Reston, VA

Stay-at-Home Chalk Art Challenge Underway — Public Art Reston is encouraging residents to make chalk drawings on safe, paved spaces. This week’s theme is fantasy. [Public Art Reston]

Local Company Tops ‘Fantastic 50’ List — The Herndon-based B3 Group was named the fastest-growing company in the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 “Fantastic 50” list. The company saw revenue growth of 3,231 percent from 2015 through 2018. [Virginia Chamber]

Leidos Acquires L3Harris Businesses — Reston-based defense contractor Leidos Holdings Inc. announced Tuesday it has officially completed the acquisition of Massachusetts- and England-based L3Harris’ Security Detection and Automation businesses for approximately $1 billion in cash. [Virginia Business Monthly]

Urgent Need for Election Volunteers — The Virginia Department of Elections is currently looking for election volunteers for the June 23 primaries. The election form is available online. [Fairfax County Government]

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(Updated 2/28/2020) Students at Fairfax County’s public schools will get to stay home on March 3 for Super Tuesday.

Large crowds are expected to turn out for the primary election in Virginia. Brian Worthy, a spokesperson for the county, said that 167 polling places will be in the schools for voters casting their ballots for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The county’s school board voted last spring to make Super Tuesday a student holiday for the 2019-2020 school year.

While students will have the day off, staff will still need to report to the schools, Lucy Caldwell, an FCPS spokesperson, said.

Eligible voters can find their polling location on the Virginia Department of Elections website or the My Neighborhood App.

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On Wednesday (Feb. 26),  Reston residents can attend a candidates’ forum with candidates running in the upcoming Reston Association Board of Directors election.

The public is invited to the debate-style forum at the RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive) beginning at 6:30 p.m. All seven candidates will available for a meet and greet as well, according to the event listing.

In this election, candidates will be competing for four open seats and the RA encourages all members and residents to vote. A minimum of 10 percent voter turnout is needed to make the results official.

The election will take place from March 2 until April 3, according to the RA, which added results will be available online later in April.

Those who cannot attend the forum in person, can watch it online and are even able to submit questions through email until the end of today (Feb. 24).

Participating candidates are below:

At-Large (3-year term):

  • Kerri Bouie
  • Robert T. Petrine

At-Large (1-year term):

  • Paul Berry
  • Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza

Hunters Woods/Dogwood (3-year):

  • Caren Anton

Apartment Owner (3-year):

  • Mike Collins
  • Jennifer Sunshine Jushchuk

Beginning later today, Reston Now will begin publishing candidate statements written by those running.

Photo via RA/Facebook

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(Updated 12/28/19) Come Jan. 1, the Fairfax County School Board will have a lot of new faces.

The 12-member board will see eight newcomers in 2020.

Half of the school board’s incumbents decided not to seek reelection, including: Ilryong MoonRyan McElveen, Jane Strauss, Pat Hynes, Sandy Evans and Dalia Palchik. The two Republican incumbents — Elizabeth Schultz and Thomas Wilson — lost their reelection bids.

At-Large Member Karen Keys-Gamarra won reelection, along with:

Here is information on the new incoming members, who took their oaths of office on Thursday (Dec. 12) at Jackson Middle School.

At-Large Members Abrar Omeish and Rachna Sizemore Heizer

Omeish and Heizer, along with incumbent Karen Keys-Gamarra, beat three opponents for the At-Large seats.

Heizer has worked as a college professor, disability justice advocate and lawyer, according to her campaign website. Omeish is the co-founder of Give, a youth-led nonprofit and led the county-wide campaign for an anti-bullying campaign, according to her campaign website.

Hunter Mill District: Melanie Meren

Meren, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, beat her opponent, Laura Ramirez Drain. Meren is a parent and small business owner who has lived in Fairfax County for more than 15 years, according to Reston Now

Dranesville District: Elaine Tholen

Tholen beat three opponents. A resident of Fairfax County for 25 years, Tholen most recently served as the director and treasurer for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, according to her campaign website.

