(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) Incumbent School Board member James Lander has narrowly defeated challenger Barbara Kanninen in the Democratic endorsement caucus, which was held on May 9 and 11.
Lander won the Democratic endorsement by a caucus vote of 1,144 to 1,097. He will now run for reelection on Nov. 5. So far, no other candidates have announced for the race.
Via Facebook, Kanninen thanked her supporters.
“Congratulations to my opponent James Lander on winning a hard fought, positive election,” she wrote. “Thank you so much to all of my volunteers and supporters for your help, ideas and kind words of support. I hope you all stay active in our schools, community, and the political process.”
In a statement, Lander said he was “humbled” by the outcome of the caucus.
“This campaign has been a tremendous opportunity to re-connect with Arlington voters,” he said. “I appreciate Barbara Kanninen’s spirited and well run campaign, and I thank her for her work to engage the voters of Arlington on the important issues facing our schools. I am humbled to have another opportunity to be the Democratic endorsee for the School Board, and I hope to continue my service to the students and families of Arlington.”
Mike Lieberman, chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, said the party will be “working hard” to fend off challengers to Lander, if there are any, in November.
“James Lander has been a strong voice for Arlington’s students in his four years on the board, and today’s vote is an affirmation of his record,” Lieberman said. “We are proud to again have James representing us as our Democratic endorsee in November, and we will be working hard to ensure he has four more years on the School Board. I also want to thank Barbara Kanninen for running a thoughtful and energetic campaign, and giving Arlington voters a choice of two superb leaders.”
McAuliffe and Warner will “will launch McAuliffe’s Arlington campaign and roll out his plan to strengthen Virginia’s K-12 education systems in order to prepare Virginia’s students and workforce for the jobs of tomorrow and grow the Commonwealth’s economy,” according to a media advisory.
The event will take place at George Mason University’s campus in Virginia Square at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 9.
McAuliffe fell to 10 points behind Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in a Washington Post poll published over the weekend.
Building new schools may not be the only answer to overcrowding in Arlington Public Schools, School Board hopeful Barbara Kanninen said last night at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
Flexible scheduling, night classes in high school, and a school year that extends through the summer might ease crowding in middle and high schools without the expense and loss of open space associated building new facilities.
“We know right now that we have lots of kids coming… we’re building elementary schools right now but in five years they’re going to be heading to middle school and high school,” Kanninen said. “We need to think about where we’re going to educate them given that we might not have the money to build and we might not have the green space to build.”
Kanninen’s stance on building was one point of contrast between her and incumbent School Board member James Lander, who she’s trying to unseat. Kanninen and Lander debated at the ACDC meeting in advance of next week’s Democratic School Board endorsement caucus.
On school capacity, Lander emphasized the School Board’s existing construction plan and his “county-wide vision” — an apparent contrast to Kanninen’s north Arlington campaign focus.
“We’re growing by almost an elementary school per year,” he said. “We have a strategy in place, we’re building new facilities and we’re adding additions to existing facilities. We’re looking at and evaluating both middle school boundaries. This is something that takes experience and a county-wide vision.”
During the debate Kanninen spoke of her priorities: expanding STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — programs, individualized education and adult mentorships, and using analytics and her PhD in economics to help make “smarter, more efficient choices with taxpayer money.”
On many of those key campaign points, Lander echoed his own stances. He said students need STEM skills so they can grow up not to be workers, but “employers and entrepreneurs.” He touted a mentorship program he created for minority students. And he also emphasized the importance of a learning environment that adapts to the strengths of individual students.
“My approach to student achievement and student success is responsive education… and that mean meeting the needs of all groups,” he said. By way of an anecdote, he joked about how his sister was a bookworm while we was more likely to fall asleep while trying to read school books.
Both Kanninen and Lander said they support arts education and the use of school buildings by members of the community. Both also said that standardized tests have become too pervasive in schools and are detracting from the overall education of students.
