Three Vying for County Board Nod — Three candidates for the upcoming Arlington County Board special election kicked off their campaigns at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Among them are Alan Howze, president of the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association; Peter Fallon, former Planning Commission member; and Cord Thomas, who helped found Envirocab and Elevation Burger. All three will compete in a two-day Democratic caucus, to be held Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]
Remembering the Ballston Skulls — Up until the 1940s, the Ballston Skulls, a semi-pro football team, played at Ballston Stadium, on the site of what’s now Ballston Common Mall. The Washington Redskins also conducted work outs from the facility. [Ghosts of DC]
Attorney General Recount to Start Dec. 16 — The recount process in the election of the Virginia Attorney General will take place from Dec. 16-19. Currently, Democrat Mark Herring has a 165 vote lead over Republican Mark Obenshain. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Board Adopts Pike Affordable Housing Tools — The Arlington County Board on Saturday formally adopted a number of county code changes needed to implement the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan. The plan includes the implementation of Form Based Code for the residential areas around the Pike. Form Based Code allows developers to build larger projects than otherwise permitted through zoning, provided a number of conditions are met. On the Pike, those conditions include setting aside 20-35 percent of new units for affordable housing and meeting green building standards. [Arlington County]
Board Proposes TIF for Affordable Housing — Also on Saturday, the County Board voted to advertise a plan to implement a Tax Increment Financing district along Columbia Pike. The TIF would take some of the additional tax revenue provided by new development and set it aside for affordable housing. [Washington Post]
Special Election May Be Held in March — Assuming retiring County Board member Chris Zimmerman vacates his seat by the end of January, the special election to replace him on the Board could be held in mid- to late March. [Sun Gazette]
Howze Announces for County Board — Democrat Alan Howze announced his candidacy for Arlington County Board over the weekend. Howze, who has served as president of the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association, says he shares outgoing Board member Chris Zimmerman’s “vision for a transit-oriented, smart-growth community that is welcoming to all.” [Facebook]
On Friday evening, Arlington election officials finished sorting through the 161 provisional ballots cast on Election Day, according to Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg. Of those, 80 were accepted — 59 for Herring and 21 for Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain.
(Provisional ballots are cast when a voter cannot produce proper identification or when records indicate that they’ve already voted. The local electoral board then must approve or reject each vote, after further research and after giving those without ID a chance to present it in person by the Friday after election day.)
The 38 vote differential might not seem like much, but it helped to contribute to Herring’s lead, which stood at 163 votes as of last night. The total Attorney General vote tally in Arlington stands at 49,919 for Herring and 16,694 for Obenshain, according to Lindberg.
The Virginia State Board of Elections is expected to certify the election results on Nov. 25. At that time, the losing candidate will be able to petition the courts for a recount — a near certainty. A similar process played out during the 2005 Attorney General race between now-Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D).
Lindberg said she expects a recount to only take a day in Arlington, since the county uses electronic voting machines, as opposed to optical ballots which would each need to be re-run through scanners.
In the Virginia gubernatorial race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli by a margin of about 56,000 votes. Arlington, meanwhile, contributed about 33,000 surplus Democratic votes to that total.
Arlington’s importance to securing Democratic victories in statewide races cannot be underestimated, county Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the party faithful at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
“We are exporting votes that are desperately needed… throughout Virginia,” he said, lauding the party’s get-out-the-vote efforts, which helped lead to McAuliffe’s 72 percent to 22 percent shellacking over Cuccinelli in Arlington.
O’Leary said the nearly 67,000 votes cast in the governor’s race in Arlington were a record, smashing the previous record of about 57,000 and pointing to an overall upward trend in overall turnout for statewide, congressional and presidential races in Arlington. (Turnout in purely local elections — County Board, etc. — remains flat.)
Arlingtonians cast about 7,250 absentee ballots this year, a record for a non-presidential year. The previous record was 7,077, set in 2006. While some of the increase can be attributed to a broader upward trend in absentee voting, O’Leary said the federal government shutdown also played a significant role.
