Reston, VA

Former Vice President Joe Biden easily notched the Virginia Presidential Primary yesterday (Tuesday), winning 53 percent of the vote.

Sen. Bernie Sanders had just under a quarter of the vote, while Elizabeth Warren had 10.8 percent and Michael Bloomberg took 9.7 percent.

In the Hunter Mill District, Biden won by 48.4 percent. Sanders won second place with 18.9 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren took 12.1 percent. The Hunter Mill District’s voting pattern aligns with the county overall.

Here’s how the candidates fared in the Hunter Mill District:

  • Joe Biden: 16,964 (48.4 percent)
  • Bernie Sanders: 6,626 (18.9 percent)
  • Elizabeth Warren: 4,241 (12.1 percent)
  • Tulsi Gabbard: 247 votes
  • Amy Klobuchar: 75 votes
  • Pete Buttigieg: 74 votes
  • Cory Booker: 28 votes
  • Michael Bennet: 18 votes
  • Marianne Williamson: 15 votes
  • Julian Castro: 8 votes
  • Deval Patrick: 6 votes

All but three of the state’s 133 counties were led by Biden, including Fairfax County where Biden won with more than 50,000 votes than Sanders.

The Hunter Mill District boasted the highest turnout in Fairfax County. More than 39 percent of voters cast a ballot, a few percentage points above the county-wide average of 34 percent. The Sully District had the lowest voter turnout (30 percent) in the county.

In the 2016 primary, voter turnout was 22.2 percent. Virginia was one of 14 states taking part in Super Tuesday.

Photo via Joe Biden/Facebook

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A bill that no longer requires voters to provide an excuse to cast an absentee ballot cleared the Senate this week.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) allows registered voters to cast an absentee ballot in any election where the voter is qualified to cast a ballot.

Howell’s bill was part of a package of bills that tweak the voting process in Virginia.

Other proposals, which got a green light from the Senate earlier this week, include designating Election Day as a state holiday and extending the deadline for the receipt of military and overseas absentee ballots.

Proposals in the House and Senate to remove photo ID requirements were killed in committee.

The proposals would have allowed voters to show registration statements, bank documents or other government-issued paperwork with the name and address of the voter.

Howell’s bill passed in the Senate by a 31-9 vote.

Photo by Catherine Moran

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Super Tuesday” is in March — but Fairfax County is reminding voters about absentee voting and seeking election officers now.

Absentee voting for the 2020 presidential primary starts later this week on Friday, Jan. 17.

The deadline to register to vote in the March 3 primary is Feb. 10. People can check their voter eligibility on the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

Last week, the county announced that it needs 2,100 election officers for the primary.

The Office of Elections especially is looking for bilingual officers who speak Korean or Vietnamese for the Falls Church area, along with Annadel and Centreville, according to the county.

Election officers help set up voting equipment, check photo IDs and tabulate poll results. Compensation starts at $175 or people can choose to volunteer their time.

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(Updated 12/19/19) Earlier this week, the members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors were sworn in.

The 10-member board will see four new faces in the New Year, including Dalia Palchik, the new representative for Tysons.

Here is information on who will be in the seats at the board’s first meeting next year.

Chairman: Jeffrey McKay

McKay was first elected to the board in 2007, serving as the Lee District Supervisor until the end of this year, according to his county bio. Prior to joining the board, he was the chief of staff to former Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman from 1996 through 2007.

McKay beat three challengers to clinch the Democratic nomination for the county board’s chair in the June primary before defeating Republican Joseph Galdo in the November election.

Hunter Mill District: Walter Alcorn

Alcorn will fill the seat of Cathy Hudgins, who served on the board for five terms and announced her retirement at the start of this year. He beat five Democrat challengers in the primary.

Alcorn is a former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner and served on the Fairfax County Park Authority Board. He has also worked as a policy aide in the Providence District supervisor’s office and was the president of the Herndon High School PTSA. His top priorities include managing growth and infrastructure and updating Reston’s comprehensive plan.

Lee District: Rodney Lusk

McKay’s run for the chair left the Lee District seat open. Lusk beat three Democratic challengers in the June primary.

Lusk has been a Fairfax County employee for the past 29 years — including working for then-Supervisor Gerry Connelly as a land use zoning aide and most recently as the national marketing director for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, according to his campaign website.

Providence District: Dalia Palchik

Palchik grew up in the area after immigrating with her family to the United States at an early age from Argentina. She was elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2015 and served as the Providence District Representative.

Just days after current Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth announced in December that she wouldn’t seek election, Palchik jumped into the race and defeated four Democratic challengers in the June primary. In November, she beat Republican Eric Anthony Jones.

