It’s an election that could set the direction of Arlington County policy for years to come — and so far turnout is light.
Voters are heading to the polls today to select two Democratic nominees in the race for County Board. There are six Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination: Andrew Schneider, Bruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol, James Lander, Peter Fallon, and Christian Dorsey.
While it’s a rare opportunity to fill the open seats of two retiring County Board members — Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada — the turnout has been about as low as is usually expected for a local primary.
“Overall it’s been pretty slow so far,” county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. She said turnout has been especially sluggish along the county’s Metro corridors and along Columbia Pike.
Two areas of slightly higher turnout, according to Lindberg, have been:
- The South Arlington precincts within the 45th House of Delegates district, which are voting for a Democratic nominee to replace Del. Rob Krupicka.
- The Marshall and Yorktown precincts in North Arlington, home to Fallon and Schneider, respectively.
Lindberg said there have been no reported problems with the county’s new paper ballot system, instituted after security issues were raised about electronic voting machines in Virginia.
“The voting has gone just fine, I’ve had no issues or complaints about the paper ballots,” she said. Asked about the potential for an evening rush of voters, Lindberg said delays at the polls are unlikely.
“There might be a slight surge around 5:00 or 6:00, but generally speaking I wouldn’t expect any lines.”
Polls close at 7:00 p.m.
The few people to be found outside the Arlington Forest and Randolph Elementary precincts this morning said they were aware of the potential importance of the race. Tonight’s two primary winners will face independent candidates Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin in the November general election.
“Especially with these two open seats, people they elect now are going to be there for a while,” said Brandon Forester, who was supporting Dorsey outside of Randolph Elementary. “It will set tone for years to come.”
“I think this is the most important election in Arlington County for decades,” said Michael Thomas, an Arlington Forest resident.
Cori Rattleman, another Arlington Forest resident, said her top issues in this election were schools, parks and affordable housing. She said she was confident that the primary winners will go on to win in November.
Heather Mongilio contributed to this report
Dems Debate in Ballston — The six Democratic candidates for County Board faced off in their first debate last night, before a standing-room only crowd at the NRECA conference center in Ballston. The debate was held by Arlington Young Democrats. Though knowledgable about current issues facing Arlington, candidates were light on specifics about what should be done to address those issues. [InsideNova]
Disruption Corp. Sold to 1776 — Disruption Corp., the Crystal City-based tech investment fund and office space, has been acquired by D.C.-based tech incubator 1776. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. [Washington Post]
Caps Pep Rally at Elementary School — Third grade students at Carlin Springs Elementary School have won a contest to bring a Washington Capitals playoff pep rally to their school today. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. “There won’t likely be any players, but it will be a great time for all,” a teacher tells ARLnow.com. “The kids will be getting prizes, pictures with Slapshot (the Caps’ mascot) and learning some hockey skills. The Caps are also donating equipment to the school.” [Washington Capitals]
Artisphere ‘Doomed from the Start’ — Artisphere, which is on the budgetary chopping block next week, was “doomed from the start,” according to the artistic director of a theatre company that was booted out of its space at the cultural center two years after it opened. An anonymous Artisphere employee said of the early, over-optimistic attendance and revenue projections: “All of those numbers were so completely false.” [Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Special Needs Bill in Arlington — On Tuesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to Arlington to sign the ABLE Act, which will allow individuals with special needs, and their families, to set up tax-exempt accounts that will allow them to save for future living expenses. Virginia is the first state to enact such legislation, which received the blessing of the U.S. Congress in December. [WJLA]
Security of Va. Voting Machines Blasted — The touch screen voting machines now being replaced in Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia were “so easy to hack, it will take your breath away,” according to reports. [Ars Technica, The Guardian]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
The paper ballots will be digitally scanned and allow more voters to vote faster, and provide a hard copy of ballots in case of technical malfunctions, Arlington County said in a press release. It’s the first time the county has used paper ballots since 1950, county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com.
The county was forced to make the purchases by a ruling by the Commissioner of Elections recommending the electronic WinVote machines be decertified and prohibited.
“Last week, without any notification to the users, the State Board of Elections said they had found ‘vulnerabilities with the machines,'” Lindberg said. “This late-night press release that they did very publicly without our knowledge has basically killed the machines for us.”
When asked what problems Arlington had encountered with the touch-screen machines, in use in the county since 2003, Lindberg said “nothing.”
