It was yet another landslide vote in the City of Falls Church to authorize school construction bonds this week. In this Tuesday’s election the vote in favor of a $15.4 million bond issue for the expansion and improvement of the Mt. Daniel Elementary School was by more than a whopping 2-to-1 margin.
It proved that once again, education is a top priority of not only the schools and students, but of voting citizens in the City, even when the economy is flagging.
In the other big news, acting City treasurer Jody Acosta won more than two-thirds of the vote to gain election to fill the unexpired term of treasurer Cathy Kaye, who resigned for health reasons earlier this year.
In June 1991, citizens in Falls Church approved the issuance of a $12.3 million bond to renovate George Mason High School, and when the margin was 62 percent to 38 percent, a banner headline in the then-new News-Press declared, “Landslide!”
But that margin was nothing compared to the 77 percent “yes” votes on a $25 million bond referendum for the construction of the Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in November 2003.
This week’s margin split the difference between the other two at 68 percent “yes,” and it came as a mild surprise to many in the City who’ve been hearing a lot of noisy grumblings from certain quarters in the community.
F.C. School Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones told the News-Press she is “delighted for the children, the staff and the community” for the vote. “This project is greatly needed, and we’ve planned for a long time. Still there were many questions as the voting approached.”
“Now the real work begins,” she added. “We’ve already reached out to Grunley, our selected construction firm and will be meeting with them next week. We will be working to cement plans for packing up classrooms this summer and fine-tuning design choices so that construction can begin in the fall.”
The bond referendum vote was the biggest news out of the local election, as strong 2-to-1 and better majorities were also racked up by incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner (who leads by 16,000 votes in a race that has yet to be called), and the Hon. Donald S. Beyer, Jr., the Democrat running to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Rep. Jim Moran in the 8th congressional district this year.
Warner, whose certified second-term statewide victory could await a canvass and even a recount, ran away with 71.5 percent in Falls Church, the largest single margin of victory of anything on the ballot here. Beyer, considered a “favorite son” in Falls Church, was not far behind with 69.89 percent in the City’s three voting precincts.
Beyer carried the 8th District’s 163 precincts overall with 63 percent against Republican challenger Micah Edmonds’ 32 percent and three others. He and Moran spent Election Day Tuesday visiting precincts throughout his new district, including the one at the Falls Church Community Center where they spent a half hour talking to poll workers and prospective voters.
In congressional districts on the borders of Falls Church, the Republican running to replace the retiring Rep. Frank Wolf in the 10th District of McLean and points west won by the identical 57-40 percent margin as Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly won over his GOP challenger in the now “safe” 11th District of eastern Fairfax and chunks of Prince William county.
Connolly told the News-Press over the summer that he was unsure if Democratic challenger John Foust could overcome the endorsement by Rep. Wolf of his preferred GOP successor Barbara Comstock this year, but that Democrats would win the district from 2016 on.
Counting 685 absentee votes, the turnout for Falls Church was another high 59.80 percent. A total of 5,102 votes were cast.
“The education city has come through once again for its children and their future,” F.C. Councilman Phil Duncan crowed as a victory party shared by pro-referendum and Acosta supporters held in the new expanded space in Clare and Don’s Beach Shack.
“I am humbled and grateful for all the support of the community, my friends and family,”said Acosta, who was surprised by the last-minute filing of challenger Chris Johnson. She tallied 3,276 total votes to 1,513 for Johnson.
Happy celebrants at Clare and Don’s Tuesday night included Mayor David Tarter, Vice Mayor David Snyder, Council members Duncan and Marybeth Connelly, and School Board members Susan Kearney, Lawrence Webb, John Lawrence and Michael Ankuma.
A Republican in a sea of Democrats, Vice Mayor Snyder said, “The vote in favor of the much-needed Mt. Daniel renovation is the strongest possible reaffirmation of the importance of excellent schools and public services and the community’s willingness to sacrifice to provide them, elements that have been in this city’s DNA since its founding.”
Another Republican, F.C. Committee chair Ken Feltman, said that he was happy because he’d met the vote total goals set for him for his Senate and Congressional candidates in the City.