Mason District: Ricardy Anderson

Anderson beat opponent Tom Pafford. She has been a community volunteer, a veteran of the National Guard Army Reserve and lived in Annandale for more than 10 years, according to her campaign website.

Providence District: Karl Frisch

Frisch beat opponent Andrea Bayer in the election. Frisch has served as the executive director of consumer watchdog Allied Progress, was a small business owner and worked as a staffer for the Committee on Rules in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to his campaign website.

Springfield District: Laura Jane Cohen

Cohen beat two opponents, including Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz. Cohen has been a resident in the county for nearly 20 years and is a former preschool teacher, according to her campaign website.

Sully District: Stella Pekarsky

Pekarsky beat Republican incumbent Tom Wilson. She was previously an FCPS ESOL teacher, small business co-owner and trustee on the Fairfax County Board.

Come 2020, the school board seats will all be filled by Democrats.

“Corbett Sanders will remain chair of the School Board and Derenak Kaufax will remain as vice-chair,” according to FCPS. “School Board officers are elected at the first meeting in July of each year.”

The board also includes a non-voting student representative who is selected by the Student Advisory Council.

Image via FCPS/YouTube, photo via Melanie Meren website, photo via Facebook

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The Reston Association is seeking several candidates for seats on its Board of Directors for the upcoming election in March.

There are currently four open positions on the board for 2020 and include two at-large positions, an apartment owners’ seat and the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat.

One of the at-large positions is for a one-year term while the other is for a three-year term.

Candidates must be a Reston Association member to qualify for a position and announce their candidacy by Jan. 24. People can email RA if they have questions.

There will be a meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Reston Association Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive)  for anyone interested in candidacy.

Photo via YouTube/Reston Association

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Proposed Changes to Land Use Regulations Unveiled Today — Fairfa County officials will showcase proposed revisions to zoning land use regulations as part os its zoning modernization project — zMOD — today (Tuesday) at the Fairfax County Government Center at 7 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

INOVA Blood Drive is Today — The bloodmobile will be stationed next to the pavilion from 1-6 p.m. today. Appointments to donate blood can be scheduled online or by calling 1-866-256-6372. [Reston Town Center]

Absentee Voting in Full Swing — Absentee voting, which kickstarted last Thursday, across 10 locations in Fairfax County is underway. Locations will be open Mondays through Saturdays until Saturday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

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Absentee voting in Fairfax County begins tomorrow (Sept. 20) for the Nov. 5 elections.

Eligible community members can register to vote for the upcoming elections online or at the Office of Elections (12000 Government Center Parkway) in conference rooms two and three. Voters may also receive their ballots through the mail.

Absentee voters in Reston may also submit their registration or ballots to the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) on Oct. 17- Nov. 2 from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.

All absentee voters will need a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card and their social security number to register.

For those unfamiliar with the process of absentee voting, Fairfax County published a variety of resources to explain the procedure and help answer questions.

Ballots will be translated into English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese.

The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is seven days before the election, or Oct. 29 by 5 p.m., according to Fairfax County. All absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 in order to be counted.

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For the last year, local residents have held up large, lighted letters against the sky in front of the White House as part of the Kremlin Annex protests — a dramatic visual protest that has received national notoriety.

Protests began on July 16 last year when President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Protestors took issue with Trump’s acceptance of Putin’s assertions that he did not interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Activists from Herndon-Reston Indivisible organized and sent teams of volunteers carrying lighted letters with key messages to the White House.  For the first four months of the initiative, protestors held up lighted letters every night. In mid-November, the initiative switched to three days per week. Following its one-year anniversary, letters light up the sky on Saturdays from 7:30-9 p.m.

Herndon-Reston Indivisible is a grassroots advocacy organization that aims to mobilize a progressive network to resist the Trump agenda, according to its website.

Organizers behind the visual protest said they were surprised by the attention received by their advocacy.  The visual appeal of their protest has earned a nod by the Grey Lady, the Washington Post, USA TODAY and Newsweek.

“In effect, they become our voice — and a loud voice at that,” said Nan Dearborn, a co-lead of the lighted letters initiative. “You just can’t miss the message when you have activists holding ‘treason’ or ‘corrupt’ or ‘racist’ in giant lighted letters right in front of the White House.”

