Water Main Break in Rosslyn — Updated at 7:50 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crew working on 8-inch main at [Fairfax Drive and N. Lynn Street]. Some 100 customers could be affected.” [Twitter]
New Va. Laws Taking Effect Today — “Several new laws become effective across Virginia on July 1. This includes legislation pertaining to health care, transportation, economic development and law enforcement.” [Arlington County, FFXnow, ARLnow]
Local Dems Set Up Roe Page — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee has created an online resource to provide information on abortion and the political implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling sending the matter back to states.” [Sun Gazette]
Local Brothers Write Birding Book — “Maxwell and Danté Julius stealthily slip through a dirt path that cuts a serpentine route through Arlington County’s Long Branch Park and Nature Center. They’re equipped with binoculars, cameras and a permeating curiosity about the native birds of their home county. Together, the high school brothers have created a ‘Guide to the Birds of Arlington, VA.’ But it’s much more.” [WUSA 9]
County Looking for Tree Adopters — “Arlington is home to approximately 750,000 trees – or three for every resident – and the local government is asking the public’s help in supporting them. The county government’s Adopt-a-Tree program is designed to help trees make it through dry seasons.” [Sun Gazette]
New Contract for Arlington-Based Raytheon — “The U.S. Army announced Tuesday its effort for a next-generation, software-centric ground system is transitioning to another phase. The service awarded $36 million each to software company Palantir Technologies and defense firm Raytheon Technologies for work on the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, which is currently under development. TITAN is expected to help connect sensors with users in the field to support beyond-line-of-sight targeting.” [C4ISRNET]
Missing Middle Piques Interest in F.C. — “It has become a very contentious issue in Arlington, with scores of citizens showing up at public meetings to weigh in, as Clark reported. It is clear to us that, despite smokescreen issues like trees and other environmental factors, the zoning change is feared most for its perceived potentially negative impact on home values, as well as for the issue of population diversity. The Arlington board will have a work session on the subject with the county manager on July 12 and is set to take a vote in the fall. Falls Church leaders should play close attention.” [Falls Church News-Press]
It’s July — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The ballot for the general election has been set, with three races to be decided by local voters.
Multiple candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and the 8th Congressional District have qualified for the ballot. The first day of in-person early voting is Friday, Sept. 23 and the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 17, according to Arlington’s election office.
8th Congressional District
In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer overcame challenger Victoria Virasingh. Beyer goes on to the general election to face the GOP nominee, Arlington resident Karina A. Lipsman, and independent candidate Teddy Fikre.
The seat for the 8th District, which encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, has been held by a Democrat for decades. Beyer won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District. Their trust in me is humbling, and I will continue to do all I can to earn it. pic.twitter.com/dZ34jFSyvW
— Don Beyer (@DonBeyerVA) June 21, 2022
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment,” said an email from the Arlington GOP after the nomination.
Lipsman, who is originally from Ukraine, outlines priorities such as supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion on her website. She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools and vocational training programs.
Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.
Fikre’s website says he is an IT project manager with an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, cares about inclusive justice and “implementing policies that restore fairness in America and enacting laws that are rooted in love.” Among issues he’s focused on are making taxes voluntary for the working, middle and upper-middle-class, as well as forgiving all student loans.
Arlington County Board
Three familiar names are up for consideration for a County Board seat. Incumbent Matt de Ferranti was not challenged for the Democratic nomination.
During his tenure on the board, de Ferranti says he has focused on Covid response, racial equity and priorities like affordable housing, hunger, climate change and school funding.
Two independent candidates will also be on the ballot — and not for their first time — seeking a seat.
Independent Adam Theo, who is vice president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, is running on a platform of expanding government accountability, prioritizing public safety and making housing affordable. Theo describes himself as “a fierce non-partisan free-thinking ‘progressive libertarian.'” He was previously deployed to eastern Afghanistan while serving in the Air Force Reserve as a civil engineer.
This is Theo’s second time running for the County Board in as many years. Last year, he ran in a crowded County Board race for the seat that Democrat Takis Karantonis occupies.
Civic activist Audrey Clement is also running as an independent, seeking to reduce taxes, stop up-zoning, and preserve parks, trees and historic places. She said on her website she’s running “because the Board has pushed harmful policies resulting in: overcrowded schools, gentrification, loss of green space, and a 10 year average annual effective tax rate increase that is twice the rate of inflation.”
