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35th House District candidates Holly Seibold and Monique Baroudi (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, MP Photo Art)

Only a week after finalizing vote tallies from its last election, Fairfax County is gearing up to welcome back voters from several precincts for its next election.

Early voting will begin Wednesday (Nov. 23) to select a successor to Mark Keam, who resigned as delegate of Virginia’s 35th House District in September. A special election will be held Jan. 10, the day before the General Assembly convenes for its 2023 session.

The district encompasses Vienna, Oakton, Dunn Loring, most of Tysons, and Fair Oaks. Since Keam’s term doesn’t end until January 2024, this election will use the boundaries that existed prior to last year’s redistricting, which split the area into districts 11 and 12.

Eligible voters in 20 precincts will decide between BRAWS President Holly Seibold — who won the Democratic nomination in a caucus last month — and Oakton resident Monique Baroudi, who became the Republican nominee after another candidate withdrew before a scheduled canvass.

The House District 35 boundaries before redistricting (via Virginia Public Access Project)

Starting Wednesday, early voting will be available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Office of Elections in the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway). The county will also begin mailing ballots to voters who’ve requested that permanently.

The deadline to apply for a mail absentee ballot in this election is Dec. 30. Requests can be submitted through the state’s online portal or in person at the county elections office.

“To return your cast ballot, you may hand deliver it to the Office of Elections or put it in the 24/7, secure drop box outside the Fairfax County Government Center,” the county’s news release said. “If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Jan. 10 and received by the Office of Elections by noon on Friday, Jan. 13.”

In-person early voting will also be available at the Providence Community Center on two Saturdays (Dec. 31 and Jan. 7) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The government center site will be closed on county holidays, including this Thursday and Friday (Nov. 24-25) for Thanksgiving. That means early voting will only be available for one day this week.

Other holiday closures include after noon on Dec. 23 and all day on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.

Early voting will conclude at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7.

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

(Updated, 3:35 p.m.) With most incumbents running away to victory, it appears that Fairfax County’s voter turnout for the general election this year will fall short of the 2018 midterms.

About 53% of registered, active county voters took part in this year’s midterm elections, per Fairfax County election officials. That’s about 16 percentage points off from the midterms four years ago. It’s also lower than last year’s gubernatorial election, which had a 60% turnout.

In total, 391,361 ballots have been counted so far in Fairfax County, election officials said.

Turnout numbers remain unofficial. Ballots put into drop boxes will be counted today, while additional mail ballots can continue to arrive until noon Monday (Nov. 14).

Absentee mail and in-person voting rose this election cycle compared to 2018, with 130,350 residents voting early this year — just under 18% of active, registered voters in the county. That’s about 44,000 more people than in 2018, when 12% of voters made their decisions early.

Last year, 174,641 county residents, or about 24% of voters, cast ballots by mail or early in person.

With Fairfax County staying reliably blue, the lack of competitive Congressional races on the ballot may have contributed to the lower turnout compared to other recent elections. Based on the preliminary results, all but one local incumbent — Herndon Town Councilmember Signe Friedrichs — appears to have held their job.

Don Beyer (D) secured victory in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District with 73% of the vote with most precincts reporting. The district includes about 282,000 residents of Fairfax County, where Beyer secured 69% of the vote — about three percentage points lower than what he got in 2020 and 2018.

The re-elected Congressman tweeted out a statement just before 9 p.m. last night, thanking voters for “again putting their confidence in me.”

In the 11th Congressional District, Gerry Connolly (D) won his eighth term in office with 66% of the vote overall, with all but two precincts reporting.

The 11th District is almost entirely in Fairfax County, covering about 585,000 residents. That includes Lorton, Burke, Fairfax, Chantilly, Vienna, Tysons, Reston, and most of Springfield and Herndon.

Like Beyer, Connolly didn’t fare quite as well this year in Fairfax County as he did in 2020 and 2018, with 66% of the vote compared to over 70% in both of those election cycles.

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A Fairfax County absentee ballot drop box (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Mayor Sheila Olem will get a second term as mayor of the Town of Herndon after securing a narrow win against council members Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh in today’s primary election.

According to unofficial results, Olem edged out the race by a little over two percentage points over Regan. Singh received the least number of votes: 16%.

The Herndon Town Council race — which included nine candidates running for six open seats — is extremely close, as is typical in the town’s council elections.

Current members Naila Alam, Cesar del Aguila, and Pradip Dhakal retained their seats, while challengers Clark Hedrick, Keven LeBlanc Jr, and Donielle Scherff secured enough votes to beat out Councilmember Signe Friedrichs.

