Join Club
State Sen. Barbara Favola (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Barbara Favola, incumbent for Virginia State Senate – 40th District. Challenger James DeVita did not submit a response prior to publication time.

As your senator, I promised to bolster public education, make health care more affordable, pass climate change policies and make Virginia safer with common-sense gun safety measures.  I have made considerable progress on these promises while honoring the values of equity and inclusiveness.

The most important investment we can make is in public education. I advocated to increase resources to low-income schools, enhance teacher pay, encourage the teaching of our complete history and reinforce the practice of making schools a welcoming place for all students. These successes were achieved in-spite of a prevailing anti-public education narrative and with the help of a Democratic majority in the Senate.

In the area of health care, I was the chief patron on legislation to prohibit surprise medical bills, contain medical debt and expand community-based MH services.  My efforts also resulted in more funding for MH counselors in our schools. I successfully advocated for legislation to prohibit conversion therapy.

As chair of the Senate Women’s Reproductive Health Care Caucus, I fight everyday so all Virginians can make their own health care decisions without the interference of politicians. In this past session, I put Governor Youngkin on the defensive when he opposed my bill to protect menstrual health data.  I am committed to protecting bodily autonomy in Virginia’s constitution.

To honor our commitment to the next generation, I passed a clean energy bill that will challenge Virginia to achieve 100% of its electricity sales from renewable sources by 2045. I serve on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and am a solid vote to protect our environment and keep us in REGGI.

As a member and former Chair of the Virginia Advisory Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence, I have immersed myself in these important issues and succeeded in passing legislation to remove firearms from those convicted of assault and battery of a household member. I was a co-sponsor of Virginia’s red flag law and co-sponsored other common-sense gun safety measures.

As chair of the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. I have overseen major reforms in the operations of our local jails and prison system. My legislation to remove the death penalty from those who were seriously mentally ill at the time the crime was committed laid the groundwork for a repeal of the death penalty.

Additionally, I serve on Senate Rules, Local Government, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Transportation. I have earned a reputation as a lawmaker “who gets it done”, a compassionate and fair leader, and an individual who has developed relationships across the aisle. These traits enable me to shape major priorities in my role as Democratic Whip.  I have earned endorsements from the Virginia Education Association, LABOR, the VA Sierra Club, Emily’s List, VA NOW, a “Candidate of Distinction” notice from Moms Demand Action and many other groups.

I have always fought for a Commonwealth that encourages a shared prosperity and celebrates our diversity.  My knowledge and experience as an Arlington County Board member combined with my 12 years in the Senate gives me an insight into Arlington’s values that no other candidate can match.  I respectfully ask for your vote in the June 20 Democratic primary.


Barbara Favola (D)

Wanda Younger, candidate for Arlington County Sheriff (via Wanda for Sheriff/Facebook)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Wanda Younger, candidate for Arlington County Sheriff.

I retired from the Arlington Sheriff’s Office in 2020 as a Lieutenant and Director of Pretrial Services with 31 years of ethical service. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration (earned with highest honors) with numerous advanced leadership training to include training through the F.B.I. and International Association of Chiefs of Police.

I have been an Arlingtonian for nearly 30 years, and I care deeply about our community. My platform is comprehensive and for the past four months I have spear-headed specific solution sets to target three issues: detainee health, community safety, and Sheriff’s Office staff retention and employment practices.

With regard to detainee health, I have studied the protocols and standard of care in our local emergency rooms; these are the gold standard. I will work with our County Board and State Legislators to provide mental health care and medical services to our detainees staffed with physicians and support staff live, onsite 24 hours a day. This model emulates the best practices in our emergency rooms and can be the standard of care within our detention facility.

The purchase of 10 biometric units for $10,000 per annum is simply not enough logistically nor operationally. The biometric units are alert devices only akin to the monitors placed on a patient in the emergency room – human intervention is required and must be onsite to handle the response to any alerts.

