Audrey Clement is again tossing her hat in the ring for the upcoming Arlington County Board race.
Clement said in an email to supporters this morning that she is planning to run as an independent in the race, which will fill the seats of Chair Christian Dorsey and member Katie Cristol, who are not seeking reelection.
The repeat candidate, who has unsuccessfully run for various offices in Arlington nearly a dozen times since her first County Board race in 2011, won a few northern Arlington precincts in the Board general election this past fall. Clement says she will again run with her opposition to “Missing Middle” housing rezoning front and center.
This morning’s announcement is below.
I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board. As a 19-year Westover resident, long time civic activist, and past member of the Transportation Commission, I’m running for County Board because the County has pushed harmful policies resulting in:
- overcrowded schools
- loss of green space
- excessive runoff, and
- a 10 year average annual effective tax rate increase that is almost twice the rate of inflation
I also oppose the so-called “Enhanced Housing Options (EHO)” a/k/a “Missing Middle” ordinance that the County rammed through on March 22, 2023. Missing Middle up-zoned single family neighborhoods throughout the county, despite massive opposition from homeowners and those like myself who believe it is nothing more than a concession to developers.
While two of the other contenders for County Board have also recently spoken out against Missing Middle, I’ve been vocal in my opposition to it since long before it was popular to speak out — February 22, 2020 to be exact.
Other County Board contenders are pushing for Missing Middle, while actively misleading voters about what it will do. They claim that Missing Middle will end de facto redlining even though in a February 1 letter to County Board, the local NAACP president reported that only 20% of Blacks in the county can afford to buy or rent a Missing Middle unit (p.3).
These County Board candidates also say that Missing Middle will provide a way for moderate income residents to get starter homes, even though most of the units will be rental.
At the March 28, 2023 annual budget hearing, Alice Hogan, a board member of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), stated that Missing Middle will not meet the needs of anyone earning less than area median income, [33:23 8:00:02] which is about $123,000 per year. Hogan and other Missing Middle proponents used this fact to lobby for more housing subsidies at the hearing. This sounds like they are gearing up to push for taxpayer subsidies of Missing Middle units to make them affordable.
If you object to subsidizing overpriced housing and the constant misleading hype about the supposed benefits of Missing Middle, then you should vote for Clement for County Board on November 7, 2023.
If elected, I pledge to:
- Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
- Demand full transparency in the deals the County cuts with developers.
- Preserve Arlington’s cultural heritage. Stop permitting the destruction of historic structures.
- Save our parks, streams and tree canopy. Stop clearcutting wooded areas on public property.
- Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.
If you share my agenda, then:
- Spread the word about my candidacy.
- Donate to my campaign.
- Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.
Audrey Clement, Ph.D.
Arlington County Board
Clement will face the two Democratic candidates who emerge from the party’s primary in June. Democrats will utilize ranked-choice voting to choose among the announced candidates of Maureen Coffey, Jonathan Dromgoole, Natalie Roy, Julius “JD” Spain, Tony Weaver, and Susan Cunningham.
Roy and Cunningham have also expressed degrees of opposition to the Missing Middle changes.
(Updated at 9:30 p.m.) What many believed would be the most competitive Arlington County Board race in four years has turned out to be another convincing Democratic victory.
Clement strongly opposes the proposal to allow smaller-scale multifamily housing in neighborhoods currently zoned only for single-family homes, while Theo supports it. De Ferranti, meanwhile, staked out a middle ground, expressing opposition to the higher 8-unit end of the potential range of allowed housing types.
With 55 out of 57 precincts reporting, de Ferranti has 60% of the vote to 28% for Clement and 10% for Theo.
Both Clement and Theo ran for County Board last year, before Missing Middle came to the fore as a hot-button local issue. In the 2021 race, Democrat Takis Karantonis carried about 60% of the vote to 18% for Clement, 6% for Theo and 14% for Mike Cantwell, another independent candidate..
The Missing Middle proposal has attracted the ire of many homeowners, while a coalition of groups — from affordable housing boosters to the local chapter of the NAACP — support it.
An early look at precinct-by-precinct results shows support for Clement in Arlington’s northern, single-family home neighborhoods. The Madison district in far northern Arlington, for instance, has voted 58% for Clement to 36% for de Ferranti and 4% for Theo. She also claimed the Thrifton (Woodmont), Rock Spring, and Yorktown districts — all also in far northern Arlington.