The following is a breakdown of unofficial election returns for the council race:

  • Clark Hedrick: 3,372
  • Pradip Dhakal: 3,334
  • Keven LeBlanc Jr:  3,164
  • Cesar del Aguila: 3,109
  • Naila Alam: 3,084
  • Donielle Scherff: 2,965
  • Stevan Porter: 2,871
  • Roland Taylor: 2,692
  • Signe Friedrichs: 2,685

It’s not unusual for the outcome of town council races to change once official results are tabulated.

In 2020, for example, a data entry error dramatically changed the results of the mayoral election.

In this year’s midterm elections, Democratic incumbents representing portions of Fairfax County once again maintained a stronghold over their seats in the House of Representatives.

Democratic incumbents Don Beyer (D-8) and Gerry Connolly (D-11) clenched a decidedly confident victory over their Republican challengers: Karina Lipsman, Hung Cao and Jim Myles, according to uncertified election results.

But Jennifer Wexton’s (D-10) win over challenger Cao was significantly closer than her Democratic colleagues.

The incumbent had a 6-point-percentage margin, with 90% of precincts reporting, as of 10:20 p.m.

In Fairfax County, she led by a mere 48 votes, according to Fairfax County’s unofficial returns.

Victories for Beyer and Connolly were far less contentious, with Beyer winning over 75% of votes versus Lipsman’s nearly 23% and Connolly winning 68% over Myles’s 31%.

Beyer said that he was grateful for voters’ confidence in his ability to represent them.

“I will continue to do all I can to earn their trust, and to serve my constituents,” he wrote in a statement today.

Fairfax County hit a 45% turnout rate for the midterms, as of 3:50 p.m., but that number does not account for three hours of voting that remained at the time.

Still, the number appears shy of 2018 midterms when 59.5% of registered voters cast a ballot. In 2014, a mere 41.6% of registered voters voted.

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Updated at 3:50 p.m.With polls open for another three hours, Fairfax County has hit 45% turnout for the midterm elections, including 28% today, as of 3:48 p.m.

Earlier: With Election Day 2022 now underway, more than 200,000 Fairfax County residents have already voted.

That includes approximately 130,000 residents who voted early — a 66% increase from the last midterm election in 2018 — and about 72,000 votes cast in person on Election Day, as of 10 a.m.

In total, that represents about 27.5% of registered active voters in the county.

That remains short, so far, of county turnout during the 2018 midterms, when close to 70% of registered, active voters in the county voted.

Early voting ended Saturday (Nov. 5), and about 130,000 county residents had voted by then, either by mail or in person, Fairfax County General Registrar Eric Spicer told FFXnow in an email. Overall, that represents about 18% of the 736,000 active registered voters in the county.

That’s about 44,000 more people than 2018. Since that time, however, early voting rules and habits have changed significantly. Virginia introduced no-excuse absentee voting in 2020, leading the county to add more early voting sites with longer hours, and permanently approved ballot drop boxes last year.

In 2020, 414,000 residents voted early due to traditional high turnout related to a presidential election and the ongoing pandemic. Last year, about 170,000 residents cast a ballot early in the House of Delegates and gubernatorial elections.

This year’s early voting numbers suggest the shift in voting behavior from the last midterm election cycle has continued.

In Fairfax County, 76,000 vote-by-mail ballots were requested, representing close to 10% of registered voters, Spicer said. About 67% of those ballots, or 48,000, were returned by the end of early voting.

Residents can continue to return their mail-in ballots at a drop box at any polling place.

While Fairfax County doesn’t have any races attracting significant national attention like 2021’s gubernatorial race, every seat in the House of Representatives is on the ballot this year.

The county has three congressional districts: the 8th, 10th, and 11th.

The 11th Congressional District includes 586,000 Fairfax County residents, the most of any of the districts. The 8th has 282,000 residents in the county while the 10th only holds 14,500 residents.

Incumbents Don Beyer, Jennifer Wexton, and Gerry Connolly are all Democrats and all favored to win against their respective Republican challengers, Karina Lipsman, Hung Cao, and Jim Myles.

The Town of Herndon is seeing competitive races, though, for mayor and town council. Incumbent Mayor Shelia Olem is running against councilmembers Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh.

Election officers told FFXnow that, anecdotally, voting has gone smoothly so far this morning with precincts getting steady streams of voters.

However, the lead-up to Election Day saw a few hiccups. Late last month, voters in Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna got a letter directing them to an incorrect voting location. The county blamed the state for the error with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors calling for an investigation into what happened.

Last week, the county received approximately 11,000 voter registrations that were delayed in being sent over by the state. This was on top of nearly 12,000 other delayed registrations that were finally sent over at the beginning of October.