The Westover resident has been a perennial candidate over the last decade or so and says she believes once people realize the ‘Missing Middle’ housing push will rezone some neighborhoods, they will support a candidate like her.
Arlington School Board
After some commotion surrounding the Democratic endorsement for the School Board seat up for grabs, only two names will be on the ballot: James Vell Rives and Bethany Sutton.
Poll: D.C. Residents Prefer Alexandria — A poll on Twitter with more than 1,000 respondents shows D.C. residents saying they’re prefer to live in Alexandria over Arlington, if they had to choose, by a ratio of nearly 2:1. [Twitter]
ACPD Lays Wreaths at Memorial — “Following the Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day, ACPD’s Honor Guard laid wreaths at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in recognition of Arlington’s seven heroic officers who have died in the line of duty. The memorial features the names of more than 22,000 federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of our nation. We are committed to never forgetting their sacrifices in service to their communities.” [Facebook]
Roads in Rosslyn Closing for Police 5K — “The 2022 National Police Week 5k will take place on Saturday, May 14, 2022. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures to accommodate the event.” [ACPD]
Reminder: Expect Police Motorcades — “Police Week is scheduled from Wednesday, May 11 through Tuesday, May 17. Most of the scheduled activities will take place Thursday through Sunday, though the arrival of families of fallen officers on Wednesday and Thursday will prompt many of the motorcades and rolling road closures.” [ARLnow]
Dems Honor Longtime Volunteer — “The recipient of the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s highest accolade for longtime service says she is pleased that the party continues to expand in both size and scope. ‘With more people doing more things, our organization is more complex than ever,’ Inta Malis said during a May 10 online event sponsored by Arlington Senior Democrats.” [Sun Gazette]
TV Station Honors Arlington Nurses — “As 7News celebrates the third day of Nurses Week, we salute the men and women of VHC Health in Northern Virginia. The community hospital in Arlington is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and is a designated Magnet hospital, one of the highest group honors for a hospital.” [WJLA]
Startup Founder Helping Refugees — “As the clock struck 11 p.m. on March 19, Yulia Yaani gathered a group of Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border. She stepped onto the bus that night, alongside roughly 50 women and children, and they traveled to Denmark for the next 17 hours — to escape the war with Russia… Yaani is co-founder and CEO of Arlington fintech [company] RealAtom, a 5-year-old startup.” [Washington Business Journal]
Kiwanis Donate to Ukraine Efforts — “The Kiwanis Club of Arlington has donated $5,000 to the World Central Kitchen (WCK) to assist with relief efforts in Ukraine. Proceeds from the club’s fund-raising activities, including its annual blueberry sale, are being used to support the WCK with their meals programs on the ground in Ukraine and in surrounding countries.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Thursday — Mostly cloudy and cool throughout the day, with a slight chance of rain. High of 68 and low of 58. Sunrise at 6:00 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]
Bye, Bye Bank Building — “A new residential development is on the boards for Columbia Pike. Marcus Partners filed plans late last week with Arlington County for a new 250-unit residential development at the site of the Bank of America office building at 3401 Columbia Pike. The six-story building will have ground floor retail, a central courtyard and 287 parking spaces on 2.5 below grade levels.” [UrbanTurf]
It’s Official: No Caucus — From Blue Virginia: “The @arlingtondems announce that their School Board Endorsement Vote process is canceled, as there is only one candidate (Bethany Zecher Sutton) left after the other withdrew.” [Twitter]
Rents Still Rising — “The median Arlington apartment rent in April was up 16.8 percent from a year before, the third highest growth rate among the nation’s 100 large urban areas, according to new data. The median monthly rental for an apartment in the county last month was $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,420 for two bedrooms, according to data reported by Apartment List.” [Sun Gazette]
Truck Crash Caught on Camera — From Dave Statter: “Just happened. 3rd crash in as many days on I-395S at Exit 8C/Rt 1. It appears the red car didn’t stop & no other cars struck. @VSPPIO has all lanes open.” [Twitter]
Protest Outside DEA HQ in Pentagon City — “I’m outside DEA headquarters in Arlington, where protests have gathered to draw attention to terminally ill patients’ rights to try experimental drugs like psilocybin.” [Twitter, The Hill]
WaPo Reporter Rappels Down Hotel — “On Thursday and Friday, about 80 people, including two local elected officials, a Washington Post reporter, and a member of the D.C. Divas women’s football team, dressed in full pads and uniform, rappelled down the side of the Crystal City Hilton to raise funds and awareness for New Hope Housing.” [Washington Post]
Boeing HQ May Draw More Companies — “Even without a sizable addition of jobs or expansion, Northern Virginia landing another major corporate headquarters has strategic ‘marketing value,’ Terry Clower, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said in an interview. The presence of a headquarters attracts the attention of other corporations, as well as site-selection consultants who advise companies where to locate new facilities. ‘Nothing draws a crowd like a lot of people,’ Clower said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro: Ridership Rebounding — “Metro ridership is outpacing projections through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022 by nearly 40 percent. Through March, ridership has exceeded the initial forecast by 28 million passenger trips as more people chose bus and rail for travel throughout the region. Metrobus leads the way, accounting for 60 percent of overall Metro ridership, compared to about 40 percent for rail.” [WMATA]
It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]
A candidate for the Arlington School Board has withdrawn his name from the Democratic endorsement process.
