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Three Vienna Town Council members, one a 12-year veteran and two who are seeking second terms, announced Feb. 1 that they will be running again in the May 4 election.
Council member Howard Springsteen will be seeking his seventh two-year term. First elected to the Council in 2009 by a two-vote margin, Springsteen has been an outspoken Council member since, especially on infrastructure issues.
“I think I still can make a difference,” he said. “I think Vienna is a great place to raise a family, a great place to do business, a great place to retire.”
One key objective if re-elected will be getting the details right in the town’s zoning-code rewrite, said Springsteen, who added that the current Council seems to be clicking.
“Our new mayor has really come on board with a lot of energy,” he said. “People are getting along now. We’re headed in a really good direction.”
Springsteen, who has lived in Vienna since 1997, previously served with the Peace Corps in Liberia, was president of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and spent eight years on the Transportation Safety Commission before joining the Council. He retired last fall as a logistics manager with the Fairfax County Department of Vehicle Services.
Council members Steve Potter and Nisha Patel first were elected in 2019 during an election where the town’s since-revoked Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning ordinance was the central issue. Voters chose Patel, Potter and Springsteen and defeated former Council member Tara Bloch, plus two other challengers. Council incumbent Carey Sienicki did not to seek re-election.
“My dad always told me, ‘Don’t start anything you don’t want to finish,’” Potter said in announcing his re-election bid.
Potter said his previous campaign had been about taking the MAC ordinance back to the drawing board and that Council had accomplished that objective within six after a healthy discussion and strong collaboration. As a result, Vienna officials now are rewriting and updating the town’s zoning code to set the stage for future success, he said.
“There’s still much to do,” Potter said. “The citizens of Vienna need an experienced Town Council to ensure transparency and to keep things on track.”
A retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, Potter spent his 35-plus-year career as a senior executive with some major corporations. He has lived in Vienna since 2004.
The Council’s decisions in the near future will affect the town for the next 50 or more years, he said.
“This is a strong Council,” Potter said. “We may not always agree on every point, but we listen to each other respectfully, weigh each other’s thoughts and make decisions that are in the best interests, long-term, of the town of Vienna.”
Patel said she was proud to have served on the Council for the last year and a half.
“During this time, I have seen this town improve its communication between citizens and the Council and the staff,” she said. “I’ve seen that we’ve all made a move toward increased transparency. I’d like to think I had a little part in that.”
Patel hoped the town could complete its zoning-code revisions within the next two years to ensure a more efficient and fair process. She also favored having the Council encourage state leaders to find ways to return public-school students safely for in-person classes.
In addition, Patel wanted to see the town government press for more improvements such sidewalks, trash receptacles, street repairs and a new Christmas tree. The Council has come together well, examined issues large and small, and tried to make a difference, she said.
Patel is medical director of the ophthalmology practice Nova Eye MD, Inc., which has offices in Vienna and Centreville. A Vienna resident since 2007, she also is an associate professor of ophthalmology at Georgetown University.
No one, whether Council incumbent or challenger, formally has submitted the necessary paperwork and signatures to run in the election, Fairfax County officials said. The filing deadline is March 2 at 7 p.m.
The Council includes six members, plus the mayor, all of whom serve two-year, at-large terms. Three Council seats are up for grabs the first Tuesday of each May, with mayoral elections held on even-numbered years.