Tysons Corner, VA

(Updated) Two months before the Fairfax County Democratic Primary, the race for the Providence District seat at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is shaping up to be an expensive race.

Since July, the Virginia Department of Elections reports that the candidates have raised:

  • Dalia Palchik: $92,041
  • Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner: $59,700
  • Erika Yalowitz: $35,718
  • Edythe Kelleher: $33,609
  • Linh Hoang: $15,941

While the campaign finance reports would show Palchik with a substantial fundraising lead, according to the report a $39,450 contribution was made on Jan. 15 from the “Friends of Dalia Palchik” campaign committee.

“As with some other races, I transferred funds I was raising under my prior account to my new account for Supervisor,” Palchik wrote in an email. “This was done after consultation with the Board of Elections as to the best way file my records. Therefore, all funds for my campaign are now under the new account, but the transfer reflects all of my funds raised to date, including those raised prior to Jan 15.”

If the funds shuffled from one campaign committee to another are excluded, Palchik’s fundraising total would be $52,591 — putting her in second place behind Niedzielski-Eichner.

The reports also show campaign contributions from several prominent local Democrats. On Dec. 21, Niedzielski-Eichner received an early Christmas gift from the ‘Friends of Linda Smyth’ — the campaign fund for outgoing Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth — in the form of a $23,325 contribution.

Palchik has also raked in funding from other Democrats, though, like a $500 contribution from outgoing County Board Chair Sharon Bulova’s election campaign on March 11. Palchik also received funding from Alexandria City Councilman Canek Aguirre.

Kelleher received $500 in support from Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross. Nearly two-thirds of Kelleher’s fundraising total — $20,000 of the $33,609 total — is from Kelleher.

No incumbent members of the Board of Supervisors show up in Yalowitz’s fundraising tally, but there is a $650 contribution from the local PAC Brass Ovaries and a $200 contribution from former lieutenant governor candidate Gene Rossi, who has recently raised the topic of running for office again in the wake of the scandals in Richmond. Yalowitz has also spent a total of $5,502 on her own campaign.

Hoang trails the other candidates in fundraising. Hoang entered the race late, and “Friends of Linh Hoang” doesn’t report any contributions prior to March 26.

The primary will be held on June 11.

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The Providence District is growing rapidly — in no small part because of Tysons — but a recurring theme at the debate between the Democrats running for the Board of Supervisors is that growth is leaving many in the area behind.

During a forum on April 1 at Jackson Middle School, the five candidates running to replace Supervisor Linda Smyth found themselves mainly in agreement on issues like affordable housing and Amazon coming to Arlington, though the solutions and concerns varied between candidates.

On affordable housing, School Board member Dalia Palchik said Fairfax County should be doing more to turn office vacancy into affordable housing.

“Other jurisdictions [are doing more] to repurpose offices into mixed-use housing,” Palchik said. “I want to make sure we are able to do it.”

Palchik also noted that Fairfax County’s affordable housing fund is only around $7 million while neighboring Arlington’s is around $25 million, though others like former Vienna Town Council Member Edythe Kelleher were more direct in saying the County may need a tax increase to pay for more affordable housing.

“It all starts with housing affordability,” said Kelleher. “People’s other burdens are related to that. I recommend another full penny [on the tax rate] for affordable housing.”

Erika Yalowitz, a candidate from the Tysons area, said the County might need to increase the tax rate by two or three pennies specifically to meet affordable housing needs. Yalowitz also said the County needed to do more to help make rezoning for potential residential properties easier.

Linh Hoang, a fairly new candidate to the race, said the County should do more to work with local churches and build on church properties.

Only Phil Niedzielski-Eichner, who currently represents the Providence District on the Planning Commission, urged some caution on how increasing the tax burden could inadvertently impact residents most in need of assistance.

“It’s resolvable through creativity and innovative investments,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “I like the ideas I’ve heard from my colleagues… but when we talk about increasing cost of taxes on homeowners, we have to bear in mind that there are homeowners who no longer have income coming in and they see property values increasing. There needs to be an attention paid to having those individuals cap their taxes.”