Brandon Clark, a teacher at Gunston Middle School, said he decided to remove himself from consideration this week so he could run independent of party affiliation. He realized the partisan process did not align with his beliefs, he said.
“The more I thought about it, the more I was like, wait, this shouldn’t be part of the process,” he told ARLnow. “Education shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”
The caucus “represents a small microcosm of Arlington County,” Clark said. ‘It’s not up to the Arlington Democrats to decide who the School Board member’s going to be.”
The Arlington County Democratic Committee will now vote in June on whether to endorse Bethany Sutton, the only remaining candidate seeking the party’s endorsement, ACDC Chair Steve Baker said.
Clark had been steered in the direction of going through the Democratic Committee’s voting process when he decided to run in the otherwise nonpartisan election, he said.
“Because as a family, both of us being teachers, we don’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on a campaign, so I was told this is the only way you’re going to win,” he said. “It shouldn’t have this air of like, ‘this is the process where you win the race.’ No, the people need to decide and that happens on Election Day.”
Clark thanked the volunteers who began to lay the groundwork for the four-day caucus that will no longer take place.
James Vell Rives IV is also running without a party affiliation. Rives and Clark are the only two candidates who have qualified to be on the ballot so far, according to the Arlington elections office.
The Democratic endorsement process has been scrutinized for its overrepresentation of white, affluent Arlington residents, and discouraging participation in the general election while potentially making nonpartisan officials beholden to a political party, among other concerns. Calls for reform were ultimately defeated.
Clark said he hadn’t realized there were groups criticizing the caucus until he started going through the process.
“But I’m seeing now why these organizations have the grievances that they do,” he said. “In my opinion, it seems like a very insider kind of process.
This past weekend, before he pulled his name from endorsement consideration, he criticized local Democrats for selling a “Russian named vodka” at their Blue Victory Dinner, saying it “speaks to being out of touch on what our community might regard as tasteless and, although seemingly insignificant to others, [and] represents tacit support for Russia.”
He said as a teacher, he encourages his students to look at all sides of an issue to make well-informed decisions, so he didn’t think it was appropriate to align himself with a political party.
“In the future, I hope this process is more inclusive and more open and that there is a support for individuals who are trying to run,” Clark said.
(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Arlington’s School Board race is starting to take shape.
With School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen’s seat up for grabs, a few hats have been tossed in the ring so far.
Wednesday marked the end of the filing date for the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s endorsement process, which has a few changes this year in light of calls for a broader reform that were ultimately defeated.
Two candidates are seeking the Democratic endorsement in the otherwise non-partisan November school board election. A four-day voting process to determine the endorsee will be held in June.
Bethany Sutton is hoping to get the endorsement over Brandon Clark, the first person to qualify to run for school board through the Voter Registration and Elections Office. And James Vell Rives IV has also qualified for the November ballot.
Sutton is a certified leadership coach, executive search consultant and a former PTA president. She has lived in Arlington for more than 20 years and has a background in governance, strategic planning, staff and leadership development, and nonprofit management, according to her profile in the ACDC announcement of candidates.
