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Peppe on How He Wound Up With Highest Vote Total in F.C. Race: ‘I Have No Idea!’

peppelawrencewodiskaAmid the large election-watch gathering in downtown Falls Church last night, the man who emerged in the F.C. City Council race with the highest number of votes among the eight candidates on the ballot remarked to the News-Press, “I have no idea,” when asked why he came in first. “I can’t explain it,” he said. “I was myself in the race. Some have criticized me in the past because I came across as a ‘moderate,’ because I can see both sides of things.”

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Ron Peppe (2nd from left) was the highest vote getter in Tuesday’s F.C. City Council election. (News-Press photo)

Amid the large election-watch gathering in downtown Falls Church last night, the man who emerged in the F.C. City Council race with the highest number of votes among the eight candidates on the ballot remarked to the News-Press, “I have no idea,” when asked why he came in first. “I can’t explain it,” he said. “I was myself in the race. Some have criticized me in the past because I came across as a ‘moderate,’ because I can see both sides of things.”

Peppe, the only one of four candidates endorsed by the Citizens for a Better City (CBC) to win tonight, said he would waste no time reaching out to the other three winners . “I hope we can all pull together,” he said, “Because next year’s budget is going to be even tougher than this one.”

The News-Press was unsuccessful in contacting the other winning candidates tonight, as phone calls to David Snyder, Ira Kaylin and Johannah Barry went unanswered as of this posting.

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The vote tally white board at CBC’s gathering at Ireland’s Four Provinces. (News-Press photo)

Tradition holds that the highest vote getter in a City Council election is voted by his or her colleagues on the Council to be the mayor when sworn in on July 1, but this election has hardly gone according to tradition. Some observers point out that it marked the first time in 40 years that the CBC failed to get more than one of its candidates elected in a four-person race. The Council’s make up as of July 1 should mitigate against another term for two-term mayor Robin Gardner, and the early odds are for a return to the mayor’s seat of Snyder for the first time in over a decade. First elected to the Council in 1994, he held the mayoral post from 1998-2000.

For unsuccessful CBC-backed candidate John Lawrence tonight, he told the News-Press this first one would not be his last effort at seeking public office in Falls Church. But his next move, he said, was to go home and pack to make it on a 9 a.m. flight to the Philippines, where he will work with a group of colleagues to help monitor elections in the northern part of the country. He said that after today’s arduous get-out-the-vote efforts at the polls all day, he plans to sleep on the 22 hour flight. “I am going to watch with great interest what happens now,” Lawrence said of today’s F.C. election result. “The next 18 months should be very interesting.”

His mention of 18 months referenced the time until the next F.C. City Council election, which will be held in November 2011. As a result of a split vote on the Falls Church City Council last winter, the City has permanently moved its municipal election to November, when a much higher voter turnout is virtually assured.
Long-time F.C. City advocate for affordable housing, Carol Jackson was among the election-watchers at the “4 P’s” tonight, and she told the News-Press, “I thought the outcome was inevitable. Our community has resulted in people accustomed to receiving what the economy has delivered, and they don’t know how to handle less. So they vote out the elected officials and vote for those who said the things they wanted to hear.”

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Hockenberry (left) and F.C. School Board Member Joan Wodiska. (News-Press photo)

Even though she did not win the nomination of the CBC, former Vice Mayor Lindy Hockenberry spent the evening at the “4 P’s” with the predominantly pro-CBC crowd. She said that, after two full terms on the City Council before her narrow loss in a bid for a third term in 2008, said that with her last-place finish tonight, she is done seeking elected office in Falls Church, She will continue to serve in an appointed capacity on the City’s Planning Commission. Current Vice Mayor Hal Lippman, also present at the gathering tonight, said he will not run again after taking a pounding in the race today. “This last year has not been very pleasant for me” he said, referencing the difficulties associated with passing the budget last week coupled with his electoral defeat

Unsuccessful CBC candidate Barry Buschow was also present, as were all of the unopposed, and therefore winning, candidates for School Board.