News

As Filing Deadline Looms, a Dearth Of F.C. Council Candidates So Far

FALLS CHURCH Mayor David Tarter (left), councilmember Phil Duncan (center) and former councilmember Johannah Barry are the only ones so far to have taken steps to run in this November’s Falls Church City Council election. (Photos: News-Press & Courtesy)
FALLS CHURCH Mayor David Tarter (left), councilmember Phil Duncan (center) and former councilmember Johannah Barry are the only ones so far to have taken steps to run in this November’s Falls Church City Council election. (Photos: News-Press & Courtesy)

Thinking of running for the Falls Church City Council? It’s not too late! All it will take is 125 valid signatures of City of Falls Church registered voters and a few other forms that need to be submitted to the City Registrar’s office by 5 p.m., Tuesday, June 9. The same goes if you want to run for a position on the F.C. School Board. The petition signature forms are available at the Registrar’s office and on line.

One would think that with as many things as there are going on in and around Falls Church these days that there would be a robust outpouring of interest in holding a position of considerable influence on all or a number of issues.

But so far, there is little evidence of such interest. So far, only two of the three incumbents on the City Council whose seats will be subject to election this November have bothered to file.

Following the filing of Councilman Phil Duncan last week, Mayor David Tarter confirmed to the News-Press Tuesday that he, too, had completed the process and filed his paperwork to seek re-election. (Late yesterday, Duncan notified the News-Press that he’s been officially certified for the election by the City Registrar’s office. Duncan commented on the news, “Thank you to everyone who signed my candidacy petitions. I’m looking forward to asking for your support as I wage another campaign for community, civility and progress in the City.”)

But Nader Baroukh, the former mayor and now active Council member, is saying he has yet to make up his mind about another run for the job. He confirmed this in response to a direct question from the News-Press following Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. He has not too long ago taken up the responsibilities of fatherhood.

The only other movement on this has come from former City Council member Johannah Barry, who was seen soliciting petition signatures during Monday’s Memorial Day festival. Barry won election to the Council in 2010 and chose not to run for a second term in 2014.

While she ran in tandem with Ira Kaylin for the job in 2010 and both won, Kaylin has remained active attending Council meetings as a private citizen, and during Memorial Day he gave no evidence of running again.

Another former Council member, Lawrence Webb who now serves on the School Board, told the News-Press he was not interested in running for the Council, at least not for now.

He said he was more concerned about who might file to run for the School Board, given that one strong board member, Susan Kearney, announced last week that she would not seek re-election.

Kearney, former chair of the School Board, issued the following statement to the News-Press last Thursday:

“I want to make it official that I am not seeking re-election to the school board this year. When I was first elected almost 10 years ago I had no idea how challenging and rewarding the work would be. I have enjoyed almost every minute and am proud of what I, my colleagues, and our staff have accomplished over the past decade. It’s time for some new blood.

“There are many smart, creative, and motivated folks of goodwill here in Falls Church. I hope some of them will consider running for the office and bringing their fresh and unique perspectives to this work. I would be happy to talk with any potential candidate about running for office and governing if elected.”

So far, only School Board chair Justin Castillo has filed his papers, and the status of Kieran Sharpe’s plans are as yet unclear. That means at least one position on the School Board will need a new person to fill.

Meanwhile, in another June 9 inflection point, a contested Democratic primary is being held in Fairfax County’s Mason District that extends from Skyline up the Route 7 corridor to Falls Church and includes Lake Barcroft and Sleepy Hollow.

Incumbent Penelope “Penny” Gross is seeking a sixth four year term but is challenged by Jessica Swanson, a community activist seeking election to public office for the first time. In addition to that of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Gross has enjoyed the endorsement of the News-Press (See Editorial, Page 6 of this edition).