Four of Fairfax County’s nine supervisor districts have competitive Democratic primaries this year on June 11. There are many candidates with appealing personal stories and experiences. The GGWash Elections Committee looked for candidates with local experience who can contribute to the Board of Supervisors from the get-go and who share our values on key issues, particularly transportation and housing.
The candidates who came out on top are (from south to north): Rodney Lusk in the Lee District, James Walkinshaw in the Braddock District, Edythe Kelleher in the Providence District, and Walter Alcorn in the Hunter Mill District.
Rodney Lusk for Lee supervisor
Four candidates are running to succeed Jeff McKay as supervisor in the Lee District. We feel that Rodney Lusk most brings the breadth of experience and knowledge needed to successfully steer the district in the years ahead and and implement the Embark Richmond Highway plan, which involves a Bus Rapid Transit line, new housing, and businesses while maintaining the region’s identity and achieving the highest environmental standards.
Lusk has 30 years of experience in a dizzying array of different county boards and positions (Committee to Prevent and End Homelessness, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, Embark Richmond Highway, Affordable Housing Resource Panel, Fairfax County Planning Commissioner, Fairfax County Park Authority, Northern Virginia Technology Council, just to name a few).
In his questionnaire he said, “I know how things work.” The people of Lee District need someone who can hit the ground running. Lusk also showed, in his answers to our questions, a commitment to equity and affordable housing. He also discussed ensuring more transit and bicycle access east-west through Springfield, the other major transportation need besides north-south on Richmond Highway.
Lusk was one of many strong candidates for the position. James Migliaccio proposed expanding the Purple Can Club, a glass recycling system, to make it more practically accessible to Lee County residents. Kelly Hebron suggested revising short-term rental laws to improve housing equity in the county. Larysa Kautz pushed for a county resiliency budget built from the ground up, so there are no more surprises. We sincerely hope that all of these worthy individuals will remain active and involved in the Lee District for the betterment of all who call it home.
James Walkinshaw for Braddock supervisor
Just to the north, the Braddock District has a stereotypically suburban built environment with about 50% of homes being single-family and most of the rest small apartment buildings of four stories or less, and reflects the growing ethnic diversity across the county.
Here, we endorse James Walkinshaw. This district will benefit from his focus on increasing walkability and connectivity between existing neighborhoods. While not ground-breaking, his support for the recommendations from the Affordable Housing Resources Panel and his willingness to build support in neighborhoods for affordable housing is on the right path. We also were glad to see his support for “immediately incorporating Vision Zero design and engineering standards into our Fairfax County Department of Transportation planning processes.”
We were glad to see newcomer Irma Corado participate in this race as well. Her perspectives as a person raised in Braddock and as an Indivisible staff member have enriched the conversation about the direction this district should be headed. We hope she stays active in county affairs to broaden her local expertise and potentially enter the political fray again.
Edythe Kelleher for Providence supervisor
Including most of Tysons Corner and the Mosaic District, Providence contains the majority of the county’s Metro stations — six of eleven. With such walkable urbanism, it is little surprise that most of the candidates expressed strong support for walkability, new housing, and transit. We support Edythe Kelleher.
Kelleher, a Mosaic resident, had excellent answers to our questionnaire coupled with a deep resume. Among many forms of county service, she has been executive director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, helping lead the transformation of the Route 1 corridor. She won over many observers at forums like the Tysons forum, whose recording you can listen to for yourself.
She said on our questionnaire, “I believe that mixed-use and transit-accessible communities that enable workers to live near jobs can help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. My move from the Town of Vienna, somewhat walkable, to the Mosaic District is indicative of my strong personal belief in these communities. The Tysons area of Providence District has great potential to create Mosaic-like communities within its much larger framework.”
We also really liked relative newcomer Erika Yalowitz, who said how “walkable neighborhoods should not just be the privilege of those near Metro stations” among many excellent answers to our questionnaire. We also value the emphasis Dalia Palchik (and others) placed on equity, such as her emphasis on ensuring Fairfax Connector serves lower-income areas of the county.
We wanted to give a dishonorable mention to this mailer from candidate Phil Niedzielski-Eichner, forwarded by Providence District resident and Twitter user @Halesite147:
Many people do live on top of each other quite effectively and affordably in some of Fairfax County’s excellent apartment buildings. And while Niedzielski-Eichner has been supportive of density in some areas and not everyone may want to live in a multifamily building, this mailer takes a pejoratively anti-urban attitude we cannot condone.
Niedzielski-Eichner was also the only candidate who answered our questionnaire whose top transportation priorities were about road widening (or so it sounds from how he talked about “traffic mitigation”).
You can learn more from all candidates’ responses to our questionnaire.
Walter Alcorn for Hunter Mill supervisor
Hunter Mill candidates seem to be competing to see how much they can reassure voters that they won’t let much change in the district with the second-highest number of households making over $200,000 and the second-whitest in the county. Despite the district’s demographics, retiring supervisor Cathy Hudgins has been a voice for people who ride the bus, for people of ordinary means.
None of the candidates is another Hudgins, but we looked for people who would not try to make Hunter Mill communities like Reston and Vienna de facto gated communities, at least not any more than they are. Walter Alcorn espouses some of the same trepidation toward new housing as others, but he has the technical knowledge and experience to find solutions that work for current and future Hunter Mill residents.
As a former planning commissioner, Alcorn led an affordable housing task force which he said “provides a roadmap for getting a significant number of new affordable units without upsetting residential neighborhoods.” We’re less excited about his stated top transportation priority, “spot improvements for failing intersections that currently require multiple light changes to traverse, and to remove vehicle conflicts with pedestrians at these intersections,” which sounds like widening roads and adding pedestrian bridges, not good recipes for walkability.
However, none of the other candidates distinguish themselves in the least impressive field among the Fairfax supervisor races this year. We think Alcorn would represent Hunter Mill effectively and constructively bring together disparate viewpoints.
On June 11 or in earlier absentee voting, we hope Fairfax Democratic voters living in any of the four open-seat districts will choose Rodney Lusk (Lee), James Walkinshaw (Braddock), Edythe Kelleher (Providence), or Walter Alcorn (Hunter Mill).
This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington. All endorsements are decided by our volunteer Elections Committee with input from our staff, board, and other volunteer committees. Read all of our 2019 primary coverage and endorsements here.