Public Comments for: HB339 - Falls Church, City of; amending charter, qualifications of members of boards and commissions.
Last Name: Hardi Organization: City of Falls Church Locality: City of Falls Church

I write in asking for your support of HB339, a charter amendment to allow the residents of the City of Falls Church to serve on our Boards and Commissions. I am also the Chair of the City Council's Appointments Committee where I have the privilege of interviewing interested residents who apply to serve on over 20 boards in the city. Each month when we interview residents, I am so impressed by the passion and skills of interested residents who are ready and willing to give back to their community and continue improving Falls Church as a great place to live. Removing the citizenship requirement is a small but meaningful policy change that would create greater opportunity for a wider pool of talent, voices, and perspectives to join our city's boards and commissions - which ultimately ensures that diversity is reflected in our city's policies and we better serve everyone in our community. Best regards, Letty Hardi Vice Mayor, City of Falls Church

Last Name: Mester Organization: City of Falls Church Locality: Fairfax

City of Falls Church is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in all our policies and programs. This includes participation in the citizen boards and commissions. To achieve this goal an amendment to the City's Charter, Section 4.14 is required. Council approved, by unanimous vote, a resolution requesting this amendment. The City respectfully requests the CC&T Committee report out this amendment. We appreciate the positive consideration by the CC&T Charter subcommittee. To meet the status of “qualified voter” set in the City Charter, board and commission members are not required to be registered to vote, but must meet the requirements to do so. In particular, they must be a citizen of the United States. There are many citizens in the community who are affected by the decisions of the City’s advisory boards and commissions (i.e. transportation, environment, housing, human services, urban forestry and arts) and there is consensus among the community that those persons should be able to participate equally in the commission system. Due to our proximity to Washington DC federal government agencies, universities and international businesses many residents are state department employees and military personnel as well as targeted business employees and graduate students in the US on VISAs but do not change primary permanent residence to the City. Therefore, these residents do not have City of Falls Church voter qualifications but have invaluable knowledge and expertise to impart. The proposed language would remove “qualified voter of the city,” while retaining 18-years of age and residency within the city. If you have questions please contact Cindy Mester at cmester@fallschurchva.gov or 571-641-5586 (711 TTY)

Last Name: Brown Locality: Falls Church

I am writing in support of the bill to allow Falls Church City to change its charter to allow non-citizens to serve on the boards and commissions that provide critical input to the City Council on a range of issues. Our jurisdiction will benefit from the views of all residents, including those who are not citizens. I respectfully ask that you support this bill.

Last Name: Davis Locality: Falls Church

I was member of the Falls Church Housing Commission from 2019-2021. We had multiple times during my time on the commission when we as a commission wanted to welcome a non-citizen Falls Church resident onto the commission but were prevented from doing so by this commonwealth-wide red-tape. Democracy is about everyone having a voice in the forces that govern their lives. The activities of local governments govern the lives of all residents no matter their federal citizen status. To have local democracy, we need to be able to welcome non-citizens to the venues where such local decisions are made. There is no need for a centralized entity in Richmond to meddle with such an intimate local question as who we, as residents of our city, get to have on our own local committees. Please support HB339.

Last Name: Schaeffer Organization: ESOL Committee to the Falls Church City School Board Locality: Falls Church City

I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. My name is Curtis Schaeffer, and I am a long time resident of Falls Church City. My career in international humanitarian work has taken me all over the globe and given me an appreciation for the importance of a diverse and dynamic community that comes from people of all types of backgrounds, nationalities and racial and ethnic groups. This is something that Fall Church City could certainly benefit from. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. This is an important measure for Falls Church City and indeed the entire area. It sets a precedent that will have long term impact. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Shokoor Organization: Falls Church Housing Commission Locality: City of Falls Church

