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Vienna to hold public hearing on Town Council term lengths with elections moved to November

The Town of Vienna will hold a public hearing on Nov. 15 to receive feedback about possible changes to how many years a councilmember will serve.

It comes after a new state law ended all local May elections, shifting them to November. The Fairfax County Office of Elections previously said the move will improve voter turnout and save the town from paying certain election-related expenses.

Town council members and the mayor currently serve for two years, with three council seats opening every year and mayoral elections coming on even-numbered years.

Vienna residents will be able to weigh in on options the town has been considering for amending the elections section of its charter at the public hearing. They can also share their own ideas.

“Other options can be submitted by the general public,” town attorney Steven Briglia said at a town council meeting on Monday (Nov. 1). “It’s not limited to any one of the options [that have] been sort of discussed.”

Proposals have included the following:

  • No changes to the two-year term length
  • Three-year terms for the 2022 election before switching to four-year terms in 2023 and all elections thereafter
  • Three-year terms for 2022, then switch to two years for all seats with the 2023 election and subsequent elections
  • Two-year terms for three council seats and four-year terms for the other half of the council as well as the mayor

In the last scenario, candidates for the town council would choose whether they want to run for two years or four years.

Councilmember Chuck Anderson said the idea was inspired by an approach used by college boards. The council asked Briglia to investigate whether it would actually be allowed.

The proposals stem in part from a suggestion that the town should hold its elections on odd-numbered years. Councilmember Ed Somers said that would prevent the local races from getting caught up in national elections.

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