Editor’s note — The candidate bios below come from their responses to requests for comment from Tysons Reporter. Any candidate who wishes to add to their entry can email [email protected]

The Falls Church City Council and School Board races will have crowded fields for limited openings this November.

After the filing deadline closed earlier this week, the city council has six candidates for four seats, and the school board has nine candidates for four seats. Terms for each are for four years.

One question hovering over the general election, which is set for Nov. 2, is whether early voting returns will be similar to the jump in 2020 or return to pre-pandemic levels, Falls Church City General Registrar and Director of Elections David Bjerke wrote in an email when contacted by Tysons Reporter.

Turnout for the election could also be affected going forward by the introduction of a permanent absentee ballot by-mail request form, a new option that will be available in Virginia starting July 1, according to Bjerke.

“So if you want your ballots mailed to you for all elections, you fill out that form and we’ll mail the ballot to you,” he wrote. “As voters opt into that program, they will be informed of the election earlier and may well vote earlier. If they choose to vote in-person, that request gets canceled and they have to opt in again for future elections.”

In addition to the city council and school board candidates below, the general election ballot will include races for commissioner of the revenue, treasurer, and sheriff, according to the City of Falls Church.

City Council

The top four vote-getters will earn seats.

Mayor David Tarter’s term runs to the end of 2023. After the November election, the newly elected council will vote for vice mayor and mayor, whose positions are in place for two years. Other council members whose terms also run until then are Phil Duncan and Letty Hardi.

Names are ordered as they will appear on ballots.

  • David F. Snyder is seeking another term. Snyder, a former mayor and vice mayor, was first elected to council in 1994.
  • Debora “Debbie” Schantz-Hiscott is seeking her first full term after winning a special election last November after Councilmember Dan Sze died of cancer.
  • Marybeth D. Connelly is seeking another term. She’s been the vice mayor since 2016 and was first elected in 2014.
  • Stuart M. Whitaker
  • Caroline S. Lian
  • Scott C. Diaz

School Board

The top four vote-getters will land seats.

The openings come from the seats of board members Shannon Litton (the chair), Greg Anderson, and appointees Sonia Ruiz-Bolaños and Edwin Henderson II, who filled partial terms this year due to vacancies.

Terms for board members Laura Downs, Susan Dimock and Phil Reitinger last until 2023.

Names are ordered as they will appear on ballots.

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As Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blasted through the ballroom, Terry McAuliffe, former and potentially future governor of Virginia, took the stage at the Hilton hotel in Tysons shortly before 9 p.m. on Tuesday (June 8) to celebrate his victory in the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

McAuliffe easily surged past four other candidates to clinch his party’s nomination, winning 62% of the vote in a race that the Associated Press called just 44 minutes after polls closed across the state.

Unofficial returns show that Fairfax County joined the rest of the Commonwealth in backing McAuliffe’s bid for a third term as governor. 64.4% of primary voters cast a ballot for him, followed by 19.3% supporting former delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who also came in second statewide.

“We launched this campaign about six months ago on a simple idea: that Virginia has some very big challenges ahead,” McAuliffe said in his victory speech. “And I’ve said we’ve got to go big, we gotta be bold, and we need seasoned leadership to move us forward and lift up all Virginians.”

Pledging to “build back a better, stronger Virginia,” McAuliffe quickly pivoted to the general election looming on Nov. 2, when he will compete with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, who he aligned with former President Donald Trump.

He will be joined on the Democratic ticket by Prince William Del. Hala Ayala, who will face Republican Winsome Sears in a lieutenant governor race that will put a woman of color in a statewide office for the first time in Virginia history.

The Virginia Department of Elections’ unofficial results show Ayala winning by more than 13 percentage points statewide in a race that featured six candidates, but her margin of victory was closer in Fairfax County. She only won by about 5% over runner-up Del. Sam Rasoul, who became the legislature’s first Muslim member in 2014.

Mark Herring won the Democratic nomination for attorney general in his attempt for a third term. He won by about 13% state-wide over Del. Jay Jones, but was overwhelmingly favored by Fairfax County voters. Herring won by more than 40 percentage points in the county.

In the General Assembly races, incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy prevailed over challenger Jennifer Adeli in the contest for the 34th House District seat, which represents northern McLean and the Great Falls area.

“It was a great win and I am delighted to have received such strong support across the district,” Murphy said in a statement to Tysons Reporter. “I look forward to continuing to work on  behalf of my constituents and represent the issues that are important to them. I am especially focused on getting our kids safely back in school, increasing teacher pay, re-opening our businesses and continuing to support our veterans and stand up for gun safety measures.”

