Race for Vienna mayor now a three-way affair

Pasha Majdi, left, has announced plans to run for Vienna mayor, while former Planning Commission member Charles Anderson is running for Town Council.

The race for the soon-to-be-open Vienna mayor’s seat just got more crowded, with a third Town Council incumbent entering the fray.

Council members Howard Springsteen and Linda Colbert announced their mayoral bids at the Council’s Jan. 6 meeting. Since then, Council member Pasha Majdi also has filed to run in the race.

The Sun Gazette detailed Colbert’s and Springsteen’s backgrounds and goals in the Jan. 9 edition.

Majdi said he was running for mayor because Vienna is his hometown and he wants to keep it that way.

“Vienna should be an independent, green oasis that is a sharp contrast to Tysons, not a housing district for Tysons,” he said.

Majdi said his vision for Vienna over the next decade is to “protect residential neighborhoods and streets to keep Vienna the best place to raise a family in Northern Virginia; apply smart-growth principles for Maple Avenue that control and mitigate traffic; and build a town square around Church Street and the W&OD trail.”

Majdi, who previously served on the Town/Business Liaison Committee, first was elected to the Council in 2014 and has been an outspoken member since, especially in his opposition to some Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) rezoning applications that have come before the body.

Majdi and Springsteen last July tried to get the Town Council to reverse an approved MAC application for a mixed-use project at 374-380 Maple Ave., W. The Council, after a six-hour-long meeting featuring ardent public testimony against the idea, declined to vote on the recision proposal.

A fourth-generation Vienna resident, Majdi holds degrees from Duke University and George Mason University School of Law. He and his wife, Jayme, have two sons.

Majdi’s decision to run ensures at least one incumbent will not be returning when the new Council takes office July 1. Springsteen is guaranteed to continue his Council tenure even if he loses the mayoral race, as his term ends in 2021. But the terms of both Colbert and Majdi expire at the end of this June.

Mayor Laurie DiRocco announced in December last year that she would not be seeking a fourth two-year term. The last time multiple Council members ran for mayor was in 2006, when incumbent Mayor M. Jane Seeman defeated Council member George Lovelace.

Vienna voters on May 5 will select three Council members and the mayor. Candidates have until March 3 to file.

Council member Douglas Noble, the only remaining incumbent who could seek another term, has not announced whether he will run.

The only candidate who has filed for a Council seat so far is Charles Anderson, a former Vienna Planning Commission member and persistent critic of the MAC ordinance.

Anderson and his wife, Laura, married in 1988 and raised their two children in Vienna. He is active at Falls Church Presbyterian Church and with the Boy Scouts.

According to Anderson’s five-page campaign statement, he was born in West Virginia, the son of a coal miner who later was killed in a mine accident. His mother moved Anderson and his siblings to Blissfield, Mich.

Anderson took “Great Books” courses for two years at the University of Chicago, then transferred to Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he studied American colonial and revolutionary history and political science.

After graduating from college in 1979, he spent two years on a scholarship at Oxford University’s Exeter College in England, where he earned a master’s in philosophy, politics and economics.

Back in the United States, Anderson fled Michigan’s ever-struggling economy for the Washington, D.C., area. After working as a waiter and as a “glorified telephone operator” at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of Legislative Information, he got a job with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Import Administration.

Two years later, he took a consulting job at Coopers & Lybrand (now part of Pricewaterhousecoopers), then his core group left in 1988 for ICF Consulting. After that company developed financial problems, Anderson and his co-workers formed Capital Trade Inc.

Anderson was involved in student government in high school and college, and volunteered for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign as a high-school sophomore.

Anderson has served on the executive board of the Malcolm-Windover Heights Civic Association and on the town’s Windover Heights Board of Review. He was appointed to the Vienna Planning Commission in 2008 and later served as chair for a year. During his tenure, he worked on the town’s comprehensive plan and helped craft the MAC ordinance.

The Council did not reappoint Anderson to the Planning Commission in 2014, something Anderson attributed to his opposition to the MAC ordinance as then drafted. The Council passed the ordinance that fall.

If elected, Anderson said he would work to recapture consensus on development in the town, adjust Vienna’s zoning and tax laws so residents could age in place, critically examine the town government’s expenditures and build a bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists across Maple Avenue.

“Let’s build bridges to unite Vienna, not walls of over-development to divide us,” he said.

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