With regard to community safety, I will reinvigorate the Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff program to assist in providing positive mentorship to our youth within the Arlington public schools and increase both community and school safety. There is a middle ground between private security officers and school resource officers – and that viable middle ground is trained, vetted, polygraphed Auxiliary Deputies. This Auxiliary force will be able to free full-time deputies who can then assist the Arlington County Police Department with community policing functions.

With regard to the employment practices of our Sheriff’s Deputies, I will completely revamp the premise of the employer-employee contract, doing away with the old and antiquated at-will employment of our deputies. This at-will employment of our deputies goes against all modern public policies, stifles innovation and dissention, and prevents the reporting of breaches of our standard operating procedures.

I have put out short, concise videos on my social media ( to address these solutions and provide an extensive information base and reasonings for Arlington voters. I have addressed the solution sets for school safety, which as a mother and grandmother, I find troubling. Children are scared to go into the bathrooms in some of our high schools, fearing assault. I have focused on the mental health crisis here in Arlington, which I fuse with detainee health issues. Also, I have addressed the issues of employment practices within the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff is not simply a caretaker of the jail and court as the Acting Sheriff believes. The Sheriff is not just a cop. She is a rehabilitator, a caretaker, and most importantly – a policy maker. Being a self-limiting Sheriff restricts the role of the Sheriff’s Office and demeans the historical context of this Constitutional Office. The Sheriff is the highest Law Enforcement Officer of the Constitution and is responsible for the Constitutional Rights of every citizen. True fundamental change to policies requires the re-thinking of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office from the ground up.

In summary, the key differences between the other candidates and myself are that we have fundamental differences in education, experience, ethics, and worldview. I have the solution sets to make the lives of the community, Sheriff’s Office staff, and detainees better.

It’s time for Real Progress in Arlington!

James Herring, candidate for Sheriff, at a recent Arlington Dems meeting (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from James Herring, candidate for Arlington County Sheriff.

“Number of years of experience” – anyone who has applied for a job has seen these words and sat there mentally calculating a number to put down. In running for Sheriff, I have been questioned about my experience in a similar manner. In the case of my opponents, their years in office as middle-to-high-ranking deputies have been in a dysfunctional agency that’s unable to meet minimum standards of care for inmates, loses competent deputies, and has minimal connection to the community.

I am the only Sheriff’s Office outsider – and the Office needs a leader from outside now more than ever. Communities across the country are voicing ways that law enforcement needs to change, then electing those with decades of experience in the same system and expecting different results. I decided to run for the same reason I decided to join the police: I want to serve my community and help people. I entered this race after hearing and seeing (during my time as an Arlington Police Officer) the way those in our custody and the deputies providing their care have been mismanaged; it’s time Arlingtonians were made aware of the situation.

There have been eight in-custody deaths in the last ten years. These deaths have different circumstances, but one commonality: the Sheriff’s Office did not provide adequate care. Even after the most recently- concluded investigation, information has been withheld from the public on what (if anything) is being done to prevent deaths from occuring in the future. In addition to providing poor medical and mental health services, the jail’s low staffing levels mean that inmates are perpetually on lockdown; defense attorneys have approached me and expressed exasperation that this makes it extremely difficult to meet with their clients. This results in cases being continued unnecessarily, and people being held in jail longer – simply because the Sheriff has not prioritized their 6th Amendment rights. This means victims and defendants have to wait longer for their day in court; witnesses, attorneys, and judges have to constantly rearrange their schedule for a trial that could have long-since concluded, and the taxpayers have to foot the bill for someone whose outcome is needlessly deferred. This is unacceptable.

It is time we stop looking at how long someone has been doing the job, and instead look at what they’ve been doing with the job. My entire career has been in public service since the age of 18. I served in the Virginia National Guard for eight years, where I safely guided soldiers at the platoon level during an overseas deployment and acted as an executive officer for a light infantry company – learning how to lead as well as how to serve. I have trained rookie police officers on what it means to be a good cop for your community. I have been a police officer for nearly ten years, during which time I have learned patience and compassion for those who are likely having one of the worst days of their lives, and I have come to recognize they will continue to have those issues if we do not do everything we can to help them while they are in our care.

