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Morning Notes

Emergency Water Main Repairs — Work is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today to repair a 20-inch water transmission main along 7th Road S. from S. Florida Street to S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike. Upwards of 200 customers are expected to lose their water service during the work. [Twitter]

Stamos Picks Up Challenger — Parisa Tafti, a “lifelong public defender and innocence protection attorney with a more than 18-year record of defending the indigent and speaking for the innocent,” has announced that she will be running against Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in her bid for reelection to the top prosecutor job. [Blue Virginia]

Kanninen Calls for Kaepernick — Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen is among those calling on social media for the Redskins to “#BringColintoWashington” amid a rash of season-ending injuries at the quarterback position. [Twitter]

Fisette Launches Consulting Firm — Former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette has started a consulting firm to “advise business, nonprofits and local governments throughout the Washington region” with former Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner. [Bethesda Beat, Maryland Matters]

Office Rent Expected to Rise in Crystal City — “Crystal City is at risk of losing its status as the low-cost alternative for nonprofits and others on the hunt for office space in Northern Virginia as Amazon.com Inc. rolls out its headquarters plans… Colliers projects rental rates in Crystal City could jump by 17 percent in five years and by 37 percent in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Effect on Residential Real Estate — “Any immediate impact on the local housing market is expected to be muted… Long & Foster predicts the Amazon effect will add an additional 3 percent to appreciation the Washington area would otherwise experience.” [WTOP]

Harper Leaving Rosslyn? — Possibly outgoing Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper “has chosen not to renew his lease at his penthouse condo in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA, according to a source.” [Real House Life of Arlington]

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Democrats Hail De Ferranti’s Win Over Vihstadt As ‘Astounding Recovery’ From 2014 Defeats

John Vihstadt’s pair of decisive County Board victories four years ago were some of the lowest moments for Arlington Democrats since the county turned decisively blue decades ago — for many, that makes Matt de Ferranti‘s win all the sweeter.

De Ferranti’s seven-point win over the independent incumbent stands in stark contrast to Vihstadt’s double-digit dominations of Alan Howze in both a special election and a general election back in 2014. Those wins were widely seen as a rebuke to the Board’s Democratic majority, particularly with projects like the Columbia Pike streetcar and the Long Bridge Park aquatics center the targets of frequent community complaints.

Accordingly, county Democrats now see such a stark turnaround just a few years later as proof that they learned the lessons of 2014, and have responded to that dissatisfaction from voters.

“This is one of the biggest wins for Democrats in Arlington that I can remember,” Paul Ferguson, Arlington’s clerk of circuit court and a Democratic officeholder in the county dating back to 1996, told ARLnow.

Democrats surely benefitted from an energized electorate as well, owing to a midterm election that sent plenty of voters to the polls looking to send a message to President Donald Trump — nearly 101,000 people cast ballots in the race, about 37,300 more than in Vihstadt’s general election win back in 2014. De Ferranti himself acknowledged that “the broader national mood didn’t hurt” in powering his win.

But county Democrats also argued that de Ferranti’s victory, by a commanding margin, proved that the local party and its officeholders spent the last few years making meaningful changes to their way of doing business.

“That was an astounding recovery from 2014,” said School Board member Barbara Kanninen, who also won a convincing re-election over independent Audrey Clement Tuesday. “John is a very well-liked, very well-respected person. For Matt to put together a campaign to overcome all of those obstacles, the 2014 deficit he was starting with, that is absolutely a demonstration of the blue wave.”

Vihstadt did indeed have plenty of strengths, enough that many political observers around the county believed he could survive such a Democratic wave. He had the backing of a variety of current and former Democratic elected officials, a hefty campaign war chest and plenty of name recognition after years of civic activism in the county.

But all those factors were not enough for him to hold on to his seat, ensuring that Democrats will have unified control of the Board once more — Vihstadt himself declined an interview Tuesday night, and did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.

“People genuinely saw that we heard the message of 2014,” de Ferranti said. “Time doesn’t stand still. We’re evolving as a community and responsiveness is important. Fiscal responsibility is important, but also we have to make investments in our future.”

