(Updated at 5 p.m. on 8/10/23) The Arlington County GOP says it’s pivoting away from national politics and working to assemble a broad coalition galvanized by hyper-local issues.
The first test of this new strategy will be the November County Board election when residents will have the opportunity to vote for the Republican nominee, Juan Carlos Fierro.
An immigrant from Ecuador with nearly three decades of experience in international business and finance, Fierro is aiding the party’s efforts to cultivate a diverse alliance and embrace Republicans, as well as Independents and Democrats, from myriad backgrounds.
The last time a Republican was elected to the Board was Mike Lane in 1999. But party leaders, including newly elected Chair of the Arlington County GOP, Matthew Hurtt, are optimistic that their new strategy will help Republicans establish a solid foothold in the predominantly Democratic county.
However, judging by recent fundraising numbers, Hurtt argues the strategy is already working.
“Thanks to generous supporters like you, the Arlington GOP raised $14,831 from July 13th until midnight last night,” Hurtt told donors in an email last month. “The average contribution from more than 110 individual donations was $131, and the Committee took in an average of $823 per day over the 18-day period.”
Hurtt noted these numbers were “unprecedented” for the party which typically brings in a little less than half that number.
He emphasized the majority of these funds will be allocated towards “local issue education,” “voter targeting,” and “mobilization efforts,” aimed at aiding local Republican candidates, including Fierro, in their campaigns for state senate and county board positions.
“With the imminent approval by this Committee, we will invest in our candidates in ways we have not done in decades,” Hurtt told his donors.
Hurtt attributes the party’s robust fundraising quarter to members’ renewed confidence Republicans can make headway in future local elections by using this strategy.
“When I was chairman of Young Republicans, we helped elect John Vihstadt to the county board in 2014… We helped legalize food trucks and Airbnbs in Arlington. And so we have won on policy issues and we’ve built broad based coalitions,” Hurtt said. “But I’m trying to get my members to say, ‘you know it is worth my time to be involved in local issues.’”
Heading into November, Hurtt said the party aims to turn out voters who turned out for Gov. Glenn Youngkin. He drew national attention after beating out former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2021.
Hurtt is under no illusion that Arlington will swing from blue to red anytime soon. Nevertheless, he pointed out that Youngkin garnered 22.8% of the Arlington vote — 6 percentage points more than former President Donald Trump a year earlier.
Following his victory, Youngkin was applauded by national, state and local party leaders, including Hurtt, who praised his ability to energize white suburban voters by capitalizing on parents’ frustrations over Covid-induced school closures, as well as other cultural issues such as the teaching of race in schools and transgender rights.
By aligning with the Governor and focusing on issues such as education, Hurtt said he believes Fierro and other Republican candidates may have a better shot in upcoming and future elections.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A year ago, Arlington County launched a diversion program for youth and young adults who commit certain misdemeanor and felony crimes.
Heart of Safety is a voluntary program facilitated by Restorative Arlington, a nonprofit that facilitates meetings between victims who choose this approach and the people who committed crimes against them.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney or the local court services unit — which provides services to juvenile court-involved youth and their families — refers victims of crimes who want to stay out of court proceedings to the program.
There, victims and the people who harmed them meet with facilitators and each other to discuss what happened and why, the results of that crime and how the perpetrator can make amends — typically by adhering to a restoration plan to which both parties agree. This approach borrows from longstanding indigenous traditions that have been implemented and studied in some U.S. communities.
The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney has referred eight cases to the program as of November. That figure comes from a Freedom of Information Act request filed last fall by the campaign to elect Josh Katcher, challenger to Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in the Democratic primary on June 20. His campaign released its findings on Friday.
Program Executive Director Kimiko Lighty says that the number of cases that have gone through the program is higher. It does not include cases referred from court services unit, those completed in 2022, ongoing cases, or those on who are on a six-month waitlist that she would take if the program had more capacity.
“Heart of Safety is working at capacity right now and has a waitlist,” Lighty says. “There are people who are saying, ‘We would rather wait to have a restorative option than go to court.'”
