First elected in 1999 as the Hunter Mill District representative on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Cathy Hudgins announced at the Jan. 22 Board Meeting that she would not seek reelection this year.
After 20 years in the position, Hudgins has decided to retire when her fifth term concludes at year end.
A champion of many social issues and of the Metro and other transportation improvements in the district, Hudgins has faced some of her loudest and largest critics in the last few years – particularly among Reston residents. Vehement opposition arose to her support of allowing higher density development in Reston.
Five Democratic candidates are looking to occupy Hudgins’ seat when the new Board convenes. For the first time in recent memory, the race will include a Democratic Primary to be held on June 11. On the ballot will be:
- Walter Alcorn, serving 16 years on the county’s Planning Commission and two on the Park Authority carries the endorsements of current Board Chair Sharon Bulova and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11).
- Laurie Dodd – a child advocate attorney and former an environmental lawyer, long-time Reston resident Dodd has worked for progressive candidates and improvements for the community.
- Shyamali Hauth – an Air Force veteran with 10 years of active duty, Hauth is a local small business owner and the Chair of the Outreach Committee for the Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee.
- Maggie Parker – executive with Reston-based Comstock Developers, the force behind much of Reston’s recent major development projects. Parker sees her employment and experience as an asset to her candidacy, stating that with her background she can work most effectively with that sector to produce the best results for all.
- Parker Messik – the youngest of the candidates, having just graduated from Roanoke College in June 2018. His youth and inexperience relative to his opponents don’t seem to faze or deter him as he campaigns on a platform to stop big development, particularly in Reston and Vienna, to end the Reston Town Center parking scheme, to support schools, transportation improvement and to expand affordable housing in the region.
So far, their meetings at local debates and forums have been admirably civil. At a North County Supervisor Candidate Forum on the Environment hosted by nonprofit 350Fairfax on May 6, there was unanimous agreement on the threat of climate change and the need to pick up the pace of local government’s response to what most of the attending Hunter Mill and Providence Districts candidates named as a crisis, even as they offered variations on solutions, ranging from the “one small change can make a big difference” to the “fight the issue on a regional/state/federal level” approaches.
Despite the relative cordiality during the public events, things have turned a bit more heated of late with Dodd “disappointment to learn that [opponent] Walter Alcorn received contributions from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization funded by the Koch Brothers … ALEC has pushed … state laws to bolster gun rights, allow environmental degradation, restrict voting rights, … cripple collective bargaining … privatize essential public functions, along with many other extreme laws …”
Alcorn responded swiftly, returning the two individual contributions of $250 to the donors working for ALEC which his campaign apparently accepted without prior knowledge of the ALEC association. He also categorically denied breaking a campaign promise to not accept contributions from developers, stating that his pledge was not to accept campaign funds from developers with land use cases in the Hunter Mill District, and he maintains that he has been true to that pledge.
Reston-based nonprofit Cornerstones hosted the quintet of candidates on May 13, this time focused on affordable housing – or the lack, thereof – in the community.
The Connection offered all five candidates the opportunity to submit their response to identical questionnaires.
Name: Walter Alcorn
Education: University of Virginia, 1988
Family: Wife, Kristina, 2 children
Native of: Virginia
Moved to District: 1995
Why are you running?
Walter Alcorn has lived in Vienna and Reston since 1995. He was awarded the 2011 Fairfax County Citizen of the Year by the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations for his work on the Planning Commission where he served from 1997 - 2012. On the Planning Commission he established the first requirement that all new residential development offset its impact on public facilities, created the first requirement that new high-rise development include affordable housing, developed the first County policy to maximize pervious surfaces, and brought citizens into the re-planning of Tysons Corner from which emerged a consensus plan that received the 2012 Burnham Award from the American Planning Association. More recently he led a volunteer effort with citizens, developers and housing advocates to create a blueprint for reforming Fairfax County’s land use policies to get more affordable housing.
In addition to County volunteer activities Walter has an environmental career that spans the public and private sectors, and now serves as VP of Environmental Affairs and Industry Sustainability for the Consumer Technology Association.
Walter is running to manage growth while providing more affordable housing, fully fund our schools, and protect and expand our green spaces. As County Supervisor Walter will initiate key fixes to Reston’s comprehensive plan (e.g., remove village center density, incorporate population projections and conditions), initiate policies to get more affordable housing from underutilized office parks and commercial centers, explore long-term local financing options for maintaining our schools and county services, and empower citizens to engage constructively in the land use decision processes.
Name: Laurie Dodd
Education: Duke University, BS in Zoology, 1982
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, JD, 1987
Family: Husband, Steve Dodd, Children: Kevin (25) and Emma (23)
Native of: Cleveland, Ohio. Grew up in Atlanta, Ga.
