The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Education Fund (LWVFA-EF) is cooperating with The Fairfax Times Newspaper to produce this Voters’ Guide to assist citizens in the Town of Vienna in choosing three town council members. Four candidates are certified to appear on the ballot. Registered voters who live within the Town of Vienna are eligible to vote at the Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry Street, S.E., Vienna. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The LWVFA-EF sent a questionnaire to all candidates whose names were qualified to appear on the May 7 ballot. Biographies and responses to the questions appear as written by the candidates and are not edited except to comply with Voters’ Guide style. The candidates’ original responses are on file with the LWVFA-EF. Candidates are listed in the order in which they will appear on the ballot.
The LWVFA-EF is a nonpartisan political membership organization whose purpose is to encourage informed and active participation of citizens in government, increase understanding of major public policy issues. The LWVFA-EF does not support any political party or candidate.
For more information on the Spring 2013 Voters’ Guide, or the LWVFA-EF, please contact 703-658-9150, or visit www.lwv-fairfax.org. For additional information on the May 7 election, including voter registration verification or eligibility, polling location or absentee voting, contact the Fairfax County Office of Elections at 703-222-0776; visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections, or contact the Virginia State Board of Elections at 800-552-9745, or visit www.sbe.virginia.gov.
Each certified candidate was asked the following four questions and were given a 300 total word limit to answer them.
1) How will the opening of the new METRORAIL silver line affect the Town of Vienna?
2) What would be your priority for INFRASTRUCTURE improvements in the Town of Vienna?
3) The Town of Vienna tax payer’s bill for this ELECTION will be about $7,000. In 2012 only 5 percent of eligible voters turned out. Would you support moving the Town of Vienna May general elections to coincide with the November general election?
4) What do you believe is the most pressing ISSUE for the Town of Vienna? What solutions would you propose to address it?
Biography: Laurie A. DiRocco completing my second term on the Vienna Town Council. She was the Chairperson for the Planning Commission and Vice-Chair for the Transportation Safety Commission. She has an MBA in finance from George Washington University and was an adjunct professor of Finance at George Mason University. Visit www.lauriedirocco.org.
METRORAIL: The opening of the metrorail silver line will offer Vienna residents a new mode of transportation as well as create new patterns of transportation within the Town. The Town will have metrorail, the orange line and silver line on two of its borders. The Council is working with the County’s Department of Transportation to design bus routes to the new metrorail. Additionally, the Town is looking at sidewalk and bike route options to the silver line. Investment in infrastructure might be needed in the areas closest to the metrorail.
INFRASTRUCTURE: The Town of Vienna needs to regularly invest in roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines, and stormwater management. The Town has established priority lists for these infrastructure investments to ensure consistent upkeep. A recent infrastructure improvement in the Town is the PPEA agreement to build a parking garage behind a commercial building on Church Street to provide needed parking to the area.
ELECTIONS: When and how often to have elections as well as the staggering of terms was discussed at a 2010 Town Council work session and public hearing. The Vienna Town Council elections are nonpartisan. I believe local elections are about neighbors serving neighbors. The main reason to have May elections is that November elections are extremely partisan. Since there is a cost to running the election every year in May, I would consider having all Council members run at once verse staggered terms.
ISSUE: A pressing issue for the Town of Vienna is the revision of the Town’s ordinances for the main commercial district along Maple Avenue. The Maple Avenue Steering Committee, a group of citizens and business owners, will make recommendations to Council this spring. I look forward to working on the details of the ordinances to ensure a prosperous and attractive commercial area.
Biography: Carey Sienicki currently serves on the Vienna Town Council and as Chairperson of the Windover Heights Board of Review and previously as a Planning Commissioner. As a Registered Architect, with degrees from Georgia Tech and Temple University, she has resided, worked and volunteered in the community for more than 12 years.
METRORAIL: Supplementing Metrorail with the Silver line, distant commuters will access at earlier points, relieving cross traffic, which currently complicates our peak time travel. Citizens of the Town of Vienna will have more opportunities for utilizing public transportation as Fairfax Connectors will increase service within the Town. Citizens should provide input on these proposed routes and be educated with the new options launching in December 2013 for public transportation.
