Arlington, VA

(Updated at 11:35 p.m.) For the first time in 15 years, a non-Democrat will sit on the Arlington County Board.

John Vihstadt, a Republican who ran as an independent with the endorsement of the local Republican and Green parties, has won the special election to replace Chris Zimmerman (D) on the Arlington County Board.

Vihstadt captured 57 percent of the vote to Democrat Alan Howze’s 41 percent. Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy and independent Stephen Holbrook each captured about 1 percent of the vote.

“We won the race by a higher margin than my most aggressive expectations,” Vihstadt told supporters at his victory party tonight. “The most exciting and gratifying measure of our victory was that it was north to south and east to west. There really is one Arlington, not two Arlingtons.”

Given that the race hinged largely on the hot-button issues of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar and Long Bridge Park aquatics center, the result is likely to be viewed by many as a voter rebuke of the County Board’s major capital spending projects.

“People want cost-effective, results-oriented solutions on the local level,” Vihstadt said.

Vihstadt touted his “true rainbow coalition” of supporters. Those supporters included all three candidates for County Board in 2012: current Democratic County Board member and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, Republican ARLnow.com columnist Mark Kelly, and frequent Green Party candidate Audrey Clement. Also supporting Vihstadt was Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, a close friend of Vihstadt and his wife, Mary.

“It was an easy call for me,” said Stamos, a lifelong Democrat. “He’s a good man and we need to sometimes think outside the box.”

“This is a victory for good government,” Garvey said. “I’m going to get choked up, this is Democracy at its best. This is the way it’s supposed to be.”

“The people have spoken and the County Board needs to listen,” Garvey added.

Vihstadt, whose yard signs were purple to represent a blend of red and blue politics, said he plans to “work in a collaborative fashion to get things done for the county.”

“This was a victory not for one person or one party, but for Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians and people with no party,” Vihstadt said. “I’m not going to be a captive of any political party, any person, any ideology — I’m going to call issues as I see them.”

Voter turnout today was relatively light, which benefited Vihstadt. With no state or national-level races energizing the Democratic base, its appears that many party-line Democrats stayed home. Total unofficial turnout was 22,209, or about 16 percent of registered voters.

Vihstadt will be the first non-Democrat on the Board since Republican Mike Lane served briefly after winning a special election in 1999. Lane lost in the general election several months later. Similarly, Vihstadt is expected to face Howze again in the November general election, when a U.S Senate and a House of Representatives race will be on the local ballot.

Howze told dozens of his supporters at the Democrats’ election party at Whitlow’s in Clarendon that he continues to believe infrastructure and education investments are the core values of Arlington voters.

“The special election is behind us now, and I look forward to continuing this conversation into November and moving Arlington forward,” he said. “There’s a lot at stake.”

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Alan HowzeThis week, we asked the candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them in the special election on April 8.

Below is Democrat Alan Howze’s unedited response:

Please Join Me and Move Arlington Forward!

I am optimistic about Arlington’s future.  We have built a great community. Together we can make it even better.  I ask for your vote on April 8 so that we can preserve what makes Arlington special and create a brighter tomorrow for everyone in our community.

Progressive Values

Values guide decisions. So you should know where the candidates stand.

I was born in Arlington Hospital and grew up on Jackson Street.  My wife, Pam, and I are raising our three children here because we love Arlington and its progressive Democratic values of equality, opportunity and shared prosperity.

I believe in protecting a women’s right to choose, and would defend it from TRAP efforts.

I believe we should care for our neighbors.  This is why I strongly support expanding Medicaid to cover more than 6,000 Arlington residents who do not have access to healthcare today.  Expanding coverage would protect jobs and the fiscal health of Arlington’s our largest private employers, the Virginia Hospital Center.  It would also save millions of dollars that Arlington County spends today to provide local healthcare services, and would allow for additional state funding for other important priorities such as education, public safety, and the environment.  Expanding Medicaid is fiscally responsible and it is the right thing to do for our people, our local economy, and our community.

