Local Commentary

Editorial: We’re No. 1, We’re No. 1!

If folks in the City of Falls Church are feeling a little light-headed this week, the banner headline on Page 1 of this edition could explain why. Where did all this “No. 1 in the Entire U.S.” stuff come from? Pardon us while the fan ourselves and sit down with some lemonade before trying to figure it out.

The City has long been used to achieving such accolades for the quality of its public school system, and that trend has only slightly abated due to the rush of rival school systems to step up their own acts.

But while formal numbers and rankings disseminated from a distance should never be the criteria for one’s self-worth or true sense of accomplishment, still, a closer examination of the justifications given for the City’s recent spate of honors, so to speak, make a pretty strong case for the fact they are duly warranted. Maybe we’re not No. 1, but darn close in all the relevant categories, including No. 2 for “Best Place to Retire.”

Clearly there are lessons to be learned from this, not the least of which is the relationship between the quality of the school system and the other categories, including Most Liveable, Healthiest, Fastest Growing as well as Best Place to Retire.

The City is buoyed, of course, by the larger region of which it is a part, especially the wider Northern Virginia family of jurisdictions that include Fairfax County, Arlington County and the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax. We hope that the collective efforts of these will help to solve the Metro Rail crisis, among other things, such that none of us will be bankrupted by the cost to fix it.

This is truly an extraordinary region of the nation. Among other things, it has virtually single-handedly delivered a wave of talented Democratic leaders at the local, state and federal levels over the past decade and a half, with its electoral clout in most cases overcoming the widely-Republican majorities in the rest of the state. Neighboring areas like Loudoun and Prince William counties have begun to tilt in its direction, too. In this context, honors go to the City of Falls Church for routinely scoring the highest voter turnout numbers in the state, if not the nation.

In addition to voter turnout, the pervasive emphasis on citizen participation in government boosted by the Citizens for a Better City and local chapter of the League of Women Voters, abundant dialogue between the residential and business community aided by the local Chamber of Commerce and the transparency, discourse and reporting provided by the best “independent, locally-owned newspaper of record” in America, the City of Falls Church has a lot going for it to contribute to its high rankings.

But the “Little City” remains a “work in progress,” unlikely to stand on its laurels, and with a major unmet need still in area of affordable housing.