Sully District: Kathy Smith

First elected to the board in 2016, Smith was re-elected as Sully District Supervisor in November, beating Republican Srilekha Palle.

Previously, Smith served as the Sully District Representative to the Fairfax County School Board for 14 years, including as the chairman three times, according to her county bio. She was also a teacher for seven years and taught in her home state of New Jersey.

Mount Vernon District: Daniel Storck

Storck was first elected as Mount Vernon District Supervisor in 2015 and reelected this fall.

He has developed and owned healthcare, benefits and insurance consulting firms and was previously a school board member from 2004-2015, according to his county bio. Notable resume item: he also was an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.

Braddock District: James Walkinshaw

Walkinshaw, a former chief of staff to Rep. Gerry Connolly, announced his run for the seat to replace Republican John Cook, who retired. He beat Republican Jason Remer and independent candidate Carey Chet Campbell in November.

Walkinshaw previously volunteered as a mentor to at-risk boys through Fairfax County’s Befriend-A-Child program and joined Fairfax County’s Council to End Domestic Violence, according to his campaign website.

He serves on the Board of the Ravensworth Farm Civic Association and is a volunteer with the Friends of Lake Accotink Park, the bio says.

Dranesville District: John Foust

First elected to the board in 2007, Foust was reelected to represent McLean, Great Falls and Herndon residents on the county board. He defeated Republican Ed Martin in the November election.

Originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Foust has been living in Northern Virginia since 1981 and in McLean since 1987, according to his county bio. Foust worked in steel mills and practiced construction law in Northern Virginia.

Mason District: Penelope Gross

In the November election, Gross was able to keep her seat, defeating Republican Gary Aiken. She was first elected to the board in 1995, according to her county bio.

Previously, she worked as a staffer in various congressional offices, served on the Board of the Lincolnia Park Civic Association and was on the Executive Board of the Mason District Council of Civic Associations, her bio says.

Springfield District: Pat Herrity

Herrity hung onto his seat, beating Democrat Linda Sperling. He was first elected to the board in 2007, according to his campaign website. Herrity’s father was a former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

With Cook retiring, Herrity will be the only Republican on the board in 2020.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to have their first meeting in 2020 on Jan. 14.

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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 November 5 elections in Virginia produced results of historic proportions. The House of Delegates that has had a Republican majority since 2000 was flipped to a blue Democratic majority of 55 Democrats to 45 Republicans. As recently as the election for 2014-2016, Democrats in the House had dropped to 32 members. The turn-around came decisively in amazing political time; there will be a recount in only one seat the Democrats won. The Senate that had a Republican majority before the election flipped to blue with 21 of the 40 Senate seats now being held by Democrats.

The General Assembly when it convenes in January will have a Democratic majority in both houses. In addition, as a result of elections held in 2017 Democrats occupy all statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. The historic level of Democratic wins is not only about party, it is about representation. There will be more women in the General Assembly than ever before in Virginia’s history. In the House of Delegates there will be 30 women in the 100-member legislative body. In the Senate there will be 11 women in the 40-member body bringing the total number of women to 41 in the General Assembly. While the number is small relative to the proportion of women in the total population, the number of women in the legislature is a huge increase when compared to past years when it could be counted on the fingers of one’s hands. The number of women running this year in both parties was at a historic level of 85.

There were other historic changes in the oldest continuous legislative body in the western world celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. A Muslim woman will join the Senate as the first ever elected to that body. The number of African Americans in the General Assembly will increase to the highest number since Reconstruction. The first ever Indian American man was elected to the House of Delegates.

The new members of the legislature have already indicated their willingness to make history. The Democratic caucus of the House met this past weekend and chose as its Speaker-designee, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the first woman to ever serve as Speaker of the House of Delegates in the 400 years of its history. She will be elected formally by the entire House when the General Assembly convenes in January. Adding to this historic moment, she will assume the leadership position, considered the most powerful in Virginia government next to the governor, with the least seniority of anyone ever taking the position in the modern day. She will be the first Jewish Speaker serving along with the Senate majority leader who is also Jewish. While I had hoped to become Speaker myself, I fully support Eileen who is amazingly smart and talented and will do everything I can to ensure her success.

The electorate broke through many hurdles in its votes this election year. Some results called historic today will become commonplace in the future as the General Assembly reflects more the demographics of the state as a whole. I have always felt honored to serve, and with the historic results of this election year I feel even more honored. Thank you, voters!

