Arlington, VA

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieig is coming to Arlington this weekend, and might be bringing some traffic headaches along with him.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana will be holding a large, town hall-style event at the Washington-Liberty High School football stadium on Sunday from around 2:45-5 p.m.

Arlington County Police are warning of “large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event.” Police will be on hand to monitor traffic and potentially implement some road closures, the department said.

Parking is limited in the area, but a rideshare drop-off and pick-up done has been established across the street from the high school, at Quincy Park. The school is also within walking distance of the Ballston and Virginia Square Metro stations.

More from ACPD:

A public Town Hall event is being held at Washington-Liberty High School stadium, located at 1301 N. Stafford Street, on the afternoon of Sunday, February 23 from approximately 2:45 PM until 5:00 PM.

The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event. The Arlington County Police Department will monitor traffic conditions and may implement road closures in the interest of public safety. Those traveling in the area should follow the direction of officers.

Getting to the Event

Parking in the area is extremely limited. Participants are encouraged to arrive using multi-modal and public transportation options to reduce vehicular congestion. The Ballston and Virginia Square metro stations, located on the orange and silver lines, are a short walk to the event location.

Motorists are advised that no event parking will be permitted at the North Quincy Street Development located at 1425 and 1435 N. Quincy Street.

Rideshare Pick-Up and Drop-Off Location

A designated rideshare pick-up and drop-off zone has been established at the Quincy Park parking lot located at 1021 N. Quincy Street. Rideshare vehicles will enter the lot in the 1000 block of N. Quincy Street and exit in the 3900 block of Washington Boulevard. Drivers are reminded that stopping or standing in travel lanes to discharge or pick-up passengers is strictly prohibited.

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(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Pete Buttigieg, Democratic candidate for president and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is making another appearance in Arlington — and this time it won’t be in a resident’s backyard.

Buttigieg will be holding an upcoming Northern Virginia town hall meeting in Arlington, at the Washington-Liberty High School stadium, the campaign confirmed Thursday evening.

The event is being held this coming Sunday, Feb 23, from 3:45-5:15 p.m. It’s taking place ahead of the March 3 Super Tuesday primary in Virginia, and after last week’s Elizabeth Warren campaign event at Arlington’s Wakefield High School.

Buttigieg’s last known campaign appearance in Arlington was a private fundraiser at a Waverly Hills home this past June.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin, who endorsed the mayor’s presidential candidacy early in the race, sent the following email to supporters about the event:

On Sunday, February 23rd from 3:45 to 5:15 Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be holding a town hall in Arlington, at a location to be announced.

Throughout my political career I have had the opportunity to work with only a handful of candidates who simultaneously embody pragmatic progressive reform, and possess both the strong commitment to our nation formed by service, as well as the ability to bring Americans from all walks of life together with the common purpose of ensuring that future generations will be better off than their parents.

Mayor Buttigieg embodies these qualities, and has outlined a plan to address gun violence, advance and support communities of color, and build a [resilient] path forward for America.

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A new challenger, Steven Krieger, has entered the already crowded race for the Arlington School Board.

In late January, Krieger joined five other candidates vying for two openings on the School Board after incumbent members Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren announced they would not be running for reelection. Candidates Symone Walker, Cristina Diaz-Torres, David Priddy, Sandy Munnell, and Terron Sims made their case for an endorsement to the Arlington County Democratic last month with the caucus scheduled for May 7 and 9.

Krieger is a local attorney with one child currently in Arlington Public Schools. He describes himself as a “social justice advocate” who is, admittedly, “not an educational policy expert.”

Krieger’s platform includes strong opposition to the controversial school swap approved last week, echoing criticism from parents that the shift does little to address school overcrowding. From his website:

Stand Up Against Boundary Changes and Program Moves that Destroy Communities. For Arlington Public Schools to continue its excellence, we must ensure that we have the correct number of seats for our students in the right areas – especially as the county grows and neighborhoods are developed.  However, determining exactly where seats are needed, how many seats are needed, when the seats are needed, and how new seats are obtained is a huge challenge. Without this critical information, decisions should not be made. Moving schools and destroying communities should be the absolute last resort for APS – not the first solution attempted.

Other topics on Krieger’s campaign page include working to reduce the disparities between white students and minority students, supporting policies that reduce the schools’ ecological footprint, and getting students more involved in School Board policy.