Participants include people from middle school through 26 years old who committed a fairly broad range of crimes, though Lighty did not elaborate on what kind, citing privacy.
“What they have in common, every single one, is that the person harmed asked for a restorative process,” Lighty said.
Dehghani-Tafti, elected in 2019 on a platform of prosecutorial reform, has said on the campaign trail that Heart of Safety is an avenue for victims to heal and for people who committed crimes to reckon with their actions, demonstrate remorse and commit to making amends.
She tells ARLnow the cases that went through the program “have gone really well” and been consistent with a memorandum of understanding and referral policies governing the program, both of which were provided to ARLnow.
Katcher and his team take issue with how the program has been promoted and how much credit Dehghani-Tafti can take for it, maintaining that people should be skeptical about why Dehghani-Tafti is not more forthright about program outcomes.
His team requested the number and types of cases that have gone through Heart of Safety, the number referred back to the courts, the memorandum of understanding and referral criteria governing the program, and a definition of recidivism.
In response, his campaign says it received the number of cases, eight, and the same documents Dehghani-Tafti’s campaign provided to ARLnow.
“Parisa Dehghani-Tafti wants the community to think of her as a reformer. However, when pressed for information to prove that she’s living up to our community’s expectations for what that means, her office refuses to answer basic questions around the efficacy of her highly-touted commitment to restorative justice,” the campaign manager for Katcher, Ben Jones, said in a statement.
“Her refusal to answer simple questions about a program that she has touted as being one of her signature promises is another sign that she’s not the right person to be trusted with ensuring our community’s safety and security,” he continued.
That’s according to newly-filed quarterly campaign financial reports.
The six candidates for County Board, two for Commonwealth’s Attorney and three for Sheriff will run in a primary on June 20 to determine the local party’s nominees headed to the general election. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus in May to endorse a School Board candidate.
In statements, Roy and Katcher said the numbers show their message resonates with people who do not feel heard or are concerned with the direction Arlington is headed — whether on housing and community engagement or on prosecutorial reforms.
Roy, a realtor noted for getting around on bicycle, kicked off her campaign by expressing misgivings with the zoning ordinance changes known as Missing Middle, which passed in March. She instead suggested other solutions — such as turning the vacant, condemned Key Bridge Marriott into housing and county amenities.
While Roy has the most donations over $100, her campaign highlighted that 80% of donors were Arlington voters and 80% donated less than $250.
“This shows both strong grassroots and widespread community support, a sign that Natalie’s message has been resonating with Arlington voters who feel like their voice has not been heard in recent years,” per a statement she released on Tuesday.
“From hosting small meet & greets in their living rooms, to knocking doors, to donating, their strong and steady support has made it possible for me to do the best part of a campaign — meeting with and hearing from Arlingtonians across the county,” Roy continued.
With $105,526 raised and more than $90,000 spent, Katcher — who worked as a prosecutor under Theo Stamos and his now-opponent, incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti — outraised and outspent his former boss.
“Ours is the people’s campaign, and once again the Arlington and Falls Church City communities have stepped up and proven that,” he said in a statement. “Since I kicked off my campaign in November, we have surpassed our fundraising targets — twice. Thank you to all the supporters who have helped make this possible.”
Katcher’s campaign said all his support is derived from individuals. Per the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, which compiles campaign reports, some 400 people have donated to his campaign. Dehghani-Tafti has received donations through some 150 individual contributions in addition to three PACs.
The largest of these is an in-kind donation of $8,000 from Justice and Public Safety PAC, a PAC funded by George Soros. The billionaire philanthropist donated millions to the PAC, supporting dozens of progressive prosecutor candidates in the U.S., including several hundred thousand dollars in cash and services to Dehghani-Tafti’s successful 2019 campaign.
