Local Commentary

A World-Class Little City

In the interest of the ongoing incredible concord on the Falls Church City Council in recent years that has led to amazing achievements – a new, $120 million state of the art high school at no cost to taxpayers, 6%-plus revenue growth rates that have permitted important compensation and other improvements in the City schools as well as police and general government, a projected real estate tax rate cut for the second year in a row, the implementation of an effective revenue sharing policy with the schools and an effective navigation through the significant perils of the Covid-19 pandemic – it is hard to argue that staying the course with the onset of the new year was not the best decision. On that basis, the Council moved swiftly Monday night to unanimously re-elect Mayor David Tarter to a record fifth consecutive two-year term.

The move came in the context of a growing sentiment that the City should be led by a woman, in particular Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly, who for the third consecutive time was the top vote getter in the November election and who came in as now one of four women, a new majority, on the Council. In fact, as Connelly pointed out in her remarks Monday, it is only the second time in the 72 year history of the City of Falls Church that a majority of women has served on the City Council. It is coupled with the fact that a four-person majority of women also now serve on the elected School Board, and the combination of women majorities on the two representative bodies in the City elected by voters is a definite first.

But the continuity of good government proved more valuable in the minds of the City Council in keeping on the excellent leadership of Mayor Tarter, and we can see the point. The position is largely symbolic, as the mayor has only one vote and has not attempted to advance any kind of personal agenda in the governing of the City. (The School Board, on the other hand, moved to elect a new chair, Laura Downs, as representative of its new feminine majority).

We commend Mayor Tarter, new Vice Mayor Letty Hardi and Connelly (who relinquished her Vice Mayor title Monday in the interest of, as she put it, a “value in changing positions and no strong reason to serve many consecutive terms when there are others who bring new skills and fresh ideas” (it could possibly be construed as a mild comment on Tarter’s decision to seek election to a fifth consecutive term as mayor). We also commend the election of Downs and new vice chair Tate Gould on the School Board. We look forward to another banner year.

The City now sits on the brink of an ascent to an entirely new level of influence and effectiveness as a jurisdiction small but genuinely world class, as in a designation heretofore worthily applied to its schools.