Fairfax County is undergoing a tremendous shift in leadership in 2019. The county is governed by a 10-member board of supervisors, nine of whom represent districts such as Hunter Mill and one chair who runs countywide. All 10 seats are on the ballot this year and five of the 10 members won’t run for re-election. The board approves the budget, sets local tax rates and approves land use plans among other responsibilities.
We sat down with Walter Alcorn, one of five Democratic candidates for Hunter Mill supervisor. The Hunter Mill district consists of Reston, Vienna and a sliver of Herndon south of the Dulles Toll Road. As of Wednesday, no Republican candidates are seeking this office.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Richmond, Virginia, and grew up mostly in Nashville, Tennessee, before attending University of Virginia during the 1980s. I have lived in Reston since 1996, and in Fairfax County for more than 30 years.
My wife Kristina and I moved from Vienna to Reston in 1996 when we both worked in the Environmental and Health Sciences Group of SAIC who had offices on Roger Bacon Drive. After SAIC, I managed an environmental startup, co-founded a 501(c)3 dedicated to recycling, and made a living running a consulting business on electronics recycling issues with clients from the public sector and Fortune 500 companies.
In 2010, I became vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability at the Consumer Electronics Association (now CTA). In Reston we have raised two wonderful children, Ryan and Delia, and been involved in many community activities.
What inspired you to run for Hunter Mill district supervisor?
The growth revolt in Reston inspired me to run. From 1997 to 2012, I served on the Fairfax County Planning Commission as an at-large (countywide) member, and the experience I gained during that time developing responsible growth policies that invite economic development but also protect our green spaces and neighborhoods is especially relevant to the Hunter Mill District today.
What experience do you have that makes you suitable for this job?
While on the planning commission, I led the effort in 2008-2010 to re-plan Tysons Corner from a montage of office parks and shopping malls into transit-oriented, walkable communities. While this is a multigeneration effort (at least 40 years), the new plan for Tysons was adopted by consensus by the board of supervisors in 2010 and won the national Burnham Award from the American Planning Association in 2011.
I also started my career in a district supervisor’s office — not in Hunter Mill but in Providence District —when Kate Hanley was the Providence district supervisor, and that is where I started to learn how to get things done in the county and the importance of responsive government.
What are your top priorities for the district?
Managing growth (protecting our green spaces and neighborhoods, focusing new development around transit, creating innovative solutions for more affordable housing), funding our public schools and making Fairfax County government more inclusive and responsive to the changing needs of our citizenry.
The Silver Line has brought significant change to the region. What can the county do to improve how it manages growth and development in this community, especially as it relates to infrastructure, transportation and affordable housing?
The overall policy of directing new growth around transit is fundamentally sound, but we need to attend to some critical details. For infrastructure, we need a new sense of urgency to improve failing intersections in Hunter Mill — now, and not in 5 or 10 years. We need to accelerate connecting missing trail links and sidewalks and continue improvements for bicyclists to get to work safely.
On affordable housing, we need to implement the plan to reform county land use policies to get more affordable housing that starts with policies to allow conversion of old office parks and commercial centers when they provide mixed-income communities with 30% affordable housing commitments rather than the standard 10-12%.
What separates you from the other candidates?
I have experience and a track record relevant to the job. That and my commitment to actionable change is likely why I have received a range of endorsements from The Washington Post to Congressman Gerry Connolly, and from a dozen civic, labor, and business groups. More information on my campaign is available at www.walteralcorn.com.