3 Constitutional Officers & 1 New Council Hopeful Sign In

Ross Litkenhous.
Ross Litkenhous.

Another contentious annual operating budget is now being considered, while plans are being crafted for going to the Falls Church citizenry for a major ask to support a bond referendum to pay for a new high school. On top of that, news comes of shockingly ballooned costs for the already-approved renovation and expansion of the Mt. Daniel Elementary School, and all the while plans are in place for the renovation and expansion of the City’s public library and combination City Hall, police department and courthouse.

Take a deep breath! You’d think with all that, elected City of Falls Church officials would be scampering to the exits. Apparently not, however.

In fact, incumbents and newcomers alike are finalizing their campaign announcements, some having already presented them.

The City’s three constitutional officers, who technically work for the commonwealth, have all officially announced their plans to seek re-election in this November’s election, and one new candidate has announced plans to seek a seat on the City Council.

None other of the four incumbent members of the City Council whose seats are up for election this cycle have formally announced their plans to run, or not, so far. But the buzz on the street is that all four will re-up. That would be David Snyder, who has been on the City Council since 1994, Dan Sze, who was circulating a petition for another run, his third, this week, Karen Oliver, who would be running for a second four year term, and Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly, for whom a run would also be her second.

The new candidate to announce, and deep into the process already of winning the required number of petition signatures to file, is a relatively new resident who goes by Ross Litkenhous.

On the always embattled School Board, there is also no official word yet from any of the incumbents that include chair Lawrence Webb, vice chair John Lawrence, Michael Ankuma and Margaret Ward, and only one citizen so far, Allison Kutchma, has notified the News-Press she intends to vie for one of the four seats.

The City’s three “constitutional officers,” Treasurer Jody Acosta, Commissioner of the Revenue Tom Clinton and Sheriff Steve Bittle, all chose the venue of a Falls Church City Democratic Committee monthly meeting to make their re-election announcements and to seek committee endorsements.
Bittle, who has served as the City’s sheriff since winning a contested election for the post in 1992, said, “I have established a community-oriented law enforcement philosophy that is predicated on mutual cooperation with the Falls Church Police Department and neighboring agencies that enhance the quality of life” in Falls Church.

He noted that “in addition to my community responsibilities, my office also provides court security and inmate transportation as well as executes civil process.”

Acosta, who was elected in a 2014 special election with 68 percent of the vote to fill the unexpired term of her predecessor Cathy Kaye, presented a lengthy list of her achievements, including “shepherding three local ordinances through the legislative process with the City Council, all adopted, unanimously. She said she studied and recommended the first changes since 2002 to the City’s program of tax relief for the elderly and disabled, and led the City to join the Virginia Investment Pool, allowing for the safe and better-yielding investment of City funds, herself being elected to its board of trustees. She led the adoption of a super-penalty ordinance to levy a “super penalty” on unpaid personal property taxes if unpaid after 60 days beyond the due date.

She implemented an online parking ticket payment option and negotiated new banking services saving the City $34,000 per year. She initiated the new Decal Design Competition for high school students to compete to design the City’s annual car decals.

Clinton announced that he’ll be seeking a fifth four-year term as the Commissioner of the Revenue since first being elected in 2001.

He reminded the committee, which he has served on for 25 years, that he grew up as one of Joan and John Clinton’s nine children in Falls Church and attended its schools from kindergarten through high school. As commissioner, he stated, he initiated the file-by-exception to relieve car owners of having to file annual reports if there are no changes, and the “drive up and scrape off decal removal program.”

He ran the state’s popular DMV Select program from his office for over eight years, and replaced it with the DMV2Go Mobile Unit and DMV Connect service that has visited the City for the last five years.

“I believe in small town, personal service while maximizing every tax dollar,” he said.

Litkenhous wrote the News-Press last week saying, “My paperwork is in with the registrar and I’ve been collecting signatures” to run for City Council. “My website will be active next month and I’m working to generate broad support across the community” with the help of City residents Ben and Emily Jenkins, his treasurer and campaign finance chair.