In addition to the parade in Falls Church, I also attended the Viva Vienna festival yesterday. This was a three day festival in the heart of Vienna which attracted a good size crowd. Since the festival lasted for three days, however, the action wasn’t as compact as it was at the festival in Falls Church. Nonetheless, it still attracted a number of candidates and local political activists.
One of the first elected officials I ran into at Viva Vienna was Sen. Chap Petersen who is extremely well liked in the area. Every time I’ve gone to a festival in the Vienna area Chap! is there and is greeted by people who he has obviously meet before. I think this truly speaks to how active Chap has been in the community beyond his official duties because it’s very rare that you see a politician who is so warmly received by his/her constituents. Furthermore, it is very telling that Chap also takes the time to listen to what folks have to say instead of merely brushing them off onto a Legislative Assistant or campaign staffer.
This festival also featured the candidates who are hoping to replace Steve Shannon as the Delegate from the 35th District. Their signs were up all around the festival site and the Town of Vienna. While several of the candidates had a good showing at the actual festival, Mark Keam appeared to have the most success getting members of the crowd to wear his stickers and talk about his candidacy. At many festivals and parades children usually love to take the pencils or pieces of candy that the campaigns are giving away. At Viva Vienna, however, I thought it was very interesting to see how many adults were anxious to get their hands on the candy and pencils that the Keam campaign had at its booth. If people of voting age were that excited to get these goodies, then it’s also likely they’ll be motivated to get out to the polls on primary day to vote for Mark. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Mark has been extremely busy as of late knocking on doors and making phone calls because that type of action can prove to be very beneficial during a House of Delegates primary.
An interesting note from the event was that I ran into Keith Fimian, the Republican who ran for Congress against Gerry Connolly in the 11th, as he was campaigning for Jim Hyland – the Republican running for the House of Delegates from the 35th. Keith and I had met several times along the campaign trail last year but had never really spoken beyond a few seconds. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when he sparked a conversation with me about a variety of topics including education and economic justice – two of the big issues I’m passionate about. We have our differences about policy, but he did have some interesting ideas that could have helped him during the campaign if he had given them their proper attention. That being said, I still think it’d be a big challenge for him if he ran again in 2010 because Gerry Connolly has served the 11th extremely well in Congress.
While this year’s Viva Vienna event was successful and the campaigns were well represented, I believe the fact that it was a three day festival might have limited the impact that candidates could have had at the event. Nonetheless, it’s proximity to the Falls Church parade and festival did allow for candidates to turn Monday into a great day for reaching out to a lot of voters gathered in some central locations. With primary day rapidly approaching, the opportunity to talk to a lot of voters is likely to be appreciated by candidates and a good showing is likely to serve them well.