The Republican Club of Greater Reston used its monthly meeting slot at Reston Community Center at Lake Anne as a chance to hear from independent candidates for the Hunter Mill District supervisor seat, Marie Huhtala and Mike Williams.
However, only Huhtala attended Friday’s meeting. She said the main concerns of those who attended related to uncontrolled growth in the county. As far as Hunter Mill-specific issues are concerned, Huhtala said the public was upset about the way the county board handled the Planned Residential Community (PRC) Ordinance amendment in March. If elected, she promised to immediately set up a task force to revisit the ordinance and Reston’s Master Plan.
"It’s past time to do those things. The area has changed so much in 40 years," she said.
HUHTALA SAID she was also upset with the county board’s process when it decided to amend the PRC ordinance, not taking into account testimonies of Reston groups who advocated its review prior to its amendment. "I will advocate openness and responsiveness when people talk to the board," said Huhtala. She said the board should not vote on issues moments after it hears concerns from citizens at public hearings. Those who testify at the public hearings take their time to prepare their statements and have to confront a board in what is an intimidating environment, and they deserve to have their testimonies reviewed. "It is fundamentally undemocratic and flawed" for the Board of Supervisors to vote right after hearing citizen concerns regarding the issues, said Huhtala.
Jack Kenny, vice president of the Republican Club of Greater Reston, said the club did not seek to endorse any of the candidates. The meeting was an informational session, and was open to all residents, not just members of the club. He said about 50 people attended the meeting, and many of them were people he had not seen in any Republican meetings before that. Kenny also said that growth in the county was the main concern brought up the meeting. "We’re going to get a lot more people in Reston, and the general sense is that we don’t particularly like it," he said.
Kenny compared today’s growth issues to the 1987 Board of Supervisors election, when slow-growth Democrat Audrey Moore defeated Republican incumbent Jack Herrity in 1987 to become the board’s chair. He said current chair Gerry Connolly and Hunter Mill supervisor Catherine Hudgins, both Democrats, are under developers’ influence, and it may hurt them in the November election. "Connolly and Hudgins are attached at the hip with the developers," he said.
WILLIAMS SAID in a phone interview that he did not attend Friday’s meeting because it did not fit into his campaign strategy. "I don’t view myself as someone who is pitted against Marie Huhtala, but as someone who wants Cathy Hudgins’ job," he said. Growth is an important issue, he said, and there is a need to build infrastructure to support the growth. However, it is also important not to get caught up with a single issue, but rather to consider growth in synergy with other issues, such as education. "If we look at [the issues] as individual problems, then we will never balance them," said Williams. He added that he would appreciate a chance to talk to local Republicans and hear what issues are important to them, and that he extended that message to them in his response not to attend Friday’s meeting.