Countywide

Town of Herndon Mayoral Election: Meet Mayor Sheila Olem

Mayor Sheila Olem is running against two other candidates this November (Photo via Sheila Olem).

Mayor Sheila Olem is running against councilmembers Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh in the upcoming mayoral race on Nov. 8. This week, FFXNow will feature candidate statements in their unedited form. Statements are published in the order in which they are received.

What are your top three priorities for the Town of Herndon?

  • Promoting active living by improving pedestrian, cycling, and transit spaces in our community.
  • Using redevelopment to usher in mixed-use projects that add vitality throughout our 4.2-square-mile town.
  • Working with partners to plan and design streets, sidewalks, paths, and transportation facilities to make them safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities and vehicular transportation while keeping our taxes low.

What is the top challenge that the town faces and how do you hope to address it?

Getting our community partners to come back out for community events! I hope you will join me and attend NatureFest at Runnymede Park, September 25, the Herndon Home Coming Parade, Downtown Herndon, October 8. Wintermarket, December 10, Downtown Herndon. If you are looking to get involved with your community, we have many groups looking for volunteers.

With the opening of the Silver Line on the horizon, how do you believe the town can better prepare for transit-oriented communities?

The Town has been planning and preparing for the arrival of Metro for decades. Drive around the Herndon Parkway where the Metro will arrive, and you will see the new bus bays and kiss & ride bays for commuters to arrive on the north side of the Herndon Metro. Take a turn onto Van Buren by Haley Smith Park and you will see the ‘Complete Streets’ project which is part of the key connections for multi-modal travelers to connect between the W&OD Trail and our Historic Downtown to the Herndon Metro Station. The $120 Million in transportation/safety/stormwater projects funded with $85 Million from county, regional, state, and federal dollars (our partners). As a resident of Herndon since 1990 I have been personally involved in countless community meetings over the years, for the arrival of the Silver Line. I personally have been impressed over the last 20 years, at how far ahead of the ‘other’ metro stops the Town of Herndon’s planning has been. I will continue to collaborate with our community and partners on improving our community for all to enjoy.

How can the town better position itself to manage public safety and road safety?

We, as the elected officials, can make sure we attract and keep the best and brightest staff available. We can also keep in mind that we are part of the Northern Virginia Region and collaborating with the partners will be productive for all. Our Town Staff work very well with staff in the region, which has and will continue to keep our community and roads safer.

Racial diversity continues to grow in the Town of Herndon. To what extent is the town prepared to cater to all communities?

We have a very professional, diverse staff and they work well with all our community. One of the reasons my Husband Harvey moved to Herndon was the international diversity. He felt like he had a front row seat into the experience his great-grand fathers had when they brought their families to the U.S. in 1904. As a parent that has two children that completed Herndon Schools (Fairfax County Public Schools Hutchison, Herndon Elementary, Middle & High Schools) our schools are well prepared. As an active member of the community, I have seen for myself, how our community and town work with people to make them feel welcome. Our own ‘host student’ from Pakistan, now living in the DC area, speaks of how welcome he always feels when he visits Herndon. Our community will always make.