Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are on a “values crusade,” newly-elected state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) told a press conference last week.
Favola accused Republican lawmakers of focusing on various red-meat social issues while neglecting issues like education.
“The so-called party of small government is rushing bills through the Senate that interfere in the most intimate, personal details of people’s lives,” Favola said. “Virginia’s families want a crusade to improve public schools across the Commonwealth. We need to educate a workforce for the 21st century.”
Among the bills Democrats have opposed during the current legislative session are:
- A bill that would consider unborn children at every stage of development a “person” under Virginia law
- A “conscience clause” bill allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to place children with gay couples
- A bill eliminating Virginia’s one handgun purchase per month limit
- A bill requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound
- A bill eliminating the state’s requirement that girls receive a HPV vaccine
- A bill requiring certain welfare recipients to be screened for drugs
Republicans, however, say that Democrats are the ones in Richmond obsessed with ‘values’ legislation
“While our Democrat colleagues remain singularly focused on a small number of social issues, we are enacting the reforms necessary to move Virginia forward,” Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) told the Washington Post.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has proposed cutting the $455,000 program, which funds sex education and birth control for teens in seven areas with some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. McDonnell says the program has not worked.
In a statement, Favola said the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) helps teens make healthier decisions.
This is a recipe for unintended pregnancies and significant health risks to young women. Teens need good information to make healthy decisions, but not all of Virginia’s youth are receiving medically accurate information from trusted sources.
The prevention of teen pregnancy is a critical issue in Virginia. In 2010, 367,752 children were born to girls 15-19, nationally. That’s a rate of 34.3 pregnancies per 1000 women. In 2010, 10,970 of those teen pregnancies were in Virginia. That’s a rate of 21.1 pregnancies per 1000 women. Though Virginia’s teen pregnancy rate is below the national average, 28 cities and counties in the Commonwealth are above the national average, and the TPPI program targets areas that are most vulnerable.
TPPI has been a key part of Virginia’s teen pregnancy prevention efforts since 1994. It provides convenient, on-site access to wellness education and preventive health services. TPPI’s goal is for teens to receive medically accurate information, make healthy choices, and provide pregnancy prevention resources. TPPI aims to reduce teenage pregnancy through life skills training, education, health services, and awareness.
The program provides essential services to teenage girls in high-risk areas. It provides convenient, on-site access to wellness education and preventive health services. Not all parents feel comfortable having ‘the talk’ or discussing other topics important for our youth’s health and safety. The only way to ensure teen pregnancy rates continue on their long-term downward trend is to provide teens with the necessary education and resources so they are empowered to make healthy decisions. TPPI helps to inform teens with medically accurate information so they can make safe and responsible decisions.
The governor’s decision to eliminate TPPI’s funding does a great disservice to Virginia’s teens. His proposed budget cut will deprive teenage girls in the most high-risk areas of the state of the critical services and education necessary to make responsible and healthy life decisions.
Favola Endorses Garvey — State Senator-elect Barbara Favola has endorsed School Board member Libby Garvey in the special election race to fill her former County Board seat. Calling Garvey “a proven leader,” Favola said in a statement that Garvey had the skills, experience and values to be an effective County Board member. “Libby will work to protect our core services including human services, affordable housing, and public schools as we continue to grow and change as a community,” Favola said.
Moran to Face Primary Challenge — Rep. Jim Moran (D) is facing a potential primary challenge this year. Fairfax County resident Will Radle says he will challenge the long-time incumbent in this year’s Democratic primary. One reason Radle cited for challenging Moran: “the congressman’s ineffectiveness securing more take-home pay for federal employees.” (On Friday, however, Moran issued a statement calling for federal employees to receive a larger cost-of-living increase than the 0.5 percent raise proposed by the Obama administration.) Radle has previously run for office as an Independent Green and a Republican. [Alexandria Times]
Clinic Director Named ‘Washingtonian of the Year’ — Nancy Pallesen, the executive director of the Arlington Free Clinic, has been named one of Washingtonian magazine’s “Washingtonians of the Year” for 2012. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
The election is being held to fill the seat vacated by Barbara Favola, who defeated Caren Merrick in the race for Virginia Senate last month. The date could not be set until Favola formally resigned from the County Board.
Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg said the County Electoral Board will meet on Wednesday to determine candidate filing deadlines for the special election. Candidates could not officially file to run until the special election date was released. Until now, they were required file as if they were running in the November 2012 election, and then amend the request once the special election date was official. So far, there are six Democrats who have expressed intent to run, but no Republicans.
Whoever claims victory in the special election still must run again for the seat in November.
