Tysons Corner, VA

Virginia residents have until right before midnight tonight (May 20) to register to vote for the June 11 primaries.

A total of 49 Republican and 45 Democratic primaries spanning the Virginia House of Delegates, Virginia Senate and local offices will be held on June 11. For Tysons-area residents, upcoming retirements have several spots open on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The Hunter Mill District, which covers Vienna and Reston, and the Providence District, which covers Tysons and Merrifield, both have five Democrats vying for the seats. The primary will also determine which of the four Democrats in the race for the Board of Supervisors chair will face Republican Joe Galdo in the November election.

People eligible to vote can register or update their voter information in person before 5 p.m. at a local registration office — the one for Fairfax County is at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323 — or online until 11:59 p.m.

Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone

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A free forum tonight (May 15) will question the Hunter Mill District Supervisor candidates just on the Town of Vienna.

Vienna Votes, a new voter outreach initiative in the Town of Vienna, will host the forum at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE) from 6-9 p.m.

Five Democrats have jumped into the race for the seat, which oversees Reston and Vienna. Cathy Hudgins, who currently holds the seat, announced her decision in January to retire after her current term ends.

Vienna Votes posted on Facebook that all five candidates have said they will participate in the forum. They are:

Vienna Votes was launched in March to help citizens have easy access to voting resources and information.

From Vienna Votes’ Facebook:

The Vienna Votes Project has organized this casual forum to hear what all five candidates on the ballot have to say about Vienna. Please join us this Wednesday, May 15th and, more importantly, remember to vote in June. High voter turnout signals to our elected officials that Vienna is an active and engaged population that will be paying attention!

The forum will consist of questions entirely about the Town of Vienna. That discussion will be held from 6:30-8:30 PM although some candidates will be available before and after for one-on-one conversations. Have other obligations that evening? This is a casual event and you are welcome to come in/out anytime between 6 PM and 9 PM.

The Democratic primary is June 11.

Second photo via Facebook

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The candidates running to become the next chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will debate each other on climate change, affordable housing, transportation and land use tonight (May 13).

Four Democrats and one Republican are vying for Sharon Bulova’s seat.

Republican Joe Galdo, a former Defense Department technology intelligence analyst who ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate, is the most recent addition. The Democratic candidates include Reston developer Timothy Chapman, Fairfax County School Board Member At-Large Ryan McElveen, Lee District Supervisor Jeffrey McKay and Georgetown Law Professor Alicia Edith Plerhoples.

Sharon Bulova announced her retirement decision back in December, adding to a growing list of supervisors who also decided not to seek re-election. In addition to the chairman, the seats for the Hunter Mill, Providence, Braddock and Lee districts are open to newcomers.

The Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions partnered with the Fairfax Healthy Communities Coalition for the debate ahead of the June 11 primaries. The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5.

The debate will be televised at 8 p.m. on Fairfax Public Access Channel 10’s Inside Scoop.

Photo via Facebook

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(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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Moments of cross-aisle praise are rare, but there was one in Tysons today (Friday).

Amid criticism of the state of national politics, in a speech at Fleming’s Steakhouse (1960 Chain Bridge Road), Sen. Mark Warner (D) took a moment to praise President Donald Trump for retaining funding for the Metro in his federal budget proposal.

“I was not pleased with President’s budget on a variety of items, but I was pleased — even though discretionary spending was cut — that it included $150 million for the Metro,” Warner said. “It’s very important that we retain that.”

Warner was in Tysons for the spring chairman’s luncheon with the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce to oversee the installation of the new board for the organization.

In some remarks after the installation, Warner spoke on a range of topics, from Facebook to the potential decline and fall of American capitalism.

Warner said regulation has been slow to keep up with companies like Facebook and Google, saying that in the face of the Russian interference through social media in the American elections it was time to take a look at more regulation.

“Today, 60 percent of Americans get all their news from Facebook and Google,” said Warner. “I wonder whether we need to start thinking about these platform companies as media. The content that comes to us across these platforms can be used to spread an enormous amount of lies. Facebook and Google have as much power as Standard Oil did at the beginning of the [20th century].”

