Choun, who lives in the Buckingham neighborhood, announced his candidacy this morning with a press release on his website.
Highlighting his background as a Cambodian refugee, an Army veteran and a cybersecurity professional, Choun says he wants to be “a new face for Arlington and a different voice at the table for good jobs, affordable housing, fast transportation, strong schools, security and safety, and service to the community.”
Though he was not born here, Choun says Arlington is “the love of my life.”
“I will get married in Arlington. My children will run through the parks of Arlington. I will die in Arlington and be buried in Arlington National Cemetery,” he wrote on this website.
Choun will face Matt de Ferranti, and any other Democrat who enters the race, in June’s Democratic primary. The winner of that contest will challenge incumbent Board member John Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, in the November general election.
More about Choun from his press release:
Chanda Choun (pronounced CHAHN-duh CHOON), a resident of the Buckingham neighborhood of Arlington County, filed his campaign committee Statement of Organization and unveiled his campaign website in February, making public his run for the Arlington County Board in 2018.
Choun declared that he wants to “Make Arlington the North Star of Virginia.”
“I am running for the Arlington County Board this 2018 because there is no immigrant, military veteran, or technology professional in our local government leadership today. I want to be a new face for Arlington and a different voice at the table for good jobs, affordable housing, fast transportation, strong schools, security and safety, and service to the community; a 21st century approach in a rapidly changing world, but still holding on to the values that made our community great.”
Chanda Choun lives in the historic, diverse Buckingham neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia near the Ballston Metro Station and works as a senior business manager and engineering leader for a cybersecurity software company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. He is also a part-time Army Reserve soldier occasionally on duty with the United States Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. His community involvement includes being Vice President of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, Delegate to the Arlington County Civic Federation, Lifetime Member of the John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150, Parishioner of St. George’s Episcopal Church of Arlington, and previous Executive Board Member of the Arlington Young Democrats.
“Every day I wake up and ask myself: ‘How do I make us happier, healthier, and wealthier?’ I run to serve the County. I run to serve the Commonwealth. I run to serve the Country.”
Choun will make his first public remarks as a candidate at 7:00pm on Wednesday, February 7th at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, held at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203). The Democratic Primary Election is scheduled for June 12th.
Lopez, who represents the 49th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, a district that includes swathes of south Arlington, said the bipartisan caucus will initially include Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) and first-term Dels. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala (both D-Prince William).
“Latinos make up 9 percent of Virginia’s total population,” Lopez said in a statement. “It’s long past time that we have more representation in the General Assembly to reflect that reality. I’m honored to welcome Delegates Guzman and Ayala to the House of Delegates and look forward to working with them to represent Virginia’s Latino community.”
Lopez announced the caucus’ formation on the House floor on Friday, January 12. The caucus is open to all members, regardless of ethnicity.
Shortly after electing Jill Caiazzo as its new chair, the Arlington County Democratic Committee selected a County Board primary for 2018.
Last year, the race to select a Democratic nominee to replace retiring County Board member Jay Fisette was determined by a caucus. In an op-ed last month, Caiazzo said she preferred a primary this year as it encourages more voter participation, while a caucus “is seen by many as rigged in favor of the Democratic establishment.”
Arlington Democrats “voted unanimously to choose this year’s County Board nominee via primary election rather than a caucus in order to achieve greater participation,” according to a press release.
The winner of this year’s Democratic primary is expected to face independent Board member John Vihstadt in the general election.
Also at last night’s ACDC meeting, School Board member Barbara Kanninen announced her reelection bid.
From a press release:
In her remarks, Kanninen pointed to a number of accomplishments during her tenure on the School Board over the past four years. “We’ve worked to support the whole child, to ensure that every child in our schools is healthy, safe, supported, challenged, and engaged,” she said. She highlighted increases in academic, social, and emotional assistance; supports for immigrant and LGBTQ students; expansion of STEM programs and career and technical education; and the launch of a strategic planning process to carry Arlington public schools into the 21st century.
“We’ve done so much together,” Kanninen said, “but there is still more to do. I’m running for re-election to continue building up the whole child, I’m running to support the voices of our teachers and staff, and I’m running to support our growth and build a stronger, more responsive school system.”