In an announcement that surprised no one — given the predictable rhythm of such decisions — newly reelected Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes has been named the future County Board chairman for 2012.
Hynes and Board member Walter Tejada were sworn in for new four-year terms yesterday, after both winning reelection in November. The swearing-in ceremony was held in between County Board sessions last night.
Hynes will outline her priorities as chairman for 2012 at the Board’s annual organizational meeting on Monday, Jan. 2. Hynes has served as a County Board member since 2008. She was previously an Arlington School Board member from 1995 to 2006.
Separately, Barbara Favola took what may be her last vote as a County Board member last night. Favola, who was elected to the Virginia Senate in November, submitted her resignation — effective Dec. 31 — last Thursday. The resignation will allow election officials to choose a firm date for the special election that will be held to find Favola’s replacement.
The special election date is expected to be revealed by the end of the week, according to Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg.
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Health care advocate and Democratic activist Kim Klingler (right) announced her candidacy for County Board this afternoon, bringing the already-crowded field of
Democrats candidates hoping to replace state Senator-elect Barbara Favola to six.
In her announcement, Klingler said she’s running because she wants to “serve and represent our community.”
“I want to continue to work on putting people first,” she wrote. “I want to do this in a fiscally responsible way, promoting efficiency, transparency, and our values.”
Klingler also posted a YouTube video to accompany the campaign announcement.
The field of announced County Board candidates now includes Klingler, nonprofit project manager Melissa Bondi, Arlington County Planning Commission member Peter Fallon, Iraq war vet Terron Sims II, Arlington NAACP president Elmer Lowe, and — as of last night — school board member Libby Garvey.
The candidates will face off in a special election next year. The exact timing of the special election depends on when Favola formally resigns her County Board seat.
Arlington Republicans are calling on state Senator-elect Barbara Favola to resign her County Board seat by Nov. 26, so that the seat can be filled in a special election in January.
From an Arlington County Republican Committee press release:
Ms. Favola was elected to the State Senate on Tuesday, and will take her Senate seat in Richmond on Jan. 11, 2012 . Under Virginia election law, if Senator-elect Favola does not resign from the County Board by Nov. 26, 2011, then the special election to fill her seat cannot take place until April 17, 2012.
“Leaving this County Board seat vacant for 100 days is simply not in the best interest of Arlingtonians,” said Mark Kelly, Chairman of the Arlington GOP. “We congratulate Barbara on her election to the State Senate and wish her well down in Richmond. Senator-elect Favola can demonstrate her commitment to the best interests of her constituents by ensuring that the people of Arlington will have a full complement of County Board Members during the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 budget season.”
Aringtonians are encouraged to contact Senator-elect Favola and ask her to resign immediately in order to facilitate a County Board Special Election in January.
Now that we know Barbara Favola is moving on to the Virginia Senate, the question becomes what happens to her soon-to-be vacated position on the Arlington County Board?
Even though her Senate victory last night is public knowledge, a special election process cannot move forward until Favola formally resigns from the County Board. She can do that any time between now and her January swearing-in. After that, the courts will issue an order for a special election.
But timing really is everything, considering next year’s already bustling election schedule. A special election cannot be held within 55 days of a primary or general election, making it a challenge to fit it in between the presidential primary on March 6 and the U.S. Senate primary on June 12. Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg said if Favola resigns immediately, voters would likely head to the polls in early January. If she waits until the end of this year, the special election would be closer to mid-April.
“It looks like it’s going to be a busy election year for us next year,” Lindberg said.
The candidates’ filing deadline is typically 40 to 45 days before the special election. Lindberg said so far only two people have started the ball rolling for a potential 2012 County Board run: Terron Sims and Melissa Bondi. That number is expected to grow now that Favola’s future is known. Potential candidates legally cannot file until a special election is announced. They can, however, still file for campaign accounts for the November 2012 election, and amend the request when a special election is called.
The Sun Gazette also lists
Alan Howze, Peter Owen, Libby Garvey, Peter Fallon, Stacey Whyte and Kim Klingler as possible Democratic contenders. Klingler, who spent last night getting in a final push for votes for Favola, told us she wanted to wait until after last night’s election to make her final decision.
“I am highly considering running for County Board,” Klingler said. “It’s going to be a very crowded field. I’m highly aware of that.”
She said there are some final logistics to work out and a formal announcement is coming soon.
Green Party County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who lost to Democrats Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada last night, said she’s also considering running. However, Clement said her candidacy hinges on whether she receives the endorsement of her local party. If she doesn’t receive the endorsement, she’ll be reluctant to run.