County Board member Erik Gutshall (D) agreed with that line of thinking, arguing that voters themselves have evolved over the last four years as well.

Vihstadt triumphed in 2014 by winning over many disaffected Democrats, to say nothing of independents and Republicans, largely by insisting on a more fiscally conservative approach to governing and emphasizing the close scrutiny of county projects. De Ferranti criticized that style as one that didn’t lay out a positive vision for the county, and Gutshall expects that voters were sympathetic to that message.

“Arlington has had the chance to reflect about where we are and make a choice about what direction we want to go,” Gutshall said. “Do we want to go toward a bold vision or do we want to stay focused on trying to maintain the status quo? With the benefit of four years, they had a chance to reflect on that and move forward.”

However, Gutshall would stress that such a comment is not “an indictment of John’s service.” While county Democrats have long yearned to unseat Vihstadt, the first non-Democrat to sit on the Board since 1999, none were willing to spike the football too vigorously over his defeat.

“Today, a decent person lost, and a decent person also won — the fact that both statements can still be true in Arlington should give us all hope for the future of our democracy,” county Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in a statement.

Board Chair Katie Cristol (D) was even willing to credit Vihstadt for helping the Board learn from his “clear-eyed approach on fiscal issues, in particular.”

“We’ve definitely seen a shift on the Board in how to be more inclusive in our decision-making… and that’s a real legacy for him,” Cristol said.

But Cristol also noted that de Ferranti’s win also completes the near-total transformation of the Board from just five years ago. Only Libby Garvey, a Vihstadt backer and former School Board member, remains from the Board that Vihstadt joined when he won in 2014.

Cristol and Vice Chair Christian Dorsey both joined the Board in 2015, and both were newcomers to the political scene at the time of their victories. When combined with the 45-year-old de Ferranti — a first-time candidate himself, who Ferguson dubbed “the best young candidate I’ve seen in my career” — Gutshall fully expects that the newly reconstituted Board will think, and act, a bit differently.

“It’s a completely different Board, and a Board that’s going to be focused on: ‘How do we meet our challenges and how do we take bold action?'” Gutshall said. “People want to be bold. They want to see progressive values put into action.”

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W-L Name Change Opponents Chip in Thousands to Clement’s Long-Shot School Board Bid

Opponents of the Arlington School Board’s decision to change the name of Washington-Lee High School have now poured thousands of dollars into Audrey Clement’s independent bid to unseat incumbent Board member Barbara Kanninen, providing the perennial candidate with her largest fundraising haul across any of her eight bids for local office.

Clement managed to raise just over $13,300 over the month of October alone, according to campaign finance documents, far outpacing Kanninen’s $4,200 raised over the same time period. Of that amount, nearly $10,200 came from two outspoken opponents of the Board’s vote in June to strip Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s name from the school.

Most of the rest of her fundraising haul for the month — just over $1,700 — came courtesy of Clement herself. She’s provided the bulk of the cash to support her second bid for the School Board, chipping in about $11,300 of the $28,200 she’s raised since January.

But the late monetary support has provided Clement, a member of the county’s Transportation Commission and a programmer for a Reston-based software company, with the most cash to power any of her long-shot campaigns since she first started running for various county offices in 2011. She’s never garnered more than 33 percent of the vote in any of her various races, often losing to county Democrats — Kanninen has the local party’s backing in the nominally nonpartisan School Board race, just as she did when first won office in 2014.

The contributions appear to be headed Clement’s way because she’s made preserving W-L’s name a prime focus of her campaign. She’s accused the Board of pushing through the name change while ignoring more substantive issues within the school system, targeting Kanninen for criticism specifically. Kanninen served as chair of the Board last year, a post that rotates among the five members, when the Board ultimately voted to change the school system’s policies for school names, then kicked off a renaming process for W-L, specifically.

While the Board has consistently acted unanimously when it comes to the renaming decisions, opponents of the change have zeroed in on Kanninen in recent weeks, calling her the prime architect of the initiative. Ed and John Hummer, a pair of W-L basketball stars in the mid-1960s, even purchased a full-page ad in the Sun-Gazette this week to promote Clement’s candidacy and blast Kanninen as “the person responsible for the whole ill-conceived name change project.”