First elected to the School Board in 2014, Kanninen is an environmental economist, children’s book author, and community activist. In 2017, Washingtonian magazine named her one of the Most Powerful Women in Washington–the only elected official in Arlington and the only school board member in the DC metro area named to the magazine’s list. As a member of the school board, she was awarded the 2015 AGLA Equality Award and the Public Outreach and Engagement Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association. Kanninen and her husband have lived in Arlington for 25 years and have two sons who were both K-12 Arlington Public Schools students.
In her speech to the assembled partisans, Caiazzo encouraged local Democrats to avoid complacency and continue fighting for progress.
“The Trump era represents a pivotal moment for the Democratic Party,” she said. “With progressive policies under attack daily, we have much to fight against — but we also must demonstrate that we have a positive, solutions-oriented vision that is worth fighting for. The dynamic and talented members of the Arlington Democrats are ready to meet this challenge.”
Photos by Kevin Wolf
The grassroots effort is part of a larger plan to harness energy inspiration from the march to fuel electoral victories, according to the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
“This anniversary March, as part of the #WeekendofAction2018, serves as a celebration for what we have accomplished in the past year, a reminder that the resistance is strong and growing stronger, and a call to action for the coming year,” the committee wrote in a statement.
Arlington Democrats attended last year’s march in D.C. — the marches collectively drew more than 4 million people across the country — one day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. This year, the group is partnering with other progressive organizations like Our Revolution Arlington, Network NOVA and Together We Will NOVA with a “Weekend of Action” to celebrate the march’s one-year anniversary.
On Friday, Jan. 19, Arlington Democrats will host a poster making party from 6-9 p.m at Faith Lutheran Church (3313 Arlington Blvd).
On Saturday, individuals interested in participating in the march will meet at the Arlington entrance to the Memorial Bridge at 10 a.m. The group will rally with March Forward Virginia in the District.
A solidarity brunch is scheduled for the day after the march, on Sunday, Jan. 21. Local Democrats will discuss upcoming plans for this year’s elections at Ireland’s Four Courts (20151 Wilson Blvd) from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Nationwide, Democratic groups are gearing up for #PowerToThePolls, a new national campaign launched by the Women’s March to boost voter registration and mobilization in swing states.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The first Democrat has thrown his hat into the ring — or, at least, made a media announcement — for this year’s Arlington County Board race.
Attorney Matt de Ferranti filed the paperwork for his bid on Tuesday (January 2). He currently is legislative director for the National Indian Education Association and previously worked as a teacher in Houston.
He is the first declared candidate against incumbent John Vihstadt (I), who is running for re-election.
In a statement, de Ferranti said he is “running to expand opportunity for everyone in Arlington County.”
“Staying true to Arlington’s history and our shared values is the recipe for Arlington to continue to be a great place for everyone,” he said. “Our commitment to housing affordability, building the schools we need to educate every Arlington student, and maintaining our great transportation system are key. Investing in our parks and open spaces, working locally to address climate change and keeping our community safe and inclusive are sound investments in our future. We can — and must — make smart investments while also being fiscally responsible.”
de Ferranti has been on the county’s Housing Commission since 2014, and served on the Affordable Housing Study Working Group from 2014 through the adoption of the County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015.
He has also been a member of the Budget Advisory Council for Arlington Public Schools since 2014, and has served as chair since June 2017. He has also worked with Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together and the Education Trust.
“I’m running for the Arlington County Board because I know and love this community,” he said. “And because I know that, together, we can put our shared values into practice and expand opportunity for everyone in Arlington County.”
de Ferranti is expected to make his first speech as a candidate at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s meeting on Wednesday, January 10. In the near future, ACDC will decide how it will choose its nominee: whether through a primary election, the preferred choice of Arlington Young Democrats and others, or a caucus like it used last year.
Outgoing ACDC chair Kip Malinosky said that “there are a couple other people interested in running, but no one [else] to my knowledge that has filed or ready to announce.”
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Arlington’s representatives will push hard in the Virginia General Assembly on Metro funding, the authority to rename Jefferson Davis Highway and absentee voting, among other issues.
At a work session Thursday, Arlington County Board members discussed their legislative agenda — bills they would like to see passed and issues they would like to see emphasized — for the 2018 session with local Delegates and state Senators.
The General Assembly will convene in Richmond on January 10 and sit through March 10, with Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam (D) to be inaugurated on January 13.
High on Board members’ list of priorities is securing a dedicated funding source for Metro, and ensuring that state funding allows it to keep up with its rebuilding needs.
Outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has committed to adding a dedicated funding source in his budget proposal later this month, and local representatives said they must do more to show their colleagues from outside Northern Virginia how valuable Metro is to the whole Commonwealth’s economy.
“A lot of work has been done to show this is not just a Northern Virginia giveaway, that this gives a lot of money and benefits to the rest of the commonwealth,” said County Board member Christian Dorsey.
Later, Dorsey noted that a study by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission made a “conservative estimate” that Metro brings in $600 million to state coffers every year through income and sales taxes.
All agreed on a plan to bring legislators into Northern Virginia and have them take a tour of the region’s various transit options, as well as experience rush-hour traffic congestion, something that state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) said has been effective in the past.
State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) urged cooperation between business and governmental groups in lobbying Richmond.
“We really need a united voice on this,” Favola said. “We can’t afford to have the Northern Virginia Chamber in opposition to a strategy you may like.”
Favola said she will file a bill to give localities the power to rename their primary highways, of which Jefferson Davis Highway is one in Arlington.
The question of whether to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway has swirled for several years, and Board chair Jay Fisette said the county is “exploring all options” on renaming.
Del. Mark Levine (D-45) disagreed with Favola, and said that in his opinion localities already have the right to rename primary highways. Fisette emphasized that no stone shall be left unturned.
“At this point, we believe we have multiple options, we’re just going to work them sequentially to do that,” he said.
The question of renaming Jefferson Davis Highway remains controversial. At the Board’s public hearing on its legislative agenda on Tuesday, local resident Bernard Berne derided a name-change as a “bad idea” that will stoke racial tensions and create division.
“It divides the community, and these historical things are part of our heritage. You don’t mess with it,” he said.
After a contentious race for governor in Virginia, the campaign managers for the two major candidates had a few flashpoints as they reflected on the contest in Arlington on Monday night.
Chris Leavitt, who managed Republican Ed Gillespie’s campaign, said his opposite number on Democratic candidate Ralph Northam’s campaign, Brad Komar, was a “liar” for saying he and his colleagues had no knowledge of an attack ad run by the Latino Victory Fund against the Republican.
Komar said the ad came from a community that felt it was “under attack,” but that the Northam campaign was not involved.
“It’s not how I would have responded,” he said. “We did not see the ad; I did not authorize it.”
The ad showed a white man in a pickup truck with a Gillespie bumper sticker and a Confederate flag threatening minority children. It ran on Spanish-language channels for two days before being taken down after the terrorist attack in New York by a man driving a pickup truck.
The pair were in conversation before more than 250 people at George Mason University’s Arlington campus at an event by the Virginia Public Access Project and GMU’s Schar School of Policy and Government. It came less than a week after Northam beat Gillespie to the governor’s mansion, thanks in part to the 68,315 votes he received in Arlington to Gillespie’s 16,160.
Komar said he regretted the campaign leaving then-lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax, who also triumphed last week in a Democratic clean sweep alongside Attorney General Mark Herring, off a mailer that was sent to some houses in Northern Virginia.
At the time, the campaign said it was accommodating the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which did not endorse Fairfax as he opposes two planned natural gas pipelines, but endorsed the other two.
“We handled a regular, normal thing badly,” Komar said, noting that it should not have been sent out by the campaign but by someone else.
Leavitt defended the Gillespie campaign’s decision to run television ads attacking Northam as weak on the Central American street gang MS-13, and supporting so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” where local authorities do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
Such “sanctuaries” do not exist in Virginia, but Leavitt said that the Gillespie campaign had data that suggested that some independent voters were concerned about a rise in crime committed by illegal immigrants.
“You have to pick certain spots where there are avenues where you can go after your opponent,” Leavitt said. “This was one of those avenues.”
And Leavitt said trying to find weaknesses in Northam to attack was especially problematic, given his personal history as a U.S. Army doctor then a pediatric neurologist, as well as a stellar career in Richmond.
He said the Gillespie campaign hoped for a bruising Democratic primary against former Rep. Tom Perriello to expose more weaknesses.
“Frankly, the Governor-Elect did not have as many vulnerabilities as we would have liked, and we thought a primary could open up a few more,” Leavitt said.
The 55 percent of registered voters who turned out to vote in Tuesday’s election was the highest percentage turnout in an non-presidential year since the early 1990s, according to figures from the county’s elections office.