Sutton served on Randolph Elementary School’s PTA board for seven years, three of which she was president of the board. Since spring 2020, she has led the Randolph Food Pantry, a community-based volunteer effort to support families affected by the pandemic.
For her work at Randolph Elementary, she was awarded the APS Honored Citizen Award in 2021 and the Distinguished County Service Award in 2020 from Volunteer Arlington and the Leadership Center for Excellence.
She also serves on the Arlington County Food Security Task Force and is chair of the APS Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning, which she has been on since 2018.
“She has a passion for excellence in student learning and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” according to the ACDC writeup.
Sutton grew up in the Philadelphia area, attended college at the University of Mary Washington and graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also completed a graduate program in leadership coaching at Georgetown University.
Clark, a Gunston Middle School teacher, says he wants to bring a needed employee perspective to the school board, while pushing to improve the school system’s communication and engagement efforts.
While Clark is seeking the Democratic endorsement, he expressed displeasure with the party over the weekend. He told ARLnow via email that he left ACDC’s Blue Victory Dinner, held at a Ballston hotel Saturday night, miffed at the choice of vodka offered given the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“I briefly attended an event hosted by Arlington Democrats as a school board candidate… I left early and before the event started, when I saw that Russian named vodka, originally started in Moscow, was being offered for purchase,” he wrote. “I am confused and appalled by this and would like to say that this is an oversight and greater symptom of a larger problem in Arlington politics.”
A day after the initial publication of this article, Clark clarified that the vodka issue was not the only reason he left the event early, while adding that it “speaks to being out of touch on what our community might regard as tasteless and, although seemingly insignificant to others, [and] represents tacit support for Russia.”
Rives, meanwhile, is not seeking the Democratic endorsement, and is running as an independent. He is a psychiatrist and serves as co-chair of Arlington Public Schools’ School Health Advisory Board.
Rives has lived in Fairlington with his wife Carmen since 2003, and their children attend Wakefield High School and Claremont Elementary.
As a physician with a background in mental health, he said he can bring a unique perspective to the board. He particularly wants to help as schools recover from the effects of the pandemic, keeping schools open so students can catch up on lost skills and ensuring the school system retains its teachers.
“Restarting has been bumpy,” he said. “I want to help get back on track.”
Two Local Spots on Best Bagel List — Arlington’s homegrown Brooklyn Bagel has ranked No. 4 on a list of the D.C. area’s best bagels, while Bethesda Bagel, which has an outpost in Rosslyn, ranked No. 1. [Washingtonian]
Dems Set School Board Caucus Rules — “The 2022 Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus will be an in-person-only affair with the controversial party-loyalty oath retained, based on rules adopted by the party’s rank-and-file on April 6. Democrats will select their School Board endorsee during four days of voting in June, using the instant-runoff format that has been a familiar feature of Democratic caucuses in recent years.” [Sun Gazette]
Ukrainian Ambassador Lauds Local Donation — From County Board Chair Katie Cristol: “It was profoundly moving to have Ambassador Markarova join us as we send off pallets of emergency protective equipment and kit to Ukraine. With these supplies, we also send our solidarity and commitment to help our sister city and the Ukrainian people however we can.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Preservationists Push Pols for Protection — “The trigger for the discussion was the possibility that the circa-1949 Joyce Motors building in Clarendon could be torn down to make way for new development, even though it was one of just 10 commercial buildings, and just 23 properties overall, that were designated ‘Essential’ (the top tier) in the 2011 HRI. That 2011 document was the culmination of a study of 394 properties – garden apartments, shopping centers and commercial buildings – completed in 2009.” [Sun Gazette]
Va. Senators on Supreme Court Confirmation — From Sen. Mark Warner: “Justice is served! I voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as our next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court because she’s qualified, brilliant, and honest. And for the first time in two centuries, the court will contain the voice of a Black woman.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington 9/11 5K Returns — “The Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K is currently planning on having an in-person 20th Anniversary race on September 10, 2022. However, there is a possibility that some restrictions on runner capacity, social distancing measures and mask use may be in place in September due to COVID-19.” [Arlington 9/11 5K]
Fairlington 5K Returns — “After a 2 year pandemic hiatus, the 7th annual Fairlington 5K will take place on Saturday, May 7th. There is a new canine competitor entry this year! Here is the map route. The race will start at 8:30 AM.” [Twitter]
It’s Friday — A sunny morning, followed by a cloudy afternoon and possible rain later. High of 59 and low of 45. Sunrise at 6:43 am and sunset at 7:40 pm. [Weather.gov]
A full slate of candidates is vying to unseat Rep. Don Beyer as Arlington’s representative in Congress.
