October 2015 Newsletter 

Dear Fellow Leaguers,

We can 't escape the election season, and we don 't want to!  Things are heating up in Falls Church and we 're right in the middle of it, as well we should be.  In case you missed the City Council Candidates Forum on October 1, it was quite a success. The Falls Church New Press article on the proceedings can be found here. The Council Chamber was packed, with standing room only.  The candidates answered a barrage of written questions from the audience. The event was recorded by Falls Church Community TV and will be available on our website and will be shown on our local cable access channel.

On October 15, all EIGHT school board candidates will take part in a forum co-sponsored with our usual partner, Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS).  We are thrilled to announce that both the George Mason PTSA and Elementary PTA also will co-sponsor the event. Plan to join us at the GM auditorium at 7 p.m. for a Meet and Greet, with the forum running from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m..  

October 18th is the date for a fascinating look at city finances.  The event starts at 3 p.m. at the Community Center.  Don 't miss it. Thanks to Local Affairs Chair Wendy Frieman for putting this program together. 

Voter Service Co-Chairs, Grace Rissetto and Sandy Tarpinian are doing a fantastic job this election season.  Volunteers will be needed to distribute the Voters Guide at the polls.  I did it for the last election and it 's a great experience.  Doing this gives our League visibility. Use the email links provided above or the links from the list of board members (right panel) to get in touch with Grace and Sandy to volunteer.

On November 8, a public informational meeting will take place with Thomas Neale of The Congressional Research Service speaking on the topic of amending the constitution. Mr Neale is a leading expert. Constitutional amendment is the subject of one of the 2015 LWVUS studies.  Our consensus meeting is the following Sunday, November 15, with both events at the community center from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Our annual holiday party is scheduled for December 12th at The Falls Church Episcopal from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  In addition to your presence, we need your help in a variety of ways.  Check out the information in a separate article. 

Whew!  You can see how much we 're doing.  The League hopes to have you participating in these events.  Remember that Democracy is not a spectator sport.





Candidates running for the Falls Church School Board will tackle questions at an October 15 forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Falls Church, the Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) and both the George Mason High School PTSA and the Elementary PTA.  The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the GMHS Auditorium, 7124 Leesburg Pike.

Eight candidates are vying for three seats on the School Board. Voters will fill those seats, along with three seats on the Falls Church City Council, when they go to the polls on  Tuesday November 3.  A complete guide to all the candidates whose names will appear on the ballot, and other important information about the election, is available through www.vote411.org, a website hosted by the League of Women Voters.

"We hope that this event will provide the citizens of Falls Church with the chance to get to know the School Board candidates and to hear their views on the important issues that are facing our city schools," said Ellen Salsbury, president of the Falls Church League, and Keith Thurston, president of VPIS. "All residents should be concerned about the city schools, whether or not they actually have school-age children." 

The deadline to register to vote in the November election is 5 p.m. Tuesday October 13. In-person absentee voting is available through Saturday October 31. Requests for absentee ballots by mail can be made through 5 p.m. Tuesday October 27. 


LWVFC will host a Local Issues Forum, "Where
Does Your Tax Dollar Go?", on Sunday October 18 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Falls Church  Community Center.

Participants will include Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields, Vice Mayor David  Snyder and City Council Member Marybeth Connelly, who also serves as community outreach  director for the Falls Church City Public Schools.

The forum will explore state and federal government spending mandates, spending to  promote residents' health and welfare, spending related to previously approved capital  improvement projects, and the discretionary portion of the city budget. Panelists will explore
how tradeoffs are made among competing priorities, and respond to questions from the audience.


At the 2014 LWVUS convention, delegates adopted a three-part study with a focus on procedural issues within each of these topics.
  • Amending the Constitution
  • Money in Politics
  • Redistricting
Our local League's role in the process is to educate our members on these issues then hold a local consensus meeting to discuss them and then report our responses based on several consensus questions developed by the LWVUS.  The consensus questions are distributed to League chapters nationwide and the responses will determine the manner in which LWVUS will proceed on these issues.

The first of these local consensus meetings begins in November with an informational meeting on the Constitutional Amendment Study.  It will be followed a week later by a Consensus Meeting where members discuss our League's responses.

