Vienna mayoral candidates

Howard Springsteen, Linda Colbert and Pasha Majdi are vying to become the next mayor of Vienna.

Three Vienna Town Council incumbents running for mayor expounded different views and leadership styles during an April 4 video-recorded debate.

The Vienna Business Association and North East Vienna Citizens Association jointly sponsored the forum, in which candidates spoke from remote locations owing to the COVID-19 health crisis.

The unusual format let the public learn the candidates’ positions, but as with a forum held two days earlier for the seven Town Council candidates, allowed office seekers to read often from their talking points.

Candidates Linda Colbert, Pasha Majdi and Howard Springsteen are seeking to succeed three-term Mayor Laurie DiRocco, who is not running for re-election this year.

Springsteen, a 23-year town resident who first was elected in 2009, formerly was president of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Springsteen said he has a reputation for public service, getting things done and acting in residents’ best interest. A logistics manager with the Fairfax County Department of Vehicle Services, Springsteen said he manages contracts worth more than $20 million.

“I have a record of accomplishment that invites confidence in future performance,” he said. “Strong fiscal oversight and decisive action will be critical for the town to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic . . . I will not make unrealistic promises.”

Colbert, a teacher whose late parents were Council member Rodger Seeman and Mayor M. Jane Seeman, served on the Transportation Safety Commission member before being elected to the Council in 2014. Colbert said she misses talking with residents while door-to-door campaigning, but added the COVID-19 outbreak had changed her priorities.

“I’ve been sort of a liaison for businesses and residents and local and regional government, just trying to guide everybody through this time,” she said.

The response of town residents and businesses to the current public-health situation shows Vienna can get through any crisis together, Colbert said.

“We just need a leader that can bring us together,” she said. “Our issues are not black-and-white, and I will not use and divide our town for political gain.”

Majdi, who served on the Town/Business Liaison Committee before first being elected to Council in 2014, told of growing up in Vienna and serving as student-body president at high school and college.

“I came back home because I love my hometown and now I’m raising my family here,” he said. “Our family has four generations in Vienna because we love this town and everything it stands for.”

Majdi said he has taken the lead on the biggest town issues and was the only Council member to vote against adoption of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning ordinance in 2014.

“I see risks in advance and I apply caution,” Majdi said. “Those are the qualities we need in our town leadership right now.”

Citing tough budget times because of the virus emergency, he said the town should focus on core services such as police, public works, sanitation and utilities. With meals-tax revenues down 75 percent, the town can’t afford to spend $14.9 million on a new police station, he added.

Moderator Doug Francis asked for the candidates’ views on Maple Avenue redevelopment. Colbert favored evaluating pros and cons of the temporarily suspended MAC ordinance, and encouraging new housing options.

Springsteen said he supports redevelopment projects that protect and improve the town’s quality of life, and has voted against MAC applications that were too tall and dense. He favors buildings that have varied heights and densities, plus adequate parking and setbacks, and do not overload the town’s infrastructure.

“This is not an anti-development stance,” he said. “It’s a pro-Vienna stance.”

Majdi favors redevelopments with buildings no more than three stories tall, with traffic and school impacts accounted for.

The candidates told how they would help local businesses survive the COVID-19 situation. Majdi said he has been highlighting businesses on his campaign’s Website. He and three Council candidates who are running as a slate – Chris Wright, David Patariu and Andrea Dahl – also have put up signs at local restaurants offering “grab-and-go” food options.

Majdi also is organizing a question-and-answer session with experts at Navy Federal Credit Union to tell local businesses about new governmental programs available to them.

Colbert said Vienna businesses always have supported the town, and now it’s time to return the favor. She has been promoting local shops on Facebook and meeting with business owners to learn how the town can help. The town could aid businesses by delaying the property tax and meals-tax late fees, and connecting them with grants and federal aid, she said.

Springsteen concurred on seeking federal and state aid and delayed collections of some taxes and fees. The town had waived its sign ordinance and kept providing basic services so businesses can function, he said.

Town officials, expecting reduced revenues, also will examine ways to balance Vienna’s budget and will continue to streamline regulations, address parking concerns and speed up decision making, he said.

Asked how the town’s zoning regulations should be rewritten, Colbert desired plain language, public input and incentives for residents to stay in their homes instead of relocating.

Springsteen favored eliminating ambiguities “so what you see is what you get” and fewer interpretations are needed. The updated code will need substantial community buy-in, he said, adding, “We need to continue to move in the right direction.”

Majdi desired to stop the residential-rezoning process, which he said could lead to the loss of green space, and direct the planned $250,000 expenditure for a consulting firm to basic services and public health. After the current crisis abates, officials instead should rewrite the town’s commercial-zoning code, he said.

Regarding the town’s 8-acre property on Beulah Road, N.E., currently used for mulching, Majdi favored converting it into a park and meeting space for children. Colbert was open to that possibility, but said research and a community conversation were needed first. Springsteen agreed and added that removing the mulching operation would entail costs and other complications. Majdi responded there were ways to alter the mulching service less expensively.

Vienna officials will rebroadcast the forum multiple times each week on the town’s cable channel. To view the discussion – which also covered sustainability issues, interactions with town staff, traffic safety and the candidates’ qualifications – on the Web, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB73Td1DBmE.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Vienna Town Council incumbents running for mayor expounded different views and leadership styles during an April 4 video-recorded debate.