Arlington had already planned on purchasing paper ballots and digital scanners next year. A 2007 law passed by the General Assembly requires all localities, when procuring new voting equipment, to eschew electronic machines for paper ballots.
Arlington will now have to come up with $750,000 to purchase 60 digital scanners — one for each of the 53 votings precincts with extras for absentee ballots and training — in the FY 2016 budget, which the Arlington County Board will adopt next week.
“This is the minimal amount we can get by on for the time being,” Lindberg said. Next year, her office will have to spend hundreds of thousands of additional dollars procuring extra machines and equipment for a presidential election year, which means a much greater influx of absentee ballots.
The first election the paper ballots will be used for is the June Democratic primary for County Board. On May 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Lindberg’s office will be hosting an open house to explain the new balloting system on the ground floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
In 1950, Arlington switched from paper ballots to the lever machines, where voters had to go into a booth and pull a curtain behind them. In 1991, the county introduced its first electronic machines — bulky, “but very reliable,” Lindberg said — and in 2003 they starting using the touch-screen system that is now obsolete.
Arts Center Gets Warhol Grant — The Arlington Arts Center has received a $70,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “Funding from the Foundation will increase AAC’s capacity to support and present the work of new artists and spur the development of new initiatives and exhibitions,” AAC said in a press release. “Programming support of this scale makes new programs possible, like one for rising curators, while also furthering the ongoing work of the arts center.”
Bicycle Billboard Towers Sought — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association and BikeArlington are seeking bike ambassadors for a safety campaign. Volunteers will ride around Arlington while towing a large, wheeled billboard that tells drivers to pass bikes with at least three feet of space. The sign also encourages all road users to be predictable, alert and lawful. [WABA]
Arlington Couple Get Baby Wish Times Three — The Washington Post’s “This Life” feature profiles an Arlington couple who had trouble conceiving a child when, all of a sudden, fate blessed them with three via various means. [Washington Post]
Voting Machines May Go Old School — As part of a state-wide switch, Arlington election officials are considering replacing all touch screen voting machines with digital optical scan machines in time for the 2016 presidential election. The new machines will utilize what is fundamentally an old-school voting method: scanning paper ballots, which then leaves a paper trail for recounts. [InsideNova]
Jane Goodall to Speak at Marymount Benefit — Famed primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will speak at a benefit event for Arlington’s Marymount University this spring. The event is taking place at DAR Constitution Hall on Friday, April 17. Ticket proceeds will “help establish a fund at Marymount that will enhance the work of volunteerism and community engagement.” [Marymount University]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Sheryl Crow Musical Coming to Shirlington — The world premiere musical adaptation of the moving Diner is coming to Signature Theatre in Shirlington next month. Written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Barry Levinson, with music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow, Diner will run from Dec. 9 to Jan. 25. [Signature Theatre]
Crossover Voting Strong in N. Arlington — Throughout Arlington, Democratic voters “crossed over” to vote for John Vihstadt on Tuesday. Overall, however, the residential portions of North Arlington had the greatest crossover vote for the independent County Board candidate. [Not Larry Sabato]
Voter ID Rule Mostly Affected Seniors — About 60 Arlington voters did not bring a photo ID to the polls on Tuesday, election officials said. Under new ID rules in Virginia, they could only cast a provisional ballot then come back and present photo ID. Most of those without ID were senior citizens, and many of those senior citizens were from the same local retirement home. [InsideNova]
(Updated at 2:00 a.m.) Incumbent County Board candidate John Vihstadt, running as an independent, has won a historic victory in Tuesday’s general election.
With all 53 precincts reporting, Vihstadt has captured 56 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Democratic challenger Alan Howze. Vihstadt’s margin of victory is just shy of 7,500 votes, with 62,663 total votes cast in the race.
Vihstadt won by attracting a sizable number of Democratic votes. All Arlington precincts reviewed by ARLnow voted for the top of the Democratic ticket, incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who is in a tight statewide race with Republican Ed Gillespie.
Vihstadt is the first non-Democrat to win an Arlington County Board seat in a general election since Republican Mike Brunner won in 1983. (Ellen Bozman was elected to the County Board in 1985 and 1989 while running as an independent, but she was endorsed by the Democratic party and in 1993 won reelection as a Democrat.)
“We’ve made modern history in Arlington County,” Vihstadt told ARLnow.com at his election party. “In my view, this was not a victory for any one person or any one party, it was a victory for a new way of doing things, a fresh perspective and a new paradigm in Arlington County where partisanship doesn’t mean much but citizenship means everything.”