Beyer has held onto his 8th District seat — which includes all of Arlington County, the cities Alexandria and Falls Church, and portions of Fairfax County — since he replaced the retiring Rep. Jim Moran in 2014.
The incumbent, who declared his re-election bid in January, will face off local progressive Democrat challenger Victoria Virasingh in a Democratic primary scheduled for June 21.
Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She previously worked for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit and headline-making tech firm Palantir.
Local Republicans, meanwhile, will be able to select their preferred candidate from five hopefuls. The field is full of candidates looking to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin last November, though Virginia’s 8th District remains heavily Democratic.
The 2020 Republican nominee, Arlington resident and retired U.S. Army Major and counterintelligence officer Jeff Jordan, is running again. He is going up against Arlington resident and former engineer Karina Lipsman, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine when it was still under the control of the Soviet Union.
Other candidates include Alexandria resident and small business owner Kezia Tunnell, McLean resident and Open Fairfax County Public Schools Coalition activist Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher who ran in 2020.
A convention to decide the nominee — open to all Republicans in the 8th District — is set to be held on May 21.
Prison for Convicted Drug Trafficker — “An Alexandria man was sentenced today to 14 years in prison for conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking… Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl.” [Dept. of Justice, Twitter]
ACDC Lowering Participation Age — “Seventeen-year-olds would be able to participate in operation of the Arlington County Democratic Committee under proposed bylaw amendments. The change, part of a larger swath of amendments to be voted on in April, would allow those under 18 to participate in ACDC activities, including caucuses, if they would turn 18 before the next Election Day.” [Sun Gazette]
History of Columbia Gardens Cemetery — “Columbia Gardens, long run by the Thomas family, is the resting place of historic personages: car dealer Bob Peck, Sen. Robert Byrd, guitarist Roy Buchanan, and a host of prominent locals with names like Ball, Marcy, Mackay and Lyon. Retired superintendent Ned Thomas Jr. confirmed the story his great-grandfather (a co-founder) relayed: ‘Someone in the War Department knew World War I was coming and that Arlington cemetery was basically full,’ he told me. So the partners thought a new cemetery in Arlington would make a lot of money.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Marymount Boosts Local Economy — “A new study suggests Marymount University pumps $236 million annually into the local economy, directly and indirectly, and is responsible for a cumulative payroll of about $90 million. The study, released by the university, looks at both the direct impact of the university on local economic conditions, and indirect impacts, such as spending by students.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 75 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:33 am and sunset at 6:09 pm. [Weather.gov]
Mary Kadera says she’s had a change of heart about the Arlington’s Democratic party’s School Board endorsement caucus, which helped her to land a School Board seat.
Kadera, who said she initially voted to keep the process after careful study, wrote in a blog post on Monday that it’s time to listen to dissenting voices and try something else.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee holds a caucus to determine which School Board candidates are bona fide Democrats and should be considered for the party’s endorsement. It’s not a primary, since school board races in Virginia are nonpartisan, but the results are similar to one because losing candidates agree not to run in November.
It’s been criticized by the Arlington NAACP and the pandemic-era group Arlington Parents for Education for, among other reasons, effectively limiting participation by communities of color, confusing voters and limiting the range of qualified candidates.
Arlington Democrats debated in February whether to use the caucus this year. After a spirited discussion, members — including Kadera — voted overwhelmingly (117-22) to keep it.
Now, she says, the dissenting voices she heard made her realize “holding on to the Caucus comes at too great a cost.”
“[A]t its very heart, this question is about white people needing to cede and share power with people of color, and that doing so is not a zero-sum game,” she writes.
Many critics of the caucus who spoke in February were Black, including community activists Wilma Jones and Zakiya Worthey, an Arlington Public Schools parent representing a new group called Black Leaders of Arlington.
They said the caucus is a glaring exception to progressive Arlingtonians’ commitment to racial equity. They argue the majority of caucus voters come from heavily white areas of North Arlington and pick well-connected, establishment Democrats who don’t prioritize the students of color in APS who have fallen behind.
