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NEW: Vienna Town Council election results hinge on write-in votes

Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus ran for Vienna Town Council as a write-in candidate (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Vienna residents will have to wait a few more days for the results of the town’s first-ever November election.

While Mayor Linda Colbert was easily reelected in an uncontested race, the makeup of next year’s town council remains less clear, thanks to a slew of write-in votes that could determine one of the six open seats.

According to preliminary results from yesterday’s general election, all three incumbent council members in the running — Howard Springsteen, Chuck Anderson and Ray Brill — have secured new two-year terms.

Seeking an eighth term on the council that he first joined in 2009, Springsteen received 3,349 votes, or 15.78% — the most of the seven candidates on the ballot. He was closely followed by Vienna Planning Commissioner Jessica Ramakis (3,265 votes, 15.38%) and Anderson (3,248 votes, 15.3%). Rounding out the likely winners are Brill (2,807 votes, 13.22%) and Vienna Board of Architectural Review chairman Roy Baldwin (2,756 votes, 12.98%).

Officially duking it out for the final seat are Shelley Mountjoy (1,907 votes, 8.98%) — a former community college professor and creator of the Vienna Votes outreach project — and Sandra Allen (1,898, 8.94%), a budget analyst who previously ran for an at-large Fairfax County School Board seat.

However, both women trail the 1,997 write-in votes counted so far, which account for 9.4% of all votes. While it remains to be seen who all those votes were for, Vienna Transportation Safety Commission chair Beth Eachus launched a late campaign in September as a write-in candidate.

The unofficial results for the 2023 Vienna Town Council election (via Virginia Department of Elections)

The Fairfax County Office of Elections, which manages the town’s elections, is currently tallying the votes, but the final results won’t be known until they’re certified next Tuesday (Nov. 14), according to election officials.

“The Electoral Board is ultimately responsible for determining who the votes were cast for, along with the final tally for write-in votes cast,” Fairfax County Director of Elections Eric Spicer told FFXnow. “Mail-in ballots that arrive by noon on Monday, Nov. 13 will also need to be counted. Final elections results will not be available until the Electoral Board certifies them on Tuesday.”

Per the county’s unofficial results, there were 21,227 votes cast in the town council election, with each voter allowed to mark up to six candidates. In total, 5,638 ballots were cast in Vienna’s four precincts for a roughly 45% turnout of the 12,323 registered voters in the town, election officials say.

That easily surpasses the 16.9% turnout for the last town council race in 2021, when Springsteen and fellow incumbents Steve Potter and Nisha Patel competed against then-planning commissioner David Patariu for three seats.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a law in 2021 shifting all municipal elections from May to December. The move was intended to encourage more participation and reduce administrative costs, though some Vienna elected officials worried that local issues would get overshadowed by county, state and national races.

In response to the change, the town council voted in November 2021 to eliminate the staggered terms that put three seats on the ballot at a time. Going forward, all six council seats will be up for election every two years.

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