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Five Minutes With Cathy Hudgins

Hunter Mill Supervisor on the campaign trail, even without an opponent.

Cathy Hudgins has served as Hunter Mill's representative to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors since 1999 and is now serving her third term. She is running unopposed for re-election.

Hunter Mill is one of the largest magisterial districts in the county with a growing diverse population and changing land use development, particularly in Reston, where Hudgins resides.

Hudgins serves as the chair of the Board's Human Services and Housing and Community Development Committees. She also serves as Chair of Washington Area Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) board of directors.

Patch spent five minutes with Hudgins recently to talk about her future and the future of the Hunter Mill District:

Patch: You had an opponent in your last re-election race. Is it different running unopposed?

Cathy Hudgins: One thing I have learned about elections is that we have things to do and need to get out and do them. You still have to run vigorously. One of my biggest [objectives] for Hunter Mill is to continue the progress we have made in becoming a community in transition from suburban to a more urban environment.

This is a very diverse district. We have Herndon, Vienna, Reston. Some of those places, such as in the Town of Vienna, are not going to change, ever. But Reston and the tip of Tysons, those areas are changing. The question is, how do we make the transition? We have to provide the infrastructure that is needed to support rail here? To not bring it to Dulles compromises all the work we have done.

Patch: Some people criticize the plans, both for infrastructure and for development related to a transit-oriented Reston. How do you respond to them?

Hudgins: Reston will change anyway. There is all sorts of entitlements left for development in Reston. The question is, how can we maintain the quality of community that [founder] Bob Simon envisioned?

I think we have maintained Bob Simon's principals. There will always be some concerns such as the diversity of housing and bus service. But we remain connected to our environmental stewardship. We are connected across income and diversity.

Patch: How high-density does this new, transit-oriented Reston need to be? When you look at projects planned near the Wiehle Metro and along Reston Parkway, from the Metro station to Baron Cameron, it is going to be a very different, and perhaps very crowded place.

Hudgins: [area on Reston Parkway that is slated to go from basic strip mall to high-density, mixed use], it was always planned to be high density. What I hope we can do, whether the density comes to be in the high end or not, is to have more workforce housing.

I hope we can get it under our policy guidelines so that Spectrum will come into the right mix.

Patch: Current recommendations are for 12 percent workforce housing. Is that the right mix?

Hudgins: In  Tysons, which will have a great deal of density, there will be 20 percent workforce housing. We really do have room for a little more. We have to make some of these decisions very carefully.

Patch: VDOT announced it will get started on Soapstone - redoing it, adding sidewalks, getting a Toll Road crossing bridge - has been a project of yours for years. Are VDOT's plans the right solution?

Hudgins: Soapstone has been a difficult project, getting the right mix in there. We had been looking for the money for a long time. This is a road that has a lot of density around it, and is a very unsafe area with a pedestrian fatality, injuries and crashes.

When we got congestion mitigation money, we thought we had a solution, but do all of what we wanted with sidewalks and gutters, we needed  more money.

After recommendations from [county] staff and a lot of community input, we needed to bite the bullet. The money is going now to improve what is there. It isn't perfect, but hopefully was can identify more money and keep it going.

A sidewalk will be built on one side. Ideally, we would have wanted it on the side by the condos, but that requires a lot more roadwork than we have funds. However, we can bring some safety to that road and try and continue to get the sidewalk on the other side as well.

There needs to be another toll road crossing. There are plans for a Soapstone crossing study in 2012. With three [future] Metro stations. We can't rely on Reston Parkway and Wiehle as the only ways to get there.

Richard Holmquist October 05, 2011 at 06:18 PM
OK. Maybe we're on the same page here. Is there a cost in terms of property tax revenue to the county? I'm not knowledgeable enough about the process to say. I suspect there is, but I'm willing to sacrifice some of that revenue for a more diverse community. It might also make Reston a more desireable commercial location if a company's employees can find local housing, thereby raising commercial real estate values. Keep in mind, I'm focusing on Reston, not Tysons Corner. I think the same principles should be used in Tysons, but I'm not going to speculate how Tysons could become an appealing place to live.
JAK October 07, 2011 at 03:52 AM
Richard Holmquist, "Affordable Housing" is in fact just a sly wordplay on subsidized housing. Reston already has too much of this garbage, and it along with the Mt. Vernon/Springfield area of the county are the two locations that have taken in ALL such development. I understand your idea of affordable, as there is nothing wrong with Reston not becoming the next Great Falls, but one must read between the lines in order to understand what is meant by our politicians. Also, I would just like to add that Reston was NEVER meant to be high-density. Hudgins is simply attempting to add onto her voting base, and the developer based financial backing, nothing more. In fact, if she had any true concern for Reston at all, she'd join the movement for us to become a town. Then again, do you really believe she'd be willing to take a chance with her already held position in order to do what is right for us, her constituents?
Richard Holmquist October 07, 2011 at 04:59 AM
No, JAK, I'm quite sure that "affordable" housing and Section 8 housing are completely different animals. I believe that both have a place in the Reston community and that government has a limited role in ensuring sufficient diversity of housing for all income levels. Regarding density, I'm a firm believer in smart growth and transit oriented development. I believe we developed a Reston Town Center without breaking Reston. I was skeptical, but I find that Reston is a better place with it here. I'm not pleased with the development designs that were approved around the Wiehle metro, but I think concentrated development restricted to the local area around those stops is a good idea for the region. Traffic issues will need to be managed, but that's nothing new. I'm open to the Reston town idea, but not sold on it. It sounds like a lot of duplication of services and inefficiencies to me. And be careful what you ask for. You might just find that it concentrates some of Virginia's most liberal voting precincts into a town government that it sounds like you might not appreciate. In any case, I'm sure Cathy Hudgins would explain her Reston town position to you if you asked her. She's freely available, but you might be better off trying to win over the public. I find that politicians are normally servants of public opinion rather than flag bearers for radical new ideas.
Richard Holmquist October 07, 2011 at 05:38 AM
Better that you pull hair from your head than hair from your grill. Before the road diet, I saw two major accidents at the Soapstone & Lawyers intersection. I also saw a bad commuter bike vs. car accident at Gold Cup. Those experiences have a pretty strong impact on you growing up. Add in all of the other accidents and a high school student's fatality, and I think there was plenty of reason to modify the lanes on Lawyers Rd. Four lanes were never necessary - only a dangerous convenience.
Kathy October 07, 2011 at 05:37 PM
If we had a candidate running in opposition to our county supervisor, I would ask that candidate to explain why when Fairfax County is the second richest county in the country (per capita) our libraries are closed two weekday mornings a week and two to three evenings a week. Public libraries are an essential service in my view. When will normal library hours resume? When will the library staff laid off be rehired? Kathy Kaplan

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