Press Club
Political signs on N. Kirkwood Road in Virginia Square (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

On the eve of Election Day, some of Arlington’s candidates are hopeful that this election cycle will bring a refresh to local politics, even while history suggests otherwise.

This year, four candidates are vying for one seat on the County Board — including three independents — and two candidates are competing for a seat on the School Board.

On the County Board side, Democrat incumbent Takis Karantonis is competing to keep his seat against Mike Cantwell, Audrey Clement and Adam Theo, while for the School Board, Mary Kadera and Major Mike Webb are running for the seat of outgoing member Monique O’Grady.

Independent candidates for the County Board in particular say the loaded independent slate could be a good thing for local discourse. Karantonis was not available to respond to a request for comment.

“The independent candidates brought new ideas and fresh perspectives this year’s election,” Cantwell said. “Arlington voters want change. They know instinctively that one party rule is bad for democracy and bad for Arlington. They want to vote for someone who is free from partisan ties and conflicts of interest.”

Adam Theo also praised the ratio of four candidates to one County Board seat.

“I hope to see every race in the future be this competitive and hopefully even more diverse,” he said. “I’m well aware that despite the competitiveness, unfortunately all four candidates are middle class white people. Although there are some good policy differences among us… we could have even more differences in policy solutions with greater gender, racial, ethnic, and religious diversity in our candidates.”

But perennial candidate Audrey Clement was more pessimistic.

“While I am impressed with the professionalism of Arlington’s election operations, I am profoundly disappointed that the vast majority of voters are fixated on one thing — the blue ballot,” Clement said. “That voters will not consider an alternative to the current Democratic Party machine guarantees corrupt government and ever escalating taxes for the foreseeable future.”

Independent and Republican candidates typically are resoundingly beaten out in Arlington elections, which favors establishment Democrats. Last year, 80.7% of voters voted for Joe Biden and 71.6% voted for incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey. Karantonis himself won his 2020 special election in a landslide, and likewise won the Democratic primary in June with a two-thirds majority.

Despite Arlington’s deep blue streak, Clement praised “the robust turnout for the six virtual candidate debates” she attended.

Clement also responded to the recent controversy over misrepresenting her age in a Washington Post candidate questionnaire, comparing age discrimination to racial discrimination 50 years ago.

“I maintain that all those over age 40 are in a federally designated ‘protected class’ that bars discrimination against them on the basis of age,” she said. “That means that they cannot be compelled to divulge their age except for an overriding government purpose.”

Overall, the independents say they’re happy with the campaign they led.

“I always spoke the truth and treated everyone with respect,” Cantwell said. “Because I am a true independent, I listened to all voters, not just the voters on Team Blue or Team Red.”

Theo says he didn’t set hard exceptions for himself this year, since he was focused on warming up to debates and introducing himself to voters. He says this year prepared him for future races, when he hopes to repeat the 2014 upset that landed John Vihstadt a spot on the County Board.

“I’ve now set up everything I’ll need for a future run in 2023 or 2022,” he said. “I go into a future race better positioned and prepared than any other independent candidate since John Vihstadt in 2014, I believe.”

Meanwhile, education is an increasingly hot-button political topic in Arlington and across Virginia. Division has seeped deeper into local Arlington school politics, says Democrat-endorsed School Board candidate Mary Kadera.

“To some extent public education has always been political, but this year more so than others,” she said. Her opponent, Mike Webb, was not available for comment.

This year, school choice, school curriculum and COVID-19 safety measures such as mask requirements have made education a hot-button issue in Virginia elections, she says.

“Local school board races are by Virginia law nonpartisan, but that doesn’t mean local school districts aren’t affected by education policies and investments made at the state and federal levels,” she said. “I am hoping all voters will examine the candidates’ education platforms carefully because it’s such a significant time for our students and staff, who need our full support as schools have reopened and we’re doing the important work of recovery.”

Meanwhile, voters will also be able to cast ballots in favor or against about $86 million in local government bonds.

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A screenshot from the County Board candidate forum hosted by the NAACP on Monday (via Youtube)

Local candidates offered differing takes on police oversight and demographic disparities in public schools during a candidate forum last night.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP hosted Monday’s forum, featuring the four Arlington County Board candidates — incumbent and Democrat Takis Karantonis and independents Mike Cantwell, Audrey Clement and Adam Theo — as well as School Board candidates Mary Kadera and former Congressional candidate Major Mike Webb.