Howze called Vihstadt to concede the race at 9:15 tonight. He said he was disappointed with the result, which came despite hard work on the campaign trail by his supporters.
“There was a message of dissatisfaction with the electorate,” Howze said. “I worked hard to bring new ideas and a new perspective to the County Board. They chose John and the alternative path he put forward. He ran a very good campaign, ultimately the voters rewarded him for that.”
Now off the campaign trail, Howze said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and three young children.
At the Vihstadt victory party, the mood was jubilant, with campaign manager Eric Brescia jumping for joy as more and more precincts reported wider and wider margins for Vihstadt. County Board member Libby Garvey was by Vihstadt’s side during his victory speech, and was giddy after the victory. A Democrat, Garvey resigned from the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s executive board in April after backing Vihstadt.
“This wasn’t just a squeaker, we won it big,” Garvey said. “It’s a validation of what I’ve been saying, what John’s been saying. We serve the people of Arlington and we presented them with what we think needs to happen, and they said ‘yes, that’s what we want.’ It’s democracy at its best. I’m thrilled.”
Barbara Kanninen defeated Audrey Clement in one of two School Board races tonight. Kanninen has 66 percent of the vote to 34 for Clement. Nancy Van Doren, running for School Board unopposed, has 97 percent of the vote.
Across Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District, which includes Arlington, Democrat Don Beyer has emerged victorious over his four opponents. Beyer captured 63 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Republican Micah Edmond, 2 percent for Libertarian Jeffrey Carson, 0.5 percent for Independent Green candidate Gerard Blais, and 3 percent for independent Gwendolyn Beck.
“My whole life has been leading up to this moment and this mission,” Beyer said in a statement tonight. “Together, we will move Congress and this nation forward.”
In the statewide race for U.S. Senate, with 98 percent of precincts reporting, Democratic incumbent Mark Warner has 49.18 percent of the vote, Republican Ed Gillespie has 48.27 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 2.48 percent.
Though news outlets like CNN have yet to project a winner in the race, an “energized” Warner took the stage at his election night party at the DoubleTree Crystal City hotel to declare victory. A centrist, Warner promised to work across the aisle in the newly-Republican controlled Senate.
“Whether it’s here in Virginia or anywhere around the country, the people of America want to move past sound bites, they want us to move past political bickering… to make sure that we get the job done for you and actually govern,” he said. “I’ll go back to Washington and recognize that we have to find that common ground. I know that most of us here are Democrats but neither political party has a monopoly on truth or virtue or patriotism. In this new Senate I’ll work with anyone — Democrat, Republican, independent, you name it — if we’re going to make sure we get our country’s problems fixed.”
Among other things, Warner pledged to a work to pass a budget “so we don’t go back to the stupidity of sequestration.”
Locally, voters on Tuesday approved the all four Arlington County bond questions on the ballot, including:
- Schools ($105.7 million)
- Metro and Transportation ($59.7 million)
- Community Infrastructure ($40.2 million)
- Parks and Recreation ($13 million)
Democrat Carla de la Pava, running unopposed for county treasurer, captured 97 percent of the vote. (more…)
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) The two candidates for Arlington County Board both say they’re feeling optimistic about their chances in today’s general election, but they also admitted that it’s anyone’s guess who will emerge victorious in the race.
Incumbent John Vihstadt, who’s running as an independent, said his campaign has “the message, the momentum and the means to win,” but said he’s “concerned” about the number of Democratic voters who came out specifically to vote on the congressional races, and are voting a straight party line by default.
“We would like to think most people who come out to vote, if they’re going to cast a vote for an office, that they will be informed and they’ll study the candidates in advance,” Vihstadt said while greeting voters outside the Walter Reed Recreation Center, near Columbia Pike. “There’s bound to be some people who just vote party line and don’t really look at the issues. But we feel confident that if voters judge the candidates, look at the issues, look at our background, that they’ll vote Vihstadt for County Board.”
A majority of the voters who talked to ARLnow.com outside the Walter Reed center around lunchtime said they opposed the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the election’s most talked-about issue. Vihstadt opposes the streetcar, while Democratic challenger Alan Howze generally supports it.
Howze acknowledged the “power of the sample ballot” helping his cause, but said he expects his progressive message to resonate with Arlington residents.