Niedzielski-Eichner noted that the crisis of affordable housing in Tysons was driven partially by an increasingly high demand — and cost — of land in the area.

It’s a topic that came up again when the discussion focused on a Fairfax County Public Schools plan to potentially build a new elementary school on Blake Lane Park near Vienna. All of the candidates, including Palchik, expressed doubts about the prospect.

“I understand the needs of schools but do not support building a school on Blake Lane Park,” Yalowitz said. “When a park is gone, it’s gone for good. Building onto parks is not the best way to build sustainable growth.”

Kelleher said that the site was proffered 42 years ago to be used as a school one day, but that it has since been used by the public as a park and should only be used as a school as an absolute last resort.

Finally, all of the candidates expressed a cautious enthusiasm for Amazon’s announcement of a large new office campus in Arlington.

“I think it’s really exciting that Amazon is coming to our region,” Hoang said. “It’s going to spur economic development, but we need to work with jurisdiction to bring those good jobs here.”

Niedzielski-Eichner said Amazon’s arrival was part of an essential economic diversification for an area he sees as overly reliant on the federal government for the vitality of the economy. But Niedzielski-Eichner also argued that the company’s arrival also puts lapses in the area’s infrastructure planning in the spotlight.

“But when we talk about growth, have to do it smart,” Niedzielski-Eichner said. “We have too wide a gap between when projects are approved and the infrastructure is built to support that project. Need to narrow the gap between development and infrastructure.”

Palchik also tied the question of Amazon’s impact in with earlier discussions on affordable housing.

“It will impact our economy but it will create new challenges,” Palchik said, “especially on the eastern side of Providence and especially when it comes to affordable housing.”

The primary will be held on June 11. The final voter registration deadline is on May 20.

Photo via Twitter

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of the most interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Monday (April 1)

Thursday (April 4)

Friday (April 5)

  • Board of Supervisors Breakfast — 7:30 a.m. at Fairview Park Marriott (3111 Fairview Park Dr) — Leadership Fairfax is presenting a breakfast with Fairfax County and regional leaders for a discussion with the Board of Supervisors regarding the state of the County. Tickets are $50 for class members, $75 for Leadership Fairfax members, and $100 for the general public.

Saturday (April 6)

  • Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Petting Zoo — 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church (1301 Trap Road) — The Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church is hosting a free Easter Egg hunt for children. Kids can bring their own basket or one will be provided. In addition to the egg hunt, a petting zoo will include rabbits, ducks, chickens, guinea pigs and a pig.
  • Art Blooms in Mosaic 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Mosaic District (2910 District Ave) — The Mosaic District is hosting a cherry blossom-themed event in partnership with the National Cherry Blossom Festival this Saturday and Sunday. Activities include a painting class focused on creating a cherry blossom vase and artwork from Torpedo Factory artists.

Sunday (April 7)

Image via Facebook

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If you’re a McLean resident with a passion for your community, you’re invited to run for the McLean Community Center’s (MCM) governing board.

The MCM is located at 1234 Ingleside Ave and reopened earlier this year after extensive renovations. The facility’s governing board is seeking local residents to run for a seat.

The governing board is composed of volunteers elected by the community to set policy, approve budgets and provide oversight for the center’s programs and facilities.

There are currently five openings on the board: three for adults and two for young people. Adults serve a three-year term and youths, who must be between 15-17 years old by “McLean Day” on May 18, serve a one-year term. All candidates must be residents of the McLean tax district.

To be considered for the seat, each candidate must obtain 10 signatures of endorsement from McLean residents. For teen candidates, those signatures must be from peers living in their high school area. Candidate petition packets are currently available at the McLean Community Center.

All candidates must have their information submitted by no later than 5 p.m. on March 15. McLean residents are then encouraged to come out to the McLean Day festivities on May 18 from 10:30 to 5 p.m. at Lewinsville Park to vote for their candidate of choice.

Adults vote for adult candidates only while youths vote for youth candidates. Absentee ballots can also be submitted from March 18 through May 15.