“For too long, Arlington Public Schools hasn’t paid enough attention to input from students and parents,” Krieger said. “In short, they haven’t listened to us. I’m running for the School Board because that needs to change.”

The deadline to file as a candidate is March 2.

Photo via Steven Krieger

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President Trump made a surprise visit to his reelection campaign’s office in Rosslyn around lunchtime today.

The president was accompanied by his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, and campaign manager Brad Parscale. For about an hour he took meetings and greeted campaign staff, congratulating them on a more than $60 million fundraising haul in January.

Arlington County Police assisted with the motorcade from the White House to the campaign office.

Trump posed for a photo with staffers, who work out of what’s been described as a “Republican National Committee annex” in “a glass-skinned tower overlooking the Potomac River.” The address is not publicly available.

https://twitter.com/TeamTrump/status/1228032843282026503

Photo via @TeamTrump/Twitter

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Just two days removed from today’s New Hampshire primary, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren will be holding a town hall event in Arlington.

The town hall is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street), the campaign announced today. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP.

More via the campaign website:

Elizabeth Warren is coming to Virginia!

Join Elizabeth Warren and Team Virginia at a Town Hall on Thursday, February 13th in Arlington, VA.

Elizabeth knows that to create real change–to rebuild the middle class and save our democracy–we need to dream big and fight hard. That’s why she’s in this fight: to have a real conversation about how to level the playing field for working families, and who is best to lead that fight.

Doors open for the event at 6:00 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, so feel free to bring your friends and family along too! Tickets aren’t required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged. Admission will be first come, first served.

Virginia’s “Super Tuesday” primary will be held on March 3.

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Morning Notes

Bloomberg Event Prompts Protests — Dozens of gun rights protesters demonstrated in front of the Bloomberg presidential campaign office last night during an event featuring D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser. [Twitter, Twitter]

Dorsey Talks to Local TV Station — “Arlington County board member Christian Dorsey is speaking out about the ethics violation that led to his resignation from the Metro board… ‘I’m embarrassed certainly, and disappointed,’ Dorsey said.” [WJLA]

ACFD Responds to Four Alarm Blaze — “Fourteen townhomes and five buildings were destroyed in a massive blaze that tore through a five-story building in… Fairfax County Saturday morning and filled the air with black smoke that could be seen for miles.” [NBC 4, Washington PostTwitter]

Smoke from Fairfax Fire, Seen Locally — Saturday’s massive fire in Fairfax County, south of Alexandria, could be seen from Arlington and other nearby locales. [Twitter, Twitter]

Superintendent Finalists Won’t Be Revealed — “Arlington School Board members will cloak their search for a new superintendent in as much secrecy as their predecessors have done. ‘We will not have a community-selection committee and will not share our finalists,’ School Board Chairman Tannia Talento said on Feb. 6.” [InsideNova]

Imperfect Arlington, Revisited — In the spirit of the late, lamented Imperfect Arlington: What’s up with the (supposedly) smaller scones at Northside Social? “Was told by @NorthsideSocial staff that they have ‘accidentally’ been making them too big, apparently for several years.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Skyline Offices to Become Housing? — “Fresh off acquiring the aging Skyline office park in Baileys Crossroads, a team of developers is sketching out plans to convert three buildings there into… a total of 764 residential units. Somera, out of New York, bought the 6.4-acre property on Leesburg Pike for $215 million back in November, pledging to bring residential and retail uses to the 1970s-era office buildings there.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Arlington County Board member and now-former Metro board member Christian Dorsey cruised to easy election victories in 2019 and thus didn’t need to spend much on his campaign. He did, however, direct campaign cash to himself and his wife.

Dorsey, who is currently trying to resolve a personal bankruptcy, is not accused of wrongdoing in his campaign spending. But it does raise questions amid news that he has not yet fulfilled a promise to repay a $10,000 campaign contribution, deemed unethical by the Metro board after Dorsey failed to notify the board of the donation in a timely manner.

Dorsey has since resigned from the Metro board, the Washington Post reported Thursday afternoon.

It was just after the Nov. 2019 election that it was revealed that Dorsey had declared bankruptcy in October. He told ARLnow in December that he regretted not informing the community earlier.

The campaign was otherwise a breeze for Dorsey. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and easily defeated a pair of independent candidates, who sought his and fellow incumbent Board member Katie Cristol’s seats, in November.