This is why I have called upon my Republican-backed opponent, Mr. Vihstadt, to tell voters if he supports expanding Medicaid coverage, or if he stands with Republicans who are blocking access to healthcare for thousands of Arlington residents.  Arlington voters deserve to know.

Investing in Education and Transportation

The investments we have made in our community are the foundation of our success. As a County Board Member, one of my top priorities will be making smart investments in education and transportation. This means continuing to improve Metro – including by adding capacity to reduce the Orange crush – and creating new, high-quality transit through the Arlington Streetcar Line.

And this means thoughtful investments to ensure Arlington’s schools remain among the best in the nation. School overcrowding is one of the biggest challenges we face. As a County Board Member, I will find solutions. I have a personal stake in this: no other candidate in this race, or current County Board Member, has children in Arlington Public Schools.

A New Voice for Innovation & Oversight

I have worked hard to reach out to all of Arlington.  I have knocked on thousands of doors and listened carefully to resident’s needs and concerns.  I will use my community experience — Civic Association President, Fiscal Affairs Commission, PTA, Housing Solutions Board — and my business experience to find solutions to school overcrowding, neighborhood safety, and affordable housing.

I am proud to have the support of Arlington Educators, the Sierra Club, LGBT Democrats of Virginia, National Organization of Women, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, and labor organizations LiUNA!, IBEW, and UFCW, as well as community leaders including Paul Ferguson, Mary Hynes, Emma Violand-Sanchez, Frank O’Leary, Ingrid Morroy, Beth Arthur, Mary Margaret Whipple, Bob Brink, Abby Raphael, Jay Fisette, Noah Simon, James Lander, Ed Fendley, Dave Bell, Sally Baird, Karen Darner, Judy Connally and Joe Wholey, plus many more. 

My experience working for Gov. Mark Warner and nearly a decade working for IBM have given me insights on how to improve our local government.  While most Arlingtonians I’ve spoken with are optimistic about our community, cost overruns on some key county projects threaten to erode confidence in our government’s management.  I know we can do better.

On the Fiscal Affairs Commission, I pushed for enhancements to the County’s audit, financial management, and analytics capabilities. I have also strongly supported a focus on core government services, recommending increased funding for paving and leading a task force that focused on the maintenance needs of our parks and facilities.  However, a focus on core services does not mean, as some have suggested, that we should stop investing for the future needs of our community.  That short-sighted approach will undermine our future prosperity.

We have a great community, built on progressive values, care for our neighbors, and sound long-term infrastructure investments.  I ask you for your vote so I can l work with you to find innovative, durable and fiscally sound solutions to the challenges that we face.

Together, we can move Arlington forward.

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Morning Notes

"Sun shines through" (Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA)

H-B Parents Peeved By Document Disappearance — Some parents of H-B Woodlawn students are up in arms after three documents that questioned a proposal to move the secondary program to a new building disappeared from an Arlington Public Schools website. One parent called the removal of the documents “heavy-handed and disturbing.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Arlington Man Charged With Fairfax Sex Assault — Sloan Wilson Rappoport, a 44-year-old Arlington resident and former George W. Bush administration official, has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman he met at a Bailey’s Crossroads clothing store. Police say Rappoport invited the woman into his Mercedes-Benz, then drove to a nearby location and sexually assaulted her. [Washington Post]

Clement to Run for School Board — Perennial Green Party candidate Audrey Clement is planning on running for Arlington School Board. Currently running in the race are three candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement: Barbara Kanninen, Greg Greeley and Nancy Van Doren. [InsideNoVa]

Airline Changes at DCA — As a result of changes related to the American Airlines/US Airways merger, JetBlue, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines will all be expanding their presence at Reagan National Airport. [MWAA]

Endorsements for Howze, Vihstadt — Arlington County Board candidates Alan Howze (D) and John Vihstadt (I) have picked up notable endorsements in the past week. Howze has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, which says he has a “depth of knowledge and understanding of key environmental issues facing the County.” Vihstadt has been endorsed by the local firefighters union, which says it shares Vihstadt’s spending priorities — an emphasis on core services and opposition to projects like the streetcar and the aquatics center.

