When Herndon mayor-elect Sheila Olem was sworn in last December, the traditional ceremony was much different than usual: It took place as a private affair with attendee limits due to COVID-19.
“We all got individually sworn in,” she said Monday, reflecting on her time in office. “It’s been a year.”
Olem previously listed COVID-19 as her top priority for her term, which lasts for two years. Since starting her new role, the town has scaled back from the staggering of schedules for public works crews, which began in 2020, to mitigate and help control the spread of the virus.
With vaccines now readily available and Olem fully vaccinated with a booster, all Pfizer-BioNTech shots for COVID-19, some pre-pandemic routines are returning. In June, meetings went back to in person. And in August 2020, the Herndon Community Center reopened.
Much has changed, but the pandemic’s effects still linger in this town of nearly 25,000 people. The Town Council is back to meeting in person, but face-mask-required signs still cover government buildings.
About 75% of the town’s costs are personnel, and town leaders, including the mayor, have sought to help keep their morale up, Olem said. The vacancy rate for the town’s 200-plus positions is 10% or higher, she said, noting that she and town Manager Bill Ashton will deliver meals to town departments to thank them for their service, although a holiday celebration with awards will have to be done virtually.
The town is also getting $25.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act money, so staff are reviewing how the funding could help with one-time expenses that they’re allowed to be used for, such as infrastructure costs. Olem noted money could be used for a pool-cleaning system at the Herndon Community Center.
The pandemic’s uncertainty comes as the town is still waiting for the Herndon Metrorail Station to begin serving the yet-to-open Silver Line Phase II extension, which would include service to the Dulles airport.
Olem noted one of her accomplishments has been maintaining trash service in a time when staffing issues with private haulers has led to delays nearby and nationwide.
Mayor discusses development, parking and future
During Olem’s time as mayor, the town has begun moving forward with a proposal for three developers to pay $500,000 to help study an area for redevelopment. The review, within 1/4 to 1/2 miles of the Metro station, would cover an area mostly north of Herndon Parkway. A committee that will include a representative for each developer has not yet formed, but Olem said the town is in no way bound to the committee’s recommendations.
However, there is still no firm groundbreaking date on the delayed redevelopment of downtown Herndon by Comstock.
Meanwhile, the town considered in August whether rules should be changed to address off-street parking, which isn’t metered. Olem said other areas have done so and noted how commercial trucks can sit in areas in the town.
“We’ve got to bring this back,” she said. “If we don’t have anything on the books, there’s nothing we can do.”
The Town Council considered a proposal to allow $50 fines against drivers who park within 10 feet of driveways to help with safety due to traffic visibility and to help with access for trash pickup, but it decided during an Aug. 10 meeting that it would hold off on the matter. Council members asked for more information on neighborhoods affected and possible consequences.
For the remainder of her term, Olem, who has been on council since 2010, said she’s interested in maintaining Herndon’s sense of place and historical homes where possible.
The Herndon Town Council will resume in-person meetings next month after 15 months of virtual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first in-person meeting since last March will be held on July 6.
“The Herndon Town Council is resuming in-person meetings due to the greatly improved state of the pandemic in Fairfax County, as the decrease in infections and increase in vaccinations make it safer to gather in person,” said Anne Curtis, chief communications officer for the Town of Herndon.
Seats will be spaced six feet apart, and masks will be required for unvaccinated attendees to comply with CDC guidelines.
Public hearings and work sessions will still be available for viewing via live stream, but interactions via WebEx will be discontinued. Those who wish to address the council must do so in person.
“While I am so appreciative of my colleagues on council, town staff and town citizens for their forbearance during this extraordinary time, I don’t think any of us expected we’d be meeting online for more than a year,” Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem said. “I am excited to see faces and to recapture the energy that is only found in person. I hope citizens will come out and participate as we resume our in-person sessions.”