INFRASTRUCTURE: Providing safer, environmentally friendly and more convenient connections for citizens is a primary concern. Prioritizing necessary infrastructure improvements such as water & sewer, drainage, bike routes, sidewalks and roads at value is imperative. Because of our continued emphasis on fiscal prudence, we have been able to maintain our AAA bond rating, lowering the overall cost of these Capital Improvement Projects. Last year, the Town also realized substantial savings by utilizing grant and matching funds to offset these costs, ultimately saving taxpayer money.
ELECTIONS: 2012 was an uncontested race. I believe voters are more informed about the candidates and better served in the May election because the overwhelming partisanship from a November election is not present. I would support conducting elections in the same year, in lieu of staggered terms, to better serve its citizens by providing a lower cost to taxpayers and optimistically producing a higher voter turnout.
ISSUE: Maintaining the delicate balance between preserving the small town community and fostering purposeful growth, so that the future needs of Vienna’s citizens are met, will be paramount. Working closely with the new Vienna Business Association, I support community businesses and expanding opportunities for businesses to thrive in our Town. I look forward to continued development of the “Maple Avenue Vision,” providing a new framework to move Vienna forward in the right direction, enhancing this great place we already enjoy. Visit my website: https://sites.google.com/site/careysienicki/
Biography: Howard Springsteen is a 16-year Vienna resident with extensive community service involvement and leadership, is currently in his second term on the Council and is Vice Mayor. He has a strong record of local accomplishments and holds a B.A. and M.P.A and works as a logistics manger in local government.
METRORAIL: At this point this is the big unknown since there will be no parking or kiss and ride at the Silver Line Station closest to Vienna. In time this new line will afford the residents of Vienna another option to access the Metro system.
INFRASTRUCTURE: The Town currently has a list of more than 15 infrastructure improvements including sidewalk construction, street reconstruction, drainage issues, water and sewer improvements, facility improvements and the proposed parking structure on Church Street. These are being addressed in this current bond funding cycle and Capital Improvement Plan and are reflected in the proposed 2104 budget. These were identified by residents, town departments and the Mayor and Council and discussed at several public hearings and work sessions. I would continue to follow the priority infrastructure road map that has been agreed to.
ELECTIONS: In May 2010, the Town Council conducted public meetings to discuss changing the Vienna election season to November and also eliminating staggered council terms. There was scant public support for changing the election season to November because of the concern of partisanship and need to address town-only issues. There has been no push by Vienna residents for any change since then. I would not support moving the election to November because of the lack of public support and the desire to keep the Town elections out of the partisanship issues that occur in the November election cycles. When there is competition in the Town elections such as this year, voter turnout greatly increases.
ISSUE: The most pressing issue for the Town of Vienna is to continue to be able to provide the best services to our Vienna citizens at the lowest possible cost. This year’s proposed FY2014 budget of ($31.8 million) is about ($72,000) or .02 percent more from last year. If re-elected, I would continue to maintain this financial focus.
Biography: Ryan Thomas has lived and worked in the Vienna/Tysons area since July 2007. He works for PricewaterhouseCoopers as an accountant and has been part of his firm’s discussions about key Tysons’ transportation issues. He also has served as a treasurer in my church.
METRORAIL: As Metro brings more development and people to the area, we will have to address important issues such as parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, public safety and public transportation. In addition, the assessed value of homes potentially could increase, as well, which could result in increased property taxes.
INFRASTRUCTURE: My priority for infrastructure improvements would be the redevelopment of Maple Avenue and traffic safety-related items. We need to make Maple Avenue an attractive place with plenty of trees and unique stores and restaurants that celebrate Vienna’s heritage. We also need to make sure we have adequate parking there (such as garages). In addition, we need to build speed bumps on residential streets that have been used as short cuts by commuters.
ELECTIONS: I would not support moving the Town elections from May to November. My concern is the general elections could drown out the focus on issues critical to the Town. Having elections in May keeps what’s important to Vienna front and center.
ISSUE: I believe the most pressing issue is whether we can adapt to change while still preserving our identity. Inclusive of that identity is having a beautiful community that is unique, safe and fiscally responsible. To keep our community unique, we need to attract more small businesses and use social media and technology to attract customers. We also need to make sure we continue to have plenty of trees and park space. To keep our residential roads safe, I believe we should have the Town Police monitor — on a rotating basis during peak traffic times — local streets that have been used as short cuts. We also need to make sure those streets have adequate sidewalks and speed bumps where necessary. To help maintain fiscal responsibility, I believe we should create a Capital Improvements Savings Fund and rainy day fund.