Warner also noted that the way the military funded will have to evolve to face 21st century threats. Warner, the ranking member of the Committee on Intelligence, said that China and Russia spend less on their militaries than the United States but are investing more heavily in hacking.

“I worry we’re buying too much 20th century stuff when most of the conflict in the 21st century will be in cybersecurity, disinformation, and space,” said Warner. “Our peers are equal in those domains.”

More broadly, Warner reiterated earlier comments that American capitalism would have to evolve or face extinction.

“I don’t think modern American capitalism is working for our people,” Warner said. “It doesn’t mean you throw out the system, but it means we have to have an honest debate over what the economy that works for everyone looks like… If we don’t find an economy that gives people a fair shot, we’re going to end up with unease and people who will give up on the system.”

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While local representatives were quick to call for Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation over a blackface controversy, the public response has been slower to controversies involving Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District), who made headlines last year when she unseated Republican Barbara Comstock, expressed unequivocal support for Vanessa Tyson, who accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004.

Congressional Reps. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and Gerry Connolly (D-11th District) have been silent so far on the accusations against Fairfax.

Other local representatives, like State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st District), shared a neutral statement from VA Senate Democrats but have made no other public comment.

The National Organization for Women, however, did call for Fairfax’s resignation Wednesday.

Photo via Facebook

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This weekend is the long-awaited return of the McLean Chocolate Festival, returning for its eighth year to the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue).

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday, with attendees encouraged to arrive early for the best selections. Admission is $2 for adults and free for children three or younger.

Credit cards are accepted for admission and by most vendors, but attendees are encouraged to bring cash for faster transactions.

The Chocolate Festival is a fundraiser for the McLean Rotary Club, which redistributes proceeds to various other local organizations. The 2018 festival had over 2,500 attendees and raised over $14,000 to support local charities.

But if you’re not in the mood for chocolate or want to avoid the crowds, here are some other events around the Tysons area this weekend:

Saturday (Jan. 26)

  • Vienna 2019 Legislative Agenda (9:30-11:30 a.m.) — Sen. Chap Petersen and Del. Mark Keam will host a town hall meeting to discuss the latest news out of Richmond at the Town Hall Council Chambers (127 Center Street).
  • Providence Democrats 2019 Welcome Reception (12-2 p.m.) — With the Providence District seat on the Board of Supervisors up for grabs, it promises to be a busy year for local Democrats. A meeting at 8500 Executive Park Ave. in Merrifield tomorrow will be open to the public to help those interested in working on a campaign get connected to their candidate of choice. Food will be provided.
  • Legendary Artist Peter Max at Wentworth Gallery (7-9 p.m.) — The Wentworth Gallery in Tysons Galleria will open a new exhibit of art by Peter Max, an artist known for his psychedelic imagery.

Sunday (Jan. 27)

  • Rosebud Ireland Live at Caboose Commons (12-3 p.m.) Guitarist Rosebud Ireland will be performing at Caboose Commons near the Mosaic District.
  • Military Care Package Event (2-4 p.m.) — Seniors from throughout McLean and surrounding communities are invited out to the Vinson Hall Retirement Community (6251 Old Dominion Dr.) to help students from The Potomac School put together Valentine’s Day care packages for military service members. The event is free and open to the public.
  • Jackson Dean at Jammin Java (7 p.m.) — Country singer and songwriter Jackson Dean will be performing at Jammin Java this weekend. Tickets are $25. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Photo via Facebook

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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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Union Hill isn’t anywhere close to Tysons, but state Del. Mark Keam (D-35) is taking an active role in a fight against a controversial gas compressor station proposed to be built in Buckingham County neighborhood.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the State Air Pollution Control Board delayed a decision on whether or not to approve a piece of Dominion Energy’s $7 billion Atlantic Coast natural-gas pipeline.

The board voted 3 to 1 in favor of a delay in approval, but a new vote was not scheduled.

Staff from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality said at the meeting that the area around the compressor was sparsely populated and did not have historic resources of significance.

