The following letter to the editor was submitted by current Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Kip Malinosky.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee is a welcoming, diverse and open organization with the fundamental purpose of nominating (or endorsing) and electing Democrats at the local, state and federal levels. We have helped elect 21 current public officials who have had a critical role in making Arlington a wonderful place to live.
Through the years, we have been at the forefront of electing candidates from different economic circumstances, racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender, national birthplace, and sexual orientation. Our candidates, from all across the county, have served the community in many different capacities before becoming nominees of our party.
In pursuing our fundamental purpose of electing Democratic candidates, we also pursue important values such as equality, diversity, opportunity, responsibility and social justice. Of course our committee members don’t always agree with one another and sometimes vigorously disagree about particular issues or how those values should translate into public policy.
This is one reason why we have robust primaries and caucuses where candidates can – and do – air their differences. During those nominating contests, Committee members (including Democratic elected officials) often back different candidates. But after a Democratic nominee is chosen, it is the responsibility of all Committee members to pull together, support each other, and elect the nominee.
We know that there are times when Arlingtonians who consider themselves to be Democrats do not support the Democratic nominee. That’s understandable. Individual voters have their reasons. We will continue to listen and seek common ground with these and other voters.
But the Arlington County Democratic Committee and its members commit themselves, before joining or seeking the Committee’s endorsement, to supporting all Democratic candidates. The Committee shares resources, strategies, voting lists, and other valuable information with its nominees and members. Anyone who is actively working to defeat a Democratic nominee cannot and should not have access to those resources and internal strategies.
Unsurprisingly, for these reasons, both the Democratic and Republican Committees at the local, state and national level have the same requirement that a Committee member support the Party’s nominees. It is a conflict of interest to be a Committee member and also work against the organization’s fundamental purpose.
Libby Garvey understands this process and has benefited from it four times as the ACDC endorsed School Board candidate and as the 2012 County Board nominee. She relied heavily upon committee members and resources in her 2012 victory after receiving a plurality in a 6-way contest for the Democratic nomination. But having benefited from her association with the Democratic Committee and securing the full weight of its resources behind her elections, she then announced that she would not support any Democratic candidate in the 2014 Democratic County Board caucus before we even had a filing deadline, let alone a nominee. Instead, she publicly endorsed an opposition candidate, promoted him in public appearances, and donated $1000 from her political fund to that campaign.
One Democratic candidate chose to run in our primary who agreed with her about the streetcar and other issues that Ms. Garvey cited as her reason for not supporting a Democrat, but she would not support him.
A few Democratic Committee members decided not to support the Democratic nominee, including one other elected official. Ms. Garvey and those other Committee members were politely asked to leave the Committee. All but Ms. Garvey did. She alone has refused.
Now that a formal complaint has been filed against Ms. Garvey, the Committee has no choice but to uphold its governing rules. It is in Ms. Garvey control as to whether she wants to remain on the Committee and support all Democratic nominees. Or she can choose to chart a path of supporting candidates exclusively on the basis of whether they support her individual agenda. But she cannot be part of a party Committee devoted to electing Democrats and actively work against that objective at the same time. For that reason, Ms. Garvey should no longer be a member of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
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