As a public service, the News-Press is offering all the candidates for the Falls Church City Council in this May’s election an opportunity to present their candidacies to our reading public. The eight candidates’ statements are here:
The City of Falls Church is a jewel. Its attributes – a small, inclusive community, engaged citizens, and superb schools – have made this City an extraordinary place to live. It has been our home for 25 years.
My inauguration to City politics began 20 years ago with our neighborhood’s response to a major development initiative. Since that time, I have regularly provided comment to City staff and Council on two additional development projects, the Hekemian and Northgate projects. This experience grew to my participation on the Board of our neighborhood association and has led to my deep concern regarding the trajectory of our City’s commercial development efforts. I believe my past experience and new perspective will positively affect the challenges that confront our City. I ask for your partnership and your vote on May 4.
My background in international conservation includes a combination of fiscal expertise and long-term vision. Both will serve as we dig deep into current economic decisions and budgeting models and focus on building financial stability over the long term. This process will not be quick and there are difficult decisions to be made. I am confident that our City can come together to create the change which will protect the social and fiscal values which are central to our community.
How do we create change while conserving the essential values that define this remarkable City? I am familiar with the difficult balance of creating and sustaining revenue streams while protecting landscapes and identity. I will promote strategic and aggressive outreach to the commercial sector which will provide critical revenue streams to relieve the financial burden on property owners while capturing this City’s essential nature. An economically and environmentally healthy City will depend on staff and a Council willing to ingeniously market the City.
Our City’s financial future clearly affects Falls Church schools which are central to the fabric of this City. As the largest expenditure item in the City’s budget, the schools face an uncertain future. School leadership and the talented classroom professionals will be called on to create a visionary approach to meeting this economic challenge while addressing critical academic objectives.
As a private sector CEO working internationally, my work requires becoming fluent in the language of compromise, engagement, and patience. Creating a shared vision among disparate parties requires attentive listening, a long-term focus, and a generous amount of good humor.
Working multi-culturally has provided remarkably creative moments. To find and hold common ground is one thing; to do it when thoughtful people are literally unable to understand each other is a challenge. I take the work of getting to real dialogue seriously.
Our children, Cieran and Eamonn were raised in Falls Church, going from kindergarten to high school with their same group of friends. As adults, they have come to understand how special being part of a community is. We value what this City has given us, and I want to be a positive part of its future. Please contact me at barrykaylinforcouncil.com.
For 21 years I have been volunteering for our city. I have served on 18 different Boards, Commissions, Task Forces and service organizations. I have learned quite a bit and have met some wonderful citizens along the way. I enjoy working with others, building consensus and making things happen.
During the day I am a technical assistant contractor with TASC, Inc. I perform program management activities, planning, budgeting and program execution, which I have done for 25 years. I see the City Council work as an extension to my day job and I want to see our city not only survive, but thrive.
As I mentioned in my guest commentary last week, I believe we need to embrace the future, be ready for it and take advantage of it; to emerge as a destination for families and businesses with development that shows off our livable urban community with small town character.
Working Together is key to sustaining our community, keeping it fiscally strong, and maintaining our excellent school system. Commerce is currently contributing 22% to our income statement and residential (you and I) are paying 78%. We need to expand our commercial tax base so homeowners don’t continue to shoulder the majority of the burden of maintaining our excellent school system and city services. As I speak to the public, taxes are a big concern. Without a better balance on our income statement taxes will continue to be a problem for many citizens.
I propose employing sector planning techniques, a concept that Arlington County has very successfully used to stimulate economic development. While we don’t have subway stops in the city, the concept of articulating our economic development needs and desires will help stimulate meaningful development with good design and provide quicker approvals for developers. I would like our economic development program to focus on sector planning concepts and sound land management techniques. Business retention and expansion are critical to our community and the character of our city. We must take on this challenge now so we can be ready for the future. Many communities across the nation are engaged in enhancing and revitalizing older commercial areas as we would also like to accomplish. A clear course of action brings tangible results. The best economic development is not necessarily “more” or “bigger”, but commercial that is “better”. Better is better. It is an economic reality that developers will do business in communities that demand quality projects and take steps to ensure they obtain such projects. We must form partnerships with developers; public-private partnerships. The essential ingredient for making the partnership a success is attitude. Working together, all parties agree to collaborate so that resultant projects are mutually beneficial.
My time on the Economic Development Authority provided insight into these challenges and I believe we have the tools to get the job done. Focusing our talents we can make economic development work in our community. I accept the challenge and I ask for your vote so I can help make it happen.