Read More

Jose Quiroz, who took over as interim Arlington County Sheriff after Beth Arthur retired (via Jose Quiroz for Arlington)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Jose Quiroz, candidate for Arlington County Sheriff.

It has been my honor to serve as Arlington’s Sheriff since January 2023. Following Sheriff Beth Arthur’s retirement I became Arlington County’s first Latino Sheriff. As the son of Honduran immigrants, I am thankful that my family worked hard to build a life for us in Arlington and to have the opportunity to grow up and serve here.

Serving my community has always been very important to me. After being honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps after four years of service, I continued my service with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. Starting my career as a deputy sheriff working in the detention facility, I grew up in the Sheriff’s office working in every division and being promoted through the ranks to eventually be named Chief Deputy in 2022. Over the past 21 years in the Sheriff’s Office, I have built relationships with my staff, with county leadership and with community organizations and members.

Immediately after assuming office, I began working to improve safety in the jail and promote rehabilitation of people in our care. I am working with the County to shift the jail medical services from an outside vendor to in-house staff to bring more accountability. I am in the process of integrating biometric sensors into the jail’s medical unit, an evidence-based tool to help prevent deaths in jails by providing real-time information so staff can respond quickly if a person is experiencing a medical crisis. I am also working to strengthen relationships with community and organizations and DHS to provide better mental health care in the jail by supporting the 14 mental health staffers who work with my office.

I believe in rehabilitation and that a mistake should not follow a person forever. When someone makes a mistake, is held accountable, and is provided the appropriate support to grow from that mistake they are able to grow and become better versions of themselves. This is why I am continuing to work with community partners to bring back proven rehabilitation efforts–such as the robust volunteer-led programs that existed prior to the pandemic–and explore new solutions for rehabilitation and successful integration. It is also why I am committed to making communication free for inmates because maintaining connections with loved ones is very important to the people in the jail.

In recent months, I have taken significant steps to improve engagement with the community. I hired the office’s first ever Public Information Officer, who will help inform the public of what is happening in my office and the detention facility. I am working on creating a dashboard and newsletter that will update the public on our daily work and on our data collections, as well as updating our website. I will continue to invest in crime prevention programs in the county with public schools and local organizations.

As a leader, I am responsible for the wellbeing of my staff and am investing in their future leadership. From providing them enhanced skills training to ensure that they are providing inmates the best care to supporting staff mental health and wellness, investing in our staff will improve safety. I am proud that the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has a long history of being one of the most diverse county offices and am committed to continuing that tradition by actively recruiting staff from diverse places, encouraging current employees to help recruit new staff members, and creating an internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion unit to make sure that we are living our values.

I have been a successful servant leader and advocate for my community. Having received endorsements from various leaders and elected officials in Arlington, as well as the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense candidate distinction, I have proved my experience and gained the trust of my staff and community. I look forward to earning your vote this Democratic Primary. Please visit to learn more!

Arlington County Board candidate Natalie Roy (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Natalie Roy, candidate for Arlington County Board.

I am running to bring new energy, transparency, and responsiveness to the County Board. It is crucial to have someone on the County Board with experience in the trenches, who knows the county well, and tells it like it is. With me, what you see is what you get. I am not shy about asking the tough questions or challenging the status quo. I will focus on improving our public engagement process and bringing people together.

As a 32-year resident in Arlington, I have decades of community experience including serving as the President of my neighborhood’s civic association, as a PTA president, as an active member of the County’s covid vaccination committee, and as the coach of the Yorktown girls’ varsity tennis team for 17 years.  I also helped organize opposition to a gun store in our neighborhood.