The first in-person meeting will be on July 6 at 7 p.m. at the Herndon Community Center (814 Ferndale Ave.). The first in-person public hearing will be on July 13 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers located at 765 Lynn Street.
More information on upcoming meetings can be found on the Town of Herndon website.
“The council is looking forward to greater citizen involvement in their meetings, as the opportunity for in-person testimony on issues that come before the council resumes,” Curtis said.
The Town of Herndon’s popular free Friday Night Live! summer concert series may have to stop rocking, the event’s chairman fears.
After moving to a streaming format last year, the hoped-for 2021 plan is to return to live shows in July with limited capacity.
However, budgetary challenges may prevent that from happening.
In a letter to supporters, the series’ chairman Laura Poindexter wrote that specific line items would need to be approved in the upcoming Town of Herndon’s fiscal year 2022 budget in order for the concert series to continue.
While the event is produced by the Herndon and Dulles Regional chambers of commerce, organizers work very closely with the town, since it takes place on town property and requires public government services, such as a police presence and public works support for trash pick-up, fencing, and set-up.
With the town preparing to unveil a budget proposal on Thursday (April 1), the concern that these items will not be included stems from town budgetary concerns as well as other Herndon events already being canceled, including the Herndon Festival.
In her letter, Poindexter asks supporters to provide input and not to “delay letting your voice be heard” about how much Friday Night Live! means to the community.
The concert series first began in 1995 and is thought to be the longest-running free outdoor concert series in the D.C.-area. It traditionally starts the first week of May and runs through August, though the current plan for 2021 is to start on Friday, July 2.
Most often, the concert series hosts rock cover bands because they draw the largest crowds, Poindexter notes.
Poindexter tells Reston Now that up to 2,500 people attend the concerts held each Friday night in normal years. Two thirds of them typically come from outside of Herndon.
“It’s an economic development tool, to bring people to downtown Herndon,” she says. “That’s why it was created. I believe downtown businesses benefit greatly and rely on us. This year, after COVID, not to have it would be a shame.”
In a statement on the town’s website, Mayor Sheila Olem alludes to needed cuts due to budget constraints related to the pandemic:
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant, devastating impact on local economies, and Herndon has not been immune. While our sound fiscal practices have buffered the impact somewhat, we are — like jurisdictions across the region — experiencing decreases in most revenue categories. Accordingly, our budget planning is focused on continued provision of the core services our citizens expect and value – public works, public safety and those services that are integral to our infrastructure and day-to-day lives.
While Poindexter and other Friday Night Live! organizers did also send a letter to the town council highlighting their concerns, she says she has not heard one way or another if those needed line items will be included in the proposed budget. She did reiterate that the event has had a long-running, great relationship with the Town of Herndon.
“We just felt it was important for our fans to make their voices heard in relation to the budget,” she said.
Overall, Poindexter says it costs about $10,000 to put on each individual Friday Night Live! event. With about 16 or 17 dates a summer, that’s about $160,000 to $170,000 a season.
“Friday Night Live! is a fantastic community event, but it’s an expensive event to put on,” she said. “There’s a lot of costs involved. Besides town services and security, there’s port-a-potties, there’s music licenses, there’s bands.”
While the event is free to attendees, alcohol and other concessions are sold to bring in revenue.
Poindexter says organizers are planning for 50% capacity. Currently, Virginia allows for 30% capacity at outdoor entertainment venues, but she anticipates that changing to match the governor’s capacity restrictions from last summer.
If capacity is limited to under 50%, it would be hard to the concert series financially worthwhile, Poindexter acknowledges.
All in all, she’s confident that the town will realize how important Friday Night Live! — and other outdoor events like it — is for Herndon businesses and residents this year.
“We think [the series] is so important for not only the downtown businesses, especially the restaurants that really need to have a fantastic summer, but the emotional health and well-being for our fans,” Poindexter said. “We haven’t been able to get out and do things like outdoor events. So, I think that it’s needed on multiple levels.”
