Seven candidates are running for six seats on the Vienna Town Council. Early voting is underway, and final Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Three of the seven candidates are incumbents: Chuck Anderson, Howard J. Springsteen and Ray Brill. Mayor Linda Colbert is running unopposed. All candidates run as Independents.
Candidates were asked to provide a short bio and share a story of their interaction with a residen that led them to a commitment to take action, with a tight word limit. Candidate responses are printed in the order they appear on the ballot. For information on how and where to vote, see https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/
Howard J. Springsteen
Howard J. Springsteen, Candidate for Vienna Town Council. It has been a great honor and privilege to have served on the Vienna Town Council since 2009 and twice as Vice Mayor Pro-tem for two one-year terms. I am running for re-election because I want to continue to contribute and make a difference in Vienna.
My voting record, common-sense approach, and responsiveness to our local government and citizen concerns speak to my passion and commitment to the Town Council and Vienna. I ask for your vote to continue to serve.
My wife and I have lived in Vienna since 1997, where we have raised our two children. Both are proud graduates of VA Tech. I served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa, which focused my public service for the next 40 years. I have a strong and active history of community service and involvement in the Town of Vienna and the surrounding area in civic, school, church, and community organizations.
As a homeowner and long-time Vienna resident, I understand the need to balance the requirements of providing key services and activities while avoiding overburdening our residents with higher taxes.
Response: "Scenario for the Town of Vienna” Here is a real-life issue that has occurred in Vienna and received much media coverage. Vienna faced major pickleball challenges in one park in the NE section of Vienna earlier this year, from tennis players who were losing court time, pickleball players who wanted more court time, and residents of homes near tennis pickleball courts with concerns about noise and parking.
When this started, I was very skeptical, as I could not see how pickleball made much noise or created parking issues. However, my perspective changed after receiving numerous email complaints, visiting the pickleball courts where this occurred, and talking to the residents. I was invited into the residents' homes to experience the noise and parking issues, and it was apparent they had some valid complaints.
I, therefore, changed my position, and the council began working with the pickleball community and nearby residents to come up with a fair compromise folks could live with. This compromise has worked for five months, and the council agreed at the end of September, with staff recommendations, to continue this current arrangement through the end of the year. Howard Springsteen for Vienna
Charles "Chuck" Anderson
Charles "Chuck" Anderson, Candidate for Vienna Town Council, and his wife, Laura, have lived in Vienna since 1997. He has served on the Planning Commission (including two years as chair), the Windover Heights Board of Review, the Malcolm-Windover Heights Civic Association, and the Vienna Town Council for the past three years. He is the principal and co-founder of Capital Trade, Inc., a world-renowned international trade and economics consulting firm. Prior community service includes Boy Scouts, church teachers, elders, deacons, and the head chef of Welcome Table, a community meal initiative. Chuck graduated from Williams College (BA in history and political science) and Oxford University (MA in philosophy, politics, and economics).
Response: Vienna is rewriting its town code, including allowing upper-story residential along Maple Avenue. I have supported high-quality, smart housing and transportation in Vienna for years. A few weeks ago, I voted against allowing upper-story residential on the ends of Maple Avenue as a permitted use, instead making it a conditional use. After the meeting, a constituent, Sam Ressin, contacted me to ask why I voted against more affordable housing. I changed my vote at a subsequent council meeting after speaking with him and hearing the Chair of the Vienna Planning Commission make an eloquent case for this vote. If re-elected, I will continue to look for more affordable housing opportunities. For more information, visit chuckforvienna.com.
Roy J. Baldwin
Roy J. Baldwin, Candidate for Vienna Town Council, is chairman of the Town of Vienna Board of Architectural Review, principal at The Baldwin Law Firm, LLC in Oakton, and town homeowner since 1980. He is a Scoutmaster, a Vienna Business Association member, and a PTA board member. Baldwin received the Martindale-Hubbell 45-Year Service and Client Distinction Award and the 9/11 Volunteer Award from the American Bar Association.
