With the June 20 deadline rapidly approaching to file certain documents signifying intentions to run for the Falls Church Council this November, two new candidates have stepped up in the last week to announce they’ll be in the race.
Both are well known and highly qualified. The first is current F.C. Vice Mayor Letty Hardi, who will be vying for a third four-year term, and the second is F.C. Planning Commission chair Tim Stevens.
It means the community leaders who have contributed the most to the City’s stunning progress in terms of thoughtful economic growth, high quality schools and advancing quality of life in recent decades will be running for all three of the open Council slots this November.
Hardi and Stevens will join Falls Church Forward activist Justine Underhill in what will informally constitute a slate of top drawer choices dedicated to the City’s continued progress. A fourth candidate, Erin Flynn, on the board of the Village Preservation and Improvement Society, has also announced and qualified for the ballot
Hardi, who ran for public office for the first time in 2015 as a consensus choice among a group of concerned parents with young children in City schools, has again stepped up after a lengthy period of deciding, as she did when she first ran, and then decided to run for re-election in 2019. This last year she was elected vice-mayor by her council colleagues, and if she wins again this November, she will almost certainly be elected mayor when sworn in come January 2024.
Hardi announced her decision to run again via a blog post on her website late last week.
Stevens announced his intention to the News-Press at this Tuesday’s meeting of the City’s Economic Development Authority. His long history of engagement with environmental issues in Falls Church, first on the Environmental Sustainability Council and more recently since his appointment to the City’s venerated Planning Commission preceded this latest announcement.
Serious concerns arose in the last month over the election, given that, first, long-time Mayor David Tarter announced that he would not seek election to a fifth four-year term and record sixth two-year term as mayor this fall. That was followed by the health issue that caused veteran Council member Phil Duncan to suddenly be hospitalized and told he needed a full lung transplant. That surgery has gone remarkably well, and Duncan has already been sent home for a lengthy process of recuperation, “attending” his first Council meeting remotely from his home just last week. But the notion he could be counted on to run a vigorous campaign for re-election seemed remote.
So while the trio of Tarter, Hardi and Duncan have been re-elected twice before this year, this time Hardi is the only one still returning. But her mentoring of Justine Underhill preceded the latter’s decision to run, announced last month, and now Stevens’ entrance into the race as a long ally of Hardi and Duncan means that the “slate” this year is intact once more even if the names are different.
Duncan texted the News-Press upon hearing the news of Stevens, “Great good news! He, Justine and Letty are a terrific trio to carry forward the fight for a sustainable, equitable, vibrant suburban city.”
Stevens yesterday submitted to the News-Press the following statement of his candidacy:
“My running for City Council comes as a surprise to me — the result of important locals I greatly respect urging me to do so in the last few days. City Council has done a very good job in recent years in keeping the City moving in the right direction. I will support many good programs underway.
“I stand in the shadow of two council members in particular — Dan Sze and Phil Duncan. I want to do my part to continue policies important to them and to me, especially protecting our environment and strengthening our commercial sector.
“Both issues are key enablers of a good life for future generations. Unless we address the challenge of climate change — including lowering our emissions and preparing for steadily worsening weather — we will hand off a bad deal to future generations. Expanding and diversifying our commercial sector allows us to stay in the City for more of the things we do. Tax receipts from our businesses pay for the civic services we want and are key to lowering our tax rate.
“I support many other good policies embraced by City Council, including maintaining our excellent school system (good schools are our brand). Reducing over-reliance on cars is important to me for many reasons, especially personal safety. Continuing to improve conditions for walking and biking is high on my list.
“Keeping the City current with emerging issues is essential to our ability to continue as a separate jurisdiction. We need to pay attention and act on housing affordability issues. And we need to continue work on making the City a welcome place for all.
“During my 32 years as a resident, I have happily volunteered in many capacities, including chair of the Environmental Sustainability Council, on the board for both VPIS and CBC, member of BFC and FCCAN, planted many trees through the Neighborhood Tree Planting program, and currently as Chair of the Planning Commission. Serving on the City Council is in many ways an extension of these activities.
“I am increasingly sensitive to the needs of senior citizens (I am one), although I continue to gain strength through observing the remarkable skills of those younger than me.
“The list of issues I support is not complete here, but I hope there is enough for you to support my candidacy.”
According to Falls Church registrar David Bjerke, all four candidates named in this article have submitted their filing information, including 125 valid signatures of City residents, and two of those four have been qualified to date.
He added that for the three seats on the F.C. School Board that will be contested this November, only one prospective candidate, Bethany Henderson, has filed to date, though he told the News-Press that, “through the grapevine, two others are considering” applying to run before the June 20 deadline.