"I am happy to announce that Thomas Neale, specialist in American national government with the Congressional Research Service will participate in our November 8 informational meeting," said Robert Crowe, LWVFC Program co-Chair. "Mr. Neale authored two excellent papers on the process of amending the constitution, focusing on Article V convention issues. Both are recommended reading from the LWVUS to prepare for our consensus sessions."

Links to both papers can be found here

"This should be a very interactive meeting," according to Crowe.  "I will provide an introduction to the topic, then Mr. Neale will follow with about 30 minutes of remarks tailored to address the consensus questions the League is exploring.  The remainder of the time will be open for questions and discussion."

"Participation in consensus studies is an essential element of the League's mission," according to Ellen Salsbury, president LWVFC.  "This is an opportunity to educate ourselves and have a voice in developing the positions and directing the actions of LWVUS."

There are two steps to participating.  Be sure to mark your calendars for both. 

1) Information Meeting on Amending the Constitution
Sunday, Nov. 8
3 - 4:30 p.m.
Falls Church Community Center

2) Consensus Meeting on Amending the Constitution
Sunday, Nov. 15
3 - 4:30 p.m.
Falls Church Community Center


Redistricting reform is heating up as an issue in Virginia, thanks to a federal court's decision that the boundaries of the 3rd  Congressional District, represented by Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott, were unconstitutional because the Virginia General Assembly had tried to pack as many African-Americans as possible into the district around Richmond. 

Despite meeting briefly in a special session in August, the General Assembly failed to meet a September 1 deadline for redrawing the district, as specified by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th  Circuit. After the deadline passed, the co-presidents of the Virginia League of Women Voters published an op-ed in several newspapers around the state, urging the judges to use as a starting point one of the maps that were prepared in 2011 by independent groups, such as then-Gov. Bob McDonnell's bipartisan redistricting advisory commission or the winning teams from a competition among Virginia colleges. 

Since then, the judges have appointed Bernard Grofman, a political science and economics professor at the University of California at Irvine and an expert on redistricting, as special master to recommend a map to the court.  Ten maps are currently under consideration. The maps and related documents can be reviewed here

The current schedule calls for the special master to propose his plan by October 30 and then to receive and review comments so that the court can adopt a new plan "at the earliest practical opportunity after November 17 ." Redrawing the boundaries of the 3rd  District will necessarily change the boundaries of other districts, but it is unknown how extensive the changes will be. In September, good-government advocates pushed back at efforts by the Democratic plaintiffs in the case to keep maps that were under consideration from public view and comment. 

Another lawsuit, challenging several state legislative districts using the same arguments that were successful in this case, is still pending in federal court. 

Meanwhile, on September 15, OneVirginia2021, the bipartisan coalition working for redistricting reform in the state, filed a lawsuit, challenging the boundaries of 11 Senate and House districts, held by both Democrats and Republicans, contending that they failed to meet the Virginia Constitutional requirement for compactness. Former Republican State Rep. Wyatt Durrette is serving as attorney for the suit, brought on behalf of individual residents of the 11 districts, included from all parts of the state. League members, acting as individuals, are among those involved in the suit. 

Members of the Falls Church League will attend an October 7 forum, "Redistricting Reform: Mapping Our Future," sponsored by Common Cause and the George Washington University Law School.  Chris Carson, chair of the national League's redistricting task force, will moderate one of the program's panels. 

--Sara Fitzgerald

In This Issue:


2015-2016 LWVFC Board and Off-Board Members 



Ellen Salsbury


Vice President

Linda Garvelink


Programs Co-Chairs

Robert Crowe

Renee Andrews


Local Affairs Chair

Wendy Frieman



Martha Cooper



Ruth Rodgers


Voter Service Co-Chairs 

Membership Co-Chairs


Liaison to NCA 

Ellen Gross


Administrative Team

Madalyn Cafruny

Genie Flahie

Edith Snyder


Special Projects

Cindy Donaldson

Bunny Jarrett

Marty Meserve

Jane Scully






Neil Johnston



LWVFC / VPIS / GMHS  & Elementary PTSAs sponsored: School Board Candidates Forum
Thursday, Oct. 15
7 p.m.
GMHS Auditorium

