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Thursday Morning Notes

Official Herndon Town Council results are in  — Pradip Dhakal came in fifth place for the election, taking off Joe Plummer from one of the six candidates to take a seat on the council and sliding incumbent Bill McKenna to sixth place. [Reston Now]

Sharing mental health battles — Local first responders share their mental health battles in an effort to help others. [NBC 4]

Get your skates on — The Reston Town Center ice skating pavilion opens tomorrow at 11 a.m. for public ice skating and daily skate rentals. [Reston Town Center]

Herndon High School Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank — A performance of the play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett begins tomorrow. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. [Herndon High School]

Photo by Tina

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Updated: Incumbents Return but Cunningham Ousted from Herndon Town Council

 

(Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday at 7:30 a.m. to reflection official results). 

Incumbent Grace Wolf Cunningham, a four-term councilwoman, lost her seat on the Herndon Town Council following a narrow and highly charged election.

Cunningham was replaced by newcomers Cesar Del Aguila and Pradip Dhakal. Incumbents Jennifer Baker, Sheila Olem, Bill McKenna and Signe Friedrichs were also elected to the council, maintaining much of the composition of the board. After official results were certified, Dhakal came in fifth place, moving McKenna to the sixth spot and booting Joe Plummer, another candidate who was previously projected to win, off the council.

Ten candidates ran for six open seats and margins between candidates remained characteristically narrow, as in previous years. Although Olem, Aguila and Friedrichs were separated by relatively comfortable margins, votes separating other candidates were minimal. Plummer lost to McKenna by 22 votes.

At around 11:30 p.m. on election night, it appeared the newcomer would secure the final seat on the board and that McKenna, a one-term councilman, was off.

Internal conflict that boiled over in the public arena was common in this year’s election. Olem, Friedrichs and Del Aguila — who ran a unified campaign — filed a lawsuit against Cunningham alleging she engaging in malicious prosecution over when the four-term councilwoman filed campaign law violations against the trio. The violations were squarely dismissed by the Virginia State Board of Elections.

The lawsuit is pending a decision following the election. The judge in the case rejected Cunningham’s attempt to dismiss the case.

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel was re-elected as mayor, continuing a position she has held since 2012. The election was not contested. New council members will assume office on Jan. 1.

In Focus: Fairfax County

In other local and county election news, Fairfax County voters approved a $182 million bond to fund public safety improvements for a number of facilities, including fire stations, police training buildings and the renovation of civil and criminal justice facilities.

The measure was approved with just under 70 percent of total votes. As of 9:45 a.m., one precinct has not reported results, but the absence of that data will not alter results.

Meanwhile, voter turnout was high this year in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Office of Elections estimated a voter turnout of nearly 70 percent, including absentee ballots. That number is up from nearly 46 percent in 2014.

This story has been updated.

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Poll: Should Voters Select Six Candidates for the Herndon Town Council Race?

Town of Herndon residents will be asked to select candidates for the Herndon Town Council on the ballot tomorrow. But language on the ballot states that voters are only required to select up to six candidates, leaving voters with the option to select candidates they feel particularly passionate about without filling out all available slots.

The option, which has garnered questions from voters, prompted Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel to address the issue earlier today. Merkel, who is running unopposed, is backing only four candidates: Jennifer Baker, Bill McKenna, Grace Wolf Cunningham and Joseph Plummer.

There are several ways to look at that. Voting for just the candidates you believe in may make sense in this kind of election when the top six vote getters are the winners. Recent elections have been very close. (Even the Virginia House of Delegates was essentially decided by one vote in one house district!) At times in the past Council seats have been decided by as few as 4 votes. What if you voted for the four or five candidates you really believe in, but then felt like you had to use up your last vote or two, and cast votes for candidates that you weren’t 100% behind? And then one of the “second choices” manages to beat one of your top choices by a vote or two? In essence you contributed to your favorite actually losing the seat. Sounds crazy, but it could happen. Food for thought, I guess.

Town of Herndon residents, take the following poll to indicate how you plan to handle the issue on Election Day. 

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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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‘Meet the Candidates’ Night Set for Town of Herndon Race

On Nov. 6, Town of Herndon voters will cast their ballots for the Herndon Mayoral and Herndon Town Council candidates.

A few days prior to the vote, town residents can chat with candidates on Oct. 22 from 6-8 p.m. in the lobby of the Herndon Municipal Center (777 Lynn Street).

Each candidate will have a display table on-site and will be available to answer questions.

Lisa Merkel, the town’s current mayor, is running for reelection. No other candidates are running.

Five incumbents are running for six seats on the Town Council for one-year terms. Those candidates are Jennifer Baker, Grace Cunningham, Signe Friedrichs, William McKenna and Sheila Olem.

In the race, five newcomers are hoping to challenge incumbents for their seats: Cesar Del Aguila, Pradip Dhakal, W.J. Kenis, Jr., Joseph Plummer and Roland Taylor.

The event is sponsored by the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Photo via Facebook

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Nominations Sought for Herndon Good Neighbor Award

If the person next door is always ready to lend a helping hand or make your day better, Town of Herndon officials want to hear from you.

The town is accepting nominations for its Good Neighbor Award. The deadline for submissions is Oct.15.

Only town residents can nominate a family member, friend or neighbor how “makes noteworthy contributions toward the quality of life” in local neighborhoods, according to the town. Recipients must be residents of the Town of Herndon and cannot have performed acts of good neighborliness for paid employment.

The town mayor and council will recognize Good Neighbor Award recipients at a future public meeting and all recipients will receive a commemorative gift.

Nominations can be submitted online and forms are also available at the Herndon Municipal Center and the Herndon Community Center.

The award is part of the town’s Cultivating Community initiative, which aims to encourage beautification and the enrichment of quality of life in the town’s neighborhoods.

Photo via Town of Herndon Government

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Former Town Attorney to Fill Vacancy on Herndon Town Council

The Herndon Town Council will fill a vacancy created by the death of Councilmember Jeff Davidson in April.

At a public hearing on Tuesday (July 10), the council will vote to appoint Richard Kaufman as the new council member.

Kaufman previously served as the town attorney from 1994 until his retirement in 2015. He advised the council on legislative issues, leases, franchise agreements and contracts.

The following information about Kaufman was provided by the Town of Herndon:

His legal counsel on topics ranging from town boundaries to economic development was invaluable to the Town Councils under which he served, and he earned tremendous respect throughout his career from his legal peers throughout the Commonwealth. He was active in several organizations, including the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia, Inc. and the Virginia Municipal League.

Kaufman holds a Bachelor’s degree from Washington and Jefferson College, a Master’s of Arts degree from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctorate from Washington and Lee University.

If appointed, Kaufman’s term will begin on July 11 and conclude at the end of the year. A new Town Council is set to take office next year.

Photo via Town of Herndon

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Candidate List Released Ahead of Herndon Town Elections in November

The roster of candidates vying for Herndon Town Council and Town Mayor has been released ahead of elections on November 6.

Lisa Merkel, the town’s current mayor, is running for reelection. No other candidates are running.

Five incumbents are running for six seats on the Town Council for one-year terms. Those candidates are Jennifer Baker, Grace Cunningham, Signe Friedrichs, William McKenna and Sheila Olem.

In the race, five newcomers are hoping to challenge incumbents for their seats: Cesar Del Aguila, Pradip Dhakal, W.J. Kenis, Jr., Joseph Plummer and Roland Taylor.

Town residents must register to vote by 5 p.m. on October 16. Applications must be mailed to the General Registrar (12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323). Online applications will be accepted through 11:59 p.m.

File photo

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