Local Commentary

Editorial: The Ubiquitous Ms. Hockenberry

It’s a good thing that Lindy Hockenberry has no intention of fading away. The City of Falls Church’s popular vice mayor will step down from her seat on the City Council next week, but only to be even that much more visible in the many nooks and crannies of the city she loves, just as she has been for more than three dozen years. Ms. Hockenberry’s got a lot more to give to Falls Church, and don’t be surprised if more of it is back on the City Council before too long.

Many folks have perhaps not thought through the significance of someone coming off a 30-plus year career as a teacher in the Falls Church School System to get elected to the City Council, as Hockenberry first did in 2000. It’s unprecedented. Many who voted for her then, in 2004 and this year, when she fell 39 votes short of re-election to a third term, were her students in their tender middle school years. She has known them, their brothers and sisters, their friends and their parents all through their growing up into adulthood.

And they have known her. One young up-and-comer, a student while she substitute taught this year at the Henderson Middle School, came to the microphone at Monday’s City Council meeting to show some love for his teacher and tireless leader of his Falls Church community. Young James Hickey was bold to step up in praise of Hockenberry at her last meeting Monday, and can be excused for getting a little choked up as he checked off his list of all the roles Hockenberry has played, and plays, in Falls Church: educator, Council woman, parent, and community leader. “She’s a great overall person,” he concluded.

Praise came from all quarters Monday, from her Council colleagues, to City Manager Wyatt Shields, to community leaders who spoke during the petition period, including the Falls Church Housing Corporation’s Carol Jackson and the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce’s Sally Cole. But Mayor Robin Gardner put it best, calling Hockenberry the “consummate volunteer,” the “lifeblood of the community,” who “knows citizens in the community as friends and as family,” and as an indefatigable “consensus builder.”

We at the News-Press knew Hockenberry for many years before she ever considered moving away from teaching, and then to run for public office. She has always been the up-beat cheerleader, always present at sporting events to root for her students and encourage them, even to the present day. Unlike others of her colleagues, she always went the extra mile for them, as she did in her community as a City resident. On the Council, we marveled as she grew into the job, both in confidence and command of complicated issues. She reveled in her Council role, as it enabled her to be even more ubiquitous than she’d been before.

She is a treasure, and all in Falls Church can be thankful she’ll remain active on behalf of their city and its people for many years more.