LWVFC Local Issues Forum:  Where Do Your City Tax Dollars Go?
Sunday, Oct. 18
3 - 5 p.m.
Falls Church Community Center
223 Little Falls Street

Election Day
Tuesday, Nov. 3
LWVFC needs volunteers to staff tables at each of the three polling places to distribute Voters Guides

LWVFC Informational Meeting on Constitutional Amendments
Sunday, Nov. 8
3 - 5 p.m.
Falls Church Community Center

LWVFC Consensus Meeting on Constitutional Amendment Study
Sunday, Nov. 15
3 - 5 p.m.
Falls Church Community Center

LWVFC Holiday Social
Saturday, Dec. 12
3 - 6 p.m.
Falls Church Episcopal


The League of Women Voters of Virginia and Falls Church have joined forces to provide a non-partisan online voters' guide for the November 3 general election. The guide, which can be accessed at www.vote411.org, enables voters to obtain information about the candidates for Virginia Senate, Virginia House of Delegates, Clerk of Court, Commonwealth Attorney, Falls Church City Council and Falls Church School Board. 

Voters accessing the web tool are asked to type in their street name, city, state and zip code. After pressing "Enter" a menu of options is available including "Get personalized information on candidates and issues." By clicking on "Show My Races," the online resource/tool presents the candidates for each office that the voter will find on his ballot. Voters can choose to review each race individually or click on "All My Races." The positions of any two candidates can be compared at one time. In cases where there are more than two candidates running-as is the case, for instance, with the Falls Church City Council and School Board - a voter can compare the statements provided by two candidates and then click "Change Candidates" to compare the positions of two more. 

The tool also provides a link through which voters can confirm that they are properly registered to vote.

Voter registration for the November election closes on October 13. Registered voters can still obtain absentee ballots or arrange to vote absentee in person.
In-person absentee voting ends October 31 at 5 p.m.


Mark your calendars for  Saturday, December 12th.  That 's the date of our annual holiday party. It will held at The  Falls Church Episcopal Fellowship Hall from 3pm to 6pm.  League member Tom Clinton, the best bartender we know, will be in charge of the drinks and the food will be delicious, as usual.  Board members will be bringing their specialties, so save room for some tasty treats.

This year 's party will look a little different.  There will be more baskets up for raffle and no auction items.  The baskets will look as pretty as always and will appeal to a wide range of attendees. League members should start thinking about items you 'd like to donate that could go into theme baskets.  For example: an entertainment basket for kids for a car trip, a bottle of wine and nibbles for a movie night at home, a gardener 's basket, or a car-care basket for the man on your holiday list.   Those are just suggestions -- the choices are limited only by your interests and imaginations.   Get creative.  Give us the items and our basket wizards will make up the baskets!   The baskets make wonderful holiday gifts and people have loved getting them in the past. Details on delivery of your donations will be sent out in November.

The party doesn't happen without lots of volunteer help.  In the next bulletin the jobs will be described.

They range from setting up the room to getting the food together and out on the tables to picking up flowers for decorations.  We need raffle ticket sales persons, bartenders, and greeters.  Nothing takes a huge amount of time and it's an great way to get to know and work with league members for a fun event that benefits the league in so many ways.

Everyone is a Stakeholder

Falls Church is planning for a new or renovated George Mason High
School and an addition to Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.

This is a  once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build academic and community schools for  the next generation. Your input is essential in determining the community
priorities for the Schools of the Future in Falls Church.

Everyone is invited to attend a Community Forum on Saturday, October  17. A panel of visionary school designers, including architects and green  building experts, will discuss trends and best practices in school design.

Community members will have an opportunity to  weigh in on their
priorities and preferences for the elements that should be part of our
new/renovated school buildings.

The session will be recorded and
available to view afterwards.

The Schools of the Future - Everyone is a Stakeholder

Saturday, October 17
9 a.m. - Noon
Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School

Register to attend  here

If you can't attend, share your ideas here

A great way to stay current on issues of interest to the League is to follow the 
About Us

The League of Women Voters Falls Church is a non-partisan organization that serves the citizens of Falls Church City through encouraging informed and active participation in government, working to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influencing public policy through education and advocacy.

A Voice for Citizens and a Force for Change in the United States.