“It’s faux-progressive and surface level,” Worthey tells ARLnow. “A lot of Black advocates, when we’re fighting, we’re not fighting against Republicans — we’re fighting against so-called progressive Dems.”
Kadera credited Jones and Worthey for her change of heart.
“They reminded me that hearing and valuing the voices and lived experiences of people of color means that when many of them are telling me that I am perpetuating a system that does them harm, I need to prioritize that over any ‘what if’ scenarios that make me afraid to dismantle the system,” she said.
Caucus proponents, including current School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen, member Cristina Diaz-Torres, and former member Monique O’Grady, who is Black, posed those “what if” scenarios in their arguments for keeping the process. They and others said without it, the School Board is open to “Republican infiltration,” even in heavily Democratic Arlington.
Kadera conceded that this “very well could” happen, but it’s not for certain unless ACDC tests it out.
The local party says it is still open to suggestions for improving the process, the rules for which will be decided in mid-March and ratified in April.
“We are going to continue the community engagement and we’d love to hear from stakeholders and interested groups in the community who have ideas on how to make the process better,” ACDC Chair Steve Baker said during a meeting last night (Wednesday).
The caucus is slated for June with in-person voting at some public schools and likely a handful of other places that are in South Arlington or Metro-accessible. Voting last year was held electronically due to the pandemic and participation surpassed local records.
ACDC members will go door-to-door in under-represented precincts to inform people how they can participate.
Jones, Worthey and Arlington NAACP President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. tell ARLnow that they are still formulating their next steps.
“We’re going to keep working,” Jones said.
(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington Democrats voted loud and clear: the School Board endorsement caucus process should stay.
Members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee voted 117-22 to use the caucus process to select which School Board candidates to endorse during the general election. ACDC met last night (Wednesday) to hear both sides of the issue and the results were announced today (Thursday).
Now, ACDC has to establish rules for the 2022 process, informed by four listening sessions, last night’s debate and an internal review.
“Education is a top priority for us and we support great public schools that provide children with the education and curriculum they need to succeed in life,” Arlington Democrats Chair Steve Baker said today in a statement. “Arlington Democrats will always be an ally and supporter in that effort and we want our process to be as open, inclusive and equitable as possible. We know it takes hard work to achieve real results but we’re ready and committed to that process.”
This vote applies only to using the process this year, and future votes can reprise the issue, Baker told ARLnow. A seat will open up next year following School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen’s resignation announcement.
Virginia school board races are nonpartisan, so Arlington Dems can only endorse candidates — not nominate them. As part of ACDC’s process, however, candidates agree in May not to run in the general election, making the end result similar to a primary.
This was the first time the committee voted on the use of the caucus, according to deputy chief Mike Hemminger, and it came after the Arlington Branch of the NAACP, the pro-open-schools group Arlington Parents for Education and a group of self-identified Democrats separately called on ACDC to end or significantly reform the process.
“Last night, we heard genuine concerns regarding the equity of the endorsement process,” Hemminger said today in a statement. “Systemic inequities are present in any structural system. It is vital that Arlington Democrats partner with all community members to break down barriers to access and include these voices and perspectives in each of our processes.”
Arguments against the caucus include that whiter, wealthier North Arlington residents are over-represented in it, that it discourages broad election participation, discourages federal employees from running due to the Hatch Act, effectively determines who wins in November, and makes nonpartisan officials beholden to a political party.
But the School Board is nonpartisan only on paper, according to some committee members. They said the caucus is the best means of ensuring Democrat values prevail in Arlington against the right-wing forces trying to influence Virginia school boards.
“Republicans have shown their hands,” said School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen. “In Richmond, they’re openly promoting a public school system that serves the haves better than the have nots. We Democrats cannot let them succeed.”
Without the caucus, she said, the board could not move forward “a progressive, Democrat agenda,” including removing School Resource Officers, supporting transgender students, removing Confederate names from buildings, adding world holidays to the school calendar, building green schools and approving equity policies, among other aims.
School Board member Cristina Diaz-Torres and former member Monique O’Grady also offered their support.
“Conservatives who lost the White House are laser-focused on using their resources to target school board elections,” O’Grady said. “Virginia was a test case for this. It’s happening in other districts and there’s a thinly veiled attempt happening here in Arlington.”