2019 is a watershed year for Fairfax County government.
Change is coming. Five of the ten seats on the Board of Supervisors will change hands, the biggest change in forever. Chairman Bulova is leaving, so is our own Hunter Mill Supervisor, Cathy Hudgins, after 20 years. There are many fresh faces among the candidates running in the June 11 Democratic Primary for both seats. Amazingly, to date NO Republicans have filed for either post.
Are they waiting for Trump to leave?
While I’m rooting for an upset of octogenarian Democratic State Senator Dick Saslaw--the developer favorite and gerrymander reform opponent--by hard-charging progressive challenger Yasmine Taeb, I’m going to focus here on the Hunter Mill District Supervisor contest.
There is great upset in the Reston community with longtime sentimental favorite Cathy Hudgins, even among many Democrats. With high density development—e.g., about 15 million square feet of new development already approved-- and her proposed large increase in zoning density, we’ve even seen crowds of high-profile, yellow shirt protesters; Reston’s equivalent of Paris protestors.
Calls for change are in the air. Luckily, we have five interesting candidates going for her seat: Activist mom and former Air Force officer Shyamali Hauth; child advocate lawyer and Democratic activist Laurie Dodd; young political activist Parker Messick; longtime appointee Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn; and, Comstock VP and developer advocate Maggie Parker. All seem qualified to be a supervisor.
I have interviewed four of the five and attended two candidate forums involving all five participated. Ms. Parker is the bravest of them all. She acknowledges her campaign bucks come from developers—her friends, family and co-workers. She is proud of their work which she contends brings positive change, if there is competent oversight and payment for County programs offered to those in need.
The other Parker, Mr. Messick, is an engaging and promising millennial, which he calls himself. Graduated from college in June 2018, his work experience mostly came in a couple of political campaigns. His platform is to end the march of high-rise development and to put a stop to paid parking in Reston Town Center. Is he ready to be our Supervisor? Not yet IMHO, but in five years I would not bet against him.
Shyamali Hauth is proud of her dad who fought for India’s independence. She’s a hard-working advocate for liberal causes who would like to emulate her dad. Besides being an activist, she’s had an Air Force career and has raised a family. I’m not sure she’s the best one for Supervisor, but then again, I wonder. Maybe it’s time for someone who’s been successful at life’s big challenges, like Shyamal, instead of the standard model for these political roles.
Then, there is Laurie Dodd, the child advocate lawyer who also has raised children AND has political experience working for progressive candidates. For me, she is not only highly principled, but is also the most articulate voice for change in the group. “No more business as usual”, she says. She has the intellect and toughness to take on opponents, developers and politicians in the world of a Supervisor. Also highly qualified is Walter Alcorn. In fact, he is the most experienced in the arena, having served 18 years as a political appointee—16 on the Planning Commission, two on the Park Authority. He is well versed in the rules and regs of Fairfax land use and development and would likely be a good problem solver. However, he repeatedly thanks Ms. Hudgins for deferring the zoning density increase that she proposed and tried to impose on us for two years. He is reluctant to allow developer money for recreational facilities in Reston go anywhere but to the County Park Authority which has a record of sending the money elsewhere. And, he hedges on whether or not he’ll take developer money. If Ms. Dodd is the agent of change, Mr. Alcorn seems to represent continuity.