After a summer lull, politicking in Arlington is back in full swing.
For candidates, the first big stop on the campaign trail was an in-person and virtual forum hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation, or CivFed, last night (Tuesday).
Democrat and Republican candidates for the state legislature outlined their top social and economic goals, while the four Arlington County Board candidates, meanwhile, were quizzed on more local topics, including government transparency — a key issue for CivFed that roiled the organization earlier this year.
State senate challengers emerge
Two Republicans are challenging Arlington’s two long-time incumbent Democrat state senators: Sophia Moshasha, vying for the 39th District seat against Adam Ebbin, and David Henshaw, going up against Barbara Favola for the 40th District seat.
Last night, the four candidates staked out their party-line positions on center-stage social issues, including abortion, gun violence, public education and crime.
Favola and Ebbin say they are both focused on codifying abortion rights and banning “assault-style” weapons.
Ebbin said his other top priorities “are a state government that fights for Virginians and an economy that works for Virginia, but we need to keep improving our K-12 public education system.”
Both incumbents pointed to their years of experience legislating under Republican and Democrat governors as reasons voters should re-elect them.
“I have always been very pragmatic,” Favola said. “I think I’m one of the more successful lawmakers in terms of gaining bipartisan support for my bills, and actually having my bill signed.”
Both Republicans styled themselves as “political outsiders.” Echoing similar language from GOP Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his race and tenure, the candidates called on the state to safeguard the rights of parents to “have a say” in their child’s education. They both also called for increased funding for law enforcement to address crime.
“I am concerned — and a little bit upset — with the direction that our country and our state are going, particularly with regard to education, the high cost of living and crime,” Henshaw said. “Arlington deserves a choice in the election coming up.”
Criticizing Favola’s support of abortion rights, Henshaw said he supports a 15-week abortion ban, with exceptions for the health of the mother as well as rape and incest, as well as lower state taxes.
Moshasha, meanwhile, has made technology and science a marquee issue. Going up against Ebbin, who chairs two senate committees focused on technology, she says she will push for more STEM programs at all educational levels and more policies to attract emerging industries to Virginia.
“I am not a career politician. I focus on the things that we need to move our economy and our community forward,” she said. “I think it’s time to get a fresh voice, a fresh perspective and an innovative mindset with the energy that will get things done on behalf of the greater community.”
Arlington County Board candidates on transparency
The County Board forum began with topics such as police staffing and the office vacancy rate, but heated up during a later question about transparency.
The question elicited criticism from every candidate about how the county makes information available. Multiple candidates suggested an overhaul of how Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are handled, saying the status quo is laborious for staff and expensive for residents.
“We’ve not gotten to a place where our FOIA requests… are searchable and available to all, and that’s a waste of staff time and our own time,” said Democratic candidate Susan Cunningham.
Juan Carlos Fierro — a Republican candidate campaigning on tackling crime, lowering taxes and adding affordable housing — said the county should reduce information request fees, especially for information that “should really be readily available online.” He also suggested the county push surveys written by third-parties, rather than staff, and allow for same-day sign-ups for public comment.
Democratic candidate Maureen Coffey suggests another overhaul of the website to make it easier to find information, including more details about applications to build Missing Middle-type homes.
“To the question of transparency from earlier, this is this is really concerning and that we should be pushing for it,” she said, noting that “it’s not realistic to ask people to go through 100 steps to get there.”
Repeat independent candidate Audrey Clement is focusing her latest campaign on ending “a one-party rule” in Arlington and promoting alternative housing policies to Missing Middle. On transparency, she criticized the county for opacity around its $150 million loan to a developer buy the Barcroft Apartments.
“The lack of transparency here is a slap in the face to Arlington County taxpayers who deserve to know where their tax dollars are going, who and why,” she said. “One solution is to end one party rule in Arlington County, which serves only to keep citizens in the dark.”
More on the slate of candidates at the local and state level, as well as important dates to remember ahead of Election Day (Nov. 7) is available online.
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Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
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The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.