Local Commentary

Editorial: Sustainability & Civil Rights

Last week’s municipal election in the City of Falls Church will be remembered in years to come as a major inflection point defining the character and viability of the independent jurisdiction going forward into the 21st century.

In the form of a blatantly anti-development referendum, Falls Church faced a major challenge aimed at thwarting the positive economic development achievements of the first seven years of this century. It was soundly defeated. Of 6,107 registered voters in the City, only 1,017, or one-sixth, felt that the current course of action by the City’s leadership has been sufficiently disturbing to warrant getting out to the polls and the pass the referendum.

 

This constitutes an enormous vote of confidence by the City’s residents for the current course. It has, after all, kept the City solvent, in full support of its schools, with an actual drop in average residential real estate tax bill, even through one of the roughest economic periods in its almost 60-year history. While the City’s small size may disadvantage it in some ways, it has also given it a unique ability to take bold and innovative moves to insure its long-term survival. Not only the City government and professional staff, but its feisty Chamber of Commerce also deserves tons of credit for all this.

 

With the $317-million CityCenter project approved, with progress on two mixed use projects North Washington St., and with a new office building under construction and Hilton Hotel pending on West Broad, the best is still yet to come. This goes for not only how these developments will turn Falls Church into a vibrant and energetic place, achieving the “critical mass” to make it a desired destination for tons of outside dollars to be spent and invested, but they will also continue to keep taxes low and quality of life high for Falls Church residents. 

A second pivotal achievement of last week’s election was the widely-noted election to the City Council of the first openly-gay Afro-American in the history of Virginia. This news spread like wildfire across the Internet, mostly, viewed both nationally and internationally as significant, not only in terms of what it means for the cause of civil rights, generally, but for the way it symbolizes Virginia’s shift from “red” to “blue” in time for the November presidential election.

 

It is not lost on us that Lawrence Webb’s historic election came within four days of the passing of Mildred Loving, a courageous Afro-American woman who also made Virginia history 41 years ago when she sued in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage. Ms. Loving was an ardent supporter of civil rights causes, including of gay rights, until her death.

 

We applaud Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner’s comments Monday night about what Webb’s election means for embracing and celebrating diversity in Falls Church. It, too, signals the City’s bright future course.