Republicans may also be interested in nominating a contender. While no Republicans challenged incumbents Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada this year, history suggests that a special election may be the party’s best chance of gaining a toe-hold on the Board. The last Republican to serve as an Arlington County Board member was Mike Lane, who won a special election in 1999 (but then promptly lost in the general election several months later).
Once voters choose the new board member in a special election, things move pretty quickly. The winner has to submit a final financial report, and the election must be certified. Lindberg said that usually happens within 24 to 48 hours.
“We really want to get them sworn in and seated right away,” Lindberg said. “The process is pretty straightforward like every other other election, it’s just more condensed as far as the timing.”
(Updated at 2:05 a.m.) It was a joyous election night for local Democrats, who are claiming victory in all 14 races run in Arlington.
Democrat Barbara Favola has won a decisive victory over Republican businesswoman Caren Merrick in the race for state Senate in the 31st District — one of the most closely-watched races in Northern Virginia. With all precincts reporting, Favola had 58 percent of the vote to Merrick’s 42 percent. Favola, who has spent 14 years on the Arlington County Board, was ebullient over the hard-fought win.
“It’s exhilarating, it’s humbling, it’s exciting,” she said of having the race called in her favor. Favola credited her campaign staff and volunteers — who knocked on 51,000 doors and made 125,000 phone calls — for bringing home the win.
“We have the best field team in the state,” Favola declared.
Favola said her first action in Richmond will be securing funds for Northern Virginia Community College. Arlington political watchers can now look forward to a special election process in 2012 to fill her soon-to-be-vacant County Board seat.
Incumbent Democratic State Senator Janet Howell has emerged victorious over Republican challenger Patrick Forrest. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Howell has 60 percent of the vote to Forrest’s 40 percent of the vote. Howell serves the 32nd state Senate District, which now includes part of Arlington as a result of redistricting this year.
Democratic Del. Adam Ebbin will be moving to the state Senate. Ebbin has easily defeated Republican Tim McGhee in the race for the state Senate’s 30th District. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Ebbin has 66 percent of the vote to McGhee’s 34 percent. Ebbin, the first openly gay member of the House of Delegates, will now become the first openly gay member of the Virginia Senate.
Democrats Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada will be back on the Arlington County Board for another four years. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Hynes and Tejada have 42 percent and 40 percent of the vote, respectively, to Green Party candidate Audrey Clement’s 17 percent.
“It is a pleasure to serve you, and it will be a pleasure to serve you for the next four years,” Tejada told an assembled crowd of 100+ supporters at a joint Democratic victory party at Bailey’s in Ballston.
Del. Bob Brink, meanwhile, has won handily against his two challengers and will serve another two years in the Virginia House of Delegates. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Brink has 69 percent of the vote to 24 percent for independent candidate Kathy Gillette-Mallard and 7 percent for Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy. Brink represents Virginia’s 48th District, which includes parts of north Arlington and McLean.
Elsewhere around Arlington, unopposed Democratic candidates cruised to victory.
Incumbent Del. David Englin will return to his 45th District seat, which includes parts of south Arlington. Del. Patrick Hope will also return to his 47th District seat.
Alfonso Lopez will become one of the first Latinos elected to the Virginia General Assembly, after running unopposed for the House of Delegates in the 49th District. Lopez pledged that Arlington Democrats will “wear our progressive values on our sleeves in Richmond.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos now has the shorter title of Commonwealth’s Attorney. Stamos is replacing the long-serving Dick Trodden as Arlington’s top prosecutor.
Other winners include Sheriff Beth Arthur, Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Arlington School Board Member Abby Raphael, all of whom were re-elected.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) said Democrats won for three reasons.
“It’s good organization, very good candidates and the right politics,” Moran told ARLnow.com. “Northern Virginia and Arlington want to move forward, not backward. They don’t want to fight the old cultural wars of the last century.”
Moran said that Favola also prevailed due to her experience on the County Board.
“Barbara has devoted her whole life to the community,” Moran said. “People like Barbara Favola are going to be working for everyone, whether they’re rich or poor or whatever demographic.”
“I’m delighted,” Moran said of the Democratic sweep in Arlington. “These are the people I’m looking forward to working with.”
The Arlington County Democratic Committee, with its well-honed precinct and get-out-the-vote operations, was another factor that helped propel Democrats to victory in Arlington.
ACDC Chair Mike Lieberman said party activists made a total of 40,000 phone calls and knocked on 12,000 doors in Arlington during the general election cycle.
Update at 6:30 p.m. — Merrick’s survey has been released.