That compares to the more renter-heavy Met Park district, in the Pentagon City neighborhood, which voted 64% for de Ferranti and 20% for Clement and 15% for Theo. A more “in between” district — Fairlington, with its mix of townhouses and smaller condo buildings — voted 66% for de Ferranti, 23% for Clement and 9% for Theo.
Also on the ballot today were School Board and congressional races, which were even more lopsided for the Democratic candidates.
For the open Arlington School Board seat vacated by Barbara Kanninen, Arlington County Democratic Committee-endorsed candidate Bethany Sutton has 68% of the vote to 30% for independent James ‘Vell’ Rives IV.
Arlington Democrats claimed victory on Twitter just after 9 p.m.
— Arlington Democrats (@arlingtondems) November 9, 2022
De Ferranti tells ARLnow he was impressed by the 85,000 people who voted this election, in which there was no senatorial, gubernatorial or presidential race.
“In Virginia, that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “There are other elections where there is an even lower turnout. This is a pretty rare election, and to have 85,000 vote in this election is a pretty solid turnout.”
He said addressing climate change, investing in schools and tackling affordable housing and housing affordability — “related but distinct” issues — will be key priorities this term.
“I’m grateful to Arlington residents for the chance to serve them,” he said. “I love doing this job and I’m humbled, grateful, and looking forward to serving over the next four years. I’m going to try and live up to Arlingtonians: that means being smart, thoughtful and compassionate, caring about our community and being forward-looking.”
Clement told ARLnow she was dismayed with the results, though she won four out of 54 districts — including Madison, with her 22-point margin — and came within just over 1% of the vote in another.
“I didn’t perform as well as I thought I would,” she said. “I thought I would push 40% — the sentiment I got on the street indicated a better showing.”
Earlier this week, we invited the candidates running in Tuesday’s general election to write a post about why our readers should vote for them. Find information here on how and where to vote in Arlington on Nov. 8.
Below is the unedited response from independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement.
I’m Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board. As an 18-year Westover resident, long time civic activist, current member of the Neighborhoods Advisory Committee, and past member of the Transportation Commission, I’m running for County Board because it has pushed harmful policies resulting in:
- overcrowded schools
- loss of green space and
- excessive taxation
Now the County is pushing “Missing Middle” up-zoning–multi-family dwellings in single family home neighborhoods. Contrary to what the County says, Missing Middle will not make housing more affordable. Instead it will inflate land values, resulting in higher housing prices, overcrowded schools, more traffic congestion, loss of tree canopy, increased runoff and more air pollution.
The County’s own data indicates that an income of $108,000 per year will be needed to afford a low-end 1 bedroom condo. In 2019 the County reported Black and Latino median household income at a fraction of that. Furthermore the County projects that 90 percent of new units built will be 1-2 bedrooms already in good supply, not the 3 bedroom units that are needed. 80% will likely be rentals, not owner occupied.
Let’s face it. The only beneficiaries of Missing Middle are the developers who are already making a killing by flipping properties in your neighborhood.
Another issue that concerns me is tax gouging.
The Board recently adopted a $1.5 billion budget that includes a 5.3 percent effective real estate tax rate increase. Nothing new here. Between 2012 and 2021 Arlington’s ten-year average annual effective real estate tax rate increase was double the rate of inflation (FY 2023 Online Budget, p. 95 ).
Are these over-the-top annual tax rate increases actually needed to fund the budget?
Neighboring jurisdictions have lowered real estate tax rates in the wake of rising assessments. Fairfax County recently reduced its real estate tax by 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.
If elected, I pledge to:
- Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
- Say YES to affordable housing and NO to “Missing Middle” up-zoning.
- Preserve Arlington’s cultural heritage. Stop permitting the destruction of historic structures like the Rouse estate that was demolished in March, 2021.
- Save our parks, streams and tree canopy. Stop clearcutting wooded areas along Potomac River tributaries in the name of stream resilience.
- Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.
If you share my agenda, then:
- Visit my website at www.AudreyClement.com
- Spread the word about my candidacy.
- Donate to my campaign.
- Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.
