Across Virginia, voters made few changes to their elected representation. Every single incumbent on Tuesday’s ballot in the General Assembly won. The Senate remained 21-19 Republican, and Democrats netted a gain just one of 100 seats in the House, leaving it overwhelmingly in Republican hands.
Despite millions of dollars being spent to retake the Senate, Governor McAuliffe now must work with Republicans if he hopes to achieve any meaningful results in his final two years in office. After ignoring the General Assembly and the Virginia Constitution with his Supreme Court appointment over the summer, the governor has some ground to make up.
In Arlington, the results were a far cry from 2014 when voters delivered a resounding defeat to the status quo by overwhelmingly electing John Vihstadt. Like Vihstadt, Mike McMenamin offered vast community experience to voters.
The voters chose overwhelmingly instead to give two Democratic newcomers a chance on the County Board. Those results mirror Arlington’s recent history in County Board elections as voters reset to their natural predispositions at the ballot box. We will never know if the retiring members Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes would have fared as well with the electorate. But both Cristol and Dorsey promised to do a better job of taking community concerns into account on the campaign trail.
While neither Dorsey or Cristol campaigned on a complete overhaul of how the government budgets and spends our money, they join two other Board Members who have been elected since March of 2012. Four out of five County Board members had to campaign for the office in an environment where voters of all political stripes are growing increasingly concerned that our County Board had taken its eye off the ball when it comes to core functions of local government. And that is a good thing.
Now the newly constituted Board can turn its attention to hiring a County Manager. It will be the first indication of whether it will be business as usual or a new direction.
Many voters were surprised to find paper ballots awaiting them at the polls on Tuesday. Some were taken back to their hatred scantron tests in school. But lawmakers wanted to create a paper trail for recount purposes, so we will be filling them out for the foreseeable future.
Election officials at my precinct were welcoming feedback on the paper ballots as they head into a much higher turnout presidential election year. If you have any constructive suggestions, please consider contacting the Registrar’s office or use the comments section below.