The first night, volunteers held up letters spelling “liar” — a visual display that HRI co-founder Heidi Zollo said was “an instant hit.”

Since then, volunteers have made roughly 45 letters to spell out anything at short notice. The leaders of the initiative — Ginny Reed and Dearborn — scan the news and consider the number of volunteers to determine what word to hold up. On a typical night, the word of the night is unveiled when volunteers arrive at the White House.

One of the most memorable nights was when activists gathered for the “Close the Camps” protest. An energized crowd of protestors held up signs in the pouring rain in early July. The lighted letters also travel to other protests, including monthly vigils at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association.

Organizers expect to hold up the lighted letters every Saturday night so long as the Kremlin Annex protests continue.

Photo via Herndon-Reston Indivisible

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The threats to our democratic-republican form of government are more numerous than weeks of this column could enumerate. While I will not mention the more obvious ones brought on by the current administration in Washington, I do want to focus on two that have come about in the recent past — one just last week. They impact all levels of government and come about not from the executive branch of government or the dysfunctional Congress but rather from the judicial branch and its highest level, the Supreme Court! While I have always viewed the Supreme Court as a safety backstop that would save our republic from harm by the Congress or the president, in recent years it is the Court that has become one of the real threats to democratic governance.

One of the biggest inhibitors of advancement on progressive issues in Virginia has been the unrestrained ability of the members of the party in power at the time of the decennial census to choose the voters they want to represent for the next decade by gerrymandering district boundaries. For some of us there has been a struggle to put in place a non-partisan method of drawing district lines. With the great organization OneVirginia2021’s efforts there has been real progress towards meeting that goal. A Constitutional amendment passed the last session of the General Assembly that would establish what is described as a non-partisan and transparent process for redistricting. It must pass the 2020 session without change in order to be sent to the voters in a referendum before becoming part of the state constitution.

In the meantime lawsuits were successful in federal courts to have the Virginia Congressional and House of Delegates districts redrawn to eliminate discrimination based on race. The Supreme Court refused to review the new House of Delegates districts drawn by a lower federal court on a technicality that the current members bringing the suit did not have standing.

Of great concern, however, is the Supreme Court decision last week saying in effect that federal courts do not have the power to redraw politically gerrymandered district lines. The outcome could be more devastating to a republican form of government as the dominant party would be left free to establish itself in power without a way to challenge it.

The Supreme Court has historically sidestepped cases in the past that would have brought them into resolving partisan redistricting. I am fearful that the Court’s decision will result in rampant gerrymandering of legislative districts creating unparalleled control of legislatures. This unfortunate decision by the Supreme Court may have been exceeded in its partisan implications only by Citizens United that many people feel may have been the Court’s greatest mistake by bringing uncontrolled corporate influence into elections.

As usual the checks, although extremely limited to these kinds of bad decisions, continue to be voting the very best people into elective office.

File photo

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Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Later today I will be renewing my application with voters in the 36th legislative district to keep my job as their representative in the Virginia House of Delegates. My campaign kick-off reception will be from 6 p.m to 7:30 pm at The Lake House of Reston at 11450 Baron Cameron Avenue, across the street from the entrance to Lake Anne. All are welcome to attend this free event with special guests former Governor Terry McAuliffe and House Democratic Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41st).

A question I have gotten every odd-numbered year I have run for office since 1973 is what got me interested in working for the people as an elected representative in the House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly. As clear an answer I can give is to explain that history was always my favorite subject in school. A field trip to Jamestown when I was in fourth grade really piqued my interest. I came to learn that otherwise ordinary people we studied about shaped our history through their service in government and in the community. At that very young age I started dreaming about serving in the legislature and went on to study history through graduate school to prepare myself to serve. Since my election in 1981 I have been in office continuously making me now the longest serving member in the House of Delegates.

