CBC Panel Thursday Marks Kickoff of F.C. Council, School Board Races

June 11 Deadline Looms for Local Election Hopefuls

Falls Church’s foremost and venerable civic organization, the 54-year-old Citizens for a Better (CBC) in recent years opted out of the process of vetting, endorsing and campaigning for candidates for local elections here. But they’re not entirely detached from the process of the upcoming election of four (out of seven) Falls Church City Council candidates and five (out of seven) School Board candidates.

That will become evident Thursday when the CBC hosts a “How to Become a Candidate” forum at the American Legion Post 130 hall on N. Oaks St.

It will be a very important Council election, in particular, because with all the split votes on the City budget and other matters in the last year, the outcome in November could tilt the majority significantly in one direction or the other. The single most important issue is the City’s ability and willingness to fund its first-rate school system which has faced extraordinary needs with its explosive, record-breaking pace of enrollment growth the last five years.

So, it’s hardly suprising that local politics watchers will be craning their necks to see who shows up, and who doesn’t, at tonight’s forum. After all, there is only a month to go until the filing deadline (June 11) for candidates to run in the November election.

Of course, the requirements are fairly simple: 125 valid signatures of registered voters who live in the City, opening a campaign bank account, and some other forms. But candidates often run into snags and don’t get it exactly right, which is why it is wisest to plan to submit qualifications with a few days to spare, in the event there need to be some corrections.

There are an abundance of moving parts and speculative interests in who files to run this time. How many incumbents will seek re-election, and which ones? Who will want to move from the School Board to the City Council or vice-versa? Who among the pro-school and tax activists will throw their hats in the ring?

With a majority on both the Council and School Board at stake in this election, and most candidates running for four year terms (at least, with some two year slots to fill on the School Board), it’s not just the November election, but who files in the next month that will make a huge difference for the future of Falls Church and its schools.

The other intriguing factor is that almost no one has tipped their hand as yet. Only one candidate, incumbent Vice Mayor David Snyder, has been seen circulating petitions for re-election so far. Rumors are running wildly about who is and who is not considering running. A lot of names have been bandied about, and tonight’s CBC meeting will provide the next important clue about who may actually be planning on what.

Snyder, thus, is the only Council incumbent to signal his intentions for re-election so far (not surprising, again, as Snyder has been on the Council since 1994, by far its longest-serving incumbent).

None of the other incumbents whose seats are up in November has said, to the News-Press’ knowledge, whether they will run for second terms or not. They include Johannah Barry, Ira Kaylin and Ron Peppe. All were elected for the first time in May 2009, though Peppe served on the School Board before that.

Buzz around town about possible candidates, in addition to the incumbents, for either the City Council or School Board include the names of Joan Wodiska, Marybeth Connelly, Craig Cheney, Paul Handly, Jamie Craig, Dan Sze, Dan Maller, Jeanne Burers, Greg Rasnake, Stephanie Oppenheimer, Rena Marsh, Lawrence Webb, Alan Brangman, Sally Ekfelt, Michael Ankuma, Linda Neighborgall, Susan Kearney, John Lawrence, Melissa Teates, and Robert LaJeunesse. (None of the above have confirmed or denied to the News-Press their intentions, or even their considerations about this).

All this heightens the interest in tonight’s CBC meeting, where the City’s Registrar of Voters, David Bjerke, Treasurer Cathy Kaye, and Revenue Commissioner Tom Clinton will constitute a panel, while former Vice Mayor Hal Lippman and current Councilman David Tarter will moderate. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.