Local Commentary

Editorial: News-Press’ Role in May Election

It’s coming down to “crunch time” for the upcoming Falls Church City Council election. Even as the difficulties facing the coming fiscal year budget continue to preoccupy City Hall, the eight candidates vying for four seats on the Council in the May 4 election have turned their attention to door-knocking, web site building, sign making and fundraising.

A municipal election in Falls Church has some characteristic unique to the small size of our “Little City.” With just over 11,000 residents, and just 8,200 active registered voters, in its compact 2.2 square miles, Falls Church is a manageable territory for any energetic candidate.

It also helps that the City is home to one of the best educated populations in the U.S. Residents are more literate and susceptible to rational arguments than elsewhere.

However, City residents tend to be preoccupied with their day jobs. Many households harbor two career professionals working in D.C., and many simply don’t have the time or energy to also pay attention to local Falls Church politics.

Fearful of low voter turnouts because of this, candidates may overreact to loud voices coming from a tiny minority. They recall recent elections decided by less than 50 votes, and expend an inordinate amount of energy either appeasing or otherwise responding to angry blog postings or poison-penned fliers originating among people who’ve already made up their minds.

But this begs the other major advantage Falls Church in its elections. It is one of those rare communities in the U.S. that has a newspaper that completely blankets the jurisdiction every week. The impact of that, compared to Internet blogs and even an expensive, one-time mailing to every mailbox in town, is incomparable by a very wide margin.

The News-Press not only goes to every address in the City, it is also widely available in news racks and boxes. It is designed for the busy Falls Church professional. In a compact tabloid size, it fits easily into purses and coat pockets, and onto kitchen tables. It has content covering wide and varied interests, from news of the neighborhood and the exploits of the local neighborhood kids to provocative national commentaries, advice on poker and wines, and edgy comics. With a new edition only once a week, leaving busy people plenty of time to read through it not once, but numerous times.

It is our goal, as it has always been since we covered our first Falls Church City election in 1992, that the candidates and the voting public, alike, place their trust in the News-Press as an institution providing more light than heat, and for its reach into every single home in Falls Church every week with news on the election, and with whatever candidates want to say with their advertising and comments.

Nothing matches candidates, themselves, showing up at a front door to offer a smile, a handshake and a serious conversation. But the News-Press comes in second, and does it at every door, every week.