A group of gun control advocates is calling on Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick to make good on her pledge to release the survey that earned her an ‘A-’ rating from the National Rifle Association.
Merrick made the pledge at a candidates forum in Cherrydale last month, after being pressed on gun control issues by two residents. One of the residents was Omar Samaha, whose sister was killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. Samaha is part of a group called Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws, which seeks to further restrict gun sales and ownership in Virginia.
“These candidates are all interviewing for a job to represent us,” Samaha said in a statement today. “We believe the candidates owe it to their future constituents to make a full and complete disclosure of where they stand on these issues that will affect our safety.”
Merrick promised on Oct. 19 to release the survey before voters head to the polls on Election Day. Her campaign said this afternoon that copies of the survey will be made available for pickup from the campaign office at 5:00 tonight.
Merrick’s Democratic opponent, Barbara Favola, earned an ‘F’ rating from the NRA because, she said, she declined to fill out the survey the group mails to candidates.
Favola has made gun control a key campaign issue, while Merrick has shrugged off the significance of her NRA rating, noting that Democratic U.S. senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb both have received ‘A’ ratings.
So far, 1,227 votes have been counted, with 1,186 of those being from domestic absentee voters. At this same time in 2007, only 913 domestic absentee ballots had been cast. Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary predicts that by election day, 1,827 absentee ballots will have been cast. That would be a record number, and would likely mean a record number of overall voters.
O’Leary says absentee votes have been disproportionately high from voters in the 31st Senate District, with the heated race between Democrat Barbara Favola and Republican Caren Merrick. It has provided more than 64% of the absentee votes so far.
In-person absentee voting continues through tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. at the Arlington County administrative building in Courthouse (2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 320).
This week we asked the two candidates for the 31st District state Senate seat to write a sub-750 word essay on why the district’s residents should vote for them on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
We did not receive a response from Caren Merrick (R).
Here is the unedited response from Barbara Favola (D):
I am running for the State Senate because I want to create a Virginia that is forward thinking and focused on our future. Moreover, I believe I am best able to represent the values of the 31st District. I am 100% pro-choice and 100% pro-equality. Most importantly, I have the experience necessary to deliver for the region. The Washington Post recently noted: “Barbara will be an effective Senator from Day 1.”
My first priority will be to invest in K-12 education and to make higher education more affordable and accessible. I am particularly interested in ensuring that the Community College System has the necessary resources to accept every eligible student. A well-trained workforce is the key to attracting high-paying jobs. Our families, our communities and our businesses are worth the investment.
I am also intent on fixing Northern Virginia’s transportation problems. I will work in a bipartisan way to find a new and dedicated source of revenue to fund our roads, bridges and transit systems. Good transportation infrastructure is the backbone of a growing economy and a growing region. I know that traffic congestion detracts from time with loved ones and community building. We must work to maintain the region’s high quality of life.
Protecting the environment and encouraging the development of renewable energy options are critical components in creating a more desirable and a more competitive Virginia. I want Virginia to do its part in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I have been a regional leader in this area and will use my expertise in Richmond. I will also work to ensure that incentives are available for the creation of renewable energy sources.
As an Arlington County Board member, I balanced 14 consecutive budgets. Arlington has the lowest unemployment rate in the State and the lowest real-estate rate of any major jurisdiction in Northern Virginia. Moreover, the County still enjoys a triple- AAA bond rating. I know how to get the best value for our tax dollar and how to make key investments in critical areas such as education.
My Republican opponent is listed on the VA Tea Party Alliance Web Site as a possible candidate to create a conservative majority in the State Senate. I submit to you that it is in the interest of the 31st District and the Commonwealth as a whole to keep the State Senate in Democratic hands.
My opponent supports her party’s extremist agenda. She defended a recent McDonnell initiative to restrict a women’s access to abortions by requiring women’s health centers to meet costly and unnecessary regulations, thereby, forcing the closure of 17 out of 21 clinics around the State. My opponent received an A- from the NRA. Yet, most Virginians are looking for reasonable gun control measures. Moreover, my opponent will not be voting with the Democrats to defeat the usual onslaught of harsh anti-immigrant legislation that will certainly come out of the House Delegates in this next session. Caren Merrick is out of step with Northern Virginia and the voters of the 31st District.
I ask for your vote on November 8 because our children deserve a brighter future. Please join your friends and neighbors at the polls anytime between 6:00am to 7:00pm. Thank You.
Merrick started out the night with a stump speech that focused on her background as a successful businesswoman and on her desire “streamline regulation and taxation so we can unleash the entrepreneurial spirit.” During the speech Merrick, a McLean resident, tried to strike a bipartisan tone.