Vacuum Leaf Collection Starts Today — “The county’s first pass is scheduled to kick off on Monday, Nov. 8 and will likely run through late November. The second pass will likely run through Friday, Dec. 17, according to a new fall leaf collection brochure.” [ARLnow]
Metro Woes Continue — “Metro’s limited train service will continue for the rest of November, officials said Friday, as the transit agency begins tests that it hopes will allow for the reinstatement of more than half of its fleet… Metro is pulling all of its available cars out of storage to help shorten waits, including 32 recently pulled from its Shady Grove yard. Waits between trains are about 15 minutes on the Red Line, 20 minutes on the Green Line and 30 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines, Metro said.” [Washington Post]
YHS Field Hockey Triumphs — “What already was an outstanding season for the Yorktown Patriots became the best in program history when the girls field hockey team won a region championship for the first time. Yorktown (19-1) captured the 6D North Region tournament with a 3-0 record, blanking the host and defending champion Madison Warhawks, 1-0, in the Nov. 3 title match of the high-school competition.” [Sun Gazette]
Speedy Campaign Sign Removals — “Good news on the campaign-sign-clearing front — it looks like most campaigns and political organizations have decided to remove their signage from medians far sooner than the rules allow. Arlington Democrats estimate they removed 80% of signage from medians on Wednesday, the day after voting took place. And a spot check across the community shows Republicans and independents were getting large chunks of their signs down, too, even though under law they have a week to do so.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — It will be sunny and warmer today, with a high near 66. Sunrise at 6:43 a.m. and sunset at 5 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 69. [Weather.gov]
Update at 10:45 a.m. — “At this time, ACPD is not aware of any large events in Arlington being planned between now and next Tuesday,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said Thursday morning, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.
Earlier: President Biden reportedly repeated Donald Trump’s name 24 times during his gubernatorial campaign stop in Arlington last night, and it might have summoned the former president to come back for a visit.
Trump, apparently pleased by chants of “We love Trump” during the Biden event, released a somewhat cryptic statement this afternoon.
“Chanting, ‘We love Trump’ in Arlington, Va. Thank you, Arlington, see you soon!” the former president wrote.
It’s unclear whether Trump actually intends to come to Arlington in the near future. His last known appearance here was on Election Day last year, when he visited his re-election campaign headquarters in Rosslyn.
The statement today was greeted with surprise on social media, with many wondering whether Trump will counter Biden’s campaign stop for Democratic candidate for governor Terry McAuliffe with an event for GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin. That would be unexpected, given Trump’s relative unpopularity here and the fact that McAuliffe has staked his campaign on linking Youngkin to Trump.
McAuliffe said in a tweet that Trump is, in fact, planning to campaign for Youngkin in Virginia.
Donald Trump is coming to Virginia to campaign for his handpicked guy Glenn Youngkin. Enough of this MAGA nonsense. We will defeat Trump once again this November!
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) October 27, 2021
There were other theories as well.
Be Smart: Arlington-based media property Politico has asked Trump to guest-author tomorrow’s edition of Playbook https://t.co/bN1eMDje7g
— Matt Negrin, HOST OF HARDBALL AT 7PM ON MSNBC (@MattNegrin) October 27, 2021
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), meanwhile, said Trump “should be prepared to hear from Arlingtonians” about the Jan. 6 pro-Trump violence at the Capitol should he visit.
As Arlington's Congressman I can say its residents are still furious about Donald Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 election and the violent insurrection he incited at the Capitol on January 6th. If he comes here he should be prepared to hear from Arlingtonians about that.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) October 27, 2021
Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, established an official office in Arlington earlier this year, after Biden took office.
On a gusty, very brisk fall evening, President Joe Biden once again visited Arlington to campaign for Terry McAuliffe.
“You don’t need to imagine how great a governor Terry McAuliffe will be because you know how great a governor he was,” Biden said, standing next to a basketball court at Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City.
With only a week until the general election and the former — and possibly future — governor clinging to a very narrow lead in polls over his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin, it certainly is notable that Biden is making his second Arlington appearance alongside McAuliffe in three months.
“The fact that he’s doubled down on McAuliffe is either a great sign or an ominous sign, depending on which side of the aisle you fall on,” Arlington Heights resident Tony Yang mused as he stood in the security line waiting to enter the event.
