Arlington, VA

In a race upended by the coronavirus pandemic, Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy have emerged on top of a five-candidate field for the Democratic school board endorsement.

Diaz-Torres and Priddy will now advance to the general election, as they seek to fill the two Arlington School Board seats being vacated by Nancy Van Dorn and Tannia Talento. In November they are expected to face Symone Walker, who dropped out of contention for the Democratic endorsement and is instead running as an independent.

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

Due to the pandemic, the Arlington County Democratic Committee conducted voting by mail, which was deemed “the only safe and reliable option for a large-scale caucus.” Steven Krieger, a candidate in the race who placed a close third, last month publicly criticized the format as inequitable.

“This process presented significant equity challenges to disadvantaged citizens including the poor, English language learning voters as well as voters with disabilities,” he wrote in an op-ed published by Blue Virginia. “The vote-by-mail election for the School Board caucus should serve as a clear reminder that if we fail, even for a moment, to be intentional in fighting inequities in our community, the most vulnerable members of our community will bear the consequences.”

Arlington Democrats, however, said the two-month process was the only one that would allow safe voting in a timely manner.

“This was the first all-mail School Board Endorsement Caucus in the history of the Arlington Democrats, and I am proud to say that our team and the community stepped up to make it a success,” ACDC Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to members tonight. “More than 5,700 ballots were cast, far exceeding the 1,994 ballots cast in the 2019 in-person School Board Caucus.”

In a press release, the party congratulated the two endorsees.

“The Arlington School Board’s thoughtful stewardship of our schools is a big part of what makes Arlington such an attractive place for both families and businesses,” Arlington Democrats School Board Endorsement Caucus Director Jacki Wilson said. “We congratulate Cristina and David, and thank all five candidates who stepped up to serve their community and sought our endorsement.”

More on the endorsees, from the press release:

Cristina Diaz-Torres is an education policy specialist who began her career as a part-time preschool teacher at a Head Start program, and then worked as a high school math teacher in Las Vegas, where she taught geometry and founded an AP statistics program. After leaving the classroom, Diaz-Torres served as a legislative fellow for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, where she worked on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the 2015 federal law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act governing U.S. K-12 public education policy.

David Priddy is an Arlington native, community activist and former business executive. Priddy attended Arlington Public Schools; he and his wife, Melanie, now have two sons who attend local public schools. Priddy serves on numerous education-related councils and committees, including the: Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Equity and Excellence; County Council of PTAs (CCPTA); and the NAACP Education Committee.

0 Comments

Virginia will enter Phase 2 of its reopening on Friday, but Northern Virginia and Richmond will remain in Phase 1.

Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, saying that key health metrics point to it being safe to further reopen in most parts of the state. He did not, however, give a timeline for when Northern Virginia — including Arlington — would advance in its reopening. The region started to reopen this past Friday, May 29, two weeks after much of the Commonwealth did.

Under the Phase 2 guidelines, the allowed size of social gatherings will increase from 10 to 50, restaurants will be allowed to open indoor dining areas at 50% capacity, and fitness centers can reopen at 30% capacity. Under Phase 1 guidelines, both restaurants and fitness businesses can only serve customers outdoors.

Northam said delaying Phase 2 for Northern Virginia will “allow for additional monitoring of health data.” As of Tuesday, Arlington has reported 236 new coronavirus cases and 10 new hospitalizations over the past seven days.

More from a press release from the governor’s office, below.

Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One.

Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key statewide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April.

“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said Governor Northam. “Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.”

Executive Order Sixty-Five modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Sixty-One and Sixty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed reopening due to outbreaks in poultry plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County will move to Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth, on Friday, June 5.

Under Phase Two, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people. All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.

Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.

The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.

0 Comments

(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Hundreds of protesters marched from Ballston to the Clarendon Metro station Tuesday afternoon, a peaceful demonstration in memory of George Floyd.

Protesters marched along Fairfax Drive, chanting “I can’t breathe,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “no justice, no peace.” They also held signs: “silence is violence,” “justice for George Floyd,” and more.

After arriving in Clarendon, the demonstrators held a moment of silence, with each kneeling and raising a fist.

The protest started at 2 p.m. and was still on-going in Clarendon as of 3:30 p.m. Arlington County Police motorcycle officers accompanied the marchers, stopping vehicular traffic with rolling road blocks. Wilson Blvd is currently closed near the Clarendon Metro station.