Photo via McLean Community Center

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Morning Notes

McLean Company’s $1 Billion Sustainability Plan — Candy maker Mars, Inc., based in McLean and the largest private company in Fairfax County, “has pledged to invest $1 billion over the next few years to support efforts involving renewable energy, food sourcing, cross-industry action groups and farmers.” [FCEDA]

Hunter Mill Candidates Skeptical of Development — “In the Hunter Mill District, home to both Reston and Vienna, current member Cathy Hudgins is retiring. The three declared candidates, thus far, all have platforms which argue the county has been too favorable to development.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Store Closing at Tysons Corner Center — Clothing retailer Charlotte Russe has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is reportedly closing nearly 100 stores, including its Tysons Corner Center location. [Fox 5]

Vienna Inn Anniversary — “The Vienna Inn sells over 10,000 of its famous chili dogs every month, so it wouldn’t be easy to tally all the chili dogs sales since its 1960 opening. What we do know is the Vienna Inn has been open for 59 years and will mark its anniversary in February.” [Patch]

Teen Charged for Menacing Video — “A video showing a masked figure pulling a gun out of the trunk of a car in front of Wakefield High School has led to an arrest and charges against a Falls Church teenager.” [ARLnow]

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Morning Notes

Another Tysons Firm Moving to Boro — “Alion Science and Technology Corp. is leaving one Tysons tower for another. The engineering firm, headquartered at Lerner Enterprises’ 1750 Tysons Blvd., has agreed to lease 16,000 square feet at Boro Tower… Alion will join KPMG LLP (roughly 168,000 square feet), Tegna Inc. (46,000 square feet), Hogan Lovells (44,500 square feet), and Womble Bond Dickinson (24,239 square feet).” [Washington Business Journal]

Weather Delays Silver Line Repairs — “Promised sealant for problem concrete panels at Silver Line stations due to open next year is on hold. The sealant is intended to prevent the panels, which were revealed last year to have an incorrect mix that could create problems, from deteriorating over coming decades.” [WTOP]

Tysons Development Quiz — “How much do you know about construction, leasing and development activity in Tysons? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.” [Bisnow]

Hunter Mill District Races — Two candidates are running for the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board, which is being vacated by incumbent Pat Hynes. Meanwhile, long-time Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins announced yesterday that she will retire after her term ends. [Reston Now, Reston Now]

Reminder: Drone Meeting Tonight — A meeting to discuss a comprehensive plan for Fairfax County’s use of drones, particularly for public safety, will take place tonight at the McLean District Governmental Center. [Tysons Reporter]

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The election to replace Linda Smyth as Providence district supervisor just turned into a four-way race — two veterans of Fairfax government have thrown their hats into the ring for the Democratic primary in June.

This week, Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner and former Vienna Town Councilmember Edythe Kelleher both announced that they will be running for the Smyth’s seat. The two join Tysons resident Erika Milena Yalowitz and School Board member Dalia Palchik, who announced last month that they would be running for the seat.

“I love the idea of participating in the defining of a new future for Fairfax,” said Niedzielski-Eichner . “It’s a great time for us to look for the future and make sure we’re on the right track. The second piece is we’ll have five new members and one new chairman. It’s critical we have strong leadership — leadership that I bring to the table based on breadth and depth of experience.”

Niedzielski-Eichner is a former Fairfax County School Board member and current planning commissioner. Niedzielski-Eichner was appointed to represent the Providence District in 2017.

“The Planning Commission provides the experience in land use and meeting those challenges, that’s the place where you really get an understanding of how land use impacts the county,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “But the Planning Commission advises, they don’t decide. I want to be in a position to be part of that decision process.”

Kelleher now lives 1.5 miles from where she did in the early 2000s, which shifts her from Vienna to the Providence District.

“A lot of the issues are the same,” said Kelleher. “I worked with a lot of Providence issues. Vienna is surrounded on three sides by the Providence District.”

Kelleher said her experience on the Town Council has given her unique executive decision-making experience. In particular, Kelleher said during her seven terms on the Town Council she was part of the budgetary decision making during the recession.