Editor’s note: Candidates for local races are invited in advance to submit candidate essays, via contact information ARLnow has on file or publicly-listed contact information on the candidate’s website. Reminders are sent to those who do not submit an essay by the evening before the deadline.
In a crowded Bozman Government Center on Saturday morning, one person urged the Arlington County Board to move forward with Missing Middle housing while another critiqued the push for county-wide zoning changes.
But Board members had only to read the room — and the signs people brought — to see a sea of residents who were as divided into pro- and anti-Missing Middle camps that day as they were during a raucous meeting this June.
“We owe it to our larger community to let more people live here through smaller multiplexes, yes, but especially through denser affordable apartment housing. Doing otherwise is environmentally unsustainable — and it’s exclusionary,” said Susan English. “I’ve lived in a pleasant tear-down in a nice neighborhood for 40 years, but I hope when I leave my house will be replaced with at least a duplex.”
Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement, the only candidate opposed to the Missing Middle upzoning proposal, told those attending and watching the meeting that she would “debunk some myths about it.”
Reciting excerpts of a speech she has presented during the Arlington County Civic Federation and Chamber of Commerce candidate fora, Clement argued that Missing Middle will not add to the county’s stock of 3-bedroom, and will reduce Arlington’s tree canopy, and will not increase home-buying opportunities for people of color — though the latter is an assertion with which the local NAACP disagrees.
Clement suggested alternatives such as office-to-residential conversions.
Board Chair Katie Cristol broke through the whooping and hollering that followed Clement’s comments, saying, “Alright, thank you ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to continue hearing from neighbors.”
But she later thanked attendees for respecting the rules for addressing the Board, which include restrictions on how many people can speak on a given matter not otherwise on the Board’s agenda.
“I also just want to give a sincere thanks to all who’ve come who respected our one-speaker-per-topic rule, helping us hear from more neighbors,” she said.
During the June meeting, some attendees shouted at Cristol when she cut off another speaker for violating the rule. The Board allows one speaker per topic, with opposing views on the same topic considered two separate topics.
Booing, which followed a speech this summer by a member of pro-density group YIMBYs of Northern Virginia, was also absent this time around. But there was plenty of applause — for every speaker, despite the range of topics, from the taxes nonprofits pay to climate change.
Resident Dima Hakura, who has spoken at length in meetings and with the Board about the Courthouse West General Land Use Plan, took the podium to urge the County Board to listen to its constituents, not “patronize us.” The room erupted in cheers after she finished her speech.
We need a leadership that builds consensus among us and unites us. A leadership that not only respects our opinions and values them, but also taps into them. One that considers our thoughts and makes constructive use of them to evolve the solutions possible… Interestingly, Arlington was always known for that, but somehow, somewhere we lost our way and we need to find it again.
… When I told people I was coming to speak before you today, the reaction was: “Why bother?” or, “It’s not going to make an iota of difference,” or, “Their mind is already made up. They have an agenda they want to push.” Regardless, I am hoping differently.
(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
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.
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
Data Centers Coming to Nat’l Landing — “The plan to establish 5G connectivity in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, reshaping the larger community into a technological hub, includes a new addition: data centers. JBG Smith Properties, the area’s dominant property owner, will set up two “urban edge” data centers to serve as hubs for carriers and data aggregation.” [Washington Business Journal]
Clement Blasts Board Raises — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board says she’d be OK with a major pay raise for County Board members, if they were providing adequate oversight duties. But they’re not, Audrey Clement contends. ‘Where is the hard work in avoiding hard decisions by kowtowing to staff?’ Clement asked in a recent campaign missive to supporters.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Announces New CEO — “WMATA’s Board of Directors is excited to announce the selection of its new General Manager/CEO who will transform the agency and redefine how Metro continues to be an integrated part of the region’s success. Randy Clarke, the current President and CEO of Capital Metro (CapMetro) in Austin, TX, will begin his new position at WMATA late summer and was selected following an exhaustive nationwide search, which included important stakeholder and public input.” [WMATA]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 70 and low of 51. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:12 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Vincent