As a second generation American of Afghan descent, and the Chairman of the Falls Church Housing Commission, I feel it should be the right of every individual - resident, citizen and "non-citizen" alike - to shape their community by serving on a commission or board. This is why I ask that the City of Falls Church be able to amend their charter to remove the citizenship requirement for participation on boards and commissions. These are individuals and families who live within the limits of their City, who may work there, and who have kids that attend the local school. They may coach youth sports alongside the parents of their children's friends, shop at the local farmer's market together with their neighbors, and pay taxes just the same as they do. So, why not allow them the most selfless, patriotic, and American of all opportunities, to serve their community, and to publicly represent and take heed in the common interest of their neighbors. It is my belief that anyone that desires to participate on a commission or board, rather than take advantage of an abundance of communal affluence and other's passion for civic duty, should be able to do so - if elected or appointed - without obstruction. I thank you for your consideration on this matter, and urge that you allow the City of Falls Church to amend their charter to remove the citizenship requirement for participation on boards and commissions. -Joshua Shokoor, Chairman of the Falls Church Housing Commission

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Falls Church City

Good evening, I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. My family and I believe that nobody in our community should be excluded from serving based on citizenship. Our community prides itself on welcoming diversity and being inclusive and this would be in line with those values. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Laura Brooks

Last Name: Jordan Organization: Welcoming Falls Church Locality: Falls Church

Dear members of the Subcommittee on Counties, Cities and Towns: I am a resident of the City of Falls Church, writing in support of House Bill 339 sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon. My husband and I moved to Falls Church in 1994 and have both been active members of the various civic, educational and religious organizations during our time here. One of the things we value most about living in the greater DC area is the diversity of its population. However, as we all know, it’s easy to support diversity in theory, but it’s more difficult-and more important-to support it in policy and deed. That’s why we support HB 339. It presents us with one of those rare opportunities to put words into action. By passing HB 339, we will show Falls Church City residents from all backgrounds, whether citizen or non-citizen, that we value their opinion and want to give them a voice in decision-making that affects their everyday life as much as ours. In addition, their voices will enrich our lives as well, providing us with increased diversity of thought in city deliberations. Please help us live into our values by voting in favor of Delegate Simon’s HB 339. Thank you for your consideration of this matter. Hannah Jordan

Last Name: Duncan Organization: City Council (member) Locality: City of Falls Church

Distinguished members of the subcommittee: I ask your favorable consideration of HB339, an amendment to the Falls Church City Charter that will expand the opportunity for those living in our community to serve on the City’s boards and commissions, which are advisory to City Council. This Charter change would, in particular, open our boards and commissions to those in the military and the diplomatic service who are living in the City and working at the Pentagon, State, etc. and retain permanent voting residence elsewhere in the United States. These individuals, as well as non-citizen residents, are important contributors to the civic and economic life of our City, and we would like to consider them for board and commission appointments. While I am speaking here for myself, I note that I joined in the unanimous vote of City Council to request this Charter change. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Best regards, Phil Duncan Member, Falls Church City Council

Last Name: Sabo Locality: Falls Church

I am a resident of the City of Falls Church, writing in support of HB 339. Honestly one of the things I love best about my town is the international community. People from all over the world live here and contribute meaningfully to our city: volunteering in our schools and civic organizations, donating to our non-profits, and just being lovely friends and neighbors. People who are from other countries bring a wealth of new ideas and perspectives to Falls Church. We are really missing out by being barred from appointing them to our advisory boards and commissions. Thank you for your consideration, Jess Sabo

Last Name: Cavanaugh Locality: Falls Church

I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. My name is Robert Cavanaugh and I live at 226 Midvale Street, Falls Church, VA 22046 with my wife and daughter. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. I feel this is an important step for the city to take a leading role in paving the way to enable all to participate , despite their country of citizenship. Thank you for your consideration. Robert Cavanaugh 703-973-2157 RobertJamesCavanaugh@gmail.com

Last Name: Ghosh Locality: Falls Church

I am writing as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on its advisory boards and commissions. My name is Bikram Ghosh and I live in Falls Church City community in Northern Virginia for the past 4 years. My wife and I came to this country 18 years ago as students and have been productive members of society. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City of Falls Church to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens like my wife and I in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. The City would maintain a residence requirement - but removing the citizenship requirement would increase the likelihood that the views of immigrants and refugees are heard and considered as part of our local political process. It is also a way for people like us to utilize our talents and time to serve our community. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Goldenberg Locality: Falls Church

I’m writing in support of HB 339. All residents of our community are impacted by local government decisions and pay taxes to support that government regardless of their citizenship. Allowing non-citizen community members to serve on boards is a way to help ensure that local government serves all community members.

