Flipping over pages of the calendar as I go from 2017 to 2018, I have to remind myself that it is time to look ahead, not backwards to nightmarish 2017. I must put aside the scene of devastation across our entire national landscape — national security undermined, health care fading for millions, income inequality like never before, corruption on a grand scale beginning with a pillaging first family, environmental destruction as a new national sport, our constitution being shredded, and much more.
Let’s step back and look closer to home. It wasn’t until November that we saw a glimmer of light or hope. The ray of sunshine occurred — lo and behold — in Virginia of all places. A moderate Democrat, Ralph Northam, handily won the race for governor. Further, his slate mates, rising star Justin Fairfax and incumbent Mark Herring, swept the lieutenant governor and attorney general posts. Pundits and polls alike had expected a tighter race. The stench of Donald Trump nearby no doubt gave the Dems a boost in Virginia.
To everyone’s surprise, Democrats also rolled up huge victories in House of Delegates elections. Holding just 34 of 100 seats going in, Democrats won an additional 15, possibly 16 seats (one is still undecided). With 49 or 50 seats, a power sharing arrangement may be necessary! The most Dems had hoped to pick up was five or six seats. Not only did they win far more than expected, but they knocked off several long-time, hard-right incumbents in doing so.
More amazing — all but two of the insurgent winners are women! This is Virginia we are talking about. As it stands, the Democratic contingent in the House of Delegates now stands at 25 men and 24 women. These broad-based victories set the stage for making my top wish for 2018 come true — Democrats seizing control of the U.S. Congress, starting by winning a majority of 11 Virginia seats in the Congress. (Republicans now have seven of 11.) Big national implications here.
What about Reston you say? The top issue rocking the community in 2017, was a zoning change to include upping Reston’s ceiling of people per acre from 13 to 16. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins first told us there was an urgent need to make this change in early 2017. Following community meetings attended by hundreds of residents hotly opposing the changes which a Reston 2020 analysis indicated could lead to growth from a current 62,000 to as many as 180,000, Ms. Hudgins and the County have gone silent. But, I doubt they’ll be able to resist pressure from developers on one side and an angry community on the other much longer.
My wish for 2018 is a straightforward decision by the County: 1) to lock in a ceiling at the lower end, maybe 14, and cap Reston’s population at under 100,000; and, 2) To require supporting infrastructure (transportation, schools, parks and open space, etc.) be approved and completed in step with all new development. Perhaps Supervisor Hudgins’ new planning commissioner, John Carter, will have a positive influence on this troubled process. The recently retired Chief of Community Planning for Montgomery County should be a major plus because of his experience and his genuinely community outlook.
Lastly, I wish the Reston Association Board continued success in straightening out the management and finances of RA. President Sherri Hebert and the majority have made a great start. Let’s continue it in 2018 by stopping the financial bleed from Tetra/Lake House; hiring a competent in-house attorney and slashing non-essential legal fees; finalizing a code of ethics with teeth; and, instituting budget and fiscal controls to prevent, inter alia, recurrence of the Tetra debacle.