Join Club

Independent Candidate Announces for County Board Special Election

There will likely be at least one independent candidate in the upcoming Arlington County Board special election.

While Arlington Democrats work to select a nominee internally, Susan Cunningham — a civically-involved mother of two — has announced her intention to run as an independent to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.

“I believe good local government is non-partisan,” she said in her announcement Tuesday morning. “We are all Arlingtonians; I want to work for Arlington’s common good, regardless of party.”

Cunningham outlined a wonky policy agenda, anchored by “data-driven solutions that are financially sound and make Arlington a great place to live and to do business.” Among her priorities are:

  • Planning processes for north-south corridors like Glebe Road and George Mason Drive, similar to efforts underway for Lee Highway (of which she is a participant.)
  • “Needs-based budgeting and efficient delivery of core services,” including “proactive investments in sustainable infrastructure like stormwater, sewers, and emergency management.”
  • Improving transparency and access to public information, while “streamlining community engagement processes to make them more fair, less cumbersome, and more equitable.”
  • Long-term planning for public facilities and “selective upzoning to enhance business viability and housing choice and affordability.”

The filing deadline for candidates to run in the July 7 special election is this Friday at 5 p.m. Arlington County General Registrar Gretchen Reinemeyer tells ARLnow that she has “received some inquiries” from independent candidates, but so far only Cunningham has filed partial paperwork.

One candidate not likely to run: former independent County Board member John Vihstadt.

“While many of you have encouraged me to run in the July 7 special election for the remainder of Erik’s term, I’m enjoying being back into law practice full-time,” he told supporters in an email on Monday. “I’m inclined not to run and am channeling my commitment to Arlington in myriad other ways. But these are precarious times, and I hope someone will still step forward to run who (a) shows a blend of civic leadership and fresh ideas, (b) has a sober, well-informed and independent outlook on what local government can and can’t afford and (c) will question authority and speak truth to power.”

Arlington’s elections office, meanwhile, is expected to announce today that it will not be running a party nomination event ahead of the November County Board general election. The expected announcement comes after Libby Garvey’s would-be challenger, Chanda Choun, withdrew from the primary in order to seek the Democratic nod in the special election. Polls will still be open June 23 for a Republican U.S. Senate primary.

With elections in June and July, and a presidential election in November — all amid the coronavirus pandemic and some legally uncharted territory — Reinemeyer said Arlington election officials have been keeping “very busy” in 2020.

The full announcement from Cunningham is below, after the jump.

Today, Susan Cunningham announced her candidacy as an Independent for the Arlington County Board. “I believe good local government is non-partisan,” she said. “We are all Arlingtonians; I want to work for Arlington’s common good, regardless of party.”

Susan is stepping into the July 7 special election to fill the seat vacated by the sudden death of Erik Gutshall. “Erik’s legacy of bold vision, deep listening and forward planning will drive Arlington’s future,” said Susan. “These are unparalleled times for our community. We must navigate real human, social, and financial losses while at the same time, addressing urgent public health, environmental, and financial challenges. Our response, both human and systemic, will shape Arlington for decades to come.”

Susan’s 25 years of professional experience and 20 years of Arlington community experience mean she brings both the context and the skills in management, problem solving, and collaboration to meet the County’s current challenges. She has led major planning and facilities initiatives for both the County Board and School Board, most recently as a founding member of the County Board’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, a Planning Committee member for Lee Highway Alliance, Co-chair of the Superintendent’s Special Committee on Historic Interpretation at Stratford Middle School, and Chair of the Hamm Middle School Building Level Planning Committee. In addition, Susan brings cross-sector management expertise, from leading data-driven government innovation to advancing corporate environmental sustainability and improving regional education and workforce development. Susan is married and has two school-aged daughters.

“This is our time to step forward to build the next, new normal. As an Arlington County Board Member, I will focus relentlessly on reconnecting our communities, valuing what’s essential and balancing growth and livability.”

Susan announced a three-step platform that begins with “Reconnecting Our Community” as we face the COVID-19 crisis and recovery together. Susan will bring a new focus to North-South connections, jumpstarting corridor planning along Glebe Road, Carlin Springs, and George Mason, to complement and connect the East-West corridor development underway along Columbia Pike and Lee Highway. She will bring residents, government, business, and non-profit partners together to ensure businesses, essential workers, and neighbors of all ages and incomes are welcome and thrive in Arlington. Susan recognizes that Arlington cannot meet all of its challenges or maximize opportunities in a vacuum; she will prioritize County and Arlington Public Schools coordination and work to drive greater regional collaboration on public health, housing affordability, economic development, and transportation.

“Valuing What’s Essential” is the next step. In this time of crisis and recovery, Susan will keep the focus on what is truly essential to Arlington by prioritizing needs-based budgeting and efficient delivery of core services. Proactive investments in sustainable infrastructure like stormwater, sewers, and emergency management must be accelerated to meet needs. Susan will also work to modernize our commitment to inclusive and transparent government; we can save time and money by ensuring up-to-date, publicly available information reduces the need for Freedom of Information Act requests and streamlining community engagement processes to make them more fair, less cumbersome, and more equitable.

Finally, Susan will focus on “Balancing Growth and Livability” as our county continues to expand and evolve. Each investment, whether revitalization or growth, needs a full funding plan and timeline for infrastructure, school capacity, and transportation investments. Susan will prioritize Arlington’s long-term planning, including both a robust public facilities investment plan and selective upzoning to enhance business viability and housing choice and affordability. She will drive expanded and more leveraged public-private partnerships to support investments in housing affordability, open space, and infrastructure. And in each decision and investment, Susan will insist on data-driven solutions that are financially sound and make Arlington a great place to live and to do business.

Recent Stories

Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 8607 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

New Spring Street home near Westover Village, 2 home offices, screened porch

Have you ever showed up to a date and realized you had been stood up? The Arlington County Board nearly did yesterday (Thursday) during a hearing on the proposed property…

Stop wasting hours of time getting your car maintained, repaired, or detailed. Discover the time-saving joy that is CarCare To Go and see why so many people are leaving reviews…

Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done. 

Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.

The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.

2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!

Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!

A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.

Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!

Submit your own Announcement here.

Private School Fair

Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
Congressional School in Falls Church, VA is delighted to host the MONA (Mothers of North Arlington) at an upcoming Private School Fair. Private schools from around

WHS Spring Festival

Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!

Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and


Subscribe to our mailing list