Dorsey raised nearly $40,000 in 2019, including the aforementioned $10,000 from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 — Metro’s largest union — as well as $10,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $5,000 from a carpenters union, and $1,000 from a laborers union.

As of Dec. 31, according to Dorsey’s latest campaign finance report, his campaign had $3,298 on hand. So where did most of the cash go? Just over $25,000 went to Dorsey and his wife, documents show.

Dorsey began 2019 with a balance of $17,547 on loans he had provided his campaign during the 2015 election. He repaid all but $200.99 of that to himself by the end of the year. He also paid $8,000 to his wife over the summer for campaign management graphic design work.

There has thus far been no suggestion that any of the payments were in any way illegal or improper, though a nearly $2,000 loan repayment was made after Dorsey was ordered to return the transit union donation.

The campaign’s other major expenses were $4,825 in donations and sponsorships to the Arlington County Democratic Committee and $4,399 to a local printing company for yard signs and grip cards, paid in September. Fundraising and web hosting expenses, along with other donations and food and drink purchases for events and volunteers, made up much of the remaining expenses.

Prof. Jennifer Victor, who researches campaign finance at George Mason University’s Schar School Policy and Government, said the pattern of payments amid personal financial problems and the union donation controversy at Metro at the very least “raises some ethical eyebrows,” regardless of whether or not state campaign finance laws were violated. Victor added that hiring a spouse for the campaign “looks nepotistic” and is something most candidates would avoid doing.

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Former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg recently opened a campaign office in Pentagon Row (1301 S. Joyce Street) amid an unprecedented blitz of campaign spending.

The new office for the largely self-funded candidate is located between the DSW shoe store and Planet Fitness, on the ground floor of the shopping center.

As of Tuesday afternoon, staff at the campaign outpost were making phone calls to voters to talk about Bloomberg’s gun control plans, which have been a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman’s campaign. The office is also scheduled to phone bank from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursday.

Bloomberg has not made any public appearances in Arlington so far, but did hold a campaign event in Alexandria last month.

Other 2020 candidates also have active campaigns in Arlington.

Donald Trump has his secondary reelection campaign office in Rosslyn. While Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren don’t seem to have official campaign offices in Arlington, Sanders-supporting group Our Revolution is active in Arlington and the Elizabeth Warren campaign has phone banked from local residences. Pete Buttigieg, endorsed by local Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), held a campaign fundraiser in an Arlington backyard this past summer.

While Sen. Amy Klobuchar does not currently have any campaign events listed in Arlington, she does reportedly rent a house here.

H/T to @CartChaos22202

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Total fundraising in the heated race for Arlington and Falls Church’s top prosecutor is nearing an unprecedented $1 million as the June 11 primary approaches.

Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti raised $604,682 between April 1 and May 30, in large part due to one political action committee (PAC), according to new campaign finance filings.

The Justice and Public Safety PAC, which is funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, previously donated to Tafti’s campaign and paid for her social media videos. In the latest filing period it made a total of $515,492.28 in donations, including $190,000 in cash and $325,492.28 in in-kind contributions.

After spending $189,000 on a TV ad buy, and racking up other expenses, Tafti’s campaign reported ending the quarter with $57,255 in its coffers.

Theo Stamos’ campaign, on the other hand, reported closing out May 30 with $22,077 left in its war chest, after raising $55,426 and spending $133,999 in total.

All told, the incumbent raised $161,760 for her 2019 re-election bid compared to the $743,604 Tafti raised to unseat her.

The combined sum of $905,364 from both candidates dwarfs the money raised in the state’s other commonwealth’s attorney races.

“I think our voters are going to see through this effort from all this outside money,” Stamos told ARLnow today (Tuesday.) “It’s so unprecedented for it to be happening in Arlington.” 

When asked if her challenger’s large fundraising haul affected her chances of keeping her seat, Stamos said she thought residents will end up voting for someone they’ve known for years over Tafti who has, “absolutely no experience, who is not prepared for the job, and who has quite honestly run a fundamentally dishonest campaign.”

Tafti said in a press release earlier today that she was “proud” the campaign has continued, “to garner the support of not just small dollar donations but also that of local and national organizations that will help maintain enthusiasm and engagement” in the election.

