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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Police Bust International Burglary Ring — “The pattern was quickly becoming familiar to Fairfax County police: an expensive home; Asian or Middle Eastern residents; a rear door or window smashed; and jewelry and luxury goods taken but expensive electronics left untouched.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 Lane Closures in Vienna Start Tomorrow — I-66 East will be reduced to a single travel lane approaching Cedar Lane in Vienna during overnight hours, starting at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Lasting until 5 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 20), the closures will allow workers to install bridge beams for a new access ramp to the future I-66 Express Lanes. [VDOT]

FCPS Turns to College Students for Substitute Teachers — Fairfax County Public Schools has opened substitute teaching positions to college students in a response to high vacancy rates. The school system’s substitute teacher fill rate is typically about 80%, but it has hovered around 70% during the pandemic, dropping to 55-60% during the current COVID-19 surge. [WTOP]

Original Fairfax County Chief Fire Marshal Dies — “It is with great sadness that the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department announce the passing of retired Fire Administrator, and first Chief Fire Marshal, Willis H. “Bill” Burton, Jr. Chief Burton passed away peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by family, on Sunday, January 9 at the age of 91.” [FCFRD]

Electoral Board Gets New Member — “Christopher P. Henzel was recently appointed and sworn in by the Fairfax Circuit Court as a member of the Fairfax County Electoral Board for a three-year term. He replaces Steve Hunt, whose term ended after serving eight years on the board.” [Fairfax County Government]

McLean Central Park Revision Meeting Set — “The public is invited to attend an information meeting on the McLean Central Park Development Concept plan on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held online so that members of the public can participate safely and conveniently from their homes.” [FCPA]

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Morning Notes

Tysons Area Hit With Spree of Gas Station Burglaries — One or more individuals forced entry and took merchandise from three different gas stations in the Tysons area between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. last Thursday (Nov. 18), according to the Fairfax County Police Department’s latest weekly recap. A fourth station — a Shell at 2084 Chain Bridge Road — experienced a break-in, but nothing was taken. [FCPD]

Vienna Town Council Approves Election Changes — “It was a pill they didn’t want to swallow, but Vienna Town Council members approved a resolution Nov. 15 asking the General Assembly next year to alter the town’s election schedule so all Council members’ seats will be up for two-year terms starting in November 2023.” [Sun Gazette]

Man Arrested in Falls Church Sexual Assault — “City of Falls Church Police said that Alexander McKnight, 31, was arrested in Maryland on Thursday night. McKnight has been charged with rape and malicious wounding, among other charges, police said. He has no fixed address, a news release stated.” [Patch]

Wolf Trap National Park Releases Environmental Assessment on Improvements — “To better meet the needs of current and future visitors, we’ve proposed several changes to the park’s general management plan — the plan that guides park management decisions. You’re invited to submit your feedback from Nov. 18 through Dec. 30.” [National Park Service]

Tysons Library Book Sale Seeks Volunteers — “Volunteers are being sought to assist with the Tysons Library Friends quarterly book and media sale, to be held Dec. 3-5 at Tysons Pimmit Regional Library. Donations of books and media for the sale also are being solicited, with proceeds benefiting the library and related activities.” [Inside NoVA]

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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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Morning Notes

Virginia Leans Red Again — “In blow to Democrats, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s high-profile election for governor Tuesday, NBC News projects, flipping control of a state that President Joe Biden won handily just a year ago and suggesting trouble for his party in next year’s midterm elections.” [NBC News]

Limited Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids Expected — Demand for pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations could outstrip supply, as in the early days of the vaccine’s rollout. The Fairfax County Health Department urges patience as it anticipates about 80,000 of the county’s 97,000 children aged 5-11 to seek out the vaccine in the next few months. [The Washington Post]

Vienna Police Participate in No-Shave November — “Typically, Vienna police officers have to follow a dress code that doesn’t allow male officers to have facial hair. This November, that rule will be suspended so officers can raise awareness about prostate cancer for the Grow-and-Give fundraising campaign.” [Patch]

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Coming to Tysons — “We are delighted to team up with the @vmfamuseum to host their Artmobile outside @capitalonehall’s Box Office November 17th & 18th! Join us for a FREE exhibit of A View from Home: Landscapes of Virginia. Link in bio for more!” [Capital One Center/Instagram]

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(Updated at 10:30 p.m.) While the Republican Party made headway in today’s heavily watched statewide races, Democrats have maintained their hold on Fairfax County, including in the Tysons area.

