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Merlene drops bid for office after buying house in more affordable part of Arlington

State Senate candidate Nicole Merlene in 2019 (staff photo)

A would-be Democratic candidate for a House of Delegates seat in Arlington says she decided not to run due to home affordability concerns.

Nicole Merlene announced her intention to run for the newly-redrawn District 2 seat but late last month announced again that she had reconsidered.

“After much consideration I have made a personal decision not to seek the nomination for Virginia’s House of Delegates 2nd District in 2023,” she wrote at the time. “To those who have donated to me, you will receive a full refund of your kind contributions. Arlington has a bright future, and I am confident it will be well represented moving forward.”

(The only other Democrat to announce their intention to run for the seat so far is Adele McClure, Executive Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.)

Merlene, a former ARLnow opinion columnist who previously sought the Democratic nod for state Senate and County Board, revealed in an email to supporters Tuesday that her decision actually stemmed from housing affordability: she was unable to find a home she wanted to buy and could afford in District 2.

She wrote:

It has been a lifelong goal of mine to own a home. After 5 months searching in the 2nd District it became obvious this wasn’t in the cards. A policy that I have always preached is that people of all backgrounds need an equal opportunity to build wealth — through affordable education, well paying jobs, and the greatest investment in the American economy, owning a home. It would not be of service to the 2nd District to serve for just one or two terms and then move, and it would be a disservice to myself to continue to rent just to run for office when I have the ability to invest in myself and own a home.

After ending my bid for office, the search for a home became open to the entire DC and northern Virginia area. Truth be told, my perfect first home was actually right here in Arlington, just not in the new 2nd District. I look forward to engaging with all of you as I continue to deepen my roots here as a homeowner. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.

District 2 mostly consists of several Metro corridor communities — Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Crystal City and Pentagon City — as well as the single-family home neighborhoods surrounding them.

Merlene, who previously said affordable housing would be one of her top campaign issues, tells ARLnow she was able to buy a small house along a main road in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.

Merlene noted that she only formed an exploratory committee for the 2023 race and was not officially a candidate. Candidate filings are typically made starting in January.

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