In their first full-blown debate in this fall’s race for three of the seven seats on the Falls Church City Council Tuesday, all the incumbents seeking re-election to those touted their considerable accomplishments at the monthly luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce. Mayor David Tarter and Council members Letty Hardi and Phil Duncan fielded questions from the event moderator, Chamber board member Andrew Painter, by pointing to what this Council has achieved and has in its hopper for plans in the near future. The one non-incumbent challenger, Stuart Whitaker, had little he could criticize about the work of the incumbents while focusing his attention on regional transportation concerns, a lot of which are also being addressed by the current Council.
The election is in less than three weeks, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and the important news for City residents is that one of the three polling locations will be changed. The polling location at the Ward 2 Falls Green apartments will not be available, and all Ward 2 voters will be re-routed to the F.C. Community Center where Ward 3 voters will also be casting their ballots. Construction delays over the summer in a renovation of Falls Green (formerly known as the Oakwood Apartments) is the cause of the one-time change. Meanwhile, absentee voting in person and by mail is now well underway.
The incumbents took turns Tuesday touting the accomplishments of the current City Council. Hardi referenced the robust increases in the sales, food and business operating taxes. Duncan referenced the savings on residential real estate tax rates of 7 to 8 cents as the result of mixed use projects the City has been able to attract over the last two decades. Tarter cited the improved relations with the City’s neighbors (“We are like the Lichtenstein of Europe,” he quipped. “Good relations are very important to us with many shared public services.”) The lone challenger Whittaker spoke of the wise decision, he said, of Arlington County’s abandonment of plans to build a light rail along Columbia Pike and its replacement with plans for bus rapid transit.
The incumbents lauded the level of civility and collaboration on the current City Council. Truly, the Council is operating with a more constructive tone and serious attention to the needs of the community than any this newspaper has seen in our 30 years of covering and reporting to the community about the deliberations of that body.
The attention being paid by the current Council to traffic calming and stormwater management needs has also been impressive, with “prudent” handling of budget and fiscal matters helping to generate surpluses as additional revenues that can be put to those causes.
While there are more pre-election debates tonight, Monday and next Thursday, it is already crystal clear to us that all three incumbents seeking reelection are deserving of our hearty endorsement in their wishes to serve another four years.