Good morning friends,
I hope everyone is enjoying the last week of summer! It’s been a busy few weeks, getting the nuts and bolts of the campaign ready to go. Friends and neighbors have graciously hosted neighborhood parties and meet and greets for me this summer. I’ve so enjoyed meeting everyone and look forward to the doorknocking to come.
As I’ve been doing in the last few newsletters, here are updates on key happenings, some new learnings on the campaign trail, and reminders.
GMHS and City Hall Tours: A few weeks ago, I took tours of GMHS with Superintendent Dr. Jones and of City Hall/Police Station with Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester and Police Chief Gavin. While I’ve been inside both buildings many times, I wanted to take more detailed tours to see them firsthand to form my own assessment for the need for renovation vs rebuild at GMHS and better understand the renovation and expansion planned at City Hall. Clearly both buildings are aging and in need to renovations, at the minimum. The outdated HVAC, security, and safety issues in both buildings are of most concern to me. More to come as I further digest my thoughts and meet with more people who use the buildings regularly and look at visitor and parking data at City Hall.
City Hall Renovation/Expansion: the City Hall renovation is a CIP project that I expressed concerns about in the recent budget cycle. After the tour of City Hall/Police Station, I have a better sense of the issues and have learned more about the scale of the project. There are several phases planned – in total costing nearly $17MM – planning is underway now with design in 2016 and construction starting in 2017. $11.7MM have already been approved in previous years’ CIPs and the most critical $1MM in improvements were completed in summer 2014. City Council then approved $5.2MM in add-on options this spring. Information about the project is on the City website. I highlight this because I believe the project is not widely known in the community. I certainly had not understood the scale or total cost of the renovations until I took the walking tour and read through all the documents. While City Hall hosts a number of public meetings and home for our City employees – and some of the improvements are truly critical and have been long deferred – I am concerned about the cost. (For comparison’s sake, the public referendum passed last fall to modernize and expand Mt Daniel was for $15.6MM.) There are many competing capital needs and no easy answers on how to prioritize what gets done first – but this may be an example of a disconnect between City government and what citizens want and are willing to pay for with their tax dollars until our tax base can be more diversified.
Yard signs: show your support of my campaign with a yard sign! There is a City ordinance that signs can only remain for 60 days, so after tomorrow, they will be available. Feel free to stop by to pick one up or I’d be happy to deliver one to you. You can also pick them up at the Sunday Sept 6 kickoff event (see below).
Campaign Kickoff Event: this Sunday Sept 6 at 930-1100 am, I will be hosting my official campaign kickoff at Cherry Hill Park. Come enjoy coffee and bagels and let the kids play and send off summer together while supporting my campaign! Delegate Marcus Simon is my special guest, so this is also a great opportunity to meet him and discuss broader state and regional issues. While the event is open to the public (bring friends and neighbors!), I hope you’ll consider celebrating the kickoff of my campaign with a contribution. Yard signs andcampaign t-shirts will be available at the event too. Please RSVP via this Evite and more information on how to contribute to my campaign on my website.
Mason Row: at the City Council work session next Tuesday Sept 8 at 730 pm, the Mason Row developers will present the key changes in the most recent submission of the project. City Council is then expected to vote whether to disseminate the submission to staff and boards/commissions to review or if the changes are significant enough to warrant another first reading.
FCCPS Calendar & Bus Routes: the 2015-2016 school calendar and bus routes are online. If you haven’t heard, note the new elementaryfull days are 8:50-3:50 (five minutes later than last year) to allow for extra bus commuting time.
Run for the Schools: the registration is open for the annual FCEF 5K run on Sept 20 is now open. My campaign is proud to be a sponsor this year, so we’ll see you at the finish line!
Feel free to reach out with questions or thoughts and pass this email to friends.
I feel great about gearing up for the big “fall push” when I plan to be out doorknocking and meeting voters weekly. And I look forward to seeing many of you in person at the Kickoff on Sunday!