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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 outcomes of the election on November 5 are not known as I write this column. I will no doubt have much to say about the results in future writings as this election is going to be pivotal for the Commonwealth’s history regardless of who turns out to be the winners. What I was able to observe in the weeks and days leading up to election day was the highest level of people willing to help throughout the state in knocking on doors, making phone calls, writing postcards, and otherwise willing to chip in for their favorite candidates. If the level of activity leading up to election day is any indication, the turnout of voters should have been record-breaking. “When we vote, we win” became the mantra of campaigns hoping to hold onto power or to transfer it to a more progressive legislature. As I traveled around the state, I became aware that while I had focused on state legislative contests there were many local elections that were critical to the future of local boards of supervisors and school boards.

What is known before the first vote was cast is that these elections were the most expensive ever seen in off-year elections in Virginia. When the total expenses of both candidates in many legislative elections are added together, it will not be unusual that the total exceeds a million dollars. For some highly contentious races the totals exceed three million dollars. I have never seen the generosity of individuals to contribute to elections in other parts of the state as great as it was this year. There is a growing recognition that while it is important who your elected official is, there is an equal importance to who holds the majority in the legislative body. You not only work to get your representatives elected, you also need to help the campaigns of those with whom he or she will have to work. Political contributions from out-of-state individuals and organizations poured into the state in record amounts.

Also interesting in this election cycle is the amazing transformation that occurred in some incumbent legislators. It took Virginia more than four years to approve Medicaid expansion in the state. Yet, if you listened to television commercials downstate you would not be able to find anyone who opposed the expansion. To the contrary, there were claims on the part of some incumbents who had voted against the expansion who in the campaign claimed credit for passing it. It is amazing what a refreshment with voters can do to some legislators’ point of view and memories

To analyze state and local election returns I recommend that you go to the website of the State Board of Elections at elections.virginia.gov to see actual voting results. For more information on who the candidates were and how much they spent I suggest a visit to the Virginia Public Access Project, vpap.org. In future columns I will provide my take on what the election results mean for the future of the Commonwealth.

A special shout out of recognition and thank you goes to all who worked so hard this election cycle. You are what makes the system work. Thank you!

 

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Wednesday Morning Notes

State Democrats Take Control of State Legislatures — “Virginia Democrats continued their winning streak under President Trump on Tuesday and took full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades. Suburban voters turned out in big numbers to back Democratic candidates, continuing a trend of once GOP-friendly suburbs turning blue. This is the third election in a row in which Democrats made significant gains since Trump was elected.” [Associated Press]

Reston Town Center Ice Rink to Open on Friday — The public ice skating rink will open on Friday (Nov 8). Access is $10 for adults, $9 for youth under 11, and skate rentals are $6. [Reston Town Center]

Edison Academy to Host Apprenticeships and Skilled Workforce Fair — “High school students and recent graduates interested in the construction-related trades, service industries, manufacturing, and information technology are invited to attend the Apprenticeships and Skilled Workforce Career Fair on Thursday, November 7, at Edison Academy. The fair is designed to encourage interest among high school students and recent graduates in the in-demand skilled career fields that are attainable through two-year degree programs, certifications, apprenticeships or on-the-job training.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Melanie Meren, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, easily won the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board.

With a little over 69 percent of the vote, Meren overtook her opponent, Laura Ramirez Drain, as of 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 6). According to unofficial election returns, 27 of the 28 precincts reported results. 

Meren has described herself as a “Fairfax County parent leader” who wants to promote strong education. Drain’s campaign focused on the family life education curriculum, school boundaries and the FCPS budget.

Earlier in January, Hunter Mill District representative Pat Hynes said she would not seek re-election.

Voters also ceremoniously ushered in former Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn, the Democratic candidate for the Hunter Mill District Supervisor seat, Tuesday night. Alcorn, who won the Democratic primary, faced no candidate from any other party.

Democrat Steve Descano won the Commonwealth’s Attorney position in Fairfax after ousting current Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrough in the June primary.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust (D) retained his position on the county board, which he has held since 2007, as well, defeating Republican opponent Ed Martin.

Photo via Melanie Meren

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Voter turnout in Fairfax County rests at roughly 18 percent as of this afternoon.

So far, turnout in the Hunter Mill District (18.2 percent) is slightly above the county-wide average.

In previous years, turnout was nearly 70 percent in the 2018 midterms, up from 45.7 percent in the 2014 midterms.

The Springfield District has the highest turnout thus far, with turnout at 20 percent.