Republican Gary Pan is seeking to unseat Murphy in November, when Tysons area voters will also get contests between incumbent Del. Mark Keam and Republican challenger Kevin McGrath for the 35th District (Vienna), Del. Rip Sullivan (D) and Edward Monroe for the 48th District (McLean), and Del. Marcus Simon (D) and Sarah White for the 53rd District (Falls Church). Read More

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Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s campaign to return to the governor’s mansion will continue after he handily won today’s statewide Democratic primary.

Long viewed as the frontrunner for his party’s nomination based on polls and fundraising, McAuliffe validated that label by earning more than 60% of the votes cast — roughly three times as many votes as his nearest competitor, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who was seeking to become Virginia’s first Black, female governor.

According to unofficial returns from the Virginia Department of Elections, Carroll Foy received about 20% of the vote, followed in descending order by state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Del. Lee Carter, who also lost his seat representing the 50th House District.

McAuliffe will compete in November’s general election against businessman Glenn Youngkin, who won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in an “unassembled” convention in May.

The Democratic ticket will be completed by Del. Hala Ayala (D-51st District), who beat six other candidates to snag the lieutenant governor nomination, and Attorney General Mark Herring, who bested challenger Jay Jones as he seeks a third consecutive term in the position.

The Republican Party nominated former Del. Winsome Sears for lieutenant governor and Virginia Beach Del. Jason Miyares for attorney general.

In the General Assembly races, the 34th House District was the only one in the Tysons area with a primary. Incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy defeated challenger Jennifer Adeli with 73% of the vote and will need to beat Republican Gary Pan to earn another term.

In its unofficial returns, the Fairfax County Office of Elections reported a voter turnout of 11.1%, a relatively low rate that’s not especially unusual for an off-year primary. The 2017 Democratic primary, the last year with a gubernatorial race on the ballot, saw a 13.4% turnout.

According to the county, 21,493 voters — 2.9% of the electorate — cast absentee ballots either by mail or in-person, while 60,999 people went to the polls on the day of the primary. In comparison, the 2017 Democratic primary saw just 7,105 absentee voters compared to 86,931 primary day voters.

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Morning Notes

Primary Voter Turnout Expected to Follow Pre-Pandemic Trends — “While tens of thousands of Virginians already voted early ahead of the primary election on Tuesday, the turnout for people casting ballots in person is expected to look more like it did before the coronavirus pandemic. ‘I suspect that the bulk of the voters will be voting tomorrow as they traditionally have,’ said Fairfax County General Registrar Scott Konopasek. [WTOP]

Capital One Hall Announces More Performers — After revealing its first confirmed performer last week, Capital One Hall announced today that the rock band Kansas and comedians John Crist and Taylor Tomlinson will join country singer Clint Black in the Tysons performing arts venue’s inaugural season lineup. Tickets for all of the shows announced so far will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday (June 11). [Capital One Hall/Twitter]

Texas Jack’s Ranch Eyes September Opening — Texas Jack’s Ranch plans to open at the Lumen apartments near the Greensboro Metro station this September, about a year after previously anticipated. The Italian restaurant is owned by the same team behind Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Arlington, and the team of international chefs will be led by ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ finalist Declan Horgan. [Patch]

County Board to Vote on Demolishing McLean House — Today’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting will have several spot blight abatement public hearings, including one for a house at 1045 Bellview Road in McLean that’s currently owned by the Embassy of Qatar but has been abandoned for the past five to six years. The building caught fire last Halloween, and there are plans to replace it with a new house. [Patch]

Regional Coalition Recommends Economic Development Strategy — A coalition of D.C. area government, business, nonprofit, and education leaders called Connected DMV released a report on how the region can work together to encourage economic growth. The report included data illustrating drastic differences in economic mobility between the east and west sides of I-95, with Fairfax County ranking high and the District on the low end. [The Washington Post]

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The Virginia Democratic Party is holding a primary tomorrow (Tuesday), and the ballot will feature some crowded races, including statewide contests for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

The Republican Party chose to replace its primary this year with a convention in May to select statewide candidates. Some local races are also occurring in the state.

About 7,300 people in Fairfax County have voted early in person, and 50% of the vote-by-mail ballots requested by voters have been turned in so far, county spokesman Brian Worthy said in an email on Friday (June 4).

Here’s what to know:

Casting Your Ballot

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re in line by 7 p.m., you will still be able to vote. You generally need an ID to vote, but alternative options are available, which includes signing a statement that says you are who you say you are. You can find your polling place online.