Photo courtesy Laura Poindexter
The Town of Herndon has officially closed on its transfer of 4.7 acres of town-owned land to Comstock Holding Companies, a move that sets the redevelopment of downtown Herndon into motion.
The public-private partnership between the town of Comstock will create “the centerpiece of Herndon’s revitalization plan for its historic downtown,” according to a recent press release.
“We are excited to have completed this important part of the process and look forward to redeveloping this key piece of downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use development,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock.
The mixed-use project was officially approved by the Herndon Historic District Review Board but had been delayed by nearly a year to a number of issues, including ongoing negotiations between the town and the real estate development company.
Once completed, the new mixed-use development, which is next to Herndon’s Old Town Hall, will include 273 residential apartments, 17,300 square feet of retail and cafe space, a new arts center, three public plazas, and a 726-space parking garage.
Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel, who is ending her eight-year term this month, noted that the closing was the “culmination of years of careful planning.”
“Dynamic living spaces, retail, restaurants, the arts – all will come alive in downtown Herndon as a result of our collaboration with Comstock,” she said.
The town will pitch in $3.6 million over the course of the project while the company will be able to take advantage of $2.5 million in tax breaks through a recently established ordinance. The land was transferred at no-cost but under rules governed by a comprehensive agreement signed by both parties. The town will receive public amenities and infrastructure as part of the project.
Photo via Town of Herndon
Vice Mayor Sheila Olem has officially been elected as the Town of Herndon’s Mayor, replacing Lisa Merkel, who announced she no longer plans to seek reelection after eight years in office.
Olem swept the election with roughly 61 percent of the total vote, according to election results that were formally released by the town today (Friday). She beat Roland Taylor, who secured 38 percent of the total vote.
The Town of Herndon formally announced results earlier today, but cautioned that Election results will be certified by the Fairfax County Electoral Board on Nov. 16.
Residents who served on past councils dominated the Herndon Town Council election, in which eight candidates sought six seats. Incumbents Cesar del Aguila, Pradip Dhakal, Signe Friedrichs and Jasbinder Singh will return to the council alongside newcomers Sean Regan and Naila Alam.
Olem will assume office on Jan. 1. A swearing-in ceremony is planned for new officials soon.
The following is a breakdown of unofficial results, per the state’s department of elections:
- Cesar del Aguila: 13.69. percent
- Pradip Dhakal: 13.48
- Sean Regan: 13.09
- Naila Alam: 12.36
- Signe Friedrichs: 12.14
- Clark Hedrick: 11
- Stevan Porter: 10.73
The certification of results could change the outcome of the town council race, which has traditionally been extremely tight.
Photo via Sheila Olem
After long lines for early voting, Election Date is finally here. so far, the county has unofficially reported more than 399,600 votes cast. County officials say this is 70 percent of the total votes cast in the 2016 presidential election and 50 percent of registered county voters have already cast their ballots. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know before you head to the polls today.
Casting Your Ballot
All polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Reston. An acceptable form for identification is required. Voters are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings and remain socially distanced using markers placed outside polling places to help voters stand six feet apart. Note that several Fairfax County Park Authority polling sites will be open only to voters today, including Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center in Herndon.
Voters can return mail-in ballots at a ballot drop-off box, which will be available at every polling place today (Tuesday). A 24-hour box outside the Fairfax County Government will be available until 7 p.m. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by Nov. 3. If you plan to use a drop-off box, make sure the “b” envelope is inside your returning mail envelope. Further instructions, which will help the county process ballots faster, are available on the county’s website.
What’s On Your Ballot
The following is a breakdown of what to expect on your ballot. Sample ballots are available online.