John Hummer, who attended Princeton and became a first-round draft pick in the National Basketball Association after graduating W-L, provided Clement with nearly $5,200 in cash over the course of the last month. Donald Morey, another name-change opponent and frequent author of critical letters to the editor on the subject, added another $5,000.

Clement seems to have spent that cash just as quickly as she pulled it in — finance reports show that she spent nearly $13,000 last month, with the bulk of that paying for ads in the Washington Post and the Sun-Gazette.

She only reported having about $1,600 in the bank for the campaign’s closing days, compared to Kanninen’s war chest of nearly $19,200.

Flickr pool photo via wolfkann

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Candidate Essay: Barbara Kanninen

Last week, we asked the two candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington School Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 6 elections. 

Here is the unedited response from Barbara Kanninen, who has been endorsed by county Democrats in the nonpartisan race:

I’m Barbara Kanninen, and I’m running for re-election to the Arlington School Board. I’m seeking your vote so we can keep working together to support the whole child, support teachers and staff, and build a stronger school system that will provide a 21st-century education to all of our students.

My husband, Kevin, and I have lived in Arlington for 25 years and have two sons, Fred and Markus, who were both K-12 Arlington Public Schools students and are now in college. I am a Ph.D. environmental economist, children’s book author, and co-founder of the Youth Ultimate League of Arlington. Since I joined the School Board in 2014, I’ve put my passion, experience, and skills to work in service of Arlington’s schools. Here’s how:

Support for Students

I’ve worked to lift up student voices and develop innovative programs and policies to support all students. In the past four years, we have provided more resources to promote students’ mental, social, and emotional health and adopted academic supports for struggling learners. We continued to support our immigrant student population and DREAMers, LGBTQ+ student rights, and all student voices. We’ve expanded our STEM programs, career and technical education, music and the arts, and sports and fitness opportunities. And we’ve launched a strategic plan process to generate a fresh vision for Arlington Public Schools–one that will support the whole child, provide a vision for 21st-century teaching and learning, and is sustainable.

Respect for Teachers

The work of our teachers and staff–their engagement with children in the classroom everyday–is the whole point of our school system. Our teachers and staff deserve fair pay, and I’m proud to say that since I have been on the School Board, we have ensured that teachers received their step increases every year. I have also worked to provide teachers with professional development that they find relevant and productive, and, most important, a voice in the decision-making process and respect for their essential and tireless work. I’m honored that the Arlington Education Association, which represents Arlington’s teachers, has endorsed my re-election campaign.

Strong Schools in a Time of Growth

Our county has faced, and still faces, challenging rates of growth. I’ve worked to improve how APS makes projections and to engage the community in positive, constructive planning processes to ensure that our schools provide all students with high-quality opportunities. I have brought to this job a laser focus on our numbers so that today we have a plan that addresses our growth at all levels–elementary, middle, and high school.

Next Steps

Looking ahead to the next four years, I am committed to continuing to support all students and prepare them for the fast-changing challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. I will keep fighting for our teachers and staff and will work to improve staff retention, empower all staff to define their own professional paths, and provide the tools they need to succeed in the classroom. Our schools are still growing, and I will work hard to provide high-quality schools, with a range of options, to fit all types of learners, all across Arlington.

Let’s keep working together to make Arlington’s schools the best they can be. I would be honored to have your vote on November 6. To learn more about my campaign, please visit my website www.bk2018.org.

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Arlington Candidates Blanket Facebook With Hundreds of Ads in Run-Up to the Midterm Elections

Elections around Arlington may not attract the sort of expensive TV ads that have come to dominate local stations ahead of the midterm elections, but candidates around the county have shelled out thousands to bring their messages to Facebook.

An ARLnow analysis of the social media site’s political ad database shows that Arlington’s six candidates for Congress and local office on the ballot this fall have combined with the county’s party committees to buy 549 Facebook ads from Jan. 1 through today (Oct. 29).