“I am not running as a partisan, I’m running to represent every one in this district,” she said. “I am not running on social issues.”
Alas, social issues quickly entered the conversation as questions from the audience focused on more divisive subjects.
“How will you stand up for my daughter’s right to choose?” one man asked.
“There are millions of good people on both sides of this issue,” Merrick replied. “I am pro-life and I am pro-woman.”
Merrick’s Democratic opponent, Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola, then answered and drew loud applause as she declared herself “100 percent pro-choice.” She went on to argue that if Merrick was elected, Republicans in the Virginia legislature would have a better shot at passing laws that restrict abortion rights and the rights of immigrants.
“I am very troubled by this social agenda,” she said of state Republicans.
Later, Merrick was asked about the A- rating she received from the National Rifle Association. The man asking about it was Omar Samaha, a three-year Cherrydale resident whose sister was killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. Samaha asked if the candidates supported background checks on private gun sales.
“I’ve been around guns all my life, but in a safe way… a responsible way,” said Merrick, whose father was a Marine. Pressed on whether she thinks background checks should be required for all gun sales, Merrick said yes.
“I do think we should have a background check,” she said.
Favola was again unequivocal, saying she was proud of the ‘F’ she received from the NRA
“I feel very strongly that we have too many gun sales in this country, to people who are not mentally stable and should not be having access to guns,” Favola said. She went on to question why guns are allowed in Virginia’s bars and why localities like Arlington don’t have more power to regulate guns.
Another resident asked Favola and Merrick whether they’d release their answers to the survey the NRA sends to candidates. Favola said she, in fact, did not respond to the survey. Merrick said she would release the survey before the election, and then commented on the question itself.
“I have to say, these questions tonight have not been representative of what I’ve been asked as I’ve knocked on doors around the district,” she said.
“I am running on jobs and the economy,” said Merrick. “We need to diversify our economy. That is the most important issue.”
In her closing remarks, Favola said there’s “a definite choice” between herself and Merrick, adding that Merrick was listed on a Northern Virginia Tea Party website. Merrick, who earlier criticized the “rancor” on Capitol Hill, took the bait. She responded by saying that Favola “knows nothing about” bipartisanship.
“I’m not a member of the Tea Party, I don’t know how my picture got up there,” she said tersely. “Barbara Favola is not looking to solve problems, she’s looking to start a fight.”
The Washington Post and the Arlington Sun Gazette both endorsed Favola yesterday, passing over her opponent, Republican Caren Merrick.
“Our inclination at the beginning of the race was to favor Merrick,” wrote the Sun Gazette. “But as the campaign progressed, we’ve been left wondering exactly what her core political philosophy is, and how she will put it into action, if elected, in Richmond.”
“Democrat Barbara Favola, a knowledgeable veteran of the Arlington County Board, would be effective in the Senate from Day 1 representing this district,” wrote the Washington Post. “Ms. Merrick, despite her valuable business experience, has offered no plausible alternative for tackling [traffic] gridlock.”
Merrick holds a substantial cash advantage over Favola, however. As of Sept. 30, Merrick had $140,076 in the bank, compared to Favola’s $62,612.
Favola and Merrick are scheduled to debate tonight at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department (3900 Lee Highway). The debate is expected to begin around 7:30 p.m.
Merrick Mailer Goes Negative — Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick is railing against mudslinging by her Democratic opponent, Barbara Favola, by sending out a mailer that does some major mudslinging of her own. “Barbara Favola: Too extreme to represent us,” the mailer says, before listing a litany of negatives about Favola’s record on the Arlington County Board. “Apparently, she will do anything to get elected in her quest for power,” the mailer also says, before declaring: “On November 8th, vote to reject [Favola's] mud slinging politics.” [Blue Virginia]
Man Struck By Train Dies — Updated at 11:50 a.m. — The 39-year-old McLean man who was struck by an Orange Line train in an apparent suicide attempt at the Clarendon Metro station last week has died. Earlier, Metro said the man had been in critical condition the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital with head injuries and broken bones. It took rescuers about an hour to free the man from underneath the train on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The disruption on the Orange Line caused major delays for thousands of evening rush hour commuters. [Washington Examiner]
Boeing HQ Fight Comes Before the Board — Will the County Board approve a plan to build a sprawling new six-story headquarters for Boeing just north of Crystal City. Or will it take the unanimous opinion of the county’s Planning Commission and reject the project because of a lack of community “benefits?” The board will take up the matter at its meeting this evening. [Sun Gazette]