Arlington, VA

Thursday is the deadline for change-of-government supporters to submit 14,350 signatures to the county registrar in order to get a referendum on the November ballot. According one of the contract signature collectors hired by the Committee for a Better Arlington, which wants to change Arlington’s form of county government, they have already exceeded that number.

Speaking to ARLnow.com at the Columbia Pike Farmers Market Sunday afternoon, signature collector Robert Farrell said they’ve collected about 15,000 signatures already and are trying to collect about 2,000 more by the deadline as a “cushion” to make up for signatures that might be disqualified by the registrar (due to duplicate signatures or an out-of-county address).

Officially, the Committee has declined to discuss the exact progress of its signature-gathering effort, except to express confidence that it will be successful.

Signature collectors have had to put in “a lot of legwork” and overcome a number of challenges, Ferrell said. He cited demonstrators who show up at events with “decline to sign” signs from the anti-referendum Coalition for Arlington Good Government. The sign holders are generally respectful, Ferrell said, although he has encountered “hostility” from about one in every 1,000 people he approaches.

Meanwhile, the number of places where Committee contractors and volunteers are allowed to gather signatures has become a bit more limited. The Committee used to rely heavily on collecting signatures outside Giant and Safeway stores. Ferrell said he was told a week ago that they were no longer welcome outside the stores due to unspecified complaints.

Ferrell, a self-described native Arlingtonian who returned from living elsewhere to help the petition effort, said that means he will just have to “keep on trucking” at another high-traffic location.

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