Thomas Oh, the Republican mounting a longshot bid to unseat Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District), led the way among the county’s candidates, buying 100 ads on the site since launching his campaign in February. According to campaign finance reports, he shelled out about $2,100 to pay for those posts.

But Oh was far from the bigger user of Facebook ads in Arlington — that distinction belongs to the Arlington Young Democrats, who have purchased 270 ads on the platform over the course of the year. The Arlington County Democratic Committee wasn’t far behind, buying 91 ads.

The county’s candidates for local office have relied on social media advertising a bit less, but have still used Facebook to reach thousands of potential voters.

In the lone race for a County Board seat this year, pitting independent incumbent John Vihstadt against Democrat Matt de Ferranti, the challenger has run a bit more Facebook ads so far.

According to Facebook’s database, de Ferranti has run 34 ads on the platform since launching his campaign in January. Records show he’s spent nearly $1,900 on Facebook ads in all, though campaign finance documents only detail spending through end of September — candidates will release their final reports of the campaign later this week.

Of the Democrat’s ads, 19 ran in the run-up to his primary victory over Chanda Choun in June, with 15 reserved for the general election contest with Vihstadt. In general, de Ferranti’s ad buys have each been less than $100 each, with only seven falling in the range of $100 to $500 — Facebook only provides ranges, not specific numbers, for spending and traffic figures.

Two of de Ferranti’s ads picked up between 50,000 and 100,000 impressions, while two others range between 10,000 and 50,000.

By contrast, Vihstadt has only run 10 ads on Facebook so far. His current campaign finance reports only show him spending about $100 on the posts, but he’s ramped up his activity on Facebook in October, meaning his spending will be reflected in the next set of reports.

However, Facebook’s database shows that the incumbent has recorded four ad buys of $100 or more, and one of more than $500, in all. He’s also had two ads reach between 50,000 and 100,000 impressions and two more range between 10,000 and 50,000.

Notably, Vihstadt has also turned to television advertising, and recently started running a single ad on local cable stations.

In the contest for the only School Board seat on the ballot, independent (and frequent candidate) Audrey Clement has outpaced incumbent Barbara Kanninen, who has the endorsement of local Democrats in the nominally nonpartisan race.

Clement has run 32 ads this year, spending about $1,520, according to campaign finance reports. She’s only spent more than $100 on three separate ad buys, but she’s still managed to reach plenty of people. Eight of her ads have secured between 5,000 and 10,000 and impressions, while two have managed between 10,000 and 50,000.

Kanninen has run just 12 ads, by comparison, sending about $241 to Facebook in all. Her ads have been viewed a bit less, with three ranging between 1,000 and 5,000 impressions and one making it to the 5,000 to 10,000 range.

Beyer appears not to have a run single ad on Facebook, despite raising more than $1.9 million over the course of his bid for a third term in Congress. However, he has benefitted from plenty of ads touting his candidacy from the local Democratic committee and the Young Democrats.

Oh faces quite the uphill battle to best Beyer, considering that the 8th (covering all of Arlington and parts of Alexandria) is among the safest districts for Democrats in the country. But the first-time candidate has managed to attract some attention to his Facebook ads at least, with four attracting between 10,000 and 50,000 impressions and seven attracting between 5,000 and 10,000. He’s spent more than $100 on seven different ad buys, which has surely helped boost those traffic numbers.

Facebook’s records don’t show any evidence of any ad spending from the county’s Republican committee, or its Green Party.

Disclosure: both Clement and Vihstadt have purchased ads on ARLnow.com. Flickr pool photo via wolfkann

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]

Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]

GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]

Bistro 1521 Reviewed — Washington Post food critic Tim Carman gave a mostly positive review to Bistro 1521, the Filipino restaurant on N. Glebe Road in Ballston. [Washington Post]

Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]

Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]

Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]

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Arlington Democrats Confident of ‘Blue Wave’ in November

Arlington Democrats are promising a “blue wave” in a new round of yard signs distributed over the last few weeks.

The signs promote the full slate of Democratic candidates on the ticket in the county this fall — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District), County Board nominee Matt de Ferranti and School Board member Barbara Kanninen — alongside images of a blue tidal wave Democrats are hoping sweep them back into power nationally.

County Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo told ARLnow that the party’s joint campaign committee designed the new signs, and Democrats have been distributing them for roughly a month now. She expects that they’ve given out a “few hundred” so far, and fully plans to distribute more as Nov. 6 nears.

While signs boosting the whole ticket might be a fixture of yards and medians every election season, Caiazzo hopes this specific design taps into the “broader movement” organizing around frustration with President Trump nationwide.

“We hope they convey a need for sweeping change in our politics, and that’s coming in November,” Caiazzo said.

Despite pushback and talk of a “red wave” by President Trump, a succession of polls has supported the notion that Democrats have a distinct enthusiasm advantage headed into the midterms, which figures to help out local candidates down the ballot as well. If a blue wave is on the way for Democrats looking to take back Congress, even local candidates like de Ferranti and Kanninen stand to benefit.

Kaine’s contest with Corey Stewart, the Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, isn’t projected to be a close race, yet it may drive Democrats to the polls all the same. Stewart’s embrace of Confederate monuments and past associations with white supremacist figures has made him especially controversial, even if polls regularly show him facing a double-digit deficit. Caiazzo expects Kaine to be “highly present” in Arlington leading up to the election, as driving up margins in the county is “important to their statewide strategy.”

Kanninen looks to be well positioned against independent Audrey Clement, a perennial candidate for county offices, but the “wave” Caiazzo hopes for might be especially meaningful for de Ferranti. He’s facing off against independent John Vihstadt, a well-funded incumbent who managed to win a pair of elections to the Board back in 2014 by wide margins and has earned endorsements from a variety of Democratic officeholders.

“We’ll take help from all corners and we’re certainly hopeful that the situation from national candidates will help us overall in Arlington,” Caiazzo said. “But we know it’s also important to campaign on local issues and we embrace that challenge.”

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Morning Notes

Clement to Face Kanninen Again — “The 2018 Arlington School Board race is likely to be a rerun of 2014. Audrey Clement and incumbent Barbara Kanninen have qualified for ballot access, county elections chief Linda Lindberg told the Sun Gazette, setting up a reprise of their campaign from four years ago.” [InsideNova]

PenPlace Sketches Released — JBG Smith has released new sketches of its planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City. The development includes “two seven-story apartment buildings totaling 300 units, 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a future park.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Palooza Set for Saturday — The second annual Arlington Palooza,”a free outdoor program for all ages with live music, art, games and more,” is set to take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Alcova Heights Park. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Arlington Historical Society Getting Donation — Per a press release: “The Arlington Historical Society will receive a significant donation this spring as Arlington welcomes National Capital Bank to the Courthouse/Clarendon area on Wilson Blvd. National Capital Bank President Randy Anderson, who grew up in Arlington, called to inform AHS President Johnathan Thomas that the Society was chosen as one of the charities the Bank will support with a grant award.”

Real Estate Inventory Crunch — “Long & Foster says… the number of houses and condos on the market, in D.C., Loudoun County and Arlington County was down 22 percent in March compared to a year ago.” [WTOP]

Live Construction Cam in Ballston — The new 672 Flats apartment building (an ARLnow.com advertiser) in Ballston set up a live camera to track the construction progress. The camera is viewable online and shows an aerial view of the apartments and a portion of the neighborhood. [OxBlue]

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Morning Notes

DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]

Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]

More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]

Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]

Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]

Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]

Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

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Dems Select Primary for County Board Race as Kanninen Announces Reelection Bid

Shortly after electing Jill Caiazzo as its new chair, the Arlington County Democratic Committee selected a County Board primary for 2018.

Last year, the race to select a Democratic nominee to replace retiring County Board member Jay Fisette was determined by a caucus. In an op-ed last month, Caiazzo said she preferred a primary this year as it encourages more voter participation, while a caucus “is seen by many as rigged in favor of the Democratic establishment.”

Arlington Democrats “voted unanimously to choose this year’s County Board nominee via primary election rather than a caucus in order to achieve greater participation,” according to a press release.