It was the highest turnout in a gubernatorial election year in Arlington since 1993, when 56 percent of registered voters turned out as Republican George Allen triumphed over Democratic nominee and then-Attorney General Mary Sue Terry.
The county’s highest turnout in a governor election since 1958, the first year of reliable statistics, was in 1981 and 1989 when it hit 60 percent for both years.
(This year’s turnout did set a local record for highest number of votes cast in a gubernatorial election, thanks in part to population growth.)
— Arlington Dems (@arlingtondems) November 8, 2017
Northam (D) took 68,315 votes in Arlington out of 1.4 million statewide, ahead of Republican Ed Gillespie with 16,160 in Arlington and 1.1 million across Virginia.
Fairfax garnered 66,687 votes in Arlington of 1.3 million statewide, ahead of state Sen. Jill Vogel’s 17,594 in the county and 1.2 million total. And Herring won re-election with 67,111 votes ahead of John Adams’ 17,366 votes, winning the statewide count with 1.3 million to Adams’ 1.2 million.
In an email to supporters on Wednesday morning, Arlington County Republican Committee chair Jim Presswood said that while the ticket suffered a “tough loss,” the GOP will be back in Virginia:
Our canvass operation was typically among the top three in the Commonwealth. We knocked over 10,000 doors last Saturday. You represented our party and our conservative values well.
Despite yesterday’s results, I am confident about our prospects over the longer term. The Democrats ran a campaign focused on what they are against. Their governing vision, however, simply won’t solve the problems facing our Commonwealth and country.
(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.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is warning that some voters are receiving calls falsely telling them their polling place has changed.
In a tweet this afternoon, VDEM said these calls are false, and that registered voters can confirm their polling place online.
— VDEM (@VDEM) November 7, 2017
The Arlington County elections office said it estimated turnout of 40 percent today at the polls, plus another 8 percent of registered voters voting absentee. That represents a slight slowdown from the noon estimate, when turnout was at about 31 percent at the polls.
Arlington County registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow earlier that the arrival of steady rain slowed turnout somewhat. But it still means Arlington is well on track to beat the final turnout of 49 percent in 2013, when Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Plus, a break in the steadier rain is expected as Northern Virginia residents start to leave work.
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) November 7, 2017
Earlier today, the candidates in today’s election hit the streets, making their final pitches to voters as they headed to the polls.
Greeting voters at Key School — catching up with old friends & new! pic.twitter.com/L9vnxMMfcl
— Libby Garvey (@libbygarvey) November 7, 2017
Gutshall also tweeted a photo alongside Arlington School Board Democratic endorsee Monique O’Grady, while fellow School Board candidate Alison Dough has rolled out yard signs made by her children to try and swing voters her way.
A few of my favorite signs hitting the roads today… art work courtesy of my children – even the baby added hand-art 💕
Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement was out in the Fairlington neighborhood near the Abingdon precinct this morning, sporting a rain jacket and an umbrella while she greeted voters and passed out flyers.
On social media, Independent County Board candidate Charles McCullough shared photos of him out meeting voters across the county.
— Charles McCullough (@VoteCMcCullough) November 7, 2017
And Attorney General Mark Herring visited Arlington this morning as his bid for re-election entered its final hours. Herring tweeted a photo of him meeting potential voters at Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike, also part of the 49th House District, where Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) has faced a challenge from Republican Adam Roosevelt.
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) November 7, 2017
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Arlington County could today see record voter turnout for a gubernatorial election year.
As of noon, Arlington election officials were reporting approximately 31 percent turnout at the polls. Another 8 percent of registered voters had cast absentee ballots, bumping up the total, midway through election day, to nearly 40 percent.
That compares to a final turnout of 49 percent in 2013, when Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli. In 2005, the race between Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore resulted in 50.5 percent turnout in Arlington.
Despite a slowdown in the pace of voting with the arrival of steady rain in the area, Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg expects turnout will easily exceed that of 2013 today.
“We certainly expect that to be quite a bit higher, probably well over 50 percent,” she told ARLnow.com, crediting “increased interest in this year’s race and a boost in get-out-the-vote efforts among parties.”
That follows record turnout in Arlington during June’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the primary and today is facing off against Republican candidate Ed Gillespie in the race for governor.
