Town Council Candidate: Edythe Kelleher
Incumbent seeks sixth term in office
Part of a series about the four candidates running in Vienna's town elections May 1. For information on all candidates, click here.
Edythe Kelleher has been a town resident since 1994.
- Vienna Town Council, 2002 to present
- Previously served on the Community Enhancement Commission.
- Former Chairman of the Hunter Mill Land Use Advisory Committee
- Current member of the Virginia Municipal League Finance Committee.
- Member of the Friends of the Vienna Town Green
- Member, Vienna Host Lions Club
- American Legion Auxiliary
- Founder, Friends of the Vienna Town Green
- Helped bring to fruition the town's future Community Garden
- Staff member of Fairfax County Supervisor Penelope Gross
- Bachelor’s degree from John Hopkins University
- Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University.
Kelleher said she's always liked working with people, gathering input and working out compromises -- but after doing that for several years as a member of Fairfax County Supervisor Penelope Gross, she "wanted to serve in my own community," Kelleher said.
As she approaches her sixth term in office, Kelleher, who has lived in Vienna since 1994, says she plans to focus on keeping those voices in the discussions about several large town decisions, including the Maple Avenue Vision and how to keep pace with a growing Tysons Corner, along with those made by the county and the state.
She's represented the town at the Virginia Municipal League as Chair of the Finance Committee, Vice Chair of the Legislative Committee, and currently as a member of the Executive Board. She was also Vienna's representative on the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission, which gives policy-level recommendations to the board of supervisors about development and broadening the county's economy.
"I think the new comprehensive plan for Tysons Corner and Merrifield mean that we need to move on something. Vienna has to maintain our identity in the midst of these larger identities and retain our retailers, especially," she said. "Vienna has always been influenced or affected by Tysons being there and people come to Vienna to have lunch so in that way it's been a nice coexistence."
But in re-developing Maple Avenue while Tysons rises to its East, Kelleher said, the town will also have traffic problems and issues of competition.
Kelleher said businesses have thrived in Vienna, even through a recession that closed some businesses "for generic reasons not specific to Vienna," and she wants to make sure they continue to be a priority as planning for both issues moves forward.
A Fairfax County suggestion to widen the intersection of Maple Avenue and Lawyers Road, for example, would hurt that goal.
"We have a commercial district [in which] the lots are very narrow and if you take away frontage you're having a severe negative impact on that business, to the point where that business may no longer want to be there and I don't think we want to do that to our community."
Kelleher said while it did take some time for the Maple Avenue Vision to move forward, the town has had success with a thorough public hearing and approval process.
"It's a good give and take and you learn a lot through that process and it's a good decision making process," Kelleher said.
The Council's decision to put a snow removal ordinance on hold is largely because of citizens and businesses raising issues that hadn't come out in the research process.
Kelleher said at times, even those ordinances the town is happy with have unintended consequences: "Now there are new homes being built [using the condition] 'Oh this would have been a carport except it's an enclosed garage."
Budgets are getting easier again, Kelleher said, and will continue to do so if the new development in town continues to grow at the rate it's going.
"We've maintained a desirable place to live and people are willing to invest in the Vienna community," Kelleher said.
Kelleher and her husband, Gary, live in Southeast Vienna, where they raise their three children.