“An interesting thing happened in early October,” O’Leary said. “A whole lot of people were furloughed… and they were mad as hell and weren’t going to talk it any more.”
“My theory that the absentee vote was swollen by angry federal workers, using their unappreciated furlough to come in and vote, may be sustained by the fact that McAuliffe received 79.5% of their vote versus 70.6% in the 52 precincts,” O’Leary said in a subsequent email. “Thus, McAuliffe garnered 650 more votes at the absentee level than might have been expected based on his performance in the precincts.”
The Libertarian candidate running for governor in Virginia, Robert Sarvis, captured about 6.5 percent of the vote statewide, and about 5.8 percent in Arlington. Contrary to the conventional wisdom of some Virginia political watchers, who argued that Sarvis largely siphoned off votes that would have otherwise gone to Cuccinelli, O’Leary said he has reason to believe Sarvis actually hurt McAuliffe in Arlington.
“In my opinion, Mr. Sarvis actually cost our gubernatorial candidates some votes,” he said.
After a year where seats on the County Board and School Board and four House of Delegates districts were up for election and no Republicans ran, 2014 will not be a repeat, pledged Arlington County Republican Committee Chairman Charles Hokanson.
“We fully expect to be running local candidates in 2014 and beyond,” Hokanson told ARLnow.com. “This year, we prioritized our work on supporting the statewide Republican ticket in what correctly proved to be very tight elections, in the process building up our strongest voter identification and get-out-the-vote efforts in many years.”
Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli received 22 percent of the votes for governor in Arlington, but Hokanson said the Arlington GOP “built up our largest active party membership in over a decade in 2013.”
“Arlington Republican voters know that we are a political minority in this County and understand that, to win races, our local party seeks to put forth credible, experienced candidates who will run strong campaigns, prove successful fundraisers, build issue-based coalitions that resonate with voters, and have the time to give it their all,” Hokanson said.
Hokanson said no one has yet declared for the 2014 races, which will include County Board, the School Board and Rep. Jim Moran’s House of Representatives seat, among others, but he said the GOP will put out a call for candidates this winter.
Audrey Clement, running for the County Board for the fourth straight election, lost to incumbent Democrat Jay Fisette, 66 to 31 percent. She was actually encouraged by the results, but said the 30 percent range appears to be a Green Party candidate’s best possible result.
“In our best races we seem to be hitting up against a glass ceiling of 30 percent,” she said at the Green Party’s election gathering at Westover Beer Garden. “It seems we can’t break that ceiling. I think we will when the county breaks the budget.”
Clement said she was more disappointed with the result of the redevelopment and housing authority vote than she was with her own defeat in the election, because she believes the current housing situation could lead to more homelessness. The referendum was struck down with 69 percent of the voters choosing “no.”
“A lot of people in this expensive apartments are living from paycheck to paycheck, and eventually they’re going to be displaced,” she said. “When that happens, that’s when they will change their vote.”
Clement said she felt if voters understood the issue better, then they would have voted “yes.” The sample ballot she distributed at the polls explaining the issue, however, was long and difficult to read.”
“Next time around, we have to do a better job with our literature,” she said.
Asked whether she would run again, Clement said “it remains to be seen.” She lost her job as an independent contractor in July, and although she has since secured another position, she said it’s only temporary. Since her races are largely self-funded — she spent $3,855 on her campaign this year, according to the Virginia Public Access Project – the status of her next campaign is up in the air.
Despite the defeat, Clement and her Green Party compatriots were not discouraged. Party Chairman Steve Davis said “30 percent is really good for the Green Party in an election.”
“My campaign was a success,” Clement said. “It’s not quite winning, but it’s not bad to get a respectable vote. I feel worse about the housing authority because people are going to be suffering as a result of their lack of interest in the issue.”
Democratic incumbents have cruised to reelection in all local races. Meanwhile, Democratic voters in Arlington and Northern Virginia have helped push two statewide candidates to victory.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has been elected the next governor of Virginia, defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Democrat Ralph Northam, meanwhile, has defeated Republican E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor.