“A healthy democracy is always a good thing,” Howze said, while talking to voters outside the Wilson School voting center in Rosslyn. “Having a lot of people out participating in the process will give us a clear signal as to the direction the community wants to go.”
Howze, a father of three young children, said his campaign has been “a family and a community effort,” with a big assist from his wife, Pam.
“We’ve been working hard, we’ve done everything we can do, and now it’s up to the voters to decide,” Howze said. “We’re confident that the voters will choose to move Arlington forward.”
Vihstadt said his campaign has been fighting an uphill battle to reach voters who aren’t as engaged in local issues as those who voted for him over Howze in the County Board special election earlier this year. He’s hoping the Washington Post’s endorsement will help, as well as his television commercials, which have run during primetime football games and other cable TV programming.
“Cable TV ads… were surprisingly affordable, and we decided to give it a go,” Vihstadt said. “We’ve got great feedback, great response from those ads. The other nice thing about that ad is that it broadcasts the fact that as an independent we’re supported by parties across the political spectrum.”
Despite strong turnout this morning, so far few problems have been reported at polling stations. Arlington election officials tweeted that a party worker who had been handing out flyers outside Fire Station No. 10 in Rosslyn collapsed and was treated by emergency responders around 3:00 this afternoon.
Many voters who talked to ARLnow.com today said they were voting out of a sense of civic responsibility.
“I vote in every election because I think it’s our civic duty. I don’t miss a vote,” said Columbia Pike resident Nathan Chaisson.
“I am a huge supporter of Mark Warner, I think he’s done a wonderful job for this state,” Chaisson said of one of the factors that motivated his vote. “[I’m] satisfied with the taxes and the way our local government is run.”
Another voter, Alan Green, said he was voting after just getting back from serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq.
“I just want to come out here and do my part,” said Green. “People who don’t vote, that’s crazy. It’s one way you can express your thoughts and feelings to get the right person in the house.”
“We just need to get somebody… to make better decisions than we’ve got right now,” Green added. “Because right now it’s terrible. Basically we need to get things fixed because a lot of things are broken.”
Many polling places across Arlington had lines out the door as voters streamed in to decide Senate, House of Representatives, County Board and School Board races today.
At Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street), campaign workers stationed outside the school said lines were surprisingly long considering there is no presidential election this year. Wes Pippert has voted at the school for 20 years, and he said turnout was unusually strong.
Pippert said he hasn’t been following local issues, but that didn’t stop him from voting for all four bond measures — Metro and transportation, parks and recreation, capital projects and schools — on the ballot.
“I voted for County Board and School Board,” Pippert said, “but I can’t say I was very informed.”
Pippert’s son and daughter voted with him, and his son said he voted for Audrey Clement for School Board because he “liked her name” more than Barbara Kanninen’s.
Judy Word and Andrew Smoyer also voted at Arlington Traditional School, but they said they have been paying more attention to local issues — particularly the Columbia Pike streetcar — than in years past.
“I think the bulk of voters in the County Board election are voting their opinion on the streetcar,” Smoyer said. “We both thought more about it, because usually we vote party line. More than in previous years we had to think separately about the issues.”
Martha Deutscher voted at Washington-Lee High School, and she said she votes every year as a “loyal Democrat.”
“Streetcars don’t cross my mind,” she said. “I’m a Democrat, I usually vote Democrat. I’m just here to support the party.”
Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg predicts turnout in Arlington will be “about 50 percent” and said turnout is about 10-15 percent so far. The turnout is heavier in North Arlington than in South Arlington so far, Lindberg said, which is typical of most elections, despite the prominence of the streetcar in the race.
There have been complaints about faulty ballot machines in Culpepper Gardens and Arlington Traditional School — one ballot box froze at Washington-Lee but was quickly rebooted, according to the precinct chief — but Lindberg said that could simply be due to voter error.
“Our machines are definitely aging at 11 years old, and seldom does one keep a touchscreen device that long,” she said. “We have had a few issues with voters not properly making selections or complaining the selections they make aren’t registering. At Culpepper there are a lot of elderly voters who don’t always touch carefully. The election officers have been instructed to tell voters having difficulty making selections to either touch directly straight down on the selection or to use a stylus. We haven’t had issues when voters touch their selections properly.”
According to Lindberg, Arlington received 6,800 absentee votes, with “probably several hundred ballots still to be returned,” putting the absentee turnout at less than in the 2010 midterms that didn’t feature a Senate election. This election features the race to replace longtime Rep. Jim Moran, and Independent candidate Gwendolyn Beck was campaigning at Washington-Lee High School this morning.
