Meet Vienna’s next Town Council members- new election date May 19

Ed. Note: We asked the seven candidates running for three council member positions in the Town of Vienna’s non-partisan town council race to submit answers to the same four questions. Here are their responses, in ballot order. Separately, we are publishing the statements of the mayoral candidates.

Update Apr. 24: The election is now scheduled for May 19, as Gov. Ralph Northam announced  that he would use emergency executive authority to move the election date two weeks from the original date of May 5, after legislators failed  to approve his proposal to postpone elections until Nov. 3.


Q. Why are you running for council member:

I originally entered the race primarily because of my substantial experience, and deep interest, in zoning and development issues.

I served on the Vienna Planning Commission for eight years, including two years as the chair.  I also served for an extended time on the Malcolm Windover Heights Civic Association and the Windover Heights Board of Review.

While I still strongly believe in appropriately-scaled development, I realize that the next Vienna Town Council will be faced with tremendous fiscal challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

A large portion of the town’s budget will be impacted by declining tax revenues.  At the same time, the needs within the community will grow.  It will require creative and analytical minds to balance these competing forces.

In my professional career, I regularly deal with complex economic, legal and financial issues.  I have a BA in political science and history from Williams College and an MA from Oxford University.  I am a successful small business creator and owner. As I step back from my “day job,” I would like to bring these skills to bear to help Vienna navigate through these difficult times.

Q. What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Vienna, and what is your position on them?

The biggest immediate issue will be dealing with the fiscal and budgetary strains on the town resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, our predecessors have put Vienna in a good position to weather this severe storm.  Vienna has substantial financial reserves. However, we must ensure that those really in need in these difficult times get the support available.

Looking ahead, the issue at the forefront is traffic and development.   I have a long history of fighting for properly-scaled development in Vienna.  For at least ten years, I have advocated for commercial redevelopment along Maple Avenue that does not overwhelm the town’s schools, roads, or infrastructure.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates running for your position?

A candidate should be judged by his or her character.  Here are the elements of my character that the voter should consider:

  • Experience: With respect to development and zoning, I have the most experience of any of the town council candidate.  I am also comfortable with budgets, and have a background in economics.
  • Judgement: I have demonstrated the ability to compromise to get things done, and to consider all sides in debates.
  • Compassion: I champion the needs of those that have the greatest needs.
  • Commitment: My record of extended volunteer and leadership positions in civic affairs (civic associations, church, and scouts), and my record of doing my own research on difficult issues.

Q. Would you consider yourself a Democrat or Democrat-leaning?

I have Democratic blood in my veins.  My father was a West Virginia coal miner (who was killed in a mine explosion), and my stepfather was a blue-collar union member.  The first political campaign I worked on, at the tender age of 15, was the George McGovern for President campaign.  I volunteered for the Obama campaign, and have given regularly to Democratic candidates, including those at the county, state and national levels.   I am proud to be a pro-choice, anti-assault rifle, pro-ERA Democrat


Q. Why are you running for council member:

Vienna residents, including myself, have been troubled by the controversies over the Maple Avenue Corridor development the last few years.  These conflicts and other Maple Avenue developments have called me to participate more actively by listening to residents and businesses’ perspectives, to seek practical and realistic solutions to issues resulting from Vienna’s proposed growth, to serve as mediator on the 380 project while seeking to preserve Vienna’s unique, small town character.

Q. What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Vienna, and what is your position on them?

Budget issues as a result of coronavirus.  The town has planned for a 5% increase in revenue from meals tax, park and recreation fees.  It is estimated that we may face a significant  decrease in revenue.  We must focus on how to respond in a fiscally sound manner to these circumstances.

Replace the MAC and rewrite Town Zoning Code.  The MAC needs to be replaced and our zoning code rewritten to insure that reasonable and realistic height, density, and buffer requirements are incorporated in new developments.  The input of residents is essential in this process. I support a three-story height limitation, less dense development along Maple Avenue, and increased green space.

Strengthen our business sector.  We need to reduce business vacancies from 13% to 7% within two years and build a cooperative relationship with landlords that attracts new businesses and retains current businesses.

Improve Traffic and Pedestrian Safety.  The light sequencing system needs to be installed on Maple Avenue without delay.  We should ensure the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and neighborhoods by using traffic calming measures and enforcement as needed.

Upgrade our Infrastructure.  Vienna will spend $81.75 million over the next 16 years to make sewer improvements and water and sewer infrastructure replacements.  I support these expenditures.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates running for your position?

  • I have a unique combination of leadership experience (led 12 organizations as Corporate CEO, Chr. of the Bd. for a Salvation Army Chapter, Church Leader, Scoutmaster, and Community Volunteer)
  • I led strategic planning with Fortune 100 companies
  • I am action oriented. During the Covid 19 pandemic, my wife and I started a new Initiative called Savor Vienna to help struggling Vienna restaurants in this time of need.  This “pay it forward” Initiative (see at gives the restaurants needed funds to pay for rent and employee expenses.
  • I have a lifetime of experience solving challenging problems with creative solutions and want to use that experience for the benefit of Vienna.
  • I graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, served as an AF pilot, received MBA from UCLA, J.D. from University of Florida, and an MDiv from Virginia Theological Seminary.