The county’s elections office said on Nov. 3 that it had successfully processed all of the registrations.

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Sample ballots for Fairfax County’s 2022 midterm election (via Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter)

(Updated at 7:35 p.m.) The race to finalize voter rolls for next week’s midterm elections may come down to the wire after Fairfax County received thousands of new applications today (Monday).

A computer error that affected Virginia’s voter registration system earlier this summer resulted in the state sending another 11,000 applications to the Fairfax County Office of Elections, which says it “will do whatever it takes” to process the documents in time for Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The applications came from people who registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles between May and September, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Individuals who updated their address or made other changes to their voter information were also affected.

State officials said the delay stemmed from “intermittent network issues” that were first reported on Oct. 5, according to The Washington Post.

“These new applications are in addition to the previous 11,789 DMV voter registrations from this summer that the state delayed sending to the county until Oct. 5,” the county elections office said in a news release, noting that all of the earlier applications were processed before the registration deadline on Oct. 17.

The state elections department said the new backlog was identified after it conducted a review of the registration system, prompted by reports of “several voters” trying to vote early only to find that their information hadn’t been updated.

Those voters were able to cast a ballot after the local general registrar updated their information on-site, the department said.

“I am very grateful for the vigilance of Virginia’s general registrars in quickly surfacing concerns during early voting,” Virginia Elections Commissioner Susan Beals said. “With information from local officials, ELECT’s IT professionals were able to scour the election system data to identify the additional transactions for processing.”

This isn’t the first hiccup that the state has encountered in the run-up to the upcoming election. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a letter last week calling for a full investigation into an erroneous mailer sent to voters in the towns of Herndon, Vienna and Clifton that directed them to a polling site in Fairfax City.

The functionality and reliability of the Virginia Election and Registration Information System (VERIS) has been a concern for years. Beals announced on Oct. 24 that the Department of Elections has awarded a contract to replace the 15-year-old system.

However, “coordination with the Virginia Department of Elections has been more difficult than in the past,” Fairfax County Director of Elections Eric Spicer told FFXnow.

Del. Mark Sickles (District 43) suggested that the technical challenges are being exacerbated by the departure of former elections commissioner Chris Piper, who resigned in March after Gov. Glenn Youngkin declined to reappoint him.

Fairfax County voters can confirm their registration status online or by calling the county elections office at 703-222-0776, TTY 711.

Same-day registration is also available for the first time in Virginia voters, though those voters will cast a provisional ballot that won’t be counted until after Election Day.

“It is critical that you fill out the same day registration application accurately and completely,” the county elections office said.

The county has 16 early voting sites open and is accepting mail-in ballots, though the deadline to request an absentee ballot passed on Friday (Oct. 28).

This year’s general election will determine the county’s Congressional representatives as well as Herndon’s new mayor and town council.

Photo via Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter

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Holly Seibold, founder and president of the menstrual equity nonprofit BRAWS, prevailed in last week’s Democratic caucus for the next 35th House District delegate.

After three days of voting, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) announced Saturday evening (Oct. 8) that Seibold had won the party’s nomination over Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch by just 67 votes.

“I cannot thank the Democrats of District 35 enough for this tremendous honor,” Seibold said on social media. “I promise to make you proud in Richmond and fight for the Virginia values of equality, justice, and freedom.”

The 35th District seat — which represents Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring, Oakton and Fair Oaks — is open after longtime delegate Mark Keam resigned last month to take a job in the Biden administration. Keam had served in the House of Delegates for 13 years.

The FCDC opted to choose its nominee for Keam’s successor through an unassembled caucus, inviting Democratic voters in the district to cast their ballots in person on Saturday at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna, Oakton Elementary School, and the Kilmer Center near Dunn Loring.

Early voting was also available at the FCDC headquarters last Tuesday and Thursday (Oct. 4 and 6).

According to the final results, there were 2,356 ballots cast overall, including 401 early votes. Seibold received 1,210 votes to Frisch’s 1,143.

The two candidates put up a united front after the results were announced. Seibold thanked Frisch “for his kind words and for making me a better candidate,” while Frisch promised to support her in the special election on Jan. 10.

“Losing is a little easier to digest when it’s to someone as capable as @HollySeiboldVA,” he said on Twitter. “She will be a great Delegate. We have three months until the Special Election to fill @MarkKeam’s seat and I will do whatever I can to help her succeed.”

A Vienna resident since 2012 and former Fairfax County Public Schools teacher, Seibold started BRAWS in 2015 to help provide menstrual supplies and undergarments to those in need. Her advocacy resulted in Virginia now requiring schools to make free tampons and pads available to all students and ending its sales tax on tampons.