For absentee ballots, the deadline to hand deliver them is 7 p.m. Tuesday. They can be dropped off at polling sites, and other options are available. By mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before June 8 and also received in the county elections office by noon on Friday (June 11).

Unofficial results will be posted on the county’s website on election night as well as the state elections’ website.

The Ballot

While the lieutenant governor race remains crowded, candidate Elizabeth Guzman withdrew from to focus on getting re-elected as a delegate for the 31st House District, which serves parts of Fauquier and Prince William counties. However, her name will still be on the ballot.

For the gubernatorial race, Virginia’s constitution bars governors from running for consecutive terms, preventing Gov. Ralph Northam from seeking re-election this year but opening the door for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The state elections board previously drew candidates’ names randomly for their order on the ballot. They’re listed below, and sample ballots are available online.

Governor

Lieutenant Governor

Attorney General

House of Delegates — 34th District (McLean)

The other three delegates who represent the Tysons area — Mark Keam (35th District), Marcus Simon (53rd District), and Rip Sullivan (48th District) — don’t have primary challengers.

Photo courtesy Town of Vienna

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Morning Notes

Editor’s note: Tysons Reporter will be taking Memorial Day weekend off starting tomorrow (Friday). Except in the case of breaking news, publishing will resume on Tuesday (June 1).

More Early Voting Sites to Open Saturday — Fairfax County will add 13 more early voting sites for the June 8 Democratic primary on Saturday (May 29), bringing the total number of locations up to 16. Sites in the Tysons area include the McLean Governmental Center, Providence Community Center, and Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library. [Fairfax County Government]

Couple Killed in Springfield Shooting — “A husband and wife are dead following a shooting in a residential area of Springfield, Virginia, on Wednesday morning, according to police. Police Chief Kevin Davis said authorities believe the ‘shooter or shooters’ are ‘known to a relative of our two victims.'” [WTOP]

Fairfax County to Get $17 Million From FEMA — Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced yesterday (Wednesday) that Fairfax County will receive $17.1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover costs associated with COVID-related public communications as well as medical supplies and equipment to combat the virus. [Office of Sen. Mark Warner]

Falls Church Memorial Day Street Closures — The City of Falls Church will close several streets to traffic to accommodate its Memorial Day parade from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Monday (May 31). Little Falls Street will be closed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day between Park Avenue and Great Falls Street for Memorial Day events. [City of Falls Church]

Local Leaders Recognize Death of Longtime Virginia Senator — Elected officials representing Fairfax County, including Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and Rep. Gerry Connolly, shared remembrances of former Sen. John Warner after he died in Alexandria on Monday (May 24). Warner served five terms in Congress, giving him the second-longest tenure of any Virginia senator when he retired in 2009. [The Washington Post]

Photo by Hilde Khan

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

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

Tuesday (May 25)

  • Fit4Mom Stroller Strides — 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Mosaic District (2910 District Ave) — Fit4Mom Stroller Strides is a 60-minute workout that includes strength training, cardio, and core restoration, along with entertainment for the little ones in your stroller. Classes meet in Strawberry Park in front of Mom & Pop. Register online. Your first session is free. A second class will be held on Thursday (May 27) at the same time.
  • Introduction to Corporate Giving (Online) — 2-3:30 p.m. — The Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library will provide this workshop for nonprofits looking for corporate support. The class will teach participants how to find potential corporate donors and how to successfully win their support. Registration is required.

Wednesday (May 26)

  • Partial Lunar Eclipse — 4-6 a.m. at Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Rd.) — Join some astronomical naturalists to view the partial lunar eclipse. Stars and constellations will be viewable too. There will be some telescopes available, but participants are encouraged to bring binoculars. There is a registration fee of $1o.
  • (the) Unruly Theatre Project’s Virtual Improv Show (Online) — 7 p.m. — The McLean Community Center’s teen improv group is putting on its latest virtual performance. Registration is open up to two hours before the show. The Zoom link and password will be emailed to those who register. For more information, contact [email protected].

Thursday (May 27)

Friday (May 28)

  • Parent & Me Snack and Paint — 7-9 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — Join the Old Firehouse Center for a Snack and Paint event. A parent and their child (ages 10-18) can join for $30 total, which includes all painting materials and snacks. Register and make a spring-themed masterpiece.