Moved to your district:
Prior and current professional, political and civic experiences, community involvement etc.
- Current Child Advocate Attorney for neglected and abused children, advocating for their educational and mental health needs, and in court hearings.
- Former Legal Services lawyer representing low income tenants and homeless people
- Former Environmental attorney representing Friends of the Earth in Clean Water Act cases
- Involved with PTA at several Fairfax County Public Schools, swim team, scouting, 4-H, etc.
- Long-time Democrat, elected to serve as a delegate at 2016 Democratic National Convention
Why are you running?
“I want to protect the district from uncontrolled development. As a parent and child advocate, I will ensure that our school system and mental health systems are top notch. I want to increase affordable housing in all parts of the county. And I will take action to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change.”
What do you see as the top issues in your district and what solutions do you propose?
- The top issue in our district is uncontrolled development. As supervisor, I would not approve any more residential development without asking whether we have the schools, roads, parks, and public safety to serve them. We need transit-oriented development and expansion of affordable housing opportunities. I will not give up one more inch of the district to unplanned growth.
Environmental issues - Fairfax County should take the lead in addressing environmental issues through a public private partnership, engaging our wealth of technology companies and others – Google, Amazon, INOVA Hospital, Mars, Hilton, WMATA – to find innovative solutions. We must move forward with a community-wide energy and climate action plan. Replacing our streetlights with efficient LED lighting is a good start that must be followed by bold action, including a focus on our transportation system.
Education. Fund universal pre-K. Pay raises for teachers and staff, while class sizes are reduced. When we have more than 800 trailer classrooms in Fairfax County, saying that our school system is “fully funded” rings hollow. I will work with the school board to ensure that we provide a world-class education to our children and future leaders.”
Key ways you differ from your opponents?
“I am the only candidate in this race who has the breadth of experience in our district, who does not take a dime from corporations or developers – no matter where they have projects, who has advocacy skills to speak up for our residents, and who is beholden to no one but the citizens of Hunter Mill District. This is the leadership we need, now and for the future of Hunter Mill.”
Name: Shyamali Hauth
Education: B.A. in Psychology and Management from Saint Leo University ‘90; M.S. in Human Resource Management from Troy State University ‘92
Family: Husband, Chris Hauth, Four Children - Nyx, Christian, Justin, and Brandon
Native of: I was born in Rachni, India and grew up in Seattle, Wash.
Moved to your district: 2015
- Air Force Veteran, 10 Years Active Duty
- Human Resource Manager
- Speech, Communication, & Leadership Professor at Spokane Community Colleges
- Small Business Owner – Mahari Yoga
- Founder of Hear our Voice-Reston (HOV-R)
- Chair, Veterans & Military Families Committee for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee
- Chair, Outreach Committee for the Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee
Why are you running?
“Hunter Mill deserves a leader who will guide us into 2020 with the vision, integrity, and compassion to bring innovation to our community - a leader that reflects the great diversity of thought and culture across our region. That leader is me.
I have led a life of service around the world, across this great nation, and right here in Fairfax County. I want Fairfax County, and specifically the Hunter Mill District, to be the leader of a progressive vision of community … We need new leadership that reflects the desires and diversity of the community. As a grassroots community organizer, I understand the benefit of building a community from the ground up. I understand the importance of engaging voters in decisions that will affect their lives.”
Top 3 issues in your district and what solutions your propose?
“Climate Change - We need a multi-faceted and bold approach to addressing climate change in Fairfax County. Increase minimum LEED standard to Gold for any new construction and renovation — with an incentive for Platinum. Solar panels on schools and government buildings is a start, but we also need to encourage our businesses to do the same and reduce our overall energy use. We must also reduce traffic congestion by lowering the cost of and increasing the use of public transportation systems. Making walking and biking safer through appropriate lighting and the development of bike friendly transit zones will also reduce our energy consumption and improve the quality of life. Additionally, we can initiate several consumer-oriented changes like a single use plastics ban, an increased emphasis on waste reduction, and the introduction of front yard gardens and zero-scapes.
- Affordable Housing - a S.M.A.R.T.E. (Safe, Mixed Income, Accessible, Reasonably Priced, Transit-oriented, and Environmentally Sustainable) housing plan. This plan is comprehensive and would incentivize new construction and renovations to include percentages of housing accessible to various income levels. We need to be creative and use the concepts of tiny or small houses, add-on mother-in-law style apartments, utilizing existing offices and other buildings for new housing and community space, and creating community based housing to ensure we draw from as many sources as possible to address the needs of the county.
- Education - Teacher and staff pay needs to improve and we need to bring equity across the school system. For both safety and to improve the learning environment we need to address the overcrowding and excessive use of trailers. Offering apprenticeships for those not choosing to attend college, or skills-based learning for students of differing abilities. We also need to ensure our curriculum is inclusive and welcoming.