With my background as the Chief Financial Risk Officer of a $100 billion Bank (the Inter American Development Bank) I was pleased, when asked by a City official, to take a look at the City’s financial projections.
I looked forward to the challenge. It would give me an opportunity to provide a service to Falls Church City, where my wife and I have lived for the last five years, by using the skills and knowledge accumulated over a lifetime. In fact we had always felt we were part of the City since we had lived in Arlington, about one mile from Falls City, with our two sons for the previous 24 years.
These experiences included responsibility for the Bank’s financial planning and establishing interest rate charges on $50 billion of loans. As a result one becomes acutely aware that changes of an interest rate of as little as 2/100ths of percent matter. To me any increase in the tax rate, which is analogous to interest rate charges, is a “big deal” and requires intense scrutiny for justification.
In addition it was hoped that my experience as the Bank’s Auditor General and member of the Pension Investment Committee, which oversees a $2.4 billion pension fund, would also serve to benefit the City.
My knowledge of the City, as a whole, was enhanced when I was fortunate to be selected to be a member of the Board of the Economic Development Authority. My understanding of the functions of the City, at the ground level, was gained as the President of the Falls Church Crest Homeowners Association.
Concern for the future of the City’s ability maintain its school system and provide critical City services occurred almost immediately. It became clear that the City’s projected revenues, even assuming an increase in residential assessments, and the completion of all current and planned mixed use projects, including City Center, did not match projected expenditures. In other words the city was going to experience financial stress in any event. The economic meltdown accelerated the City’s financial stress but did not create it. As the largest single expenditure item there would be inevitable pressure to cut the school budget.
I am familiar with the challenges and rewards of education having taught at the college level, including as Adjunct Instructor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
High quality public education is a pillar of American society and I am committed to helping Falls Church maintain its academic excellence.
The challenge facing the City is to stop the current fiscal hemorrhaging, brace for tough times ahead, and develop a long term development plan based on commercial/office development with related retail activities. Such development should occur along current business zones in order to retain the character of the City specifically its residential core.
Long term economic development will not be quick or simple but it is essential for the City maintain its independence, it fiscal soundness and its school system.
It is worth our best effort.
Sincerely, Ira J. Kaylin, Web address, BarryKaylinforcouncil.com
The City of Falls Church is facing great challenges, but our small size and unique resources provide great opportunities for the future IF we work together. We tend to focus on the money problems. Money is an issue. We do need to figure out how to accomplish the things we want for our community in a way we can afford, but we also need to make sure we are working together in a positive way. I am asking for your vote on May 4 for City Council so that I can help us work together and take advantage of those opportunities.
For the past two years I have chaired the School Board of Falls Church City, and I have seen up close what we can achieve when we work together. We do a lot of things right, but we can do many things better. I decided to run for City Council so that I could use my experience to help. I offer experience in Falls Church City government, education, finance, public works, communications and human resources. I also bring experience using technology to facilitate efficiency, transparency and collaboration.
My education experience includes 11 years on school boards, including almost seven as Chair and two as Vice-chair of the boards, both in Falls Church City and in a much larger district with 40,000 students. I was President of the GMHS PTSA and served on the naming committee for Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School. I am the School Board Liaison to the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, and have spent years on various business/education partnerships. I have been involved in the funding, planning, design, construction and renovation of over a dozen schools.
Schools are a vital part of our community, but we also need other experience on our City Council. As a bond lawyer, I helped communities solve difficult planning and funding dilemmas about schools, health care facilities, water and sewer systems, transit, and other infrastructure projects. As General Counsel and VP of Human Resources for an international manufacturing and construction company, I know about business efficiencies, large-scale construction and development, and how to attract, motivate and retain a work force. I have also served on non-profit boards, including a local board of directors of the American Red Cross and the board of directors of a state association of boards of education. Most importantly, my experience includes leadership roles helping diverse groups work together to identify and achieve common goals.
I have learned from my years of public service that we each bring important ideas and differences of opinion to the table. We need open and full debate, especially when we are spending other people’s money, but, at the end of the day, the City Council needs to be able to work together as a team. I am asking for your vote May 4 to put my experience and leadership on that team. For more information, check out www.ronpeppe.com or email me at [email protected].
It has been my honor to serve the citizens of The City of Falls Church on Council for eight years and on Planning Commission for two. Now, I’m asking for your support and vote for Council on Tuesday, May 4th.