Saturday (May 29)

  • In-Person Early Voting for Democratic Primary — 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Falls Church City Hall (300 Park Ave.) — City Hall will open this Saturday for registered Falls Church voters to vote early in the Democratic Party’s June 8 primary election to decide the party’s candidates for Virginia’s governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in the November election.
  • ViVa! Vienna! — 10 a.m.-10 p.m. — After having to cancel last year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ViVa! Vienna! is back. Rides and entertainment start Saturday for the Town of Vienna’s Memorial Day weekend festival, with vendors setting up on Sunday (May 30) and Monday (May 31). A full schedule as well as information about buying tickets and the vendors that will be in attendance can be found on the ViVa! Vienna! website.
  • Ride of the Patriots — 10 a.m. at 9739 Fairfax Blvd. — Patriot Harley-Davidson‘s annual Memorial Day tribute to military service members and first responders will begin in Fairfax City and travel on Route 50 East to I-495 North into D.C. over Memorial Bridge. There will be a second ride on Sunday, but each ride will be limited to 225 people. Registration costs $25.

Monday (May 31)

  • Memorial Day Ceremony & Parade — 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Falls Church Community Center (223 Little Falls St.) — The City of Falls Church is bringing back many of its Memorial Day traditions, albeit in a slightly scaled-down form. Pre-registration and masks are required to attend the ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial, while the parade will travel throughout the city instead of sticking to Park Avenue.

Photo via ViVa! Vienna!/Facebook

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The winners of the McLean Community Center’s 2021 governing board election are Ivy Chen (top left), Shivani Saboo (center), Max Blacksten (top right), Lisa Mariam (bottom left), and Rasheq Rahman (bottom right). (Photos courtesy MCC)

The preliminary results are in for the 2021 McLean Community Center Governing Board election, which concluded voting this past Saturday (May 15).

Shared yesterday (Wednesday) in a newsletter, the newly elected board members are Shivani Saboo (329 votes), Lisa Mariam (302 votes), and Rasheq Rahman (288 votes) for the three open adult seats.

“I’m thrilled to be elected to the Governing Board of McLean Community Center and excited to begin working with Shivani Saboo, Rasheq Rahman, and the leadership and staff to reach our goals to serve all our residents,” Mariam said in a Facebook post celebrating the results. “Thank you to everyone who encouraged me and voted!”

For the two youth positions, Ivy Chen will represent the Langley High School boundary area, edging out fellow contenders Rowan Johns and Charlotte Loving with 45 votes. Max Blacksten sailed to victory for the McLean High School boundary area with 48 votes — almost three times as many as the runner-up in the five-candidate race.

According to full preliminary results provided by MCC, 606 voters — including 501 adults and 105 teenagers — cast ballots in the election, which held open voting for Dranesville District 1A residents from March 17 through May 15.

A total of 1,158 votes were cast for the five adult candidates, 87 votes in the Langley High School race, and 96 votes in the McLean High School contest. The votes were tabulated on May 15 by the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area.

Background and personal statements from each of the candidates can still be found on the MCC website.

The election results are considered preliminary for now, because they need to be verified by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which will formally appoint the new governing board members at its next meeting on June 8.

Made up of nine adults and two high school students, all of them volunteers, the MCC Governing Board is responsible for setting policies, overseeing programs and facilities, and reviewing and adopting the annual budget for the community center, which is supported by a 2.3-cent real estate tax surcharge on district residents.

The new board will be tasked with working with new MCC Executive Director Daniel Singh to guide the center’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced officials to cancel, downsize, or adapt all of its events and activities.

After holding a drive-thru version of its annual McLean Day festival on Saturday, MCC’s upcoming event slate is still mostly filled with virtual and drive-thru offerings, such as an online poetry reading on May 27 to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

There will be an in-person teen open mic night for LGBTQ+ Pride Month on June 4, but MCC has already announced that its July 4 celebration will be conducted as a drive-thru event with attendees required to register for a time slot.

“I look forward to working with new director Daniel Singh and the dedicated team at McLean Community Center to help the center continue to resliently [sic] and inclusively innovate as Mclean re-emerges from the panedmic [sic],” Rahman said on Facebook.

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(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) The Town of Vienna’s election concluded yesterday (Tuesday) with all three incumbent councilmembers in contention retaining their seats.

Howard Springsteen, Steve Potter, and Nisha Patel were comfortably reelected in an election that saw turnout plummet after hitting a record high last year, when there was a mayoral race on the ballot and seven candidates vying for three town council seats.

This time, there were just four candidates competing for three seats, with Springsteen seeking his sixth term on the council and Potter and Patel looking to get reelected for the first time. Planning Commissioner David Patariu was the sole challenger.

In a statement to Tysons Reporter, Springsteen thanked voters for the support and vote of confidence.