Former Arlington County Treasurer and avid local election prognosticator Frank O’Leary last week predicted record turnout in Arlington for a non-presidential election, based on absentee voting. He said heavy turnout in Arlington could provide a big boost to Northam — even bigger than the boost Arlington gave to McAuliffe four year ago.
In that year, McAuliffe won Arlington by more than 33,000 votes. This year Northam should enjoy a local victory margin of 45,000 or more. Moreover, realize that in 2013 McAuliffe won by less than 57,000 statewide and the significance of Arlington in determining outcome in Virginia becomes apparent. But Arlington is not alone, and — as goes Arlington — so goes Alexandria and Falls Church and (to a lesser extent) Fairfax and Prince William.
True to that prediction, Alexandria so far is reporting higher-than-2013 turnout.
At noon, 32,539 active voters (36%) had voted in today's election. Was 28% at noon in 2013. Polls open until 7pm: https://t.co/qCjZtybPYE
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) November 7, 2017
Lindberg said there have been no major problems reported at Arlington’s polling stations. Lines were typically no longer than 10 minutes this morning, despite the increase in turnout.
The biggest issue so far has been confusion over the Democratic sample ballot handed out by party volunteers outside of polling stations, said Lindberg. The sample ballot recommended a slightly different way of filling in the bubble on ballots than that recommended by election officials, prompting a post by a confused resident to a Nextdoor social network page, which in turn resulted in election officials getting inquiries from some concerned voters.
Either method of filling out the ballot is valid, Lindberg said.
Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.
Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Charles McCullough:
I’ve lived in South Arlington for over ten years. Drawn to Arlington’s safe, vibrant, and diverse environment, it felt like the right place to purchase a home. I’ve come to know all our neighborhoods as wonderful places to live, work, raise children, play, pray, and grow old. While living here I’ve started my own small business, volunteered on county and school committees, and chaired the board of the US Postal Service Federal Credit Union where I advocated for family-friendly lending.
I’m running because Arlington residents need a seat at the table.
I am a progressive independent running for office because I believe the “Arlington Way” is broken. Significant decisions impacting citizens are either predetermined or made without meaningful community consultation. Developers are running roughshod over affordable housing options, displacing people and open spaces. Commercial vacancy rates remain high as the county gives multimillion-dollar tax breaks to billion-dollar companies.
We won’t fix Arlington’s problems by continuing to elect party insiders with similar résumés and experiences. If elected, I will be an independent voice on the county board. I’ll look beyond party politics and focus on “Putting People First.”
“Putting People First” is my commitment to involving more viewpoints in a meaningful way.
Effectively addressing the issues facing Arlington requires county board members to go beyond staff recommendations and be more deeply and personally present in our neighborhoods. That is why I will serve as a full-time board member, working every day in our communities to be a voice you can trust on the Arlington County Board.
I will prioritize housing affordability, schools, local business development, transportation, and open spaces and do so with community input, before decisions are made.
As a progressive independent I promise to lead with an Arlington CAN attitude.
- I will push for a multifaceted approach to housing affordability. Going beyond new construction, Arlington must grow certified affordable housing for those in need by making sure developers are paying their fair share to fund these programs. I will work to grow market rate affordable housing for the rest of us by encouraging cooperatives, co-living spaces, and community land trusts, all of which reduce rent, mortgage, and property tax costs.
- I will seek to expand early childcare options in Arlington so students don’t start the first day of school with a learning deficit. Not only should we provide greater cost efficiency in building schools, but we should also make sure schools are resourced to educate the whole child through a Cradle to Career & College Pipeline.
- I will help local businesses thrive by addressing one-size-fits-all regulation schemes that make it hard to open and grow local businesses.
- I am proud to be the only candidate for Arlington County Board that is on record for saying NO to a new regional tax for Metro that would unfairly burden Northern Virginians. Metro should only get dedicated funding if it commits to greater accountability. We need multimodal transportation solutions that get individuals to work in an efficient and cost effective manner. I will also be an advocate for providing better bus service in places like Columbia Pike.
- I will prioritize the preservation of existing parks, dog parks, and biking/jogging trails that make Arlington a great place to live. I will advocate for maximizing our limited land and public facilities through deeper government and schools partnerships as well as long-term planning for land acquisition.
