The two candidates vying for the Providence District seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors faced off last night at the Providence District Community Center.
The League of Women Voters, who hosted the debate, encouraged attendees to submit questions for Democratic Dalia Palchik and Republican Eric Jones, and the candidates didn’t hesitate to disagree when it came to the hot-button issues of the evening.
They compared thoughts on the importance of census data, budgets, sanctuary counties, immigration, renewable energy, panhandling and firearm regulation throughout the evening. Here are some highlights from the debate:
Affordable Housing and a Rising Cost of Living
When it comes to the panhandling in Fairfax County, Jones said people struggling financially in the area should move elsewhere in the country where the cost of living is lower, like Ohio.
“It’s very expensive to live here. there are other places where it’s not so expensive to live,” Jones said. “To some degree, it is simply a choice [on where to live.]”
Palchik took another approach. “I support that we took a step back and said, ‘No, we are not going to criminalize panhandling,'” she said, adding that the county should work to ensure there is enough affordable housing and job security.
On the topic of affordable housing, Palchik said she is looking into coordinating with faith-based organizations to expand affordable housing options, especially for seniors.
Dalia said she wants to focus on fighting for fair wages for county employees, while Jones said he would rethinking policies for zoning and regulation to help small businesses.
Immigration and the Census
Immigration and the U.S. Census were popular topics during the debate.
Palchik said she was pleased when the citizenship question was removed from the census, saying that it encourages more participation. Without responses accurately representing the population of the district, the county would lose out on tax revenue that benefits the community, she said.
“We still have families who fear coming to school to sending their kids to preschool or going to a food pantry, because they are afraid we are collaborating and sharing their information with police,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jones said he believes undocumented immigrants are a danger to the community. “I am especially against sanctuary countries,” he said. “These are especially harmful to our legal immigrants.”
During his time with the U.S. State Department, Jones said he conducted interviews for the immigration process and granted thousands of people citizenship or permanent resident status.
“I believe we should cooperate completely with federal authorities,” he said.
One of the largest issues the candidates clashed on was the implementation of renewable energy. Palchik seemed to be in full support while Jones said the cost would outweigh the benefits.
“I think the so-called New Green Deal is unrealistic,” Jones said, referring to the Green New Deal. “You cannot run the Metro system on wind power, solar power and batteries.”
Instead, he told the audience that he believes in natural gas and nuclear power.
Palchik shifted the conversation, noting her endorsement by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups around the area. Palchik pointed to her time on the Fairfax County School Board, where she launched a joint environmental taskforce with the school board, students and Board of Supervisors.
She said that, if elected, she will be spending time in Richmond working to eliminate solar energy roadblocks.
New Republican Candidate
Jones was a new face for voters. After candidate Paul Bolon’s death in August, Jones was chosen as the new conservative candidate to run against Palchik.
“I’m running to give voters a choice in Providence District,” Jones said during his opening statement. “I wish my friend Bolon was here today.”
Palchik gave her respects after the debate. “I want to thank Mr. Jones for stepping up, I know it was a tragedy.”
The election is on Nov. 5.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Work may start on a new underground power line running through Tysons before the end of the year.
The existing load on power lines from the Tysons and McLean areas is expected to exceed 300 megawatts by 2022, according to Dominion Energy. The new power line will keep Dominion under the limits.
To make sure there’s enough power, Dominion is building an additional power source to avoid violating mandatory standards.
At a meeting last night (Tuesday) at Kilmer Middle School, Dominion officials said that construction is set to kick off in November or December — depending on the weather and when permits get approved — for the Idylwood-Tysons 230 kilovolt (kV) Project.
The project will add a new 4-mile-long transmission line underground, running under the W&OD Trail by I-66 and I-495 before heading up Gallows Road to International Drive in Tysons .
Commuters and pedestrians can expect lane closures along Gallows Road and International Drive in Tysons when construction starts.
Specific dates for the construction schedule and closures have not been determined yet, an engineer for the project told Tysons Reporter. People can expect an interactive online map, which will show what’s been completed and what’s under construction.
“People who live and work in the area will most likely be impacted by the construction,” Peggy Fox, a Dominion spokesperson, said. “We do not expect to interrupt service to our electric customers.”
Currently, the bidding process is underway for the project’s contractor. The final cost will be determined once the contractor is selected — the estimated cost right now is roughly $120 million.
The State Corporation Commission approved the project last fall.
The project is expected to be completed by late 2022, with rehabilitation work going into 2023.
Dominion Energy is making repairs and installing equipment in the Town of Vienna to prevent a power surge like the one that affected several neighborhoods shortly after midnight last Tuesday (July 2).
“According to our information from Dominion, the surge was caused when, shortly after midnight on July 2, an old cross-arm broke causing a high voltage line to dip into a low voltage line,” Lynne Coan, a spokeswoman for the Town of Vienna, told Tysons Reporter.
When the cross-arm broke, the high voltage line dipped into a low voltage line.
Dominion Energy crews repaired the cross-arm and have plans to install “overvoltage arresters” to prevent similar events in the future, she said.
In a Facebook post on Friday (July 5), the Town of Vienna wrote that the southwest area of town experienced “overvoltage or an extreme electrical surge similar to a lightning strike.”
Coan said that the surge affected more than 100 homes, including the King Crest, Vienna Woods and Willow Estates neighborhoods.
Several people claiming to be victims of the power surge wrote under the town’s Facebook post about how the surge impacted them.
“We lost one of our A/C units, our refrigerator/freezer, humidifier, a TV, about four outlets and our washer,” one person wrote. “We were out on vacation last week and came back to this mess.”
Another wrote that the surge “blew a breaker fuse and my $100 Keurig wouldn’t work.”
Tysons Reporter has not heard back from Dominion Energy about questions including how strong the surge was.
Residents who wish to file a claim for damaged electrical appliances can call 1-866-366-4357.