ACPD Thanksgiving Anti-DUI Event — “On Thanksgiving-eve, traditionally a time of celebrations with heavy alcohol consumption, ACPD, in partnership with WRAP, is hosting a Thanksgiving anti-drunk driving event to highlight the impact alcohol has on motor skills. This free event is open to the public and will take place on Wednesday, November 24, at N. Hudson Street and Wilson Boulevard, from 8:00-10:00 p.m.” [ACPD, Twitter]
Shirlington Apartment Employee Slashed — “An employee of the residential building discovered that the laundry room had been locked and upon opening it, discovered the unknown male suspect inside. The suspect produced a knife and struck the victim’s hand, causing a laceration. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The victim was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.” [ACPD]
Bus Driver Protest in Ballston — “Arlington Public Schools bus drivers are protesting again, this time in Ballston. They’re chanting and getting passing drivers to honk in favor of better pay and fair treatment.” [Twitter, WJLA]
County Seeks Budget Feedback — “Each winter, the County Manager presents a proposed operating budget to the County Board in order to plan spending for the next fiscal year. We’d like to know your thoughts on how Arlington should prioritize necessary spending in FY 2023. Help us get better insight on questions such as: How would you rate the importance of County programs and services?” [Arlington County]
Clement: Fewer Signs Stolen This Year — “In her annual election wrapup at the first Arlington County Board meeting after the votes were in, perennial protest candidate Audrey Clement told board members that she’d been able to gather up a good portion of her campaign signage from medians. ‘I recovered about 450 signs, or two-thirds of the total,’ she told board members. ‘This is a significant improvement over 2020, when two-thirds of my signs were trashed.’ Clement ran second in the four-candidate County Board race.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — A chance of showers today, mainly before 10 a.m. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Northwest wind 7 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Sunrise at 6:59 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Sunny tomorrow, with a high near 43. Northwest wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. [Weather.gov]
Grand Opening for Big Rosslyn Development — “Real estate developer Penzance welcomed Arlington County officials to the grand opening of The Highlands, a mixed-use project in Rosslyn at the top of the hill on Wilson Boulevard. The Highlands, a 1.2-million-square-foot development, consists of three high-rise residences — named Pierce, Aubrey and Evo — with views of the D.C. area and several amenities. ‘We’re proud to be here today welcoming these 890 new residences, exciting retailers, Fire Station 10 and the beautiful Rosslyn Highlands Park.'” [Patch]
Reward Boosted in Ballston Murder Case — “The Ratigan family is announcing an increase in their reward fund from $25,000 to $50,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible for Scott Ratigan’s homicide on January 17, 2020. Detectives continue to follow-up on any and all investigative leads in this case and remind the public that any information, regardless of how small it may seem, could be the tip that leads to justice on behalf of Scott and the Ratigan family.” [ACPD]
Retired Police K-9 Dies — “With great sadness, ACPD announces the passing of retired K9 Drago, a 14 year-old old German Shepard, Belgian Malinois mix. He loyally served Arlington from 2008 to 2019 as a patrol and narcotics detection K9. We kindly ask that you keep him and his handler in your thoughts.” [Twitter]
APS Getting Ready for Kid Vax Approval — “APS continues to work with the County on plans for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to students ages 5-11 once it is approved, which we anticipate very soon. Once approved, we will inform the community about the availability of doses and how to schedule appointments. Arlington County Public Health anticipates holding clinics and scheduling vaccinations by appointment, hopefully by mid-November. We will keep families informed as new information is received.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Man Seen Stealing GOP Signs — “We’ve received reports of stolen yard signs, and — while we appreciate your updates — almost none of those are actionable because the tipsters don’t provide us any physical/visual evidence. But kudos to one resourceful sleuth, who provided us with these fairly clear photos of a guy taking down Youngkin signs in Arlington last night.” [Arlington GOP, Twitter]
In Defense of Audrey’s Age Answer — “Apparently what happened is that the paper wanted candidates to fill out online questionnaires, and the computerized program didn’t allow respondents to skip the ‘age’ question. So Clement wrote in a younger figure as something of a protest in requiring candidates to answer a question she feels is inappropriate. From this, the Post tried to make a big deal. Turns out the Posties, as is often the case, missed the context. Clement wasn’t lying to them, as they contend. She was f*cking with them. A big difference.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Artist Performs on NPR — From National Public Radio: “The Tiny Desk is back… sort of. The first concert recorded at Bob Boilen’s desk since March 2020 is 2021 Tiny Desk Contest winner Neffy!” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Today will be partly sunny, with a high near 65, getting progressively cloudier throughout the day. Sunrise at 7:31 a.m. and sunset at 6:11 p.m. Tomorrow (Friday) will be rainy and windy, with storms and flooding possible. Expect a high near 63.