My wide range of professional executive experience includes running two national environmental organizations, one statewide handgun control group, and working on recycling for a state agency and a municipality. As the recycling director for the glass container industry, I worked with union members at glass plants across the country to promote recycling. I founded and still manage a top-performing real estate business in Arlington, which gives me real-world insights into housing and development.  As a lifelong Democrat, I have worked and volunteered on countless progressive national, state, and local campaigns.

At the risk of some blowback from local basketball circles, I am a proud graduate of Duke University.  My husband Nikki and I raised three daughters who all went to Arlington County Public Schools. Nikki and I met 42 years ago working for the same environmental group. He is still saving the world, fighting climate change. We both know that reducing our carbon footprint should be a priority at every level of government.

I got out of my comfort zone and launched this, my first run for public office, because I opposed the County’s recent sweeping zoning changes. Although the new zoning changes likely will benefit my real estate business, they would be harmful to the community, and that is my first priority. This election is about whether we in Arlington want unplanned density for the sake of density throughout the County or environmentally sound, transit-oriented development that meaningfully promotes affordability and diversity. I support smart growth and our community.

Far from the isolated issue some claim it to be, Arlington’s current ‘Up-Zoning Everywhere’ approach with no real goals or guardrails, is a central issue. These density dynamics will affect our County’s economy, our environment and tree canopy, infrastructure, transit, schools, and emergency response for decades into the future.

This watershed election is a vote on who has the best vision for Arlington. I have the requisite experience, high creativity, strong leadership skills, and deep community roots to serve on the County Board and hit the ground running on day one. I have no political aspirations other than to serve on the County Board to provide the unifying leadership and transparency critically needed now.  I would be honored to receive your #1 Vote.

Susan Cunningham (campaign photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Susan Cunningham, candidate for Arlington County Board.

My name is Susan Cunningham. I am a common-sense problem-solver who will reconnect our community and young people, get housing right, and get the basics right.

I am running for County Board because I think Arlington’s best days are ahead and we need elected leaders with experience and common sense to bring us together to get there.

The recent missing middle housing debates and challenges facing our youth highlight that we have a lot of work to do to bring our community back together. I am ready to represent each of you on the county board to do just that. I’ve worked with many of you through professional and volunteer roles since I first moved to Arlington in 1994 (“back in the 1900s” as my daughters remind me) as an:

  • Experienced Problem-solver: Trained as an engineer, I am first and foremost a creative problem-solver. I know how to frame a problem, bring everyone to the table, and deliver solutions, including infrastructure investments and progressive environmental goals. Whether serving as a founding member of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, refurbishing a Donaldson Run rambler for a gigantic Afghani refugee family, serving as a founding member of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, or leading a divided community through the Dorothy Hamm Middle School project, I get things done for and with this community.
  • Common Sense Leader: I combine executive experience and common sense to solve complex problems and create a stronger, inclusive Arlington. As turn-around CEO of housing provider AHC, I know the many tools we need to get housing and planning right for our community. As a seasoned executive at U.S. Treasury and McKinsey, I know how to manage billion-dollar budgets and large organizations through challenges and change.
  • Long-time Neighbor: My husband, Philip, and I started our adult lives in Arlington right out of college. Arlington has been our home for over 25 years. Along with our two school-aged daughters, we are active members at Saint Mary’s Episcopal. As the Executive Director at Arlington Thrive (formerly AMEN), I know the challenges many in our community face and the strengths and challenges in our social services delivery.

As a County Board member I will prioritize:

  • Smart growth and planning that gets housing right – with diverse options for ownerships and rental across life stages and incomes. This includes monitoring and revising the newly adopted Expanded Housing Options policy to create a comprehensive, common sense housing plan.
  • Reconnecting our community – especially our young people, whose formative years  have been disrupted by the pandemic, political unrest, and climate anxiety. This means investing in out-of-school programming, expanding recreation center hours, and improving our bus network for all users.
  • Transparent, good government that gets the basics right – creating a vibrant and desirable community for residents and businesses and responding quickly when something needs attention. This includes a defined response time to resident inquiries, expanded data access, and improvements to permitting and site review processes.