Voting in Virginia ended at 7:00 p.m., on an election day when the gubernatorial race was garnering the lion’s share of headlines and voter interest. In Arlington, without a Republican candidate in any local race, third party candidates like Audrey Clement, Green Party candidate for Arlington County Board, were left to provide the opposition to the Democrats on the ballot.
With all votes counted, here are the final numbers:
- County Board – Jay Fisette (D): 66%; Audrey Clement (G): 31%
- House of Delegates, 45th District – Rob Krupicka (D): 74%; Jeffrey Engle (I): 25%
- House of Delegates, 47th District – Patrick Hope (D): 77%; Laura Delhomme (L): 22%
- House of Delegates, 49th District — Alfonso Lopez (D): 78%; Terrence Modglin (IG): 21%
The races for Arlington School Board and the 48th House of Delegates District, featuring incumbents James Lander and Del. Bob Brink, were uncontested.
On the referendum question of whether Arlington should establish a redevelopment and housing authority, the “no” position — endorsed by both the local Republican and Democratic parties — is well ahead.
- Housing Authority Referendum – Yes: 31%; No: 69%
“It’s a great night in Arlington,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Lieberman. “Our goal in Arlington is to do our part to turn out every Democrat in a Democratic area, to try to run up the score to make sure we can offset some of the more conservative areas in the state. Based on the numbers we saw here today, we did that.”
“I think Arlingtonians reacted really well to McAuliffe’s centrist message, his good government message, his jobs message, and I think quite frankly Cuccinelli and his ticket didn’t offer much for Arlington,” Lieberman continued. “The strength of Democrats is a validation of the community we have here.”
Reelected Delegate Alfonso Lopez said night’s Democratic victories were a rejection of Tea Party politics.
“Tea Party hypocrisy and Tea Party policies are not the way to govern the Commonwealth,” he said.
County Board member Jay Fisette, who will take over the chairmanship of the Board in January 2014, called his reelection “gratifying” and thanked Democratic volunteers for their get-out-the-vote efforts.
“This is a great county and I really appreciate the support you’ve given me,” he said. Fisette also thanked his husband, Bob Rosen, though he had to correct himself when he initially called Rosen his “partner.” The two were wed in the District in September.
“I’m not used to saying that word [husband],” Fisette said.
As chairman, Fisette will likely preside over the hot-button vote on whether to allow urban hen-raising in Arlington. But he said he’s particularly focused on three major challenges facing the county: economic development and the high commercial office vacancy rate; affordable housing; and burgeoning school enrollments.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges… I’m really ready to hit the ground and continue working on them,” he said.
Arlington’s polling places have been open for about four hours, and so far election day appears to be proceeding without a hitch.
As of 9:00 a.m., Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg reported being very busy but said there had been no significant issues to report. Although not a major incident, people at the Barrett Elementary School (4401 N. Henderson Road) polling place reported the school’s principal pulled campaign signs out of the ground, claiming they weren’t allowed to be there. After witnesses made a few phone calls to lawyers and the superintendent, the principal learned he was incorrect and apologized for taking down the signs.
Last week, Lindberg noted that already there had been an increase in absentee voting over the 2009 election. This morning she said is was still too early to estimate how many people might turn up to vote in person.
“It’s been pretty steady, that’s about all we know at this point,” Lindberg said. “It’s not outrageous, just pretty steady.”
Voters, however, have been reporting short lines at places like Barrett Elementary.
“I was pretty surprised at how few people were here,” said Melanie Papasian. “After the long lines last year, I expected to see more. Hopefully they come in more by the end of the day.”
“Last year, I got in line at 7:30 a.m. and left the polling place at 9:45,” said Brian Lemak. ”I know off-year elections aren’t as big but I got in and out in 10 minutes, which I was really surprised by.”
At the River House (1600 S. Joyce Street) polling place in Pentagon City, voters repeatedly expressed particular interest in voting in this gubernatorial race, compared with others in recent years.
“This is an important election,” said Dan Bailey. “The governor of Virginia can set a tone and I haven’t liked the tone we’ve had for the last few years.”
