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Vienna Town Council members make their case for election (II)

Second of two parts

Eight candidates – including three incumbents and five challengers with a wide array of experience – will vie Nov. 7 for six available Vienna Town Council seats.

The field includes incumbents Howard Springsteen, Charles Anderson and Ray Brill Jr. and challengers Roy Baldwin, Jessica Ramakis, Sandra Allen, Shelley Mountjoy (formerly Ebert) and Elizabeth Korondy. Mayor Linda Colbert is running unopposed.

Here is an overview of the Council candidates, based on questions posed to them by the GazetteLeader. This is the second of two parts; click here for the first part.

Elizabeth Korondy is the mother of two young boys, a business owner, a Boy Scouts leader, volunteer coordinator for Vienna’s annual Oktoberfest and board member with the Vienna Business Association.

“I will work hard to ensure Vienna remains vibrant, prosperous and welcoming.  I will prioritize policies promoting environmental and sustainable development [and] public safety and help strengthen local businesses to preserve and enhance what makes our town special. I will support programs in arts and culture, youth leadership and for the adults aging in our community.   I’ll do my best to enhance our infrastructure and the future of the Annex and buildings alike to be available for all ages.

“I am committed to transparency, accountability and responsive governance. I believe elected officials should work on behalf of their constituents by listening and being responsive to everyone’s needs and concerns. I look forward to meeting with our residents as I advocate for our community. Please follow me on Facebook at Elizabeth Korondy for Vienna Town Council.”

Ray Brill and his family have lived in Vienna since 2005.

“It has been an honor serving Vienna’s residents on the Town Council for the past three and a half years. I seek re-election to continue making a difference by providing practical, common-sense solutions for Vienna.

“If re-elected, I will work to preserve Vienna’s small-town charm, continue to upgrade our roads and stormwater and sewer systems, encourage bike riding and pedestrian walkability, continue upgrading our recreational facilities, promote business development and provide cost-effective services while holding our tax rate steady or even decreasing it.

“In addition, I support the four priorities selected by our Council for 2023: (1) Rewrite the zoning code; (2) Complete the parks master plan; (3) Protect and increase Vienna’s tree canopy; and (4) Revise the noise ordinance. Focusing on four priorities is working well and provides timely results for pressing needs. I support selecting four priorities on an annual basis.

“I led two corporations; was chairman of the board of a Salvation Army chapter and a D.C. home for homeless women; was founding Scoutmaster of Troop 345 in Vienna; volunteered at the Lamb Center; led an outreach to Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed National Military Hospital; served on the staff of the House of Representatives’ Science and Technology Committee; and was a pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Vienna. I graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, served as an Air Force pilot, earned a master’s in business administration from the University of California Los Angeles, a law degree from the University of Florida and a master’s of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary.”

Sandra Allen is an “independent woman and proud” who has lived in Vienna for more than 20 years.

“I have volunteered at all levels in the community. I have spoken up on women’s rights, education reform, anti-bullying, youth empowerment, the elderly, mental health, homelessness and affordable housing.  I am running to show that speaking up matters and it should be the standard in all communities. Leaders should embody principles of ethics, strong morals and anti-corruption. We should have confidence that elected leaders will do the right thing in all types of weather.

“We are lucky to have a government body to help represent our voices. However, for many years now some voices have not been heard. Rather, [they] have been silenced, dismissed and ignored.

“It is time to bring change of culture and equal representation to this small government body. People are divided on how to bring positive changes. The same people cannot continue to be elected to bring this change. We need strong vision and guidance – not leaving people behind or hoping for people to move away, by making living conditions unbearable. We need someone representing us at the decision table. We pay taxes and yet we don’t see positive changes happening. We should not need six-digit income to live comfortably in the town. It is time for middle-class and poor families to be heard, not just be expected to pay taxes.”

Shelley Mountjoy grew up in Vienna and returned to the town as an adult.

“Vienna is my hometown and I have deep roots here. I am currently raising my 5-year-old daughter in my childhood home which was built by a relative, who was a developer. My great-uncle, Guy Wilson, served as a Council member and mayor in the ‘60s and I’ve always wanted to give back to our community.

“I’m running for Town Council because I care deeply about parks, trees, green spaces, our environment and making sure that, as Vienna continues to evolve, we maintain our identity as a great place to live and raise our children. As a Council member, I will always listen to you – not just the loudest voices, or the well-connected, or those with special interests – but everyone. Inclusivity is very important to me and, from my perspective, our town government could do more to ensure that all voices are heard, including those from divergent racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender and identity, economic position and ability.   

I promise I will listen to you and you’re welcome to call me at (202) 285-3298 anytime to tell me your thoughts and concerns.”

• • •

The Town Council will have at least three new members come next year. Incumbents Nisha Patel, Ed Somers and Steve Potter decided not to seek re-election.

The General Assembly in 2021 passed a law moving all municipal elections from May to the general election in November starting the following year – the idea being to increase voter participation and save costs by running the elections concurrently.

The Town Council, which had opposed the elections switch, canceled the 2022 election, set the next election for Nov. 7, 2023, and extended some members’ terms to bridge that gap.

Council members scrapped the previous system of staggered elections, with three Council seats up for grabs each year and the mayor’s in even-numbered years, and instead decided to have all six Council seats and the mayor’s up for election in November of odd-numbered years. All will continue to serve two-year terms.