After McAuliffe made his remarks, Biden walked on the stage just after 8 p.m. and spoke for about 17 minutes. He spoke of McAuliffe’s record of Democratic leadership, often comparing Youngkin to former President Trump, and vouching for the Build Back Better plan that he’s trying to get passed in Congress.
He even dropped a specific Arlington reference about the planned new rail bridge that would replace the 117-year-old Long Bridge.
Biden also cracked the same joke he did in July about McAuliffe possibly being First Lady Jill Biden’s boss, due to her being a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, part of the state’s community college system.
Afterwards, the president did a photo line with a number of elected officials and candidates, while also taking selfies with a number of attendees near the stage.
The crowd — estimated by the White House at 2,500 people — was somewhat subdued throughout the nearly hour and a half event, perhaps due to the wind gusts and temperatures dipping into the low 50s.
Security was somewhat tight, though that didn’t stop Biden’s remarks being interrupted at least three times by protestors relating to the Line 3 pipeline, citizenship, and another matter that wasn’t immediately clear.
Prior to the event and outside of the park, a few Youngkin supporters made their case for their candidate while someone waved a giant Trump flag. There were also several PETA protesters dressed in blow-up dinosaur costumes to criticize the National Institutes of Health and the Biden administration for conducting experiments on animals.
The Younkin supporters, including Arlington GOP Communications Director Matthew Hurtt, could be seen holding signs saying “Virginia Runs on Youngkin” and “More Like Terry McAwful.”
Besides Biden and McAuliffe, a who’s who of Virginia Democrats spoke Tuesday evening in support of the ticket: Senator Tim Kaine, Rep. Don Beyer, Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, Attorney General Mark Herring (who didn’t mention his lawsuit against Advanced Towing), current governor Ralph Northam, and Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti.
“Donald Trump is on the ballot next Tuesday,” said de Ferranti, also attaching Youngkin to Trump.
For some, having an event of this nature featuring a sitting U.S. president in their neighborhood was an experience that couldn’t be missed.
“It’s not a common thing that there’s a rally for a candidate you support is, literally, right by your house,” said Hania Basat, who lives in Pentagon City. “To have the president too, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Shelly Quintanilla agreed. She lives in Pentagon City with her husband and two young sons, ages six and one. For her, this rally was a chance to show democracy in action.
“We were really excited for the learning opportunity for the kids,” she said. “It’s better than school to learn about the president, the government, and our chance to get involved.”
For others, though, seeing the president — who arrived and departed via motorcade over the 14th Street Bridge — wasn’t that big of a deal.
“We have senators, congressmen, and Al Gore. He used to live up [there],” said Jim Kohlmoos, referring to the former vice president’s one-time residence in the nearby Arlington Ridge neighborhood. “We’re pretty much used to all of this.”
The view when @POTUS drives by your home. President Biden on a campaign event in Arlington County. @WTOPtraffic @WTOP @DildineWTOP @ARLnowDOTcom @ArlingtonVaPD #police #politics #potus #395cam #STATcam pic.twitter.com/hq9FnXWKUg
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) October 27, 2021
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) President Biden is coming back to Arlington.
Like he did in July, Biden will be campaigning with Terry McAuliffe, who’s in the home stretch of his campaign for a second term in the Virginia governor’s mansion. The Democratic campaign event is scheduled to take place from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street) near Pentagon City.
Those registering to attend must attest to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. No signs are permitted at the event, says the RSVP page.
Biden previously campaign with McAuliffe at Lubber Run Park near Ballston.
McAuliffe will face off against his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin, in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Early voting is currently underway and taking place through Saturday, Oct. 30. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is tomorrow (Oct. 22).
McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014-2018, will also be coming to Arlington tomorrow. The Friday event to kick off his bus tour of the Commonwealth is scheduled to take place from 8:45-10 a.m. outside county government headquarters at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd).