Read More

2 Comment
Arlington County Board candidate Maureen Coffey (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Maureen Coffey, candidate for Arlington County Board.

Arlington is an exceptional community. It has been an overwhelming privilege to spend the last six months talking to people from every part of our community.

I’m running to be your next County Board member because I want to do my part to keep Arlington exceptional. I believe that everyone in Arlington, no matter your background or stage of life, should see a place for themselves in our future. To do this, we need a plan that centers the needs of people in our community and protects and values Arlington’s core identity. We need to balance fixing immediate concerns and supporting a vision of our future.

As a member of my civic association, a former Civic Federation board member, and a leader among the Arlington Democrats, I know Arlington can and should provide better transparency and more effective engagement.  We need to develop overlapping layers of communication that reach across different demographics to bring people into the conversation, meeting them where they are and recognizing that the people closest to the problem should also be most involved in creating the solutions.

Housing availability and affordability remains a critical issue, and as a renter, I know first hand the current dysfunction of housing in Arlington. At the same time we need to consider the impacts of increasing housing and population on our schools, greenspaces, services like child care and mental health, and infrastructure. Our planning and investments should recognize the many interconnections between our areas of need and work together to address the big picture alongside the individual pieces. We should accept that our role is to assess and reassess – and yes, sometimes change course if there are unintended outcomes.

My professional life is spent working on policies that support the real needs of families with an emphasis on gender, racial, and economic equity. Working on family economic stability gives me the skills to see the connections between our issues and think both systematically and proactively about how to solve problems. That expertise is why Governor Ralph Northam appointed me to Virginia’s Family and Children’s Trust to advise on policies that create stable families, support child well-being, and prevent and treat family violence. My experience in both my professional and volunteer roles prepares me to address our biggest issues here in Arlington.

As a member of the County Board, my goal will be developing a plan that enables us to create the community we want, together. To do this well, we have to engage everyone in our community, bringing people to the table to share their perspectives and listen to others.  I am asking for you to join my vision for moving Arlington forward by ranking me on your ballot.

To learn more about me, my specific policy priorities, endorsements, and more, please visit

County Board candidate JD Spain (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from JD Spain, candidate for Arlington County Board.

My entire career has been focused on public service because of a sense of duty and service that my parents instilled in me at a very young age. We’re at a pivotal point in our community where proven leadership is of the utmost importance to effectively serve and earn the electorate’s trust. As a 14-year resident of the Penrose Community who has worked diligently with many stakeholders over the years, I have seen firsthand how focusing on single issues fails us. Without diversity of thought and robust community input in the public policy process, we are left with a deeply divided community. That’s why I am a uniter of people and the one candidate who has a track record of bringing people together. Moreover, I am the only candidate with broad working experience at the highest levels of our local, state, and federal governments, internationally, and with nonprofits. I will be ready to lead on day one.

I care deeply about addressing the mental health care needs of Arlington residents, especially because children and young adults are struggling. I am laser-focused on  increasing our affordable housing, protecting our environmental resources for the next generation, and improving community safety and economic security for our businesses, residents, and seniors. I want to help build an innovative economy where all Arlingtonians may thrive.

What will that look like? You can expect from me faithful and transparent stewardship of our budget, our environmental resources, and a push for more sustainability in our governmental practices. You can expect better pedestrian and public transit infrastructure so that everyone – younger, older, with different levels of mobility – can get around safely in our communities. You can expect me to take a thoughtful approach towards increasing housing affordability and opportunity so that the children we educate here can start their adulthood here, and so that our workforce spends their dollars locally to benefit our economy, not just in commuting from elsewhere. You can expect me to protect workers’ rights against wage theft and exploitation. You can expect an experienced leader in civil rights and inclusion who will tackle the systemic barriers that prevent our residents from unleashing their full potential. Finally, you can expect focus from day one on our population’s acute mental health needs, with creative solutions to provide support that helps improve and save lives.

