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The Right Note: What’s Ahead in 2020?

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

As the year draws to a close and we reflect on the year behind us, it is natural to start peaking around the corner into 2020.

When the Arlington County Board next meets to open the new year Libby Garvey will assume the center chair to lead the body. What will be her priorities on transportation, public safety and housing? Will she seek a property tax rate cut or will she endeavor to spend every penny of revenue generated from surging property tax assessments?

At the same time Garvey will face a primary challenge for her re-election. After the far left forces defeated Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos in June, elected officials can no longer take these races for granted. Like Stamos, Garvey angered many Democrats by backing John Vihstadt. So there is a very real question about whether she will hold off her electoral challenger.

Speaking of elections, with both Arlington school board members up for re-election next year opting to step down, who will be the next community members to step up to the plate? Will the new school board candidates be more concerned about name changes or improving classroom performance?

In the meantime, what will the final elementary school boundary changes look like? Passions will run high as parents find out that the school they moved into a neighborhood for may no longer be where their children will attend.

While Arlington schools are flush with cash relative to almost anywhere else in the country, there is no doubt that the school board is one of the toughest jobs in politics. Nothing is more personal to voters than changes to how their children are being educated.

Changes are coming to Richmond in 2020 as well. In the lead up to the November elections, Delegate Alfonso Lopez promised voters they could pass a sweeping agenda in “two afternoons.”

Democrats now own that capital and face the reality that they will no longer be able to blame Republicans for being unable to pass legislation there. They should be judged solely on their own agenda. So, what will the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly actually produce?

Many Democrats have already backtracked from promises of independent redistricting reform. The idea that they can redraw the lines to lock in General Assembly and Congressional seats for their own party seems to have conveniently outweighed the promises so many of them made on the campaign trail.

Some other big ticket items on their agenda included gun control laws, ending right to work, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, creating new energy regulations, allowing abortion up until the end of pregnancy, raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid eligibility and raising taxes as necessary to pay for it.

If the agenda goes too far, will it help push voters back toward the GOP in 2020? Did Democrats watch what happened in last week’s parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom or do they think Virginia is ready for a leftward lurch?

Finally, seven years ago, the editor of ARLnow asked me to consider writing a weekly column. The content has often infuriated many, but more often that not the feedback has been “I don’t always agree with you, but thank you for writing your column.” Thanks for reading them.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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