More than 100 people were in virtual attendance.

The forum addressed two dozen issues facing the county and its communities of color. County Board topics ranged from support for minority-owned businesses to accountability for developers that neighbors say violate construction terms. Schools topics spanned the unequal distribution of Parent-Teacher Association resources to improving outcomes for students of color.

But the sharpest distinctions among County Board candidates came out during a discussion of the powers endowed to the new police oversight board.

This summer, the Arlington County Board established a Community Oversight Board (COB) with subpoena power and authorized the hiring of an Independent Policing Auditor able to investigate community complaints about police officers. The decision, came amid sharp disagreements over whether board had too much, or too little, authority.

“The overall perception from many of the members, [and] people I know who are not NAACP members… is that the board is aligned with interests that are not the ones that the community is telling you we want,” said moderator Wilma Jones Kilgo.

When asked if the COB aligns with their visions, only Karantonis said it did.

“It aligned mostly with [my] vision,” Karantonis said. “We now have to nominate the board, make it work, fund it and staff it.”

Cantwell said the board shouldn’t have subpoena power or investigatory power.

“Elections are where you should hold people accountable,” he said. “You should hold the current County Board, who appoints the County Manager and the police chief, accountable, and vote them out.”

But Theo and Clement said the Community Oversight Board isn’t independent enough.

“I’m glad we got the subpoena power, but it fails utterly with not being able to properly investigate and not being able to follow through with discipline,” Theo said. “It needs to be independent. Right now, it’s still under the County Manager, that isn’t enough.”

Clement, who supports giving the board subpoena power, nonetheless called it “a toothless tiger.”

“In situations where the oversight board exercises concurrent jurisdiction with the police department in a personnel matter, I believe COB should have binding authority, as the likelihood of the police chief honoring a recommendation of the COB that goes against his own decision is nil,” she said.

She also expressed concern that the County Manager, who hires the police chief, also hires the independent auditor.

Later, Karantonis said the County Board has put some pressure on the state to change the law that gives Arlington the power to hire a police auditor.

“It is a flaw that the County Manager formally chooses this person,” he said. “We have asked the General Assembly to change that and fix other flaws in this [provision].”

Meanwhile, Jones pressed Clement and Theo on other issues they raised related to policing and the criminal justice system.

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A screenshot of the four candidates for the County Board (via Arlington Committee of 100/Facebook)

Ranked-choice voting is supported by all four candidates for County Board, according to their comments at an Arlington Committee of 100 candidate forum held last night (Wednesday).

The event was the first candidate forum of the fall general election season.

Support is strong among the three independent candidatesAudrey Clement, Mike Cantwell and Adam Theo — who want to unseat Democrat incumbent Takis Karantonis. He won a special election in 2020 and his seat is now up for a full four-year term. Theo, a Libertarian, is the most recent addition to the ballot after officially launching his campaign this week.

While all four support ranked choice voting, the reform would not be ready for the upcoming Nov. 2 election, as the county is still hammering out the logistics of the system. Dismayed at the pace of implementation, the independents said the reform would reveal public support for candidates like them and add political diversity to the County Board.

“I’ve spent a lot of my free time promoting ranked choice voting in Virginia,” said Cantwell, who became the vice president of Fair Vote Virginia, which advocates for ranked choice voting in Virginia, in 2019. “I went to Richmond in February 2020 and lobbied to bring it to Virginia. At that time, to the surprise of many, the legislature passed bills 506 and 1103, which allowed it in [Arlington] and the rest of Virginia. Since that time, [the county has] taken very little action to implement that new law.”

Theo also criticized the lack of movement on implementing the new voting system and educating voters about it.

“It would’ve been awesome to have the logo-picking determined by ranked choice voting,” he said. “That would’ve been a great way to educate the public. Here we are, waiting for the county to proceed and provide results. I have a lot of skepticism for the County Board’s real willingness to push forward real reform. It puts their own positions, jobs, in jeopardy.”

Karantonis said he is on the record supporting ranked-choice voting and voted to fund an initiative to test it out.

“I put money where my mouth is,” he said. “I think this is a great improvement in democracy.”