Haydn Kuprevich recently moved to Arlington and wanted to fulfill his civic duty.
“It’s something I do every time there’s an election,” said Kuprevich. “It’s important for me to understand the issues people are talking about and what their positions are.”
“I was passionate about everybody having equal rights, I was passionate about women’s rights, I was passionate about looking out for all the people and not a select group in the state, because the governor represents everybody,” said Mary Elizabeth Boyd. “I think the whole country’s going in a certain direction right now and we just have to settle it down and keep hanging in with what we believe in.”
Polls in Arlington remain open until 7:00 p.m. More information, including sample ballots, can be found online.
The Daily Show Takes on VA Election – Last night Jon Stewart and the folks at The Daily Show aired a segment mocking what they portrayed as slim pickings for gubernatorial choices on Virginia’s ballot. The reporter said of Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, “apparently neither candidate is fit to lead.” [The Daily Show]
County Launches Urban Design Speaker Series – Arlington County will kick off its RoundAbouts speaker series on Wednesday, November 13. The series is hosted by the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development and is designed to facilitate discussion about thoughtful design and how to shape Arlington’s future. The first speaker will be Christopher B. Leinberger, a Brookings fellow, developer, researcher and author, who will speak on the topic ”The Urbanization of the Suburbs: Why Arlington is the National Model and Where Do We Go Next.” [Arlington County]
MST3K Night at the Planetarium – A special Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation will take place at the David M. Brown Planeterium (1426 N. Quincy Street) on Saturday, November 16. Attendees will get to poke fun at a comet-themed “B movie” from the 1970s. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. and tickets cost $3 for children, $5 for seniors and planetarium members, and $7 for adults. [Friends of the Planetarium]
Election Day is tomorrow, and there are four local, contested races in addition to the housing authority referendum and the statewide campaigns.
Polls open in Arlington at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. You can find a list of polling places on the county’s election website, which was revamped last week.
Below are the races you will find on the ballot:
- Governor: Ken Cuccinelli (Republican), Terry McAuliffe (Democrat), Robert Sarvis (Libertarian)
- Lieutenant Governor: E.W. Jackson (R), Ralph Northam (D)
- Attorney General: Mark Herring (D), Mark Obenshain (R)
- County Board: Jay Fisette (D), Audrey Clement (Green)
- School Board: James Lander (D)
- House of Delegates, 45th District: Rob Krupicka (D), Jeffrey Engle (Independent)
- House of Delegates, 47th District: Patrick Hope (D), Laura Delhomme (L)
- House of Delegates, 48th District: Bob Brink (D)
- House of Delegates, 49th District: Alfonso Lopez (D), Terrence Modglin (Independent Green)
Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday — Be sure to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, meaning an extra hour of sleep but one fewer hour of daylight at night. The changing of the clocks is also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries.
Dems Worry About Libertarian’s Impact on Gov. Race — Historically, polls overestimate the potential votes for third party candidates because voters who might have expressed support for a third party in a poll end up choosing one of the major party candidates in the voting booth. Arlington Democrats worry that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli is thin enough that supporters of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis may tip the election on Nov. 5 if they break for Cuccinelli. [Sun Gazette]
Blue, Orange Line Work This Weekend — Trains on the Blue and Orange Line will run every 15 minutes this weekend due to scheduled track work. [WMATA]
Arlington Education Company Cutting Jobs — Arlington-based Strayer Education is cutting its workforce by 20 percent and closing some of its Strayer University campuses. Students enrollment is down 17 percent. [Washington Business Journal]
County Treasurer Frank O’Leary (D), Arlington’s unofficial predictor of local voting trends, says a dramatic increase in absentee voting this year points to higher voter interest in the Virginia governor’s race.
“This year’s race will probably set the record for turnout in a Gubernatorial Year,” O’Leary wrote. “In 2009, with seven days of voting remaining, 2,914 absentee votes had been cast. This year, 4,476 have already voted absentee and I expect the final number to hit 7,200 or more.”