Beck said it’s her goal to visit every polling place in the 8th Congressional District today, and she started with “packed” polling places Wilson School and Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn. In Rosslyn, she saw several voters she met on Saturday when campaigning during the Clarendon bar crawl.
“That’s the big question: how do you reach millennials?” she said. “You meet them where they go out.”
Party members recommend voters say no to the bonds because they are too broad. They believe approving the bonds would be the equivalent of offering blank checks to the Arlington School Board and the Arlington County Board to spend money on non-specific items.
The four bonds total nearly $219 million and include issues such as funding a new elementary school adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, as well as continuing funding for the Metro system.
“Arlington parents distrust the school board, and many feel duped by the School Board’s failure to approve a detailed CIP (Capital Improvement Plan),” said Arlington Green Party Chairman John Reeder. “South Arlington parents were promised years ago a new elementary school, now proposed to be built on scarce parkland next to TJ Middle School. Arlington parents should remember that critical on-going school programs were put on the chopping block in the past spring; and now a confused school board and a superintendent propose to rush spending $106 million on plans that are less than educationally optimal for our students.”
Party members point to past bonds approved by voters that apparently were vaguely worded and ended up funding controversial developments around the county.
“This county board built a million dollar bus stop on Columbia Pike, diverted many millions of park bond dollars approved by voters for park land acquisition to remodeling a failed Artisphere, and now proposes to spend over $300 million on a doomed trolley,” said Reeder. “Voters should be wary of allowing the county board to spend over $100 million without detailed engineering and vetted plans because of these past abuses.”
Although it has traditionally has run its own candidates in recent County Board elections, the Arlington Green Party has endorsed independent board member John Vihstadt in the November election.
APS Identifies Elementary Schools to Possibly Expand — Arlington Public Schools named two schools that could be expanded as a “plan B” if the proposal to put a new school on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus doesn’t go through. If the new school cannot be constructed, APS has suggested expanding Randolph Elementary School and Barcroft Elementary School. The County Board commissioned a working group last month to look into the possibility of building a new school on the Thomas Jefferson campus. [InsideNova]
Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the deadline to register to vote, both in person and absentee, in the special election next Tuesday, August 19. Voter registration can be done online. [Arlington County]
Free Tacos at California Tortilla — California Tortilla is giving away free tacos today to celebrate being voted readers’ favorite Mexican in Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of Washington 2014″ issue. Arlington’s three locations, as well as all locations nationwide, will offer one free taco per customer all day.
(Updated at 10:00 p.m.) By a wide margin, former Virginia lieutenant governor Don Beyer has captured the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Jim Moran in Congress.
With all precincts reporting in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, Beyer had 46 percent of the vote, compared to 18 and 14 percent respectively for runners up Del. Patrick Hope and state Sen. Adam Ebbin.
Rounding out the seven active candidates in the race, Alexandria mayor Bill Euille had 8 percent of the vote, lawyer and pundit Mark Levine had 7 percent, former Northern Virginia Urban League president Lavern Chatman had 5 percent, and Virginia Tech professor Derek Hyra had 1 percent.
“Tonight is the culmination of the hard work, the heartfelt values, and the shared ideas of many, many, many good people,” Beyer, 63, said in a statement. “I am honored and humbled to be your standard bearer.. Now we turn our attention to November… We must carry the Virginia ideals of integrity, community, progress, and compassion forward to all voters.”
Just past 7:40 p.m., via Twitter, Hope conceded the race.
“I just called @DonBeyerVA to congratulate him on his victory tonight,” Hope said. “Congratulations and I look forward to voting for him in November.”
Other candidates, including Ebbin and Levine, soon followed suit. Moran, who’s retiring after 12 terms, released a statement congratulating Beyer on his victory.
“Don ran a tremendous campaign,” Moran said. “He distinguished himself with a deep knowledge of foreign policy, a steadfast commitment to addressing global climate change, support for common sense gun laws, and consistently strong progressive values. He’s the leader Northern Virginia needs in Congress. I’ll be proud to be his constituent.”
Moran and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe were among the Democratic officials to attend Beyer’s victory party at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. Also spotted at the party was former candidate Bruce Shuttleworth and his family, Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze and Del. Alfonso Lopez.