According to unofficial election results, incumbents Kathleen Murphy, Mark Keam, Rip Sullivan (District 48), and Marcus Simon (District 53) all won their delegate races.

Murphy, whose 34th District includes parts of McLean and the Wolf Trap area of Vienna, defeated businessman Gary Pan for a second time after they previously faced off in 2019. As of 10 p.m., Murphy led with approximately 58.7% of the vote compared to Pan’s 41.2% — almost the exact same split that they saw two years ago.

“I have represented the values of my constituents and have fought for the issues that matter most to the 34th District,” Murphy said in a statement. “I am grateful that they have sent me back to Richmond to fight for them. Thank you again for putting your faith in me to deliver on our priorities and build on the progress that we have made for the people of the Commonwealth.”

Keam cruised to victory in the 35th District, where he will represent the Town of Vienna, Tysons, and Oakton in the House of Delegates for a sixth term. He led Republican nominee Kevin McGrath with just under 70% of the vote, though 10 of the district’s 22 precincts have not reported results yet.

Sullivan and Simon saw even wider margins of victory.

In the 48th District, which includes southern McLean but predominantly lies in Arlington County, Sullivan beat Republican nominee Edward Monroe with 73% of the electorate, including approximately 66.7% of Fairfax County voters, according to the county’s unofficial returns.

Monroe, a science teacher who lives in McLean, was the first person from either major party to challenge Sullivan since he was originally elected to office in 2014.

Simon will serve a fourth term as delegate for the 53rd House District after garnering the support of 73% of voters in Merrifield, Idylwood, and Falls Church compared to 26.7% for restaurant manager Sarah White, who was the first Republican candidate in the district since Simon’s initial election in 2015.

With all 247 Election Day precincts reporting results just before 10:15 p.m., Fairfax County’s unofficial returns indicate a 53% voter turnout in line with the 50 to 60% turnout predicted by election officials.

More than 170,000 ballots were cast prior to Election Day — 23% of the overall turnout, according to the Fairfax County Office of Elections.

County spokesperson Brian Worthy confirmed reports that workers have to rescan approximately 20,000 ballots that were cast early in person. As of 9:45 p.m., 7,100 of those ballots had been tallied.

Four of the 38 machines that the county used at its early voting sites “had corrupted electronic media” where the votes were recorded, according to Worthy.

“The updated results report on the county website will continue to be updated as we get these additional ballots scanned in,” he said.

Fairfax County voters supported Democrats Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, and Mark Herring in the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general races, respectively, though the majority of Virginians favored Republican nominees Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Fairfax County voters also approved public school bonds for renovation projects by a 70% to 30% margin.

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Louise Archer Elementary School (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County voters will face a one-question test on Election Day tomorrow (TuesdaY0, where they’ll decide whether to fund 15 school projects, including three in the Tysons area.

The 2021 school bond referendum includes renovations for two high schools (Centreville and Falls Church) and 12 elementary schools, plus a site acquisition for a future Western High School.

If approved, the ballot question would allow Fairfax County Public Schools to spend up to $360 million in bond revenue, but the district suggests in an informational packet that the additional bonded debt for the county would not significantly affect local taxes.

Louise Archer Elementary School

One project covered by this year’s referendum is the modernization and expansion of Vienna’s Louise Archer Elementary School (324 Nutley St. Northwest), which was last renovated in 1991.

Bond proceeds would provide $37 million to replace two temporary classrooms and 10 modular classrooms, which consist of two trailers and a 66-foot by 180-foot modular space, among other upgrades.