But local community members have repeatedly protested contested staff’s findings. Keam says he’s in the nearby residents’ corner and told Tysons Reporter there’s reason for concern in his home district.

“[Dominion] has used misleading data that covers a broader range,” said Keam, referring to a census cited in DEQ reports. “But if you go neighborhood to neighborhood, it shows that these [residences] are very close and more condensed. I went around there and I can tell you that there are houses within eyesight of this location.”

Keam’s assessment goes against the findings of DEQ staff, which reiterated at yesterday’s meeting that a failed attempt to have Union Hill recognized by the Department of Historic Resources further cemented staff’s findings that the area surrounding the proposed compressor station does not qualify for historic protections.

While DEQ staff said the broader census data shows no greater concentration of minorities than the rest of the state, local residents characterized Union Hill as a historic African-American neighborhood settled by freedmen and emancipated slaves following the Civil War.

Keam said staff’s findings are the result of understaffing and over-reliance on information provided by Dominion:

I’ve had deep concerns about this from the get-go. DEQ only has a few people that work on these things. Like most government agencies, they are overworked and understaffed… The fact that they have to rely on applicant, I understand that’s the process, but something like this that’s so controversial… it would really beg the question why DEQ isn’t spending more time looking into these issues. I’m hoping this will give everyone a chance to come to consensus. But it tells you, if they’re willing to overlook this, what else are they overlooking.

Keam acknowledged that he would still have been opposed to the compressor station even if it weren’t at Union Hill, pointing to concerns that the federal law authorizing the pipeline allowed Dominion Energy to cite its own affiliates as the customers when making a case for the pipeline’s economic necessity.

At the Atlantic Coast Pipeline website, Dominion Energy says the new pipeline will save consumers an estimated $377 million in energy costs, but Keam said existing underground pipelines are only being used at 50 percent capacity, so Keam said a new line won’t necessarily mean Northern Virginia will see a decrease in energy costs, but that Dominion Energy will push the costs to build the pipeline onto the consumer.

“Our power lines are fine,” said Keam. “It’s not going to have any impact on getting more or less power. But if Dominion is spending, eventually someone will have to pay for it, and that’s ratepayers like you and I. Whatever cost, they get to spread to its ratepayers.”

Finally, Keam argues that the placement of the various compressor stations, like one on Native American land in North Carolina, further shows the oppressive mechanisms at work behind the pipeline.

“You’re not going to see [this compressor station] in McLean or Tysons,” Keam said. “This is land they bought for pennies on the dollar where [the residents] are the descendants of slaves. It’s racial injustice.”

Photo via Twitter

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Morning Notes

Long Lines at Local Whole Foods — If you ordered turkey or anything else for Thanksgiving dinner from the Whole Foods Market in Idylwood Plaza, expect long lines this morning. [Instagram]

County Offices Closed for Holiday — Fairfax County Government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Also, the Fairfax Connector will be running on a modified holiday schedule both days. [Fairfax County, Fairfax County]

Turkey Frying Safety Tips — “Using a turkey fryer this year to cook your Thanksgiving dinner? Please make sure you fry the turkey and NOT your home!” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

‘Political Transformation’ in Fairfax Co. — “A group of younger candidates is gathering in the wings, frustrated by crowded classrooms, traffic congestion and the rising cost of living in the county of 1.1 million — Virginia’s most populous jurisdiction and its undisputed economic engine.” [Washington Post, Erika Yalowitz]

Holiday Stroll Planned in Vienna — “The 22nd annual Church Street Holiday Stroll is slated for Monday, Nov. 26 along historic Church Street in Vienna. Santa is expected to glide into the area on a 1946 fire truck at 6:15 p.m., then help Mayor Laurie DiRocco light the holiday tree at 6:20 p.m.” [InsideNova]

Big New Development for West End of Falls Church — “The development team of EYA, PN Hoffman and Regency Centers was chosen by the Falls Church City Council Monday night to orchestrate a dense and diverse $500 million development of 10.3 acres of City-owned land where its George Mason High School currently sits,” near the West Falls Church Metro station. [Falls Church News-Press]

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