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With Election Day nearing, local candidates to debate in McLean and Vienna forums

Voters at Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A pair of upcoming candidate forums will give McLean and Vienna residents a chance to get to know the people aspiring to represent them.

First up, the McLean Citizens Association is hosting a debate at 7:30 p.m. today (Thursday) between candidates for the Dranesville District’s supervisor and school board seats.

Former Dranesville District Democratic Committee chair Jimmy Bierman, who won his party’s nomination in a June primary, and Fairfax County Republican Committee first vice chair Puneet Ahluwalia are seeking to succeed Supervisor John Foust, who’s retiring after 16 years in office.

With incumbent Elaine Tholen not seeking reelection, the school board race features Robyn Lady — a retired Fairfax County Public Schools counselor endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee — and Paul Bartkowski, a Republican-endorsed lawyer who says he represented plaintiffs in a legal challenge to FCPS’ mask requirements during the pandemic.

The MCA will host the debate in person at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue), but it will also be live-streamed via Zoom.

Vienna Town Council candidates forum coming

The Northeast Vienna Citizens Association (NEVCA) will host a “Meet the Candidates” event at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street) at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday).

While Mayor Linda Colbert is unopposed in her bid for reelection, the Vienna Town Council race has seven candidates vying for six seats:

Beth Eachus, chair of Vienna’s Transportation Safety Commission, is also campaigning for a council seat as a write-in candidate, the Gazette Leader reported. However, the NEVCA forum will focus on candidates officially registered with the Virginia Department of Elections.

More information about the candidates can be found in Vienna’s September newsletter.

According to its event announcement, NEVCA has hosted candidate forums for 20 years, but this will be its first in-person event since 2019. The volunteer organization conducted forums virtually during the pandemic.

“The objective has been to inform and educate all residents of the Town of Vienna with an interactive and conversational opportunity to hear from the candidates for the Town Council,” said NEVCA Vice President Doug Francis, who will moderate the forum.

According to Francis, the event will be recorded by the Town of Vienna Public Information Office, which will share the video on the town’s media platforms.

Colbert and the town council candidates previously appeared at a Sept. 19 forum organized by the local National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association chapter, according to the Gazette Leader.

This will be the Town of Vienna’s first November election after the Virginia General Assembly adopted a law in 2021 ending all local May elections, starting on Jan. 1, 2022. In a change from the previous, staggered approach, all town council seats will now always be up for election at the same time. Members will continue to serve two-year terms.

Early voting is currently underway for the 2023 general election, which will be held on Nov. 7 and determine Fairfax County’s next Board of Supervisors, school board and state legislators, among other races.