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Letter to the Editor: Herndon at the Divide

A small town non-partisan election, or just another battlefield for Republicans, Democrats, and PACs?

Herndon voters will make a decision on Tuesday, on whom they wish to govern this Town for the next two years. 

A sage* once said "A good thing about representative democracy is that the people get to decide their fate. And a bad thing about representative democracy is that the people get to decide their fate."

When the results are tabulated there will be winners and losers. One winner will get to celebrate as mayor; six winners will get to celebrate as Council members. The rest and their followers will commiserate. And if it evolves that we don't like the decisions we made, we can toss the bums out and do it over again in two years.

But the voters will be making another decision on Tuesday, and this is not one that can be corrected in 2014. Because in this election voters will be deciding if they want Herndon elections hereafter to be the small town non-partisan affairs of our tradition, or to become just another playground for political party apparatchiks and outside special interest  groups.

The new requirement for campaign finance disclosure this year reveals some interesting asides. Whereas in past campaigns nearly anyone could run for office, and pony up maybe $2-3 thousand for his campaign, this year those numbers are doubling and tripling, and if one factors in the dollars from outside entities, a candidate's real cost is approaching $10,000 and vectoring upward. What average citizen can afford such a price tag for public service where the remuneration is only $4-6 thousand?

For the first time in Herndon elections, political parties have inserted themselves into our once non-partisan elections. As have also special interest groups with deep, deep pockets. While the Democrat Party broke the ice for this partisan involvement in this election, do you think that if the Democrats are successful this time, that in 2014 the Republican Party will sit idly by? While some Democrats may gloat if their party assisted and financed candidates win this time, do they realize the divide they will have crossed?

In the past we had elections where twelve or more candidates would run for Council, a diverse sampling of involved citizens who brought many viewpoints to the table, almost always on their own dime. In 2014, they will be out of luck. The only candidates able to participate in Herndon elections are those whom the ruling political parties select and fund. Everyone else will be priced out of the game. It will not be Herndon's interests at play, but the grander games of political parties and outside special interest groups.

A small town non-partisan election, or just another battlefield for Republicans, Democrats, and PACs? Either is allowable and viable. But you must make that choice, and this is the year that it will have to be made. See you at the polls.