Will Arlington Regret HOT Lanes Opposition? — Writing about what may be the area’s “worst commute” — from Fredericksburg to the District via I-95 and I-395 — highway historian Earl Swift suggests that Arlington may ultimately regret its opposition to HOT lanes on I-395. Running HOT lanes from I-95 to just before Arlington on I-395 “could spawn new and fearsome jams on I-395, choking Arlington County with the exhaust of idling legions of cars,” Swift writes. “The HOT lanes could be so popular, and inspire so fierce a public demand for their extension to the Potomac, that talks between state and county resume.” [Atlantic Cities, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA

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Alan Howze at an Arlington County Democratic Committee debate Alan Howze has captured the Democratic nomination for the upcoming Arlington County Board special election.

Howze received 52 percent of the vote during the two day Democratic nomination caucus, which concluded Saturday night. The other two candidates, Cord Thomas and Peter Fallon, received 30 and 18 percent of the vote respectively.

“Tonight I am honored to earn the confidence of Arlington Democrats and win the Democratic nomination for the Arlington County Board,” Howze said in a statement.

Howze will now face independent candidate John Vihstadt and libertarian Evan Bernick in the special election, which is being held to replace the retiring Chris Zimmerman. The date for the election has not yet been set, but it is expected to take place in early April.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee issued the press release about the caucus results.

Alan Howze, long-time community leader with experience in government and business, has been nominated as the Democratic candidate for the April Special Election to fill the Arlington County Board seat vacated by the resignation of Chris Zimmerman.

Alan Howze won with 52% of 3,585 votes cast during the two caucuses held Thursday January 30 and Saturday February 1 by the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC). Cord Thomas received 30%, and Peter Fallon received 18%.

For the first time, ACDC used “instant run-off voting” to ensure that the winning candidate was the preference of a majority of voters. Instead of voting for a single candidate, voters were given the opportunity to rank candidates in order of preference. However, IRV was not needed as Mr. Howze received a majority of the first preference votes. The vast majority of caucus voters used the IRV system and voted for more than one candidate.

Alan Howze was born in Arlington, and he and his wife Pam and three young children live in the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls neighborhood. He has a strong history of civic work in Arlington, and currently serves as the President of the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association, Vice-Chair of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission (FAAC), and a Board Member of the Alliance for Housing Solutions. A graduate of James Madison University with an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Alan is a management consultant at IBM where he has worked with federal, state and local government leaders on a variety of strategy and transformation initiatives to reduce costs and improve the delivery of government services. For more information: http://www.alanhowze.com

Democratic Nominee Alan Howze stated: “Tonight I am honored to earn the confidence of Arlington Democrats and win the Democratic nomination for the Arlington County Board.” Howze added, “I want to thank Peter Fallon and Cord Thomas for running campaigns that highlighted important issues in our community. Peter has a long record of public service in Arlington. Cord has developed businesses in our community and can play a meaningful role in our Party. I look forward to working closely with Peter and Cord and their supporters, both to win the special election in April and to govern effectively as a Board member.”

Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman [Kip Malinosky] stated: “Arlington Democrats are thrilled to rally around Alan Howze. He has an outstanding record of service to our community and a vision for a greater Arlington. We know how important it is to have our Democratic values represented at all levels of our government.

The date of the Special Election will be set by the Circuit Court; most likely it will be on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

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Democratic County Board candidate Alan HowzeThis week, we asked the Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them in the Democratic caucus. The caucus is being held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. today and from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Here is the unedited response from Alan Howze:

I am running for the County Board to bring a new voice, fresh perspective and years of experience in business, government and community leadership to solving the challenges that we face.