In the press release, the progressive campaigner also highlighted $39,000 in cash contributions from individuals and the endorsements she’s received, saying: “Simply put, this level of local support for a challenger is unprecedented in a local primary election where the incumbent has not ever faced a robust primary challenge. What it shows is that community leaders and ordinary citizens understand the office is in dire need of reform.”

Two other PACS also donated to Tafti’s campaign this past quarter.

Racial justice-focused New Majority Virginia PAC donated $31,545 to Tafti’s campaign last month, and Real Justice PAC, which was co-founded by civil rights activist Shaun King donates to progressive prosecutor candidates nationwide, contributed $5,814.

Other notable donations to Tafti’s campaign include:

  • $1,350 in combined donations from four local private defense lawyers. Three of the lawyers (Terry Adams, Edward Ungvarsky, and Christopher Leibig) previously signed a letter opposing Stamos. The fourth lawyer-donor (Mark Rochon) did not sign the letter.
  • $1,000 from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has publicly endorsed Tafti’s campaign.
  • $150 from former Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman.

For Stamos, some notable donations included:

  • $1,162 from former independent County Board member John Vihstadt, whose unsuccessful bid for re-election Stamos supported despite displeasure from her Democratic colleagues. The figure includes a $912 in-kind contribution from Vihstadt’s campaign committee.
  • $651 from former Arlington School Board member Noah Simon
  • $500 from theater labor union I.A.T.S.E. Local 22

Next week’s primary will determine which Democratic candidate progresses to the November general election. Voters can cast their votes between 6 a.m. to 7 p.m on Tuesday, June 11.

Candidates from other parties may declare their intention to enter the race after the primary election. If no other candidates runs, the winner of next week’s primary election will most likely win the general election.

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Campaign endorsements are stacking up in the House of Delegates primary race between incumbent Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) and challenger Julius D. “JD” Spain, Sr.

Lopez has racked up support from several labor groups. The International Union of Painters & Allied Trades District Council 51 and the Mid-Atlantic Pipe Trades Association both announced their support last week. Food service union UNITE HERE Local 23 DC Chapter, which represents airport concession workers, food service workers and others, also joined the list of local unions supporting Lopez.

“While these endorsements are an excellent way of showing broad support from trusted voices — and the types of issues I look forward to enacting — the most important measure of support for the upcoming primary is the depth and breadth of our campaign’s robust volunteer operation,” Lopez said in a statement to ARLnow, noting that a team of volunteers knocked on over 1,000 doors for his campaign last weekend.

Lopez said earlier this month he was “honored” to have so many labor groups endorse his campaign and pledged to “continue our fight in the General Assembly” against policies like right-to-work, which he says hurts workers and families.

With less than a month to go before the June 11 primary, Spain does not boast as lengthy a list of endorsements as his opponent, but he has received support from at least one prominent progressive group as well as local community members and activists.

“I, along with my entire team, [am] excited to have received the endorsement of the progressive and nationally recognized political action organization Our Revolution Arlington yesterday and Our Revolution Northern Virginia a few weeks ago,” Spain said, in an email statement today. “Additionally, the endorsements of prominent African-American and Latino community activists such as Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, the Honorable Frank Wilson, Mr. Gabriela Rubalcava, and Ms. Ingrid Vaca, who represent THE PEOPLE at the grassroots level resonates with voters.”

Our Revolution originally formed as an outgrowth of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign before forming local chapters nationwide. The Arlington chapter repeatedly protested Amazon’s deal with the county for its second headquarters last year, and now is endorsing Spain’s candidacy.

Former School Board member Frank Wilson is among those endorsing Spain. He said in a statement that the former Marine “has a great deal of proven experience as a public servant” and is “honest, reliable and willing to work the long hours needed for a Delegate representing the people in District 49.”

“This campaign is built around inclusivity, believes in empowerment of others, transparency, and accountability,” Spain said. “I will always choose the working class over special interests and moneyed elites. Given the incumbent’s lack of transparency coupled with the events in Richmond this past February, I am confident voters in the 49th District are tired of the status-quo and ready for change.”

Campaign finance filings indicated that Spain had $6,364 left at the end of March in his coffers. He had poured more than $20,000 of his own money into the campaign to bolster his fundraising, which he restricted to donations from individuals.

Lopez, meanwhile, reported a war chest of $102,280 at the end of the first quarter, after raising money from clean energy groups and alcohol lobbyists, among others. All candidates running for election will release a new set of campaign finance reports next month.