William Campenni
Herndon, VA 

Barbara Glakas April 30, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Bill, I do agree with a couple of your statements – “Herndon voters will make a decision on Tuesday” and, “the people get to decide.” I believe there is clear choice to be made on Election Day: elect those who want to focus on immigration, day labor and partisan politics, or elect those who want to focus on Herndon's economic development, metro and infrastructure. Happy voting!
William Campenni April 30, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Barb: You forgot to invite people to see your video starring role in making Herndon "an emerging stronghold for the Democrat Party". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuHts9PG1Kw I guess you meant yourself when you talk about those focusing on partisan Democrat politics, or Merkel's Virginia New Majority support for a new day labor site.
William Campenni April 30, 2012 at 02:09 PM
At least the Dulles Area Democrats' OFFICIAL WEB PAGE is not as bashful about its partisan party support in a NON-PARTISAN election for Merkel/Olem/Boll and Jonas as you Barb. https://www.facebook.com/DullesAreaDemocrats
Barbara Glakas April 30, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Please refer back to my initial post.
Ann H Csonka May 01, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Mr. Campenni states: “For the first time in Herndon elections, political parties have inserted themselves into our once non-partisan elections. As have also special interest groups with deep, deep pockets.” Nice try, Bill – but that's baloney. Many know the facts of this issue: The MAY 2006 TOWN ELECTION WAS THE ACTUAL BEGINNING OF “a new disregard of non-partisan Town elections”. That election demonstrated unprecedented national Republican party manipulation of a purportedly non-partisan local race. Our Town was USED! The Town’s 2006 elections were, in effect, hijacked by Republican extremists and “anti-illegal immigration” interests. MOST Town residents care about immigration issues, but Border Control is not part of the Town’s charter and other local laws were already being changed and the day laborers were not soliciting on our streets. Non-partisan elections ARE dictated by charter. Sadly, overwhelming outside interests were invited to participate in the Town’s problems, and the election, by a few Town residents, who gave away our precious Town sovereignty and the non-partisan ideal. For more details, see blog “Perspectives on Partisanship in Town Elections”. Some graphic excerpts are posted above.
Valerie M May 01, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Actually, Ms. Csonka, Mr. Campenni as well as Mr. Bruhns have included proof of these allegations throughout the comments on many blogs posted on the Herndon Patch over the past few weeks. It is very evident that at least three members of the slate are being supported by the Virginia New Majority, Merkel, Olem, and Boll based on how they answered the questionnaire that was sent out by the VNM weeks ago. Ms. Wolf had the decency to refuse to participate in the questionnaire as did Mr. Tirrell, Mr. Sighn, Ms. Hutchinson, Mr. Webster and a few others. From Eric Boll's own words that he wants to make Herndon a bastion of the Democratic Party to images of Ms. Merkel at Democratic fundraisers, to Ms. Olem at fundraisers and campaign kick-offs with prominent members of the Democratic Party there is too much proof out there on video and in images that supports Mr. Campenni's claims.
Bob Bruhns May 01, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Our town was indeed used. Someone from Potomac Falls decided in 2005 that we needed a Day Labor Center, apparently so that contractors could go to Herndon to get labor. Wouldn't want that in Reston, or in Potomac Falls. In fact, when one Reston contractor came to Herndon for its fabled cheap labor (oh yes, low cost was a selling point), but didn't do it quite right, and got cited, and took the case to circuit court, that's when the whole thing fell apart. Outside forces were pushing for Herndon to support illegal hiring - a Potomac Falls guy, a Reston church group, later an Alexandria labor union helping one of the candidates in 2006. Funny, I never heard anybody trying to get a Day Labor Center around Potomac Falls. And it is significant that the churches later declined to host that hiring themselves. The resistance in Herndon in 2005 and 2006 was conservative in philosophy, so it is not surprising that some might have been Republicans. But I never heard about any 'party stronghold' until this year. It wasn't so much philosophy, it was partisanship this year. Interestingly, those who opposed 287(g) then, won't eliminate it now, because that's not on the party agenda - yet. Perhaps that's why VNM came to town this year.
Ann H Csonka May 01, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Bob, your recollections are selective, but we do not have time or space for a big discussion. YOU KNOW laborers saturated the region looking for work. Many tried to pile into "boarding houses" and ate at "kitchen houses"--neither allowed by our zoning. A couple of Councils and a Task Force worked on new restrictive ordinances of several types, after endless arguments from all directions they compiled a whole set of workable definitions of family--with many public hearings, and increased enforcement. Laborers were all over the streets in the vicinity of Elden and Ala. THAT is why Reston Interfaith and the late Mukit Hossain discussed how to get the guys off the streets. Mukit H. lived in Potomac Falls at the time but had business in town and saw the laborers every time he came into town. In order to legally restrict any day laborer's right to solicit work the town had to offer a managed worker site open to all in order to enact a strict Anti-Solicitation Ordinance. Fairfax County and Reston Interfaith agreed to help alleviate the bad situation; the Town made a small portion of the Public Works Complex--near the intersection--available for workers in the parking lot. R. I. provided trailer, large tent and staff. Churches and individuals then knew a single place to take food and other donations. When HPD moved to their new facility, the former HPD building on that corner was available for the significantly increased Zoning Enforcement staff. Continued
Ann H Csonka May 01, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Continued form above: FORTUNATELY, the Worker site worked well, managed the workers, including having a strict limit on how many could be handled at the Worker Center. That prevented more from coming in to find work because any that exceeded the limit of the Center couldn't solicit on the street so they went out of town--stabilizing that population. UNFORTUNATELY, the Worker site enraged people who feared a greater influx and were already mad about the uncontrolled immigration situation in our country. DANG – did you read the blog “Perspectives on Partisanship …” at all? Some Republican Party operatives wanted a perfect “test case” and HERNDON WAS IT! The strategy experiment was on! Help Save Herndon and other in-town folks stressed out by the perceived “invasion” were ripe for the pickin’. I am undoubtedly wasting my time here. A son is visiting, he's up now, and we might as well get some breakfast. Bye.
Bob Bruhns May 01, 2012 at 01:25 PM
People need to get out and vote. Partisans are out there, voting (blindly) because they think their party is favoring some team, so get out and vote for the good of Herndon. The 2006-2010 Mayor and Council of Herndon dealt with the "saturation" that Ann referenced above, long before the 2010 election. But then people thought "Hey, that's over," and they elected a nice group of new candidates who promptly faced a barrage of noise from VNM - because VNM thought they were buddies with the new Council. Despite that lesson from a year and a half ago, candidates Lisa Merkel, Shiela Olem and Eric Boll have made the very same mistake - they let VNM think they were buddies! I think we know what is coming if these three are elected. So people should elect Bill Tirrell for Mayor, and Connie Hutchinson, Charlie Waddell, Dave Kirby, Dave Webster, Grace Wolf, and either Melissa Jonas or Jeff Davidson for Council, because they DIDN'T make that foolish mistake. Mr. Singh is an important voice that Herndon also needs to hear, and he also did not make the VNM mistake - but I believe Bill Tirrell is a the better candidate for Mayor.

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