Candidates aiming to reshape political landscape in Vienna

Roy Baldwin and David Patariu are among seven candidates vying for three seats on the Vienna Town Council in the 2020 town election.

Vienna Town Council candidates Roy Baldwin and David Patariu have their own takes on how the Council should handle redevelopment while preserving Vienna’s small-town feel.

Baldwin said if elected he would press for a revised Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning ordinance, and seek as many affordable-housing concessions from developers as possible.

“I’m hard-pressed to find people who work at Town Hall who live in Vienna,” he said. “We could drive a harder bargain than we have in the past.”

Patariu’s platform is to “take back Vienna,” especially with its zoning, taxes, parks and roads. There has been minimal resident input in the town’s ongoing rewrite of its zoning code, he said.

“It’s a staff-directed, consultant-directed process,” Patariu said. “I think that a zoning rewrite that only happens every 60 years should be a resident-directed, Council-directed process.”

Five other candidates – Charles Anderson, Ray Brill Jr., Andrea Dahl, Ed Somers and Chris Wright – also are running for the three open Council seats this year. The Sun Gazette has profiled Anderson and Brill ,and in future editions will cover Dahl, Somers and Wright.

Baldwin, who chairs the Vienna Board of Architectural Review, is making his second run for Town Council. He finished fourth in 2016 in a five-way contest for three Council seats. Baldwin also in 2009 made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in the 35th District House of Delegates race.

Baldwin is concerned about revitalizing Maple Avenue and its many businesses. The MAC ordinance was the result of many years of good-faith negotiations by town residents and staff, but the first few MAC projects approved by the Council were too tall and too dense, he said.

Those MAC controversies were behind a mini-revolution last May that resulted in two newcomers, Steve Potter and Nisha Patel, joining the Town Council.

Predictability will be a key element of any revised MAC ordinance, Baldwin said.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” he said. “A lot of developers want to get started and they want to know what the rules are going to be.”

Born in Texas and raised in Nebraska Baldwin earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a law degree from the George Washington University School of Law. He has lived in Virginia since 1975 and in Vienna since 1980.

Baldwin founded Baldwin Law Firm LLC and his son, Nathaniel, is the firm’s newest associate.

Baldwin is longtime member of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, where he has served as a Sunday School teacher, lay minister and as a member of the vestry.

Patariu, a native New Yorker and first-generation American born to Irish and Romanian parents, has lived in Vienna for several years and last October was appointed to the Planning Commission.

Patariu became involved in local affairs during the controversy over the MAC mixed-use rezoning application at 440-444 Maple Ave., W.

“We moved here because of the small-town feel,” said Patariu, who is married and has three children. “We just really loved the community and the atmosphere and the events.”

Regarding taxes, Patariu wanted to know how much money, apart from waived permitting fees, Fairfax County would be contributing toward construction of the town’s new police station.

“We’re paying taxes to the county, and yet we’re building our own police station,” he said. “So we’re paying twice. That would be a great place for the county to chip in.”

Many neighborhoods are suffering from cut-through traffic because Maple Avenue is at capacity, Patariu said. This reduces those neighborhoods’ livability, he said.

Patariu said the skills he brings to his work on the Planning Commission and as a lawyer who routinely deals with multi-million-dollar contracts would serve town residents well.

Patariu said he also wants to take back the town’s parks, especially Vienna’s mulching facility on Beulah Road, N.E.

“The neighbors there are dealing with this smelly much yard that [the town] sprays chemicals on to keep the smell down for the past 20 years,” he said. “I think we can do better for them and keep the mulching operation and do it somewhere else.”

Parkland in Vienna is worth about $3 million per acre, making the Beulah Road site a $25 million asset, Patariu said.

“It’s been allowed to waste and it’s being used like a junkyard,” he said.

A lawyer specializing in data privacy, Patariu earned a bachelor’s degree in biology/biochemistry and a master’s in computer science from Cornell University, plus a graduate degree in biomedical informatics from Stanford Medical School and a graduate certificate in international security from the Stanford School of Engineering.

Patariu also holds a law degree from Loyola University Chicago and is licensed to practice in six states and the District of Columbia.

The 2020 election is unusual because no incumbents are seeking re-election to their current positions. Incumbent Council members Pasha Majdi and Linda Colbert are running for mayor along with Council member Howard Springsteen, whose term expires in June 2021.

Patariu supports Majdi’s mayoral bid and said they, along with Dahl and Wright, would be forming a slate to advance shared causes.

“If you have a majority, you can get a lot of stuff done,” he said. “We’d like to be able to keep our promises to voters.”

Voters can compare the candidates side-by-side at upcoming forums:

• The North East Vienna Citizens Association will host a forum for Town Council candidates on April 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center.

• National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) Chapter 1116 (Vienna-Oakton) will host a forum for the mayoral candidates April 14 at 1 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. The organization also plans to invite the candidates running for Town Council.

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