This 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.
Like most people, I will not be attending any inaugural events this year because of the pandemic restrictions and threats of civil disturbances. The event today does bring back wonderful memories of the first and only inauguration I ever attended. It was on January 20, 1961. In 1960 I had graduated from high school and had not gone to college because of doubts as to whether I could be successful. Instead, I was attending a short-term vocational program in Washington, DC and living in a single room in a boarding house just a half dozen blocks from the White House. Even then I had an intense interest in politics and followed the Kennedy-Nixon campaigns and debates intensely. I loved candidate and then President-elect John F. Kennedy as did millions of others. I was not about to miss the opportunity to go to his inauguration when I was living so close by.
On the day before the inauguration, temperatures dropped to 20 degrees and eight inches of snow fell. I got up early Inauguration Day and literally put on all the clothing I owned and started a trek to the US Capitol on foot. Workers directed by the Army Corp of Engineers had been working throughout the night to haul away as much of the snow as possible from Capitol grounds and Pennsylvania Avenue. The military had brought in flame throwers to melt some of the snow and ice. More than a thousand cars that had been stranded in the area had to be removed
At the Capitol I was able to position myself on the edge of a wall that allowed me to see the inauguration over those who had tickets and were seated at the Capitol. My plan to film the event with my brother’s 8 mm camera did not happen because the cold kept the camera from running a few minutes after I brought it out from under my coat. Certainly there was security, but nothing like we are seeing leading up to this inauguration. I felt free to move about except for the area that had been blocked off for special invited guests.
The speech given by our new president still brings tears to my eyes. His words, “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country,” inspired me to public service.
We have been through four years that have been tragic for our democracy. I believe we are all better informed about threats to our system of government. The Biden-Harris team is well suited to restore hope and confidence in our government. Honesty and decency will become a new norm for the executive branch. Attention to the COVID-19 crisis will be focused, coordinated and intense. Respect for others will dominate our society except for a small minority that will slink away into the background. Equity will be the new standard by which we measure our economy. All this can happen if we truly believe it and dedicate ourselves to making it happen. We can have another inauguration to remember!
Photo via Ken Plum
Pickleball Survey Open through Jan. 24 — The Fairfax County Park Authority is seeking the public’s input on how to support the emerging support. An online survey is open through Jan. 24. [Fairfax County Government]
Local DNA Tech Company Cracks More Cold Cases — Parabon NanoLabs, a Reston-based company, generated a total of 50 leads nationwide last year. Two cases were from Montgomery County and Arlington. [Local DVM]
What to Know About the Inauguration Today — The county government and schools will be closed today. The county joins state officials and regional leaders in urging the public to observe safely at home and not visit DC over the course of the week. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Fairfax County Police Department is preparing for Inauguration Day tomorrow with a heightened police presence throughout the county.
In a statement to Reston Now, FCPD said the department’s focus is safeguarding the community, major thoroughfares, critical infrastructure, and transit hubs.
FCPD has also staffed its civil disturbance unit, neighborhood patrols, and operational support units if they are needed in an emergency situation.
“Community members can expect to see an increased and vigilant police presence and if they have any concerns or observe any suspicious or. concerning activity, we encourage them to report it to an officer or call 911,” FCPD wrote in a statement.
The department noted that the county had an increased presence in past inaugurations.
FCPD deployed officers to DC to help law enforcement agencies to quell the U.S. Capital riots, which were started by a mob of Donald Trump. supporters.
No police officers were seriously injured earlier this month. When asked by Reston Now, FCPD did not immediately indicate if it plans to formally deploy any officers to DC.
A number of bridges connecting D.C. to Arlington are either completely shut down or have severely altered traffic patterns. Memorial Bridge is now closed through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. It was closed and then reopened over the weekend.
DC-bound lanes on Roosevelt Bridge, I-395 Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge will also be closed until Thursday morning, but lanes leaving the city “will flow normally” according to the Metropolitan Police Department traffic advisory. There are also a host of DC road closures.
Key Bridge will remain open, but there’ll be no access to Whitehurst Freeway and only local traffic may turn right on M Street. Thru traffic can only turn left onto Canal Rd/MacArthur Blvd, this also according to the advisory.
