As many as 120,000 Arlingtonians will head to the polls for the November 8th election. Based on the last two presidential election cycles, it is likely 70% or more will vote for Hillary Clinton to become the next president. While many voters will not get past the top of the ticket, a strong majority of Clinton supporters will almost certainly give Democrat Libby Garvey another term on the County Board.
Garvey should be commended for breaking with her fellow Democrats from time to time. Her courage to back Independent candidate John Vihstadt, to stand up against the Columbia Pike streetcar, and to call for more accountability from county government is laudable.
Yet most Republicans recognize that Garvey’s overall governing philosophy is largely in line with her fellow Democrats. She has shown no real commitment to reducing the overall tax burden of homeowners. And she agreed to bring forward a vote on new regulations on homeowners who wish to list their properties on Airbnb even though Virginia General Assembly is likely to supersede those regulations in 2017.
Many Republicans looking to cast a vote against Democrat leadership in the county are likely to vote for Audrey Clement. The perennial Green turned Independent candidate has campaigned for greater fiscal restraint and tax relief. She also cites environmental concerns in opposing commercial real estate development and an additional express lane on 395. And Clement supports expanding Arlington’s efforts to preserve affordable housing.
The School Board race holds even less suspense than the County Board election. Only two candidates are on the ballot for two seats, and they are the two who won the Democratic endorsement earlier this year.
It would serve the community well if a Republican ran for these offices every year rather than leaving them uncontested. An electoral contest provides the voters with the opportunity to hear a real debate on the issues and forces Democrats to make a case for the vote. However, it is understandable that many Republicans who are qualified to serve take a pass on the race when they consider the uphill climb against the Democrat machine in the county.
Here’s a suggestion for Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents who want to vote for a Republican for County Board or School Board: write one in.
It only takes a few extra seconds of your time when you fill out your ballot. And there are many Republicans serving on board and commissions as well as leaders in civic associations who would be qualified to serve on the County Board.
You probably also know an education professional or PTA leader who is a Republican and would bring value to the School Board as well. For me, it will be a “no homework” candidate.
Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.