Q. Would you consider yourself a Democrat or Democrat-leaning?

I was a registered Democrat in Florida when I practiced as a trial attorney.  I was selected by a Democrat Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee to work with the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.  I worked for and with Al Gore.  I voted in the Democratic primary last year.  I am an independent thinker and vote for the best person.


Q. Why are you running for council member:

Back in February, when I made the decision to run, it was because all three incumbents declined to run for re-election, leaving a vacuum of Town leadership, and I didn’t see three qualified people talking about running.  That fear was confirmed when, soon after I filed, three individuals with no significant experience in Town affairs filed to run on a slate assembled by a candidate for mayor who used to work as a Republican legislative assistant on Capitol Hill.

Since the coronavirus pandemic arrived, I’m running because the little town that I’ve lived in for 40 years really needs people on the Council that have made it through tough times and can guide the town to a recovery.

I am the Chair of the Board of Architectural Review, which gives me unique experience to deal with the issue of Maple Avenue, once we recover. See below.

Q. What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Vienna, and what is your position on them?

The immediate issue is surviving COVID-19.  The new Town Council will have to reconsider every dime of budgeted spending and make tough decisions to recover from this pandemic.

Then, we can get back to the “other” biggest issue: how to encourage re-development along Maple Avenue without burdening ourselves with buildings that are too tall, too close to the street, and too densely packed, and without having to settle for dramatically increased automotive traffic.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates running for your position?

I have lived in Vienna the longest and have the most experience serving on Town boards and committees.

I frequently work with Vienna’s elected representatives in Richmond and on Capitol Hill, which will be important to get our fair share of the assistance we’ll need to recover from the coronavirus recession.

I am the only candidate, to my knowledge, to publicly call for the May 5th election to be postponed, either to the June primary or to the November general election, so that Vienna voters don’t have to decide whether to risk their health just to cast a ballot.

I am one of two avowed Democrats running for Town Council.  If we and mayoral candidate Howard Springsteen win, we will preserve the current progressive majority on the Council.

Q. Would you consider yourself a Democrat or Democrat-leaning?

Here are some hints:  In 1968 I typed address labels for fundraising letters for Gene McCarthy and shook Bobby Kennedy’s hand a month before he was assassinated.  In 1972 I drove a converted bread truck all over Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District chauffeuring the Democratic Party’s candidate for the House of Representatives.  Since 1980 I’ve volunteered time and/or money to every major Democratic campaign in Virginia.  In 1984 I was a delegate for Jesse Jackson to the State Convention.  In 2007 I hosted a fundraiser for our local candidates.  I’ve been Vienna #1’s precinct captain, candidate for the Party’s nomination to the House of Delegates, and Democratic Voter Protection Program worker.  I’m currently a proud member of FCDC and Hunter Mill Dems.



Q. Why are you running for council member:

I am a practicing attorney, a Vienna dad with three young children, a planning commissioner for the Town of Vienna, and a zealous advocate for residents against those preying on our town to make a quick buck.

Pasha Majdi (for Mayor), Chris Wright, Andrea Dahl, and I (for Council) are a group of parents with young kids & we love the small-town feel Vienna’s always had. Our platform is focused on YOU and we are working together to (1) address cut-through traffic and preserve the livability of our neighborhoods; (2) address problems from poorly planned development like the MAC; (3) restore Beulah Road Park; and (4) make certain the rewrite of our residential and commercial zoning code, foisted upon our Town without resident input, does not give away what makes Vienna special. Visit to learn more.

Q. What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Vienna, and what is your position on them?

First, how can residents safely vote on May 5 despite the pandemic? I have been working with election officials on this serious issue, and our team has prepared absentee/safe home voting literature. Visit and for more info. On April 8, Governor Northam requested the General Assembly move May elections to November; this request will be considered on April 22 (see; Until there is a vote on this request, we recommend returning your absentee ballot.

Second, helping our residents and small businesses get through this pandemic.

Third, the $250k effort to re-write residential and commercial zoning by the Town, to date without public hearings or resident input. This is a covert effort to make the high-density giant MAC zoning by-right. At a minimum, the current staff and consultant-driven process to rewrite our zoning code needs to be stopped by the new council, or we risk losing what makes Vienna special. We can make better use of this $250k to help Vienna’s residents and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates running for your position?

