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Candidate Forum for RA Election Slated for Last Week of February

In 13 days, locals will get a chance to hear from the candidates running for the five open seats on Reston Association’s Board of Directors.

The seats up for election this year are uncontested.

The forum gives Restonians the opportunity to “meet the candidates for the 2019 Board of Directors election in this debate-style candidates’ forum,” according to the Reston Association. It is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive) on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Three candidates are incumbents, including Apartment Owners’ Representative Catherine Baum, Hunters Woods/Dogwood Representative Caren Anton and North Point Representative John Mooney.

Tom Mulkerin, a residential real estate agent, is running for a three-year-term At-Large seat. Aaron Webb, who has served on the board of the Lakeside Cluster, is running for a three-year term for the Lake Anne/Tall Oaks Representative, which is currently filled by Sherri Herbert.

The forum will take place just a few days before the voting period begins on March 4. Voting will end on April 1, and the election results will be announced at the Annual Members’ Meeting later that month.

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Election Nears for 86th District Seat in Virginia House of Delegates

Voters have an upcoming special general election for the 86th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

On Saturday (Jan. 12), Ibraheem Samirah was nominated to represent the Democratic Party to fill State Sen. Jennifer Boysko’s vacated seat.

Samirah will run in the special election set for Feb. 19 with a campaign focused on healthcare, transportation and education.

“I am deeply humbled that voters chose me to be their democratic nominee to represent them in the House of Delegates,” Samirah said in a press release. “I entered this race to fight for the progressive values we all share–such as affordable healthcare, decreased transportation costs and improved early-childhood education.”

Samirah is a first-generation Muslim American who is the son of Palestinian refugees. He was separated from his father in middle school when his father was barred from re-entering the U.S.

He is currently a dentist at District Smiles.

He faced three other Democratic candidates — Kofi AnnanMike O’Reilly and Chad Thompson — for the nomination and won with a little more than 35 percent of the vote. More than 2,000 people voted in the primary.

“Ibraheem will be a tireless and effective advocate for Fairfax and Loudon counties, and we look forward to having him join our caucus and help us make Virginia better for everyone,” House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trevor Southerland said in a statement.

Boysko also congratulated Samirah, saying she pledges her support to work with him in the Virginia General Assembly.

“I know Ibraheem will continue the great work we have done in working to reduce gun violence, supporting our schools and teachers, and building an economy that works for everyone,” she said in a statement.

Local Republicans have not announced plans to nominate a candidate, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Photo via Samirah for Delegate/Facebook

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Del. Jennifer Boysko’s State Senate Win Opens Up 86th District Seat

The Virginia House of Delegates has an opening for a seat that represents Herndon.

Del. Jennifer Boysko, a Democrat currently representing the 86th District, won the special election yesterday (Jan. 8) to take over the 33rd District seat in the State Senate vacated by Jennifer Wexton when she became a Congresswoman.

Boysko won with just under 70 percent of the vote, while her opponent, Republican Joe May, received about 30 percent. With Boysko moving to the State Senate, voters will get choose who will fill her district seat, which includes Herndon.

Several Democratic candidates announced they will vie for the seat, including:

The Democratic candidates will vie for the spot at the primary on Saturday (Jan. 12).

Herndon residents who are registered voters in the 86th District can vote between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Dranesville Elementary School (1515 Powells Tavern Place).

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Tuesday Morning Notes

What you should know before heading to the polls — View your sample ballot online, which includes a public safety bond referendum and two state constitutional amendments. Voters should bring their photo identification and plan ahead, as poll locations will be very busy during peak commuter hours. [Fairfax County Government]

Solidcore is coming to Reston — The DC-based fitness chain, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, is opening 125 studios by 2022 and one of them will be located in Reston. [Washingtonian]