She told FFXnow last week that her priorities include fully funding schools, addressing learning loss and ensuring students “receive a world-class education” free from gun violence, taking action on climate change that creates new jobs and invests in the most vulnerable communities, protecting abortion rights, and expanding “economic resources to women and children in crisis.”

“Holly works day-in and day-out to make our community a better place for everyone,” FCDC Chair Bryan Graham said in a statement. “While our absentee Governor and his lackeys in the legislature attack public education, the LGBTQ+ community, environmental protections, and even democracy itself, we need candidates like Holly to lead the fight to protect the progress we’ve made and forge a path to move Virginia forward when we retake the House of Delegates next year.”

To select its nominee, the Fairfax County Republican Committee will hold a party canvass at its headquarters (4246 Chain Bridge Road) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 5 — the Saturday before Election Day. No GOP candidates have been publicly announced yet.

Called by Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert on Sept. 8, the special election on Jan. 10 will take place the day before the General Assembly convenes for its 2023 session.

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Holly Seibold and Karl Frisch are vying to become the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 35th House District (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, Friends of Karl Frisch)

As early voting for the Congressional midterms continues, Democrats in Virginia’s 35th House District have a critical state race competing for their attention.

After longtime delegate Mark Keam resigned in early September, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus on Saturday (Oct. 8) to select the its nominee for the vacated seat, which represents Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring and Oakton.

Competing for the nomination are Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch and Holly Seibold, founder and president of the nonprofit BRAWS.

Though the special election won’t be until Jan. 10, no Republicans have entered the race yet, and the district has gone blue in every election since 2003, suggesting that whoever wins this Saturday will be the new delegate.

The Democratic caucus will be unassembled, meaning voters can cast their ballot and leave. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at three different locations:

  • The Kilmer Center cafeteria (8102 Wolftrap Road, Vienna)
  • The Oakton Elementary School cafeteria (3000 Chain Bridge Road, Oakton)
  • The Patrick Henry Library meeting room (101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna)

Early voting will also be available at the FCDC headquarters at 8500 Executive Park Avenue, Suite 402, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 6).

All voters must fill out a certification form and sign a statement saying they’re “a registered voter, a Democrat, and that they do not intend to support a candidate opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election,” according to the caucus rules.

Whoever wins the special election will serve the remainder of Keam’s term, which concludes in January 2024.

The candidates: Karl Frisch

Elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2019, Frisch previously worked as executive director of the consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress, a senior fellow for the nonprofit Media Matters for America, and a Democratic staffer on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules.

The first openly gay person on the county’s school board, Frisch’s tenure has included the approval of new protections for transgender and gender-expansive students — a regulation currently being threatened by the state — and the naming of Mosaic Elementary School, previously known as Mosby Woods. Read More

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A Fairfax County Office of Elections ballot drop box from 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 9:10 p.m.) In Fairfax County, the battle for control of Congress starts tomorrow (Friday).

The county will open three early voting sites and start mailing out absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 general election, which will decide three seats in the House of Representatives as well as the Town of Herndon’s leadership.

Turnout is tough to predict, but early voting and voting by mail “seem to be growing in popularity” after Virginia made both options available to all in 2020, Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy says.

Nearly 70% of registered voters participated in the last midterm elections in 2018, but no individual House race saw a turnout over 37%, according to Worthy. Last November’s election, which anointed Glenn Youngkin as Virginia’s governor, drew a 60.2% turnout.

“Because the Office of Elections always prepare for high turnout, they will be ready to manage turnout greater than the recent gubernatorial election,” Worthy said.

He says the county has filled all of the 2,300 election officer positions needed for Nov. 8, but there is always a demand for bilingual poll workers, especially people who speak both Korean and English.

What’s New This Year

Voters may see different candidates than they anticipate on their ballot, thanks to last year’s redistricting process, which altered federal and state electoral boundaries in Virginia.

Polling sites will stay the same for 96% of voters in the county, but everyone should double check their district through the Virginia Department of Elections before voting in person, Worthy says. There have also been a few precinct changes unrelated to redistricting.

To limit confusion, the county elections office sent every voter a mailer with information about their legislative districts and polling place earlier this year.

“The office will be mailing voters a sample ballot with this same information, and the state is also sending a redistricting mailing to voters,” Worthy said.

In addition, Virginia will now let new voters register and cast a ballot up to and on Election Day. The General Assembly approved the change in 2020, but the law won’t take effect until Oct. 1.

While the new flexibility will be welcome for anyone who misses the Oct. 17 deadline, election officials don’t recommend waiting until the last minute to register. Voters who register Oct. 18 or later will get provisional ballots to allow “additional time to verify” their paperwork, according to WTOP.