Hope, the only Arlington-based candidate in the race, performed best in his home county. Hope had 33 percent of the vote in Arlington compared to Beyer’s 39 percent.
Hope, at his election party at the Greene Turtle in Ballston, told dozens of his yellow-shirt-clad supporters that he was proud of the campaign he ran.
“None of us could keep up with Don Beyer,” he said. “A lot of Virginia Democrats see Don Beyer the way national Democrats see Al Gore. They wonder what would have been if the voters had been smart enough to vote for him for governor.”
Turnout was relatively light in Arlington. Just after polls closed, Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said her earlier estimate of 10-12 percent voter turnout would likely prove “pretty close.” With 14,411 votes cast in Arlington, turnout was just above 10 percent.
While some north Arlington precincts reported double-digit turnout, Lindberg suggested that south Arlington turnout was comparatively lower. One Crystal City precinct reported 2-3 percent turnout, she said.
Beyer, who owns an eponymous chain of car dealerships, has long been considered a favorite in the race. He held an advantage in name recognition and led the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls in fundraising. This morning, he was featured in a New York Times article that focused on his allegiance to President Obama.
After serving as a regional finance chairman for Obama’s 2008 campaign, Beyer was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He served from 2009-2013.
In his victory declaration, Beyer channeled the president’s 2008-era slogans of hope and change, saying: “The last few weeks, I have taken to quoting St. Augustine of Hippo, who said, ‘Hope has two beautiful daughters, Anger and Courage. Anger about the way things are. And Courage to change them.'”
Polling places around Arlington are reporting relatively light turnout so far this morning for the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary.
“It’s probably a little slower at this point then we had anticipated,” Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. “Some precincts haven’t even had 50 voters yet.”
Lindberg said Arlington is on pace for 10-12 percent voter turnout, barring a late surge in voters. Two years ago, when heavily-favored incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) faced off against Bruce Shuttleworth in the Democratic primary, overall turnout was 7 percent.
Election officials at Arlington Central Library were surprised at the low turnout considering the impact of the primary. Chief Election Officer Stephanie Sanders said that at 9:05 a.m., 45 voters had come through the door, and while there is usually a rush when polls open at 6:00 a.m., she said no voters came in until 10 or 15 minutes after the doors opened.
“People just voted in April for the [Arlington County Board] special election, so there might be voting fatigue,” Sanders said. “It’s almost always busiest here in the morning, so we’ve already missed our busy period.”
Another theory: the gloomy morning may have dissuaded some voters from making the trek to their local voting stations. So far, however, there have been no reported problems at the polls, according to Lindberg.
While many elections see multiple campaign volunteers at polling places passing out flyers and sample ballots, Central Library had just one, a volunteer for Del. Patrick Hope, the only candidate based in Arlington.
“I’ve never seen nobody campaigning,” Sanders said. “We’ve had no authorized representatives come in. We thought we’d have at least a couple.”
Chester Chandler, a 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran, voted this morning, and he said he was “going to miss [Rep.] Jim Moran.”
“He was really concerned with veterans’ affairs,” he said. “I went to his office and he made sure I got my benefits.”
Chester said he noticed that he had seen former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer’s name more than the other candidates over the course of the campaign, adding: “you can tell who’s got the most cheese.”
“Hopefully we get some young people with some different ideas in Congress to make Arlington and this country what it should be,” he said. “I’m 60 years old and even I know something different needs to happen.”
The candidates seeking the Democratic nomination today are Don Beyer, Bill Euille, Lavern Chatman, Adam Ebbin, Patrick Hope, Derek Hyra and Mark Levine. Three candidates withdrew from contention but are still on the ballot: Charniele Herring, Bruce Shuttleworth and Satish Korpe.
The winner will face Republican Micah Edmond in the fall. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County.
