(Updated at 1:25 a.m.) Exuberant local Democrats are celebrating the reelection of President Barack Obama and yet another electoral sweep in Arlington. All local Democratic candidates and ballot questions have emerged victorious in the county.
“It’s a great night to be a Democrat!” reelected County Board member Libby Garvey told an enthusiastic, capacity crowd at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse on Columbia Pike. Shortly thereafter, the room exploded with jubilation as CNN called the presidential race for Obama.
“Four more years! Four more years!” the crowd chanted and people hugged and jumped in the air.
Garvey, an incumbent, defeated Republican Matt Wavro and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement. With all but absentee ballots counted, Garvey has 58 percent of the vote, while Wavro has 28 percent and Clement has 12 percent.
Garvey will now serve a four-year term on the County Board. She first joined the Board following a special election in March. Garvey said her message of independence from the four other Democrats on the County Board — including opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar – resonated with voters.
“We’re strongly Democratic… [but] I think people want an independent voice,” she said. “I think we can have an independent voice within the Democratic party. We don’t all have to agree all the time.”
Despite losing the race, Wavro said he was encouraged by the response he received while meeting Arlington voters. He said he hopes his campaign helps to encourage more earnest participation in and official consideration of the county’s civic processes.
“I think we’ll see more of an eye towards individuals expecting their public input to be public input and not just a part of a process toward a foregone conclusion,” Wavro said.
Despite a criminal investigation involving his son and former campaign field director, Democratic Rep. Jim Moran has defeated repeat Republican challenger Patrick Murray. Moran has 64 percent of the vote in Virginia’s eighth congressional district, to Murray’s 31 percent. This will be Moran’s 12th term in office.
“I just hope that with this 12th election for Jim, that he finally sees it as not a mandate to act and say anything with impunity, but to finally put people over partisanship and do something that is helpful for the country and helpful for the district and not just himself,” Murray told ARLnow.com.
Murray said he was happy with his campaign’s effort but disappointed with the outcome. He conceded that it was an uphill battle from the start.
“We’re in a difficult district that is gerrymandered specifically for Jim Moran. We worked so hard, almost from the end of the last election in 2010, but it is a tough, tough district,” Murray said. The retired Army colonel hinted that he might pursue job opportunities in the private sector instead of preparing for another rematch with Moran.
Independent Jason Howell is in third place in the congressional race, with 3 percent of the vote, while Independent Green hopeful Janet Murphy has 2 percent. Howell did better in Arlington, capturing nearly 5 percent of the vote.
Voters have said yes to all four Democrat-supported bond referenda. Three — the Metro, schools and community infrastructure bonds — are blowouts, with 73 to more 81 percent of voters saying yes. The results are a bit tighter — about 61 percent in favor to 39 percent against — for a parks bond that contains funding for a proposed $70+ million Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center. The center has drawn criticism for its high price tag.
Statewide and national races also came up roses for Arlington Democrats.
President Obama won 69 percent of the vote in Arlington to Mitt Romney’s 29 percent. The president is winning Virginia by 51 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Romney.
U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) defeated Republican George Allen in Arlington by a margin of 68 percent to 31 percent. Statewide, Kaine won 52 percent of the vote to Allen’s 48 percent. The projection for Kaine’s victory was announced earlier to wild applause at the Democratic victory party at the Drafthouse, which spilled over to P. Brennan’s Irish Pub across the street due to capacity issues. Democratic officials estimated a crowd of nearly 650.
Mike Lieberman, chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, told ARLnow.com that Arlington residents trust Democrats to lead the county through good times and through “new challenges” like an upcoming budget crunch and ongoing school capacity issues.
“I think what this says is that Arlington values and appreciates good government,” said Lieberman. “I think Arlington is everything you aspire a community to be: low unemployment, good schools, low crime, good management of the budget. People continue to elect Democrats who deliver that good government as a validation of the job that they’re doing.”
Congressman Moran, in a statement, said this election was a “vindication” for Democrats.
“Tonight was a vindication of the President’s efforts to get our country back on track after the worst recession in our nation’s history,” he said. “Tim Kaine will be our next Senator, a good, decent man who will serve the commonwealth with great distinction. Our nation faces major challenges that demand solutions. We owe it to the American people to come together and work towards reaching the kind of compromise necessary to get the country again moving forward.”
The closest electoral contest in Arlington is one of the two proposed amendments to the Virginia constitution. By a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, Arlington residents voted in favor of amending the constitution to make it more difficult for local governments to seize private land through the use of eminent domain. The amendment is passing by a margin of 75 percent to 25 percent statewide.
Democrat-affiliated School Board candidates Noah Simon and incumbent Emma Violand-Sanchez, who ran unopposed for two board seats, have both been elected.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, a total of 117,474 votes were recorded in Arlington in the presidential race. That makes for an 84 percent turnout among the 139,740 active registered voters in the county. Local election officials say they did their best to keep up with the massive turnout at polling stations.