Provisional ballots aren’t reviewed until after Election Day, and the state electoral board determines whether each of them can be counted.

“Because same day registration is a new law, the Office of Elections is uncertain of the impact, but they are prepared to manage a large number of same day registrants at early voting sites and polling places on Election Day, as well as to process these registrations,” Worthy said. Read More

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The Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods (file photo)

Three candidates are running for three seats on Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors.

The annual vote — known as the preference poll — will feature incumbents Beverly Cosham and Paul Thomas, along with Shane Ziegler.

Voting begins on Sept. 3. Each property owner in Small District 5 will receive a ballot in the mail, which must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 29. Walk-in and online ballots must be received by 5 p.m. the following day.

Cosham, a founding member of the Reston Chorale and the Reston Players, has served on the board since 2001. She hopes to “bring people together in positive arts, aquatics, leisure and learning experiences,” according to her candidate statement.

Thomas, who grew up in Reston and worked as a former teacher and coach, has served on several nonprofit and county boards, including Reston Association’s Board of Directors and the Reston Historic Trust and Museum’s Board of Directors.

“New real estate development will continue in Reston for years,” Thomas wrote. “Though RCC has no control or voice in approving the development that comes, we need to make sure that RCC’s facilities and offerings continue to support and bring together our growing, evolving community without raising the tax rate.”

Shane Ziegler, who recently founded a nonprofit called Reston Forward, says he wants to ensure that RCC offers programs that young families want to access. Reston Forward aims to help people new to Reston get involved.

“We want young professionals and newcomers to stay in Reston as they are starting families of their own. Additionally, as our community continues to grow, it is important to think about the future and identify the leisure experiences and spaces that these young families want access to,” Ziegler wrote in a statement.

A candidates forum is slated for Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods. A poll is required even though the race is uncontested.

The board was established by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to represent the interest of Reston residents and business as a policy-creating body that provides financial oversight for RCC. The county board makes selections after the annual preference poll.

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Morning Notes

A hot summer day at The Boro in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

What Was Behind Tuesday’s Storms — “Hundreds of trees were toppled and hundreds of thousands of people lost power Tuesday afternoon and evening as three storm complexes roared across the Washington region. The storms were fueled by hot and humid air that surged into the region, and were powered and sustained by strong high-altitude winds along an approaching cold front.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Firefighter Charged in Fairfax County Armed Robbery — “A D.C. firefighter has been arrested and charged with robbery after police say he brandished a gun and took someone’s property in Fairfax County, Virginia. Fairfax County Police said the robbery happened in May” [WTOP]

Police Investigate Dunkin’ Donuts Burglaries — Fairfax County and Alexandria City police are investigating at least three burglaries of Dunkin’ Donuts in Springfield, Belle Haven and Potomac Yard. The incidents all occurred during the morning of July 7, but police haven’t confirmed whether they were committed by the same people. [ALXnow]

Fairfax County Top in State for Population Growth — “In the last 50 years, Fairfax County saw the largest population increase in Virginia. During that same time, Norfolk saw the largest population decline…Mark Mather at the Population Reference Bureau says the next 50 years are not going to have the same trends.” [WVTF]

Same-Day Voter Registration Coming — “Same-day voter registration is taking effect in the state in time for the congressional midterms in November, a significant shift from the way Virginia elections have worked in the past…The new law will allow voters to fill out a registration form and cast a ballot after that deadline, up to and including Election Day.” [Virginia Mercury]

Food Drive Planned in West Springfield — “@MoveInterstate will be hosting a #FillATruck food drive at their #Springfield HQ located at 5801 Rolling Road, from 07/18-07/29. All donations will be donated to Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO) and will help families in the #FairfaxCounty community.” [Supervisor Penny Gross/Twitter]

Langley HS Alum Coaches GMU Volleyball — “Years later, when receiving a second opportunity to join the George Mason University women’s volleyball team, Megan Shiffett Bachmann jumped at the chance and accepted. The 2008 Langley High School graduate recently was named the new head women’s coach of the Division I Mason program.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Park Authority Names Top Volunteers — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will honor 21 individual volunteers named 2022 Outstanding Volunteers and selected by their peers from across the park system…Approximately 4,000 volunteers give of their time and talent annually and take on a multitude of tasks.” [FCPA]

Tysons IT Consultant to Help Startups — “Booz Allen Hamilton has launched a venture capital unit that aims to help young companies speed the development of technologies used by the federal government…Booz Allen Ventures LLC will invest $100 million over five years in firms developing artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity and defense technologies, the company said.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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