Voters will choose between the two candidates for the Democratic nomination during the June 11 primary, and vote for their final choice during the November 5 general election.

Because no candidates from other parties are currently running for the 49th District seat, the primary could determine the result of the general election; however, independent or Republican candidates can still announce their intent to run after the primary.

Virginia residents can check both their voter registration status and the location of their polls online.

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Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol says she’s running for re-election, becoming the first candidate to jump into the race for two Board seats on the ballot this fall.

The Democrat, who is a fresh off a year rotating in as chair of the five-member Board, told ARLnow that she announced her decision to seek a second term in office to supporters today (Thursday).

Since first winning office in 2015, Cristol believes the county has “started to make progress on the issues I’m passionate about,” but she’s hoping for another four years on the Board because she sees more work left to do on everything from expanding affordable housing options to increasing the availability of childcare in the county.

Cristol says she’s well aware that the next four years will be challenging in Arlington, particularly as the Board copes with some unpleasant budgets and manages Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City.

The latter topic has drawn more than its fair share of attention to the county, and Cristol in particular, over the last few months, but she plans to embrace the complexities of the company’s impact during her campaign.

“We’ve never been a community where we just let things happen to us, we plan for things,” Cristol said. “But the only way to make sure that happens is to believe in our potential to do that, and elect leaders who are problem solvers, not just problem spotters… There’s been a lot of temptation through all this to say ‘No’ or reject it or find enemies, as opposed to looking to maximize the benefits, which is hundreds of millions in tax revenues to help fund the priorities we care about.”

Cristol points out that, without Amazon bringing its new headquarters to the county, she’d face the similarly unpleasant prospect of running for re-election as the county grapples with a 20 percent office vacancy rate, which became a key issue during Democrat Matt de Ferranti’s successful campaign to oust independent John Vihstadt last year.

Even still, Cristol acknowledged that Amazon won’t be the answer to all of the county’s fiscal challenges as she asks for another four years on the Board. Officials have repeatedly warned that it could take years for the county to see tax revenues from Amazon’s new office space, requiring a mix of tax hikes and service cuts in the new fiscal year to fill a hefty budget gap.

Cristol concedes that “as would any elected official, I’d prefer to be cutting taxes and expanding services in a re-election year.” But she also believes that her chairmanship of the Board last year, when it managed to avoid any tax increases in favor of a handful of spending cuts, demonstrates that she can govern in a “sustainably progressive” manner despite the fiscal headwinds.

“We found a way to work through our budget challenges last year where we made difficult decisions about cuts, but didn’t cut anything to the bone or harm our core priorities,” Cristol said. “And I’m optimistic that’s what we’ll do again this year, even if it will be tougher.”

Though Cristol is the only candidate in the race so far — County Board Chair Christian Dorsey has yet to announce whether he’ll seek re-election — she’s well aware that she could face a more difficult race this year than when she last ran four years ago.

In that contest, Cristol and Dorsey easily triumphed over independents Mike McMenamin and Audrey Clement. But this time around, Cristol could well find herself squaring off against her former colleague Vihstadt, who recently thrust himself back onto the county’s political scene with his renewed criticism of costs of the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center project.

For her part, Cristol says she doesn’t know whether Vihstadt plans to mount another independent bid. In an election year without any statewide races at the top of the ticket, she says his entry into the race would present an “interesting question” of political strategy, but she’s not spending too much time worrying about it quite yet.

“The message that I’ll run on and what I can bring to the table is going to be the same irrespective of what decision he makes,” Cristol said. “I think I have a fantastic record to really be proud of.”

It’s unclear whether Cristol could face Democratic primary challengers before she even reaches the general — Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st District) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th District) have all drawn primary opponents thus far in Arlington’s local races — but any primary would be quite different from the six-way race she won four years ago.

In 2015, Cristol ran as a young newcomer to county politics, beating out some more experienced candidates. This time around, she has a record to defend, but also experience to run on.

“Some of the points I made back then do hold now,” Cristol said. “As a fresher face on the scene, I knew I didn’t have all the answers, so I thought it was important to listen to both longstanding Arlingtonians and those that hadn’t been as included in the past… and if I’ve learned anything in four years, it’s that nobody knows all these answers. That listening will still be at the heart of my campaign.”

Cristol says she’ll make a formal announcement at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting next Wednesday (Feb. 6), with a campaign kickoff event later that month.

File photo

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