The district-by-district breakdown as of 1 p.m. today is below:

  • Braddock: 18.2
  • Dranesville: 18.4
  • Hunter Mill: 18.2
  • Lee: 15.6
  • Mason: 16.6
  • Mount Vernon: 17
  • Providence: 15.9
  • Springfield: 20
  • Sully:18.3

Unofficial election results are expected to trickle in after polls close at 7 p.m. today. Reston Now is following several local races, including two school board candidates for the Hunter Mill District. 

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Fairfax County voters are headed to the polls today.

In the Hunter Mill and Drainsville districts, there are several seats up for election including the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fairfax County School Board positions and Board of Supervisors seats.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voters can swing by anytime throughout the day.

There are several options for anyone wishing to monitor turnout and results. Fairfax County’s Twitter account will be posting updates at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

There are around 20 various polling locations, which will be open throughout the area. Voters can find their designated polling location using the My Neighborhood Map or through the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Below is a map of all the voting locations throughout Reston and Herndon.

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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.

Readers of this column no doubt have next Tuesday, November 5, marked as election day on their calendars. You are exceptional. If history holds true, fewer than half of registered voters will vote. Getting people to register is a year-round activity but getting registered voters to actually cast a vote is a crunch-time activity for the last couple of weeks before the election.

Tired of all the robo-calls? Slick postcards in the mailbox? Contentious debate on the news media? Endless social media posts? Much of that activity is directed to reminding people to vote and to gain a competitive advantage, but it oftentimes turns off folks who are cynical about the electoral process or who are confused by it all.

Historically there have been many efforts to suppress the vote by passing laws that prevent various classes of people from qualifying to register or that add to the complexities of voting that discourage people from going to the polls. Virginia’s history is filled with numerous examples of laws that reduced the franchise. Literacy tests that were unreasonable or unfairly administered, poll taxes that not only charged for voting but included a time schedule for collection that only insiders could meet, and unusually long residency requirements are but a few examples. For much of our history in Virginia, the majority party in control of state politics worked to keep people from voting!

Against that backdrop of individual cynicism and confusing election laws, what are we who understand the importance of elections to do to increase participation in voting? I believe we need to get past the old adage that it is not polite to talk about politics and religion. Leaving religion for another discussion, I believe more than ever that we need to have a more inclusive discussion that might inevitably lead to a debate about politics and government in our state and in our nation. Keep it civil is the first rule but be sure to end the discussion with a reminder to friends, family and neighbors to vote. Our government is no better than voters decide.

Between 6 am and 7 pm Tuesday, November 5, polls will be open for voting in Virginia. If you are not sure where to vote, go to fairfaxcounty.gov/elections. You can find where your polling place is but also what is on the ballot. All seats in the House of Delegates and the State Senate are up for election as are Constitution officers (for Fairfax that is the sheriff and the Commonwealth’s attorney). At the Fairfax County level, voters elect the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, the supervisor to represent their magisterial district, three at-large School Board members and a School Board member for their magisterial district, three members of the Soil and Water Conservation District Board, and a question on issuing school bonds.

There are few surprises in how I intend to vote. School children often ask me if I vote for myself, and I can assure you that I do. I will be voting for Senator Janet Howell; for Sheriff Stacey Kincaid; for Commonwealth’s attorney Steve Descano; for Board of Supervisor chairman Jeff McKay; Walter Alcorn for Hunter Mill supervisor; Melanie Meren for Hunter Mill School Board representative; for School Board at-large Karen Keys-Gamarra, Abrar Omeish, Rachna Sizemore Heizer; and for Soil and Water Conservation Board Gerald Peters, Chris Koerner, and Monica Billger; and yes on the school bond issue.

If you need to vote early, get absentee voting information at Elections. See you at the polls with your friends and neighbors on Tuesday. Now more than ever, it is important to vote and to take someone to the polls with you!

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The election is less than one week away for Fairfax County voters. 

While Democrat Walter Alcorn won the primary seat for Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who is retiring, there are still plenty of local races to follow.

The makeup of the Fairfax County School Board is expected to change considerably, with nine contested seats. Six district seats and the chair are contested on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. 

Two candidates are running for the seat of Pat Hynes, who currently holds the Hunter Mill District seat on the school board. Earlier this year, Hynes said she would not seek reelection after serving on the 12-member board for the last seven years.

Reston Now will be covering the race for the chair of the Board of Supervisors, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the at-large seat for the school board, and the Hunter Mill District Seat for the school board.

Chairman of Board of Supervisors

Fairfax County School Board — Hunter Mill DistrictLaura Ramirez Drain

Fairfax County School Board — At-Large Seats (voters choose three)

Commonwealth’s Attorney

Absentee voting, which is offered at 10 locations, runs through Saturday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. Polling locations are available on the county’s website.

