(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) There will be two new faces sitting on the County Board come January — Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.
Dorsey led the race the entire night, taking approximately 36 percent of the total vote. Ticket mate Cristol followed closely, garnering about 34 percent of the votes. The two Democratic candidates effectively boxed out independent candidates Michael McMenamin and Audrey Clement.
Today’s election was a historic one for Arlington. For the first time in years, voters were asked to select two new County Board members after Board Chair Mary Hynes and Vice Chair Walter Tejada decided to retire. After electing independent John Vihstadt last year, Arlington residents resumed voting for Democrats by giving Cristol and Dorsey the two seats.
“Now it’s time to get to work fulfilling the promise of the campaign, which was bring Arlingtonians together to talk about issues,” Dorsey said.
Voter turnout was relatively low, following the trend of most off-year elections in Virginia. Arlington election officials estimate that around 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot today, compared to 26 percent turnout in a comparable election four years ago.
The relatively low turnout is a sign that the county needs to do better with communicating how important local elections are, Cristol and Dorsey said.
“As much as I would love Arlington to be special and different, it’s tough when the County Board race is at the top of the ballot,” Dorsey said.
Cristol and Dorsey led the race for County Board with a large gap between them and the independent candidates. The unofficial results are:
- Audrey Clement: 10.08%
- Katie Cristol: 34.41%
- Christian Dorsey: 35.71%
- Mike McMenamin: 19.03%
Both winners ran on similar platforms, focusing on the need to improve communication between residents and the County Board and supporting additional affordable housing in the county. Dorsey and Cristol pledged to be more transparent in the community, reaching out to residents, instead of asking residents to come to them.
One way is looking at how they were able to reach people during the campaign, such as through social media, Cristol said.
“One of the big things I want to spend the next couple of months before going on the Board is taking the lessons of campaigning and applying them to the Board,” Cristol said.
Now that campaigning is over, Dorsey said he plans to turn his attention to the commercial vacancy rate, looking at different ways the county can continue to attract new businesses to the area, as well as how buildings in Crystal City can be repurposed for use by arts groups or nonprofits.
“If we think about what makes Arlington Arlington, it’s having a commercial sector that humming a lot more than it is right now,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey previously ran for a Board position 12 years ago, losing out to Tejada by 29 points in the Democratic primary, he said.
“It’s truly the a privilege to have the opportunity to serve and I am ready to get to vote,” Dorsey said
It was Cristol’s first stab at a County Board seat, and she will be the youngest member on the Board.
“We did take a risk that a younger Arlingtonian could represent the view of senior residents, for example,” Cristol said.
Cristol said she will be taking the first few months on the Board to get to learn the system, while focusing on being transparent and communicative. As a younger member, she said she’ll be “looking at Arlington over the next couple of decades.”
“We have a lot of people to bring along with us,” she said. “We have a lot of new perspectives to bring with us.”
McMenamin, who ended with 19 percent of the total vote, said he wishes both candidates well.
“I wish them the best of luck being on the County Board,” he said. “We raised a lot of good issues, like road paving and putting money back in the neighborhoods.”
A look at other local and state races tonight, which were swept by Democrats:
- School Board (Reid Goldstein won with 78%)
- Senate of Virginia for 30th District (Adam Ebbin won with 77%)
- Senate of Virginia for 31st District (Barbara Favola won with 62%)
- Senate of Virginia for the 32nd District (Janet Howell won with 94%)
- House of Delegates for the 45th District (Mark Levine won with 95%)
- House of Delegates for the 47th District (Patrick Hope won with 77%)
- House of Delegates for the 48th District (Rip Sullivan won with 95%)
- House of Delegates for the 49th District (Alfonso Lopez won with 96%)
- Clerk of Circuit Court (Paul Ferguson won with 98%)
- Commonwealth’s Attorney (Theo K. Stamos won with 98%)
- Sheriff (Beth Arthur won with 98%)
- Commissioner of Revenue (Ingrid H. Morroy won with 98%)
- Treasurer (Carla de la Pava won with 98%)