When councilwoman Edythe Kelleher campaigned for her council seat last year, she had a goal of knocking on 1,400 doors. She only made it to 1,200 doors because the hot April weather slowed her down. Still, getting to know town citizens was one of her campaign goals.
"Be prepared to work hard. Both campaigning and being on the council require you to be very available to citizens," Kelleher said in an e-mail, when asked what advice she would give to this year's round of council candidates running for three seats, two of which are open since two council members are leaving..
Councilwoman Laurie Cole agreed. Cole also ran successfully last year.
"Understand that there's always going to be more than one side to a question or issue," Cole said.
Indeed, five citizens and one council member are hustling to gain a seat at the council elections in May. Councilwoman Maud Robinson is up for re-election, and council members Vince Olson and Mike Polychrones are giving up their seats. Olson wants to retire from council service, while Polychrones seeks to run for the 35th district seat for the House of Delegates, which is currently held by Jeannemarie Devolites.
Interested citizens had until March 4 to file their candidacy with the county. As of late February, the following candidates have stated their intentions to run:
As someone born and bred in Vienna, council candidate Dan Dellinger wants to see Vienna keep the small-town feel it’s had since his youth.
"I like to preserve [Vienna] so that when my daughter grows up and she wants to come back to Vienna, there will still be that unique town," Dellinger said.
Many locals know Dellinger, 53, through the American Legion, where Dellinger has volunteered as a post and state commander. He currently sits on the national legislative council for the Legion, a group that advises Congress on veteran policy.
Dellinger had spent eight years in the Army and the Reserves, as an infantry captain.
"Veterans of our country are always special because they’re the ones who fought for our freedoms today," Dellinger said.
As a long-time member of the Vienna community, Dellinger said he has been satisfied with the way the town has been run over the years. If elected, Dellinger said he would bring his leadership experience into the council, as well as his experience with budgeting, through his job as a construction project manager. His interests in the town include maintaining good infrastructure and traffic flow, as well as encouraging businesses to set up shop in Vienna. As a father of a teenage daughter, Dellinger also wanted to see the teen center continue.
"Anytime you get someone new on the council, you get a different perspective," Dellinger said.
Dellinger lives with his wife, Margaret, and their two children, Anne and Scott.
For twice a day everyday, Vienna residents may see Ken Kemper walking his five dogs along neighborhood streets behind the Library and Magruders. The dogs, as well as two cats he has at home, are all rescues from the animal shelter.
"I’m known as the dog man of Vienna," Kemper said.
Like his neighbors, Kemper would like to see Vienna keep its small-town charm. A Vienna resident for 31 years, Kemper wants to give back to the community that he has lived in for so long. As a broadcaster for 45 years with the last 20 at the Voice of America, Kemper, 70, says his communication skills will benefit the town and the council.
"I would just like to listen to what the citizens have one their minds and try to address them," Kemper said. "I know how to listen and I know how to contact people and get things done, and I believe that’s important."
As a retiree and a parent of three grown children, Kemper hopes that the next stage of his life will include opportunities of contributing to the town that he has lived in for so long. One issue he would like to address is traffic, particularly speeding.
"I figured it’s time to give something back," Kemper said.
Since moving to Vienna eight years ago, Paul Layer, 49, has served in several community functions. When not working as an architect or taking his two children to school, Layer serves on the board of architectural review commission and is vice chair of the Route 123 vision committee. Before that, Layer served on the Church Street vision committee, whose findings later became part of the Vienna code.
Layer also participates in the neighborhood watch program for Windover Heights.
"My interest in the town has been growing over the years," Layer said.
If elected, Layer says his expertise as an architect will benefit the town and the council. His interests include town development and preservation, especially in light of Fairfax County’s growth. Layer said his planning background as an architect allows him to think of planning in terms of design and visuals, two ways that would provide a unique perspective as the town and county go through its growing pains.
"I think I will bring another dimension" to the council, Layer said.
Layer lives with his wife Carol and their two children, Tess, 8, and Cleo, 5.
After a short hiatus away from politics, former town councilman and former Virginia delegate George Lovelace is back. Serving the community and keeping its small-town feel are two reasons why Lovelace is running for council.
"I still have that burning desire to serve the community. And I couldn't think of a better community to serve than Vienna," Lovelace said.
Lovelace, who served on council from 1982 to 1996, also served in the House of Delegates from 1996 to 1998, representing the 35th district. Prior to town council, Lovelace co-founded the Malcolm Windover Heights Civic Association, where they lobbied for neighborhood improvements for drainage and street lamps.
With his time in the Virginia legislature, Lovelace says he gained even more experience in making sure resources are applied appropriately. He also says his county involvement and knowledge of county issues and people will help the town navigate its growth and maintain its small-town feel. He currently serves in the small business commission for Fairfax County, and represents the commission for the Wilson Bridge project. He has also served as a planning commissioner for both the county and the town.
"I want to be a firm voice...I'm going to work to ensure that our boundaries are not invaded," Lovelace said.
Lovelace, a retired Army officer, is a consultant for the telecommunications industry. He enjoys golf and volunteers with CASA, court-appointed special advocates. He lives in Vienna with his wife, Donalda. They have two grown children.
A council member since 2000, Maud Robinson is seeking re-election to ensure that the town keep its small-town feel in the midst of encroaching development.
"We have, over the years, developed a town over which we can be proud," Robinson said.
Robinson, whose husband Charlie had served as councilman and mayor until his death in 2000, first became appointed to council to take Jane Seeman's seat when Seeman became mayor. Robinson then won a council seat in the 2001 election. Besides council, Robinson serves on the board for Historic Vienna, Inc., and is a member of the Ayr Hill Garden Club and the American Legion. She is also an honorary member of the Vienna Rotary Club.
Before serving on council, Robinson pushed the town to create an architectural review board and a transitional office zone to act as a buffer between commercial and residential. She also was involved in groups responsible for creating the Vienna public library and the community center.
If re-elected, Robinson said her agenda includes keeping the tax rate low, maintaining town services and ensuring that the budget is fiscally sound.
"You can make change work to the town's advantage," Robinson said.
As chairman of the town's planning commission, Sydney "Syd" Verinder believes his experience will benefit the town as it navigates its development.
"I've seen a good broad section of how the town's development is moving forward," said Verinder, 51. Verinder has been a member of the planning commission for nine years. "So many of our issues that go forward in town are land-use...if the citizens let me, I'll be on the other end."
Verinder decided to run because he says the skills he's gained working in the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation will also benefit the town as well. As an analyst, he examines the performance and efficiency of department programs. In his position, he has worked with budgets and comprehensive plans.
If elected, Verinder said his four priorities are to maintain fiscal responsibility, support public safety, encourage civic participation within the community and cultivate relationships with the business community.
"I think the character of a town like Vienna depends on the citizenry...and the good, solid business that we need."
When not at his job, Verinder serves as a neighborhood watch block captain for the Northwest Vienna Citizens Association. He also volunteers at the Church of the Holy Comforter and raises puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Verinder lives with his wife, Laura, and their three children.
"I enjoy people, I enjoy being in the community setting where I think I can have a positive role," Verinder said.