An Arlington Heights parent is launching a challenge to School Board Chairman Reid Goldstein, arguing that the county school system needs a more transparent, comprehensive planning process to match the county’s persistently rising student enrollment levels.
David Priddy told ARLnow that he’s filed papers to compete in the upcoming caucus to win the Democratic Committee’s endorsement in the race. School Board seats are nominally non-partisan, and candidates don’t run under party labels, but local parties frequently endorse candidates for the Board.
Goldstein announced his re-election bid in early January in the race for the lone Board seat on the ballot this fall. He’s seeking his second term in office after winning the seat in 2015, replacing retiring Board member Abby Raphael.
Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo says that Goldstein and Priddy were the only candidates to file for the caucus ahead of last night’s deadline. Considering that every School Board member for the last 15 years has won the party’s endorsement before going on to win the general election, the caucus will likely decide the outcome of the race.
Priddy wrote in an email that he’s an Arlington native, and grew up attending Arlington Public Schools. He serves on Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s Advisory Committee on the Elimination of the Achievement Gap and he has two children currently in the county’s school system: one at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and the other will attend Alice West Fleet Elementary School when it opens next year.
He hopes that, as “a product of APS as well as an APS parent,” he’ll have a unique perspective to bring to the job.
“Priddy is running for the School Board because he believes better transparency into School Board decision-making is needed, along with comprehensive planning for growth to enable fiscally-responsible financial investments in both new and renovated educational facilities,” his campaign biography reads. “He is not afraid to directly confront the tough issues – from technology to inclusion to capacity challenges – that Arlington’s schools are currently facing.”
Priddy’s Arlington Heights neighborhood has a bit of a fraught history with the school system, and Goldstein, in particular.
The process of determining how, exactly, the school system will add new space for high schoolers at the Arlington Career Center has frustrated many parents in the neighborhood, who argue that the school shouldn’t open as a high school serving the South Arlington neighborhood unless APS can guarantee it will boast the same amenities as the county’s other comprehensive high schools.
Similarly, the recent redistricting process to divvy up students from nearby elementary schools and send them to Fleet as it opens next year sparked conflict in the community.
Parents at Patrick Henry Elementary School, which will soon become the exclusive home of Drew Model School’s Montessori program, argued that Board members (Goldstein, in particular) repeatedly promised them that the school community would move as one to Fleet. School officials dispute their account, and the Board ended up directing about a fifth of Henry’s student body elsewhere, prompting plenty of hurt feelings.
However, Priddy does not make any direct reference to those controversies in his campaign materials, and he said he will launch his campaign in earnest in mid-March.
Goldstein and Priddy will square off in a three-day, “unassembled” caucus in June.
Democrats hoping to vote in the race can do so on June 4 at Drew Elementary (3500 23rd Street S.) from 7-9 p.m., June 6 at Key Elementary (2300 Key Blvd) from 7-9 p.m. or June 8 at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Anyone hoping to vote in the race will be required to sign a pledge indicating that they are a Democrat and don’t plan to support any other candidate in the race.
Caiazzo stresses that this process is different from a primary, which Virginia law does not allow to decide nominations in School Board races.
Courtesy photo of Priddy, right, file photo of Goldstein, left
Arlington Dems Weary of Richmond Scandals — “With a political crisis of unprecedented proportions swirling at the statewide level, Arlington Democrats are reacting at perhaps the only pace available to them – one day, and one step, at a time. ‘We will get through this,’ a visibly weary Jill Caiazzo, chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, said at the organization’s monthly meeting on Feb. 6.” [InsideNova]
Dems to Hold Caucus for School Board — The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold a “firehouse caucus” over the course of three days in June to determine the party’s endorsement for School Board. [Arlington Democrats]
Sheriff Arthur Running for Reelection — “Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur on Feb. 7 kicked off a bid for re-election, touting successful partnerships her office has forged with other government agencies and the community at large. ‘I hope that I can count on you,’ Arthur told the Arlington County Democratic Committee as she launched a bid to retain the office she has held for the past 18 years.” [InsideNova]
Arlington’s (Sometimes) Hidden Gems — “In Arlington, we’re lucky to be home to 10 of ‘the oldest federal monuments.’ Those 40 oft-overlooked boundary stones were laid back in 1791 to mark borders of the spanking new District of Columbia.” [Falls Church News-Press]
How to Walk from Crystal City to DCA — “Reagan National airport is about 1,800 feet from Amazon’s new Crystal City headquarters… that’s not to say it’s an easy stroll: Train tracks, busy roads, and other obstacles separate a walker from DCA. Eventually, a pedestrian bridge could make the journey less fraught, but in the meantime, we gave one route a try.” [Washingtonian]
Lunar New Year Event This Weekend — The Eden Center in Falls Church is holding a Lunar New Year event Sunday “with a lion dance, entertainers, balloon sculptures, face painting and ‘other surprises and giveaways.'” [Tysons Reporter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Lopez, who represents the 49th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, a district that includes swathes of south Arlington, said the bipartisan caucus will initially include Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) and first-term Dels. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala (both D-Prince William).
