For the first time in over a decade the race for mayor in the Town of Herndon will be competitive. Five-term incumbent Town Councilman William B. "Bill" Tirrell, Sr. declared in a brief statement, "I am going to run for mayor," on Sunday evening, Jan. 27.
"I think the town deserves good leadership and I think I can provide it," said Tirrell adding that he gave "considerable thought" before making his decision to throw his hat into the ring. "When I knew Tom [Rust] would be running for delegate and would apparently win, I started thinking about it," he said.
Having garnered more than the required 125 signatures of Town of Herndon residents to be placed on the May 7 ballot, Tirrell said, "This will be a race based upon merit and I've decided it's worth my time to run. I walked all of my own mayoral sheets," he said, referring to the common practice employed by council candidates to gather signatures. "I'm walking the town and getting the lay of the land with the voters." Tirrell said it was his goal to submit his forms to the county registrar's office by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30.
"I think it's a good idea," said 17-year Herndon resident Roxie Duerden of Tirrell's candidacy for mayor. "Bill is somebody you can trust. He does what he says he's going to do. I've known him for at least 10 years and you can count on him," she said.
<mh>A Race For or Against?
<bt>"I'm very pleased there's going to be more than one candidate running for mayor — it's healthy for the community," said council candidate and former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Judy Downer. "Bill has served for 10 years on Town Council and is certainly a very capable candidate."
"It gives the voters two very qualified candidates," she said, referring to both Tirrell and incumbent Councilman Richard C. "Rick" Thoesen. Thoesen announced his candidacy shortly after former mayor Thomas Davis Rust won his election last November for the House of Delegates.
"Rick and I met at the Amphora and chatted back and forth about who would do what," said Tirrell. "We met in December and had a philosophical discussion about the town. I've known Rick 20-odd years. I'm not running against Rick — I'm running for mayor," he said.
A Herndon resident since April 1978 with Jan, his wife of 34 years this June, Tirrell is the father of two children and has five grandchildren, the most recent born Sept. 10 last year. Prior to his first council victory in 1990, Tirrell served on the town's Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and Architectural Review Board.
Seeking reelection in 1992, Tirrell lost — finishing seventh, missing the sixth place council seat by nine votes. He successfully hit the campaign trail again in 1994 with a victory. In 1996 Tirrell won reelection finishing second behind Thoesen by one vote and in 1998 Tirrell again finished second to Thoesen by three votes.
<mh>Facing the People
<bt>"I have a positive and assertive approach which occasionally draws criticism — which I think are valuable to the person who serves as mayor," said Tirrell, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and the Naval Post Graduate School in 1978 with an M.S. in financial management. Tirrell retired after a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy and currently works for the Department of Defense.
Tirrell has been involved with organizations such as the Optimist Club of Herndon, the Jaycees, American Legion Post 184, Sister Cities International, Spina Bifida Association, Friends of Runnymede Park and the Boy Scouts.
"I understand he's been involved with a lot of organizations, including the Boy Scouts — and how unorganized they were prior to his arrival and how he's turned it around," said Herndon resident Stacey Sinclair. "People there have praised his good works. As mayor, he'll probably do a good job. I think he's very diplomatic and he pays attention to detail," she said.
The deciding factor for Tirrell in declaring his candidacy was the "sense that I have a good opportunity to present myself and my positions to the voting public and to receive a straight forward hearing from the voters."
Such positions include making "phase one of the police station priority one," said Tirrell. The current facility, he said, is "satisfactory for about 20 officers. Currently there are over 50 sworn officers plus support staff. We need to provide them proper facilities to do their jobs." Phase one calls for a building to be added to the grounds of the existing police department.
Tirrell also supports the advent of a cultural arts center in Herndon, calling it a "want" rather than a need. "We have to put some serious money into this — for land — sooner rather than later. If the land gets away from us, the ability to construct a downtown cultural arts center disappears," he said.
In addition to calling for an examination of the needs of the Herndon Community Center, Tirrell also supports enhancements to Runnymede Park while maintaining it as a natural park.
"What I like about Bill is that he has an opinion on everything — he's not wishy-washy — and I like that about him," said Herndon resident Dave Sinclair. "You know where he stands. He's the kind of candidate you can get behind."