Residents will also vote on a number of bond referendums for schools, including planning funds for a new “Silver Line” elementary school.

Election returns will be posted by the Virginia Department of Elections online. Stay tuned for more information and coverage next week. 

File photo

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The League of Fairfax Women Voters is hosting a candidate forum on Sunday, Oct. 13.

The forums is for candidates in Senate Districts 3 and 33, as well as the representative for the Hunter Mill District on the Fairfax County School Board.

The discussion takes place at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) from 3-5 p.m. Students interested in volunteering can sign up online. Registration for the event is encouraged, but not required.

After a moderated discussion, candidates will answer questions from the audience.

Two candidates — Laura Ramirez Drain and Melanie Meren — are running for the Hunter Mill District seat on the school board after incumbent Hunter Mill District Representative Pay Hynes said she will not seek re-election.

Photo via League of Women Voters of Fairfax County

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Absentee Voting Begins This Friday — Absentee voting for the general election in November begins on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Fairfax County Government Center. An additional nine satellite absentee voting locations will open on Thursday, Oct. 17. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston’s Place as a ‘Radical Suburb’ Tonight at Reston Community Center Lake Anne – “Author Amanda Hurley speaks about her book Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City. American suburbs were once fertile ground for utopian planning, communal living, socially conscious design and integrated housing. Hurley’s talk will discuss and compare Reston with other communities.” [Reston Community Center]

Walk to School Day Set for Oct. 2Students and employees are encouraged to bike or walk to school and work on October 2.  Parents are encouraged to accompany their children to school, and to work with their school and PTA or PTO to assemble bike trains or walking groups for the event.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Editor’s Note: Two candidates are running for the seat of Pat Hynes, who currently holds the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board. Earlier this year, Hynes said she would not seek reelection after serving on the 12-member board for the last seven years. This week, Reston Now will publish statements by the candidates.

Statements are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form.

Melanie Meren, MPP, is a parent, small business owner, and school board appointee who has lived in Fairfax County for over 15 years. Originally from New York, where she attended public school her entire life, Melanie moved to Virginia after accepting a Presidential Management Fellowship in 2004 at the U.S. Department of Education.

While at the Dept. of Ed, Melanie oversaw a multi-million-dollar budget for services for students at underperforming schools. Her responsibility encompassed both evaluation and problem-solving situations, with oversight of federal grant recipients. She recovered over $1 million in funds when program services were not provided to the target population of students most-in-need of support.

Advocacy and community are central in her life. Joined by her husband, Drew Meren, the two are active in local government. Melanie’s current community service commitments are:

  • Appointed member of Fairfax County School Board’s Human Resources Advisory Committee
  • Elementary school PTA Green Team Chair and representative to the Fairfax County Council of PTAs
  • Girl Scout troop co-leader
  • Member of the Virginia Association for Environmental Education
  • Until 2019, she was a Leadership Team member for eight years of NoVA Outside, the alliance for outdoor educators in Northern Virginia

Melanie views academic success as a community effort: there must be a connection among those impacted by student achievement: parents, teachers, community members, and of course, students. Motivating students to succeed is essential, and the environments around them must be built and supported by dedicated public servants who steward resources along a responsible path.

Melanie is focused on three core areas in her candidacy. First, she wants to cultivate holistic student environments – classrooms, playgrounds, activities, school gardens, and outdoor spaces are all part of the learning ecosystem. For example, Melanie champions scientific learning in outdoor classrooms. Students who interact in these spaces achieve learning goals essential to a 21st century economy, benefit from being in a healthy space, and discover lessons that anchor their sense of community. No matter where in Hunter Mill students live, their greatest challenge should be in understanding what array of choices lay before them, not if they’ll have those opportunities.

Second, Melanie is concerned with facilities and the future of FCPS infrastructure. No student should experience public schooling inside a trailer, and existing buildings need to be reviewed, refitted, or replaced. Joyful learning and a positive classroom experience is critical, and it is incumbent upon those responsible to identify every way to accomplish that. Facilities and trailers are a clear place to start.

Third, Melanie is focusing on equity and opportunity. That means honoring teacher and staff professionalism with opportunities for competitive pay and benefits, realistic expectations on their time, and access to vital instructional resources. For students, the promise of a Fairfax County Public Schools education must align with their strengths and cultivate their path into adulthood. Melanie believes that parents and families are what bring the whole learning experience together. Melanie has advocated with and for fellow parents since her first year as an FCPS parent. She will bring her steadfast commitment to listening to and working with parents to her role on the school board.

Melanie welcomes your questions and input about her candidacy – and for your vote on November 5th. Learn more at melaniemeren.com.

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