For the first time ever this year, a Falls Church City Council and School Board election will be held in November, not May. On the same ballot with what will be hard-fought statewide races for governor, attorney general and lieutenant governor, the local races are expected to attract considerably more voters than normally participated in May elections in the City’s past.
The switch also means that there will be greater distance, time wise, between the adoption of a municipal budget – now currently being furiously fought over by the current City Council – and election day.
This November, the seats of four current incumbents on both the City Council and School Board will be up for election. On the Council, they include Vice Mayor David Snyder and Council members Johannah Barry, Ira Kaylin and Ron Peppe. None has so far indicated what their re-election plans may or may not be.
Many citizens unhappy with the current budget process – in an informal, one-vote-per-computer News-Press online poll this week, only 5.6 percent of participants said they expect to be happy with the outcome – a lot of people will be either looking for some new people to back in the next election, or may be planning to run, themselves.
But what many citizens may not be aware of is that, despite the November election date, candidates must qualify for the ballot by June 11 at the latest.
Falls Church Voter Registrar David Bjerke explained to the News-Press this week that all basic requirements for ballot access, including 125 valid signatures of City of Falls Church residents who are registered to vote, must be submitted to his office at City Hall by June 11, at the latest, along with a declaration of candidacy, a statement of economic interests, a certificate of candidate qualifications, and a statement of organization that designates a campaign treasurer and a new bank account opened for the campaign, itself.
A sheet containing all the relevant information and blank petitions to circulate can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office at City Hall, 300 Park Avenue.
Also unlike past elections in Falls Church, there are no organized political or civic organizations that have surfaced to date promising to field a slate of candidates, either for the City Council or School Board. But that’s not a major stumbling block, since the requirements to obtain ballot status are not stiff, at all.
Still, it appears that it will come down to citizens making personal decisions, and to what the News-Press has been able to determine so far, there are a tiny number of prospects that are out there, so far.
So, there are eight weeks until the filing deadline, and securing 125 qualified petition signatures will not be achieved overnight. Anybody serious about making a move had best begin to get organized now.
Both the City’s local Democratic and Republican committees have stayed clear of participating in the City election so far this year. The Democrats would love for the Republicans to back candidates, because that would give the Dems justification for following suit, and doing so in a City with an overwhelming pro-Democratic voting bias would be a boost for any candidate seeking the Democratic endorsement.
But there are other groups – such as the D.C.-based Democracy for America and Victory Fund operations – to whom candidates may apply for support, including financial and “get out the vote” support.
Still, for outside groups, most of the attention is on the statewide and State legislative campaigns. In state delegate races, there are 19 districts currently held by Republicans that were won by Democratic Senate candidate, and now U.S. Senator, Tim Kaine, indicating the potential for big changes in the coming year.