Tysons’ comprehensive plan is coming up on its 10-year anniversary, and both candidates said it’s time to take another look at the plan.

“We’ve had 10 years of comprehensive plans,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “I’d like us to get an assessment of where we are in relation [to what was planned].”

Niedzielski-Eichner said looking at the transportation aspect of the plan is going to be particularly critical, particularly in terms of implementing the planned grid of streets.

“[Tysons] has got to be a walking urban center,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “We need to strengthen our ability to be pedestrian friendly. That means putting public facilities in place for the center to grow around it. “

“My concern [with the plan] was at the time, and still, has to do with things like recreational space,” said Kelleher. “The original plan did not call for anything other than pocket parks and public plazas. I thought with an area that large, there would be a need for real playing fields. I expressed that and advocated for that, and that was included in the final plan.”

Kelleher noted that traffic issues also tie in with the availability of housing around Tysons. If more mixed-use buildings can be developed at a wider range of prices, Kelleher said more people working in Tysons will be able to live and shop there too, hopefully getting more cars off congested local streets.

Both candidates have said they are hoping to host kick-off events soon, but neither has concrete plans at the moment.

Photos via Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner (left) and Edythe Kelleher (right)

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The election is still a year away, but early endorsements for the Providence District Board of Supervisors race are starting to favor School Board member Dalia Palchik.

Earlier this month, Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth announced that she wouldn’t be running for reelection in 2019, igniting a race between Erika Milena Yalowitz, a Tysons resident and a board member of the Rotunda Condominium Unit Owners Association, and Palchik.

Palchik has been endorsed by retiring Board of Supervisors chair Sharon Bulova, according to a press release by Palchik:

“For the past three years, it has been my great pleasure to work with Dalia Palchik in her role on the Fairfax County School Board. Dalia‘s passion and dedication to things like early childhood education have brought energy and expertise to Fairfax County, but I have been most impressed by her willingness to listen, and work together to get things done. As Fairfax County grows and changes there will be challenges ahead, and Dalia Palchik has the right blend of progressive leadership and pragmatic experience to help the Fairfax County of tomorrow. I am proud to endorse Dalia Palchik for Providence District Supervisor.”

Among Virginia lawmakers, Palchik said she’d been endorsed by Sen. David Marsden (D-37th District), Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st District), Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd District), Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34th District), and Del. Danica Roem (D-13th District).

Leaders of the Democratic caucuses in both the Senate and the House of Delegates, Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35th District) and Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41st District), have also endorsed Palchik.

It’s still early in the race, but Yalowitz said she’s been focusing on getting endorsements from grassroots community leaders.

“I’m proud to have the endorsement of community leaders like Tania Hossain, who has been President of the Providence District Council, Fairfax Federation, repeated times, as well as of the Fairfax Committee of 100,” said Yalowitz in an email. “Some elected officials have ties and can’t make public their endorsement but community leaders represent grassroots movements and local people. That’s who I care about!”

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Morning Notes

McKay Running for BoS Chair — “Shortly after current Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova revealed in her monthly newsletter that she will not seek reelection, Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay announced on Dec. 6 that he is running to succeed her… ‘This campaign is about the future of our community,’ McKay said in explaining why he has decided to run for board chairman. ‘In this time of hateful rhetoric and divisiveness, we need to fight for all families and communities across Fairfax County.'” [Fairfax Times]

Lynda Smith Looks to Final Year on Board — “After nearly two decades of handling some of Fairfax County’s largest and most nettlesome land-use cases, Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) is ready to let someone else handle the burden. Smyth announced at the board’s Dec. 4 meeting that she would not seek another term next year… Smyth will spend her final year in office tying up a bunch of land-use cases.” [InsideNova]

Stanley Cup Visits McLean Private School — “Students at The Langley School recently ‘Rocked the Red’ when the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup trophy made a stop at the school as part of its victory tour celebrating the Washington Capitals’ 2018 championship win… The experience was made possible by Roger Mody, a Langley parent and co-owner for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, who arranged for the trophy to spend several hours at the school.” [Fairfax Times]

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(Updated 11:00 a.m.) Just days after the Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth announced she wouldn’t be running for reelection next year, at least two candidates have stepped forward in a competitive race to fill that seat.