“It’s a major renovation, and it’s phased, so every finish, every ceiling tile, every electrical outlet, every mechanical system, it’s a complete…gut and renovation as well as addition, so it’s a total redo,” senior project manager Brad Pierce with Reston-based Architecture, Inc. told the Vienna Board of Architectural Review on Oct. 19.

The transformation will expand the school form nearly 53,000 square feet of space, plus nearly 12,000 square feet of temporary setups, to over 103,000 square feet. Most of the additional space would come through a new second-story addition constructed behind the existing school.

Plans for the project also call for expanding the parking lot and bus loop, bringing a new playground and basketball courts, repurposing the current cafeteria for the library, adding a stage off the school gymnasium, and creating a community room.

The project could finish in 2025.

Falls Church High School

The referendum would also provide $130 million to increase Falls Church High School’s building area (7521 Jaguar Trail) by nearly 41.6%, from 303,413 square feet to 429,596 square feet.

The additions include science classrooms, administrative offices, library, music rooms, and more for the building, last renovated in 1989.

“The construction will occur in phases to allow for continuous use of the school building,” FCPS says on a project website. “The renovation will take approximately four years to complete.”

Mosaic Elementary School

Mosaic Elementary School (formerly known as Mosby Woods, located at 9819 Five Oaks Road) is also set for a renovation. The $38 million renovation would add approximately 37,000 square feet, bringing the school to 110,000 square feet.

The school currently has eight temporary and 10 modular classrooms.

The projects up for school bond money were selected from the 2022-2026 Capital Improvement Program. More information about the 2021 referendum can be found on the FCPS website.

Photo via Google Maps

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The battle for House District 53 is between Republican nominee Sarah White, left, and Del. Marcus Simon, right (courtesy Sarah 4 VA, Friends of Marcus Simon)

Editor’s Note — With all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates on the ballot, Tysons Reporter is running Q&A-style profiles of the races in the Tysons area this week ahead of the general election next Tuesday (Nov. 2). The candidates’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.

The 53rd House District is relatively compact, encompassing Pimmit Hills, Idylwood, Merrifield, the City of Falls Church, and West Falls Church down to Woodburn.

Incumbent Del. Marcus Simon had not faced a Republican challenger since he was first elected to office in 2015, though independent Mike Casey obtained just under 25% of the vote in 2017. This time, he has an opponent in restaurant manager Sarah White, who won the Republican Party’s nomination at its convention in April.

Who are you?

Simon: I believe that every person has a sacred duty to work to repair the world. That’s the way I try to live my life, and that is where my commitment to public service comes from.

Early in my public service career, I served as an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and also as a part time Special Assistant United States Attorney. In 2008, I co-founded the Law Firm of Leggett, Simon, Freemyers & Lyon and EKKO Title, a real estate settlement, title, and escrow company.

First elected to the House in 2013, I’m proud to serve as Secretary and Parliamentarian of the House Democratic Caucus as well as on four House Committees: Courts of Justice, General Laws, Rules and as chair of Privileges & Elections.

As a life-long resident of Fairfax County, my wife Rachel and I love raising our kids in such a welcoming community.

White: I manage a few restaurants here in Northern Virginia and have been in the industry for most of the last 20 years.

I love to be involved in the community and that is why I am a member of Rotary Club of Fairfax, National Association of Women Business Owners, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association, several Chambers of Commerce, and a board member for Visit Fairfax to name a few.

What would you cite as your top accomplishments of the past term?

Simon: We’ve accomplished so much in the past two years with a Democratic majority. I’m most proud of our work to expand voting rights, to protect our communities with common sense gun violence prevention initiatives, to address the student loan debt crisis, and to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

As Chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee, I oversaw moving Virginia up 37 spots in the nation for “ease of voting.” During the special session last fall, we passed a package of criminal justice reform legislation, including my bipartisan bill to hold “bad apple” police accountable by closing loopholes in officer decertification.

Why are you running?