Our wonderful independent city is at a crossroad unlike any in its history, but I sincerely feel that with strong experienced leadership and community support that we will weather this storm and will emerge stronger than ever. I can provide that needed leadership. I am an optimist with a “can do” attitude that with hard work, solid planning and cooperation much can be accomplished. There is no time for a steep learning curve– experience and knowledge matter.
There are voices that speak of only gloom and doom for our city—that we can’t last as an independent city–that we should sacrifice our excellent school system–the system that I’ve proudly taught in for forty years —that our City should become just another place with no real reason for being. To those voices, I respond with a resounding NO on all counts. I remain strong in the continuation of that courageous dream that our founders had in 1948 of a viable, strong, and independent City of Falls Church!
It’s easy to say that you support our City, our great schools and necessary services—that’s good government—but ask candidates what are they willing to do in order to bring in new revenues to support that statement? Are they willing to make those tough, albeit sometimes unpopular decisions, to lead us into the future or are they more likely to say “no” most of the time and just wait for something to come along? I am willing to make those responsible decisions bringing in new revenue and development—that’s what I’ve been doing for the last ten years.
Over the last decade, development has been crucial for building a sound basis for future sustainability. Long-time empty lots and under-producing properties were developed producing a stream of new NET revenues way more than our fiscal estimates plus millions in community benefits. Yes, we have new residents, but I welcome them as valued partners in the future of our City. We must maintain and support our business community—spend money in our City! New economic development must be vigorously sought with tax incentive programs—our economic base has to grow.
There are so many other elements to a wonderful community that have more to do with values than riches. We as a community really care about the welfare of others. We care about our neighborhoods and schools. We care about diversity. We deeply care about our environment and protecting it. We are a community of doers willing to work together. We want civility even when we disagree. Our shared values are strong—our community is strong.
Again, I ask for your vote on May 4. Thank you for this opportunity.
Feel free to contact me at 703.241.0934 or at [email protected]
When I first told my wife I was considering running for City Council, she surprised me by saying, “I assumed you’d do it at some point.” As always, she was a step (or two) ahead of me. Now that I’ve caught up with her, I need to run hard for the next seven weeks to stay ahead of at least four other candidates.
My interest in community involvement comes from my parents in Ohio. Both my sister and I were adopted at birth (from different families), but she ended up on a Planning Commission for two decades and I’ve been Planning Commission chair since 2009 (on since 2006), on the Library Board since 2006, and was Vice Chair of the Day Care Task Force. My Dad was on the Park Board forever as well as a hospital Board of Directors and my Mom was always involved with the League of Women Voters and PTA.
In terms of nature vs. nurture, rack one up for nurture.
We’ve lived in the City more than 10 years and our son is thriving in 2nd grade. We moved here for the schools and, frankly, it’s concern over the schools that led me to run. I’m concerned about their budget, but I decided to go for Council because the schools don’t control their own budget. Follow the money.
I think it’s clear that I’m committed to the City. Given the time that I’ve put in – and my family has let me put in – I have no illusions that getting on, or being on, Council will be easy. I joined the Planning Commission as City Center was coming down the ‘pike, so walking into a buzzsaw obviously isn’t a problem for me.
So what do I stand for? Here are the basic ideas and positions I’ll expand on during the campaign.
Great schools are obviously a priority. The suggestion that the Council is an advocate for the “City”/City staff and the School Board stands for the school/school staff is worse than wrong – it’s dangerous. We need to balance needs not manufacture artificial and destructive competition.
Continued independence. If we can’t take a return on investment from the water system, how can the system help us diversify our tax base, which is vital for survival? What we build must be sustainable.
Financial and fiscal responsibility. The Council needs to increase its financial oversight and accountability, perhaps through a more direct reporting structure for the CFO.
Planning: Land use is a key Council focus yet we have no planners on Council. A former member wrote me saying, “We need planners on the Council who understand how to put the pieces together.” I agree.
Strong community. This may seem trite, but in tough times community means even more. Taxes are always a burden and services are always gravy. But a neighbor called the other night to say that she had lit a fire and that everyone was welcome for S’mores. Would I trade low taxes and gold-plated trash pick-up for that call? I don’t think so.