During the forum the four candidates articulated their positions housing and on Arlington County’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Both Karantonis and Theo said “affordable housing” is the biggest issue facing Arlington.

“I’ve been a housing advocate from day one,” Karantonis said. “The first thing my wife and I experienced [when moving here] was not being able to find housing, not having choices… Arlington is a community that looks back to a solid record of planning carefully for housing, of matching development with assets like transportation, schools and natural resources. We need to bundle these to support the creation of new housing choices because displacement is a real thing.”

Theo agreed.

“[Housing affordability] poses the problem of pricing out the elderly, low-income, immigrant and disabled people who are clinging on as it is already,” he said. “The number of housing units built in this county is horrifyingly low.”

But he took a jab at the County Board for talking about affordable housing and posing for photos at new developments, while not doing more to prioritize affordability. He spoke favorably of the Missing Middle Housing Study, a county-led effort to see if single-family home areas should be rezoned for more types of moderate-density homes, as a means to increase housing options for the middle-class.

Cantwell said he worries about affordability both in terms of housing and taxes.

“I think the biggest problem facing Arlington is runaway spending and taxes and lack of accountability in county government, [which] stems from lack of political competition,” Cantwell said. “I’m for affordable housing, but I question the outcomes of $300 million spent on a government-run affordable housing program… I think most Arlingtonians are interested in finding a market rate affordable housing place to live in, but not that many are interested in being part of government run program, where they have to submit tax returns, W-2s [and other] bureaucracy.”

Clement said the Missing Middle Study will create more housing, but nothing truly affordable, predicting people will continue to get priced out of their neighborhoods. She added that it won’t promote racial equity, citing a study from New York University that found between 2000-2007, upzoning in New York City “produced an influx of whites in gentrified areas, even as white population plummeted.”

“A far better solution is to repurpose unrented luxury units in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to moderate income housing,” she said.

(Another NYU study found little link between neighborhood gentrification and displacement of low-income residents, at least in New York City.)

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Morning Notes

Report Details ACPD Actions at Lafayette Park — “The ACPD civil disturbance unit commander told us that ACPD officers were not equipped with chemical irritants other than rounds similar to pepper ball but said the ACPD did deploy inert smoke and a flash bang grenade on 16th Street during the clearing operation.” [Dept. of Interior, DCist]

Arlington Sit-ins Remembered With Art — “Sixty-one years ago this month, several Howard University students and allies walked into the People’s Drug Store on Lee Highway in Arlington. For the next two weeks, they participated in sit-ins to protest white-only lunch counters across the county. Now, there is a special exhibit and letter pressed cards to mark this moment of Arlington’s civil rights history.” [NBC 4]

Cicada Sundae at Local Ice Cream Shop — “Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream & Coffee in Arlington is offering a Cicada Sundae. Don’t worry. It’s not made with real cicadas. The frozen treat comes with one scoop each of chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and café au lait, topped with chocolate sprinkles, two red M&Ms and a waffle cone…  The waffle cones are fashioned to look like wings and the M&Ms as eyes.” [Patch, WTOP]

Del. Levine’s Farewell Message — From Del. Mark Levine, after falling short in his reelection bid and run for lieutenant governor: “I’ve had the honor of impacting positive change in the world in so many ways already through decades of activism, thousands of radio and tv shows, and dozens of laws. Whatever the future holds for me, I know I will never stop speaking out against injustice.” [Twitter]

Candidate Adds Military Rank to His Name — “Major Mike Webb, who has floated around the periphery of the Northern Virginia political scene for nearly the past decade, qualified for the School Board ballot. He will be the lone opposition to [Mary] Kadera, who last month won the Democratic endorsement over Miranda Turner… (‘Major’ was Webb’s military rank but now also is a formal part of his name, as he did requisite legal paperwork add it.)” [Sun Gazette]

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Mary Kadera has received the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, following a caucus that was conducted online for the first time.

Kadera, the vice president of the Arlington County Council of PTAs, will now advance to the Nov. 2 general election to determine who will fill a seat currently held by School Board Chair Monique O’Grady. The chair announced in January that she will not seek re-election.

(School Board races are officially nonpartisan and parties can only endorse candidates, not nominate them as in a primary.)