“I am honored to serve and will always be available to Vienna residents to discuss issues of concern,” he said. “Congratulations to Steve Potter and Nisha Patel on their reelection to council. I look forward to working for the betterment of Vienna.”

In a Facebook post acknowledging the election’s results, Patariu says that, while he fell short of winning office, he believes his campaign helped bring attention to key issues, such as traffic on residential streets, the slow progress on funding sidewalk construction, and complaints about the town’s mulching operation on Beulah Road.

“I brought the Town Council’s focus back to issues facing residents,” Patariu said. “My dissent from the Town Council’s views on many of the issues above should provide a path for future action by residents.”

According to the Fairfax County Office of Elections, which managed the election, the unofficial vote totals are:

The results will be finalized after noon on Friday (May 7), when any remaining mailed ballots must be received.

1,968 out of 11,659 registered voters cast ballots in the election, amounting to a 16.9% turnout compared to the 36.5% of voters who participated in last year’s town election. 1,311 voters went to the polls in person on election day, while 657 people voted absentee, either by mail or in person.

Turnout for Vienna’s elections typically fell anywhere from 5% to 23% before the May 2020 election, which served as a prelude to a general election in November that also saw robust participation.

This election was notable, however, for being the last one that the Town of Vienna will ever hold in May. A bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly in February and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam on March 12 shifted all municipal elections in the state to November, starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

State Sen. Chap Petersen, who represents Vienna, and some town leaders took issue with the change, arguing that separate, town-only elections allow voters to focus on local issues, but the Fairfax County Office of Elections says the move will increase voter participation and save Vienna money, since the town currently has to reimburse the county for some election-related costs.

“The Turnout in future elections held in November will be much higher — as much as four-fold,” Fairfax County General Registrar Scott Konopasek told Tysons Reporter by email. “Whether or not that will change winners and losers remains to be seen.”

Photo courtesy Town of Vienna

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When early voting began at the North County Government Center in Reston on Saturday (April 24), the crowd of electioneers assembled outside the building dwarfed the number of people casting their ballots inside the building.

The absence of lines contrasted sharply with the 2020 general election, when Fairfax County sometimes saw hour-long waits at early voting sites. This time, the biggest hold-up was the few extra seconds election volunteers needed to sort through 16 different ballots and match them with the right voters.

While not surprised by the relatively muted turnout for the first days of early voting for the June 8 Democratic primary, which started on April 23 at the Fairfax County Government Center before expanding to two satellite locations a day later, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says it’s too soon to make any confident projections about what early voting will look like in the future.

“Going through a couple of election cycles, I think we need to do that before we can come to any long-term conclusions about how early voting is best done, how to staff it, what resources are necessary,” he said.

Even with a crowded gubernatorial contest on the ballot, the 2021 election cycle likely won’t match the high turnout for last year’s general election, which was buoyed by an especially heated presidential race, but there is already evidence that the Virginia’s new laws permanently expanding the accessibility of absentee voting are paying off.

According to the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, 63,508 voters have requested mail ballots, and 709 people have voted in person, as of April 24. In comparison, there were just 35,390 early voters in the 2017 primaries, the last time that Virginia had a governor’s race, and that includes 8,815 people who requested mail ballots but never returned them.

Fairfax County has gotten 11,222 mail ballot requests and 68 in-person voters. In 2017, 3,109 people voted early in person, and 1,919 people voted by mail.

Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy attributes this uptick to recent legislative changes made by the Virginia General Assembly, particularly the introduction of no-excuse absentee voting that took effect last year.

“Since the last gubernatorial election, voting by mail has become easier in Virginia,” Worthy said. “Not only can any registered voter do so without needing a reason as was required in the past, but also the law now makes it easy to vote by mail permanently. As a result, the Office of Elections expects to see an increase in voting by mail over time as has happened in other states that have implemented similar laws.”

Legislators took further action to make early voting more accessible during a special session in March, including requiring localities to offer ballot drop-off boxes, permitting absentee voting on Sundays, and suspending witness signature requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, though those laws don’t take effect until July 1.

Early voting is also “way up” in Falls Church City compared to the last gubernatorial primary, according to Director of Elections and General Registrar David Bjerke.

Bjerke told Tysons Reporter on Friday (April 23) that the city had sent out 315 ballots so far, including 176 mail ballots and 139 email ballots to overseas voters, and three people showed up to vote in person that day. The 2017 primary saw just 240 early voters total, even though the Democratic and Republican parties both held elections that summer.

“It’s a huge increase,” Bjerke said. Read More

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