The Vienna Business Association and North East Vienna Citizens Association jointly sponsored the forum, in which candidates spoke from remote locations owing to the COVID-19 health crisis.

The unusual format let the public learn the candidates’ positions, but as with a forum held two days earlier for the seven Town Council candidates, allowed office seekers to read often from their talking points.

Candidates Linda Colbert, Pasha Majdi and Howard Springsteen are seeking to succeed three-term Mayor Laurie DiRocco, who is not running for re-election this year.

Springsteen, a 23-year town resident who first was elected in 2009, formerly was president of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Springsteen said he has a reputation for public service, getting things done and acting in residents’ best interest. A logistics manager with the Fairfax County Department of Vehicle Services, Springsteen said he manages contracts worth more than $20 million.

“I have a record of accomplishment that invites confidence in future performance,” he said. “Strong fiscal oversight and decisive action will be critical for the town to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic . . . I will not make unrealistic promises.”

Colbert, a teacher whose late parents were Council member Rodger Seeman and Mayor M. Jane Seeman, served on the Transportation Safety Commission member before being elected to the Council in 2014. Colbert said she misses talking with residents while door-to-door campaigning, but added the COVID-19 outbreak had changed her priorities.

“I’ve been sort of a liaison for businesses and residents and local and regional government, just trying to guide everybody through this time,” she said.

The response of town residents and businesses to the current public-health situation shows Vienna can get through any crisis together, Colbert said.

“We just need a leader that can bring us together,” she said. “Our issues are not black-and-white, and I will not use and divide our town for political gain.”

Majdi, who served on the Town/Business Liaison Committee before first being elected to Council in 2014, told of growing up in Vienna and serving as student-body president at high school and college.

“I came back home because I love my hometown and now I’m raising my family here,” he said. “Our family has four generations in Vienna because we love this town and everything it stands for.”

Majdi said he has taken the lead on the biggest town issues and was the only Council member to vote against adoption of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning ordinance in 2014.

“I see risks in advance and I apply caution,” Majdi said. “Those are the qualities we need in our town leadership right now.”

Citing tough budget times because of the virus emergency, he said the town should focus on core services such as police, public works, sanitation and utilities. With meals-tax revenues down 75 percent, the town can’t afford to spend $14.9 million on a new police station, he added.

Moderator Doug Francis asked for the candidates’ views on Maple Avenue redevelopment. Colbert favored evaluating pros and cons of the temporarily suspended MAC ordinance, and encouraging new housing options.

Springsteen said he supports redevelopment projects that protect and improve the town’s quality of life, and has voted against MAC applications that were too tall and dense. He favors buildings that have varied heights and densities, plus adequate parking and setbacks, and do not overload the town’s infrastructure.

“This is not an anti-development stance,” he said. “It’s a pro-Vienna stance.”

Majdi favors redevelopments with buildings no more than three stories tall, with traffic and school impacts accounted for.

The candidates told how they would help local businesses survive the COVID-19 situation. Majdi said he has been highlighting businesses on his campaign’s Website. He and three Council candidates who are running as a slate – Chris Wright, David Patariu and Andrea Dahl – also have put up signs at local restaurants offering “grab-and-go” food options.

Majdi also is organizing a question-and-answer session with experts at Navy Federal Credit Union to tell local businesses about new governmental programs available to them.

Colbert said Vienna businesses always have supported the town, and now it’s time to return the favor. She has been promoting local shops on Facebook and meeting with business owners to learn how the town can help. The town could aid businesses by delaying the property tax and meals-tax late fees, and connecting them with grants and federal aid, she said.

Springsteen concurred on seeking federal and state aid and delayed collections of some taxes and fees. The town had waived its sign ordinance and kept providing basic services so businesses can function, he said.

Town officials, expecting reduced revenues, also will examine ways to balance Vienna’s budget and will continue to streamline regulations, address parking concerns and speed up decision making, he said.

Asked how the town’s zoning regulations should be rewritten, Colbert desired plain language, public input and incentives for residents to stay in their homes instead of relocating.

Springsteen favored eliminating ambiguities “so what you see is what you get” and fewer interpretations are needed. The updated code will need substantial community buy-in, he said, adding, “We need to continue to move in the right direction.”

Majdi desired to stop the residential-rezoning process, which he said could lead to the loss of green space, and direct the planned $250,000 expenditure for a consulting firm to basic services and public health. After the current crisis abates, officials instead should rewrite the town’s commercial-zoning code, he said.

Regarding the town’s 8-acre property on Beulah Road, N.E., currently used for mulching, Majdi favored converting it into a park and meeting space for children. Colbert was open to that possibility, but said research and a community conversation were needed first. Springsteen agreed and added that removing the mulching operation would entail costs and other complications. Majdi responded there were ways to alter the mulching service less expensively.

Vienna officials will rebroadcast the forum multiple times each week on the town’s cable channel. To view the discussion – which also covered sustainability issues, interactions with town staff, traffic safety and the candidates’ qualifications – on the Web, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB73Td1DBmE.

 

 

 

 

 

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