Chain Bridge will remain open in both directions, as well as the Wilson and American Legion Bridges connecting Virginia to Maryland.
Matt Blitz contributed reporting to this story.
Photo via FCPD
With only a week left until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Fairfax Connector announced that two bus routes will stop operating today (Wednesday) through Jan. 20 due to planned road closures in Washington, D.C.
Route 699, which normally travels between the Fairfax County Government Center and downtown D.C., will instead serve as a free shuttle to transport riders from the government center park and ride to the south entrance of the Vienna Metro station.
“The shuttles will leave the government center at the time on the schedule,” Fairfax Connector said in a tweet. “The shuttles will leave Vienna about 45 mins after their DC departure time with the goal of getting riders back to the P&R lot near their regularly scheduled arrival time.”
Fairfax Connector suggests Routes 631, 632, and 634 as travel alternatives for passengers on Route 697, which goes from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride in Centreville to D Street SW in D.C. Routes 631, 632, and 634 all stop at the Stringfellow Park and Ride and the Vienna Metro station.
⚠️ Due to road closures for Inauguration, Route 697 will not operate into DC starting immediately through Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Passengers should use shuttle between Stringfellow P&R and Vienna Metro South. Use alternative Routes 631, 632, & 634. Thanks for your patience.
— Fairfax Connector (@ffxconnector) January 13, 2021
⚠️ Due to road closures, Route 699 will not operate into DC starting immediately through Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Route 699 will shuttle passengers (free of charge) between Government Center Park & Ride and Vienna Metro South. Thanks for your patience.
— Fairfax Connector (@ffxconnector) January 13, 2021
Fears that the violence that embroiled the U.S. Capitol last week could return during the lead-up to Inauguration Day have put the D.C. region on edge, prompting thousands of National Guard troops and federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to mobilize for the National Special Security Event.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay joined other local and state public officials in warning community members against traveling to downtown D.C. on the day of the inauguration and the days preceding it.
“Sadly, the terror that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not a contained or isolated incident, and there is continued concern that similar violence is an ongoing threat to Americans and our democracy,” McKay said in a statement today.
The chairman says that the Fairfax County Police Department has been in contact with D.C. police about “the evolving situation” and has increased its presence in “key areas” of the county.
McKay advises residents to stay home if possible, avoid downtown D.C., and report any suspicious activity to police at 9-1-1 or the FCPD’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.
“Fairfax County will do all we can to help our partners in the region ensure a peaceful and safe transition of power on January 20, 2021 because that is the will of Fairfax County residents and the majority of Americans across the country,” McKay said.
Photo via Fairfax Connector/Facebook
While the vote remains undecided nationally at the time of writing, Fairfax County has swung heavily towards Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. At the precinct level, however, the results are a little more divided.
Biden won all three of Herndon’s precincts and all of Reston except Cameron Glen and North Point, which President Donald Trump won by 37 and 78 votes respectively.
Support for the Democratic presidential candidate surged this year in Fairfax County. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 63 percent of the vote while Trump secured just under 30 percent of the vote. This year, Biden won a decisive 80.67% of absentee votes in the county, while Trump received 17.86%.
In Pimmit, Biden had a six-vote lead over Trump, taking the precinct 48.92% to 48.20%.
Biden swept most of the precincts in the Tysons area, with Tysons itself going 57.71% for Biden. Merrifield had one of the largest percentages of support for Biden, with 62.23%.
The precincts didn’t unanimously favor Biden, however. In McLean and Spring Hill, Trump won by 55.49% and 50.71% respectively.
Further west, Trump won more securely in the Great Falls, Hickory and Seneca and Forestville precincts.
The results of this year’s election are far from final as results from more than 400,000 early voting and mail-in ballots are not reflected in the totals so far.
Absentee votes account for an estimated 51% of Fairfax County’s overall 77.5% voter turnout for this election. They are tallied by a central precinct and are not accounted for in the above breakdown.
Professor Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, told Reston Now that it’s clear Democrats swept to a large victory in Fairfax County.
“[Expressing] trust in a time of such political upheaval… being in a state with the only medical doctor of any state serving as Governor… [and] the ability to rely on facts in the middle of this pandemic is vital to trust in governance at such a difficult time of loss [for] too many American lives,” he said.
Vernon Miles and Fatimah Waseem contributed reporting to this story.
