On May 1, three of Vienna’s six council members will look to retain their seats against the challenges of two candidates; approximately 10,500 are eligible to vote in the town election.
George Lovelace and Maud Robinson will look for re-election to 10th and fourth terms respectively, while council member Dan Dellinger is looking to retain the seat to which he was appointed in October of last year.
DELLINGER, WHO was appointed by the current council late last year to fill the spot of departing two-term council member Syd Verinder, said that he is focusing on hearing resident concerns and suggestions as he works this month to get out among Vienna voters. He fell short of a council seat in 2003, and is looking to win his first election.
Dellinger, 57, a former Army infantry captain who was raised in Vienna, currently works as a senior project manager for a municipal and commercial construction contractor in Falls Church. A graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he has lived in the Town of Vienna after relocating for college and the military, since 1985.
Dellinger sits on the board of directors for the local non-profit Historic Vienna, Inc. and is a former member of the town’s Architectural Review Board.
"I grew up in Vienna, so I’ve seen Vienna evolve, so I think we need to continue to work hard to keep Vienna as great of a town as it is," Dellinger said.
His biggest concerns for Vienna include finding new ways to mitigate traffic jams in town and increasing pedestrian safety, he said.
"As I’m going around door to door talking to the citizens, it’s the traffic that I hear most people talking about," Dellinger said. Some of his ideas for tackling these problems include finding ways to increase the efficiency of the flow of traffic through Maple Avenue and working to introduce a shuttle system in town.
Selectivity of architecture style and a low height are his keys for a downtown development strategy for certain areas in Vienna, he said.
"Before we get into just blanket stamping of [developments] we need to look at architectural designs, we need to look at proper zoning requirements," Dellinger said. "If you use architectural standards and design standards that are cohesive to the town, why can’t we have better buildings?"
THIS WILL BE the second election in as many years for Lovelace, 70, who ran unsuccessfully against current Mayor M. Jane Seeman in last year’s election. Lovelace, who served on Vienna’s Town Council from 1982 to 1996 before moving to become the delegate of Virginia’s 53rd district as a Democrat, returned to the council in 2003 following his defeat in his bid for a second term as a state legislator.
Lovelace, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and a master’s degree in telecommunications from George Washington University.
He said that his tenure as a Vienna elected official has been characterized in his vision of himself as a "standard-bearer" for the town.
"I’ve grown to understand Vienna, grown to understand what it is to be in Vienna, and how it’s important to retain those ideals that the town was founded on," said Lovelace, a 32-year resident of Vienna. "The last thing I want to see happen is for Vienna to lose its unique quality."
The biggest priorities for Lovelace in the coming term include maintaining and improving Vienna’s park system, civic functions and town facilities as well as working with Fairfax County to develop a local bus system to help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce pollution, he said.
When it comes to downtown development, Lovelace said that he remains open-minded to all suggestions, but stands firmly in his belief that Vienna should not become an area similar to Tyson’s Corner or Ballston in Arlington.
"I always have to ask the question, does Vienna need it and will it retain our small town character?" he said. "The last thing you want to see is something that’s cavernous or overwhelming. This is not Tyson’s Corner … we have to make sure that our decisions reflect that."
THE PRESERVATION of Vienna’s small town character remains Robinson’s highest priority towards extending her tenure as a council member as she looks to retain her seat for her fourth elected term. Robinson, 80, the wife of the late Charles Robinson who served as mayor of Vienna for 24 years, was appointed in January 2000 to fill a vacancy on the council after her husband died.
A graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts, Robinson has been a member of Vienna’s Architectural Review Board, a board member of Historic Vienna, Inc., and a member of the Church Street Vision Committee.
The most pressing need for Vienna, said Robinson, includes the need for increased sidewalk construction in town, more ways to manage traffic and an increase to downtown parking.
In addition to her desire for improvements to the town infrastructure, limiting blanket redevelopment to downtown Vienna has become one of her biggest issues, Robinson added.
"I’ve lived in this community and invested myself in this community for the last half century and I want to preserve it as the small town community that it is," she said. "Developers always look to recreate and imitate a small town nowadays, but we don’t need any imitation in Vienna, we have the real thing right here."
For this reason, Robinson said that she wants to limit mixed-use and higher elevation development, as any major changes that follow could disrupt the original character of Vienna. But if there is a practical reason that could improve the quality of life for Vienna residents and those visiting downtown, some special exceptions could be made, she added.
"We need to preserve Vienna’s low skyline … that’s an important element of Vienna’s character," Robinson said. "At the same time, [I] accept the fact that our height level might need to be increased in certain areas … for a parking garage."