Along with Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova also announcing her retirement and Supervisor John Cook’s earlier decision not to run, the Providence District race opens up a chance to see new leadership at the county level.

Erika Milena Yalowitz, a Tysons resident, Arlington County court officer and a board member of the Rotunda Condominium Unit Owners Association, formally announced her intention to run for Board of Supervisors in July at a launch event in the Tysons Biergarten. School Board member Dalia Palchik announced on Tuesday (Dec. 4) that she would also be running for the seat.

Both candidates have cited development’s impacts on infrastructure and schools as primary focuses of their campaigns, but there are still differences between the candidates. Yalowitz said her experience in the courts and with neighborhood associations gave her a well-rounded civic background, while Palchik said her experience as a teacher and within the School Board has given her experience in handling the schools as well as planning issues.

“This is a new era, I think we need a new vision,” said Dalia. “[We need to be] addressing needs of schools and kids. Land is tight… we have a lot of wealth as well as a lot of poverty.”

“She’s good as a school board member, but I feel I would be better at governing,” said Yalowitz. “I worked with the Fairfax County government from a human services perspective, and now as a court officer I have an understanding of issues about criminal justice.”

Yalowitz said her experiences with the Rotunda Condominium Unit Owners Association have given her experience in land use issues and working with the Tysons Partnership.

But Palchik said her experience on the School Board has given her broad exposure to the inner workings of Fairfax county government. Last night, Palchik spoke to Tysons Reporter after serving as the school board liaison to the Planning Commission.

“We are looking at the policy on the planning commission… regarding the ‘One Fairfax’ policy on how we handle schools through planning lenses,” said Palchik. “I don’t know that other members have direct experience in land use.”

Palchik said the gains of Tysons aren’t making their way to other parts of the district

“In our county, in Providence, we’re starting to see resegregation,” said Palchik. “We’re trying to figure out how to address that. Socioeconomic and racial resegregation are happening in Providence. How do we ensure that mixed income housing is affordable?”

Meanwhile, Yalowitz is part of the new population of the ever-growing Tysons, which she said gives her a unique insight over Palchik into the local infrastructure needs.

“I get the issue of density,” said Yalowitz. “I get the issue of growth, and the needs we are looking at for the future. Our schools are overcrowded. Our roads are overcrowded. I believe we can do better, I believe we can continue building for the future.”

Both candidates highlighted the need for Fairfax County to gain greater independence from state control, though over different issues. Yalowitz said Fairfax needs to gain greater control over it’s roads to be able to swiftly and reliably react to the infrastructure demands brought on by new development.

“Most of the roads in Fairfax are controlled by VDOT and we have no control,” said Yalowitz. “We make a bike lane and those lanes can be repainted by the state. Arlington doesn’t have that problem. Arlington owns most of its roads. We need to work with the state to change that. Tysons needs more autonomy.”

Palchik, meanwhile, said the Providence District could be a leader in renewable energy if it could free itself from state control.

“We have to work with the state to be more energy efficient,” said Palchik. “We’re limited in Virginia on what [localities] can do for solar energy, but we need to be more forward thinking with our carbon footprint.”

Whoever is elected to fill Smyth’s seat, Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said in an email to Tysons Reporter that managing how the new development in Tysons impacts the Providence district will be the biggest challenge.

“Tysons development will continue apace toward becoming a full-blown urban center and Supervisor Smyth’s successor must continue to press for diversity and creativity in building design, adequate public facilities to support a growing resident population, affordable housing units dispersed among high-density developments, open space for recreation and enjoyment, and a pedestrian-friendly infrastructure such as sidewalks, walkways across the broad thoroughfares and street lighting.”

Tysons Reporter also reached out to Edythe Kelleher, a former member of the Vienna Town Council, who, sources say, is considering a run for Board of Supervisors. But Kelleher said she was not prepared to comment.

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