Opinion: Plum’s Departure Injects Energy into Elections

Opinion: Plum’s Departure Injects Energy into Elections

Delegate Ken Plum’s announcement that he would not run for re-election to a 23rd term as our Delegate was a bombshell. Given his years, it shouldn’t have been, and wasn’t in fact a surprise to some Democratic Party insiders. Reston is fortunate to have had this extraordinary person represent us. He has a special place in history, as our number one progressive and a tireless worker for human rights, greater equity and making Virginia a better place for us all. He’ll be hard to replace,    but the ring is filling with hats of four who are gonna try. First out was Paul Berry, an ambitious Party regular with an impressive steel A-frame sign on the street just hours after the announcement. Other than an unsuccessful run for the RA Board, this is his elective debut. However, he boasts a long list of Party positions and commissions appointed to in recent years, and several endorsements by local Dems. 

In her first outing, Shyamali Hauth, a small business operator and Air Force vet, came in fourth in the Hunter Mill Supervisor race three years ago. Winning Supervisor Alcorn promptly hired her, possibly ensuring she wouldn’t turn up as an opponent later. See her website for detailed statements of her positions.                 

John Farrell, Principal and Land Use lawyer at McCandlish-Lillard law firm, is an At-Large Director on the RA Board. It’s his first run for elective office aside from two unsuccessful runs for RA. He’s a Party leader in fighting voter suppression at the polls and a strong, outspoken voice for progressive causes. 

Last, but not least is Mary Barthleson, at 29, making a second run for Delegate. She lost to Mr. Plum in the Dem primary two years ago. She’s an advanced systems expert and a community activist working to help our poorest residents, those living in tents, and mentoring new arrival refugees. Two of her top priorities are housing for lowest-income residents and expanding mental health services. She has few titles, but is making a difference where it's needed in our community. 

Supervisor Walter Alcorn is lucky to be unopposed in his re-election bid so far. A major, and only, project to produce affordable housing collapsed with no prospect for replacing the lost 400 units of average middle income housing right next to his office. Let’s hope that he can save the occupied modest affordable units that were going to be torn down to make room. 

Meanwhile, the reformist HOA Board at Lake Anne is restoring financial stability and maintenance, without help from the County. The Supervisor is sponsoring another study, this time “economic visioning.” My fingers remained crossed. 

More next time!