Last Name: Ruiz-Bolanos Locality: Falls Church

I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. I, like many am a daughter of immigrants and to think that their lack of citizenship prohibited them from participating on advisory boards and commissions that serve the purpose to help their community, is shortsighted by those creating the rules. I am grateful Del. Simon is seeking to ensure we have proper representation on advisory boards and commissions of those served and most directly impacted by the actions of those advisory boards and commissions. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. As a country of immigrants, we stood on their knowledge and this step will allow us to ensure we never silence a minority that brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to improve our communities. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Brkic Newbold Locality: Falls Church City

I am a nearly ten-year resident of Falls Church City and am contacting you tonight about House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon. It is my understanding that, if passed, the bill would permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. I support this wholeheartedly and urge you to pass it. I am a university professor, the mother of two elementary-aged children and the proud daughter of immigrants. Listening to the voices of non-citizens, and those just as directly impacted by government decisions as the rest of us, is both humane and sensible. They are our neighbors and friends. They are a key part of the City’s community, economy and social framework. Their children play with our children. And they deserve to have input. Please eliminate the citizenship requirement for advisory boards and commissions. To do otherwise suggests that their voices are irrelevant and that they have no part to play in our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon’s proposed amendment. One of our City’s strengths is its diversity. Please help ensure that all voices are heard. Thank you for your consideration. Courtney Brkic Newbold

Last Name: Edqvist Locality: Falls Church City

I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. My name is Kristina Edqvist and I have three boys that attend schools in Falls Church City. I am Swedish and NOT an American citizen and I think it's very important and valuable to have as many different voices as you can to make the right decisions for your community. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Ghosh Organization: Welcoming Falls Church Locality: Falls Church

I am writing as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on its advisory boards and commissions. My name is Swati Ghosh and I have been an active member of the Falls Church City community in Northern Virginia for the past 4 years. My husband and I came to this country 18 years ago as students from India and have been productive members of society. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City of Falls Church to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens like my husband and I in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. The City would maintain a residence requirement - but removing the citizenship requirement would increase the likelihood that the views of immigrants and refugees are heard and considered as part of our local political process. It is also a way for people like us to utilize our talents and time to serve our community. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Caumont Locality: Falls Church

I am writing to support HB339, which would offer ALL residents of Falls Church City the opportunity to volunteer on our citizen boards and commissions. Falls Church City is home to people from many backgrounds and nationalities and these different perspectives invigorate our public debates. We also have many State Department and military families as neighbors, some of whom keep their residency in other states. These residents should be allowed to contribute to their community by serving on our boards and commissions while they make their home in Falls Church. Many have expertise that is valuable for our City Council members making major decisions for our community. They should not be prevented from serving just because they vote in a different jurisdiction. Please support HB339. Thank you.

Last Name: Weiss Locality: Falls Church

I support allowing residents to serve on boards and commissions. Every member of our community should have the opportunity - and the duty - to contribute to the good of our community, and every member should be represented on boards and commission, regardless of citizenship. Thank you.

Last Name: Zaveri Locality: Falls Church City

I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. Thank you for your consideration. Christina Zaveri

Last Name: Boesen Organization: Welcoming Falls Church Locality: Falls Church

I have been a resident of the City of Falls Church for 17 years. I am a co-founder of Welcoming Falls Church, an organization whose goal is to encourage the community to be more welcoming to immigrants and refugees; and I serve as the Chair of the Falls Church City Public Schools ESOL Advisory Committee, a committee that advises the School Board in support of the City's ESOL students and families. I write today about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. I understand that your subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. It strikes me that the City's ESOL Advisory Committee is a great example of why this move is a good ideas. Imagine how much better we would be able to advise the School Board, if we could have one or more non-citizen members, whose children are enrolled in ESOL classes. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. This would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step the views of recent immigrants and refugees would be better considered, as part of our local political process. Regardless of how you feel about immigration policy - which can be complex and contentious - at the local level, there is little question that local bodies like the City Council and the School board would make better policy, if they could have better access to the views of people who are already resident in the community. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. Thank you for your consideration of my written comment.

