With downtown Herndon as her focal point, longtime Herndon resident Connie Hutchinson has once again thrown her hat into the political arena, declaring herself a candidate for the upcoming Town Council election.
"My goal for downtown is people, pedestrians, restaurant goers, workers and shoppers," said Hutchinson, manager of the year-old Visitors Center and communications coordinator for the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce.
"For the last six years, I’ve been disappointed we haven’t had more building in the downtown. Plans have not come to fruition," said Hutchinson, noting with exception, plans by private citizens Steve Mitchell and Tom Finley that have been implemented.
"I’ve known Connie for years. Her candidacy is refreshing," said Herndon resident Tim McGrath, owner of McGrath Real Estate Services in Herndon. "Connie is practical. The town has worked on a downtown plan for years that’s not implementable. She’s interested in focusing on what’s right about a project, rather than nit-picking it apart because the ordinances don’t work," he said.
Hutchinson pointed to a shortage of downtown parking and what she says are rules and guidelines that are not working for the betterment of the downtown area.
"Developers participate in PDMU [planned development mixed use] shared parking, but we’re virtually out of space," said Hutchinson. "Let’s take another look at PDMU designation and why it’s not working downtown. The ordinances don’t work well enough to better develop downtown."
Hutchinson hoped to avenge her unsuccessful bid for a council seat in 2000, when she finished seventh, one place shy of regaining a council seat she had occupied from 1992-95.
Hutchinson hoped that the future cultural arts center would make its home in the downtown area. Supporting the project with fiscal conservatism, she said, "We need to do it in a phased mode to be more fiscally responsible."
"Connie is very abreast of what’s going on," said Herndon resident Stacey Sinclair. "She’s given me valuable information that I was uncertain about. She’s been away from the inside for a while. She would provide a fresh look."
In addition to the future arts center, Hutchinson cited the need for the expanded public safety center as a higher priority. Her plan would be to add a second or third floor to the present police station. "I’m assuming that’s the most economical," she said.
While Hutchinson supports the expanded police station, she would like to keep government from expanding. "We’re leaning toward a little too much government in our personal life."
Hutchinson pointed to the gravel driveway and trash can issues as examples of government micro-managing citizens. "That’s a bad thing when we're doing that to private citizens," said Hutchinson, mother of four children, ages 17, 19, 22 and 26.
"Connie will represent the people. She’s more out to point the finger at the ordinance than the private citizen trying to navigate them," said McGrath.
"Connie would be a nice change," said Herndon resident Dave Sinclair. "She’s interested and active with what goes on. She brings a fresh look being on the outside."
Elections for Mayor and Town Council will take place on Tuesday, May 7. The filing deadline for candidates to obtain a position on the ballot is Tuesday, March 5.