Part of a series of four candidates running in Vienna's town elections May 1. For information on all candidates, click here.
M. Jane Seeman has lived in Vienna since 1968.
- Mayor, 2000 to present
- Appointed to Town Council in 1996. Elected to a two-year term in 1997 and re-elected in 1999.
- Former Chairman of the Community Enhancement Commission
- Member of Historic Vienna Inc.
- Member of the Rotary Club of Vienna and other community organizations
- Volunteered over 3,000 hours at Patrick Henry Library.
- Received the Vienna Toastmasters Community & Leadership Award in 1997
- Named Citizen of the Year by the Vienna Times & Vienna Chamber of Commerce and received the Rotary “Service Above Self award.”
- Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Economics from Fort Hays Kansas State College.
Before her first run for Mayor in 2000, Seeman hadn't given much thought to serving in Vienna's top elected office.
But she was certainly familiar with how the town was run: Her husband, Rodger W. Seeman, had served on the town council for a decade before his death 16 years ago. Jane was appointed to fill his unexpired term in 1996, and then went on to win two more council seats, in 1997 and 1999, on her own.
"This town has been so good to my family and to me and it’s just he place that I love," Seeman said.
So when someone asked her to run for Mayor that spring, "I thought, 'I need to step forward and do something and not just sit back and watch it get done.' So I did."
Twelve years later, Seeman says she is more energized than ever to represent residents as she seeks her seventh term in office
"I’m really energized and excited because we have finally so many neat projects pushed forward that it’s going to be an exciting two years," she said.
When Seeman took office, she said, she had two goals: to get people to stop thinking of "politicians" as a dirty word, and to involve residents more in what the town does.
"At Town Hall, so many people will come in and say 'Oh, I've never been here before,'" Seeman said. "I tell him, this is your building ‑ we work here for you."
While she's recognized her first goal might be a lost cause ‑ "There's just too many people who won't ever stray from that ...I now call myself a public servant, and I really believe that" ‑ she's seen great success with the second.
Shortly after taking office, Seeman began a program called "Vienna At Your Service," an attempt to better connect residents with the services in town. It began as meet and greets at various town departments, like Parks and Rec and the Public Works facilities, but has grown to be monthly presentations on anything from the history of local schools and libraries, to new green programs in town, to planning future events and celebrations.
The town has also significantly improved the ways it communicates with residents, Seeman said. It launched a redesign of its website last year, along with active Facebook and Twitter pages, so people have town information and discussions more readily at their fingertips. The town launched early this year that it expects will carry live council broadcasts by May.
"We're better at reaching people, and more quickly," Seeman said.
Seeman has also worked to better communicate with surrounding jurisdictions. With Herndon's Mayor, she created the Towns Association of Northern Virginia to give localities like Vienna a better forum to brainstorm and talk about issues.
"That came out of realizing that ... we needed a better voice among ourselves," Seeman said.
She also represents the town on the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the Environmental Policy Steering Committee and the Greater Tysons Coordinating Committee.
She is also a board member of the Tysons Partnership.
Dealing with traffic in Tysons will be a big issue moving forward, she said, but there are also some positive aspects of the area's redevelopment.
"We’re going to see some overflow of businesses and residents into Vienna," she said.
On par with traffic issues will be transportation infrastructure.
"If you don’t want to drive, how are you going to get to Tysons?" Seeman said. "We need a better bus service, we need neighborhood buses. It's one thing to have a bus going up and down Maple Avenue but not everyone lives within a block or two of Maple Avenue. We need more reliable options."
Among the other related Tysons issues that will affect Vienna is the lack of park and field space, which could push new residents onto Vienna's parks and ball fields.
"I think the county is being really, really careful because they know this has got to work because if they make a mistake it’s going to last – it’s going to be devastating," Seeman said.
On her way through Vienna each day, Seeman says she always tries to take a different street. The neighborhoods look much different than they do when she came here in 1968.
"People who have lived here a long time tell me they feel they're being pushed out or dwarfed by some of these bigger houses -- but that's just the way things are," she said. "The building is a good sign, it's progress."
What's made her last 12 years in office so enjoyable, and what she'll look forward to for at least the next two, is how closely she can work with the residents she represents.
"They stop me in church and stop me wherever and tell me about a street they want fixed, or some other issue," Seeman said. "It’s just neat, being able to be that close to the people and being able to respond without going through a lot of bureaucratic red tape. It’s nice to be able to help people like that."