I believe in progressive Democratic values that reflect Arlington’s commitment to equality, opportunity and shared prosperity. I was born and raised in Arlington, and I want to leave to my three children an Arlington that is even better tomorrow than today. I have knocked on over 2,000 doors, and there are four issues that emerge as priorities.

1) Great Schools  we must maintain Arlington’s excellent schools and respond to surging student enrollment.  I am proud to have the endorsement of Arlington’s teachers, and I am also the only candidate in the race who currently has children in Arlington Public Schools.

2) Affordable and livable community — we need an Arlington with more affordable housing; where seniors can age in place gracefully; where high-quality transit and walk/bike options are accessible.

3) Clean Environment — we need to accelerate our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and support continued Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.  I earned the endorsement of the Sierra Club for my support for the environment and expanding transit access.

4) Fiscally Responsible Government — we must provide high quality services and strong value for our tax dollars. We must also continue to invest in Arlington while keeping a close watch on our debt capacity and protecting Arlington’s AAA bond rating. I will bring innovation and a focus on making government work better to deliver high-quality, efficient services.

I bring to the race a set of experiences that prepares me to tackle the challenges we face.

My business experience with IBM has focused on bringing innovation to government and working to reduce costs and improve the delivery of government services. I will bring the same scrutiny and focus on innovation to our county government.

I know how government works — from working on Capitol Hill and serving then-Gov. Mark Warner in Richmond — and how we can make it work better.

Extensive community leadership has given me a profound respect for the diverse strengths of our community.  I serve as the President of my civic association, Vice-Chair of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, and Board Member of the Alliance for Housing Solutions. I’m an active member of the Tuckahoe Elementary School PTA and a youth coach with the Arlington Soccer Association.

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Morning Notes

Sunset over Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

County Gets $500k for Beaver Pond Project — Arlington County has received a $500,000 state grant for a project to improve the Ballston beaver pond. “The $2.7 million improvement project, paid for mostly from stormwater funds, includes changing the flow pattern to keep water in the pond longer, allowing wetland plants to remove nutrients and other pollutants before it flows out,” the county said in a press release. “Construction is expected to begin in the summer 2014.” [Arlington County]

Fisette’s Disclosure Doesn’t Include Husband — County Board Chairman Jay Fisette’s annual financial disclosure did not include the finances of his husband. Fisette was married in D.C. this past September, but Fisette says he’s not required to include his spouse in the disclosure since their marriage is not recognized under Virginia law. [Washington Post]

Howze Tops Fundraising Battle — Democratic County Board hopeful Alan Howze has raised the most money of any County Board candidate, with $16,245. Fellow Democrat Cord Thomas appears to be completely self-funding his campaign, while independent candidate John Vihstadt’s donors include a number of local Republicans. [Blue Virginia]

Congressional Primary Date Set — A date has been set for the crowded Democratic primary in the race to succeed the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The primary will be held on June 10. [Twitter]

APS Budget Forum Dates Set — Arlington Public Schools will hold three community forums on the upcoming FY 2015 budget. The forums will be held on Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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From left, Peter Fallon, Cord Thomas and Alan Howze at the Arlington Young Democrats County Board debateEncouraging young professionals to stay in Arlington and future transit options were prime topics for the three Democratic Arlington County Board candidates during their second debate of the month.

Alan Howze, Cord Thomas and Peter Fallon debated for an hour and a half in front of a standing-room only crowd of Arlington Young Democrats in Ballston Wednesday night. AYD President Max Burns told ARLnow.com that it was the largest crowd at an AYD meeting he could remember.

Howze and Fallon advocated for the Columbia Pike streetcar as an economic engine and as a long-term, visionary transit plan while Thomas, who in the first debate said he was “not a fan of the Columbia Pike streetcar,” advocated for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead.

“We need to focus on a robust BRT system like our neighbors in Fairfax and Alexandria,” Thomas, 31, and a co-founder of EnviroCab, said. “At the end of the day, people just want to get where they’re going. If you can have something that’s state of the art, at one-fifth of the cost, why wouldn’t you choose that?”