I serve on the Town’s planning commission, and ask tough questions for residents. When residents had questions about the residential and commercial zoning code rewrite, I asked staff about this undisclosed process. When staff claimed Wade Hampton could not be closed to cut-through traffic, I asked why not.  And at a public hearing I raised how it was a conflict of interest for the same traffic engineering firm to work on a MAC project for a developer, while simultaneously informing the Town about Maple Avenue’s overall capacity for traffic and additional MAC development projects.  With your vote I will continue to be a zealous advocate for residents.

Q. Would you consider yourself a Democrat or Democrat-leaning?

In 2019 I was the moderator of the inaugural Vienna Votes candidate debate for the Democratic nomination for Hunter Mill District supervisor. I also admire the approach taken by Board of Supervisors Member Walter Alcorn (D) to manage growth in Reston by starting with an update to Reston’s dated comprehensive plan. Compare Alcorn’s very wise approach to what the Town is doing, starting with a residential and commercial zoning code rewrite that relies on a five+ year old outdated comprehensive plan.


Q. Why are you running for council member:

As a husband and father of two young boys in Vienna, I believe that young families with children in Vienna are underrepresented on the current council. My goal is to increase sidewalks and crosswalks, decrease cut-through traffic, and make Vienna as pedestrian friendly as possible.

Q. What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Vienna, and what is your position on them?

In light of COVID-19, the biggest immediate challenge is ensuring that our basic services are sustained. We need to ensure that our police, fire, rescue, trash, water, etc. continue to run uninterrupted. Our other top priorities need to be ensuring the safety of our residents and supporting our local businesses and economy while keeping all of our options on the table.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates running for your position?

I’ve been working for small local IT companies for the last 20 years. I constantly face new challenges that require out-of-the-box thinking, leveraging networks and relationships, and finding solutions when someone says something “can’t be done.” Given the current pandemic, the new town council will have to be very judicious in prioritizing the immediate needs of our community.

It will take leadership and frank conversations with our citizens about when certain projects will realistically be addressed. Even if the timeframe for an important project may not be ideal, the Town Council owes it to us to set reasonable and honest expectations during these uncertain times.

Q. Would you consider yourself a Democrat or Democrat-leaning?

I have considered myself a Democrat for as long as I can remember. However, in every election I strive to evaluate all candidates, Republican, Independent, and Democrat on their positions. I look at their integrity, judgement, character, and intellect and choose the candidates that I believe to be the most qualified for the job.


Q. Why are you running for council member:

I’m running for Town Council because I believe I can make a positive impact.

As a resident of Northeast Vienna for 22 years and an energetic mom, I am first to volunteer for everything.

With 20 years of corporate experience, I have a reputation of building consensus to get things done. In everything I do, I make it my mission to come up with creative ways to do things better, for less money, while having some fun.

Q. What are the biggest issues facing the Town of Vienna, and what is your position on them?

This pandemic is the biggest issue facing Vienna right now so my immediate priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our residents and small businesses.

Until we’re able to put this behind us and see the full impact on our community, all discretionary Town spending needs to be placed on hold.

I’m very passionate about preserving our parks, trees, and green space. Once things stabilize there are many initiatives we can implement at minimal or no cost.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates running for your position?

The most obvious thing that differentiates me from my fellow Council candidates is the fact that I’m the only female and full-time mom with elementary school age children running for Town Councilmember.

This is an advantage because I’m out in the community on a daily basis usually in one of my many volunteer roles watching, listening, and interacting with Town residents.

I see first-hand that our schools are overcrowded and require trailers.

I see that there’s a 2+ year waitlist to get our children in SACC after-school care and a 7+ year waitlist to be able to join a local pool.

I’ve experienced elementary school children having to travel to fields in neighboring towns or attend late night practices because there’s a shortage of fields in our Town.

I’ve experienced the challenge of trying to find space large enough to accommodate twenty scouts for a monthly meeting.

As an Epiphany Church Board member, I watched the domino effect of that church closure on the two thriving preschools that operate there and saw the frustration from several different groups when it appeared they’d all need to find alternate places to meet.

I frequently watch our wildlife desperately trying to survive as their local habitats are destroyed and see our “Tree City” losing more and more trees.

Because I recognize that a lack of open space, green space, and places for local groups to gather are current and growing problems, addressing these remain a priority.

Another differentiation is that I have a background developing and implementing recycling programs nationwide which I plan to use to improve recycling in our Town.

Since I’m not a politician nor existing member of any of the Town Boards, I don’t have any biases. I’m able to look at issues with an open mind and new perspective. I’m truly a fresh voice, fresh choice.

Q. Would you consider yourself a Democrat or Democrat-leaning?

I consider myself to be an Independent. I align myself with people who share the same core values and common sense beliefs regardless of political affiliation. In the most recent primary, I voted for the candidate who I felt had the skills, experience, and background to unify our country and lead as a role model.

ED SOMERS Declined to Respond


Note that all candidates are “independent” and there will be no party identification listed on the ballot. The staff of the Blue View and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee encourage you to request an absentee ballot for the town election and the November General Election.

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