Answering a question about bullying, Lander said APS has a “zero tolerance” policy toward bullies. Kanninen said adult support of “students’ social and emotional health” is paramount, and that students should always have an adult mentor to approach with issues like bullying.
Two months after holding a raucous forum on gun violence, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is planning a public forum on another hot-button topic.
On Tuesday, May 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road), Moran will host a forum entitled “Building a Stronger Nation: Reforming Our Broken Immigration System.”
Just as the gun violence forum featured panelists that largely shared Moran’s gun control views, the immigration forum will feature panelists who favor liberal immigration policies: County Board Chair Walter Tejada, plus representatives from the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Law Center and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“The panel discussion will outline systemic problems in our current immigration system and layout the comprehensive reform plans that are currently under consideration in Congress,” said a press release for the event.
“There are an estimated 10 – 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, the majority having settled here more than a decade ago,” the press release said. “Reforming the broken immigration system to resolve the status for these individuals has the potential to boost the entire U.S. economy, adding over $800 billion to the national GDP over the next decade and creating over 100,000 more jobs per year.”
Audrey Clement is running for Arlington County Board under the Arlington Green Party banner, for the fourth time since 2011.
Clement, a long-time Arlington resident and IT consultant, will face off against incumbent Democrat Jay Fisette in November. The Arlington Green Party is urging a vote for Clement to “end one-party rule in Arlington.”
“Arlington needs new leadership,” the party said in a press release. “Jay Fisette says he is for sustainability, but the tax hikes County Board plans to impose on county residents to fund boondoggles like the Pike trolley and heated bus stops are unsustainable.”
Clement was nominated at the Greens’ April 3 meeting. She is running on a platform that includes:
- Adopt a referendum sponsored by the Arlington Green Party to create a Housing Authority to provide more affordable housing at less cost.
- No more tax rate increases. Repave streets. Fund schools and libraries, not wasteful projects, like million dollar bus stops on Columbia Pike.
- Use commercial real estate tax to fund ART buses not the $250 million Pike trolley.
- Fund school construction to ease overcrowding.
- Open Arlington public libraries 7 days a week.
- Retrofit public buildings with renewable energy.
- Reduce waste. Increase recycling in apartments and businesses.
- Ban single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam in retail stores and food outlets to reduce litter.
- Provide free residential energy audits.
Clement received 12.9 percent of the vote in November 2012. Green Party candidate John Reeder received 32 percent of the vote when he ran against Fisette in 2009.
The Arlington County Republican Committee has set May 12 as the filing deadline for potential County Board candidates.
Samaha, an Arlington resident, has become an outspoken advocate for gun control since his youngest sister, Reema, was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting. He currently serves as a spokesman for the group Fix Gun Checks.
In January, Moran re-introduced a bill, the ‘NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act, which would require background checks for every gun purchase, among other measures that advocates say are supported by most National Rifle Association members. In a statement, Moran lauded Samaha’s gun violence prevention advocacy.
“Omar and his family suffered a tragic loss at the hands of a mentally ill individual with access to firearms,” Moran said. “I am impressed with his dedication to making our country safer and pleased Omar will be joining me at the State of the Union.”
“Since Omar lost his sister in 2007, our nation has experienced over 20 mass shootings with five or more fatalities,” Moran continued. “Following the Newtown shooting, President Obama took decisive action and demonstrated determined leadership by putting forward a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Now, Congress must act on this proposal.”
President Obama’s State of the Union address will start tonight (Tuesday) at 9:00 p.m. More about Samaha’s background, after the jump.
A redistricting effort by Republicans in the Virginia Senate, which would have resulted in Arlington losing much of its legislative clout in that body, has been defeated.
The state Senate passed the surprise redistricting plan on Jan. 21 by a party-line vote of 20-19, thanks to the absence of Democratic Senator Henry Marsh, a civil rights lawyer who was attending President Obama’s inauguration that day. The unexpected vote drew strong criticism from Democrats and Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
The redistricting plan would have benefited Republicans, turning several Democratic-held districts heavily Republican. It would also have reduced Arlington’s legislative influence, moving veteran state Senator Janet Howell’s district back out of Arlington (she represents part of north Arlington as a result of the 2011 redistricting) and reducing state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s portion of Arlington to a small sliver of south Arlington.
