Voting Record Highlights


Voting Record Highlights

posted Apr 17, 2014, 10:54 AM by Connie Hutchinson   [ updated Apr 19, 2014, 9:03 AM ]

Agenda Item    
Merkel Vote
Hutchinson Vote
$6M purchase of additional water & sewer availability for our Metro Area. Purchasing capacity that our infrastructure can't even handle. YES NO Developer benefit at TAXPAYER expense. 
Adopting the County's Bicycle Transportation Plan Creates "sharrows," allowing bicycles to use the full travel lane and prohibits cars from passing - no matter what speed they are traveling. YES NO Effectively limits travel speeds to 15 mph, or less, behind bicycles-blocking traffic. 
Architectural Guidelines for Metro Area Increased the maximum building height limits from those approved in the community-vetted Master Plan. YES NO Allows up to 25-story high-rise 'towers', instead of the originally approved 15-story buildings. 
Economic Development Adding a full-time Economic Development staff position, rather than taking advantage of County services or contracting out specific projects. YES NO Town Residents take on the cost for something that was previously a County responsibility. 
Improvements to East Elden Street VDOT funding that could have been allocated to higher priority projects. YES NO Bottlenecking of traffic as it merges from 6 lanes down to 2. 
Zoning Amendments for VineHaven Development Reduced front set-backs from 20’ – 5’ and allowed TANDEM PARKING as an approved parking strategy for those driveways. YES NO Creates less green space and unworkable TANDEM parking (cars parked in a single line, end-to-end, blocking the front cars in). 
Showing 6 items

Accomplishments of Previous Councils

posted Apr 19, 2010, 8:28 AM by Connie Hutchinson   [ updated Apr 17, 2014, 11:06 AM ]

See blog posts below from the 2010 term under Mayor DeBenedittis.

Herndon's Legislative Agenda Passes House, Senate

posted Mar 20, 2010, 12:38 PM by Jacob Hutchinson

Mar 19, 2010 | The Observer Newspapers

The three items on Herndon’s 2010 legislative agenda are all waiting for Gov. Bob McDonnell’s approval after all passed through the Virginia House and Senate.

“I was really happy to see that,” Mayor Steve DeBenedittis said. “It couldn’t have been better, getting all our bills passed this year.” He said the Town Council’s persistence with its legislative agenda paid off, after working on the three items for consecutive sessions.


Herndon’s bills included House Bill 350, which provides municipalities the ability to regulate the solicitation of the sale of goods and services in public streets and right of ways. House Bill 972 provides that any new transient occupancy tax imposed by Fairfax County does not affect the town unless the council consents to it.

House Bill 513 allows for the administrative impoundment of a vehicle for three days when a driver is caught for a second or subsequent time driving with no operator’s license. The bill includes safeguards. For example it does not apply to those who have had a license that has been expired less than one year, and those under 18.

Del. Tom Rust (R-86) was the chief patron for the three bills, with Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) putting forth a senate version of HB 972. DeBenedittis said he is thankful for Rust and Howell’s support at the 2010 General Assembly.

“I think that really proves it was worthwhile to have a lobbyist,” DeBenedittis said. He said all three bills put together were worth the amount of money the town spent on them. He said the council was persistent and kept working to improve the bills and for the first time the town’s entire legislative agenda passed.

DeBenedittis said he was pleased that HB 350 passed because there are safety risks posed by selling goods and services from the side of the road. Virginia code already made the sale of goods illegal, but the bill added the sale of services to the scope of the code. “I don’t think it’ll end people standing on the street, but it gives us another tool to look at some of those things,” he said.

Rust said he thinks a number of factors added to helping pass the solicitation bill. He said each year another Virginia municipality has come forward asking about similar legislation and this year the bill was changed to include the whole state. “It’s become a statewide issue,” he said.

DeBenedittis said the transient lodging tax bill was important for preserving Herndon’s government and will allow Herndon to work with the county in the future. “It preserves the town’s authority,” he said.

The transient lodging tax bill passed this year because in previous years the bill was retroactive, repealing part of Fairfax County’s current transient lodging tax in Herndon, Rust said. This year it was changed to only impact future transient lodging tax rate increases.

The bill relating to the administrative impoundment of vehicles will help make Herndon’s streets safer as well and keep more unlicensed drivers off the road, DeBenedittis said. He said he does wish that it were stricter.

Rust said he was also pleased that the no operator’s license bill passed with strong support in both the House and the Senate. The biggest change to the bill was that the days impounded was changed from 30 to three, he said. “I think it’ll be very beneficial to Herndon,” he said.

