LETTER: Citizen Petition on Election Change – Let the Voters Decide
TO THE EDITORS OF THE FALLS CHURCH TIMES:
We invite other citizens of Falls Church City to join us in signing the letter below, which will be presented to the City Council on Monday, Dec. 14. Please visit http://www.fallschurchpetition.com to add your name. Only current citizens of Falls Church City should sign.
At its Nov. 23 meeting, the first opportunity for public comment, the nearly unanimous plea from the people who spoke or wrote on this issue was to slow down. They emphasized that changes to how and when voting occurs is not a decision to be made by four individuals, but rather should be discussed in full by the community of voters affected.
Yet the Council voted 4-3 to proceed to Second Reading. The Council only began discussion of this topic on Nov. 2, and now it appears ready to make this important change in a mere six weeks based on limited research and without meaningful public discussion.
There are significant consequences of an election date change that must be considered by the voters. Ultimately, if the City elections are to be moved from May to November, it should be the result of a citizen referendum, not a Council vote.
To state our strong opposition to the City Council changing the election date without a mandate of the voters, we are sending the letter below to City Council members, urging them to refrain from making this very significant change in haste and on their own.
We hope others will join us in this important effort.
LOUIS T. OLOM
Falls Church City
LETTER TO BE DELIVERED TO THE FALLS CHURCH CITY COUNCIL ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 14
To the Members of the Falls Church City Council:
The undersigned citizens of the City of Falls Church urge you not to make a decision by ordinance to move elections for City Council and School Board from May to November. Rather, if the date of these elections is to change, only the citizens of Falls Church should change it through a referendum.
To date, Council members supporting a change in the election date have stated primarily one reason for making such a change – increasing voter participation in City elections. Increased voter participation is a goal we all share, but it does not trump all other ramifications.
As the League of Women Voters of Falls Church articulated in its 2001 study (www.lwvfallschurch.org) of this issue, there are potential negative consequences to moving the election date, including:
a) City candidates and local issues could be overshadowed by national/state candidates and issues; b) the possible end of nonpartisan elections for City Council and School Board; and c) new City Council and School Board members would take office in the middle of a fiscal/school year and budget process.
These significant considerations call for direct decision-making by the voters, as numerous citizens stated at the November 23 City Council meeting. For an issue regarding voter rights, this City Council should not impose its own will. Voting is the right of all the voters, not just elected officials, or in this instance, a mere majority of sitting City Council members. City Council should not disregard this right.
We therefore call upon the Falls Church City Council to refrain from voting on its own volition to move the elections for City Council and School Board from May to November. If the elections are to be changed, it should only occur after due consideration of all consequences of such change and a citizen referendum.
LOUIS T. OLOM
Letters to the Editor should be submitted to email@example.com. They may be on any subject relevant to our City. Writers should include their full name and city of residence. All submissions are subject to editing.
By (see byline)
December 3, 2009