White: I decided to run for office after seeing how divisive things have become in politics. I want to unite people. We need to get back to advocating for our community and away from party line politics where there is a winner and a loser. We need people in office who are willing to work together across party lines to do what needs done. My litmus test for policy: Is it good for District 53? Read More

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48th House District Republican nominee Edward Monroe, left, and Del. Rip Sullivan, right (courtesy Monroe for 48th, 48th House District Office)

Editor’s Note — With all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates on the ballot, Tysons Reporter is running Q&A-style profiles of the races in the Tysons area this week ahead of the general election next Tuesday (Nov. 2). The candidates’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.

While the 48th House District is primarily situated in Arlington, it also includes southern McLean between the Dulles Toll Road and Old Dominion Drive.

A science teacher who lives in McLean, Republican nominee Edward Monroe is the first person from either major party to challenge Del. Rip Sullivan since the current House Democratic Caucus chair won the 48th District seat in a special election in 2014.

Who are you?

Sullivan:

  • Raised and attended public schools in Northern Virginia, along with his wife, Beth. They have four children and four grandchildren.
  • Graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a law degree from the University of Virginia
  • Partner in the law firm Bean Kinney & Korman, P.C., in Arlington
  • Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
  • Served as House Democratic Caucus Campaign Chair in 2017 and 2019, during which the party took control of both the House and Senate
  • Chairs subcommittees that deal with energy, corporate and individual income tax bills, and judge elections for all Virginia courts

“As a Delegate, Rip has fought every year to encourage the growth of Virginia’s clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, promote access to the ballot box, protect and advance LGBTQ rights, and de-politicize the redistricting process,” Sullivan’s office said.

Monroe:

  • Born and raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, the youngest of three
  • Joined the U.S. Peace Corps after college
  • Has a nearly 20-year teaching career across Maryland, D.C, and Virginia
  • A former Fulbright Fellow who is currently earning a graduate degree in education leadership
  • Assisted in the General Election of 2020 as an Elections Officer at a local precinct

“As a husband and father, I am engaged in my faith-based community and have supported youth sports through coaching and officiating,” Monroe said. “My focus is on representation, education, and a responsive energy infrastructure.”

What would you cite as your top accomplishments of the past term?

Sullivan: During the 2020 session, Rip introduced the historic Virginia Clean Economy Act to advance the Commonwealth’s clean energy sector and promote energy efficiency and a life-saving “Red Flag” law to curb gun violence before a single shot is fired, among other significant pieces of legislation. Rip worked diligently with stakeholders and his colleagues to ultimately ensure that these landmark bills became law.

Why are you running for office?

Monroe: For me, the value of community service and representation became clear in my experience with the US Peace Corps. As a volunteer, I witnessed first-hand the difficult transitions underway in southeastern Europe, from command and control to participatory democracy. I was struck by the importance of good representation, provided by dedicated individuals who simply took seriously the interests of their communities.

Now, at home in the 48th District, I recognize the difficult conversations necessary for finding a path forward on a variety of topics. I am running as a Republican in a District that for a number of years has had only one candidate on the ballot. If we believe that our system of government is of high quality, then we need to take steps to fully utilize it. I am thankful for having the opportunity to do my part. Read More

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35th House District Republican nominee Kevin McGrath and incumbent Del. Mark Keam (courtesy McGrath 4 VA, Mark Keam)

Editor’s Note — With all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates on the ballot, Tysons Reporter is running Q&A-style profiles of the races in the Tysons area this week ahead of the general election next Tuesday (Nov. 2). The candidates’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.

The 35th House District covers Tysons south of the Dulles Toll Road and extends to Fair Lakes, including the Town of Vienna and Oakton.

The district has voted Democratic since 2003, with incumbent Del. Mark Keam as its delegate since 2010. He has a challenger for the seat for the first time since 2013 in Republican nominee Kevin McGrath, a former CIA employee.

Who are you?

Keam:

I was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, and my interest in seeking reelection today is the same as when I first sought this position: I believe in our democracy and the civic process, and I want to help solve some of the problems facing our state, rather than simply sit on the sidelines and complain about them.