To achieve these things I will demand that we budget in a way that reflects our vision for Arlington while preserving our bond rating. Having had previous responsibility for crafting multimillion-dollar budgets in the public and private sector, I know how to plan for growth in times of fiscal austerity. As you explore my full platform at http://votemccullough.com/issues, note that many of my plans save Arlington taxpayers and businesses money or generate revenue from new sources.
If you believe the county has fallen short in its commitment to our communities, taxpayers, businesses, or the environment, voting for Charles McCullough is the most powerful message you can send to the Arlington County Board that your voice matters. Together we can restore the “Arlington Way.”
Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.
Here is the unedited response from Democratic candidate Erik Gutshall:
I’m Erik Gutshall, life-long Democrat, proud father of three wonderful girls, an award-winning small businessman, and the current chair of the Arlington County Planning Commission. I am focused on the future, and I am asking for your support to be the next member of the Arlington County Board.
Arlington has a storied tradition of meeting challenges with inclusive collaboration between the community, elected officials, county staff, and the private sector. I have joined in this tradition as a civic association president, non-profit board member, and member of our Transportation and Planning Commissions. Working side-by-side with you to solve complex challenges for the last 15 years has ingrained in me the Arlington values of inclusiveness, collaboration, and long-term vision. While the successes of our past are remarkable, running a small business has taught me that if we don’t innovate, we will stagnate. Our success has brought new challenges; and while our values haven’t changed, our solutions have to. While some argue that our success is the problem and plot a course of retreat, I see the challenges of today as opportunities to remake our vision for the next generation, and I’m asking you to join me.
Our outdated zoning has created a difficult choice between increasingly unaffordable single-family homes and high-rise living, and many of our friends and neighbors have simply moved elsewhere. We must not throw up our hands and accept this as inevitable. To keep Arlington affordable for the middle class, I will use my planning and zoning experience to create market-driven, neighborhood-scale “Missing Middle” housing along our transportation corridors so that young families starting out, seniors aging in place, and everyone in-between can afford to live here.
Solving the school capacity crisis is critical to Arlington’s future. The fact that more and more families are invested enough to put down roots here despite the high cost of housing speaks volumes about the community we have built, but pitting community needs against each other is a recipe for failure. The School Board and County Board must work together to squeeze the most out of our limited space and dollars. I will champion the work of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) to find innovative solutions for the school and community facilities we need, while balancing the preservation and expansion of parks and open space.
As a small business owner, I passionately believe that the future of Arlington’s prosperity is in the hands of our entrepreneurs and innovators. Our small businesses are the “heart and soul” of our community with deep roots as they hire locally and invest locally. My first priority to restore Arlington’s reputation as a great place to start and grow a business will be to foster a “Get to Yes” culture of customer service so that our businesses can spend more time on their customers, and less time dealing with frustrating bureaucracy.
Inclusive, transparent, and collaborative problem-solving guided by progressive values yields innovative, durable solutions. That is the secret sauce of Arlington’s success. I’ve been working with you for the last 15 years, and with your support, I’ll be honored to do it for the next four as your board member. For detailed issue statements on my focus on the future of Arlington, please visit Erik4Arlington.com. Find your polling place and photo ID requirements at ARLVotes.com and please vote for me, Erik Gutshall, on Tuesday, November 7.
Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.
Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Audrey Clement:
Arlington County needs new leadership. Here’s why.
Although it is one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., Arlington is paying corporations millions in taxpayer subsidies to stay here, small businesses struggle, and too many longtime residents are being gentrified out of their homes.
At 18 percent, Arlington’s office vacancy rate is unacceptably high, as federal agencies move to cheaper digs elsewhere in Northern Virginia.
The County has recruited some high profile corporate tenants, and shaved a percentage off the vacancy rate. But small businesses are hurting and are likely to hurt even more should the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts go into effect.
In fact the George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis predicts that 10,000 federal sector jobs may be eliminated from Northern Virginia should Congress adopt the president’s budget.
This could spell hardship for Arlington County, which depends on tax revenue generated from federal jobs.
County Board increased the property tax rate this year even as it estimated a surplus. That was unfortunate, since neither the government workers who live in the County nor the local businesses that rely on their patronage needed another tax grab while facing the prospect of an economic downturn.
Arlington County also has a spending problem. County Board just voted to approve the design of a new Lubber Run Community Center with a whopping $47.9 million price tag. The new Wilson High School is currently estimated at $100 million.