President and Vice President
- Joseph R. Biden, President and Kamala D. Harris, Vice President: Democrat
- Donald J. Trump, President and Michael R. Pence, Vice President – Republican
- Jo Jorgensen, President and Jeremy F. “Spike” Cohen, Vice President – Libertarian
Member, United States Senate
- Mark R. Warner – Democrat
- Daniel M. Gade – Republican
Member House of Representatives, 11th District
- Gerry E. “Gerry” Connolly – Democrat
- Manga A. Anantatmula – Republican
The Town of Herndon
Town residents will vote for a new mayor from two candidates: Sheila Olem and Roland Taylor. Eight residents are running for six seats on the Herndon Town Council. You can read their candidate statements in the links below, if they provided to Reston Now.
- Stevan M. Porter
- Pradip Dhakal
- Sean M. Regan
- Naila Alam
- Cesar A. del. Aguila
- Signe V. Friedrichs
- Jasbinder Singh
- Clark A. Hedrick
Amendment #1 proposes that the creation of a redistricting commission with eight General Assembly members and eight state citizens o draw congressional and state legislative districts. The General Assembly would vote on the changes without proposing any changes. If the commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by set deadlines, the responsibility of drawing districts would fall on the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Amendment #2 is written as follows: Should an automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be free from state and local taxation?
Public libraries: Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds in addition to the public library facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $90,000,000 for the purpose of providing funds, with any other available funds, to finance the cost to provide public library facilities, including the construction, reconstruction, enlargement, and equipment of existing and additional library facilities and the acquisition of necessary land?
Transportation bonds: Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds, in addition to the transportation improvements and facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $160,000,000 for the purpose of financing Fairfax County’s share, under the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact, of the cost of constructing, reconstructing, improving, and acquiring transportation improvements and facilities, including capital costs of land, transit facilities, rolling stock, and equipment in the Washington metropolitan area?
Community health and human services bonds: Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds, in addition to the human services facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $79,000,000 for the purpose of providing funds, with any other available funds, to finance the cost to provide community health and human services facilities, including the construction, reconstruction, enlargement, and equipment of existing and additional community health and human services facilities and the acquisition of necessary land?
Parks and parks facilities bonds
Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue bonds, in addition to the parks and park facilities bonds previously authorized, in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $112,000,000 for the following purposes: (i) $100,000,000 principal amount to finance the Fairfax County Park Authority’s cost to acquire, construct, reconstruct, develop, and equip additional parks and park facilities, to preserve open-space land, and to develop and improve existing parks and park facilities; and (ii) $12,000,000 principal amount to finance Fairfax County’s contribution to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to acquire, construct, reconstruct, develop, and equip parks and park facilities?
Other Items of Note
Voters should call the Fairfax County Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-691-2131 to report any disruptions to voting. The following activities are prohibited by state law:
- Loitering, campaigning or congregating within 40 feet of a polling place’s entrance
- Using a loudspeaker within 300 feet of a polling place
- Falsely assuming or exercising the powers, duties or functions of any county, city, state, or federal law-enforcement officer.
Results will be available on the Virginia Department of Elections’ website. Absentee ballots may be accepted until noon on Friday, Nov. 6.
Herndon will welcome a new mayor-elect on Tuesday to follow Lisa Merkel’s eight years as the town’s mayor.
Merkel announced in January that she would not run for a fifth term as the town’s mayor. She will spend the next few months with her husband and two kids while she decides on her next steps, though she says she has “no intention” of running for higher office right now.
“Several people have pitched some ideas my way, and I’d like to still volunteer,” Merkel told Reston Now in a recent interview.
“We’ll be doing college visits hopefully with my son. And I’m going to take at least a few months to just sort of settle in and figure out what’s next. But I’m not going anywhere. I live in downtown Herndon. I still love it just as much as the day we moved here.”
On Nov. 3, a successor will be elected to the role Merkel has maintained since she won a three-way race for mayor in 2012 by just 38 votes.
Sheila Olem, Herndon’s current vice mayor, and Roland Taylor are running to be the town’s next mayor. Merkel is not endorsing a candidate for the election cycle, but she did have some words of wisdom for the candidate that will take the reins as mayor.