The winner of this year’s Democratic primary is expected to face independent Board member John Vihstadt in the general election.

Also at last night’s ACDC meeting, School Board member Barbara Kanninen announced her reelection bid.

From a press release:

In her remarks, Kanninen pointed to a number of accomplishments during her tenure on the School Board over the past four years. “We’ve worked to support the whole child, to ensure that every child in our schools is healthy, safe, supported, challenged, and engaged,” she said. She highlighted increases in academic, social, and emotional assistance; supports for immigrant and LGBTQ students; expansion of STEM programs and career and technical education; and the launch of a strategic planning process to carry Arlington public schools into the 21st century.

“We’ve done so much together,” Kanninen said, “but there is still more to do. I’m running for re-election to continue building up the whole child, I’m running to support the voices of our teachers and staff, and I’m running to support our growth and build a stronger, more responsive school system.”

First elected to the School Board in 2014, Kanninen is an environmental economist, children’s book author, and community activist. In 2017, Washingtonian magazine named her one of the Most Powerful Women in Washington–the only elected official in Arlington and the only school board member in the DC metro area named to the magazine’s list. As a member of the school board, she was awarded the 2015 AGLA Equality Award and the Public Outreach and Engagement Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association. Kanninen and her husband have lived in Arlington for 25 years and have two sons who were both K-12 Arlington Public Schools students.

In her speech to the assembled partisans, Caiazzo encouraged local Democrats to avoid complacency and continue fighting for progress.

“The Trump era represents a pivotal moment for the Democratic Party,” she said. “With progressive policies under attack daily, we have much to fight against — but we also must demonstrate that we have a positive, solutions-oriented vision that is worth fighting for. The dynamic and talented members of the Arlington Democrats are ready to meet this challenge.”

Photos by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

County Seeking Cash for EFC Upgrades — Arlington County is seeking $30 million in congestion relief funds from the future I-66 toll lanes to help fund some upgrades at the East Falls Church Metro station. Among the hoped-f0r changes: a second entrance to the station, from Washington Boulevard, and the addition of two new bus bays. [InsideNova]

New School Board Leadership — Barbara Kanninen has been elected by her colleagues as chair of the Arlington School Board for the 2017-2018 school year. Reid Goldstein was selected as vice chair. [Twitter]

Arlington Man Arrested for Murder — A 24-year-old Arlington man was arrested in Arlington last week and charged in connection with a 2016 homicide in Waldorf, Maryland. Authorities say Bryan Aquice was the second shooter in the case; he is one of four in custody for the crime. [NBC WashingtonSouthern Maryland News Net]

High School Football Schedules — Fall high school football schedules for Wakefield, Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Bishop O’Connell have been released. [InsideNova]

Straddling Bus Was a Scam — That traffic-straddling bus that some locals were fascinated by last year as a possible futuristic transit solution? It was apparently an investment scam. [BBC]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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School Board Pushes Ahead with Student Device Initiative

School Board member Barbara KanninenDespite some public backlash against the rollout of Arlington Public Schools’ initiative to equip each student with an iPad or Macbook device by 2017, the Arlington School Board is pushing ahead.

School Board member Barbara Kanninen, serving the first year of her term, proposed pausing what’s called the “1:1 Initiative” during the School Board’s budget deliberations last week. Her motion failed, 2-3, with Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez voting in favor.

The initiative has already provided second- and sixth-graders with iPads and freshmen with MacBook Airs. Next year, devices will again be provided to students in those grades.

“We have conducted a very large pilot project this year in terms of this initiative,” Kanninen said, estimating about 3,000 devices are now in the hands of students. “That is a very large and potentially very informative data set. I made this motion because I believe it is now time to evaluate how it’s working and ask some basic questions. Is it helping students learn? Is it helping teachers teach?”

The Board and Superintendent Patrick Murphy had extensive discussions the week leading up to their meeting about the initiative, and the majority, including Murphy, agreed that an evaluation can be completed while pushing forward with handing out devices.

