Voting Date Less Important Than Citizen Impact
Many residents have chosen Falls Church City because it already has good schools, safe and friendly neighborhoods, tree-lined streets and good transportation to work. They are busy with their children’s schools, family activities and their careers.
City councils and schools boards come and go seemingly without seriously impacting why they are here.
Generally they do not understand much about the city at large. Sometimes they learn about a candidate or an issue, get excited, feel empowered and vote. Other times too little information and too little time make it less important.
Life is less civic pride and more managing the complexity of life in a city that already meets their needs. May or November voting is less important than knowing that they can make a difference. Voting rests on how many more can be drawn into specific aspects of city life – likely because of more tailored outreach that shows how they can make a difference.
Richard G. Maynard
‘No’ Vote Tuesday Keeps Local Voting in May
Tuesday’s election is critical to the future of Falls Church City as it’s the day we decide whether to keep our elections in May and therefore keep them focused on City issues, or move them to November where our local campaigns will get mired with regional, statewide and national election questions.
To keep the elections in May, a “No” vote is needed on the referendum.
Voting “No” will ensure that City elections stay focused on the topics that matter most to us as residents: our City taxes, our City schools, our future planning and growth plans.
Of course more people make it out to vote in November thanks to regional and national ballets, but holding elections in May allows residents and local candidates to focus solely on City issues. May elections are non-partisan and therefore are not complicated by literature and sample ballots from either Party. Candidates must be responsible for getting their own message out, instead of simply running based on Party affiliation or grabbing onto a Party position.
May elections provide a better opportunity for getting to know the School Board and City Council candidates than November elections. The warm spring months and ample daylight hours allow great door-to-door opportunities where candidates can walk through our community discussing the issues that are prevalent to us as residents. The only yard signs we’ll see are those for our neighbors.
By keeping the election in May, the candidates and topics will remain focused on community issues and maintain independence from partisan politics.
On Tuesday, vote “No” to amending the charter. That “No” vote will keep City elections in May and keep them focused on City issues.
Vote ‘Yes’ to Move F.C. Elections To November
The other night at a forum sponsored by the Citizens for a Better City and The Village Preservation and Improvement Society, I personally reiterated that the Falls Church City Democratic Committee (FCCDC) had no intention in becoming involved in city elections.
Does that mean that the FCCDC never gets involved in city issues? In the past, FCCDC has supported positions on city issues before the voters in referendums but has always done so by standing with other city groups.
Next week’s vote on the referendum is just another example where FCCDC might represent its position on an important question before city voters.
The FCCDC has never lent our supporters addresses or emails to anyone for use in elections; we don’t lend out our information even to Democratic Party campaigns. We have never endorsed a council member or school board member. Individually we have supported candidates but never while wearing our committee hats. I probably have been more circumspect than others – mostly because I never wanted anyone to link anyone’s city election process to ours. I have no idea what the Falls Church City Republican Party has been doing in city elections.
The Hatch Act is concerned party involvement will harm federal workers. And with today’s technology it is easy to transfer info for assistance and that same technology can be traced. I can assure you that the FCCDC does not violate those rules. For sure anyone who could be “helped” could also be irreparably harmed by partisan help behind the scenes. That is not our interest.
Lower turnouts almost always allow insiders to select who will make decisions that affect each and everyone one of us. It is true in primary elections, national, state and yes, city elections.
The turnout in the last city elections was a paltry 24%. Each city election is trending down in participation. It is not representational government if only 24% of the voters show up at the polls. What number would alarm the citizens? I’m pretty alarmed at 24%.
Voter turnout is the number one reason that FCCDC is supporting the city elections being moved to November.
Vote “yes” to move elections to November.
Chairman, Falls Church City Democratic Committee
Vote ‘No’ To Keep F.C. Elections in May
Falls Church has a uniquely citizen-driven democracy, due in part to our independent local May elections, where you are not limited to voting for a slate of candidates handpicked by political parties. Instead, anyone willing to work and with good ideas can get on the ballot and have a reasonable chance of winning without relying on, or swearing allegiance to, political parties. Further, May election campaigns occur at the same time the City Council is considering the budget, so citizen input and public official accountability are maximized.
A “No” vote on the November election referendum will preserve this unique democracy and its accountability; a “Yes” vote will jeopardize it. This is because if the local election is held as part of the much larger November partisan election, local candidates and issues will be at the bottom of the partisan ballot and the temptation will be too great for the parties to try to control the local elections as well.
This danger of losing our local independence from the political machines isn’t solved by a Charter change calling for so-called “non-partisan elections”, even if the partisan Richmond political establishment will allow that to happen. That is because political parties could still endorse, provide sample ballots and workers.
So, the issue is clear, vote “No” to continue May elections and our 50 year record of citizen-driven democracy, or vote “Yes” and risk giving it all up to the partisan political machines.
David F. Snyder
Member, F.C. City Council
Letters to the Editor may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or via our online form here. Letters should be limited to 350 words and may be edited for content, clarity and length. To view the FCNP’s letter and submission policy, please click here.