County Removing Illegal Campaign Signs — “Rules for placing campaign signage on the medians of roads owned by the Arlington County government are pretty straightforward – there is a limit of two signs per median strip per candidate (or party ticket). Anything more than that is a violation. This campaign season, it appears the campaigns of gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin either don’t know the rules, or are disregarding them.” [Sun Gazette]
New Restaurants Open at DCA — From Reagan National Airport: “Big news! Mezeh and Wolfgang Bar + Bites are now open in the new concourse!” [Twitter]
It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month — “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD), in partnership with Arlington’s Project PEACE and Doorways for Women and Families, our community advocate, is sharing information about resources available in our community and raising public awareness.” [ACPD]
Police Make Numerous DUI Arrests — From the Arlington County Police Department: “ACPD Officers are committed to making our roadways safer by identifying, stopping, and apprehending impaired drivers. Last week (September 12 – 18), officers made 16 arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Motorists are reminded that it is never okay to drink and drive.” [Twitter]
ACPD Warning of Tainted Cocaine — “Please take steps to protect yourself and others who may be in possession of cocaine purchased in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The nasal spray Narcan (also known as Naloxone) can save the life of someone who is overdosing from substances containing opioids, if given in time, and test strips can detect dangerous fentanyl-laced drugs before they are used.” [Arlington County]
Man Stabbed Near Columbia Pike — ” The investigation revealed that at approximately 1:15 a.m., the victim was walking in the area when he was pushed from behind by the unknown suspect and fell to the ground. The suspect then brandished a knife and demanded money from the victim before stabbing him and stealing his wallet. The suspect fled the scene on foot and the victim returned to his residence before determining he was in need of medical services.” [ACPD]
Gusty Storm Yesterday Afternoon — “A 39 mph wind gust was recorded at National Airport with the storm that passed through Arlington earlier this afternoon, per the National Weather Service.” [Twitter]
Power Outages After Wednesday’s Storm — “More than 1,000 homes and businesses are currently without power in Arlington. The largest outage is affecting the area around Kenmore Middle School.” [Twitter]
School Bond Funds New ‘Heights’ Entrance — “A new entrance to the Shriver Program, which is collocated with H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Rosslyn, is needed to make it easier for those with disabilities to access the building and the parking lot… More funds are need to permit ‘the completion of a design that we had intended in the first place – complete it the right way,’ Kanninen said. The $11.39 million project accounts for nearly half the proposed $23 million school bond that goes to voters on Nov. 2.” [Sun Gazette]
Klobuchar to Canvass in Arlington Sunday — “Join us for a Weekend of Action canvass in Arlington with Senator Amy Klobuchar & Governor Terry McAuliffe! We’ll be talking with our neighbors about the issues that are important to them — and why Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, Mark Herring, and Alfonso Lopez are the right people to move Virginia forward in 2021.” [Mobilize]
Update to Metro Story — A report from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission suggests that the person who fell from a train while walking between railcars near the Clarendon station was the son of a WMATA employee. He was able to continue on to Tysons but suffered significant injuries, was bleeding heavily and was later hospitalized. [ARLnow]
President Joe Biden and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will be holding a “grassroots event” near Ballston on Friday.
The campaign event is being held at Lubber Run Park, next to the new Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive). Gates are slated to open at 5 p.m. for members of the public who RSVPed online to attend.
“President Biden and Terry will discuss Virginia Democrats’ commitment to creating good paying jobs, making health care more affordable and giving every Virginia child a world class education,” the McAuliffe campaign said in a press release.
The location was not initially revealed when the event was first announced last week.
McAuliffe, who formerly served as governor prior from 2014 to 2018, captured the Democratic nomination for another term last month. He is running against Republican nominee and businessman Glenn Youngkin.
President Joe Biden is planning a visit to Arlington next week.
Biden will be visiting the county on Friday with former Virginia governor and current Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, according to McAuliffe’s campaign.
“On Friday, July 23, President Joe Biden will host a grassroots event with Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Virginia,” says an RSVP page for the event. “President Biden and Terry will discuss Terry’s commitment to creating good-paying jobs, making health care more affordable, and giving every Virginia child a world-class education.”
The exact time and location of the campaign event has not been revealed.