The run up to Tuesday’s municipal election in the City of Falls Church was riddled with stress and frayed emotions due to the sheer number of candidates running for the City Council and the School Board, on the one hand, and some of the highly contentious issues that played into it all, on the other.
Among those issues, the most key in the election was whether there would be a veritable moratorium on new mixed-use development in the City, or whether momentum would be maintained for the benefits such projects have and will continue to have. (Such projects, carefully planned in conjunction with hard-working City Hall experts and a lot of public input, fund some of the best schools in the country, provide new, desirable goods and services, including a marginal growth in the population to create the mass needed to make them succeed, all while keeping the tax rate here at a reasonable level.)
The same political current in the Little City which campaigned for a moratorium on all this had tried to achieve the same anti-growth result in an election referendum seven years earlier in 2008 against mixed use. It failed by a wide margin then, just as the pro-moratorium candidates failed this time, as well.
We hope that City leaders will read this Tuesday’s election in the same way as the rejection of the anti-mixed use referendum of 2008, as a vote of confidence for reasonable, well-planned continued commercial and mixed use development.
If there is anything that a general election offers, it is a refreshing stepping away from the often loud and crass noises that get generated in rude, anonymous online echo chamber comment spaces or by some neighbors to particular projects. It brings perspective, a clarifying sense of the will of all the people, and that is what our City leaders should take to heart from this election.
The other enormously important result coming out of this week’s election involves the passing of the mantle of City’s leadership from an older generation to fresh, new and brilliant young faces. The stellar performances, not just in terms of election day numbers but in terms of how well they ran their campaigns and connected with citizens while embodying the core values of continued smart growth in Falls Church, of new City Councilperson-elect Letty Hardi and School Board member-elect Erin Gill represent a shining hope for us all.
Both first-time candidates, both with three young children in the Falls Church School system, both bright and committed, they are Falls Church’s future.
By contrast, two older candidates who sought to come back out of retirement to reclaim seats on the City Council were the two, out of five total, who failed Tuesday. They were also the ones who campaigned for the moratorium.
Overall, although the election was one of the most bitter and angry ever, the outcome now is a cause for great optimism for Falls Church.