Candidate Questioned About Age — “Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who previously told news outlets that she is in her early 50s, appears to be two decades older, according to government records. When asked about the discrepancy, Clement, a perennial candidate who largely has self-funded her independent campaigns for local office, said that asking for her age amounted to discrimination and violated her right to privacy.” [Washington Post]
Road Closures for Biden Event — “On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, President Joe Biden will attend a special event at Virginia Highlands Park, located at 1600 S. Hayes Street in Arlington. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event… All road closures are anticipated to be lifted by 10 p.m.” [ACPD]
DARPA Building Sold — “The home of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is under new ownership. An affiliate of Cleveland-based Boyd Watterson Asset Management has acquired the 13-story, 355,000-square-foot building at 675 N. Randolph St. in Ballston for $196.5 million, according to public records. An affiliate of the Shooshan Cos., which developed the building a decade ago, was the seller.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Name Change Celebration — “It’s now been 101 years, but that’s not going to stop the Arlington County government from celebrating the 100th anniversary of its current name. County officials expect to hold a celebration of the switch from ‘Alexandria County’ to ‘Arlington County’ on Friday, Nov. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lubber Run Community Center.” [Sun Gazette]
Marymount to Promote ‘Racial Healing’ — “In the latest example of Marymount University’s commitment to raising awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion issues, the institution has been selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to host a new Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center.” [Marymount University]
County Seeking Design Award Nominees — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is accepting submissions for great design in architectural, historic preservation, landscape and public art projects through December 6, 2021.” [Arlington County]
It’s Tuesday — It’s going to be a windy day. A slight chance of showers between 8am and noon today. Partly sunny, with a high near 65 and a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 18 to 23 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph into the evening hours. Sunrise at 7:29 a.m. and sunset at 6:14 p.m. Tomorrow it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 68 and more gusty winds.
Ranked-choice voting is supported by all four candidates for County Board, according to their comments at an Arlington Committee of 100 candidate forum held last night (Wednesday).
The event was the first candidate forum of the fall general election season.
Support is strong among the three independent candidates — Audrey Clement, Mike Cantwell and Adam Theo — who want to unseat Democrat incumbent Takis Karantonis. He won a special election in 2020 and his seat is now up for a full four-year term. Theo, a Libertarian, is the most recent addition to the ballot after officially launching his campaign this week.
While all four support ranked choice voting, the reform would not be ready for the upcoming Nov. 2 election, as the county is still hammering out the logistics of the system. Dismayed at the pace of implementation, the independents said the reform would reveal public support for candidates like them and add political diversity to the County Board.
“I’ve spent a lot of my free time promoting ranked choice voting in Virginia,” said Cantwell, who became the vice president of Fair Vote Virginia, which advocates for ranked choice voting in Virginia, in 2019. “I went to Richmond in February 2020 and lobbied to bring it to Virginia. At that time, to the surprise of many, the legislature passed bills 506 and 1103, which allowed it in [Arlington] and the rest of Virginia. Since that time, [the county has] taken very little action to implement that new law.”
Theo also criticized the lack of movement on implementing the new voting system and educating voters about it.
“It would’ve been awesome to have the logo-picking determined by ranked choice voting,” he said. “That would’ve been a great way to educate the public. Here we are, waiting for the county to proceed and provide results. I have a lot of skepticism for the County Board’s real willingness to push forward real reform. It puts their own positions, jobs, in jeopardy.”
Karantonis said he is on the record supporting ranked-choice voting and voted to fund an initiative to test it out.
“I put money where my mouth is,” he said. “I think this is a great improvement in democracy.”
During the forum the four candidates articulated their positions housing and on Arlington County’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Both Karantonis and Theo said “affordable housing” is the biggest issue facing Arlington.
“I’ve been a housing advocate from day one,” Karantonis said. “The first thing my wife and I experienced [when moving here] was not being able to find housing, not having choices… Arlington is a community that looks back to a solid record of planning carefully for housing, of matching development with assets like transportation, schools and natural resources. We need to bundle these to support the creation of new housing choices because displacement is a real thing.”