“A large number of Arlingtonians exercised their right to vote today,” said Charlene Bickford, chairman of the Arlington County Electoral Board. “There were some places where the turnout was big enough to cause long lines… In my experience, it was the largest crunch we’ve had in a while.”
Bickford said officials will likely be discussing ways to reduce lines during the next presidential election.
“We’re definitely going to have to look at the number of [voting] machines we have,” she said.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Huge lines, some impatient voters and a couple of election machine glitches were reported today around Arlington, but election officials say there have been no major problems hampering voting.
Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg acknowledged to ARLnow.com this afternoon that there have been long lines at many of the county’s 52 polling places – some longer than 2.5 hours, according to those responding to our earlier poll. Some voters grew impatient, she said, but no one got out of control to the extent that they caused a disturbance.
“The lines are long and people aren’t happy about having to wait,” said Lindberg.
Several electronic voting machines froze and had to be reset, according to Lindberg. At least one had to be replaced with one of several backup voting machines kept in reserve by election officials.
(Arlington County officials said they have “far more voting machines than required by state law for today’s election.” The county’s voting precincts have one machine for every 220 registered voters, according to county spokeswoman Mary Curtius, compared to the minimum of one machine per 750 voters required under Virginia law.)
Unlike in elections past, Lindberg was unable to reveal specific voter turnout figures. She did predict, however, that today’s turnout may break records in Arlington in terms of the number of voters casting ballots.
Twice today paramedics were dispatched to polling stations in Arlington for a report of a voter suffering medical problems. One such dispatch was for an elderly voter who looked like he or she was about to faint. The other was for a voter who reportedly collapsed at a polling place in Pentagon City (see photos, below).
Lindberg said she was unaware of any medical emergencies at polling places, but said that election workers are trained to provide chairs for elderly voters, as needed.
The Crystal City Streetcar Project would build a new streetcar line to run from the Pentagon City Metro station to Potomac Yard in Alexandria. Unlike the Pike streetcar project, which hopes to win federal funding, the funding for the Crystal City streetcar is more or less in place, and will come from a Crystal City tax increment financing area (TIF).
Arlington County is now planning to hold a public meeting to discuss the project. The forum will be held at the Crystal Park Condominium meeting room at 1805 Crystal Drive, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 13.
“As part of the Crystal City Streetcar Project, Arlington County is studying the environmental effects and developing conceptual engineering for a streetcar line connecting Pentagon City, Crystal City, and Potomac Yard,” the county said in a media advisory. “At the community forum, County representatives will introduce the project, describe the ongoing planning efforts, collect comments and answer questions. The public is encouraged to attend and learn about this new phase of transit.”
Those with questions or language interpretation requests can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier: A two square block area in the Buckingham neighborhood, near the Gates of Ballston apartment complex, has been closed to vehicle and pedestrian vehicle due to a gas line rupture.
Construction workers ruptured a 2 inch gas line outside an apartment building at the corner of 4th Street N. and N. Thomas Street, according to scanner traffic. Washington Gas is on scene making repairs while firefighters stand by.
Police have shut down 4th Street between Glebe Road and George Mason Drive, and N. Thomas Street between N. Henderson Road and N. Pershing Drive.
The road closures may soon be lifted, however, as Washington Gas has reportedly shut off the gas to the ruptured line.
One to two hour lines and longer are still being reported at polling places like Walter Reed Community Center, RiverHouse in Pentagon City, Arlington Central Library, Key Elementary, Glebe Elementary, Crystal Plaza, Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center, Barrett Elementary, Aurora Hills, George Mason University, Madison Activity Center, Drew Elementary, Patrick Henry School, Clarendon Education Center, Lyon Village, 1320 N Court House Road, Gunston Elementary, Tuckahoe Elementary and Wilson School.
Some say lines are being held up due to too few voting booths. Others say voters are taking extra time in the booths to read and understand the proposed amendments to the Virginia constitution.
If you voted today, how long did it take you?
Photo courtesy Arlington Public Library
The new restaurant held a ‘soft opening’ for dinner on Saturday and for lunch and happy hour on Monday, but is open for all three — plus late night food — starting today (Tuesday). The new eatery replaces the former Thai Terrace restaurant at 801 N. Quincy Street.
Leek will be open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for happy hour from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., for dinner from 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., and for late night food and drink from 11:00 p.m. to closing time, seven days a week. There will also be brunch service on Saturday and Sunday.
Leek seats about 100 diners and bar-goers inside and will seat about 50 people outside during warm weather months. Chef and co-owner Nathan Spittal says he’s hoping Leek will provide fine dining-caliber food — utilizing local, organic and sustainable ingredients — in a bright, casual and welcoming environment.
“We like to call it tablecloth casual, which basically means you’re going to get fine food, good wine and good drink, but in a casual atmosphere… at a really good price,” he said.