I will ensure that we have the right-sized development along Maple Avenue and Church Street that does not sacrifice the rights of those living near the new developments or those driving through town. I will not be influenced by any special interest or developer.
I will be an outspoken advocate for preserving the thousands of glorious trees on town property and private property. I will press for passage of the proposed tree preservation ordinance that will require developers to do all that is necessary to preserve signature trees from demolition.
I will use every resource available to eliminate the vacant lot eyesore that used to be the Vienna Wolf Trap Motel that we’ve had to put up with for two years. And I will ensure that our dedicated first responders — police, fire, and EMS — will come to work every day proud of how our town treats them, including top-ranked pay and benefits.
Response: I sat in the audience at the recent Town Council meeting. The council was considering adopting a contract to extend the sidewalk along three blocks of Beulah Road, which wasn’t done when the road was overhauled a decade ago. The design proposed by the contractor would have required removing about a dozen mature trees, some of which were very large and beautiful.
A woman was seated in front of me, and I remembered her from a previous public hearing at which she identified herself as a homeowner who would lose some of those trees from her property. I witnessed her testimony at that hearing. She advocated fiercely and eloquently for these beautiful trees.
No public testimony was allowed at the most recent hearing, so she could only sit in anguish as the contract was approved with only two dissenting votes. If I am elected to the town council, I will remember her deep personal attachment to these trees. I will seek to rally the other councilmembers to approve measures to protect our trees, such as the proposed tree ordinance that will come up for a public hearing in a few weeks. Roy Baldwin for Vienna Town Council
Jessica H. Ramakis
Jessica H. Ramakis, Candidate for Vienna Town Council. My husband and I have lived in Vienna since 2010. Our two children attend elementary school in Vienna and are active in sports. I also run with Moms Run This Town, go to class at Orangetheory Fitness, and enjoy reading.
I serve on the Planning Commission for the Town and have 20 years of public service experience as a civil servant focused on education policy. I have a collaborative and learning-focused approach to public service and am enthusiastic about hearing varied perspectives to foster creativity and partnership. This passion for engagement and a focus on results led me to run for town council.
Response: I currently serve on the town’s planning commission, and the Town of Vienna has been considering updates to the zoning code. An important part of the process is hearing from community members through public hearings. At one of the hearings, a community member shared his challenges in seeking good housing options as he launched his career.
This issue will be important to consider as we look to the future. It will involve seeing and taking opportunities to do more to expand housing options while also bearing in mind other issues that residents care about, including reducing traffic congestion and making the town more walkable and bicycle-friendly.
Weighing these different considerations in a way that is based on listening to different perspectives and high-quality research will be important. I look forward to engaging in that effort with the community, including with fellow members of the Town Council if I am elected. https://ramakis.com/
Sandra Allen (50+) Candidate for Vienna Town Council. My mother brought us to the United States from Bolivia for a better life, and we left behind a system of corruption where wealthy and well-connected people prospered. Now, we are facing similar conditions in the US. Similar conditions of discrimination existed in Bolivia against the poor and indigenous population. We need to be honest and acknowledge that racism exists worldwide. It is not just a US problem.
I have two children now; they are adults. I am in a biracial marriage and a multi-generation household. I grew up in diverse communities in the US. My friends were from all over the world: Iran, Japan, Nepal, India, Vietnam, Salvador, Argentina, Ecuador, African Americans, and Caucasian Americans. We had the same goal; we wanted the American Dream, which is now uncertain for this young generation of Americans.
Allen served on the Adahi Neighborhood Watch Program, provided information to former mayor Laurie DiRocco on issues such as multimodal transportation, UN youth and women empowerment, and Latino voters at risk, and brought awareness to equal education for Hispanic students. Allen supports Hispanic and other students in participating in after-school activities.