Reston Town Center Farmers Market canceled today — Due to inclement weather, the second-to-last farmers market in Reston Town Center has been canceled. Next week is the last day to take advantage of the market, which began this fall. [Reston Town Center]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Your guide to Halloween — As ghosts and ghouls prowl the neighborhood streets tonight, here are some safety tips you should keep in mind as you head out and dress up. [Fairfax County Government]

Voting 101 — Election Day is just days away and with more than 70,000 active registered voters in the county, there’s a lot to catch up on. [Fairfax County Government]

Preventing pedestrians crashes — So far, 10 pedestrians have been killed in crashes in Fairfax County and 100 pedestrians have been involved in crashes. Drivers and pedestrians should keep the following tips in mind in order to prevent accidents. [Fairfax County Government]

Photos: Annual Public Art Reston party –– This year’s annual fundraising event for the nonprofit organization took place on the 16th floor of the Helmut Jahn building at Reston Station. [Public Art Reston]

Photo by Ray Copson

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Friday Morning Notes

Absentee voting begins today — Voting begins today at the Fairfax County government center and ends on Oct. 13 at nine additional locations. Absentee votes can also be cast by mail. The ballots for Town of Herndon residents will include options for mayor and town council members. [Fairfax County Government]

How about some hairspray — Reston Community Players will kick off its 52nd season with the musical Hairspray. It opens on October 19 and runs through November 10 at Reston Community Center. [Reston Community Players]

Missing endangered man found — Patrick Brown, 74, an endangered man who went missing yesterday, was found and is safe. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo by Kit Allgaier

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Del. Ken Plum: Un-Gerrymandering Legislative Districts in Virginia

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.

On August 30, I and my colleagues in the General Assembly will return to the State Capitol in Richmond at the request of Governor Ralph Northam to un-gerrymander eleven House of Delegates districts that have been found by a panel of federal judges to be unconstitutional. The court’s action was based on a finding that the districts as drawn violated the equal protection of the law afforded to everyone by the United States Constitution.

In the redistricting of 2011, the Republicans who had a majority in the House of Delegates packed African Americans in the Richmond-Hampton Roads regions into the eleven districts that have been found unconstitutional. From a partisan perspective the packing resulted in African Americans who historically vote Democratic to be limited in their influence over voting outcomes throughout the region. From a legal perspective African Americans were denied their constitutional protection from the gerrymandering that put them into fewer districts over which they might have an influence.

The requirement to un-gerrymander legislative districts in Virginia is not new. Most recently and earlier this year the congressional districts in the Richmond-Hampton Roads region were found to be unconstitutional. When the districts were redrawn Democrats won an additional congressional seat with an African American candidate.

Unraveling a partisan gerrymander is not easy. With the congressional districts, the courts had to redraw them because the General Assembly could not come to an agreement as to how it should be done. There is serious concern as to whether the General Assembly will be able to redraw the district lines for the House of Delegates or whether it will revert to the courts for correction. With any of these revisions there are likely to be winners and losers, and legislative bodies have not shown the ability to draw lines that will disadvantage a member(s) in re-election. With the congressional redistricting, for example, one member of Congress lost a seat to the African American candidate who ran in a newly redrawn district.

To correct the clear racial discrimination in the eleven districts that have been found to be unconstitutional, it will be necessary to redraw more than thirty district lines as currently constituted. As the redrawing takes place some voters will find themselves in new districts as will some incumbent legislators. The election outcomes are likely to be different as the racial bias of how the districts have been drawn is removed.

The courts have not taken up cases of gerrymandering when allegations of partisan discrimination are alleged. The courts are interested in issues of constitutional protections most often found when racial discrimination can be shown. Issues of removing partisanship from the redistricting process, as some have expressed it–to have the people choose their elected representatives instead of legislators choosing their constituents–have been resolved in other places by having an independent, nonpartisan commission draw the lines. I first introduced a bill to establish such a commission in Virginia in 1982 and have introduced such a bill many times.

The General Assembly must carry out its responsibility to undo the racially discriminating districts that currently exist. Additionally, it should take the next step to put an independent non-partisan commission in place.