Ethan Rothstein and Morgan Fecto contributed to this report
Voting Starts in Congressional Primary — Polls opened at 6:00 this morning in the seven-way race for the Democratic nod to replace Rep. Jim Moran. The polls will close at tonight 7:00. The candidates seeking the nomination are Don Beyer, Bill Euille, Lavern Chatman, Adam Ebbin, Patrick Hope, Derek Hyra and Mark Levine. [Washington Post]
Few Surprises in Howze Speech — County Board candidate Alan Howze addressed the local Democratic faithful at the Arlington Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Saturday. Howze talked about school overcrowding and global warming in the speech, which was described as “low-key,” and said little that would suggest a significant change in strategy since his special election loss to independent candidate John Vihstadt. [InsideNova]
County Employee Sentenced for Taking Bribes — Francisco Hernandez, who worked in Arlington County’s Dept. of Motor Vehicles Select office, has been sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted of taking bribes in connection with his job as a tax assessor supervisor. [FBI Washington Field Office]
Crystal Car Festival This Weekend — In honor of Father’s Day, Crystal City will hold its second annual Crystal Car Father’s Day Auto Festival from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 15. The free event features cars on display, live music, kids activities and a beer/wine garden. [Crystal City]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
(Updated at 11:35 p.m.) For the first time in 15 years, a non-Democrat will sit on the Arlington County Board.
John Vihstadt, a Republican who ran as an independent with the endorsement of the local Republican and Green parties, has won the special election to replace Chris Zimmerman (D) on the Arlington County Board.
Vihstadt captured 57 percent of the vote to Democrat Alan Howze’s 41 percent. Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy and independent Stephen Holbrook each captured about 1 percent of the vote.
“We won the race by a higher margin than my most aggressive expectations,” Vihstadt told supporters at his victory party tonight. “The most exciting and gratifying measure of our victory was that it was north to south and east to west. There really is one Arlington, not two Arlingtons.”
Given that the race hinged largely on the hot-button issues of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar and Long Bridge Park aquatics center, the result is likely to be viewed by many as a voter rebuke of the County Board’s major capital spending projects.
“People want cost-effective, results-oriented solutions on the local level,” Vihstadt said.
Vihstadt touted his “true rainbow coalition” of supporters. Those supporters included all three candidates for County Board in 2012: current Democratic County Board member and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, Republican ARLnow.com columnist Mark Kelly, and frequent Green Party candidate Audrey Clement. Also supporting Vihstadt was Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, a close friend of Vihstadt and his wife, Mary.
“It was an easy call for me,” said Stamos, a lifelong Democrat. “He’s a good man and we need to sometimes think outside the box.”
“This is a victory for good government,” Garvey said. “I’m going to get choked up, this is Democracy at its best. This is the way it’s supposed to be.”
“The people have spoken and the County Board needs to listen,” Garvey added.
Vihstadt, whose yard signs were purple to represent a blend of red and blue politics, said he plans to “work in a collaborative fashion to get things done for the county.”
“This was a victory not for one person or one party, but for Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians and people with no party,” Vihstadt said. “I’m not going to be a captive of any political party, any person, any ideology — I’m going to call issues as I see them.”
Voter turnout today was relatively light, which benefited Vihstadt. With no state or national-level races energizing the Democratic base, its appears that many party-line Democrats stayed home. Total unofficial turnout was 22,209, or about 16 percent of registered voters.
Vihstadt will be the first non-Democrat on the Board since Republican Mike Lane served briefly after winning a special election in 1999. Lane lost in the general election several months later. Similarly, Vihstadt is expected to face Howze again in the November general election, when a U.S Senate and a House of Representatives race will be on the local ballot.
Howze told dozens of his supporters at the Democrats’ election party at Whitlow’s in Clarendon that he continues to believe infrastructure and education investments are the core values of Arlington voters.
“The special election is behind us now, and I look forward to continuing this conversation into November and moving Arlington forward,” he said. “There’s a lot at stake.”
As of this morning, the polls around the county for the Arlington County Board special election are reporting very light turnout.
“I don’t know if it’s the dreary weather, but it’s been quiet,” Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. “There’s no waiting at the polls in Arlington.”
Lindberg said the final returns for absentee balloting aren’t in yet — the registrar’s office hadn’t received its mail yet — but expects about 2,000 absentee ballots to be counted tonight, which is “definitely high for a special election, but I’m not sure how that’s translating to turnout.”
At Barrett Elementary School in Buckingham, election officer Nels Running said there were about 40 total voters in the first three hours of voting.
“Some people will wait for the sun to start shining,” he told ARLnow.com. “Most elections there’s a rush at midday until about 1:00 p.m. and then another from 4:30 to 7:00.”
Many of the voters who have turned out so far are voting die hards. One voter at Barrett, who only wanted to give his first name, Mick, to a reporter, said he’d voted in every election since he was 21, even one year when he broke his back and “my brother had to carry me.”
“It’s not really an election in Arlington since you know who’s going to win,” Mick said. “I’m a conservative, so my guy never wins.”