“I am honored and humbled by voters’ faith in me to act in the best interest of all APS students, families, and staff,” Kadera said in a statement. “If elected to the School Board in November, I will work hard to rebuild relationships among APS leadership, the School Board, and the community as our schools fully reopen and we support our students’ academic, emotional, and social needs. I will work hard to earn the trust of communities of color as an ally in the fight for equity and justice.”

Due to the pandemic, Arlington Dems conducted voting online for the first time, although in-person voting was also an option. From last Monday, May 17, through Sunday, 6,207 ballots were cast for two Democratic school board candidates, Kadera and her opponent, attorney Miranda Turner. Kadera received 3,836 votes (~62%) and Turner got 2,368 votes (~38%).

The turnout set a local record, “exceeding the county caucus record of 5,972 votes, set in the 2017 School Board caucus,” the party noted in a press release.

“We congratulate Mary, and thank Miranda Turner for her willingness to step up to serve our community at this challenging time,” Arlington Dems School Board Endorsement Caucus Director Alexandra Zins said. We also thank outgoing School Board Member Monique O’Grady for her distinguished service.”

Turner tweeted out her response to the results last night (Monday).

More on Kadera, from the press release:

The current vice president of the Arlington County Council of PTAs and a mother of two middle school-aged children, Kadera has more than 25 years experience in pre-K through 12 education. She has served in a variety of roles, including as a middle school and high school teacher. Kadera also was the vice president for education at PBS, where she managed PBS’s portfolio of national digital education services and coordinated the educational initiatives of PBS and its local member stations. Currently an education non-profit leader, Kadera also led the McKinley Elementary School PTA for two years (2018-2020), where she stewarded her community through a challenging school move. During the pandemic, she organized volunteers to provide groceries, books and school supplies to families in need across Arlington.

Online voting was funded by a $59,000 grant from the nonprofit National Cybersecurity Center, which raises cyber awareness in the public and private sectors. Arlington Dems partnered with Democracy Live, which leadership described as the largest provider of mobile and cloud-based voting technologies in the U.S.

“We are pleased with the performance of the Democracy Live platform and grateful to the NCC for helping us to provide a safe voting option under the continuing pandemic conditions,” ACDC Chair Jill Caiazzo said.

Kadera will now face Mike Webb in the general election in the fall. Webb, a perennial candidate with a colorful history, filed paperwork for run for School Board, according to the county elections office.

Local Democratic leaders are urging Arlingtonians to vote in the upcoming June 8 primary election for local and statewide offices. Early voting has already started and is open until June 5 at three locations. On June 8, people can vote at their normal polling location.

The primary includes contests for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, the House of Delegates and the Arlington County Board. The winners will receive the Democratic nomination for the general election on Nov. 2.

For the County Board race, voters can choose whether to nominate Democratic incumbent Takis Karantonis or challenger Chanda Choun in a bid against independent Mike Cantwell.

“Virginia has the most competitive governor’s race in the country this year, and the Democratic majority in our state legislature also hangs in the balance. Virginia Democrats must rise — once again — to the challenge,” Caiazzo said.

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(Updated 9:50 p.m.) Arlington Democrats celebrated a triumphant election night for its candidates for Arlington County Board and School Board, as well as all members of the state-level Democratic ticket.

With all precincts reporting, Democratic nominee Erik Gutshall won the race for County Board with 62.82 percent of the vote. Monique O’Grady, the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s endorsee for School Board, took 70.56 percent.

Gutshall took 46,319 votes, ahead of independent Audrey Clement with 17,415 and fellow independent Charles McCullough‘s 8,753. O’Grady won 50,677 votes, ahead of Mike Webb with 12,642 and Alison Dough with 7,271 to succeed James Lander.

In the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, the Democratic candidates all won Arlington County’s 55 precincts by big margins to help deliver what looked set to be a clean sweep for the party in Virginia.

Governor-Elect Ralph Northam (D) took 68,315 votes in Arlington, ahead of Republican Ed Gillespie with 16,160. Justin Fairfax (D) garnered 66,687 votes in Arlington in the race for lieutenant governor ahead of state Sen. Jill Vogel’s 17,594, and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) won re-election with 67,111 votes ahead of John Adams’ 17,366 votes.

At the ACDC’s watch party at The Salsa Room on Columbia Pike, great cheers went up when the television networks projected Northam as the winner, as more than 100 attendees celebrated Democrats’ triumph across Virginia.

