F.C.’s Citizens for Better City Votes 47-3 to Opt Out of Nominating Process

At its 52nd annual meeting tonight, members of Falls Church’s venerable local election vetting organization, the Citizens for a Better City (CBC), voted overwhelmingly, 47-3, for a bylaw change upholding an option to cease the organization’s long-standing practice of holding nominating conventions to establish slates of candidates it backs in local city council and school board elections. The meeting was held for the first time in the “clubhouse” of the Falls Church Housing Corporation in acknowledgment of the corporation’s 30th anniversary.

In the other major order of business at the meeting, the 10th annual Wayne and Jane Dexter Memorial Award was presented to CBC Treasurer Steve Sprague.

CBC President Sally Ekfelt spoke in support of the bylaw change, which technically puts into the organization’s executive board the “on-off switch” decision-making ability to hold or not hold a nominating convention in any given election cycle. The purpose, however, was clearly to abandon the policy for at least the time being.

Ekfelt said the change was needed to “get the organization back to the grass roots to engage citizens. It is an “experiment,” she said, to “take time off to market the CBC brand” in the community. F.C. City Council member Ron Peppe spoke in support of the change, which came to the annual meeting by way of an initiative from the group’s executive board at its Nov. 10 meeting, because there had developed in recent years “a pushback simply because we’re the CBC,” and not on the basis of issues. “There was a ‘secret handshake’ perception of the CBC, and it is not a good descriptor of anything now.”

Former F.C. Councilman Dan Maller said that because no one can lead Falls Church now who is not in support of the school system, in one way or another, the CBC “has won the battle of supporting the schools,” and “it is time to find new ways to reconnect to the community.” Phil Duncan stated that while some are commenting the bylaw change could spell the death of the CBC, “It couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The lone dissenter to speak up was Vice Mayor Dave Snyder, who said “it is a serious mistake” for the CBC to be “stepping back,” because its principles “will cease to be operative in the elections.”