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Councilmember Sean Regan is running against two other candidates for mayor (Photo via Town of Herndon/website).
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.  Featured here is Sean Regan.

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

I am running for mayor to provide a new voice for change, a voice unencumbered by disagreements from the past, a voice for what Herndon is today and what we can become together. As mayor I will focus on three areas:

Housing – Herndon does not have its own housing authority but we can work with Fairfax County to bring affordable housing to the Town. We can also increase the supply of workforce and moderate-income housing by adjusting our zoning to encourage adaptive reuse of existing properties. We can provide a housing stipend to middle-income Town staff because governments work best when employees live in the community they serve.

Downtown – I will set the direction for the ongoing negotiation and execution of the downtown development PPEA. In my work advising non-profits and others on major development projects, I’ve been involved in a half-dozen similar projects. That experience will serve the Town well.

Traffic and parking – I will continue to work with staff, residents and surrounding jurisdictions to reduce cut-through traffic and free up parking to make life easier for the people who live, work, shop and play in Herndon.

In addition to these specifics, as mayor I will create a collaborative environment where diverse viewpoints are heard. I’ve lived by this value in my time on Council, on the Planning Commission, and in my career. Good legislation can come from anywhere and we will work together to understand the ideas, break them down, and shape them into legislation that serves the people of Herndon– not any outside interests. We will disagree at times but we don’t have to be disagreeable. We can argue joyfully.

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

I’m proud of the work Herndon has done to prepare for metro: from the HTOC district we developed and approved while I was on the Planning Commission, to the specifics of road, bike bus, and pedestrian connectivity which are finishing now, to the plans for water and sewer upgrades that will be in place as offices, shops and residences fill. We’re doing the hard work and I’m excited to see it start paying off. There are certainly some additional things I’d like to implement: HPD funding and officers to protect residents in the new development especially as we become connected to the DC metro area as we never have been before. Adapting our zoning and focusing our economic development efforts on attracting a major 4-year university to the HTOC, one which can provide hundreds of well-paying jobs. Continuing our parking overhaul to encourage the use of metro and to prevent commuters from flooding our neighborhoods and taking up spaces our residents and visitors need to live, work, shop and play here. And finally I’d like to find ways to connect Worldgate with the metro area, encouraging visitors to experience the amazing international restaurants we get to enjoy every day.

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

Herndon is safer than other jurisdictions and we need to keep it so by supporting HPD in attracting and retaining officers and staff. We can also embrace the goals of Virginia’s Marcus Alert which shifts law enforcement’s response to behavioral health emergencies. And we can anticipate how Metro’s opening will place an increased burden on HPD as we become more-closely tied to the greater-DC region.

Concerning road safety, we need to elevate the work of the Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) and the Town’s Traffic Engineering Committee, which are tasked with analyzing pedestrian, bike and vehicle problems in the Town. Some solutions will take long-term planning and costly changes so we should also be creative and open to simple immediate interventions that can make a difference even as bigger changes proceed.

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

People have different perspectives and we must always be on the lookout for bias in our work and the way we serve the Town. I’m excited about Herndon’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and hopeful it will give our diverse community a stronger voice in Town government. Real change will come as these voices are heard.

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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.

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