Gutshall said he was “very grateful” to win, and said he enjoyed hearing from residents as he vied for retiring Board chair Jay Fisette’s seat.

“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of great chances to have some really good conversations with folks in Arlington,” Gutshall said. “Even though it might appear from election results that we are a very blue community, there’s a lot of diversity of opinion within that blueness. It was a good experience for me to hear that diversity of viewpoints on all the different issues that are facing us.”

O’Grady said the campaign was a “humbling” experience, and said she intends to put the work in now to hit the ground running in January when she is officially sworn in.

“It’s what I’ve been trying to do, which is keep up with all the issues, continue to go to the meetings, continue to keep up with the community reactions to so many things on the table,” she said. “In January, there’s a lot of work to do, and so I want to ensure that I’m ready to go. Even though I won’t be sworn in until January, I’m already hard at work making sure I stay engaged.”

ACDC chair Kip Malinosky said it was rewarding to see so many people step up to volunteer in Arlington to help get out the vote. The county’s Elections Office said final turnout was 55 percent, the highest for a gubernatorial race since 1993.

“What feels so good is that so many people stepped up in a big way,” Malinosky said. “We helped out. It was really depressing after last year, but we came back so strong and people bounced back. They got involved, they made calls, knocked on doors, posted on social media. We went to every festival, every event and we got people engaged and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to compete.'”

With three of the county’s four members of the Virginia House of Delegates running unopposed, it was a relatively sedate affair for Dels. Patrick Hope, Mark Levine and Rip Sullivan in Districts 47, 45 and 48, respectively, as all won more than 90 percent of the vote in their districts.

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49) was the only one to face a re-election challenge, from Republican Adam Roosevelt. But with all precincts reporting, Lopez won 18,536 votes to Roosevelt’s 4,202 in a district that includes neighborhoods along Columbia Pike, around Pentagon City and west to Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners in Fairfax County.

Elsewhere, Democrats were on track to make significant gains in the House of Delegates, and Lopez said it will mean progress on a variety of issues the party’s followers hold dear.

“Everything we care about, every value we care about, every issue we cherish, it can start to happen: Sensible gun violence prevention legislation, passing Medicaid reform, dealing with how we fund our schools, actually protecting the environment in Virginia,” Lopez said in a speech.

Clement, who has run for office in Arlington unsuccessfully seven times, said she is open to running for election again. But in an interview after results were counted, she said she is reluctant to challenge County Board member John Vihstadt (I), who faces re-election next year.

“In my opinion, there are two key components to county government: one is the budget, two is how it deals with development,” Clement said. “Vihstadt and I diverge on the development issue, but we agree on the budget component. We’re both fiscal conservatives, so I would find it difficult to run against him on that account.”

In a statement on Twitter, McCullough congratulated Gutshall on his win and urged him to do more to “put people first.”

“The board can expect that I’ll be there to remind them of that often because I am committed to staying involved and engaging with this wonderful community as it tackles the big issues ahead,” McCullough wrote.

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This month, the three candidates for the Arlington School Board faced a series of questions at a forum hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100.

Like the three Arlington County Board candidates earlier this week, they then faced additional unanswered questions from the audience — due to time constraints — that ARLnow collated and emailed to them.

Two candidates’ unedited responses are below. (A third candidate, Mike Webb, did not respond.)

1. How do you plan to deal with the exploding student population in Arlington schools?

Alison Dough:

The simple and easiest answer would be to build more schools. If land is not available – build schools up. Ashlawn Elementary is an example of a school that recently and successfully built-up to address the increase in students.

I think that the school board needs to partner with the county board on this issue as it economically impacts both boards and together we should be able to work towards a possible solution that resolves the need for overcrowding in the schools and classrooms.

Monique O’Grady:

APS must get in front of its capacity crisis with better planning and a strategy on how to effectively provide seats for all of its students. As a member of the school board, I will work with my colleagues to plan with members of the county board to make best use of our limited dollars, limited space, and limited time. Through this collaborative effort we can reach decisions that will not only best serve our students, but also make efficient use of Arlington tax dollars.

2. Do you think a career teacher should be paid enough to afford to live in Arlington?

Dough:

Perhaps we need to consider housing-vouchers for teachers that make a very good case for the need to live in Arlington County. I work for a non-profit in Arlington and I know many of my coworkers would rather not commute in from Fairfax, Alexandria, Loudoun, eastern Maryland, Baltimore – but they do because they cannot afford to live in Arlington.

