CBC Shifting Focus From Elections to Voter Education

Falls Church Times Staff

November 16, 2011

The Citizens for a Better City’s Executive Committee has voted to suspend its Nominating Convention, the election of CBC candidates, and the CBC campaign, and to turn the organization’s primary focus to community and voter education.

In a November 12 letter to members, CBC president Sally Ekfelt termed the Committee’s vote “decisive.”  Entitled “A New Way Forward”, the letter states that the organization’s primary objective now will be to inform the electorate and vigorously promote civic engagement.

The Committee will convene a working group to create an action plan for 2012.  Among its first actions will be a town hall meeting or forum in February which will showcase all candidates running for elective office in May.  CBC will continue to promote and encourage citizen participation on City and School Committees and Commissions and to scout for effective leaders.

Suspending the Nominating Convention requires a change in CBC’s bylaws.  Members will vote on the revision at the annual meeting on Sunday, November 20, at the Winter Hill Senior Center. 

For 52 years CBC has fielded candidates for Falls Church City Council and, since 1994, for School Board.  Its decision to leave the election process creates a new playing field for the May 2012 election.

Unless a new group suddenly emerges to field a slate, all candidates for three Council seats and three School Board seats at stake will be running as independents.   There will be no “brand” available and voters will have to focus more on the individual candidates, rather than voting a straight ticket.

CBC has dominated Falls Church politics for decades.  From 1974 to 1986 it won every Council seat.  More recently CBC won 14 of the 17 seats at stake from 2000 to 2008.

However, in 2010 only one of its four candidates for Council was elected.  One candidate appeared to break with the slate in the final days of the campaign, issuing his own flyers.

Of the seven current Council members, four were elected as independents and three on CBC tickets.  Vice Mayor Dave Snyder has been elected on past CBC slates but ran as an independent in 2010.   All seven members of the present School Board were elected on CBC tickets. 

The May 2012 election will be the final one held in that month, as voters last Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a referendum to move the polling to November, beginning in 2013.  CBC’s decision to leave the field ensures that next spring’s campaign will be one of the most interesting in many years.

November 16, 2011 


6 Responses to “CBC Shifting Focus From Elections to Voter Education”

  1. Robert Thomas, Falls Church on November 16th, 2011 5:20 pm

    A shocking move by the CBC which leads to question – Is the CBC dead, dying or reinventing?

  2. Brian Williams (City of Falls Church) on November 17th, 2011 10:23 am

    I think this is a great decision for the CBC and will be great for Falls Church. The City needs informed, inspired, engaged voters and active, committed, qualified candidates. Leveraging CBC’s history and membership to more broadly encourage citizens to participate (both as candidates and voters) is a good thing.

    Part of the reason I moved to Falls Church was to join a community where the opinions and actions of the individual citizens really has an impact. Over the years I’ve found this to be more true than I’d imagined, which is, frankly, both exciting and nerve-wracking. Our City only works if the people that live and work here take part in how the City is planned and run. Whether we’re part of the CBC or not, we all need to encourage our neighbors to be more involved.

  3. Ralph McGehee on November 17th, 2011 5:25 pm

    This is reminiscent of what happened to the ABC in Arlington. The Arlington Republican committee tried to pack an ABC convention back in the 90’s, unsuccessfully I might add. The “regulars” manned the phones and delayed the “votes” until they had enough Democrats in attendance to select their pre-ordained candidates. After that, the ABC basically caved and supported (incognito) Democrats for office in Arlington.

    I don’t know if the ABC even exists anymore. The CBC in Falls Church, founded in 1959, was modeled after the ABC in Arlington, which was founded in 1954. Back in that era, both were truly non-partisan.

    This was probably part of the plan in moving elections to November in Falls Church to begin with. With the CBC becoming irrelevant anyway, just take the obvious next step.

    But hey, this is what democracy looks like.

  4. Louis T. Olom on November 18th, 2011 12:00 am

    Good bye to nonpartisan local government and the benefits of nonpartisan political life this small city enjoyed for more than a half a century.

    It is abundantly clear that the local Democratic Committee has taken over and the CBC President Ekfelt and board sold out. The Democratic Party has been trying to take over the political life of the City of Falls Church for some time and they have finally succeeded.

    We HAD nonpartisan government in Falls Church and the attendant benefits of non-partisan atmosphere (both pro and con CBC) among its citizens. With nonpartisan government and politics we built a great little city including its All America City Award, international recognition of its IB program rated as “one of the best if not the best in the world”. That too was a result of a nonpartisan school board. So much effort spelled great improvement. National and state political parties were absent – and all citizens could participate without polarization or fear of endangering their Federal careers or Federal relationships.

    The CBC and the old FCCO both had a good mix of people from both national parties and we successfully avoided the distractions of the national issues and labels. Now, it will revert to national and state political differences which we have forcefully resisted for a half of century.

    So, now Falls Church politics will be almost exclusively Democratic – and anyone that actively participates will have to wear a public label. That is very sad, because many cannot – or will not be willing to participate at that price.

    Since CBC’s decision is so interrelated with the change in the local election date, it is very interesting that they chose not to announce it until after the referendum occurred. The citizens did not have the benefit of knowing this when they pondered the change of election date and its implications. These two issues combined suggest that what has been done here is greatest Democratic coup in the last 50 years.

    Apparently changed population of CBC has called for a political change.
    Interesting. Good Luck.

    Lou Olom

  5. Ralph McGehee, Charleston, SC on November 18th, 2011 9:19 am

    Lou, as one of the founders of CBC, I know how this must trouble you. Frankly, I agree with you and had hoped that more people had heeded your wisdom and thoughtfulness in this past election. But as you wrote, the population has changed and this election swap was brewing for some time.

    As a past president of FCCO and former chairman of the Republican committee, I too thought local politics should remain non-partisan. I supported and voted for people who were Democrats over the years, such as Sam Mabry. I would never have voted for him had he run as a Democrat.

    But times are changing, and not necessarily for the better I’m afraid.

    Best wishes Lou, Your friend
    Ralph McGehee

  6. Jody Acosta, City of Falls Church on November 18th, 2011 9:30 am


    I feel you are completely misguided in your comments. The CBC decision to get out of the election business had absolutely nothing to do with the recent referendum to move the election date to November. The CBC board has been discussing this move for the past 4 years – it was on our agenda long before there was a referendum even on the horizon! I’m surprised you don’t remember some of our discussions, as you were at some of those meetings! The decision is based on 2 things: 1) Lack of support and manpower for CBC campaigns. Everyone wants the CBC to run a campaign, but nobody wants to put in the work required! and 2) The CBC endorsement became practically the “kiss of death” in the last several years. It was so disheartening to see good, solid Council candidates who were involved in the community, had volunteered on Boards and Commissions and were active members of local civic groups for years, lose to candidates who, shall we say, did not have the same level of community involvement and were virtually unknown to most citizens. Why? I think it was because they simply ran “against” the CBC. You know, down with the status quo and all that. I say, better to take CBC out of the mix, and let everyone run on their own records and accomplishments, and may the best candidates win!

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