O’Leary says the government shutdown might have boosted absentee voting.
“It seems likely that this remarkable increase in absentee turnout is a direct result of federal workers being furloughed,” he wrote. “During the furlough period, 500 additional votes occurred when compared to 2009. Those additional votes may well have arisen from angry federal workers, who had nothing better to do.”
O’Leary is predicting a total turnout of roughly 70,000 ballots cast among the 137,027 active registered voters in Arlington. That predicted 51.1 percent turnout rate in Arlington compares to 42.9 percent for the 2009 race between Bob McDonnell (R) and Creigh Deeds (D), and 50.5 percent for the 2005 race between Tim Kaine (D) and Jerry Kilgore (R).
(The turnout for presidential and congressional elections is generally higher than that of gubernatorial elections, with an average of 81.6 and 56 percent of active voter turnout respectively in Arlington between 1972 and 2012, according to O’Leary.)
Speaking to ARLnow.com on Tuesday, Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg confirmed the increase in absentee voting so far this year. She said absentee voting will “definitely” be higher than in 2009. She was more conservative in her prediction for overall turnout, calling for a 50 percent turnout rate.
In addition to various local races, Election Day on Nov. 5 will feature the hotly-contested Virginia governor’s race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.
Wakefield Students Attend Candidate Forum — Wakefield High School juniors and seniors attended a forum for first-time voters on Wednesday. The students had a chance to ask questions of some candidates for elected office and their representatives. One big topic of conversation was immigration reform, with students expressing support for the DREAM Act, which would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. [Sun Gazette]
Long-Time Arlingtonian Celebrates 100th Birthday — Maywood resident Bob McAtee, who has lived in Arlington since 1915, celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday. McAtee has lived here long enough to remember when Maywood was a “trolley suburb,” when the local youth used to swim in the Potomac at “Arlington Beach,” and when moving companies used a horse and a cart. [Falls Church News-Press]
President Obama will come to Washington-Lee High School on Sunday to campaign for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
The rally will start early Sunday afternoon. Tickets to the event are being distributed to the public on a first-come, first-served basis starting today (Wednesday) at noon at the following locations:
- Democratic Party of Virginia Arlington Office (2050 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 200)
- Democratic Party of Virginia Alexandria Office (618 N Washington Street)
- Democratic Party of Virginia Springfield Office (6354 Springfield Plaza)
- Democratic Party of Virginia Fairfax City Office (11202 Lee Hwy)
This is not the first time President Obama has held an event at Washington-Lee. Last May, the president spoke to a more than a thousand Washington-Lee students in the school’s gymnasium while pushing Congress to act on extending federally-subsidized student loans.
McAuliffe, a Democrat, is facing Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Libertarian Robert Sarvis in the race for the governor’s mansion. Election day is this coming Tuesday, Nov. 5.
This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).
Here is the unedited response from 49th District candidate Alfonso Lopez:
I currently have the privilege of serving our community in the Virginia House of Delegates. I represent the 49th District, which runs along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads and up Route 7 to Seven Corners.
Two years ago, I asked for your vote so that I could fight for our values in Richmond, protect the social safety-net upon which my parents and so many others have relied, and address many of the biggest issues facing our community: transportation, affordable housing, education and job creation.
As your Delegate, I have worked to restore funding in Virginia’s budget for Free Health Clinics, such as the Arlington Free Clinic, that provide critical health care for our uninsured neighbors. I was also able to restore funding for our network of Child Advocacy Centers, which bring together health care professionals, social workers, and investigators to address the needs of child abuse victims in Virginia.
Building on the work of former Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, I successfully sponsored legislation creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund and was named the Virginia Housing Coalition’s 2013 Legislative Leader. As a revolving loan fund, the Trust Fund will help create affordable housing and address homelessness throughout the Commonwealth. While we secured $8 million in funding through the budget process, the Trust Fund will need a permanent, dedicated source of revenue in order to effectively meet the needs of Virginians. Over the next two years, finding a steady source of revenue will be one of my top priorities. (more…)