Ahead of the Town of Vienna’s election this year, Tysons Reporter asked the candidates to answer the following questions and also submit a short biography. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. We are publishing the Q&As this week in the order we received the responses.
Featured here is Linda Colbert, who is running for the mayor’s seat.
Bio: I am an independent candidate running for Mayor because I love my hometown and the people who make it so special. I understand and cherish the history of our Town and I will fight to keep Vienna unique amidst a metropolitan area.
Nearby, Tysons is urbanizing. How do you think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change in response to Tysons’ growth?
I do not think the Town of Vienna’s identity should change because of Tyson’s growth. We are a special community and I will fight to keep it that way. Our uniqueness is rooted in our traditions, history and volunteers. Our main street needs to improve. We need to make it more walkable and more vibrant. Vienna should be a place were businesses come and thrive. The town should work with them to ensure our vision for that investment is shared and trusted.
As mayor, would you pledge to A) declare a climate emergency and B) support a council vote for the Town of Vienna to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045?
I do not think that the council can bind future councils to a promise like that so it would only be symbolic. Mayors have limited powers as Virginia is a Dillon Rule State. As mayor, I would lead the town in setting an example of being a good steward of its environment.
The town can certainly do things to cut carbon emissions and it should. The physical structure of our buildings have the potential to lock away carbon. The town should retrofit old buildings and require standards for new ones. Types of materials used, green walls and roofs, and green space with trees and landscaping are things that can help reduce carbon.
Parking garages are beneficial in two ways. First, they require less ground covered in concrete than surface parking lots. Second, they could provide a place to park once and walk to nearby destinations as opposed to parking and driving to every destination.
The Vienna Community Center received gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) so that is a goal for future buildings.
What are your solutions to Maple Avenue congestion and cut-thru traffic in neighborhoods?
Keeping traffic flowing on Maple Avenue helps keep cars out of neighborhoods. Real time traffic signaling is being implemented as a way to keep cars moving and the town should continuously be re-evaluating that technology.
As the Vienna representative to the Greater Tysons Citizens Coalition, I am continuously working with Fairfax County to ensure the county helps mitigate traffic produced by Tysons. I would work with the town’s new traffic engineer and look into innovative ways to calm traffic and keep it flowing on Maple Avenue.
Providing sidewalks in town also can reduce traffic as it gets people out of their cars. The town received a generous monetary gift from the late Councilmember Maud Robinson, which was designated for sidewalks. I would prioritize the installation of sidewalks on the busiest streets, on streets leading to bus stops, schools, downtown and other places of interest.
How would you work with Natalia Monkou to boost economic development in the town?
Hiring Natalie Monkou as the economic development manager for the town has already proven to be a wise decision. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, she was meeting with town businesses to determine what their needs were and how best to help them.
I would work with her and the finance department and council to develop methods to support our Town businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic. She has also been able to work with businesses and guide them through processes like applying for small business loans.
I would also work with Natalie during the redevelopment plan for Maple Avenue. I would like to look at ways to bring businesses into town as well as help determine ways to support our current businesses.
What are your ideal height and building sizes for developments in the Maple Avenue Ordinance?
Our town should be a welcoming community where people of all ages want to live, shop, walk, bike and drive safely. I will look for ways to make improvements and to offer amenities and housing options for all. We must preserve and increase green space and trees and I will look for sustainable ways to ensure the health and welfare of our environment and community.
The design for Maple Avenue is very important and I want to bring Vienna together on this topic. We all agree that we want to keep Vienna unique amid a large metropolitan area. I envision a mixture of one to three or four storied buildings with nice architecture. My vision is a walkable, vibrant main-street that is economically feasible and provides a beautiful, safe, and thriving business district that residents will use with pride.
Some residents are concerned about town officials’ transparency and the public’s ability to comment on proposals. Do you think this is an issue? How will you ensure people understand what is going on and are able to engage on topics that matter to them?
Transparency and trust go hand in hand. Every councilmember needs to follow state requirements for ethics and financial disclosures. The town needs to be transparent and inform and engage residents during the process of making big town decisions.
I will improve communication between the town and its residents both by providing easily accessible information and upgrading how the Town receives feedback from the community when making town decisions. I want every resident to know that their voice is being heard. As your mayor, one of my top priorities will be to ensure that we are One Vienna, working together to make our town stronger and even more vibrant. Our decisions are not black and white. I do not ever want to divide our town. I want to unite our town. #OneVienna
Photo courtesy Linda Colbert