This is at least the third large, peaceful protest held in Arlington since Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers, one of whom has been charged with murder. Protesters marched from Shirlington to Ballston on Sunday and hundreds of interfaith demonstrators lined George Mason Drive last night.

0 Comments

Arlington County is planning to start regular testing of public safety personnel and critical employees, ARLnow has learned.

The county has acquired a rapid testing machine, which is currently undergoing a certification process. Once its accuracy is certified, it will be used to regularly test law enforcement, fire department and emergency communications personnel, as well as public health and other critical county employees.

Aaron Miller, the county’s Director of Public Safety Communications & Emergency Management, tells ARLnow that dozens of public safety personnel were quarantined at one point last month due to possible exposure to the coronavirus. At least one firefighter, and potentially several more, had tested positive for the virus in by late April. Previously, county officials declined to provide figures about quarantine levels among first responders.

In a written statement, Miller emphasized that the quarantines did not result in a reduction of emergency services in the county.

Arlington County has obtained a quantity of Mesa Biotech’s Accula SARS-Cov-2 Tests, an FDA-approved “rapid” molecular PCR test cleared for use in patient care settings outside of the clinical laboratory environment. The rapid testing system is currently under laboratory-required validation with known positive and negative samples. Once the validation is completed, we plan to develop a testing strategy for approval by the Public Health Department. First responder testing will allow quick diagnosis of police, fire, sheriff, 9-1-1, and public health personnel, as well as other critical employees who are experience symptoms while on or off duty. Testing should be available during the first part of June.

The number of firefighters, police officers, and sheriff’s deputies in quarantine fluctuated during May. The total number ranged from single digits into the forties. Following the Public Health Department’s direction, each case is investigated, testing ordered as appropriate, and the length of quarantine or isolation is determined in consultation with physicians and public health specialists. The safety of our personnel and their families is a top priority. Regardless of the number of quarantines, the levels of emergency or preventive services has not decreased for Arlington County. The County is always monitoring its workforce capacity and continues to maintain staffing levels for the services needed for Arlington residents.

In addition, County takes many steps to protect its essential workers. This includes providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to all frontline employees, increasing cleaning of facilities and equipment, quarantining employees who may have been exposed, modifying services to limit interactions between staff and promote social distancing, and implementing rotational schedules or extended hours to ensure high-priority essential services continue.

The first responder testing came to light last week in remarks made by County Board Chair Libby Garvey during an online interview with the moderator of a popular local Facebook group.

During the interview, Garvey said she was concerned that Virginia might have to go back to a stay-at-home order if the current Phase 1 reopening results in additional virus spread.

“I think it’s a really good question as to whether we’ll be able to stay in this phase or move back,” she said. “I’m pretty confident here in Arlington, we’re continuing to see it’s kind of level, but not great — the virus is still here.”

Garvey was also asked about the relative paucity of testing in Arlington, which has since increased, at least temporarily. She said part of the blame falls on the state government for continuing to require that those seeking testing have a doctor’s note and symptoms. Such testing does not catch COVID cases among asymptomatic spreaders, who have the virus but don’t have the symptoms.

Reuben Varghese, Arlington’s Public Health Director, tells ARLnow that the directive mostly affects county-run sites, like the drive-through testing site near Washington-Liberty High School and the walk-up site along Columbia Pike. He said he hopes to work with the state to conduct more mass-testing events that do not require a doctor’s note.

“At this time, [Virginia Dept. of Health] guidelines still require a doctor’s order for most sample collections being done in Arlington County, such as at the Quincy and Arlington Mill sites, and there are no plans to change those guidelines at County-partnered sites,” he said. “However, at the larger community testing events, such as the one on May 26 at Barcroft, no appointment or doctor’s referral was needed. Given the overwhelming response to that site and to others like it around the region, we would expect the Commonwealth to continue these types of testing efforts. However, at this time, another event has not been scheduled here in Arlington.”

In Arlington, meanwhile, the number of new reported cases has remained low for a fourth consecutive day. Ten new cases and one new hospitalization was reported overnight, for a cumulative total of 2,133 cases, 377 hospitalizations and 117 deaths.