Key ways you differ from your opponents?
*I am the only veteran running for this seat. I fully understand the sacrifices that must be made in order to serve the people and I am willing to make these sacrifices.
I have a unique life experience that allows me to fully grasp the diversity of our district and advocate for our constituents’ needs.
I’m an Indian immigrant. I was born in Ranchi, India, and became a naturalized citizen in 1983. I am part of the 30.8 percent of Fairfax County that is foreign-born.
I’m the mother of a transgender non-binary child and a grandmother of a child with autism.
As an Air Force Veteran and military spouse, I have lived all over the United States and the world, giving me a diversity of experiences which I can bring to the Board of Supervisors. I have seen how local governments operate elsewhere, as well as creative ways problems were resolved, and will bring these ideas to the table.”
Name: Parker Messick
Education: Roanoke College, BA with a major in political science
Family: Engaged to my Fiancée Jennifer, we are getting married next year
Native of: Virginia. Born in Richmond lived in Fairfax County almost entire life
Move to District: 2000
Prior professional experience?
“I have worked in polling and campaigning prior to my run. Most recently I worked on Carter Turner's special election race to try and flip the House of Delegates.
Why are you running?
“I am running because I feel the voices of the average citizen in the Hunter Mill District are not being reflected in our county government. Particularly on the issue of development where we have seen large amounts of development occur that have been unwanted and deeply opposed by much of the community. This development has been pushed through despite intense opposition.”
Top 3 issues in your district?
“Excessive unwanted development, the paid parking at Reston Town Center, and education.
On the key issue of development I will use the county's zoning power to block new developments in Reston that the people do not want. In Vienna I will work with the town council to see that the people of Vienna's wishes are successfully implemented as well.
The Reston Town Center was able to implement paid parking because a single developer, Boston Properties, was able to acquire all the land. I plan to negotiate a deal between them and the county to see that the paid parking program permanently end.
When it comes to education I want to see that our schools’ are fully funded and our teachers are paid better. In addition, I want to be advocate for special needs students. As someone who is autistic myself, (Asperger's Syndrome) I know first-hand the need to promote neurodiversity and make our schools a place where all students can succeed.”
Key ways you differ from your opponents?
“I am the only candidate to make firm campaign promises about ending the paid parking at the Reston Town Center and I have kept it as one of my main two issues my entire campaign. Additionally, I have taken the strongest stance when it comes to pushing back against large scale development in the Hunter Mill District. I also support allowing neighborhoods that consist of single family homes to remain as is, instead of rezoning them for other purposes such a duplexes or multiple houses per lot.”
Name: Maggie Parker
Education: College of the Holy Cross, BA History 1981
Family: Divorced, son RJ, 29
Native of: Connecticut
Moved to your
District: Moved to Fairfax County in 1986, Reston in 2012
Prior current and current professional and political experience, community involvement, etc.:
“Public relations executive with Comstock, an asset management and development company headquartered in Reston, guiding Comstock’s Affordable Housing Policy, significantly exceeding Fairfax County’s policy and already producing 88 units at Reston Station – many more to come
- Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce
- Reston Hospital Center
- Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance
- Greater Reston Arts Center
- Wolf Trap Foundation Associates
- Chair, Public Art Reston
- Chair, Reston Transportation Service District Advisory Board
- Loudoun Transportation Advisory Board
- Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce
Why are you running?
“I believe that for our government to work, each individual should take responsibility; my life's opportunities of professional work, community service, and motherhood have provided a rich palette of experiences to bring to the job of governing as Supervisor; my experiences of working with the region's governing organizations, stakeholders and staff have well prepared me to affect positive change.”
Top three issues?
“Affordable Housing: Increase contribution to Affordable Housing Fund from one-half cent to 1.5 cents; Additional tax on commercial space built in County for Affordable Housing Fund; Zoning modifications to allow for properties to be used for affordable housing solutions; Reducing Property Taxes; Supporting economic development to provide additional tax base that can offset residential rates; Reviewing tax relief guidelines.
Relieving traffic congestion and finding transportation solutions: Continue to fight for transportation dollars for Northern Virginia and Hunter Mill; Continue work on multimodal transportation options including optimizing the Connector bus network; Ensuring that the Department of Transportation has the resources to stay on top of the rapidly-developing technological advances in the industry; IImproving pedestrian and bicycle access and safety; Creating pedestrian and bicycle bridges over wide thoroughfares.”
Key ways I differ from my opponents?
“I am a successful businesswoman who has learned how to do development right and how to weave the old with the new. I readily admit that change is here; we must make sure it delivers at Reston standards and with Reston's founding principle of inclusivity at its heart. I believe that our local government is strong but can be better, that we must de-Trump by being civil, acting with courtesy and understanding that words matter.