Local Commentary

Editorial: The Line-Up of Candidates is Set

The casting call is over, and the players in the November 2013 Falls Church City Council and School Board elections have been determined, as readers can see elsewhere in this edition. Congratulations to everyone who stepped up to qualify for the ballot, and this is one good occasion to thank those three who are serving on the Council now, but will not be after the first of the year because they decided not to run for another term. As three, they represent the most ever in F.C. not to seek re-election in any one year.

They’re sitting Council members Johannah Barry, Ira Kaylin and Ron Peppe. They’ve all served with distinction and are a credit to the City. We’ve had our editorial differences from time to time, but then that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t diminish our respect for them even as we remain convinced that a free press responsibly diving into the political discourse makes government and the democratic exercise better.

But what also needs to be said about these three is this: They’re far from done. They will serve until January 1, 2014, as under the shift of elections in the City of Falls Church from May to November being executed for the first time this year, they will wind up with not four year terms, but four-and-a-half year terms, the longest ever in the City’s history.

The three may be considered so-called “lame ducks,” but that’s an overrated term and concept. It doesn’t mean they won’t be weighing in on just about everything going forward, just as they have up until now.

There’s another way in which they are not done, as well, because the next election after this November’s will be only two years off. This year we’ve seen former Council members leave office and come back to try again. Two of them, in fact. Former Councilman Dan Sze served from 2006 to 2010 and after a brief hiatus, he’s back to fight for a seat on the Council again. And former Councilman Lawrence Webb, who also left the Council in 2010, is back, this time seeking a seat on the School Board, which he is virtually certain to achieve since there are only five candidates for five seats on that board.

But it seems at this point that there will be a significant shift in the posture of the City Council as a result of the November election, based on who’s running and a preliminary assessment of how they might align.

Barry and Kaylin were reliable supporters of Mayor Nader Baroukh’s leadership on the Council, and their departure puts Baroukh’s chances of continuing as mayor in potential jeopardy. There appears to be only one candidate running who will be backing Baroukh in the same way, and the shift of only one vote on the seven-member Council can change everything. We’ll see how that impacts Council behavior even before the election, much less after.