Local Commentary

3 Impressive City Council Candidates

We were genuinely impressed by all three candidates at the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce-hosted online event Tuesday featuring the three candidates who have qualified for this fall’s ballot to fill the F.C. City Council seat vacated by the death of Dan Sze this summer. Please be reminded that no-excuse absentee voting begins this Friday, Sept. 18, ahead of the Nov. 3 Election Day, and mail-in ballots are already being sent out, too.

By their nicknames and in alphabetical order, Debbie Hiscott, Josh Shookur and Simone Pass-Tucker are all on the ballot. It was confirmed by City Attorney Carol McCoskrie that a swearing in and seating of the winning candidate can occur at any time after Voter Registrar David Bjerke certifies the result in November. Also, all three candidates have stated that, no matter the outcome of this election, filling the unexpired term for only a year, they will all compete again for the next full four-year term come November 2021.

Despite all the big issues on the ballot this time, including the U.S. presidential election, races for the U.S. Senate and House and two proposed Virginia constitutional amendments, citizens of Falls Church, routinely delivering the highest percentage turnout of registered voters of any jurisdiction in Virginia, will undoubtedly be energetic in support of their local Council candidate of choice.

All three Council special election candidates acquitted themselves impressively at the Chamber debate, and all three shared impressively their agreement on matters of growing importance during this year of reckoning on the issues of race and inequality, proposing practical solutions for bucking the trend in the City of Falls Church to buckle under growing real estate values, even in the current Covid-19 quarantine crisis, and pressures to serve the interests only of the best-heeled and socially privileged.

This newspaper has been editorially howling for a serious affordable housing policy during our entire 30 years of publication, even as the issue became even more pronounced during the last decade of relative inaction on that front. Existing Council members are speaking out on to the issue better than in the past, but it is a matter of priorities for them. Indeed, what we need on the Council are folks who will put the matter at the top of the list of City priorities.

Policies that we’ve sought, including for “granny flats,” or Accessible Dwelling Units, and the pursuit of greater voluntary concessions from developers, have been augmented by baby steps toward so-called “micro-unit” housing and hybrid residential-home office housing products. All three candidates appear to be all-in on such things, beyond mere lip service. So we hope.

Even though voting is already beginning, we’ll be looking in the coming weeks to see which candidate emerges best suited to drive this new policy direction home either as a member of the current Council, or by drawing more support behind them to achieve it in the next.