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Parisa Dehghani-Tafti Elected Prosecutor as All Incumbents Win Down the Ballot

(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) There were no surprises in Tuesday’s general election in Arlington, as Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was elected Arlington’s new prosecutor and all Democratic incumbents won new terms.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney race saw an elevated level of write-in votes — 10% of the overall vote — but the result was never in doubt as Tafti received 90% of the vote. She will take office as the top prosecutor for Arlington and Falls Church starting in January.

Tafti ran a progressive campaign centered on criminal justice reform during a contentious and expensive primary. She ran unopposed in the general election after beating incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos in a surprising upset in the primary, with 52% of the vote to Stamos’ 48%.

“It was really surreal,” Tafti told ARLnow of her win, after the final precinct results came in.

The incoming prosecutor added that she was “lucky” she had time between the June primary and the November election to start work on her transition. Tafti she’s looking forward to rolling out reforms come January — which one expert has said is the most aggressive policy transition for the office in living memory.

“I’m really excited to get a restorative justice program started,” she told ARLnow.

Elsewhere on the ballot, Arlington County Board incumbents Katie Cristol (D) and Christian Dorsey (D) defeated independent candidates Audrey Clement and Arron O’Dell with 40% and 38% of the vote, respectively. Clement’s 13% and O’Dell’s 7% compares to the 10% Clement and 19% Republican Mike McMenamin received in 2015, when Cristol and Dorsey were first elected.

In contested General Assembly races in Arlington, state Sen. Janet Howell, who ran unopposed in the primary, won out over Republican candidate Arthur Purves, 73% to 27%. Del. Alfonso Lopez defeated independent challenger Terry Modglin, 83% to 16%.

Other Democratic candidates won bids for re-election tonight after running uncontested races:

  • Del. Patrick Hope
  • Del. Mark Levine
  • Del. Rip Sullivan
  • State Sen. Barbara Favola
  • Sheriff Beth Arthur
  • Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy
  • Treasurer Carla de la Pava
  • School Board member Reid Goldstein

Acknowledging that most of its candidates were not facing strong challengers, the Arlington Democratic party has instead focused on supporting other Virginia progressives they hoped could flip the GOP-controlled state House and Senate. As of 10 p.m., the Associated Press projected that Democrats would, in fact, win control of both.

“It’s a close call, but it’s looking very good that that we take the Senate, but also take the Virginia House of Delegates,” Lopez said  around 8:45 p.m., before the projections, to cheers across the crowded Arlington Democrats election watch party at Celtic House on Columbia Pike.

Afterward, the room erupted in chants of “ERA! ERA! ERA!” — a reference to the Equal Rights Amendment progressives have promised to sign if they take Richmond.

Much of Tuesday night’s victory party was spent cheering wins elsewhere. The room gave a standing ovation around 9 p.m. when it became clear GOP Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin lost to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear.

“That’s outstanding, that’s democracy at work right there,” said Dorsey. “That’s beautiful.”

Tafti, meanwhile, thanked the crowd for their support.

“I know your vote is precious. I know your time is precious,” Tafti said. “Every single person in this room put their faith in me — put their time in me. I will spend the next four years earning that every single day.”

Arlington’s election office reported a total turnout of about 37% — unusually high for an off-off-year election with no hotly contested races locally and no statewide nor federal races. Turnout in the similar 2015 election was 27%.

Tuesday morning, Del. Rip Sullivan told ARLnow that he was “really impressed with what I see so far” in terms of turnout.

“There’s been a lot of good energy,” he said. Previously, Sullivan wrote in an opinion column that Democratic turnout in the Arlington races was important because “we simply must finish this year’s races strong and send a clear signal about our priorities before we turn to next year’s challenges and opportunities.”

The county also debuted its newly-designed “I Voted” stickers this year, which trended on social media.

Airey and Kalina Newman contributed to this report.

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(This Community Post was written by Signature Theatre and underwritten by Embracing Arlington Arts.)

Signature Theatre just released single tickets for all 33rd season productions, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. Beginning with the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and irreverent No Place to Go, the season continues with three Sondheim musicals, the DC premieres of Off-Broadway hit Which Way to the Stage and Pulitzer Prize finalist Selling Kabul, the Tony Award®-winning rock musical Passing Strange, and return of Signature’s cabaret series honoring legendary artists.

“Last November, the world lost an icon. The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theater community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim — he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with productions of Into the Woods, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd dedicated to his memory. These shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner about the new season.

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“Probing the highly imaginative, inspired mind of Teresa Oaxaca is not altogether unlike having a present-day conversation with an Old Master,” says Nashville Arts Magazine.

Here is an unusual opportunity to learn from this incredibly talented and accessible artist, at Art House 7’s two-day oil painting workshop in October. Teresa will give 2 portrait painting demonstrations for 3 hours each morning. Students will then be painting from a clothed live model. Teresa will offer individual critiques that focus on materials, techniques, process and artistic vision. You’ll get jazzed up about painting and become more confident about your abilities.

Art House 7, Two-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca. Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT $250.

See more about Teresa Oaxaca here. Art House 7 5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22207

Submit your own Community Post here.

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