We hear calls for “term limits,” but Virginia has a very definitive term limit system. To be a member of the House of Delegates one must stand for election every two years and win a plurality of votes in the district to stay in office. This is my 20th such re-application to continue the work I have been doing. While I clearly have a lot of experience, I offer an informed vision for the future of the Commonwealth as my strongest asset.

It is not certain yet if I will have an opponent in this year’s election. Even if I run unopposed, I still intend to campaign in a way that takes advantage of voter interest to talk about the advances we have made in the Commonwealth and the miles we still need to go. My efforts will not be confined to my district as I will be campaigning in other districts on behalf of level-headed, socially progressive, and morally strong candidates who can contribute to a majority in the House of Delegates to accomplish needed changes that I write about almost weekly in this column.

Join me this evening if you can. I want to be able to tell you directly how honored I am to work for you and how earnest I am in reapplying for the job. Please be in touch with me at [email protected] with your questions and concerns.

File photo

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Maggie Parker, an executive with Comstock Companies who played a role in helping to bring the Silver Line to Reston, is joining the increasingly crowded Democratic field for Hunter Mill Supervisor.

Parker, who last month was honored with a Cornerstones of Our Community Best of Reston award, has lived in Fairfax County since 1986. She says she’s running on a sense of civic duty and a “passion for responsible, collaborative dialogue.”

As a vice president for Comstock, the Reston-based real estate developer, she handles areas including communications, government relations and community relations.

“She has been helping Comstock integrate its new neighborhoods, Reston Station and Loudoun Sta­tion, into our regional community since 2010,” according to a press release. “She has spent her time listening to and engaging with regional authorities, jurisdictions and citizens to find thoughtful connections and integration.”

She stands out from the current field of contenders for Cathy Hudgins’ Hunter Mill District Supervisor seat by being a real estate developer in a field that has expressed varying degrees of opposition to or concern about continuing development in Reston and Vienna.

“Maggie believes in quality development in appropriate places and diligence in providing timely and multi-modal transportation solutions,” the press release said. “She strives to protect an environment that is sustain­able, and that allows all in our community to live, work and prosper.”

She also “supports sustainable growth in the right places, economic development, continued pursuit of transportation solutions — all things that work in concert to improve equity opportunities for our community.”

Four other Democrats have entered the race for her seat on the county’s Board of Supervisors, including:

The Reston Citizens Association plans to hold a Hunter Mill District Supervisor forum on Tuesday, April 23, at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609-A Washington Plaza N.) from 7-9 p.m.

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Meet the RA candidates: The Reston Association recently uploaded a video that introduces the five unopposed candidates. [YouTube]

Save the date — Founder’s Day is set for April 6 at Lake Anne Plaza. The annual event celebrates Reston’s founding. [Reston Historic Trust and Musuem]

Rolling in the money — Reston-based GoCanvas recently secured an investment of more than $150 million from K1 Investment Management. “With the investment, GoCanvas will accelerate enhancements to the platform, scale global operations to meet increasing customer demand, increase brand awareness, and grow worldwide sales.” [Business Wire]

File photo

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Former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn is the latest Democrat to join a crowded race to replace Cathy Hudgins as the Hunter Mill District Supervisor.

Hudgins revealed late in January that she won’t seek re-election to theFairfax County Board of Supervisors, joining a growing list of board members retiring, including current Chairman Sharon Bulova.

Alcorn, a self-described environmental professional, announced his campaign last Monday (Feb. 11). He is running on a broad platform that ranges from supporting revisions to Reston’s comprehensive plan in 2020 to reviewing school funding.

His top issues on his campaign website are the following:

  • growth
  • schools
  • community
  • environment
  • public safety
  • affordable housing
  • transportation

Alcorn has a mix of experience in the private sector and county government.

He is currently the vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability at the Consumer Electronics Association, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he worked at Alcorn Consulting and at SAIC for about 10 years.

In 2015 Alcorn was appointed by Bulova to the county’s Park Authority Board. His term expired at the end of 2017. Prior to that, he had served on the county’s Planning Commission and worked as a policy aide in the Providence District supervisor’s office, Reston Now previously reported.

On the community level, he was a former president of the Herndon High School PTSA.