Although the restaurant is dubbed an “American Bistro,” Spittal says it’s more of an American “melting pot,” blending influences from around the world. Among those influences: French, Thai, Latin America, Indian and Middle Eastern.
The name of the restaurant itself, says Spittal, a classically trained chef, refers to the leek, which he described as the foundation of classical French cooking technique and a “very versatile” vegetable that “makes everything taste better.” Leek can be found in some — but not all — dishes on the menu.
Spittal has proven his own versatility by working at both fine dining restaurants and on a short-lived barbecue food truck. Together with business partner Joe D’Jassebi, Spittal is hoping this venture appeals to those with discerning but versatile palates.
The lunch menu includes “starters” like a $10 ahi tuna tartare (ginger-chili mayo, spring onion and seaweed salad); salads like the $8 Leek house salad (mixed greens, grilled pear, smoked red onions, chevre cheese and herb-cider vinaigrette); “handhelds,” or sandwiches, like a $14 Maine lobster roll (lemon-terragon mayo, bibb lettuce, Napa slaw and garlic fries); and main courses like the $24 Maryland crabcake entree (English pea and roasted corn succotash, whole grain mustard remoulade and garlic fries).
The dinner menu includes a $7 fennel and leek soup appetizer (poached lobster and orange-anise cream); a $10 Leek bistro burger (hickory smoked bacon, a choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and garlic fries); a $20 falafel crusted salmon entree (roasted garlic-garbanzon puree, red onion and tomato compote, cool cucumber nage) and a $18 lemon-chili roasted chicken (red potato and green leek hash, garlic brussel sprouts and herb olivata).
Desserts include sweet corn panna cotta (caramel corn, poblana creme Anglaise and tortilla tuile) and black sesame-pear tea cake (candied ginger and coconut gelato).
Beers on tap include Magic Hat #9, New Belgium 1554, Flying Dog Black Dog IPA, Brooklyn Winter Ale and Sam Adams Oktoberfest, among others. The wine collection hails from California, Washington state, Virginia, Italy, France, Australia, Argentina and South Africa, among other locales. The artisan cocktail menu includes Blueberries Maryland (blueberries, fresh rosemary, smoked maple syrup, club soda and Gran Marnier), Dirty Ginger (ginger honey, fresh lime, Krug Rose and Meyers dark rum), and Virginia Royal (pomegranate, fresh raspberries and Barboursville Brut).
Happy hour will include both food and daily drink specials.
As for the Ballston location, Spittal says he’s excited to be opening in a still-growing area that has city-like foot traffic outside of D.C. proper.
“Arlington is a great neighborhood that has come a long way,” he said. ”It’s not a suburb anymore.”
The tree supposedly came down this past Sunday, according to parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish, but the resident who first emailed ARLnow.com to ask about the safety hazard said it actually came down Tuesday, during Superstorm Sandy. Regardless of when it fell, the tree remains have been blocking the sidewalk ever since, forcing pedestrians to either walk up a small hill or into the street to get around it. It also blocked a bus stop and a bike lane, forcing bicyclists out into a vehicle travel lane.
The tree was on private property — near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Troy Street, just down the street from the Courthouse area — and Kalish said the county was not notified that it was blocking a sidewalk until ARLnow.com asked about it yesterday.
“According to a property manager at Colonial Village the tree fell Sunday night. They did not have an opportunity to remove it or contact us regarding it until we checked into it for [ARLnow.com],” she said. “The Parks team will clear the sidewalk today.”
Voting Begins — Voting has begun in Arlington County and long lines are being reported at polling stations. This Election Day, Arlington voters will cast ballots for President of the United States, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, County Board, School Board, proposed amendments to the Virginia constitution and four proposed county bond issues. The polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. A list of polling places can be found online or by calling 703-228-3456.
Perfect Season for Yorktown Football — The Yorktown High School football team ended the 2012 regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. The Patriots will face a first-round playoff game against Jefferson on Friday night. In other high school football action, Bishop O’Connell and Washington-Lee both finished the season 5-5. Wakefield finished the season winless at 0-10. [Sun Gazette]
On Election Eve, Moran Goes on TV With Son — On the eve of the election, Rep. Jim Moran (D) appeared on Fox 5′s 10 p.m. local newscast with his son, Patrick Moran, who’s currently the subject of a criminal investigation over a video that allegedly shows him giving advice to someone planning to commit voter fraud. The elder Moran called his son an “idealistic kid” who said something “stupid.” Said Rep. Moran: “I still love him and I’m proud of him.” Patrick Moran, meanwhile, explained that didn’t fully comprehend the scheme that the undercover video producer was explaining to him. [MyFoxDC, Associated Press]
Back to Drawing Board for Reeves Farm — Arlington County’s efforts to find a partner to help restore the historic Reeves farmhouse have been fruitless. County officials say they were unable to find a suitable partner, and will now likely “go in another direction.” A group that wants to transform the farmhouse and surrounding property into a “learning center” says it will continue to try to persuade the county to work with them. [Sun Gazette]