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Candidates Sought for Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors

Reston Community Center has issued a call for candidates to run for seats on the Board of Governors, a nine-member body that oversees RCC.

Candidates for one of three open positions with three-year terms must complete candidacy filings by 5 p.m. on August 15 (Wednesday).

Each year, candidates are selected through a community preference poll with votes cast by residents and businesses located in Small District 5, a geographical area that broadly applies to Reston zip codes.

Online and mail-in balloting and walk-in voting will run from September 7 through September 29 until 5 p.m. Mail-in ballots must be received before 5 p.m. on September 27.

The Board of Governors establishes RCC policies, sets priorities for programs and makes decisions about the budget. The body was established by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which will appoint board members based on votes cast.

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Chalk on the water — Unleash your creativity this weekend as Lake Anne Plaza’s ground becomes a canvas for amateur and professional artists alike. [Public Art Reston]

Stateside: June 12 — The primary elections in Virginia and Fairfax County are on Tuesday, June 12. All 243 precincts will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Happening nearby: motorized partitions — “Schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, will be allowed to use motorized panel doors again after a little boy died in a “tragic accident” at his elementary school. Wesley Lipicky was killed on May 18 after he was crushed between a motorized panel and a wall.” [NBC4]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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In Closely Watched Virginia Election, Votes in Reston Mirror Statewide Results

Democrat Ralph Northam clenched victory over Republican Ed Gillespie in the competitive race to become Virginia’s 73rd governor Tuesday — statewide results that echoed locally in a bellwether race watched around the nation as judgment on President Donald Trump.

Democrats swept statewide offices, including the lieutenant governor and attorney general. In the Hunter Mill District, Northam won in every precinct with 61 percent of all votes – slightly below the countywide average of 67 percent and above the statewide return of 54 percent. Northam took 30,201 of the 49,788 ballots cast while Gillespie grasped 45 percent of the vote. The tightest race was in the Colvin Precinct where Northam won by a 59 percent to 40 percent margin over Gillespie, who took 54 percent of the total vote statewide.

Democrat Justin Fairfax won over Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor while Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring was reelected over Republican John Adams.

Overall, voters took to the polls in greater numbers this year. Turnout in the Hunter Mill District was just under 50 percent, roughly six percentage points below the statewide voter turnout of 56 percent.

The Flint Hill precinct reported the highest turnout at nearly 66 percent. The lowest turnout was reported at the McNair precinct where turnout rested at a mum 45 percent compared to the district-wide average of 60 percent.

Voters also passed a measure that would approve the sale of $315 million in bonds to fund school improvement projects throughout the county. The measure passed with 73 percent of the total vote. Locally, the funds would allow the county to move forward on renovations to one modular buildings; additions to three county high schools; renovations to 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools; and the construction of two new elementary schools.

Democrat Ken Plum, Reston’s current delegate, will also continue serving as the local delegate for the 36th district. Plum, who worked for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher an administrator prior to his role in politics, ran in an uncontested race.

To view complete election results, visit Fairfax County’s interactive map or view results online.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem.

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Under the Cover of Rain, Reston Residents Head to Polls in Statewide Election


Despite the downpour of rain on Tuesday, a steady stream of voters cast their votes at Armstrong Elementary School in Reston. As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 209,223 residents of Fairfax County voted in Virginia’s election.

The state is only of of two in the United States with statewide elections this year. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are vying for governor in what is expected to be a narrow contest, according to The New York Times. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is also running.

In the last election in 2013, turnout rested at 46.8 percent. With a little more than four hours before polls close, turnout this year sits at 30.6 percent, according to the county.

A record number of absentee ballots were cast this year, according to Fairfax County officials. More than 41,000 Virginians participated in early voting, up by roughly 61 percent from voting in 2013. Absentee voting was up in every jurisdictions in Virginia, except three, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit organization that provides information about local politics.

