First-term Falls Church City Council member Lawrence Webb formally announced Monday that he will seeking re-election to a new term in the May 2012 Falls Church municipal election.
Webb becomes the first Council candidate to announce his plans to hold onto his seat this May. A total of three seats will be in contention. In addition to Webb’s, those held by Former Mayor Robin Gardner and Mayor Nader Baroukh will also be contested. Gardner has announced she will not seek re-election and Baroukh has not revealed his plans yet.
Webb made his declaration while being interviewed on the “Falls Church News-Press Live” telecast prior to Monday’s F.C. City Council meeting.
Webb said that he planned to attend the prospective candidate briefing being provided by the F.C. Citizens for a Better City (CBC) at the Community Center that was set for last night. Citizens considering running for either the City Council or School Board this May were invited to attend and gain from the insight and experience of long-time CBC civic activists and former elected officials to assist in their prospective campaign efforts.
(As the News-Press went to press Thursday night, around 25 citizens showed up at the Community Center for the event.)
The meeting substitutes for the fact that the CBC will, for the first time in 50 years, not be hold a February nominating convention this year. The CBC’s board of directors voted in November to eliminate the traditional practice, and so it is expected that no City Council or School Board candidate will campaign this spring with the formal backing of a civic group.
Going into last night’s event, CBC activist Phil Duncan said he had not received any communiques from citizens intending to show up with an aim of running for office.
But Falls Church civic activists were surprised and pleased to discover that when the F.C. School Board issued a hasty request last week for persons interested in an interim appointment to fill a vacancy on the School Board that eight citizens stepped forward, including a number not before heard from in terms of community volunteering and involvement.
Concerning the considerable interest in the School Board appointment, Board member Kieran Sharpe, who has indicated his plans to seek re-election in May, hailed what he called “a new spirit of activism in Falls Church” reflected in the large number of applicants. “This is a precursor of good things to come.”
He noted at a School Board meeting last week the “tremendous diversity” represented in the list, calling it “a wonderful thing,” and urged some on the list to consider serving Falls Church in “general government activities.”
There are, he said, “some diversity gaps” in City government now. “We’re good at reaching the upper middle class activist parent, but not with the most vulnerable in our community. I hope over the longer term some who’ve stepped forward will stay with the spirit of service.”
In addition to the three City Council seats in contention. there will be four School Board seats up for May election, including one to fill for two years the uncompleted term of Patrick Riccards, who resigned in December to follow employment out of the area.
Two School Board incumbents have made it public that they will seek re-election, Sharpe and Joan Wodiska.
Webb was first elected to the F.C. City Council in May 2008, becoming the first openly gay African-American elected to public office in the history of Virginia.
On the Council, he initiated the process that resulted in the referendum last November when voters determined to move local elections from May to November, a switch that will commence in the 2013.
Already, as F.C. Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester reported to the City Council Monday night, has already cleared one chamber of the State Legislature by a unanimous vote.