“Latinos make up 9 percent of Virginia’s total population,” Lopez said in a statement. “It’s long past time that we have more representation in the General Assembly to reflect that reality. I’m honored to welcome Delegates Guzman and Ayala to the House of Delegates and look forward to working with them to represent Virginia’s Latino community.”
Lopez announced the caucus’ formation on the House floor on Friday, January 12. The caucus is open to all members, regardless of ethnicity.
Monique O’Grady describes herself as just a “regular Arlington resident.”
But this regular resident just convincingly defeated several candidates, including incumbent James Lander, in the Democratic school board endorsement caucus.
O’Grady, a mother of one current Arlington Public Schools student and two APS graduates (one of whom happens to be a well-known actress), says she wants to make a difference on the school board and help APS navigate its current period of rapid student enrollment growth.
We asked O’Grady about herself, her family and the various issues facing APS in this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast. Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or TuneIn.p
Is Yelp Coming to Rosslyn? — Rosslyn’s 1812 N. Moore Street tower, the future corporate headquarters of Nestlé USA, could also be a destination for review website Yelp. The San Francisco-based company is reportedly considering opening an office in the D.C. area and 1812 N. Moore is on the short list. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman grew up in Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]
Democratic Committee Recommends Primaries — In a move that could be seen as a rebuke of the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s decision to hold a caucus to select a County Board nominee this year, the 8th District Democratic Committee has approved “a resolution saying primaries, not caucuses, should be the main form of nomination of Democratic candidates.” [InsideNova]
County Employee Is ‘Roadeo’ Star — Alexis Zambrano, a long-time county equipment operator, has scored a silver award in a regional “equipment roadeo” competition, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic American Public Works Association. [Arlington County]
(Updated 10:25 p.m.) Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady were victorious at the Arlington County Democratic Committee caucus, winning the County Board nominee and School Board endorsement, respectively.
The final turnout of 5,972 votes is a record for a Democratic caucus held in the county, beating the previous high of 4,951 in the 1993 caucus for County Board. Voters cast ballots across three days at Francis Scott Key Elementary School on Tuesday, Drew Model School on Thursday and Washington-Lee High School Saturday.
Gutshall earned 3,209 votes to finish ahead of Kim Klingler with 1,416, Vivek Patil with 1,189 and Peter Fallon with 945. O’Grady got 3,441 votes, ahead of seven-year incumbent School Board member James Lander’s 2,336 votes and Maura McMahon’s 965.
“I think Arlington is definitely ready to move forward and make sure that we’re focused on the future,” Gutshall said. “That’s what I ran on, and I look forward to fulfilling everything that we’ve talked about in this campaign.”
O’Grady said she wants to repay her supporters’ faith in the November general election and beyond, if she wins a seat on the School Board.
“I want them to know I’m going to work very hard to follow everything that I’ve laid out in this campaign,” she said. “I’ve heard them, I will continue to listen to them and will continue to work so hard for our students. I will listen to them, I will listen to our students, I will listen to our parents as we continue to try to figure out how to handle some of the issues we’re dealing with in Arlington.”
For Gutshall, who came into the three-day caucus with a slew of endorsements from current and former elected officials, it represents a redemption of sorts after he lost the 2016 primary to Libby Garvey.
Gutshall said despite the defeat, he was determined for his vision to be heard at the highest levels of county government.
“It’s knowing that the future of Arlington matters, and that we are this great progressive success story that I want to see continue,” he said. “I have roots here. I’ve got my business here, I’ve got my family here, this is where I’m meant to be and it’s a great place to be and a great community and I want to make sure we keep moving forward into the future.”