I will collaborate extensively with our community to shape an Arlington that’s more innovative, inclusive, sustainable, affordable, and united, pulling upon my 30+ year track record of thoughtful public service. I served our country honorably for 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring in December 2016. The hallmarks of a Marine are honor, courage, and commitment, and those characteristics are part of my moral fabric. I will bring these qualities and values to the County Board, always putting people first.

Read More

2 Comment
Arlington County Board candidate Jonathan Dromgoole (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Jonathan Dromgoole, candidate for Arlington County Board.

Hello, my name is Jonathan Dromgoole. I am a renter, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico. My family came to the United States with the hope of achieving the American Dream: buying a home, starting a small business, and ensuring the best education for their children. I am dedicated to making the American Dream a reality for all residents of Arlington.

As the first person in my family to attend college, I had the privilege of studying at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service for my undergraduate degree and later returning to the McCourt School of Public Policy for graduate school. During my time as an undergraduate, I met my now-husband, Juan. Both of us being immigrants—him from Venezuela—we have experienced living in different cities, but we chose to make Arlington our home over half a decade ago.

I am running to be your Democratic nominee for the county board in order to bring our diverse voices to the decision-making table and develop community-driven policies. It is striking that despite nearly 20% of Arlingtonians identifying as Latino, there is no Latino representation on the County Board. Additionally, the average age of Arlingtonians is 35, yet 40% of the population lacks representation. Currently, 60% of Arlingtonians, who are renters, do not have a voice on the five-person board. We cannot claim to make policies in the best interest of all residents if these perspectives are excluded from the decision-making process.

We need a transparent, efficient, and forward-thinking county board that prioritizes inclusivity, expands opportunities for small businesses, and places environmental sustainability and resilience at the forefront of its policies. It is crucial to have leadership that not only rebuilds trust in our civic engagement process, but also goes a step further by meeting communities where they are and engaging with a broader range of voices, beyond those who typically have access to the board.

In our 26 square miles, we have incredible opportunities. Opportunities to expand affordable housing while preserving green spaces. Opportunities to support small, diverse businesses that form the backbone of our community, instead of pushing out talent and innovation because we have made it too expensive to do business in the county. We can lead the way in adopting greener transportation methods, combating climate change by investing in electric buses, expanding the electric vehicle charging network, and ensuring accessible, safe, reliable, and efficient multimodal transportation for all.

Read More

2 Comment
County Board candidate Tony Weaver (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Tony Weaver, candidate for Arlington County Board.

I’m running for Arlington County Board because I want to make sure our county has the financial stability and resources needed so that all residents – regardless of the circumstances they were born into – can thrive.

I’m committed to the progressive ideals of promoting education, equity, and environmental sustainability. What sets me apart is that I have a record of service that has given me a ground-level understanding of our community’s challenges, and the business experience and policy know-how to actually implement effective solutions and ensure responsible financial stewardship.

As president emeritus of the Arlington Rotary Club I’ve seen how hard economic pressures have hit many residents. At the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), with which we regularly partner, we’ve been seeing ever longer lines of people coming in for help. It’s unacceptable that people in a county as affluent as ours must struggle with such a basic need.

In partnership with Arlington Community High School – the county’s alternative school – I’ve worked to get college scholarships to young people whose families are scraping by on incomes of $30,000 per year. For many of the students I’ve gotten to know, our scholarships are what’s making it possible to pursue higher education. But the impact Rotary is having only underscores how much more must be done for the students who are falling through the cracks.

The answer lies in a wholesale reinvestment in education. Ensuring, for instance, that Arlington has strong funding streams for teachers – as well as often-overlooked guidance counselors, who currently must serve about 100 students each.

Yet the resources needed for these investments are now under threat from unprecedented economic change. The work-from-home revolution brought on by the pandemic is here to stay. Anyone who has recently walked through Rosslyn and Crystal City can see the empty buildings as Arlington’s office vacancy rate has reached a record 23 percent. The long term impact on the county’s tax base – and therefore on county revenues – could be severe.

