Opinion: Independent Progressive: 2019—A Year of Key Choices

Happy New Year Reston and Virginia!

Welcome 2019, a year filled with challenges and critical choices. The challenges begin right here in Reston. The top one for me, and likely for a majority of Restonians, is incumbent Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ plan to raise Reston’s zoning density from 13 to 15 persons per acre for the area designated Planned Residential Community (PRC), which constitutes most of Reston. This rezoning, combined with Fairfax County’s approved Master Plan for our Transit Station Areas, could take Reston from a current population of 62,000 up to as high as 160,000 over the next 30-40 years. Are we up to this challenge?

There is strong, vocal community opposition to her proposal as expressed by the Coalition for Planned Reston (CPR) and the Reston Association. Surprisingly, there is also looming opposition on the Fairfax County Planning Commission and even among Hudgins’ fellow Supervisors who seem more concerned with community upset than she does. Thanks to Hudgins pressure the proposal is on a fast track to final action by the Board of Supervisors.

The County Planning Commission has set an unusual “work session” with staff at the Government Center on Jan. 10 to sort out the issues before convening on Jan. 23 to decide whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt, or not and at what level, the proposal at its March 5 meeting. I expect that Commissioner John Carter of Lake Anne may play a key role in these deliberations. The Commission meetings should be very lively. Citizen visibility as well as testimony on Jan. 23 are encouraged — and could be crucial.

This is a great stage setter for 2019 elections for Supervisor in Reston and elsewhere in the County, including the race for a new Chairman of the Board. Supervisor Hudgins has yet to declare if she will run for yet another term after 18 years in office. One Democrat, Parker Messick, has already announced to oppose her. At least six other Dems are lining up for a final gut check before announcing. I don’t know if Ms. Hudgins will run, but suspect she does not wish to be a lame duck and will hold off announcing as long as possible (March?).

It is time for a change. If she does run, it will be an uphill battle, one she could lose in a Democratic primary.

Electing a Supervisor is Reston’s big 2019 choice!

Virginia voters also will decide which party controls the Commonwealth’s legislature in November 2019. All 100 House of Delegates and all 40 State Senate seats are up for election. Because of huge Democratic gains in the House in 2017, where a coin toss literally decided one election, the House now stands at 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. The State Senate has 21 Rs and 19 Ds going into the election. Thus, if the Democrats win a net of just two additional seats in the House and just two in the Senate, the Party will have a majority and control the agenda in both! Given the performance of Democrats, largely women candidates, in both the 2017 House of Delegates and the 2018 Congressional elections (Dem women won three formerly Republican seats), and the status of the Republican brand under President Trump, I have a feeling that Virginia voters will again make the right choices. That is, they will deliver the Legislative Assembly, both the House and the Senate, to the Democrats in 2019.

It’s fair to say that 2019 will be a watershed year in Reston and Virginia.

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