Linda Smyth won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Providence District supervisor seat on the Fairfax County board. According to the Virginia State Board of Elections, with all 27 precincts reporting as of 8:30 p.m., Smyth won 2,380 votes, 54 percent, to Hall’s 2,023 votes, 46 percent.
"I’ve been working very hard for the last four years, and that’s what happens. People recognize that and they vote for you again," said Smyth.
Growth in the district was the main issue in the race. With ever increasing traffic congestion in most of Providence District, and major development slated for some of its areas, such as Tysons Corner and Merrifield, challenger Hall sought to establish himself as a candidate who would listen to residents’ concerns before approving large developments in the district and county. Incumbent Smyth withstood the challenge, stating that the county board has exercised responsible growth practices and, after all, quality of life in Fairfax County is good.
"I’m very, very, disappointed," said Hall about Tuesday’s loss. He said one of the biggest disappointments is that both Smyth and county board chairman Gerry Connolly openly called him a non-Democrat. However, Hall said he was pleased with his campaign. "The one positive is that we brought a lot of people into the Democratic Party and the political process," said Hall. He said his campaign proved that many people in Fairfax County want to engage in the political process. Also, Hall said the 6.6 percent voter turnout is by far the biggest turnout ever generated in a supervisor’s primary in county’s history.
Smyth said the 6 percent turnout meant that more than Democrats voted in the primary. "That is something we need to be thinking about in terms of the party," said Smyth. She added that she would continue to work for the next four years the same way she worked the past four years. "I have the same job that keeps me very busy and we’ll continue to do just what we have been doing," said Smyth.
THE TWO CANDIDATES traveled between the district’s 27 precincts during the day on Tuesday, talking to the voters at the polling places. Hall arrived at Westgate Elementary School in the Tysons Corner area around 1 p.m. "What I’m most pleased about is that the precincts where we most focused our energy have been really busy," he said. Precincts where his campaign was not well organized, he said, had lower turnouts. However, he said, he did not have to campaign hard to attract the voters. "I can’t get out and make people angry that are not angry," said Hall.
Smyth was at Nottoway Park at 5:30 p.m. "It’s still not a huge turnout," she said of the election. The larger the precinct, she said, the larger the turnout. She said most people heading into the polling places knew whom they were voting for. "Most of them more or less made up their minds," said Smyth. At some precincts, she said, people did not know there was an election. A teacher at Freedom Hill Elementary School, one of Vienna precincts, was not aware of the fact, said Smyth.
"I truly believe Linda is going to win," said Eileen Manning, north regional vice chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. Manning said Smyth worked for a tunnel through Tysons Corner — a major issue for Providence voters — as hard as anybody else had. Smyth led the fight for the underground option for the metro extension, at times clashing with Connolly, she said. Manning criticized Hall for having local Republicans working at the polling places for him.
Hall said there were Republicans working at the polls on his behalf, but added that growth and traffic issues are not partisan issues. "Connolly always wanted to see this through partisan lens" which is why he and others on the board are removed from the real issues, said Hall. If elected, Hall said he hoped Democrats and Republicans could all get reacquainted with each other to work through the problems.
George Davis cast his vote for Hall at the Magarity precinct just after 1 p.m. "Smyth is in the pockets of developers and she has ignored traffic problems around here," he said. Meanwhile 18-year-old Marshall High School senior Kathryn Klein chose to vote for Smyth at Thoreau Middle School. She said Smyth personally followed up with her family when their house was vandalized and the police failed to pursue a suspect.
Barbara Hildreth of Vienna, also voting at Thoreau, did not wish to disclose whom she voted for, but said transportation planning issues would drive her neighbors to the polls. An original owner of her house, Hildreth said for 43 years transportation planning has been the issue. She said she understands housing is needed in Fairfax County, but something else is needed with it. "And it’s called common sense," said Hildreth.
VOTER TURNOUT differed from precinct to precinct. More than 170 people voted at Nottoway Park by 10:15 a.m. Precinct captain Joanna DeLaune said the turnout was bigger than she expected. At 5:30 p.m. 320 people voted at Nottoway, a precinct with 4,553 registered voters. Chen Yang, the chief election officer at Nottoway said there had been a steady flow of voters coming throughout the day. He and the precinct volunteers hoped for 300 voters, a mark they managed to beat. The turnout, said Yang, was good for a primary election.
Election officers and volunteers at Thoreau Middle School said the morning turnout was strong in the Thoreau precinct. Chief election officer Nicholas Dorosheff said 170 people voted before noon, in a precinct of 1,586 active registered voters. "This is a very good turnout for a primary," said Dorosheff. He added that Thoreau is not an easy precinct to vote in, as the school’s parking lot is a fair distance away from the polling place, the school’s library.
Dawn Thomas, an election volunteer working at Thoreau, said growth issues and traffic congestion drove the people to vote. Also, she added, "There’s been a lot of active campaigning in this neighborhood."
Manning said she was disappointed with the voter turnout during her afternoon rounds of the polling places. "The only people who vote here are people who are annoyed" with the way things are going, said Manning. As of 12:30 p.m., 69 people voted at the Magarity precinct’s Westgate Elementary School. At the same time, she said, 30 people voted at Tysons precinct’s Fountains of McLean and another 30 people at Mantua precinct’s Kena Temple in Fairfax. As of 7:30 a.m., said Manning, 18 people voted at Kilmer precinct’s Kilmer Middle School.