There are more than 684,041 active registered voters in Fairfax County. Throughout the day, voters trickled in at various polling sites throughout Reston and Fairfax County. By 10 a.m., nearly 16 percent or roughly 109,000 of registered voters already casted their ballot.

All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election. Fifty-five of those seats are contested.

Reston’s current Delegate, Democrat Ken Plum, is running without opposition in this election. Plum is currently serving his 36th year as the local Delegate for the 36th District, which includes Reston. Prior to his political appointment, he served for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher and administrator. Plum recently commented on his unopposed race for re-election in his weekly commentary.

Two candidates, Republican Jill Vogel and Justin Fairfax are running to replace Ralph Northam as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, a role which often presides over the State Senate, and has the power to break tie votes. The race for attorney general is between the current attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring, and his opponent, Republican John Adams.

The Board of Supervisors has asked residents to approve the sale of $315 million in bonds. If approved, the county has published a list of school improvement projects they would use the money to pay for.

The American Civil Liberties Union received multiple reports from Virginia voters who said that they received calls falsely saying their polling place had changed. The civil liberties organization advised voters to confirm polling locations at elections.virginia.gov and report any issues by calling the organization at 804-644-8080.

Polling stations are open through 7 p.m. Results can be viewed live at VPAP’s website or on the Fairfax County Government website.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Reston Released Voter Information on 25K Households

"I voted" sticker. (Photo via Flickr/vox efx)The partial voting records of Reston Association members were released by the group last week in response to a public records request by a member.

The RA says it released information on whether or not each of its 25,700 member households voted in the 2014 Board of Directors election. It also released members’ addresses, but omitted the substance of members’ votes and any other personal information.

The voter records were provided to RA member Irwin Flashman, a six-year resident, on Sept. 29. The RA says it was obligated to release the information under its bylaws and Virginia law.

Flashman said Monday that he wanted the records so he could analyze and try to boost the number of locals who cast their ballots.

“I want to increase voter turnout,” he said. “Something has to be done, and I think before you start doing anything, you need to know what happened.”

Fewer than 15 percent of Reston households cast votes in the March election in which three directors were chosen.

RA President Ken Knueven said the Association’s bylaws and Virginia law on property owners’ associations required the disclosure of the information.

“Under our bylaws and Virginia law, anything on record has to be provided,” Knueven said, adding that he wants Reston residents to know what was released and be comfortable with it.

“I believe voter records are confidential and should remain such,” he said. “We released only information we felt was not confidential.”

Flashman, who received a paper copy of the data, additionally requested an electronic version. The RA is reviewing that request and will discuss it at its full Board meeting Nov. 20.

Reston residents should want to know more about who votes, Flashman said.

“In a democracy, things are done out in the open,” he said. “The fact of voting should be an honor, not something you hide.”

Karen Goff contributed reporting.

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Fairfax County Voters Can Take New Machines For a Test Run

Fairfax County/Credit: Fairfax CountyThe Fairfax County Office of Elections is offering voters a chance to check out new voting machines to replace aging models.

The new machines will offer ease of use as well as accessibility for people with disabilities and for voters for whom English is not their primary language, said electoral board secretary Brian Schoeneman.

Want to go for a test drive? Here are two nearby opportunities on Friday Feb. 21:

  • Tysons Corner Center Mall, 2 to 4 p.m., Third floor food court
  • Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 6:45 to 8:30 p.m., lobby.

No advance notice or reservations are necessary.

“We have some critical decisions to make this year on purchasing new voting machines for our citizens,” Schoeneman says. “This is a rare opportunity to provide voters with a chance to test drive different voting machines and give input on what voting equipment will provide them with the best and most secure voting experience.”

After long waits in the 2012 Presidential Election, the county assembled a bipartisan Election Process Improvement Commission.  The commission issued its report last March, finding fault with aging Direct Electronic Recording Devices (DRE) machines.

The commission recommended that the county go to one system throughout the county, preferably one with electronically scanned ballots with an integrated system fully accessible to voters with disabilities.

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