League of Women Voters Releases Guide for May Races

By FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
April 9, 2012

The League of Women Voters of Falls Church has released its Voters’ Guide for the May 1 elections for City Council and School Board. 

The Voters’ Guide includes candidate questionnaire responses from the seven candidates for City Council and the four candidates for School Board.  City Council candidates were asked whether the current real estate tax is just right, too low or too high, what city services they would propose or cut, and how the City should position itself in the region.  School Board candidates were asked how to ensure excellent physical facilities, how to ensure that students develop necessary skills, and how to manage unexpected bulges in the student population.

The guide also includes information on the new voting ward alignment, as well as voter identification requirements. 

The Voters’ Guide is available here.

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April 9, 2012 

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7 Responses to “League of Women Voters Releases Guide for May Races”

  1. John D. Lawrence, City of Falls Church on April 9th, 2012 4:03 pm

    Read the Guide and come to the League/VPIS Forum on April 18 as well.

    Before you ask, I said the tax rate was about right now, but that we needed to bring it down 2-3 cents in the next 3 years.

    Here’s a snippet of what I said about the City’s position in the region (p. 3 of the Guide) and you can read more at http://www.JDLforFallsChurch.com.

    “First, we need to stop “marketing” ourselves as “Not Tyson’s.” People don’t drink Coke because it’s “Not Pepsi.” They drink Coke because they like Coke. We pride ourselves on being a community in the true sense of the word. We share a social cohesion focused on the uniqueness of our City. Yet despite this true feeling of “community,” we approach our development decisions as transactions, not relationships. And that’s what needs to change….After nearly seven years on the Planning Commission I’ve worked on everything from conceptual development plans to final site plan approval. My job has been to try to find a way to make projects work in a very practical sense, and we need that on Council.”

  2. mel watson on April 9th, 2012 4:43 pm

    Suggest everyone read the answers to the question about the tax rate very carefully….and continue to press all candidates. Many candidates have crafted their answers very carefully……I noted the following example of words used……”if”, “perhaps”, “reasonable”, etc. If you read, you may spot some crafty wording too. Some candidates need to be more direct in their answers and talk less about what you have done in terms of city representation, and community involvement….we get that. Again, I applaud the Council members who at the recent council meeting drew the line at $1.27 (which means increased taxes anyway given increased assessments) and are not waffling, at least as of now.

  3. John D. Lawrence on April 9th, 2012 6:08 pm

    Mel: I agree with your comment applauding the Council members who held firm at $1.27. Appearances matter and the appearance that a tax rise was a possibility would have been bad and wrong. And I suggest everyone read EVERY answer closely.

    Maybe (possibly? perhaps?) I should have been more declarative and said, “The rate is right for now but it needs to come down.” It is and it does and hopefully that is clear from what I wrote. Or perhaps, I wasn’t one of the people to whom you referred. I argued for this rate two years ago at the CBC convention when no one else would come close to such a high rate, so I hope I’m keeping that clarity and frankness.

    Here’s my answer to that question.

    “I think it’s the right rate for now, but we will be failing our residents if it doesn’t come down in the next 2-3 years. This rate lets us finance the City and schools at a reasonable level, and we’re setting aside some funds, but the goal should be to get the rate down at least 2-3 cents within 3 years.”

    BTW, have I told you lately how much I’ve done in terms of city representation and community involvement? If not…. ;-)

  4. FCCFamily on April 9th, 2012 7:34 pm

    Will selling the Water System help bring the tax rate down, and how?

  5. John D. Lawrence on April 9th, 2012 8:36 pm

    It could help bring the rate down if it were actually SOLD, but Fairfax has proposed a “merger” with them — i.e., we give it away — and if we don’t do that, they’ve basically said they’d spike any attempt to sell it to anyone else. So it depends on whether the Council holds firm to selling and not merging. The City Manager tonight mentioned that $44m would be the minimum price for the system, but that would include at least $30m in debt that needs to be paid off, so, in theory, we’d get at least $14m which could help the tax rate depending on how it’s used. If it all goes to pensions, I don’t know if that would affect the tax rate.

    Also at the Council meeting tonight, the City Manager said that he hopes to get this moving so that people could vote on a Referendum in November 2012. Given that you need 180 days of lead time before you have a Referendum, this would need to be moving by May 6, according to my count. That’s tight.

  6. Scott on April 10th, 2012 11:11 am

    Kudos to the candidates for answering (or, in some cases, dodging…but at least responding to) the LWV survey.

    Mr. Lawrence, you mention on your campaign website that you campaigned for President Obama in 2008. I’m not sure of the relevance of this to the City Council campaign but, since you bring it up: to what extent would you model City policies on Obama’s policies (i.e. taxes and revenues, labor/union relations, government worker pay, etc.).?

  7. John D. Lawrence, City of Falls Church on April 10th, 2012 12:19 pm

    Scott: I wouldn’t try to “model” City policies on ANY Administration (i.e., make City actions follow national actions). I deal with the Congress every day and follow Administration policies (on international democracy and governance issues) so I need to stay informed about budget fights, tax debates, etc. because everything’s connected in one way or another. For example, I spent almost 3 weeks following the Senate highway bill Floor debate because of an Egypt provision that could have affected us.

    But what I see is “policy” that is set by politics. I don’t want that in the City. Sure, we have our share of politicking and posturing, but it’s at a mercifully low level compared to what I see on the Hill and the Administration every day. We should try to keep our policy discussions centered on the substance of the policy and what’s best for the City, not the hysteria of the politics. I see the sausage made every day in DC and it makes me want Falls Church to declare itself a vegetarian.

    John (www.JDLforFallsChurch.com)

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