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DEVELOPING: Democrats poised for another sweep in Arlington, though Clement claims a few districts

(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) What many believed would be the most competitive Arlington County Board race in four years has turned out to be another convincing Democratic victory.

The three-way race between incumbent Democrat Matt de Ferranti and independents Audrey Clement and Adam Theo is, at least to some degree, a referendum on Missing Middle housing.

Clement strongly opposes the proposal to allow smaller-scale multifamily housing in neighborhoods currently zoned only for single-family homes, while Theo supports it. De Ferranti, meanwhile, staked out a middle ground, expressing opposition to the higher 8-unit end of the potential range of allowed housing types.

With 55 out of 57 precincts reporting, de Ferranti has 60% of the vote to 28% for Clement and 10% for Theo.

Both Clement and Theo ran for County Board last year, before Missing Middle came to the fore as a hot-button local issue. In the 2021 race, Democrat Takis Karantonis carried about 60% of the vote to 18% for Clement, 6% for Theo and 14% for Mike Cantwell, another independent candidate..

The Missing Middle proposal has attracted the ire of many homeowners, while a coalition of groups — from affordable housing boosters to the local chapter of the NAACP — support it.

An early look at precinct-by-precinct results shows support for Clement in Arlington’s northern, single-family home neighborhoods. The Madison district in far northern Arlington, for instance, has voted 58% for Clement to 36% for de Ferranti and 4% for Theo. She also claimed the Thrifton (Woodmont), Rock Spring, and Yorktown districts — all also in far northern Arlington.

That compares to the more renter-heavy Met Park district, in the Pentagon City neighborhood, which voted 64% for de Ferranti and 20% for Clement and 15% for Theo.  A more “in between” district — Fairlington, with its mix of townhouses and smaller condo buildings — voted 66% for de Ferranti, 23% for Clement and 9% for Theo.

Also on the ballot today were School Board and congressional races, which were even more lopsided for the Democratic candidates.

For the open Arlington School Board seat vacated by Barbara Kanninen, Arlington County Democratic Committee-endorsed candidate Bethany Sutton has 68% of the vote to 30% for independent James ‘Vell’ Rives IV.

Meanwhile, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer has 77% of the vote in the Virginia 8th District congressional race, to 21% for Republican Karina Lipsman and 1.5% for independent Teddy Fikre.

Arlington Democrats claimed victory on Twitter just after 9 p.m.

De Ferranti tells ARLnow he was impressed by the 85,000 people who voted this election, in which there was no senatorial, gubernatorial or presidential race.

“In Virginia, that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “There are other elections where there is an even lower turnout. This is a pretty rare election, and to have 85,000 vote in this election is a pretty solid turnout.”

He said addressing climate change, investing in schools and tackling affordable housing and housing affordability — “related but distinct” issues — will be key priorities this term.

“I’m grateful to Arlington residents for the chance to serve them,” he said. “I love doing this job and I’m humbled, grateful, and looking forward to serving over the next four years. I’m going to try and live up to Arlingtonians: that means being smart, thoughtful and compassionate, caring about our community and being forward-looking.”

Clement told ARLnow she was dismayed with the results, though she won four out of 54 districts — including Madison, with her 22-point margin — and came within just over 1% of the vote in another.

“I didn’t perform as well as I thought I would,” she said. “I thought I would push 40% — the sentiment I got on the street indicated a better showing.”

Theo said he hopes his campaign, while unsuccessful, helped to boost attention on housing issues in Arlington.

“The support we earned from unheard voters, our volunteers, and the issues we moved forward — especially Missing Middle housing — makes me very proud of this young movement,” he said.

In addition, this year’s general election featured six local bond issues totaling $510 million, which would fund a new Arlington Career Center campus, county building renovations, new infrastructure at the wastewater treatment plant, transportation upgrades, stormwater management and parks improvements.

All six are currently passing by comfortable margins, with the “Community Infrastructure” bond picking up the lowest level of support, with 71.5% of the vote so far.

As of 5 p.m., Arlington’s election office reported 34% Election Day voter turnout, plus 13% early in-person and 7% mail-in voting turnout.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report

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