What’s Going On Around Reston Non-Town?

What’s Going On Around Reston Non-Town?

If you’re getting all your news from cable television you might think the only political pot stirring here is the national campaign for president featuring two old white guys, Democratic incumbent Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the Al Capone autocrat of the GOP facing 91 criminal counts in courts around the U.S. In fact, while local political and other activities may not pose the existential threat to our democracy lurking at the presidential election level, local politics and civic activity surely have more immediate impact on us every day.        

In the November 2023 elections, Democrats won control of both houses of the Virginia legislature. In Reston we elected Karen Keys-Gamarra (D) delegate to succeed 44-year institution Ken Plum, and Jennifer Boysko (D) 

senator to replace Janet Howell in a modified district including Reston. Even with Dems’ slim majorities, slick Governor Youngkin’s rightwing agenda is in trouble!             

In September 2023, Jennifer Wexton, Congresswoman in the neighboring 10th District, announced that due to serious illness she would not seek re-election in 2024. Within weeks of the Virginia legislative elections, 10 Democrats, including Sen. Jennifer Boysko and three other newly elected legislators, flocked to announce they were running for Wexton’s seat. Several of them do not even live in the 10th district, but it turns out that the Constitution does not require residency for one to run for Congress! This should be fun to watch.

A proposal to bring big-time gambling to Reston with a casino at our gateway Wiehle Metro Station sparked uproar and community-wide opposition. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen our community so united. The proposal to bring casinos to Virginia, and Reston specifically, came from Comstock, developer of the Wiehle station area. Shockingly, Democratic Senators Scott Surovell (Majority Leader) and Dave Marsden, support casinos and are taking wads of cash from Comstock. That’s right — Democrats, not Republicans, are leading the charge in the Commonwealth’s legislature to bring casinos to Fairfax County. However, our local Democrats Boysko, Keys-Gamarra, and Supervisor Alcorn, sensing popular anger, voiced strong opposition at least to a Reston site.         

Fairfax Supervisors’ Chairman Jeff McKay, after a lengthy silence, issued a long, fuzzy public statement appearing to oppose casinos…on the grounds that the state would get most of the casino tax revenue. McKay’s statement was so fuzzy that Majority Leader Surovell cited it as support for his pro-casino position! If the need for additional tax revenue is so critical, I’d suggest that rather than bring casinos with well-known negative externalities to Virginia, the senators explore increasing taxes on high-income individuals and corporations. For now, the legislature has delayed action authorizing casinos until 2025, but this is not over.    

Now, how about some short, good news items on the ground here in Reston. One: There is a rapprochement in the works between the Reston Community Center (RCC) and Lake Anne Condos Board that renews RCC-sponsored activities on the Plaza. This should be a win-win-win proposition covering plaza maintenance costs and RCC getting due credit for its support for popular activities enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. My fingers are crossed.

Two: An empty storefront on the same Lake Anne Plaza is about to be filled by the popular Elden Street Tea Shop relocating here this Spring. A tea festival is planned shortly after their opening. I am wondering if there might be a name change in the shop’s future?

Three: As you may have heard, I have retired from managing the Reston Farmers Market I founded some 26 years ago. The good news is that Fran Lovaas will be continuing as a Manager of the Market which opens on April 27th on the newly paved LARCA parking lot. The market will include four wonderful new vendors.