By comparison, the town of Vienna recently completed renovating its community center for just $6.5 million, and the cost of a new high school under construction in Loudoun County is $81.7 million —- much less than the projected cost for Wilson High.
It’s obvious that Arlington taxpayers are paying a lot more for the same public services than elsewhere in Northern Virginia. This is not only wasteful, it may also prove to be unsustainable in the long run.
Clearly the current County Board is too complacent to change course now. It will continue to ignore the need for belt tightening. In the face of economic uncertainty, independent leadership is needed to constrain spending while optimizing services provided to County residents.
As an Independent candidate and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow, I am qualified to fill that role.
As an independent voice on County Board I pledge to:
- Seek tax relief for both residential and commercial taxpayers.
- Save our parks, not pave them over.
- Use bond money to fund schools–not Taj Mahals for some students and trailers for others.
- Stop recycling garden apartments into luxury town homes and cutting down our precious tree canopy for more parking.
- Stop the back room deals that too often govern the decisions made by County Board.
In addition, if elected, I will:
- Require a fiscal impact analysis for every major site plan development project to assure that it actually benefits the County.
- End the County’s pursuit of wasteful vanity projects.
- Redirect funds to basic needs like streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
- Consolidate housing programs and other public services.
- Install renewable energy on County owned buildings.
- Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.
I am a thirteen year Arlington resident with a ten year track of civic activism. With a Ph.D. in Political Science and experience on Capitol Hill, I have both the commitment and political know how to translate policy into practice.
Visit AudreyClement.com to find out more about my campaign for a better Arlington and donate to my campaign.
Let me know if you want to volunteer at the polls on Election Day and remember to vote for me, Audrey Clement, Independent, on November 7.
Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.
Here is the unedited response from Monique O’Grady:
Arlington Public Schools is at a crossroads. APS is short on seats, short on money, and short on the time to fix these problems before they reach a crisis level. It’s time to bring new ideas with a fresh perspective built on years of experience.
As a former PTA president, community volunteer, schools advocate, and parent of three children who attended five public schools in Arlington, I will bring my 19 years of experience advocating for our schools to bear on the challenges facing Arlington Public Schools.
I firmly believe our children should not just like school, but should also develop a lifelong love of learning. Our kids go through the school system only once; they only get one shot at success. We owe it to them to fight for our schools–and all too often our School Board hasn’t been up to the task. We can and must do better, by focusing on the ABCs:
We need a renewed focus on academics, putting as much emphasis on school instruction as we do on school construction, and a real strategic plan that ensures our teachers have the training and resources needed to help all children succeed.
We must balance using technology to foster innovative ways of learning with tried-and-true teacher-student personal interaction. Finally, we can’t keep “teaching to the test” and expect our students to learn and grow; rather, we must ensure each child receives the comprehensive education she deserves.
School boundary decisions should respect communities while also embracing diversity. Our students won’t take an SOL in multiculturalism; that test will come in life and those who learn in diverse settings will be best prepared to succeed in a multicultural world.
Our schools must be open and welcoming to all students, and it is imperative that we ensure that every child under our care feels safe and secure.
Capacity & Communication
Arlington is growing fast, and our public schools are facing a capacity crisis. For too long, the School Board and APS have failed to get in front of this challenge, resulting in overcrowded schools and a series of band-aids when we really need solutions.
We need a fourth comprehensive high school, whose students can enjoy the same amenities and opportunities to learn as those enrolled in the other three high schools. We need creative solutions that don’t overburden neighborhoods or existing schools.
But we can’t stop there. We must find innovative ways to make use of our community’s limited resources and space while still maintaining the high educational standards Arlington families expect and deserve.
As a leader on the South Arlington Working Group to site a new elementary school, I did just that: my creative proposal, adopted by APS, leveraged the building of a new elementary school while also addressing several other capacity challenges. It is just this new, outside-the-box thinking that we need if we are to finally get in front of the capacity crisis.
Lastly, we must rebuild trust between the School Board and parents, students and teachers. We must communicate better, with data and enrollment projections we can rely on, an open door policy for constructive criticism, and commitments kept when made.
Arlington Public Schools is indeed at a crossroads, but our challenges are not insurmountable. I will fight every day to meet them head on, and to ensure a love of learning for all Arlington children. I hope I will earn your vote for Arlington School Board on November 7.