(Updated at 1:20 am) Newcomer Roland Taylor appeared to be edging out Vice Mayor Sheila Olem in the Town of Herndon’s mayoral race according to preliminary state elections results through 10 p.m. today.
But as the final precinct result from today’s votes poured in, Olem boasted a double-digit lead over Taylor with 61.5 percent of the vote. Taylor secured just 37.8 percent of the total vote. Most of the night, he maintained a two-percent lead over Olem in what appeared to be a close race.
County spokesperson Brian Worthy told Reston Now that a data entry error significantly skewed the results of the town’s race. In both races, the results flipped dramatically.
“Our previous numbers were off as a result of data entry error so you’ll see a big decrease in numbers,” Worthy said.
So far, there are extremely tight margins between eight candidates running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council. The leading candidate — Cesar del Aguila — is leading the pack with 13.6 percent of the total votes while Stevan Porter is coming in last, with 10.7 percent of the total votes.
Here’s the breakdown of how all candidates are faring so far:
- Cesar del Aguila: 13.66 percent
- Pradip Dhakal: 13.51 percent
- Sean Regan: 13.16 percent
- Naila Alam: 12.29 percent
- Signe Friedrichs: 12.27 percent
- Jasbinder Singh: 12.25 percent
- Clark Hedrick: 10.92 percent
- Stevan Porter: 10.66 percent
Most election results for Fairfax County are not expected to come in until later today, according to county spokesman Brian Worthy.
Tuesday’s results do not account for the more than 404,000 early votes and absentee ballots cast. That number may be enough to sway the outcome of close races like the Herndon Town Council contest.
Even in years when record numbers of mail-in ballots were unaccounted for, the race was extremely tight. For example, in the 2018 Herndon Town Council race, candidate Joe Plummer lost to Bill McKenna by just 22 votes.
The county, which has the most number of early ballots cast of all jurisdictions in the state, will process mail-in ballots that were received by 7 p.m. today but not counted tonight and ballots postmarked on or before Election Day until around noon on Friday.
That means the final results of the Herndon Town Council race may not be clear until Friday afternoon.
Fairfax County voters came out in droves over the last few weeks to cast their ballots. In early voting alone, 51 percent of registered voters cast a vote. As of 4 p.m. today, the county reported a turnout of 70.7 percent of the county’s 787,000 registered voters.
So far, voters appear to favor Joe Biden for the presidential race. The Association Press has declared Virginia a win for Biden.
In Fairfax County, the electorate appears to have loosened its Democratic sway. In 2016, Fairfax County voters went for Hillary Clinton by giving her 63 percent of the vote. President Donald Trump secured just under 30 percent of the total vote in the county.
But this year, 52 percent of Fairfax County voters favored Biden with a more even split for Trump, according to results from 243 of the county’s 244 precincts. This number reflects votes cast today only.
Sen. Mark Warner (D) is projected to win reelection to a third term, beating out Republican Daniel Gade who had been polling well behind Warner into Election Day. The Association Press called the race at 7 p.m. Reps. Don Beyer (8th District) and Gerry Connolly (11th District) are ahead in their respective districts while incumbent Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District) is currently trailing Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews.
This story will be updated.
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]
Biden To Be in Reston on Saturday — The former Vice President will host a roundtable discussion on workforce development Saturday in Reston along with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam. The event, to be held at Reston Town Center co-working space Refraction (11911 Freedom Drive), will highlight Northam’s jobs plan. [NBC Washington]
Police Help Young Drivers — Officers help teenage drivers learn how to handle themselves on the roadway and what to do in certain situations during the “Youthful Driver Program” every Saturday at the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Vienna, Herndon Among Top 5 Virginia Towns in Survey — A website for business professionals ranked incorporated cities and towns in Virginia based on factors including poverty level, unemployment rate and median household income. It names Vienna the “Most Successful” in the state, with Herndon coming in at No. 5. [Zippia]
County’s Fall Book Festival Kicks Off — The county’s library system is offering residents the opportunity to meet numerous authors today through Saturday as part of the “Fall for the Book” festival. [Fairfax County Public Library]
Community Center To Host Cabaret Singer — Beverly Cosham will perform Thursday afternoon at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road). [Reston Community Center]