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by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm 2,982 26 Comments

(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.

by ARLnow.com — November 14, 2011 at 9:15 am 1,769 32 Comments

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.

by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2011 at 11:35 am 2,825 39 Comments

Update at 1:35 p.m. — Peter Owen and Alan Howze both told ARLnow.com this afternoon that they are not planning on running in the County Board special election.

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.”

by ARLnow.com — November 8, 2011 at 9:47 pm 3,619 101 Comments

(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.

by ARLnow.com — November 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm 2,519 49 Comments

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.

by Katie Pyzyk — November 4, 2011 at 10:30 am 1,005 11 Comments

(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) Absentee voting for Tuesday’s election has been higher than expected, and is on pace to exceed the numbers from previous off-year elections.

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).

by ARLnow.com — October 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm 2,052 73 Comments

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.

by ARLnow.com — October 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm 2,016 76 Comments

Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick is running on jobs, jobs, jobs. But questions from the audience at last night’s candidate forum in Cherrydale focused on abortion, guns and more guns.

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.”

by ARLnow.com — October 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm 1,593 32 Comments

Democratic state Senate candidate Barbara Favola has scored two notable newspaper endorsements.

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.

by ARLnow.com — October 18, 2011 at 8:31 am 2,176 42 Comments

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 DiesUpdated 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]

Flickr pool photo by Webaroo

by ARLnow.com — October 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm 3,777 106 Comments

Campaign mailers authorized by Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola’s state Senate campaign have increasingly focused on one central theme: abortion.

While the 31st District state Senate campaign started out on a surprisingly positive note, mailers paid for by the Democratic Party of Virginia and authorized by Favola have now gone negative. The mailers contain sentences like: “Caren Merrick will stand with extremists against a woman’s right to choose” and “Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick doesn’t share our values.”

At least two such mailers have been sent to 31st District residents in as many weeks. Two earlier Democratic mailers focused more on Favola’s positives — including support for education and Arlington’s low unemployment rate — although both also made reference to her commitment “to protect a woman’s right to choose.”

Previously held by the now-retired Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, the 31st District became a lot less Democratic after this year’s redistricting process (44.4 percent of the redrawn district voted for Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, compared to 34.7 percent of the old district). Favola is apparently betting on abortion being the issue that convinces complacent Democrats, used to easy state Senate victories, to go to the polls.

Merrick’s campaign, meanwhile, has remained overwhelmingly positive — focused on issues like jobs, the economy and Merrick’s business background –  much to the surprise (and, in some cases, delight) of local Democratic operatives. In debates and in her campaign literature, Merrick largely avoids social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Last week, the Merrick campaign issued a statement decrying “mudslinging” from Favola.

“The Merrick campaign believes Ms. Favola, is using false, negative campaign tactics to hide her 14 year record on the Arlington County Board where she has ignored the wishes and concerns of local civic associations, increased spending 70%, increased her own pay by 59%, and filed a 2 million dollar lawsuit halting critical transportation solutions and naming government workers personally liable,” the campaign said.

by ARLnow.com — October 7, 2011 at 8:32 am 2,681 32 Comments

Steve Jobs Memorial Grows — The Post-it-Note memorial to Steve Jobs at the Clarendon Apple Store is getting bigger. Since we arrived at the Apple Store yesterday morning, the memorial has grown from zero to dozens of hand-written notes for the late Apple founder.

Favola Takes Aim at Merrick on NRA Rating — Republican State Senate candidate Caren Merrick was given an “A-” rating in a new candidate “scorecard” issued by the National Rifle Association. Democrat Babara Favola, meanwhile, received an “F” rating. But it was Favola who took the offensive. It’s “not a grade my opponent should be proud of,” Favola Tweeted. Said Favola campaign manager Adam Scott: “Caren Merrick is supported by the Tea Party, the NRA, and anti-choice extremists who want to chip away at a woman’s right to choose in Virginia. That’s just not what we need in the state Senate.”

Relocated ‘Nine’ Starts Tonight — The Arlington Players production of ‘Nine’ starts tonight at the Kenmore Middle School Theater. The musical — which was made into a Hollywood movie two years ago — was originally scheduled to be held at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Theater. It had to be relocated, however, due to earthquake damage at the theater. [The Arlington Players]

Lots of Events This Weekend — There’s plenty of stuff going on in Arlington on what promises to be an absolutely beautiful fall weekend. If you want to support a high school car wash, or attend an Oktoberfest, or party with artists, check out our Events Calendar.