Defeated County Board candidates Klingler and Patil congratulated Gutshall on a positive campaign, and said they were positive about the county’s future direction.
“Hopefully some of my messaging and priorities resonated throughout the campaign, because that’s what’s important to me,” Klingler said. “I hope we will carry those messages forward.”
“What I’m really happy about is the amazing campaign we ran,” Patil said. “I’m very proud of the ideas we brought to the race, the stories we told. I’m going to do this. I said on my first day, if I’m going to lose, it doesn’t matter, because I have actually won a lot of faith and support in the community for our ideas and our vision.”
The high turnout, albeit lower than for primary elections in the past, gave Democratic leaders cause for optimism ahead of June’s primary elections and November’s votes for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and the House of Delegates.
“Turnout is high and people are excited, so it’s a win for the Democrats,” said School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee will use a so-called “firehouse primary” to choose a nominee to run to succeed retiring County Board chair Jay Fisette. Four candidates will be on the ballot: Peter Fallon, Erik Gutshall, Kim Klingler and Vivek Patil.
The unassembled caucus, in which any registered voter can show up, fill out a ballot and leave, will be held alongside the School Board caucus on May 9, 11 and 13 at Key Elementary School, Drew Model School and Washington-Lee High School, respectively. Candidates are ranked in order of preference by attendees.
But Maggie Davis, president of the Arlington Young Democrats, said such a system does not help more young voters get involved in the nomination process.
“It is incredibly difficult for a young person likely working multiple jobs with very little flexible free time to access the caucus,” Davis said. “There’s no in-person absentee voting, no absentee voting and the caucus only happens on certain times. And the Thursday night location [Drew Model School] is off the Metro corridor.”
“The issue is that neither system is perfect,” Malinosky said. “Obviously, we always want to see more people vote and make it easier for people to vote. On the other hand, primaries, especially when it’s just plurality, can be very negative.”
The Arlington Young Democrats introduced their resolution at the national convention to some reluctance from smaller jurisdictions, worried about the financial burden of funding a primary. But Davis said the principle of allowing as many people to vote as possible and all precinct voting stations being open won the day.
“It was generally accepted that we should have more open and transparent electoral processes,” she said.
Davis said the addition of a third day for caucus voting was a good compromise by ACDC, but that the Young Democrats still wish to see some kind of absentee voting introduced to allow as many people as possible to vote if they wish, even if they are absent on polling day.
Malinosky rejected the idea that a caucus allows the local party to who is chosen as the eventual nominee, and emphasized the need for positive campaigning. He added that the use of a caucus this year does not set a precedent for future nominating contests.
“If you look at the literature on political turnout, negative campaigning can really sink political turnout,” he said. “What we want to do as a party to influence it is have positive campaigning. But I don’t think there’s an end-all, be-all perfect answer for caucuses vs. primaries.”
Dems Choose Caucus for County Board Race — If there are multiple contenders for this year’s Arlington County Board race, Democrats will hold a party caucus, rather than a primary, to choose the nominee. Incumbent County Board member Jay Fisette has not yet announced whether he will seek reelection. [InsideNova]
Arlington Has Region’s Shortest Commute — Arlington residents have the D.C. region’s shortest average commute: 28.1 minutes. That’s even shorter than the commute of those who live in the District. Driving, meanwhile, is declining regionwide as a commuting method; in Arlington, 60.2 percent of commuters drive, down from 61.3 percent six years prior. [WTOP]
WHS Students Learning to Spot ‘Fake News’ — Wakefield High School is “using the expertise of journalists from mainstream news organizations” to teach students “how to recognize the red flags of inaccurate information.” The methods, taught via an online tool, are supposed to help students differentiate real news from sponsored content and “fake news.” [WJLA]
Del. Lopez Figures into Tall Tale Told on House Floor — Last week Del. Matt Fariss, a Republican from Campbell County, Va., gave an epic speech on the floor of the House of Delegates. The story told by Fariss was intended to colorfully illustrate why a bill that would fine the owner of a dog found running loose on someone’s property, if the landowner had previously asked that the dog stay off the property, would not be in the best interests of rural Virginians. The tale involved a number of Virginia officials of note, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Arlington’s own Del. Alfonso Lopez. [Facebook]