“When I came into the office, I was a mom and a teacher. I was not a land use expert or lawyer or never studied political science,” Merkel said.
“I truly was a citizen that managed to get herself elected mayor. So there was a lot I did not know, and I think it’s important that when you don’t know something, find an expert and listen and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
She also advised the next mayor to focus on the jurisdiction that they can control in the town and not to focus on national policy issues. She specifically advises a focus on public works, land use, and building planning while helping cultivate the community.
Merkel says focusing on the town helped her move into policies and successfully secure a town council seat in 2010. That same year, she was elected vice major. It is also what continued her motivation when she was voted in as the town’s first elected female mayor in 2012 and the subsequent three elections after.
During her time as mayor, Merkel helped implement large-scale plans for the Metrorail Expansion Project, negotiate a deal with Comstock Partners for the ongoing downtown project and working with the Chamber of Commerce to establish an Economic Development Department.
She can also tout a number of projects such as approving the installation of lights along the portion of the W&OD Trail that runs through Herndon and installing gateway signs at each of the entrances to town.
Merkel recognizes that there have been challenges along the way. Among them have been getting the news of plans for the town out to the community effectively, and ensuring that Herndon retains its sense of community and the core of downtown while growing into a more urban area.
“It took several election cycles, but I’ve knocked on doors on every single street in Herndon,” Merkel said.
“It’s one thing to drive around town, another to walk up and down the street or ride your bike, but to walk up to people’s doors, you really get a glimpse for how people are living, and we have a very diverse town with a lot of needs. I’m really glad that I’ve gotten the chance to experience that.”
Photo courtesy Lisa Merkel
Cornerstones Chats with Town of Herndon Candidates — The Reston-based nonprofit organization interviewed candidates for the Herndon Town Council and Mayor. Interviews were conducted by Stephen Smith Cobbs, a member on the Board of Directors and a pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon. [Cornerstones]
Volunteers Build Reston Girl with Leukemia a Playset — Volunteers from Dominion Team Energy team u with the ROC Solid Foundation to build a four-year-old Reston girl with leukemia a playset in her backyard. [WJLA]
Around Town: Judge to Hold Trial on Plans to Remove Lee Statue — “A lawsuit seeking to prevent Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond is scheduled to go to trial Monday.” [WTOP]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Campaign contributions to the Town of Herndon’s mayoral and town council races have been relatively sparse with Election Day just over a month away.
Campaign finance reports filed with the Virginia Department of Elections on Sept. 15 show that Sheila Olem and Roland Taylor, the two candidates seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Lisa Merkel, have received $925 and $957, respectively, in total contributions since January.
According to her latest campaign finance report, which covers the period from July 1 to Aug. 31, Olem received a $250 donation from Fairfax City Councilmember Janice Miller on Aug. 1. She also loaned $500 to her campaign in July and has gotten $175 in small cash donations since January.
Taylor, a public servant in local law enforcement, is responsible for all of the financial donations to his campaign.
By contrast, Merkel, who announced in January that she will step down at the conclusion of her fourth term as Herndon’s mayor, received more than $17,500 in contributions for all three of her reelection campaigns, topping $20,000 in both 2014 and 2016, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Olem, who currently serves as Herndon’s vice mayor, attributes the sluggish rate of donations to the town’s mayoral contest to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which is driven by close contact between people and, as a result, has limited candidates’ ability to interact with voters in-person.
Olem says she tries to keep supporters updated through email and Facebook, but she is aware that not everyone uses social media, and emails will not reach people unless they are on her campaign’s mailing list.
“That’s the most difficult part of it, and I don’t think that’s good for the voters,” Olem said. “I usually have several events, and then people will come and chat with me, and they’ll give donations. It’s just really hard this time.”
Sean Regan leads candidates for the Herndon Town Council in terms of campaign contributions.
A member of Herndon’s Planning Commission since 2012, Regan is one of 10 people vying for a seat on Herndon’s six-member town council.
