News

8 Now Likely to Run for 4 F.C. Council Seats in May 4 Election

CBC-lineupstagewebHockenberry, Sze to File Despite CBC Rejections

After failing to win the endorsement of the Citizens for a Better City (CBC) at its nominating convention Saturday, former Falls Church Vice Mayor and two-term Council member Lindy Hockenberry was actively adding signatures to her petition to run for the Council tonight at the George Mason High School boys basketball game Tuesday night.

groupofmugshots

UP TO EIGHT CITY COUNCIL candidates may wind up on the ballot for the May 4 municipal election as the March 2 deadline looms. Two candidates, Former Vice Mayor Lindy Hockenberry and Councilman Dan Sze, may run despite failing to win the endorsement of the Citizens for a Better City (CBC) at the CBC’s nomination convention last Saturday. Clockwise from top left: Ron Peppe, Barry Buschow, John Lawrence, Hal Lippman, Dan Sze, Johanna Barry, Dave Snyder and Lindy Hockenberry.
Hockenberry, Sze to File Despite CBC Rejections

After failing to win the endorsement of the Citizens for a Better City (CBC) at its nominating convention Saturday, former Falls Church Vice Mayor and two-term Council member Lindy Hockenberry was actively adding signatures to her petition to run for the Council tonight at the George Mason High School boys basketball game Tuesday night.

Hockenberry indicated to the News-Press that she’s moving forward to qualify her name for the May 4 municipal election ballot, and has until March 2 to secure the 125 signatures required. If she indeed runs, she said, it will be as an independent with no ties to any other candidate.

The other candidate who failed to get the CBC nod on Saturday, incumbent Councilman Dan Sze, told the News-Press today he will file his papers by the deadline, although remains undecided about running as an independent as well.

If Hockenberry and Sze run, they combined with four CBC-endorsed candidates, and independents David Snyder, seeking a fifth term on the Council, and Johanna Barry would bring to eight the total number of candidates seeking to fill four seats on the Council in the May 4 election.

CBC-lineupstageweb

Candidates vying for the CBC nomination at last Saturday’s nominating convention. (Photo: News-Press)

Hockenberry and Sze, veteran Falls Church City Council members with a history of a strong backing from the City’s 50-year-old CBC civic candidate vetting association, found themselves out in the cold at the conclusion of this year’s CBC City Council and School Board nominating convention Saturday. They were rejected in favor of three new candidates, two of whom are seen by many as representing a backlash against the City Council direction in recent years.

Incumbent Sze, the Council’s strongest proponent of pro-development policies, and former Vice Mayor and two-term Council member Hockenberry, bidding for a comeback after a razor thin electoral defeat two years ago, failed to gain the CBC’s backing at the convention, which was open for any Falls Church registered voter to attend and vote.

Instead, while Incumbent Vice Mayor Hal Lippman survived a close race to regain the CBC’s support, three other candidates emerged as first-time Council hopefuls, although all three have extensive credentials of service to the Falls Church community. Current School Board Chair Ron Peppe, current Planning Commission Chair John Lawrence and long-time community activist Barry Buschow won the CBC convention’s nod.

For School Board, the convention endorsed all four of the candidates that appeared before it, including incumbents Rosaura Aguerrebere and Susan Kearney and newcomers Pat Riccards and Greg Rasnake.

Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner, who is in her third term as a CBC-backed Council members, told the News-Press following the convention that she feels the four winning City Council candidates constitute “a very strong slate” and she praised the process, including the participation of the 167 citizens who sat through the better part of Saturday afternoon, listed to nomination statements, candidate statements and questions and answers for both the School Board and City Council candidates.

However, numerous observers commented to the News-Press that the result constituted a form of a “backlash,” especially in the support for Buschow and Lawrence, which could make Council deliberations on the upcoming budget, where revenues fall 15 percent short of costs so far, even more difficult.

In a highly-unusual final development of the day, all the City Council candidates were willing to offer up their personal predictions for exactly how much Falls Church’s current $1.07 real estate tax rate may have to increase to make ends meet in this difficult budget cycle. Sze predicted 10 cents, Buschow between 15 and 20 cents, Lippman said he was “dubious about 10 cents,” Lawrence said 20 cents, Hockenberry 15 cents and Peppe 20 cents.

CBC President Deb Gardner’s convention-opening comments calling for a civil dialogue, for enhancing “social capital through creating bridges based on norms of reciprocity,” carried the day at the event. There were no personal attacks, and a lot of agreement on core issues among the candidates.

hocksignatures

FORMER VICE MAYOR Lindy Hockenberry is shown gathering petition signatures at the Mason High basketball game tonight after falling short of the CBC’s endorsement on Saturday. (Photo: News-Press)

For the first time, the CBC’s ballots offered voters to check the boxes for all candidates, with options to vote for (plus one vote), a vote against (minus one vote) or abstain (no vote).

In another departure from CBC tradition, there was no invocation of the so-called “litmus test” question of whether, should a candidate fail to get the CBC nod, he or she would still seek to run for the Council. In the past, if a candidate expressed an intention to run despite not making it onto the CBC slate, the candidate would most surely be rejected by the CBC. But this time, Gardner told the News-Press, it was decided very deliberately not to make that a condition.

Therefore, Sze and Hockenberry can still run in the May election without worrying about reneging on a campaign promise, albeit without the CBC endorsement. Mayor Gardner told the News-Press Saturday night that she “would encourage them both to take a good look at running.”

Other candidates who may run for the May Council election did not seek the CBC backing. They included David Snyder, who has officially announced he’s running for a fifth term on the Council, and one, citizen Johanna Barry, and perhaps others who have not yet either decided or made formal announcements.

Snyder was present at the CBC meeting, as were all members of the City Council and all School Board members but one. The meeting was chaired by former F.C. Council member David Chavern.

Council member Dan Maller, whose term expires in May, was present Saturday but has chosen not to seek re-election to a second term.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*