Local Commentary

Editorial: Vote ‘No’ on the Referendum

Next Tuesday’s municipal election in the City of Falls Church will matter a lot to every man, woman and child living in the city. If you, dear reader, are taking the trouble to look at this editorial, we urge you to put a little extra effort, as well, into getting to the polls at some point between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. this Tuesday, May 6.

Moreover, we urge you to put some serious thought toward our recommendations for this election. We’ve been covering Falls Church in depth and non-stop for over 17 years, so we feel we’re qualified to give good advice on how to vote Tuesday to ensure the best outcome for you, your family, and your community. We recommend:

1. On the Charter-Change Referendum: Vote “No.” If it were to pass, the kind of diverse and reasoned mixed use development that has already saved over 12 cents on your residential real estate tax rate would grind to a halt. It would be a legalistic straight jacket, tying the hands of local government, and the regional development community would turn and run away. It would signal to them a community hostile to the realities of the market and deluded to think it can dictate that developers can or cannot do without regard for the market. Developers avoid such “la-la land” places like the plague. The referendum’s supporters say it is a “reaction” to too much development, which means it is reactionary. Rule by reaction is no way to practice good government. Even its one supporter on the Falls Church City Council, an attorney, conceded Monday if he’d been able to write it, he’d done it differently. If it passed, real estate taxes would soar, schools would become second-rate, and the City’s capacity for sustainable self-determination would be thrown into serious jeopardy. We are emphatic urging a “No” vote on this ill-conceived referendum.

2. For the City Council, Re-Elect the Incumbents, Mayor Robin Gardner and Vice Mayor Lindy Hockenberry. They’ve served two terms effectively and deserve a third, capitalizing on their accumulated experience and success keeping City costs down and quality up.

3. For the City Council, Elect Lawrence Webb. Webb has taken, by far, the most interest in attending Council meetings, work sessions, and public events. Three candidates, Ed Hillegas, Margaret Housen and Patrice Lepczyzk have been no-shows at the same events, including at candidate forums and debates, and have done nothing to suggest they have the qualifications or dedication to serve. Nader Barouck, despite no prior service in the City, has engaged his opponents and might otherwise be qualified except that he’s an adamant supporter of the referendum, which disqualifies him in our judgment.

4. For School Board, Re-Elect the Incumbents, Joan Wodiska and Kieran Sharpe. Both the others, Kim Maller and Charlotte Hyland, are qualified. We give the edge to Maller.