Arlington’s seven-day test positivity rate has fallen below 10% for the first time since mid-March, as the local outbreak began. The positivity rate, as reported by the state health department, currently stands at 9.5%.

0 Comments

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A teenager was allegedly behind the wheel of a car that struck a 10-year-old girl and killed her dog in Arlington’s Donaldson Run neighborhood.

Police confirmed this morning that “the suspected driver has been located.”

Photos sent to ARLnow on Monday show police behind a black Chrysler 200 sedan, with temporary Virginia tags, matching the description of the vehicle involved in the Friday afternoon crash. The photo was taken near Yorktown High School, at the intersection of Yorktown Blvd and Little Falls Road.

“The investigation is ongoing and charges are anticipated at a later date,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “In accordance with Virginia law, the suspect’s identity is not releasable due to age.”

Video sent to us by the victim’s family (below) shows the car quickly driving up N. Upshur Street around the time of the incident. The victim’s mother posted publicly on Facebook about how “our world was split open” as a result of the crash.

“Some reckless and selfish person in a black sedan racing down a quiet Donaldson Run residential street hit my 10-yr old daughter and our puppy at the corner of N. Upshur St. and N. Vermont St.,” she posted on Friday. “She did what she always does. Look left and right conscientiously.”

“The car hit our little Peanut leaving him in a pool of blood while she was luckily able to leap out of the way,” the mother continued. “In that moment, he could’ve ripped apart our world even further and killed her. It’s gut-wrenching enough that the sweetest puppy we’ve ever had was simply murdered. Gone in an instant. The driver didn’t blink an eye. Didn’t stop.”

Though the girl’s injuries were considered minor at the time, she was subsequently hospitalized over the weekend after an onset of lower body pain, ARLnow has learned.

Photos courtesy anonymous

0 Comments

The front of a CVS store along Columbia Pike was smashed overnight in what police say was a burglary attempt.

The driver of a car ran into the entrance to the store near Penrose Square, at 2601 Columbia Pike, in the wee hours of the morning. It’s unclear if anything was stolen. The vehicle was found abandoned nearby and the suspect remains at large.

“At approximately 3:32 a.m. on June 2, police were dispatched to the report of a single vehicle crash into a building,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “The vehicle fled the scene prior to police arrival but was located unoccupied in the 2600 block of 12th Street S. At the time of the report, it was unknown if anything was stolen from the business. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.”

This morning customers could be seen doing their shopping inside the store, despite the mangled entrance.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Hundreds Protest Along George Mason Drive — Hundreds of people lined George Mason Drive Monday evening to protest racism and support Black Lives Matter. The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]

Break-in at Claremont Elementary — “At approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 31, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary alarm. Arriving officers observed four suspects inside of a building and established a perimeter. While clearing the building, the four suspects were located on the roof and taken into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

Local GOP Amps Up Social Media Presence — “The Arlington County Republican Committee often has a hard time competing with its Democratic counterpart at the ballot box. But the local GOP is working to win the battle of social media. Local Republicans recently announced that Taylor Jack, a rising senior at James Madison University, has joined the party’s public-relations team.” [InsideNova]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Selected — “The candidate who positioned himself as the more conservative in the field emerged the victor and will become the Republican challenger in a decidedly uphill battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Jeff Jordan defeated Mark Ellmore in the 8th District Republican Committee convention.” [InsideNova]

0 Comments

(Updated at 9:50 p.m.) Arlington County police officers who were assisting U.S. Park Police during protests in D.C. have been ordered “to immediately leave,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night.

Officers in ACPD helmets could be seen in photos and video (below) assisting with the forceful removal of protesters from around St. John’s Church, an action that involved the deployment of tear gas. Shortly thereafter, President Trump walked to the church and held up a bible, a move dismissed as a photo opportunity by critics and criticized as “antithetical to the teachings of Jesus” by the Episcopal bishop of Washington.

“Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op,” Garvey wrote just before 9 p.m., about two hours after the incident. “We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC.”

“At the direction of the County Board, County Manager and Police Chief, all ACPD officers left the District of Columbia at 8:30 tonight,” the county subsequently said in a brief statement. “The County is re-evaluating the agreements that allowed our officers to be put in a compromising position that endangered their health and safety, and that of the people around them, for a purpose not worthy of our mutual aid obligations.”