Arlington’s interests would have been represented in the state Senate primarily by Sen. Barbara Favola, the former Arlington County Board member who was elected to the state legislature in 2011.
The redistricting plan, which was tacked on to a bill that was supposed to make small technical changes to House of Delegates districts, was ruled not germane by Republican House Speaker Bill Howell on Wednesday, defeating it.
Arlington School Board member James Lander is facing a primary challenge this year.
Lander is being challenged in the upcoming Democratic Caucus by Barbara Kanninen, a Yorktown High School mom, children’s book author, environmental economist and Democratic National Convention delegate. The endorsement caucus is scheduled for May 9 and 11.
Lander is the only African American elected official in Arlington, where about 8 percent of the population is Black or African American. This has led some political observers to predict a racially-charged primary.
Kanninen plans to officially announce her candidacy at Wednesday’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Asked why she’s running, Kanninen released the following statement to ARLnow.com.
We have great schools in Arlington, from preschool all the way to high school. We prepare thinkers, entrepreneurs, and artists, and we prepare them well. But, the world is changing fast and we need to stay ahead of the curve. We need a School Board that is experienced, forward thinking, and, above all, passionate about educating kids.
Kevin and I have lived in Arlington for 20 years. We have been elementary school parents for 9 years, middle school parents for 6 years, and high school parents for 3.
I have spent years volunteering in classrooms, doing everything from one-on-one reading, to hands-on science, to gifted math. I’ve worked with kids of all ages and backgrounds and skill-levels.
I’m a math geek, a children’s book author, a Ph.D. economist with a business motto of “Good, Clean Data Crunching.”
I’ve worked on School Board committees. I’ve been on the ACI — the Advisory Council on Instruction. I’ve co-chaired the Early Childhood Advisory Committee, and I’ve served on the Math Advisory Committee.
I coached Odyssey of the Mind for seven years.
I am also, occasionally, a political activist.
All these experiences — but especially that of being a parent — have fed into and nurtured my core belief that all children are awesome human beings, they all deserve every opportunity to excel, and we owe it to them to pay attention, to push our own thinking in new and fresh ways, and to never, ever shrug our shoulders.
Here are three things I think we should focus on, going forward:
- Strengthening our STEM programs — science, technology, engineering, and math. More hands-on science programs in elementary school, Mentoring programs for middle and high school science fair projects. Better utilization of the crown jewel of STEM education here in Arlington: the Arlington Career Center. We need to make it more accessible to more kids, including making summer programs more affordable.
- The Arts. Young people are coming into a world where new ways to express yourself are cropping up every day — video, graphics, even music is changing. We not only have the opportunity to help kids take their talents to the cutting edge, but, if needed, we can help them use their talents and interests to buttress up their academics.
- Finally, at the end of the day, kids are kids, and kids needs personal support. I believe every child in Arlington should be able to walk into their school building every morning and know that there is at least one adult who knows them on a personal level, who believes in them — exactly as they are.
Photo via barbarakanninen.com
Fisette will formally announce his reelection run at next week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, his campaign said today.
In a press release, Fisette’s campaign describes his goals for a hoped-for next term.
During his last term, Fisette has focused on maintaining sound fiscal policies as well as the development of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan, the successful launch of the Capital Bikeshare program, improvements to pedestrian safety, protection of affordable housing and e-government enhancements. Fisette has combined Democratic values with independent leadership.
Fisette’s objectives in his next term include balancing Arlington’s budget while also meeting long-term needs such as ensuring that Arlington public schools remain among the very best; maintaining a strong social safety net including affordable housing options; and implementing Arlington’s energy reduction strategy.