The $6,710 in campaign contributions that Regan has reported to the state since January is more than twice as much as what any other candidate has accumulated, though much of that money comes out of his own pocket.
In addition to receiving $700 in cash donations, Regan has given $6,000 to his campaign in the form of a $2,000 direct donation and two separate $2,000 loans.
While Regan has the highest cumulative total of contributions, rival town council candidate Stevan Porter has attracted the most donors, receiving $2,583 from 18 different contributors as of Aug. 31.
Financial support for Porter’s campaign has mostly come from individual donors, but the IT professional and paramedic has also reported two separate $100 in-kind contributions from the Libertarian National Committee for the use of an eCanvasser campaign management system.
Total contributions to the other Herndon Town Council candidates’ campaign include:
- Clark Hedrick: $1,904 from 10 donors
- Jasbinder Singh: $803 from two donors
- Cesar del Aguila: $657 from himself
- Signe Friedrichs: $240 from three donors
Naila Alam, Bessie Denton, Pradip Dhakal, and Syed Iftikhar have not reported any campaign contributions as of Virginia’s Sept. 15 filing deadline for candidates who will be on the ballot for this November’s election. Denton and Iftikhar withdrew their candidacy after the results of the local Democratic caucus.
Virginia law requires that candidates seeking public office disclose all campaign contributions and expenditures to the state.
Full campaign finance reports for Herndon’s mayoral and town council candidates are available on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Image via Town of Herndon
Reston Now is running statements of candidates running for mayor of the Town of Herndon. With longtime Mayor Lisa Merkel stepping down, two candidates are running for her position. Featured here is Sheila Olem, the town’s current vice mayor, who is running against Roland Taylor.
What is the top challenge the town faces currently and how do you aim to address it?
The COVID pandemic is our biggest challenge for staff and council, as well as our local businesses until a vaccine is available. We have been addressing this crisis since March and it looks like we may have another year. Town Manager, Bill Ashton, has been the General in charge of our town staff, our troops, since the shut down in March. Having a professional town manager that is charged with the day to day operations is a gift in good times. During this crisis it has been a blessing. My background in public health has helped me understand the “why” of our new normal.
What would your top three priorities be as mayor?
- Continuing our leadership as the environmentally focused leader in urban Northern Virginia.
- Continuing and improving our great town services and quality of life for residents, visitors, and businesses.
- Bringing home county, state, and other regional dollars to benefit our town.
How does your background uniquely position you for mayor?
For over twenty years I have been involved land use issues and served on numerous committees, including the Dulles Toll Road Task Force (2000-01), Hunter Mill Task Force (2005), Herndon’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) (2000 -07), and the Virginia Municipal League’s (VML) General Laws Policy Committee. Having a good working relationship with our County elected officials is an asset when projects such as the New Fire Station in Herndon and the need for funding to build an Arts facility in our redevelopment area of the downtown. I have had a working relationship with every Dranesville Supervisor since 1990, three Republicans and one Democrat. My goal is to do the best for Herndon and work with all elected officials. As a homeowner and business owner in town since 1990, I have also worked with staff on numerous occasions for building and business permitting. Improving our process is always on the table. Legislating and bringing home dollars is the job.
The Town of Herndon is poised for transformation as Metro and the redevelopment of downtown Herndon is underway. What is your current assessment of progress made so far?
The size fits with our community’s desire to keep a hometown feel in our downtown. The current project has been underway since 2009. My tenure on council started in July of 2010 so I have been there for this long process. It has been thoughtful, vetted by the community with focus groups, public hearings etc. Once complete the project will generate tax revenue for the town, new customers for existing businesses and the new residents will see why we enjoy having a walkable vibrant community.
How do you hope to continue ensuring the development occurs in a timely and productive manner?
I support the current project; we do have a meeting to determine the final finances of the project. We have been planning and investing for this project for the past ten years. Once the final agreement papers are signed and ground breaks the project will be completed in twenty-four months!