County police in riot gear were assisting with crowd control in Lafayette Square, near the White House, following a mutual aid request from Park Police. Such requests are typically used for suspect searches or to assist with significant incidents; Arlington often requests the assistance of the U.S. Park Police helicopter, for instance.

Following inquiries from ARLnow, after we noticed ACPD helmets in a TV news broadcast Sunday night, a police spokeswoman earlier today confirmed that Arlington police were indeed in D.C. after a mutual aid request.

“ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit responded to a mutual aid request by United States Park Police for assistance maintain peace and order on federal park land,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. “ACPD began providing support [Sunday].”

The department has worked to maintain a positive relationship with the community over the years, including by handing out water to protesters in Arlington on Sunday. On Friday, amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, police chief M. Jay Farr released a statement.

“It is impossible for us to achieve our mission if we lose the trust of our community,” he wrote. “When force is used, we must hold ourselves accountable for our actions.”

“We work and live by a set of core values: courage, competence, commitment, compassion, restraint, respect and integrity,” the department says in its job description for new officers.

Separately Monday night, Arlington County issued a statement regarding Floyd’s killing.

“The Arlington County Board condemns the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, including the complicit officers who participated in and witnessed the murder,” the statement reads. “While the video was shocking, the circumstances of the murder should not be; they are too familiar in a nation where the disregard for and devaluing of Black lives is too common, and too often comes at the hands of the people sworn to protect them.”

Screenshot (top) via @thehill/Twitter

0 Comments

(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) With a 7 p.m. curfew and protesters marching on M Street NW, D.C. police are blocking lanes of the Key Bridge heading towards Georgetown.

Stores and restaurants are boarded up along M Street, in anticipation of another night of protests in the District.

A group of peaceful protesters was heading in the direction of Georgetown around 8:15 p.m., but started heading back on Pennsylvania Avenue after encountering a police roadblock, according to reports on Twitter.

Some businesses in Arlington have also been boarded up or closed early, including the Crate and Barrel in Clarendon and a CVS store in Rosslyn, as seen in the photo gallery above.

0 Comments

Update at 9:15 p.m. — Arlington police have been ordered to leave D.C., County Board Chair Libby Garvey says.

Earlier: If you were watching cable news coverage of the fiery clashes near the White House last night, you might have spotted “ACPD” on the helmets of some of the riot police.

Your eyes did not deceive you. On Sunday, Arlington County Police began assisting with the law enforcement response to the protests, which have been mostly peaceful during the day but have turned destructive after dark for three straight nights.

“ACPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit responded to a mutual aid request by United States Park Police for assistance maintain peace and order on federal park land,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed, in response to inquiries from ARLnow. “ACPD began providing support [Sunday].”

Police departments often provide mutual aid to one another in the D.C. area, with its mix of local, state and federal police forces. More routine mutual aid calls involve searches for suspects, often involving K-9 officers or helicopters — for instance, U.S. Park Police’s Eagle 1 helicopter. More rarely, mutual aid is requested for significant incidents, like shootings or standoffs.

Park Police have been attempting to defend Lafayette Square, north of the White House, amid mass, nationwide protests that have followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of since-fired Minneapolis police officers, one of whom is now facing a murder charge.

It appears that Arlington officers are back on the streets of D.C. today, as the District imposes a 7 p.m. curfew in an effort to prevent more destruction and violence. Earlier today tipster noticed a convoy of Arlington public safety personnel departing from Courthouse, where ACPD headquarters is located.

“Arlington police dressed in riot gear just loaded into vans and are leaving the Courthouse area with a fire department bus and an armored car under police motorcycle escort,” the tipster said.

Screenshot via MSNBC/YouTube

0 Comments

Police are looking for a man who broke a window at a fast-food restaurant along Lee Highway last night.

The incident happened around 11:30 p.m. on the 5000 block of Lee Highway, according to Arlington County Police. The restaurant is not named but that block is home to a Wendy’s.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect, who was a passenger in a vehicle in a drive thru line, became irate while waiting for his order, exited his vehicle and threw a cell phone at the window of the business, causing damage,” ACPD said in a crime report. “The suspect re-entered the vehicle and fled prior to police arrival.”

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list