“I have moved from thinking we needed to pause to believing we can do that evaluation and do that assessment at the same time as we continue forward,” Board member Nancy Van Doren said. “Many people have called me about the problems we’ve been having … When I suggest pausing the program, I was surprised people said ‘don’t pause, just do it better.'”

Many of the complaints around the devices have focused on teachers not being adequately trained to use the devices, preventing an optimal environment for the students. Murphy said many teachers have “emerged as leaders” in using the devices while other teachers are more hesitant.

“I will say, with any new initiative, there have been a variety of issues with the rollout,” Murphy told the School Board. “We need to continue to strengthen our training models. I think we’ll continue to focus on professional development, working with families so they understand and working with safety, so students aren’t spending an excessive amount of time in front of these devices.”

The 1:1 Initiative is budget neutral because it is funded by diverting money away from APS’ annual technology replacement funds. While Murphy and the School Board majority acknowledged hiccups with the rollout, Kanninen pushed for a more detailed look at what went wrong.

“One of the main reasons a pause would be necessary is we also need to ask, “are we implementing this model the right way?'” she said. “There are other models and ways we could be rolling this out. By taking a pause here, we then can work on developing curricula, designing professional development programs, developing our principles for use, clarifying our budget implications.”

School Board member Abby Raphael said many of the concerns expressed in the community have been alleviated by a more thorough explanation of the program.

“It’s all about personalizing learning, it’s not about the devices,” she said. “I agree that we can continue to roll this out and evaluate what we’re doing, because I really do think this is a very valuable tool in eliminating the achievement gap.”

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Barbara Kanninen: Why You Should Vote for Me

Barbara Kanninen in the 4/22/14 School Board debateThis month, we asked the candidates from each competitive race on the ballot on Election Day to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Nov. 4.

Here is School Board candidate Barbara Kanninen’s unedited response:

I am Barbara Kanninen, and I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe that together we can make Arlington Public Schools the best that they can be.

Our schools and community face complicated issues right now, from meeting capacity needs, to budgeting, to achieving our most important goal: optimizing classroom learning and addressing the needs of our students. I bring an expansive set of experiences to the job of tackling these challenges. I have volunteered in schools and worked with children in Arlington and DC for over 20 years, and I have served on School Board and County Board advisory committees. I am a Ph.D environmental economist, children’s book author, and Democratic activist. These experiences have given me a deep familiarity with data analysis, hundreds of hours with kids and teachers, and a history of working at the community level on grassroots organizing and engagement. I will ask tough questions and dig deeply to find new, creative solutions to our budget and capacity challenges.

In the coming months and years, we’re going to have to make tough but important decisions. As we look ahead, here are my priorities for our schools:

  • Promote critical thinking over standardized testing.
    Our kids spend too much time in class prepping for and taking tests. Teachers tell me this takes too much time away from instruction. We need to take a hard look at the testing schedule and process to see which tests are essential to classroom learning.
  • Tackle overcrowding with strong leadership, constructive community engagement, and transparent decision-making.
    As we work to catch up with the growth in our school population, we need to create a long-term plan that considers instructional needs and programs first, work closely and collaboratively with the County Board and the community to consider the full array of potential school sites, improve community engagement to allow for true dialogue and transparency, and build a safety net of potential temporary solutions.
  • Give teachers the support they deserve.
    To create an environment in which every child can excel, teachers need support and resources. They also need the flexibility to adjust their teaching approach and pacing to their students’ needs as well as avenues for providing feedback to school principals and county administrators.
  • Support children with mentors.
    An adult mentor is a developmental asset that contributes to kids’ problem solving, self-esteem, and achievement. I’d like every student in Arlington to know that there is at least one adult in school who knows them, whom they can go to with problems, and who believes in them.
  • Continue investing in the arts and strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.
    We should strengthen STEM skills through, for example, more hands-on science programs in all elementary schools and more accessible STEM programs across all schools, including the Arlington Career Center. At the same time, students need opportunities to express themselves creatively, so we need to give students at all levels access to a variety of art forms.
  • Be budget-minded by prioritizing funding for teachers and classroom learning.
    In this time of tight budgets, we need to be both disciplined and principled about spending decisions. My number-one principle is the need to focus on the day-to-day classroom experience and teacher-student relationships, so my budget priorities will be teachers and the resources they need.