Democratic County Board candidate Cord ThomasHowze — an Arlington native who said he remembers when the Orange and Blue lines were built — said that despite the up-front costs, the streetcar is a sound financial investment.

“If you go back and look at the conversation from 40 years ago, you hear echoes from this debate today,” Howze said. “When you look at the life cycle cost, there’s a strong argument to be made that streetcar is cheaper than buses in the long term.”

Fallon, in addition to speaking out in support of the streetcar, said the county needs more north-south transportation options and says the ART bus’ schedule should be expanded for later service. His primary focus during the debate was on affordable housing; he was touting his record as a planning commissioner in creating more than 1,000 units of designated affordable housing.

“The price of admission to Arlington is very high,” Fallon said. “The people who are here, you end up losing them, unless you’re able to capture them.”

Arlington County Board candidate Peter FallonFallon said he wants to re-examine Arlington’s incentive policies for asking developers for affordable housing units or funding. Fallon believes developers should be asked to contribute more than they already are, saying, “we need to get more bang for our buck so we have more of these units available.”

Moderator Gordon Simonett asked the candidates if they were worried about Arlington’s young population moving to cheaper, neighboring communities like Falls Church and Fairfax. All three candidates answered “yes,” but with varying degrees of concern. Thomas said there’s a reason so many young people are in Arlington in the first place.

“My friends constantly talk about moving somewhere” less expensive, Thomas said, but “Arlington’s a terrific place to be when you’re young.”

“There’s definitely a wonderful sense of young people, entrepreneurs and really young professionals here,” he said. “That’s why when I got here, it was really the place for me. Falls Church might be a little bit cheaper, but it doesn’t have what Arlington has.” Read More

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Morning Notes

Soggy dogs near the Foreign Service Training Center (Flickr pool photo by Ddimick)

Orange, Blue and Yellow Line Work This Weekend — Getting anywhere on Metro this weekend will take longer than usual. Trains will run every 20 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines due to track work. The Yellow Line, meanwhile, will end at Mt. Vernon Square rather than Fort Totten. The changes will be in effect from 10:00 p.m. Friday through system closing on Sunday. [WMATA]

Superintendent Hopes to Avoid Class Size Increase — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy says he’ll try to avoid an increase in class sizes in the school system’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. It’s unclear how Murphy plans to close a projected $8.8 million budget gap. [Sun Gazette]

Howze Wins Teacher Endorsement — Arlington County Board hopeful Alan Howze has won the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association Political Action Committee. The political arm of the teachers’ association said Howze “recognizes that investing in our schools is one of the very best ways to make our community even stronger.”

Brink Proposes Under 15 Tanning Salon Ban — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) has proposed legislation that would ban children under the age of 15 from Virginia tanning salons and would require teens ages 15 to 17 to obtain written parental permission to use such facilities. [Sun Gazette]

Ballston Burger Shop Renames RG III Burger — The RG III burger at Big Buns in Ballston has received an alternate name, “The Kirk Cousins.” The $15 burger contains a beef, a chicken and a turkey patty. Dan Steinberg writes: “No word on what the sandwich will be called next fall.” [DC Sports Bog]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

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Morning Notes

The dog's perspective... (Flickr pool photo by wolfkann)

Two of Three Dem Candidates Endorse Streetcar — Two of the three Democratic candidates for County Board — Alan Howze and Peter Fallon — have voiced support for the Columbia Pike streetcar project. The third Democratic contender — Cord Thomas — has concerns about the proposal. [Sun Gazette]

Lack of Decal in Fairfax Affects Arlington — Eight years ago Fairfax County became the lone jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to abandon car tax decals, and Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary believes that’s costing Arlington $300,000. O’Leary said it’s too labor intensive to check every single vehicle parked in Arlington without a decal to determine if the vehicle is from Fairfax or if the owner didn’t pay Arlington taxes. [Sun Gazette]

