide.

The Republican race was much tighter, both locally and statewide. The top two candidates — former Republican National Committee chair Gillespie and Corey Stewart, former state chairman for the Donald Trump campaign — split Hunter Mill precinct wins, with Gillespie taking 14 and Stewart winning 13. Gillespie received more overall votes in Hunter Mill, taking about 44.5 percent of the 3,675 ballots cast; Stewart received 41.4 percent, and state Sen. Frank Wagner received about 14 percent.

In the county, Gillespie won with 47.7 percent of the vote; Stewart received 39 percent. Statewide, it was much closer, with Gillespie receiving only about 4,000 votes more than Stewart.

Winners in the races for lieutenant governor nominations were Jill Vogel (Republican) and Justin Fairfax (Democratic). Vogel won handily locally over two opponents; Fairfax was defeated in a handful of precincts by Susan Platt but did carry the county.

The highest turnout of Democratic voters in Reston was in the Reston No. 3 precinct, who vote at Reston Community Center at Lake Anne. Nearly a quarter (24.1 percent, 532 of 2,212) of registered voters in that precinct cast a Democratic ballot.

The lowest turnout of Democratic voters in Reston was in the Cameron Glen precinct, who vote at the North County Human Services Building. Only 475 of 3,861 registered voters (12.3 percent) in that precinct voted in the Democratic primary.

The highest turnout of Republican voters in Reston, meanwhile, was in the Sunrise Valley precinct, who vote at Sunrise Valley Elementary School. In that precinct, 131 of 1,826 registered voters (7.2 percent) participated by using a GOP ballot.

The lowest turnout of Republican voters in Reston was in the Hughes precinct, who vote at Hughes Middle School. Just 2.6 percent of registered voters there (103 of 3,947) took part in the GOP primary.

You can examine countywide election results more closely by using the map on Fairfax County’s website.

0 Comments

Wednesday Morning Notes

Northam, Gillespie Win Governor Nominations — Virginia’s lieutenant governor will face the former Republican National Committee chairman in November’s general election to fill the Governor’s Mansion. Their running mates will be Justin Fairfax (D) and Jill Vogel (R). [WTOP]

Herndon PD Establishes Drug Collection Station — The new unit at the Herndon Police Department (397 Herndon Parkway) will provide residents with a safe and environmentally responsible way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medication, including controlled substances. [Herndon Police]

Former Phys-Ed Teacher Gets Principal Job — Nick Napolitano, who was a physical-education teacher at Aldrin Elementary School from 2011-2014, has been named the principal of W.C. Taylor Middle School in Warrenton. [Fauquier Now]

Diversion First Info Session Tonight — Interested in learning more about the county’s Diversion First program, which was developed to limit the number of mentally ill and disabled people in jail? A presentation is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne (1609-A Washington Plaza N.). [Reston Now]

Farmers Market, Church Have Strong Partnership — Smart Markets operates out of the parking lot at St. John Neumann Catholic Community (11900 Lawyers Road) from 3-7 p.m. each Wednesday. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Photo courtesy Radhika Murari/RSTA

0 Comments

Voters Trickle Into the Polls for Virginia Gubernatorial Primary Election

There’s still time to vote in Virginia’s primary election. Polls opened this morning and will remain open until 7 p.m.

At the North County Human Services Center, one of several polling places in Reston, voters were in and out in only a few minutes. The official Fairfax County election Twitter account reported low turnout as of 2 p.m., with only 8.6 percent of registered voters having cast their ballots.

The candidates on the ballot for governor are Democrats Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello and Republicans Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart, and Frank Wagner. For lieutenant governor, Republican candidates are Glenn Davis, Bryce Reeves and Jill Vogel; Democratic candidates are Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt and Gene Rossi.

Quite a few voters in Reston were vocal about their motives. Many came out because they are dissatisfied with the current administration and believe voting may be the solution.

“I think the midterm elections and statewide elections are very critical to the national issues,” said one voter.

But some don’t see it as a partisan issue. Some voters just wanted to see some return to normalcy in American politics.

“[Government] is focused on the wrong thing,” another voter said. “If I can send a message at the local level, that’s a start.”

Others are of the thought that voting is their duty as a citizen.

“If we don’t speak up and let people know how we feel by our votes, then we are subject to somebody else telling us what to do,” one man said.

If you need to know where your polling place is, check the Virginia Department of Elections. You will need to show a photo ID before casting your ballot.

You can also track the local results of the election on the county website.

