A who’s who in Herndon turned out in support of Town Councilman Richard C. "Rick" Thoesen as he kicked off his campaign for mayor Thursday night, March 7 at the Centennial Golf Course Club House.
"We were opponents in 1988," said former mayoral candidate and town councilman Richard Downer, attending the event to support his former colleague. "He’s a good man. I’ve enjoyed working with him. His engineering background is a big help," said Downer.
"I just think he’s cute," said Downer’s wife Linda Downer.
More than 100 people — town residents and non-town residents alike attended the Thoesen kick off, including Mayor Carol Bruce and four of the five remaining members of the Town Council, save for Thoesen’s opponent Councilman William "Bill" Tirrell, Sr.
While Bruce and vice mayor John De Noyer declined to comment on their presence at the Thoesen kickoff, Councilman Dennis Husch said he supports Thoesen "absolutely 100 percent. He’s the right guy for the job — a team builder and a guy that can make a difference. He listens to people."
"I’m here to pass out my brochures," said Councilman Harlon Reece. "I was invited by Rick. I’m a little uncomfortable saying publicly that I support Rick with two fellow council members running against each other," he said.
"I SUPPORT his long history of achievement, working with people and bringing consensus to the table. I’ve seen him deal with contentious issues on the arts center committee," said eight-year Herndon resident Carol Worth, a member of the cultural arts center advisory committee with Thoesen.
"Experience, experience, experience," said Thom Hanes, Thoesen’s campaign treasurer. "He knows what he’s doing," said Hanes.
"I’ve known Rick over 10 years," said 12-year Herndon resident Sheila Olem. "I’ve known him professionally and through his work on the [Fairfax County] Park Authority," said Olem, who serves with Thoesen on the Federal Water Quality Association. "He’s an approachable person – someone people can talk to," she said.
"I’ve known Rick for many years," said longtime Herndon resident and former chairman of the Town’s Planning Commission, Charles "Charlie" Allen. "When Rick was mayor he had vision, leadership — he acted on a lot of critical issues and helped transform the community in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He’s extraordinarily experienced. With Tom Rust moving on to higher office, Rick brings leadership, experience and integrity. He helped form the Council for the Arts and adopted Herndon’s downtown plan," said Allen from the podium addressing the gathering Thursday evening.
"Rick, in his very nice way, is an absolutely relentless and effective advocate for Herndon," said former Dranesville representative to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Lilla Richards. "He made sure the Board of Supervisors knew that Herndon’s level of effort in providing services and amenities for its residents far exceeded anything ever done in McLean or Great Falls or anywhere else in the county," she said.
FOLLOWING THE SPEAKERS on behalf of Thoesen, the candidate himself took to the podium. "If Michael Jordan can come back, so can I," said Thoesen referring to the now injured Washington Wizards basketball player as he held a wood sign from his first campaign of 1982.
"The mayor and town council campaign is not just about how to control raising taxes, but how we can raise our children. This campaign is not about quality of service, but quality of life. This campaign is not about me or any of the candidates really, it is about us," said Thoesen.
Thoesen acknowledged some of the concerns facing the Town of Herndon, such as protection of property values, overcrowding and absentee landlords, traffic, the need for new, young leaders in the community and immigrants seeking "day labor jobs working in the black market — "a situation that won’t change unless they begin to understand that they need to learn English."
"I thought for a couple of weeks about his becoming a candidate," said Judy Thoesen about her husband of 32 years. "He has this desire to finish the job he started. He wants to revitalize the community. I just couldn’t say no — that’s the bottom line," she said.
THE TIRRELL CAMPAIGN has been up and running for several weeks without the fanfare of a kickoff event. "My campaign is literally in the street since I have been told I was officially on the ballot," said Tirrell. "I have knocked on over 700 doors. The objective is to knock on every door in town. The folks out there are the ones who go to the polls. As the underdog candidate it is wise to go out and meet voters and not spend my time at parties. I am doing what I know to do," he said.
A candidates’ forum, sponsored by the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce, is tentatively planned for Tuesday evening, April 30, said chamber president Eileen Curtis.