All four incumbents won handily in Tuesday’s City of Falls Church City Council and School Board elections and their success was touted as a “vote of confidence” for the direction they and their colleagues have taken the City in the last four or more years. Securing a voter-approved all-time record $126 million school bond at a record low interest rate offered due to the City’s AAA bond rating and undertaking an all-new state of the art high school and major improvements to the City Hall and library are some of the City’s achievements credited to the incumbents’ win.
Tuesday’s election saw Mayor David Tarter and incumbent Council members Letty Hardi and Phil Duncan re-elected with comfortable margins and Phil Reitinger and school parent activists Laura Downs and Susan Dimock landslide winners for the School Board.
Liveliest were the post-election parties Tuesday night at Clare and Don’s Beach Shack, hosted by Hardi, who won a second term with the highest vote total among all the candidates in both races, at 3,425, and at Liberty Barbecue, hosted by Downs, winning for the first time with the most votes for her race at 3,380.
Most of the Hardi clan, including Letty’s brother and her husband, Lucas, and their three young sons, and Letty’s brother- and parents-in-law, was holding forth at Clare and Don’s, joined by victorious candidates Duncan and Tarter and State Del. Marcus Simon, who won unopposed in his bid for another two years. Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly made it to both the Hardi and Downs parties, noting that both highest vote tallies were achieved by women.
It was F.C. Treasurer Jody Acosta, present at the Hardi party, however, who was the first to declare the “Year of the Woman” in response to the Hardi and Downs wins.
Hardi told the News-Press at her post-election party that she was “very pleased we were able to get our message out” and that “voters like the direction of the City for the last four years.” She added, “Now we need to get back to work.”
Downs told the News-Press that, in particular, she was very happy with all the candidates who won Tuesday night.
F.C. Planning Commissioner Tim Stevens, among the celebrants at the Hardi party, exclaimed, “We’ve returned a winning team tonight.”
Tarter, who is expected to be re-elected by his Council colleagues as mayor in January, issued a statement Tuesday night saying, “The election was a big victory for Falls Church. The voters resoundingly reelected the incumbents, an acknowledgment of the hard work, dedication and, most important, the results of their local Falls Church government. I look forward to four more years of doing the people’s work.”
In addition to the City Council and School Board, on the Falls Church City ballot were State Sen. Dick Saslaw and State Del. Simon, both of whom ran unopposed as Democrats. With the Democrats “flipping” both houses of the state legislature Tuesday night, it is highly likely that Saslaw will be elevated to Senate Majority Leader when the new legislature is sworn in come early January.
Both Saslaw and Simon have more lengthy responses to Tuesday’s election published exclusively elsewhere in this week’s News-Press.
Also unopposed on the ballot, and on ballots in Arlington County as well, was Parisa Dehghani-Tafti as the Commonwealth Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church, who prevailed in a tough primary race in June against the incumbent Theo Stamos.
According to Falls Church Voter Registrar David Bjerke, everything went smoothly in the election despite moving one of the City’s three polling locations, putting two out of the three at the Community Center.
He noted that there were no ID-only provisional ballots to handle, meaning the election results were able to be finalized by late Tuesday night. Since 2017, all jurisdictions in the state have been mandated to use paper-based digital scanning equipment with voters filling in boxes on a sheet of paper by hand to indicate their votes.
A total of 4,464 of the 9,910 active voters in the City went to the polls Tuesday, or 45 percent of the total, a high percentage for an off-year election with no national or statewide offices on the ballot.
In the Council race, Hardi was the top vote getter with 3,431 votes, followed by Tarter with 3,343, Duncan with 2,774 and Stuart Whitaker at 1,376. There were 97 write in votes.
In the School Board race, Downs was the top vote getter with 3,388 votes, followed by Sue Dimock with 3,233, Phil Reitinger at 2,594 and Douglass Stevens at 1,477. There were 71 write in votes.
All the winners will be sworn in to four year terms in early January.