Alcorn has received endorsements from Bulova; Democratic State Sen. Jennifer Boysko, who used to represent Herndon in the Virginia House of Delegates; and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who was the county board chairman before Bulova.

Alcorn plans to hold a campaign kickoff event on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 2 p.m. in the new community room at the YMCA Fairfax County Reston (12196 Sunset Hills Road).

Alcorn will face the three other Democrats — Parker Messick, Laurie Dodd and Shyamali Hauth — vying for the seat at the June 11 Democratic primary.

Photo via Walter Alcorn/Facebook

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Democrat Ibraheem Samirah, a dentist from Herndon, was sworn into the Virginia House of Delegates this morning after winning the election for the 86th District Seat.

He joins Del. Sam Rasoul as the second Muslim — they are both Democrats — in Virginia’s General Assembly, according to a press release from his campaign.

Samirah, who is the son of Palestinian refugees, was separated from his father in middle school when his father was barred from re-entering the U.S.

The special election yesterday (Feb. 19) to fill now-State Sen. Jennifer Boysko’s former seat was the first time Virginia voters took to the polls after a series of scandals erupted in the state, starting with unearthed racist photos on Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook.

The scandals continued with sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and with Attorney General Mark Herring’s admission that he wore blackface. News reports revealed that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) was a top editor of a yearbook that included photos of people in blackface and racial slurs.

Before the special election, Samirah faced attacks after a conservative website published two of his social media posts from five years ago, including one where he said sending money to Israel was worse than sending it to the Ku Klux Klan, according to news reports.

Samirah apologized for the posts, which he said were used in “a slander campaign questioning my views on Israel and my Jewish friends,” in a two-page statement posted on Facebook.

“I am so sorry that my ill-chosen words added to the pain of the Jewish community and I seek your understanding and compassion as I prove to you our common humanity,” the statement said.

Samirah was just shy of receiving 60 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results from Virginia’s Department of Elections.

Republican Gregg Nelson, a U.S. Air Force veteran, received 34 percent of the votes and Connie Haines Hutchinson, a former vice mayor of the Herndon Town Council who ran as an Independent, received almost 6 percent of the votes.

In total, 6,283 people voted in the special election.

Boysko took to Twitter to congratulate Samirah on his win.

Samirah ran a campaign focused on healthcare, transportation and education.

Now in office, Samirah is planning “to build on the 2018 Virginia Medicaid expansion and bringing healthcare costs down across the state by ensuring that the healthcare marketplace is competitive and accessible to all,” according to the press release.

Photos from the Virginia House Democrats on Twitter show Samirah being sworn in today.

Photo via Samirah for Delegate/Facebook

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Fatal Herndon car crash on Saturday — “Detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying two victims from this morning’s [Feb. 16] fatal single vehicle crash.  Officers responded to the crash around 4:26 a.m. on southbound Route 28 near the McLearen Road exit.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

Winter storm on its way — Heads up for tomorrow: expect sleet, ice and several inches of snow. The National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 20). [National Weather Service]

Bus meeting tonight — The rescheduled meeting for public input on local bus service provided by Fairfax Connector in the Herndon-Reston area will take place from 6-8 p.m. tonight at the Herndon Senior Center (873 Grace Street). [DC Commute Times]

Election for 86th District seat — Voting today will decide the replacement for now-State Sen. Jennifer Boysko’s former seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. The county has information about where, when and how to vote in the special election. [Fairfax County]

Interactive show at Great Falls Senior Center — The Great Falls Senior Center welcomes back Mary Ann Jung’s interactive show today. Jung, who has been recreating historical women for more than 30 years, will portray Margaret Brent, a colonial woman who was America’s first female landowner, lawyer and first to demand the vote in the 1640s. Lunch will be provided. [Great Falls Senior Center]

Rolling in the money — “[Reston-based] Sequoia Holdings Inc., a leading provider of software and cloud engineering services for the U.S. intelligence community, has received an equity investment from Chart National, L.P., a New York-based private equity fund with deep relationships within the intelligence community and the U.S. Department of Defense.” [Business Wire]

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