News

Baroukh Elected Mayor, Snyder Vice Mayor, Each By 4-3 Votes

Following the swearing in of three members of the Falls Church City Council elected to full terms in May, the newly-constituted Council’s first order of business Monday night was the re-election of both Mayor Nader Baroukh and Vice Mayor David Snyder to new terms, both by 4-3 margins.

swearingincouncilBEING SWORN IN Monday night as members of the Falls Church City Council for their coming terms are Nader Baroukh, having been elected to a second term, and first-time Councilmen Phil Duncan and David Tarter.

Following the swearing in of three members of the Falls Church City Council elected to full terms in May, the newly-constituted Council’s first order of business Monday night was the re-election of both Mayor Nader Baroukh and Vice Mayor David Snyder to new terms, both by 4-3 margins.

The two new members joining the Council Monday, David Tarter and Phil Duncan, both voted against the Baroukh-Snyder team, but made conciliatory remarks afterward.

It was Councilman Ron Peppe, who was nominated by Duncan for mayor but came up short, that had the strongest comments about the direction of the Council, saying he was concerned the Council was reverting to “a tendency to imperialize the mayorship.”

He noted the City is run in a City Manager system where the power of the mayor is minimal except for chairing the meetings of the City Council. “The City Manager has one boss, the Council as a whole, and not seven bosses,” Peppe said.

Peppe called for a thorough review of the rules by which the Council operates its business. As one who is serving in his 14th year of elected office (a number on the School Board in Frederick, Maryland before moving to Falls Church), Peppe said he thinks a rotating system of Council leadership is best.

Snyder nominated Baroukh for mayor as the first order of business of the new Council, and after winning that vote, Baroukh nominated Snyder for vice mayor. In losing causes, Peppe nominated Tarter for mayor, and Tarter nominated Peppe for vice mayor.

City Council pundits observed that the same coalition held in this election as did two years ago when Baroukh-Snyder were first elected, although by a narrower margin. It means that if that four-vote bloc can be maintained, that the direction of the Council over the next term will remain the same as the last. Some pro-development interests lament that this means little in the way of new development projects can be expected to win approval as a result, such that few may apply.

However, this new make-up of the Council will be the shortest in the City’s history, because a public referendum passed overwhelmingly last November moved the City’s elections from May to November. So, the next City Council election will be only 17 months away in November 2013. Then, four Council seats will be in play.

With a significantly higher voter turnout expected in November over May, in the next election, some former City Council members who lost close races in recent years have expressed an interest in running again, including Daniel Sze and Lawrence Webb.

At Monday’s meeting Webb, who lost a bid for reelection last May, was not present for the first time in four years, and even more significant was the absence of three-term Council member Robin Gardner, off the Council for the first time since 2000. Gardner had also served two two-year terms as mayor, from 2006 to 2010.

This Monday, Council members Baroukh, Snyder, Johannah Barry and Ira Kaylin all voted for the Baroukh-Snyder team. Voting against it both times were Peppe, Duncan and Tarter.