3 Comments

Tuesday Morning Notes

Polls Open for Primary Election — You can vote between now and 7 p.m. in the gubernatorial primary election, choosing the candidates who will face off in November. If you aren’t sure where your polling place is, check out the Virginia Department of Elections website. [Washington Post]

Record-High Temperatures Continue — Yesterday’s high of 95 tied the record, and today may be even hotter. [Washington Post/National Weather Service]

Reston Native Has Success as Baseball Coach — Troy Allen, a 1994 graduate of South Lakes High School, led the State College HS Little Lions on a deep run in the Pennsylvania state baseball playoffs this year. Allen was a basketball and baseball star at SLHS and played collegiately at George Washington University. [Centre Daily Times]

Nominations Still Open for Business Awards — We continue to accept submissions for our 2017 Best Reston Business Awards. Look over the 17 categories and get your business on the list of nominees. [Reston Now]

0 Comments

Del. Ken Plum: Get Out and Vote

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

My credentials as a progressive Democrat (capital D) are well established; sometimes missed in the political back and forth of an election year might be my earnest effort to be a democratic (small d) advocate.

The outcomes of elections can be no more reflective of the public mood and aspirations than substantial participation by voters in the electoral process. That observation has been made over and over, yet elections occur with only a small fraction of eligible voters taking part.

Voting does take some time and effort. To vote one must register, but registration is active as long as you have not moved. Even though elections take place on a weekday when many people work, it should be possible to find some time between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. in order to vote. If not, absentee voting is an alternative. There has been much legislation over the years designed to suppress the vote, but I and others have spent a lifetime working to get it defeated in the courts or in the Legislature.

Although candidates spend huge amounts of money and time selling themselves to voters, there are many voters who consider themselves too ill-informed to vote. Bringing a realistic vision of a candidate to a voter is not an easy task. Candidates need to keep trying, and voters need to step up the effort to find out information on candidates for themselves. The recent growth of interest groups registering voters and informing people on the issues is a very hopeful sign. I believe it will help change the outcome of some elections, and for sure it is likely to increase participation.

Virginia has an election every year. While most states skip the odd-numbered years for elections, Virginia — along with New Jersey — will elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and all members of the House of Delegates this year. That election will be on Nov. 7. But even before we get to those campaigns, there are many more primary elections in both parties this year than I can ever remember.

June 13 is a most important date when primary elections will take place. Voters do not register by political party in Virginia. To vote in the Democratic or Republican primary on June 13, you need to declare your political party at that time. You cannot vote in more than one primary.

Of course, I am voting in the Democratic primary and will be voting for current Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam for the Democratic nomination for governor and Justin Fairfax as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Attorney General Mark Herring will be the Democratic nominee for re-election, as he is not being challenged in the primary.

If you are voting in the Republican primary on June 13, you have a choice of three candidates for the nomination for governor, and three for lieutenant governor.

I am not being challenged in the primary but several delegate districts have primaries in Northern Virginia. To look at a sample ballot for each party, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/upcoming.htm.

However you choose to vote, do get out and vote and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

10 Comments

Sample Ballots Available for June’s Gubernatorial Primary Election

Fairfax County has made sample ballots available for June 13’s Virginia primary election, at which Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be selected.

Republican candidates for governor are Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner. Democratic candidates are Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello.

For lieutenant governor, Republican candidates are Glenn Davis, Bryce Reeves and Jill Vogel. Democratic candidates are Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt and Gene Rossi.

To find your polling place, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Save

Save

2 Comments

Tuesday Morning Notes

Some Work on Phase 1 of Silver Line Project Ongoing — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority says some work connected to the first phase of the Silver Line still needs to be completed. All significant work is done, according to MWAA, but continuing projects include realignment of Old Meadow Road in McLean. [WTOP]

SLHS Softballer Heading to Europe — Alyssa Smith, a freshman at South Lakes High School, is raising money to travel to Europe to play softball for the Student-Athlete USA Team. Alyssa is the center fielder for HRYS Glory 16U and has hopes of playing Division I college softball after she graduates. [GoFundMe]

Bluegrass Series Wrapping Up at Frying Pan Park — The Bluegrass Barn series at Frying Pan Farm Park (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon) will come to an end April 9 with a performance by The Boxcars. Tickets are now on sale. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Gillespie Wins County GOP Straw Poll — A Fairfax County Republican Party straw poll over the weekend has Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman, firmly in the lead in the GOP race for Governor of Virginia. Gillespie is facing Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner in the primary, which takes place June 13. [WTOP]

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list