Once signed by the governor, any municipality that wants to apply the legislation can, but it is not mandatory for any municipality. Counties, cities and towns must write their own ordinances to apply the legislation, Rust said. He said one of the biggest concerns with the legislation was how it would impact groups that do fundraising.

Town Attorney Richard Kaufman said as a town staff member he is pleased he was able to support the mayor and council’s legislative program. “From a staff perspective I was favorably impressed with the lobbyist’s work,” he said. He said every day they were on the ground in Richmond talking to staff and legislature about Herndon’s bills.

Kaufman said the bills will now go to the governor for review. “I believe the governor will sigh all the bills, but that’s not a given,” he said. He said he does not anticipate any problems with the bills and believes they will be signed. He said his office will also review other legislation that passed this session to analyze how it might benefit the town. The report will be made public and will be given to the Town Council.


Leslie Perales

Herndon Town Council candidates turn up heat

posted Mar 20, 2010, 12:30 PM by Jacob Hutchinson   [ updated Mar 20, 2010, 12:41 PM ]

Mar 17, 2010 | Fairfax County Times

A dozen candidates join race for six-member council. -   by Kali Schumitz, Staff Writer

As the Town of Herndon wrestles with major land-us decisions that will potentially shape its future for decades, more people are angling to have their say in the process.  A dozen candidates have filed to run for six seats on the Herndon Town Council, although Mayor Steve DeBenedittis is running unopposed.  Town elections will be held May 4.

The diverse field of candidates includes incumbents Connie Haines Hutchinson, Dave Kirby, William B. Tirrell Sr., and Charlie D. Waddell.  Challengers are Daniel E. Alvarado, Cesar A. del Aguila, Philip R. Jones, Lisa C. Merkel, Sheila Olem, Jasbinder Singh, Carl I. Sivertsen and Grace Wolf. 

This civic fervor is not so unusual for Herndon, a town of 4 square miles in western Fairfax County with a population of 23,000.  Ten candidates ran in 2008, and nine ran in 2006.

"It's not unusual for Herndon to have a race with a lot of candidates.  We have a lot of people willing to serve, which is great," said Hutchinson, who is serving her fifth term on the council.

This year, two incumbents decided not to seek re-election, which may have added to the interest level this year, Hutchinson said.  Councilman Dennis Husch, a council member since 1994 and the town's vice mayor from 2006-2008, decided not to seek re-election.  Richard Downer, another multi-term councilman, also is not running.

Although the town drew national headlines earlier this decade for its struggles in dealing with an influx of Hispanic immigrant day laborers, the top issues on candidates' minds this time around involve land-use planning.

"My No. 1 priority is Metro-rail," Merkel said.  "It's coming in 2016,and I feel like we're behind in our planning."

Herndon will have two Metrorail stations on its borders once the second phase of the new rail line to Dulles Airport is completed, now anticipated by the end of 2016.  The Herndon-Monroe station will be on the town's eastern border with Reston and the Route 28 station, although located wholly within Fairfax County, will be very close to the town and to Loudoun County.

Several challengers said they believe the current council has been moving too slow to plan for growth around the station areas.  The multi-year process to consider potential new development in Herndon's historic downtown has also dragged on too long, according to some challengers.

While he supports the current council on other issues, Jones said he has disagreed with their approach to the downtown redevelopment because they are trying to put too many restrictions on developers.  Jones and Merkel both said economic development and attracting new business to the town needs to be a priority.

"I really think we're at a crossroads right now," Merkel said.

Hutchinson said the council is moving ahead with its planning for Metro.  She serves on an interjurisdictional committee with members of the Loudoun and Fairfax county Boards of Supervisors that is working on issues related to the Route 28 station, and the town is soliciting proposals for the the land next to the Herndon-Monroe station.

As for the downtown plan, "We need to get it right, so I'm not really concerned about how long it takes to do it," she said.

Debates over the town's inclusiveness of its diverse population and its treatment of day laborers do remain in the background.  A town-sponsored day labor center led to mass turnover on the council in the 2006 election and was what got some of the current candidates involved in town politics for the first time.

"There isn't any bridge between the Hispalic community and the town government," Alvarado said.  "There are about 1,000 Hispanic citizens in Herndon and we don't have any representation on the town council."

Jones, who was a vocal opponent of the day labor center even before he moved into the town three years ago, said he generally feels the matter is settled.  He criticized the activist group Alliance for Herndon's Future, which some of the challengers are affiliated with, for trying to resurrect the debate.

"I don't see that at the top of anybody's list," Jones said.  "This slow, consistent poicy about not allowing laborers to gather and seek work is slowly working."



Kali Schumitz

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