By almost an exact two-to-one margin, voters on a hotly-contested referendum on the ballot today in the City of Falls Church cast their ballots in favor of shifting the City’s municipal elections from May to November. What has been one of the most contentious and heavily-debated issue among civic activists in the City for over two years was not even close in the minds of the general public, the 1,738 out of 2,612 who voted “Yes” for the switch to November in today’s election. The overall turnout in the race was just over 30 percent.
The outcome means that while the next Falls Church City Council and School Board race will be held next May, beginning in November 2013 and henceforth, all such elections will be held in November of odd years on the same ballot with state races. Historically, turnout for elections in November in Falls Church has been about twice as high as in May, and that was the compelling argument for those who supported the switch to November.
The landslide outcome today should put the matter to rest. The suggestion of moving local elections from May to November began in when a newly-elected Councilman, Lawrence Webb, brought the matter up before the City Council. It led to a 4-3 vote by the Council to move the date to November in December 2009. But when the Council election of May 2010 brought in new members, the new Council reversed itself, putting the elections back to May last fall with the proviso that today’s referendum would be the final word on the matter.