The Right Note: Special Election Coming Into Focus

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Mark KellyChris Zimmerman’s official resignation on Monday will mark the kickoff of a two-month race to replace him. It appears the field will include five candidates.

Evan Bernick, a Libertarian. Bernick strikes familiar libertarian themes, running against County Board over-spending.

Stephen Holbrook, an Independent who ran a write-in campaign for County Board last fall on the issues of high taxes, too much spending, and a County Board that does not listen.

Alan Howze, winner of the Democrats’ firehouse primary. Howze supports building the trolley and aquatics center.

Janet Murphy of the Independent-Green Party. Murphy has previously run for the Virginia House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives.

John Vihstadt, Independent, and winner of endorsements from the Republicans and Greens. Two years ago that coalition would have been enough to defeat Libby Garvey, who received less than 50 percent of the vote. Garvey is supporting Vihstadt this time around, primarily because he would join her in opposing the trolley.

The boondoggle trolley, as exemplified by the $1 million super stop, may not be stopped by ending one-party rule in this special election. However, electing a Board member opposed to the trolley makes stopping the trolley possible. A vote for Howze would be construed by the Board as a vote to continue the status quo.

The midway point of the campaign will occur at the March 4 Civic Federation debate. Howze, as the only candidate defending the Board’s plans on the big spending projects, should be prepared to defend against incoming fire from the other four candidates on both the pool and the trolley.

The sleeper issue in the race could be the growing community concerns over school enrollment, which is increasing by hundreds each year. While all parents are concerned about projected overcrowding, South Arlington residents are concerned it may be worse south of Route 50, particularly at the elementary school level; see Abingdon, Claremont and Oakridge.

When I met with the Arlington Education Association in early 2012 to discuss their special election endorsement, I asked them to consider ending the revenue sharing agreement. The current plan requires a few numbers to be plugged into what amounts to an excel spreadsheet plus a couple waves of a magic wand by the County Board. I argued that both schools and taxpayers would be better off if they came in and asked for what they needed rather than relying on a formula.

Currently, the Board claims the revenue sharing agreement covers school needs. However, if the County Board was forced to justify spending nearly $80 million on a swimming pool center versus more trailers rolling onto school campuses, they might better prioritize spending decisions.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

Recent Stories

Everyone has flat screen TVs already so how about a more interesting Black Friday special? The ARLnow Press Club for free, to try out the daily Early Morning Notes email…

There’s not a whole lot going on in Arlington today, save for activity at local shopping centers, so we’re going to fast forward right to the top story countdown. Here…

Statues of Liberty gives thanks this holiday season and grateful for a few things this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, Arlington!

It’s turkey time. Thanksgiving Eve is upon us and extra revelry can be expected at some local bars tonight, ahead of the holiday. Please be careful on the roads and…

The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 76th annual Christmas tree sale!

This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 25th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to huge 14 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garlands, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.

100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.

For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at

Submit your own Announcement here.

Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.

Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.

Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.

Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

National Chamber Ensemble – Holiday Cheer!

NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.

Outstanding Young Artist

Tony Woods Live – Standup Comedy Showcase

Live Standup Comedy Starring the Legendary Tony Woods!
Arlington, VA
Friday, November 25

8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Doors at 7pm)
Crystal City Sports Pub (3rd floor lounge)
529 23rd Street South, Arlington, VA
$15 – General admission
$20 –


Subscribe to our mailing list