Last Name: Henderson Locality: Falls Church

As a resident of Falls Church City, Virginia, I urge you to allow all residents, whether United States citizens or not, to serve on local boards and commissions. Our community is served best when all members of the community are able to participate in local governance. The important and unique perspectives different residents bring helps make our community more inclusive for all who live here. Thank you.

Last Name: Korves Locality: Falls Church City

I write as a resident of the City of Falls Church about the City's proposed amendment to its charter to increase the diversity of views on the city's advisory boards and commissions. We have lived in FCC for 10 years, and one of the draws to moving here was living in a small city so close to DC that has a strong sense of community, both in the city and in the schools. I understand that the subcommittee is about to consider House Bill 339, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, tomorrow, and that if passed this bill will permit the City to amend its charter to eliminate the citizenship requirement for its advisory boards and commissions. There are many non-citizens in the community whose voices would help our advisory boards and commissions better advise local government. We would maintain a residence requirement - but by taking this step would increase the likelihood that the views of recent immigrants and refugees are considered, as part of our local political process. I respectfully request that the subcommittee approve Delegate Simon's proposed amendment. It is important that all voices and different perspectives be heard. Thank you for your consideration. Erin and Christopher Korves

Last Name: Page Locality: Falls Church

I support HR 339. Citizenship should not be required to serve your local community not does it have any bearing on ones ability to faithfully carry out .such duties. We need capable individuals willing to serve on our city boards and commissions now more than ever . We do ourselves a major disservice to limit the pool of qualified candidates able to serve and contribute merely based on their citizenship. Many of these individuals have been our neighbors and friends and we should welcome their contributions

Last Name: Rajpal Locality: City of falls church

Support having more engagement from non citizens so they can contribute to their communities in this non voting manner

Last Name: Brown Locality: Falls Church

An amendment to the City Charter by the Virginia General Assembly is needed to allow broader membership on boards and commissions in the City of Falls Church. The City of Falls Church will benefit if a broader array of people living in our town are able to participate in the citizen boards and commissions that provide critical input to City Council on key local decisions. Many non-citizens live in our town, have valuable input, and are affected by the policies considered by the various boards and commissions. To include them and achieve greater and more diverse citizen input, we must amend the City's Charter, Section 4.14. I recommend that the House of Delegates approve this amendment to enable Falls Church City to make this decision for our own locality.

Last Name: Hyra Locality: City of Falls Church

Dear Virginia General Assembly members, I write today to give written testimony in favor of HB339. Civic engagement is an important aspect of participating in American democracy. In addition, all residents of the US should support their communities, even if they are not American citizens. I urge you to pass HB339 as a way to assimilate our newest residents, exemplify democratic values to all immigrants, and ensure diverse voices and perspectives help inform local politics and political decisions. As the child of an immigrant, I distinctly remember feeling embarrassed when I learned my father wasn't able to vote. He eventually became a US citizen and a regular voter. I welcome the opportunity for people like my father to engage in civic society as a step on their path to becoming Americans. Sincerely, Allison Hyra

Last Name: Mester Organization: City of Falls Church Locality: Fairfax

Comments Document

City of Falls Church is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in all our policies and programs. This includes participation in the citizen boards and commissions. To achieve this goal an amendment to the City's Charter, Section 4.14 is required. The City respectfully requests this sub-committee and subsequently the full CC&T Committee as well as the House of Delegate approve this amendment. To meet the status of “qualified voter” set in the City Charter, board and commission members are not required to be registered to vote, but must meet the requirements to do so. In particular, they must be a citizen of the United States. There are many non-citizens in the community who are affected by the decisions of the City’s advisory boards and commissions and there is consensus among many staff and board and commission members that those persons should be able to participate equally in the commission system. To allow membership on boards and commissions to be more inclusive of the city population, an amendment to the City Charter by the Virginia General Assembly is required. The proposed language would remove “qualified voter of the city,” while the residency within the city is retained. City Council Resolution endorsing this Charter Amendment is attached. If you have questions please contact Cindy Mester at cmester@fallschurchva.gov or 571-641-5586

End of Comments