Frantic Final Weekend Before Nov. 7 Election Looms Statewide & in F.C.

DEMOCRATIC gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam (center, speaking), enters the home stretch of his campaign this week against Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie (Photo: News-Press)

There’s one final, frenetic weekend to go before the most important election in the U.S. this year. All Virginians, including residents of the City of Falls Church, are being called to weigh in at ballot boxes next Tuesday for the first time since the presidential election of a year ago. Virginia and New Jersey are the only states in the U.S. with elections next week, and Virginia’s is the only one involving serious challenges – for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The whole nation will be watching to see how voter sentiment has been impacted in the year since the election of Donald Trump. While that impact will be reflected mostly in the statewide races, there are races for state delegate seats all around the commonwealth, and the one indicator already established is that there have never been so many contested elections, due mostly to an upsurge in candidates qualifying to run as Democrats all over historically and predominantly Republican rural areas of the state.

This election also hits right in the lap of Falls Church, not just in terms of the statewide races, but for majorities on both its City Council and School Board, and perhaps as the most impactful item, a school bond referendum that will either pass or fail with a “Yes” or a “No” vote.

A final debate of F.C. School Board members was slated to after press time last night, and in an 11th hour development, F.C. Mayor David Tarter and School Board vice-chair Phil Reitinger issued a joint statement urging a “Yes” vote on the referendum.

“Personally, we support the referendum,” they wrote. “Falls Church is a special place, with a friendly, small-town feel. Our schools are among the best in the region and reflect our shared values,” they wrote. “Yet, we cannot rest on our laurels, nor stop the clock. We must adapt and continue to invest in our future. A modern, 21st century school facility will ensure that education remains at the forefront of our community.” The complete statement is posted in the “Yes” site online.

The quick rundown of what next Tuesday’s ballot looks like is this:

For Virginia governor, it is Democrat Ralph Northam versus Republican Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Clifford Hyra.

For Virginia lieutenant governor, it is Republican Jill Vogel versus Democrat Justin Fairfax.

For Virginia attorney general, it is Democrat incumbent Mark Herring versus Republican John Adams.

For Virginia house of delegates from the 53rd District it is Democrat incumbent Marcus Simon versus independent Mike Casey.

For Falls Church’s Commissioner of the Revenue, Sheriff and Treasurer, it is incumbents Tom Clinton, Steve Bittle and Jody Acosta, all running unopposed.

For Falls Church City Council, four seats are being contested by six candidates, including incumbent David Snyder, incumbent Dan Sze, incumbent Marybeth Connelly, Ross Litkenhous, Dan Maller and Spencer Parsons. All but Parsons have run active campaigns.

For Falls Church School Board, four seats are being contested by six candidates, including incumbent Lawrence Webb, Gregory Anderson, Alison Kutchma, Shawna Russell, Richard Crespin and Shannon Litton.

The School Bond referendum asks voters the following question: “Shall the City of Falls Church, Virginia, contract a debt and issue its general obligation bonds not to exceed one hundred twenty million dollars for the purpose of paying the costs incident to constructing, expanding, reconstructing, renovating, equipping and/or re-equipping, in whole or in part, a new or improved high school and part of a middle school in the City of Falls Church, and shall Ordinance No. 1976 of the City authorizing the issuance of such bonds be effective?” It is be followed by boxes for a “Yes” and a “No” vote.

Voters have already and will continue to cast absentee ballots by mail or at the Registrar’s office at City Hall, 300 Park Avenue, through Monday, and come Tuesday, Nov. 7, three polling places in the City will be open from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. The locations are Thomas Jefferson School, 601 S. Oak, the Oakwood Apartments, 501 Roosevelt in the Main Building conference room, and the Falls Church Community Center, 223 Little Falls St.

The News-Press endorsements for the election are contained in its editorial on Page 6 of this edition.
The school bond referendum has received overwhelming support from the City’s leaders, including Tarter and Reitinger mentioned above, incumbent School Board chair Lawrence Webb, all the City’s parent-teacher (and student) associations, the F.C. Chamber of Commerce, and former Superintendent Dr. Robert Schiller.

State Del. Simon has said he’s hoping a high voter turnout in the City and Northern Virginia will help “pad” the lead for the Democrats’ statewide ticket, which is facing a very close outcome. Recent days’ strongly negative turn in the advertising for the gubernatorial race, in particular, has heightened concern.