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Town Council Candidate: Laurie Cole

Incumbent running for sixth term in office

Part of a series of four candidates running in Vienna's town elections May 1. For information on all candidates, click here.

Laurie Cole has been a town resident since 1986.

Government Experience

  • Council member, 2002 to present
  • Prior to Town Council, served on the Community Enhancement Commission (Chair), Planning Commission (Chair) and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Community Experience

  • Vienna Volunteer Fire Department’s Capital Campaign Steering Committee
  • Former member, Louise Archer Elementary School PTA Board
  • Former volunteer, Vienna Youth Sports
  • Member, Optimist Club of Greater Vienna
  • Member, AAUW Vienna Branch
  • Board member, Music Friends of the Fairfax County Library.

Professional Experience

  • Worked as an associate attorney with Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, DC, and adjunct professor at Marymount University.
  • Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College
  • Juris Doctor degree, University of California, Los Angeles.

When Laurie Cole first joined the Vienna Town Council, developers began to move ahead with a proposal called "Metro West," a mixed-use “hub” of homes, retail, commercial and public space surrounding the Vienna Metro station.

Vienna wasn't invited to be involved, despite the project's anticipated effects on Marshall Road Elementary School and intersections along Nutley Street.

"When we became aware of it, it was already a ways down the road," Cole said.

Since then, Cole has made it a goal to improve communication and build relationships with surrounding communities to keep the situation from happening again, and, keep the town's voice active in regional conversation like the development of Tysons Corner.

She helped create Greater Tysons Concerned Citizens, a coalition that included leaders from Vienna, the Providence District council, Fairfax Citizens for Responsible Growth and the McLean Citizens Association and is a frequent speaker at hearings on zoning, planning and development.

Now, "the biggest issue the county has to hash out is who is going to pay for what, and it can't be resolved in a vacuum of just Tysons because the county overall has a lot of development needs and transportation needs. It’s a big challenge for them,” she said.

An equally large challenge for Vienna is making sure the town doesn't get stuck footing the bill for improvements and road projects created by Tysons development.

“The Town of Vienna and our residents should not have to pay for improvements that are a direct result of the growth in Tysons because that means our citizens are paying twice, because we're already paying in as county residents," Cole said.

That would include a proposal to widen Maple Avenue, or other areas like Park Street and Cedar Lane or the Northeastern part of Courthouse Road, to accommodate traffic flow.

"That just is not part of our vision for Vienna," Cole said. "There are lots of areas in Vienna that are going to be vulnerable that we need to keep an eye on."

As those issues are resolved, Cole will also look to help the town move forward more quickly on the Maple Avenue Vision than it has in the past. It's taken nearly a decade to move forward

"We've got to address it or it's going to overtake us and we'll have missed our chance," Cole said.

A positive part of that process will be an ability to push ahead on several sidewalk projects. As a planning commissioner, Cole was part of the town's second Sidewalk Task Force, which compiled a list of areas where sidewalks were needed to complete a full connected pedestrian system. But many of those projects, Cole said, are still on the waiting list.

"Now we've got this much stronger impetus to work on sidewalks," Cole said. "That, with the Safe Routes to School organizations, is going to help us move a bit ahead."

Among Cole’s other accomplishments: launching the town's first last year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with the Town Business Liaison Committee, and helping identify existing power poles along the W&OD Trail as "preferred locations" for new wireless antenna installation, which enabled “residents to receive improved signal coverage without the construction of antenna towers," she said.

Cole said going forward, she'd also like to address the town's sign ordinance, following Leesburg, Va.'s overhaul as a guide.

Approaching her 10th year in office, Cole said she's enjoyed the job and thinks the council has been a good steward of Vienna -- but there's always another issue to tackle.

"We're going to have to be our own kind of place and I think you already see that around town," Cole said. "We're going to have to find our own way."

Cole and her husband, Harry, live in southeast Vienna, where they raised two sons.

Deborah Reyher March 07, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Laurie Cole is an energetic leader with a calm demeanor, a good sense of humor, and a knack for getting to the heart of an issue. She is a wonderful asset for Vienna.
Craig Burns March 07, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Laurie is a great council member who has a heart for her community.
looskk June 01, 2012 at 11:17 AM
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