“[Housing affordability] poses the problem of pricing out the elderly, low-income, immigrant and disabled people who are clinging on as it is already,” he said. “The number of housing units built in this county is horrifyingly low.”
But he took a jab at the County Board for talking about affordable housing and posing for photos at new developments, while not doing more to prioritize affordability. He spoke favorably of the Missing Middle Housing Study, a county-led effort to see if single-family home areas should be rezoned for more types of moderate-density homes, as a means to increase housing options for the middle-class.
Cantwell said he worries about affordability both in terms of housing and taxes.
“I think the biggest problem facing Arlington is runaway spending and taxes and lack of accountability in county government, [which] stems from lack of political competition,” Cantwell said. “I’m for affordable housing, but I question the outcomes of $300 million spent on a government-run affordable housing program… I think most Arlingtonians are interested in finding a market rate affordable housing place to live in, but not that many are interested in being part of government run program, where they have to submit tax returns, W-2s [and other] bureaucracy.”
Clement said the Missing Middle Study will create more housing, but nothing truly affordable, predicting people will continue to get priced out of their neighborhoods. She added that it won’t promote racial equity, citing a study from New York University that found between 2000-2007, upzoning in New York City “produced an influx of whites in gentrified areas, even as white population plummeted.”
“A far better solution is to repurpose unrented luxury units in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to moderate income housing,” she said.
(Another NYU study found little link between neighborhood gentrification and displacement of low-income residents, at least in New York City.)
(Updated 5:40 p.m.) Arlington has seen significantly higher early voting turnout than usual, ahead of the Democratic primary tomorrow.
Neighborhood polling places will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those who have not voted early or absentee. Voters will see a full slate of Democratic candidates for local and state elections. Primary winners will face non-Democratic candidates in November.
Arlingtonians have been taking advantage of early voting opportunities since April 23. According to the Arlington County elections office, 2,803 people voted early and in-person before that option closed last week — a 140% increase over the last Virginia gubernatorial election cycle in 2017.
Meanwhile, more than 3,900 mail ballots for the Democratic primary were distributed before the May 28 deadline to request a ballot, the office said in a tweet. These can still be returned by mail but must be postmarked by tomorrow (June 8) and received by the local voter registration office by noon on Friday.
On the ballot in Arlington are three statewide elections, two contested House of Delegates elections, and the Democratic race for County Board.
Democrats have a number of potential replacements for Gov. Ralph Northam, including former governor Terry McAuliffe and Jennifer Carroll Foy — both of whom visited Arlington last week — as well as Jennifer McClellan, Lee Carter and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
The winner of the gubernatorial primary will face off Glenn Youngkin, who beat out a half-dozen other Republican candidates to win the GOP nomination.
Meanwhile, seven Democrats are competing for Fairfax’s current role as Lieutenant Governor. They are Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Sam Rasoul, Norfolk Council Member Andria McClellan, Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman, Del. Mark Levine and Arlington businessman Xavier Warren.
Voters can also choose between incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring or his Democratic challenger Jay Jones.
Challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez for the 49th District is Karishma Mehta, while Alexandria City Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker is going up against Levine (who is also running for Lieutenant Governor) in the 45th District.
The 47th and 48th districts are not facing primary challenges on the ballot this year. Incumbent Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th) faces no challenger and Matt Rogers, who launched a bid to unseat incumbent Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th), is not on the ballot due to a paperwork snafu. He contested a decision by the State Board of Elections not to grant him and two other candidates a filing deadline.
Meanwhile, locals can choose to keep incumbent Democrat Takis Karantonis in his County Board seat or select his opponent, Chanda Choun. In November, the winner will face off a trio of independents: Audrey Clement, Mike Cantwell and now, Adam Theo.
Theo describes himself as a patriotic Libertarian Buddhist. He is the chair of the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia, which operates in the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Tomorrow also is the deadline for candidates to file the forms needed to have their names printed on the ballot in the November general election.
There is no Republican primary, as “the Republican party did not call for any primary elections in Arlington,” the county elections office noted. Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, as Virginia is an open primary state.
Registered voters can find their polling place on the Virginia Department of Elections website. A pocket guide from the department includes a list of acceptable IDs that voters can use to prove their identity when they arrive at the polls.