Photo via Sheila Olem
Reston Now is running statements of candidates running for mayor of the Town of Herndon. With longtime Mayor Lisa Merkel stepping down, two candidates are running for her position. Featured here is Roland Taylor, who is running against Sheila Olem, the town’s current vice mayor.
As your mayor, I will be focused daily working to lowering your taxes, utilities, and fees. Herndon needs a commonsense candidate, with no bias divisive partisan political agenda. Local level government works best without bias parties involved. Roland has no compromises from campaign contributions from developers, real estate companies, or political parties. No parties should put local Town elections on their ballots.
My wife Kathy and I have lived in Herndon with our four children for 16 years. Their youngest graduated from Herndon High in 2019, and now we are eager to take the next step in their service to our community.
My twenty-year career as a public servant in local law enforcement provides me extensive experience working with citizens and government leaders. As a United Nations’ senior rule of law leader and while supporting the U.S. Department of State in international locations, Roland gained experience living and working with diverse international populations, respecting all cultures and focusing on human rights and protecting endangered population groups.
Now as a federal government program manager, Roland has eighteen plus years of extensive experience with managing large budgets and personnel supporting federal government contracts both domestic and international. For over ten years he has been a certified project management professional and experienced in risk management.
Based on Roland’s law enforcement background and his Masters in Criminal Justice Administration, from Loyola University in New Orleans, he has served as both an Associate and Adjunct Professor of transnational and organized crime for two universities. Roland understands public safety.
As both a parent and grandparent, Roland Taylor wishes to continue giving back and offers his service to the Herndon community as its Mayor. Roland has never avoided a crisis when help and leadership were required. Herndon requires proven executive management and leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and our recovery. I am that candidate and asks for your support and vote on or before November 3rd, 2020.
Top Three Priorities as Mayor
Town of Herndon, voters have to decide why they selected to live in Herndon and if that quality of lifestyle will continue with a higher density rezoning model the current Town Council is supporting. With rapid growth, there are equal impacts on increased traffic congestion and school overcrowding. We need a diverse Council and not yes votes across the board, as with current party ticket slates. There are some very big projects on the table that will have long term impacts on Herndon. Real conversations have to be had, with all views expressed and listened to in a respective manner. Developers and realtors should not lead the discussions with crony politicians, that are accepting their biased contributions to their campaigns.
Meals Tax Impacts
In the 2016 General Election, Fairfax County put a Meals Tax on the ballot, and it was defeated countywide. All three Town of Herndon precincts voted “no” to the Meals Tax, however, in April of 2019, my opponent and all seeking re-election to Council, voted to increase Herndon’s Meals Tax, without putting to the Town Citizens for their vote. Long ago the Town put a Meals Tax on the books, to protect the Town from a County Meals Tax. Clearly, the citizens have expressed their desire against a Meals Tax in 2016 and our elected officials ignored the citizens. This was very disappointing and another reason, I am running for Mayor.
Be assured, I am opposed to Meals Tax as it unfairly affects Seniors, low-income and middle-income families, and negatively impacts tourism. It causes decreased tipping, devastating waiters who rely on tips to make a living, which has already been badly impacted by COVID-19. Sadly, many restaurants only make 3-4% in profit, and the Meals Tax hurts our small business owners. I am a strong small business supporter and these measures are putting our local businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
COVID Economy Impacts
Due to COVID-19 and its negative impacts on our economy, all levels of government will be required to make budget cuts as all the prior budget forecasts were incorrect. We know after COVID-19, many business models will change. Office space may reduce, lowering commuters, and impact lunch traffic. These and others will reduce taxes paid and Town revenues.
The next two years will be difficult and requires someone with extensive government and business experience like Roland’s, to lead Herndon to recovery. This requires selecting the best candidate for leadership, and not just voting down a party ticket. Roland sincerely asks for your support and vote as the Town of Herndon’s next Mayor on Nov. 3, 2020.