I have devoted my professional career to public service and worked in federal, state, and local governments as well as with dozens of nonprofit organizations. I also believe in the power of the private sector to improve our quality of life and their socially responsible roles in making our society better.  That is why I have worked with both start-ups and large companies to do good while doing well.

McGrath:

I am a native Northern Virginian. Born in Columbia Hospital for Women in Washington, DC, I grew up in Mosby Woods in Fairfax and attended school there for most of 1st through 12th grades. I graduated from Oakton High School, and then from Virginia Tech with a BA in Political Science. After graduating from Tech, I worked for the CIA for 30 years and retired 6 years ago.

I have served my community in many ways. My passion is coaching youth sports and I have enjoyed coaching Vienna youth baseball, soccer, and basketball for 20 years. I have also been involved with my parish church, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Vienna, volunteering and raising funds over the years. And yes,  I am still a Washington Redskins fan.

What would you cite as your top accomplishments of the past term?

Keam: As a state legislator, one of my priorities is addressing climate change by helping Virginia transition from finite and polluting sources of energy to cleaner and renewable sources. I’ve drafted several bills that became law to reach these goals, including expanding rooftop solar for consumers, banning offshore drilling, promoting electric vehicles, and requiring environmental justice analysis. During the most recent legislative session, I passed a bill to create a new state fund that will help schools convert their diesel school buses to electric models.

Why are you running for office?

McGrath: I follow politics and I know how important the results of elections can be. After the November 2020 election chaos, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and run for office. Regardless of how this election works out, I feel it is my duty as an American to try and stop the madness that our current politicians have recently shown. Read More

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House District 34 Republican nominee Gary Pan and incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy (courtesy Pan for Virginia, 34th District office)

Editor’s Note — With all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates on the ballot, Tysons Reporter is running Q&A-style profiles of the races in the Tysons area this week ahead of the general election next Tuesday (Nov. 2). The candidates’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Represented by incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy since 2015, the 34th House District encompasses most of McLean and the Wolf Trap area of Vienna, stretching west into Potomac Falls in Loudoun County.

Currently vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Murphy won her party’s June 8 primary and is now vying for reelection against Republican nominee Gary Pan, president and CEO of the information technology firm Panacea Consulting.

Who are you?

Murphy:

  • Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
  • Member of the House Finance Committee, General Laws Committees, and vice chair of the Transportation Committee.
  • Founder of the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus and former co-chair of the Safe Virginia Initiative
  • A member of the Military and Veterans Caucus and the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus
  • Created the Rare Disease Caucus

Pan:

  • 34th District resident for over 20 years with wife and three sons
  • Started multiple successful businesses in IT consulting
  • Serves on boards for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Great Falls Citizen Association, and Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
  • Received bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Lehigh University and MBA from Virginia Tech
  • Named a Lord Fairfax honoree in 2017
  • Currently serves as a Scoutmaster and president of the Rotary Club of Great Falls

What would you cite as your top accomplishments of the past term?

Murphy: This past session in Richmond, the Democratic majority delivered on the issues and values that matter most to our constituents. We passed legislation to support Virginia’s families and businesses through the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we expanded access to affordable healthcare, and we raised teacher pay.

I have strong support from our community for my efforts to make gun violence prevention a priority. Having lost my brother to gun violence, this issue is personal to me. In the last two sessions, we have delivered stronger background checks, a bill to allow school boards to ban guns on school property, a ban on plastic or 3D-printed “ghost guns,” and a ban on guns in the Capitol and other state buildings. Most notably, we passed my bill, H.B. 1995, a landmark bill to keep guns out of the hands of violent domestic abusers.

Additionally, I passed a bill to create the Rare Disease Council. Having recently lost a child to a rare disease, I am acutely aware of the challenges these families face.

Why are you running for office?

Pan: I love this community and I don’t think it’s getting the representation it deserves. Even with the vast array of issues facing the constituents of the 34th, our current delegate repeatedly chooses her party over the best interest of the district. I couldn’t stand by and watch. The pendulum has swung way too far to the left thanks to one party rule in Richmond. Read More

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