With the June 11 deadline to file now less than two weeks away, first-term Falls Church City Council member Letty Hardi announced on Facebook last week her plans to seek a second four-year term in this November’s election. Her eagerly-awaited decision means that all three incumbents whose seats will be up in the coming election will be running again, including Mayor David Tarter and Council member Phil Duncan.
Hardi’s announcement came on the eve of the City’s annual Memorial Day Parade and Festival last Monday when thousands of City residents joined thousands more from throughout the region to enjoy the festivities, and ample opportunities presented themselves for the circulation of petitions to secure the 120 valid signatures of registered City voters required to qualify for the ballot.
Hardi was among those carrying her petition forms on a clipboard in her hand that day, as well as at a Falls Church Chamber of Commerce social mixer Tuesday afternoon. Other prospective candidates were seen seeking petition signatures for the three slots that will be contested on the City Council and on the School Board, and according to the City’s Voter Registrar office, a total of six prospective candidates have submitted their petitions so far and three have been certified for the ballot so far.
Certified already are Tarter and Duncan, and for the School Board Laura Downs and incumbent Phil Reitinger. Doug Stevens has filed for School Board but his petitions have not yet been certified, and the same goes for Thomas Cash, who has filed but not yet been confirmed for the City Council. Hardi’s petitions have not yet been submitted, and the Registrar’s office does not know if there are other citizens who are circulating petitions at this juncture, since the forms can be pulled off the office’s website without the office knowing.
Should Cash’s submission be confirmed, it will mean that at least four candidates will vie for the three slots on the City Council in November, and it is not yet known what issues might dominate the contested race.
For School Board, two incumbents, Justin Castillo and current chair Erin Gill, will not seek re-election. So far, only two new candidates have submitted paperwork to fill the two openings, along with Reitinger.
But observers have noted that even with less than two weeks to file, there is still time for anyone who might decide to run to collect the needed 125 signatures of registered City resident voters, as voters can sign more than one candidate’s petition, to get onto the November ballot.
That ballot will include candidates running for State Senate and State Delegate and for Commonwealth Attorney. In Falls Church, the State Senate and Commonwealth Attorney races are being contested in a June 11 Democratic primary that have both become hotly contested.
In announcing her plans to run for a second term last week, Hardi issued the following statement:
“As an introvert and mother of young kids, this is the last job I’d ever thought I’d do. And nearly 4 years in, the decision has been even harder this time – especially knowing what I know now!
“On the flip side, I can see the impact of our Monday night decisions, which has been fulfilling and luckily, sustaining for those late nights when I miss bedtime with my kids. 4 years ago, we were nowhere close to a path forward for the high school. 4 years ago, I had not yet cast my vote to proceed with Founders Row. 4 years ago, we didn’t yet have a more restrictive gun ordinance, bikeshare, pedestrian improvements, an expanded Mt. Daniel, new restaurants, downtown tree lights, new public parking spaces, a Miller House, curbside composting, updated parks, pinwheel gardens, recognition of Indigenous People’s Day or Hispanic Heritage Month…there is a lot to be proud of, but we still have much left to do.
“So with that – yes. Yes, I will run again and hope to continue to bring the rigorous and balanced decision-making, diligence, and transparency to the job I promised 4 years ago. I’ve asked friends to help me collect signatures in the coming weeks; I’d be honored to have your signature in getting me on the ballot and earning your vote in November.”
Though not elected offices, but subject to votes to appoint by the City Council, are citizen volunteer members of important boards and commissions that advise the Council, and a number of appointments were made by the Council this Monday.
The most impactful appointment was of Cory Firestone Weiss, former head of the City’s Environmental Sustainability Council (ESC), to the Planning Commission, effective July 8, replacing longtime Falls Church public servant Lindy Hockenberry.
Hockenberry was hailed by Council member Duncan as “having a hand in all good things about Falls Church that have been accomplished since her involvement.” She has been a teacher in the Falls Church school system for over 30 years, including in recent years as a substitute, a member of the City Council, and a stint as vice mayor before being appointed to the Planning Commission.
Hockenbery was honored as one of four Falls Church women singled out for their accomplishments for the community during the first annual Women’s Walk held in the City in March.
Other board and commission appointments confirmed by the Council Monday included Molly Novotny (Library Board), Jennifer Tabola and Andrew Sakallaris (ESC), Larry Little (Retirement Board), James Way and Victor Wong (Architectural Advisory Board), Irene Chambers, Barbara Cram, Laura Hull and Sally Cole (Arts and Humanities Council).
In addition, the Council confirmed the appointments of 10 George Mason High School students as student members of boards and commissions, including Colter Adams, Alec Autor, Miles Heffernan, Hunter Hicks, Evan Lankford, Merone Mesfin, Daniel Ng, Anna Tarter, Cole Tarter and Charles Wells-Tabola Adams.