The group — which was formed when a group of Senate staffers set out to satirize their employers — has been poking fun at Washington politics for more than 30 years. They are regularly featured on National Public Radio and have made appearances on network TV.
The Steps will be performing at the Yorktown High School Auditorium (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13
The group is coming to Yorktown to benefit the student productions and educational workshops of the school’s theater program. Tickets are available online for $40.
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Arlington County set a new voting record yesterday.
Nearly 118,000 people voted in Tuesday’s general election, the largest numerical turnout on record in Arlington. Percentage-wise, however, the turnout came up just shy of a previous record.
About 83 percent of active registered voters cast a ballot yesterday, according to unofficial figures cited by Arlington County Registrar of Voter Linda Lindberg, compared to the record 85 percent active voter turnout during the presidential contest between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992. Just over 83,000 ballots were cast in Arlington during that record-setting election; the county’s population has grown considerably since.
The wait times to vote at some polling stations yesterday exceeded two hours. Lindberg noted that “the last voter didn’t finish voting until about 9 p.m.,” since those in line before the 7:00 p.m. Virginia poll closing time are still allowed to vote. As of this morning, absentee ballots were still being counted.
In a brief interview last night with ARLnow.com, Arlington County Electoral Board Chairman Charlene Bickford suggested that the county may need to bolster its election operation for the next presidential race, four years from now.
“We’re definitely going to have to look at the number of [voting] machines we have,” she said.
Photo courtesy @thePhilipJones
(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.
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
Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement (G):
I’m eight year resident of Arlington County with a doctorate in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. As a long time Green Party leader and civic activist, I’ve worked hard to promote a better quality of life for Arlington residents. As treasurer of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, I filed suit in 2009 to compel VDOT to assess alternatives to piecemeal widening of I-66 westbound. VDOT went ahead with the Spot Improvement project anyhow. Yet persistent two mile backups on westbound I-66 show that I was right.
In 2008 I helped to place a referendum on the ballot to consolidate Arlington’s housing programs in one agency to realize economies of scale and leverage more money for affordable housing. Arlington County Board not only ignored the referendum, which garnered 30 percent of the vote, it had the General Assembly change the law to make it virtually impossible to get another one on the ballot. Yet the fact that two-thirds of the affordable housing in Arlington has been lost in the past decade confirms the need for a centralized housing authority.
I think Arlington needs a change in leadership, because County Board doesn’t understand that sustainable growth and so-called “Smart Growth” aren’t the same. As new office towers go up overnight, employers move into the county, spurring demand for housing that drives up rents and real estate assessments and promotes excessive infill development; the tear down of existing modest sized homes; and construction of oversized, unsightly, runoff inducing McMansions.
To be sustainable, basic public infrastructure must keep pace with new residential and commercial construction. Sustainability requires the County Board to support, not discourage construction of moderate income housing. Otherwise those who move into the County are stuck in a never-ending cycle of tax and rent increases as others are gentrified out. To be sustainable, we need to do more than accumulate LEED points. We need truly energy efficient buildings and on-site renewable energy. To be sustainable, we must appreciate the difference between needs and wants.
- We don’t need a $79.2 million aquatic center at an out of the way location in North Crystal City, when Northern Va. is already drowning in public pools.
- We don’t need a $250 million trolley when bus service can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost.
- We may want a cultural center and a black box theater. But we must get the private sector to finance them, not the taxpayers.
- We may like the already over capacity Taj Mahal high schools recently constructed in this county. But what we need is to expand classroom space at a reasonable cost even if that means building up or renovating rather than building new.
I pledge to make developers pay their fair share of new infrastructure costs. I also plan to fully fund libraries, schools, and programs for youth, seniors, and the disabled, emphasize recycling and renewable energy; and hire an Inspector General to audit the County’s budget. You can find out more about my Campaign for a Greener Arlington by visiting AudreyClement.org.
With your help, I will work to preserve the Arlington Way. Vote Clement for County Board on November 6, 2012.