Local Commentary

Editorial: The 13 Weeks Coming Up

It’s going to be a very interesting next 13 and a half weeks!

This November’s general election is chock full of interesting and important components, and since voters in the City of Falls Church always score the highest turnout in Virginia in such elections, we recognize the importance of making sure all our readers know what they need to in order to make the right decisions at the polls.

We’ll do our best. Yes, we will be endorsing candidates again this fall, but our thoughtful preferences should not be counted against our resolve to provide fact-based and balanced reporting as best we can. If we fall off the straight and narrow in this endeavor, we are confident our readers will let us know.

So far, there’s only one endorsement we are prepared to make for an item on the ballot, and that concerns the City’s school bond referendum. We urge a “yes” vote on the measure. If you could vote, “Heck yes!” we would urge that instead.

We’ve been covering the journey of the Falls Church City School System since before we published our first edition way back in March 1991. It has been a particularly rich and heroic story. Teachers and staff, always underpaid, refuse to compromise on excellence and the extra mile with the students. Facilities have always been wanting and when voters OK’d a bond for a major renovation of George Mason High School, its proponents were so apologetic about asking that they seriously underfunded the effort, leaving the project wanting, to say the least.

So the need for a new high school, following improvements and upgrades of the four other schools, goes way, way back. Finally, the concerted effort has gone into giving the students of this City what they need to sustain the excellence of what they’ll be getting for the next 50 years, if this November’s bond referendum is passed.

To reiterate, the City’s schools are consistently ranked some of the best in the nation not by accident, but by deliberate and sustained effort from top to bottom in the system, too often despite financial pressures against it.

But there’s more on the ballot to start paying attention to. More than in other elections, this one is really kicked into gear a month ahead of the usual Labor Day launch pad. There are the three statewide races — all important in this divided state — for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. There are the City’s hotly contested seats on the City Council and School Board. In each case, there are six candidates running for four seats. While the state delegate and constitutional officers’ races are barely to non-competitive, all good people in those slots will be retained.

Overall, the Trump factor is making almost all upcoming elections nationally much more interesting. The Merrifield-based Competitive Commonwealth Fund has announced that the number of genuinely-contested races in Virginia has almost doubled, for instance.