As a member of the county’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I’ve been tracking the concerning budget cuts that have already been introduced as revenues have fallen relative to inflation. This includes the elimination of a vacant assistant director position at Arlington Economic Development – the very department whose mission is to attract the businesses that could expand county revenues.

That’s why it is my top priority to stabilize Arlington’s revenues. It’s imperative that we bring in new businesses to fill as much of the vacant office space as possible, while adapting remaining buildings to new uses. And to accomplish this we’re going to need county leaders who are well versed in the needs of both Big Tech and Main Street operations.

In contrast to every other candidate, I have this business experience and knowledge. I’ve worked at a technology firm in Silicon Valley. I’ve founded a venture capital-backed startup. And since returning to my Northern Virginia roots and starting my Arlington-based small business nearly a decade ago, I’ve tripled our revenues.

As a member of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Political Leaders program, I’ve also been criss-crossing the state over the past year speaking to economic policy experts and government officials of other localities. And I’ve been encouraged by what I’m finding when it comes to the potential for helping innovative businesses find a home in our county. 

Read More

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti at Arlington Democrats election watch party in November 2019, when she was elected to office (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Last week, we invited the candidates running in competitive races in the June 20 Democratic primary to write a post about why Arlington residents should vote for them. Find information on how and where to vote here.

Below is the unedited response from Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, incumbent for the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church.

Four years ago, I ran for Commonwealth’s Attorney on the simple idea that we could build a more just legal system while still keeping our community safe. I am proud to say that since I took office, we have made that idea a reality. I have kept the promises I made to implement criminal justice reform here in Arlington, helping to make our community one of the safest in the country.

As promised, I have expanded opportunities for diversion for lower level crimes and non-violent crimes. I helped create a mental health docket and expanded our drug court, quadrupling the number of people served by it. These diversion programs get people the treatment they need rather than simply incarcerating them and ignoring the underlying issue. This both makes our community safer, and is the right thing to do.

I have also worked to make the legal process easier on victims and survivors. I reorganized the office to implement a victim-centered prosecution model. This means that only one prosecutor or team is assigned to each case so that victims aren’t being shuffled around between different prosecutors at every stage. Further, I have helped empower victims by creating a restorative justice program for appropriate cases. And, unlike my opponent, I don’t prosecute victims of domestic violence for fighting back against their abusers.

I have used my lobbying power as a prosecutor to advocate for safer gun laws and criminal justice reforms and am a Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate. I supported Red Flag laws, ending the death penalty, decriminalizing marijuana, and many other legislative efforts. More than once, I have convinced VACA (the statewide Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ lobbying group) to see the other side of an issue and refrain from opposing reforms. That’s why I’ve earned the endorsement of local progressive legislators like Delegates Patrick Hope and Alfonso Lopez, and Senator Barbara Favola.

Of course, my office aggressively prosecutes serious crimes like rape, murder, and gun violence. Under my supervision, the office’s trial conviction rates on violent felonies have nearly doubled over those of my predecessor. The overall trial conviction rate is also significantly higher. And we have achieved these increases even as we take a higher percentage of cases to trial.

As you may know, before becoming the Commonwealth’s Attorney, I spent many years working at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. In doing so, I saw the harm that results—both to the accused and to crime victims—when the system gets it wrong. That’s why I created a conviction review unit to review old convictions for mistakes. That unit has already helped overturn a conviction and keep a woman from being wrongfully deported away from her family and the only country she knows.

To prevent errors going forward, I have also made strides to even the playing field with the defense and make sure trials are a fair fight. Immediately upon taking office, I ended my predecessor’s outdated policy requiring defense attorneys to hand-copy documents and began providing open-file electronic discovery. And, my office was one of the first in the country to stop using peremptory strikes in jury trials except in limited circumstances. This is a commonsense way to prevent discrimination in jury selection.

Read More


Subscribe to our mailing list