O’Grady:

Yes. Arlington should continue to find ways to support middle class residents who are at risk of being priced out of living in Arlington. This “missing middle,” as County Board candidate Erik Gutshall calls it, is an essential and invaluable component of our community and workforce. Teachers want to be able to live where they work. It fosters a closer connection between educators and their students as well as between educators and the larger community; this connection assists teachers with their work, making them even more effective in their jobs. Therefore, it makes sense to look for ways to attract the best and brightest teachers, including supporting policies that make it easier for our teachers to make Arlington home.  This will help recruit and retain teachers – one of the current strategic plan goals.

3. Identify the area of waste you would like to eliminate if elected.

Dough:

I propose looking at areas that do not directly impact the children. We should first take a look at administrative costs and other overhead.

O’Grady:

As a new member of the school board I would welcome an emerging practice that gives APS the ability to consider three different plans for new school buildings. Plans will be offered that show a design using the minimum budget, a mid-range budget, and maximum budget. This policy would seek avenues to eliminate waste, yet not at the expense of essential, quality services.

I also welcome more collaboration between the school board and county board. I think collaborative planning will help eliminate wasted time, eliminate wasted dollars with consultants and contractors, and will lead to more efficient use of our tax dollars and limited county- and school-owned land. 

4. If elected, would you support changing the name of Washington-Lee High School?

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With Election Day less than a month away, candidates for the Arlington County Board and School Board are honing in on their final pitches to voters.

And at a forum Wednesday night at Marymount University hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100, the six candidates clashed on a range of issues, from how to engage more millennials in county government to closing the achievement gap in Arlington Public Schools.

The format varied from previous forums, as each candidate was able to ask a question of their opponents before taking further questions from the audience.

Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady, who were victorious in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s caucus earlier this year for County Board and School Board, respectively, both touted their experience in county issues.

Both agreed that while Arlington is largely on the right course, it can do better. Gutshall, who is the current chair of the Planning Commission, said the county must not make too many concessions to developers on proposed site plans.

“If we don’t stick to our plans and our negotiations… and we don’t stick to our values, then we’ve lost,” he said.

Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement pointed to her regular attendance at the body’s monthly meetings as relevant experience.

And fellow independent Charles McCullough II said that beyond his involvement in the South Arlington Working Group among others, he would represent a fresh face with new ideas if elected to the County Board.

“We need to have other ideas, other experiences,” he said.

On the budget, Clement criticized the Board’s practice of spending closeout funds from higher tax revenue than anticipated. She said that the money should be paid forward to the following year to relieve the tax burden, rather than directed to “pet projects to satisfy its particularized constituencies.”

McCullough argued that developers in Arlington must pay their “fair share” to help make up budget shortfalls, while Gutshall said that rising property values must not be treated as a “blank check” for increased spending.

Among the School Board candidates, there were some sharp differences. O’Grady and fellow candidate Alison Dough agreed that the Arlington Career Center represents a “good opportunity” for a fourth comprehensive high school. But Mike Webb, running for School Board after an unsuccessful tilt at Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, disagreed.

Instead, he said, School Board members should focus on ensuring instruction is as good as possible, and that no students are left behind.

“Before we build another high school, we have to think about the achievement gap that affects all our students,” Webb said.

And on the subject of the upcoming boundary changes in Arlington Public Schools, Dough said that more immersion schools where classes are taught in more than one language could help relieve the capacity pressures on other buildings.

Dough, who said her special needs child inspired her to run for School Board, suggested more language programs, like immersion in Chinese, French or Russian to help APS students embrace new cultures.

“Let’s look at the boundary issue differently and give our parents a reason to switch schools,” she said.

And with the nationwide opioid epidemic also touching Arlington, O’Grady said parents and students alike must be educated on the risks and solutions.

“It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our communities,” she said. “Let’s come together to learn how to deal with this.”

All six agreed on the need for elected officials to encourage more county residents to get involved, and help uphold the so-called “Arlington Way.”

“We need to be opening that door,” Webb said. “We have to build that pathway to leadership.”

The candidates will face off in another forum Sunday (October 15) hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).

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