This year, as part of my School Board campaign, I canvassed door-to-door in all 52 precincts in Arlington, engaging parents, teachers, and community activists and learning about our school issues neighborhood by neighborhood. These experiences have given me a holistic understanding of our diverse community. Collectively, we have the energy, the brains, and the will to do great things for our kids and our community. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I would be honored to have your vote.

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Morning Notes

10/19/14 leaves (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Arlington Spends More on Low-Income Students — Arlington Public Schools spend about $21,000 per pupil on low-income students, compared to the $12,000 it spends on more affluent students, according to data from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. [Greater Greater Washington]

Tornado Struck Alexandria Last Week — A weak EF-0 tornado struck part of Alexandria this past Wednesday. A Tornado Warning was issued for Arlington as the tornado tracked north. [National Weather Service]

Teachers Endorse Kanninen — The Arlington Education Association’s political action committee has endorsed Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The teachers group said “Barbara understands that all types of students need personal support and that teachers are important partners in making this happen.” Kanninen is running against Audrey Clement.

Arlington’s ‘Ten Commandments’ — A parody video showing “Arlington County Government’s Ten Commandments” has been created by someone calling themselves “Jim Taxpayer.” The video includes commandments like “With These Riches, Which Have Become Thine, Build A New Covenant, A Glorious Car of Street, Thy Chariot of Vanity.” [YouTube]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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Kanninen Wins Democratic Nod for School Board

Barbara Kanninen votes for herself in the 2014 School Board Democratic caucus (Flickr pool photo by wolfkann)(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Barbara Kanninen won the Democratic endorsement for the Arlington School Board this weekend, a narrow victory in the caucus over Nancy Van Doren and Greg Greeley.

Kanninen, who narrowly lost to School Board member James Lander in last year’s Democratic endorsement caucus, defeated Nancy Van Doren by a similar margin this year, with 1,812 votes to Van Doren’s 1,794. Before an instant runoff was conducted, and Greeley’s votes were distributed to voters’ “second choice” candidates, the margin was a bit wider: Kanninen received 1,549 votes, Van Doren 1,329 and Greeley received 839.

Kanninen campaigned for reduced standardized testing among Arlington Public Schools students and said she was “uncomfortable” when Arlington was announced as the top-spending school system in the state. She also said that one way to solve APS’ growing capacity issue was flexible spending during a debate among the three candidates last month.

Kanninen, an economist and children’s book author, said through working on advisory boards for both the School Board and County Board over the years, as well as with children in Arlington and D.C., she has the experience needed to be a productive Board member.

“Our schools are important to all of us, whether we are parents, teachers, homeowners, or citizens who want to live in a community that values education,” she wrote in her candidate essay for ARLnow.com this month. “Collectively, we have the energy, the brains, and the will to do great things for our kids and our community.”

Kanninen told ARLnow.com in an email Monday afternoon that she enjoyed “the many lively and informative discussions” she’s had with the community during what she called “a vigorous campaign that highlighted Arlingtonians’ deep commitment to making our schools the best they can be.”

Van Doren announced after the caucus results were counted that she would be throwing her support behind Kanninen for the general election in November, for which Kanninen now becomes the odds-on favorite. She will run to fill the seat left vacant by retiring School Board member Sally Baird.

“I wholeheartedly support Barbara in the upcoming general election as she faces the challenges in our school system,” Van Doren said in a press release. “Our community needs to work together to face the challenge of continuing to improve educational outcomes while working with the county to find space for our growing student population.”

Greeley, in an email to ARLnow.com, also congratulated Kanninen, saying the campaign was a chance to have “a great discussion about the future of our schools.”

“Barbara ran a strong campaign,” Greeley wrote. “She had the experience and organization from her campaign last year. Last year’s campaign also provided a degree of name recognition that ultimately proved decisive this year. I look forward to working with her to address the important issues our school system faces, most notably our looming capacity crisis.”

Flickr pool photo by wolfkann

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