Photo courtesy @btrpkc

by ARLnow.com — September 19, 2011 at 8:32 am 2,547 28 Comments

Car Runs Into Apartment Building — A car ran into an apartment building on Lee Highway over the weekend. The impact punched a big hole in the side of the brick building, located at 4343 Lee Highway in Waverly Hills. [WUSA9]

Chorus Performances Relocated — The Potomac Harmony Chorus has announced that its 35th anniversary show, Melodies, Memories and Magic, will be relocated to the Washington-Lee High School Auditorium from the earthquake-damaged Thomas Jefferson Community Theater. The all-woman chorus is also seeking a new venue for its December holiday concert and sing-along. [Potomac Harmony Chorus]

Merrick Holds Cash Advantage — As of Aug. 31, Republican state Senate candidate had a nearly 9-to-1 campaign cash advantage over Democrat Barbara Favola, who had just emerged victorious from a bruising primary. [Sun Gazette]

Julia’s Empanadas Now Served at Boccato — Clarendon’s Boccato Gelato (2719 Wilson Blvd) started serving D.C.’s famous Julia’s Empanadas over the weekend. The expanding eatery is planning to start serving baguettes and pastries from Arlington bread delivery service LeoNora Bakery on Oct. 1. [Clarendon Culture, Twitter]

Photo courtesy David Johnson

by ARLnow.com — September 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm 2,717 90 Comments

If you were hoping for fireworks in the closely-watched state Senate race between Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola (D) and McLean businesswoman Caren Merrick (R), you would have been sorely disappointed by last night’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate.

The unofficial kickoff to the general election campaign season lacked the audacious, back-and-forth recriminations of the 31st District Democratic primary. It did, however, set the stage for a clear battle of ideas in a race that could have significant repercussions in Richmond.

Smiling and effervescent, Merrick’s big debut to Arlington voters started out with her politely applauding Favola’s opening statement, then taking the podium, acknowledging her husband and sons, and describing herself as “the daughter of a Marine.” She recounted how she and her husband “started a software company in our basement” (it was sold to a German company in 2007 for $546 million) and touted her non-profit work with low-income families and “urban youth.”

Repeatedly, Merrick cited her business experience and argued that she was the stronger candidate on jobs and the economy.

“I believe that I have the experience that these challenging times call for,” Merrick said, adding that she would also focus on education and “bipartisan solutions for transportation.”

“I will not be part of the partisan gridlock,” said Merrick. “Above all, I promise that I will listen to you.”

Merrick stayed clear of hot-button topics like abortion and gay marriage in her opening and closing statements, but Civic Federation questioners pressed the issue.

“There are millions of good people on both sides of this issue,” she said when asked about abortion. “I’m pro-life. But I have a record of helping women who are homeless, who have been abused, who have had to rebuild their lives. The company that my husband and I co-founded… over half of the management team were women. So I’m pro-women.”

“In terms of discrimination, I believe discrimination is wrong,” she said, referring to a question about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. “I’ve hired people from all walks of life.”

Favola, meanwhile, was unequivocal.

“I’m a strong supporter of pro-equality,” she said. “I’m 100% pro-choice as well.”

Favola and Merrick both said they supported increasing transportation funding, but differed in terms of how to pay for it.

“You have to remember that Virginia has one of the lowest gas taxes in the entire country,” Favola said in support of raising the state’s gasoline tax. “The bottom line here is: We have a problem, we have to fix it.”

“I don’t believe a gas tax is sustainable,” Merrick argued. “I agree with our Democratic Senators Warner and Webb, who are proposing that we sell off-shore [oil drilling] leases. I also support a myriad of other forms of revenue for transportation. I do not support the gas tax.”

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — August 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm 1,308 11 Comments

Local Democrats are putting the unprecedented mud-slinging leading up to Tuesday’s primary behind them as they press forward to November’s general election with a slate of four candidates and two Republican challengers.

“For months, our Democratic candidates have waged energetic and spirited primary campaigns, and we look forward to all campaigns being able to turn this energy into supporting our united Democratic ticket in November,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman, following a 31st District state Senate race that the Washington Post called “one of the most heated, unpleasant races in recent memory.”

Candidates Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who were trading accusations of making racist statements and destroying the environment less than two weeks ago, are now making nice via prepared statements.

“We ran an energetic, grassroots, progressive campaign throughout the 31st District in Northern Virginia and I am very proud of the work we did,” Areizaga-Soto said in a statement. “I call on all my supporters throughout Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun to work for a Barbara Favola victory in November.

“This campaign… demonstrated that Mr. Areizaga-Soto and I share the same strong commitment to Democratic values,” Favola said in a statement. “I applaud Mr. Areizaga-Soto’s service to the Democratic Party and to the Country. His talents will be a significant asset in the upcoming battle to retain the 31st Senate seat”

In an interview, Favola said she hopes the race between herself and Republican Caren Merrick will stay focused on the issues.

“I’m hopeful that the general will be a civil conversation on issues like education, transportation, the environment and creating jobs,” she said. “I think voters really don’t like the negative campaigning. They really want to be given a reason to vote for you.”

Favola says she’s ready to face the well-funded Merrick, adding that Democratic unity will help her prevail.

“We’re geared up to move into the general,” she said. “We have a great message, we’re positive, we’re talking about issues people care about… I absolutely think Democrats are going to be able to unite. We know that the stakes are high. It’s not just winning the 31st, it’s keeping control of the state Senate. I have every indication they’ll rally around.”

In the Sun Gazette today, Merrick called the mud-slinging between Favola and Areizaga-Soto an example of “what’s wrong with politics today.” Should the general election turn negative, however, Favola says she isn’t sure how her issue-focused campaign will react.

“I guess one thing about politics is that it’s always unpredictable,” she said. “I’m not going to presuppose how we’re going to respond.”

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