Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: The Little City Needs Strong, Effective Leadership

For those of you who may not know, Citizens for a Better City (CBC) has been involved in the Little City since 1959. Our mission is to promote civic activism and encourage and support local leadership – it is for the latter that we meet tonight. As evidenced most clearly in our latest budget cycle, Falls Church City’s need for strong, effective leadership is critical. As our community evolves through the inevitable major changes we now face, our survival as an independent city depends upon sound judgment and good governance.

Tonight, May 9, CBC will host its “How-To-Become-A-Candidate” forum at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Post 130 on 400 North Oak Street. This event is open to the public and you are invited to attend. Whether you are a serious office seeker or just simply curious, CBC welcomes you.

CBC’s forum goal tonight is to simplify what may seem like an overwhelming process for those considering a run for public office this fall, thereby eliminating any inherent reservations.

The format of the meeting will be short informal presentations followed by your questions and our answers. To help us, we will have an array of panelists who happen to be some of Falls Church’s finest public servants:

Mr. David Bjerke, voter registrar of the City, and Ms. Cathy Kaye, treasurer of the City, will review candidacy criteria and campaign finance basics: rules, regulations, dates and deadlines. Mr. Tom Clinton, commissioner of revenue of the City, will explain the fundamentals of campaign architecture – how to set up a campaign mechanism.

A word about Cathy and Tom – both been involved in countless campaigns and have been beyond generous in sharing their experience and expertise with many a candidate, past and present. Both have been awarded our organization’s highest honor, the Dexter Award, for their public service and commitment to the ideals of CBC.

Mr. Hal Lippman, long time CBC member, one of four who were the very first elected members of the Falls Church City School Board, and later a Falls Church City councilman and vice mayor, will partner with Mr. David Tarter. David, a current member of the Falls Church City Council, was elected in May of 2012 as the highest vote-getter. He is not a CBC member but graciously accepted the invitation to support this public forum. Hal and David will discuss their experiences on the campaign trail and their service on Falls Church’s governing bodies.

Falls Church needs willing and able leaders – four Seats on City Council and five on School Board will be up for up for election in November. The filing deadline for candidacy is June 11 – one month from now. We hope that you will join us tonight with your campaign questions and an inclination to serve your city.

Citizens for a Better City has other plans to support the upcoming campaign season. If you do choose to run, one of the first challenges you will face will be to acquire 125 signatures of registered voters supporting your candidacy. CBC will be hosting a booth at the Memorial Day festivities and invites all candidates to join us there with their ubiquitous clip boards to hail festival passers-by to ask for their signatures.

Throughout the campaign season Citizens for a Better City will provide opportunities to connect Falls Church citizens with City Council and School Board candidates in a variety of formats – small informal “meet-and-greets” in living rooms across town, larger issue-oriented forums and meetings in a variety of settings. CBC’s five member campaign subcommittee is currently in the process of planning these activities.

In addition to the candidates, an important referendum will appear on the ballot in November.

The Falls Church City Council will be asking voters to decide the fate of the City-owned water system. Citizens for a Better City will partner with the Falls Church Republican and Democratic Committees and the American Legion Post to present several forums highlighting the multiple facets of this complex issue. Watch these pages of the Falls Church News-Press for announcements about these upcoming events.

To close, it seems apropos to quote from CBC History written by our senior members.

“In the past half century, Falls Church has grown from a fledgling independent city struggling to serve a growing population to one of the most attractive – and attracting – communities in the Greater Washington region.

Throughout this transition, Citizens for a Better City has been a consistent force in promoting responsible local government, excellence in local education, and citizen stewardship.

Today as ever, Falls Church residents face difficult choices as they seek to assure our small city’s economic vitality and maintain its defining quality of life. CBC continues as a catalyst for citizen engagement on these issues.”


Sally Ekfelt is president of the Citizens for a Better City.