Civic Leadership Program Deadline Extended — Arlington County has extended the deadline for residents interested in signing up for the eight week Neighborhood College program. Participants will learn communication and influencing skills, how to organize for action and how to give and receive feedback, among other things. The deadline to sign up for the free series is now January 10, and classes begin February 13. [Arlington County]

Police Officer Profiled — A member of the Arlington County Police Department — Capt. Kamran Afzal — has been profiled in Asian Fortune. The Pakistani American studied economics in college before turning to a life in law enforcement. He has been with the department for 20 years. [Asian Fortune]

Christmas Tree Collection Begins — County workers began collecting discarded Christmas trees yesterday. The trees are collected curbside until January 17 and will be turned into mulch. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by wolfkann

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Morning Notes

Decorative grass blowing in the wind in Rosslyn

Zimmerman Pushes Back Last Day — County Board member Chris Zimmerman’s last day in office will be Feb. 10, rather than late January as originally planned. As a result, the special election to replace him on the Board will likely have to be held in early April. [Sun Gazette]

Henry Elementary Wins Accolade — Arlington’s Patrick Henry Elementary School, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, has been recognized as a Title I Distinguished School. “Henry is one of 55 schools honored for raising the academic achievement of economically disadvantaged students,” Arlington Public Schools said in an email.

Arlingtonian Tapped as Solicitor General — Arlington resident Stuart Raphael has been named as Attorney General Mark Herring’s pick for Virginia Solicitor General. Raphael, a UVA law school graduate, is husband to Arlington School Board Chair Abby Raphael. [Sun Gazette]

Va. Bars Can Now Advertise Happy Hours — Starting Jan. 29, restaurants in Virginia will be allowed to advertise the fact that they offer happy hour specials. That’s the result of new Va. Dept. of Alcohol Beverage Control rules. However, restaurants are still not allowed to advertise the price of the drinks on special. Other alcohol-related “blue laws” that remain in effect in Virginia include a ban on open bars with unlimited drinks and a ban on serving mixed drinks by the pitcher. [Washington Post]

ART Bus Schedule Changes Now in Effect — Schedule changes went into effect today (Monday) for Arlington Transit bus routes 41, 42, 45 and 77. [Arlington Transit]

Howze Wins Straw Poll — On Saturday, Arlington County Board hopeful Alan Howze won an informal Democratic straw poll at a legislative session “send-off” for Del. Alfonso Lopez. Howze captured 59 percent of the vote, while fellow Democratic candidates Cord Thomas and Peter Fallon garnered 25 percent and 16 percent respectively. [Alfonso Lopez]

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Morning Notes

"Evening commute" by wolfkann

Silver Line Predictions for Arlington — A new report indicates the Silver Line will transform Reston and Tysons Corner into transit-oriented cities, similar to what occurred along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor after the arrival of the Orange Line. “Our Man in Arlington” notes the Silver Line will increase competition for businesses in Arlington, but quotes the director of Arlington Economic Development, who believes the county can hold onto its businesses. Arlington is expected to experience other changes from the Silver Line, such as changes in frequency for Orange Line trains. [Reston NowFalls Church News-Press]

Look at Proposed Metro Changes — Metro’s recently announced proposal for a downtown loop , which would include one Arlington “super station” at the Pentagon, is getting some more in-depth looks. Plus, Metro indicates the need for another new line Northern Virginia by 2040, due to anticipated significant crowding on the Silver and Orange Lines. [Washington PostGreater Greater Washington]

Howze Gains Endorsements — The competition is heating up among the three Democratic candidates seeking the nomination to run for the County Board seat being vacated by Chris Zimmerman. Alan Howze has picked up endorsements from Del. Bob Brink (D) and School Board member Noah Simon. Howze had already secured endorsements from County Board member Jay Fisette and Treasurer Frank O’Leary. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by wolfkann

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