Response: I would always consider someone’s urgency in seeking legal action. It is the American way of seeking justice and improving lives, especially now that mental health issues and educational failures are present in our society. We should expect council members to come together to help solve failures and see lasting changes.
Vienna is divided on how to address issues afflicting this community. We need to find middle-ground solutions. Residents are tired of the unending development in our family-oriented community. We should want all residents to feel welcome and happy to live in Vienna.
We recently had new leadership, yet we have not seen improvements in our concerns. We should focus on a balanced, equal representation. Until now, the focus of local government has been to cater to a wealthy lifestyle, which must change.
My concern is with the representation on committees — the length of time they serve and the lack of diversity. I would like to see term limits implemented and more diverse community members added to our local committees. This can help bring diverse ideas to our diverse issues. These committees make decisions yet are unaccountable, so “conversation must begin.”
I believe in being kind and respectful to all people. We are a small community of 16,000 residents of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. The elected officials should be honest and direct and know residents firsthand, without political party support or donations influencing policies and decisions that won't benefit the town residents. www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100093073237445&mibextid=LQQJ4d
Ray S. Brill Jr.
Ray S. Brill Jr., Candidate for Vienna Town Council. I led two companies, chaired a Salvation Army chapter home for homeless women in DC, and was the founding Scoutmaster of Troop 345 Vienna. I volunteered at the Lamb Center, led Wounded Warriors outreach at Walter Reed National Military Hospital, and served on the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee staff. I was also a pastor at Vienna Wesley UMC.
After graduating from the Air Force Academy, I served as a pilot. I earned a Master of Business from UCLA, a law degree from the University of Florida, and a Master of Divinity from the VA Theological Seminary. My family, wife, and I have lived here since 2005.
Response: Tree City USA has designated Vienna a Tree City for more than 15 consecutive years. We often think of trees as nice to have but not essential. My interaction with three concerned Vienna citizens has changed my thinking. A Virginia Urban Tree Canopy Assessment Report, prepared by Davey Resource Group, Inc., in October 2022, calculated the annual benefits Vienna receives from its tree cover are approximately $4.3 million. The report states that trees provide “significant environmental, health, safety, and economic benefits.” The report estimates the loss of 500 mature trees per year due to the teardown of older homes and the building of new homes. Stated another way, Vienna’s tree canopy has decreased by 13% from 2011 to 2021, or approximately 163 acres.
These three concerned citizens have changed my perspective and thinking. That trend is not acceptable. We can no longer ignore this continuing loss and must take specific steps to preserve and rebuild our tree canopy wherever possible. As a result, I have become a strong advocate for revising our current tree ordinance, and I am pleased to note that the Town Council should complete the revision this year.
Shelley M. Mountjoy
Shelley M. Mountjoy, Candidate for Vienna Town Council. I grew up in the Town of Vienna. For almost my entire adult life, I have used a wheelchair for mobility due to injuries sustained as a passenger in a motor vehicle collision. I was a college professor in information technology, and I am raising my five-year-old daughter in my childhood home.
Response: As a young adult, I first attended a Board of Supervisors meeting for a personal concern; I couldn’t miss the presence of another vocal group that had attended for a different matter impacting their neighborhood.
While listening to them, it was hard not to feel like we were on the same team. Sure, I wouldn’t be directly impacted, but their words expressed shared interests. Curious, I kept showing up and noticed a recurring theme: neighbors come out when a change comes to their backyard and then fade into the background after the vote. Soon after, voices from the adjacent neighborhood in a comparable situation take their place.
When we only speak up for matters that affect our home, not those down the road, shared goals are overlooked. Unsurprisingly, the response I have seen from leaders is primarily focused on managing each separate unrest (occasionally even blaming their constituents for not always being involved) rather than evaluating the larger misalignment in the future vision. Yet most citizens can’t be fully informed and consistently participate.
I would like to listen beyond the current item on the agenda and find ways to quantify constituent feedback to identify themes for action. Shelley Mountjoy for Vienna Town Council