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Labor Day Kicks Off Fall Election Campaigns

Labor Day this week marked the unofficial kick-off for this fall’s election, and early voting begins on Sept. 22. While this is considered an “off off” election year (with no presidential or statewide races on the ballot), it is a big one for the City of Falls Church with three of the seven seats on the City Council and also on the School Board being contested.

The fall campaigns got off with a bang with four events in Falls Church last weekend. The first was a Sunday morning event marking the official announcement of F.C. Vice Mayor Letty Hardi’s campaign for a third term, attended by a host of her political allies before it got too hot around the covered pavilion at Madison Park.

Later that Sunday, a kickoff event for the revitalization of the LGBTQ+ Falls Church organization was held in the outdoor area out back of the Clare and Don’s Beach Shack that, like Hardi’s event earlier, drew a much larger crowd than was expected, and to which Hardi, herself, came and spent considerable time.

On Monday, Labor Day, two traditional events were reprised, the first being a come-one, come-all ice cream social hosted by the Falls Church City Democratic Committee where Rep. Don Beyer headed the list of celebrities, including all four candidates for the three seats on the Falls Church City Council, and then there was a heavily-attended campaign rally for Democratic state delegate Marcus Simon on the recently acquired abundant backyard grounds of the chair of the City’s Democratic Committee, Cindy Cunningham, on S. Spring Street.

That event like the others was about the local race (Simon is considered a shoe-in for re-election) but the focus was on the bigger issue for Democrats of regaining control of the House of Delegates in Richmond overall (they are currently in a slight minority) and preventing an electoral sweep for the GOP, should that party turn its tiny majority into control of the Senate, giving it the majority in the House of Delegates the Senate and the statehouse, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin resides as a potential Republican presidential candidate.

Late yesterday, the governor hailed the passage of a state budget in a special session.

In her reelection kickoff Sunday morning, Hardi was introduced by former Council Member Ross Litkenhous, who referred to her as “a walking, breathing Falls Church Wikipedia” who “studies, listens, studies some more, debates, deliberates and then decides.” Hers is a “commendable, measured approach to make sure no stone is left unturned during any debate.”

Hardi’s own remarks were also upbeat. She said the decision to seek a third term was not an easy one. “This election will be a decision if we’ll take on the collective responsibility to live our values and truly leave the city better for future generations.”

In terms of the meaning of “better,” she said, she offered “two metrics:” eight years ago there was one independent coffee shop, how there are five, and, eight years ago, there was one mural in town, and now there are 10 with more on the way.

“Small business coffee shops and murals are a proxy for the public and private investment we’ve cultivated in the city in the past eight years,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to expand and build new schools, parks, sidewalks, a library, a city hall, stormwater, sewer bridges, and other infrastructure that has raised the quality of life for everyone here, and we’ve made the most significant strides in affordable housing ever, adding 50 percent more affordable units than we currently have, and with no expiration dates…Instead of raising taxes, we’ve actually lowered our taxes ahead of schedule and have more than healthy reserves.”

Present at Hardi’s event were two fellow members of the Falls Church Forward group who are running with her for the Council, first time candidates Justine Underhill and Tim Stevens, current chair of the Planning Commission.

The fourth candidate on the ballot for City Council this November, Erin Flynn, was present at the F.C. Dems’ ice cream social Monday at Cherry Hill Park.

 There, Rep. Beyer acknowledged the Labor Day holiday by saying it is an ideal that people should be fulfilled by their work. He hailed President Biden as “the best labor president in U.S. history” with his gains for working families in terms of jobs, reducing inflation and apparently avoiding a recession, stimulating a “nascent trend for a revived labor movement.”

Applauding Beyer at the event were State Sen. Dick Saslaw, who will represent the City through December pending his retirement, and Senator-elect Saddam Salim, who will replace him in January after an upset victory in the primary in June.

The Democratic nominee for Commonwealth Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who also won a hard fought primary in June in seeking a second term, was also present.