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The Right Note: A Partisan Start to the New Year

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The traditional New Year’s Day meeting for the County Board moved to Tuesday night. Insert sad trombone sound here as this probably marks the end of the traditional January 1 meeting.

In what came as a surprise to few, three Democrats on the Board refused to give Independent John Vihstadt the position of Vice Chairman. Vihstadt has been a community leader for three decades and has served on the County Board for nearly three years.

Newly installed Chairman Jay Fisette, along with Board Members Cristol and Dorsey, rejected Vihstadt’s nomination. Instead, the Board chose first-year Board Member Katie Cristol.

The reasons given by each of the three Democrats could basically be boiled down to two things. First, they used the “we’ve always done it that way” excuse. The majority party, they said, has always elected one of their own to serve in that role. Second, they argued that Vihstadt did not represent the values of the community.

In case they missed it, Vihstadt won not one, but two elections over the Democrats’ nominee. And he won both handily. The message they should have received from those elections is that nearly 35,000 Arlingtonians do like Vihstadt’s values. In fact, that’s nearly 12,000 more votes than Ms. Cristol received, nearly 11,000 more than Mr. Dorsey, and more than the average votes received by Mr. Fisette since he was first elected.

The three Democrats’ message back to the voters was simple — at the end of the day, partisanship and protecting the status quo trumps all. Voters should take note as Chairman Fisette may be asking them to re-elect him later this year.

On a lighter note, under a unique quirk of Virginia law the County Board could elect an individual to act as a tie breaker to cast the deciding vote in the unusual event that the Board was deadlocked on a question. The Board waives the appointment of a tie breaker every year which means if there is a tie vote, the motion fails.

If the Board ever changes their mind, I am happy to serve.

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