Another 3 Jump Into F.C. City Council Fray, More Expected

Long-time Falls Church civic activist Phil Duncan made it official this week, announcing his first-ever run for elective office in the Little City. The son-in-law of four-term mayor Carol DeLong filed his papers to run for the City Council this spring, joining two other citizens who tipped their hands this week about their intentions to run for the three contested seats in the May 1 election.

F.C. Planning Commission vice chair John Lawrence, an unsuccessful candidate for Council in 2010, announced his candidacy on a local website Monday, and incumbent Mayor Nader Baroukh was circulating petitions at monthly First Friday festivities last Friday night.

They join incumbent Councilman Lawrence Webb, who confirmed his reelection intentions last month, in a growing field of candidates that is expected to swell further in coming weeks ahead of the March 6 filing deadline and all will need to collect 125 bona fide signatures of city residents registered to vote by that date. There is a lot of buzz about at least two more candidates throwing their hats in the ring.

The only other definite in the upcoming election so far is that incumbent Council member and former Mayor Robin Gardner will not be seeking a third four year term. She was first elected in 1999, and served as mayor from 2005 to 2009.

To an unprecedented degree in City history, voters will be on their own figuring out who to vote for among what could be six or more candidates vying for three slots on the Council (with a total of seven members, Council members are elected every two years, four one time, three the next).

That’s because civic organizations that have played important roles by endorsing slates of preferred candidates are now out of that business. In the 1990s, there were two competiting such organizations, the Falls Church Citizens Organization (FCCO) and the venerable Citizens for a Better City (CBC).

The FCCO bit the dust before the end of the 1990s, and it took a decade longer, but the CBC followed suit when it shocked many here by announcing last November it would abandon 50 years of vetting and nominating its preferences for the City Council and the School Board.

It presumably means that candidates will focus on individual citizen endorsements with a lot of door-to-door efforts to knock on doors and elude aggressive household pets.
With their announcements this week, Duncan and Lawrence provided formal statements, while neither Webb nor Baroukh has done that so far.

Duncan, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, married Leslie DeLong in 1985 and the couple has been homeowners in Falls Church since. Their two children, Meredyth and Tyler, attended City schools K-12, while Duncan volunteered for the schools, for the local Little League and Mason High School athletic boosters, including as a volunteer sports correspondent for the News-Press.

Duncan is currently on the City’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) and is chair of the City schools’ Business in Education (BIE) Partnership. A long-time member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation, the City Center Task Force and the Falls Church Education Foundation board, he was named “Pillar of the Community” by the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce in 2001.

By day, Duncan is the founder and operator of a small business in the City known as Civicatalyst Communications.

Lawrence, who came within 80 votes of victory in his 2010 City Council run, is a 13-year resident of the City, serving since 2006 on the Planning Commission, including stints as chair and twice as vice chair. He currently aon the joint City Council/Planning Commission long-range school facilities group, he’s also served on the School Board-appointed Day Care Task Force.

In his day job, he runs Congressional Affairs for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a non-partisan organization that provides technical electoral assistance to other countries.