With the campaign season unfolding, I thought it would be useful to “re-introduce” myself to the people of Falls Church. Along with my wife Sue, daughter Danna, and stepson Mouncey, I have lived in Falls Church since the late 1970s. Both Mouncey and Danna were educated K-12 in our outstanding public schools. Professionally, I devoted more than 30 years working in public service as a U.S. Senate and House of Representatives investigator, Government Accountability Office auditor, and Agency for International Development senior evaluation specialist. Since retiring in 2004, I have continued as an independent consultant, assessing the results of U.S. government international development efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Throughout my career, I have believed deeply in and abided by basic principles of good governance – accountability, transparency, and responsiveness – that are widely accepted as hallsmarks of democracy.
Here in Falls Church, my civic involvement began in the early 1990s, when I participated in the landmark effort to establish an inclusive education program in the Falls Church City Public Schools for children with intellectual disabilities. At the same time I served on the Youth Commission and subsequently was endorsed by the CBC to be a member of the first group of candidates elected to the School Board (1994 – 1998). In 2006, I again was endorsed by the CBC and was elected to the City Council.
As a member of the Council these past three-and-a-half years, I have seen our local government up close and have been privileged to work with my Council colleagues and the outstanding people that make our City go. I have participated in hundreds and hundreds of meetings on the budget, economic development, the water utility, affordable housing, personnel matters, legal disputes, and more. I have served on the Council’s Legislative and Government Operations Committees, acted as liaison to several City boards and commissions and, since being elected Vice Mayor, represented the City on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. I have also cast my vote countless times on issues large and small, and have always done so in accordance with my mantra of trying to do what I felt was best for all the people of Falls Church, not just a particular neighborhood, organization, or interest group. Last, but by no means least, I have spent countless hours listening carefully to and acting on constituent issues and problems; and especially as they surfaced during the debates over the Hekemian apartment building, City Center, Hilton Hotel, the election date change and, over the past 18 months, the affordable housing project.
Finally, having once again been honored to receive the CBC’s endorsement at its February 20 Convention, I look forward to the upcoming campaign and the opportunity it will provide for me to meet with and listen to the people of Falls Church about their concerns, ideas, and suggestions and, in the end, hopefully gain their support on May 4.
As Lincoln so clearly put it, “I am a firm believer in the people.” And no people deserve that belief more than the citizens of Falls Church, who have maintained this City consistent with the core values of education, citizen-based government, civility, tolerance, regional cooperation, and high standards of performance in all areas. It has been an honor to serve you consistent with these fundamental community values for nearly two decades as community activist, Mayor, Vice Mayor, City Council Member, and chairman or member of regional transportation, environmental, and emergency preparedness bodies.
The present time may seem unusually challenging, but there have been difficult times in the past and working together, we have always prevailed. Here’s what we need to do:
First, protect community core values and services, including education, public safety, and environmental services. Government exists to provide basics services to support families and business and should perform them efficiently and cost effectively. In our community, the longstanding priorities have been restated in two recent town hall meetings-they are schools, public safety, and environmental services such as refuse collection and recycling.
Second, position the city to make better use of the next recovery through planning and implementing high impact/low cost improvements to support existing business and attract new taxpaying commercial activity. This means laying the foundation now for the development we need in the future that, unlike some recent developments, also protects neighborhoods. It also means doing the simple, common sense things like providing more parking and better signage and taking actions that support our businesses and make Falls Church more of a regional destination.
Third, rehabilitate our connections with our neighboring jurisdictions-connections that have recently been strained-and work together with them to solve common problems. I have already explored rejuvenating our relationship with Fairfax County and beginning joint planning along commercial areas.
Fourth, assure that we continue to make this a desirable place to live by maintaining and supporting recreational, cultural, and historical resources. The arts, our history, and many cultural activities make this a great place to be and work.
Fifth, demand a fair deal from the state. Our citizens pay millions of dollars in Virginia income and sales taxes, yet they get back pennies on the dollar. At the same time, we need to work to reduce Richmond’s control over local decision making that has prevented us from addressing highway safety and gun-related threats.
With hope for the future, I pledge to bring to bear my years of experience in your service and with my wife, Edie, as parents of Richard and Sarah who deeply value their Falls Church educations, in meeting our current challenges. Above all, I promise to continue to listen to you and to act as your elected representative on City Council. Should you wish to contact me, please email [email protected] or call 703-241-0419. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and our City in the past, the present and, with your continued support, for the next four years.
For more information on the City Council and School Board candidates in Falls Church’s May 4 municipal election, the League of Women Voters of Falls Church has put together a Spring 2010 Voters’ Guide available on their website at lwvfallschurch.org.