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Mary Kadera has received the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, following a caucus that was conducted online for the first time.

Kadera, the vice president of the Arlington County Council of PTAs, will now advance to the Nov. 2 general election to determine who will fill a seat currently held by School Board Chair Monique O’Grady. The chair announced in January that she will not seek re-election.

(School Board races are officially nonpartisan and parties can only endorse candidates, not nominate them as in a primary.)

“I am honored and humbled by voters’ faith in me to act in the best interest of all APS students, families, and staff,” Kadera said in a statement. “If elected to the School Board in November, I will work hard to rebuild relationships among APS leadership, the School Board, and the community as our schools fully reopen and we support our students’ academic, emotional, and social needs. I will work hard to earn the trust of communities of color as an ally in the fight for equity and justice.”

Due to the pandemic, Arlington Dems conducted voting online for the first time, although in-person voting was also an option. From last Monday, May 17, through Sunday, 6,207 ballots were cast for two Democratic school board candidates, Kadera and her opponent, attorney Miranda Turner. Kadera received 3,836 votes (~62%) and Turner got 2,368 votes (~38%).

The turnout set a local record, “exceeding the county caucus record of 5,972 votes, set in the 2017 School Board caucus,” the party noted in a press release.

“We congratulate Mary, and thank Miranda Turner for her willingness to step up to serve our community at this challenging time,” Arlington Dems School Board Endorsement Caucus Director Alexandra Zins said. We also thank outgoing School Board Member Monique O’Grady for her distinguished service.”

Turner tweeted out her response to the results last night (Monday).

More on Kadera, from the press release:

The current vice president of the Arlington County Council of PTAs and a mother of two middle school-aged children, Kadera has more than 25 years experience in pre-K through 12 education. She has served in a variety of roles, including as a middle school and high school teacher. Kadera also was the vice president for education at PBS, where she managed PBS’s portfolio of national digital education services and coordinated the educational initiatives of PBS and its local member stations. Currently an education non-profit leader, Kadera also led the McKinley Elementary School PTA for two years (2018-2020), where she stewarded her community through a challenging school move. During the pandemic, she organized volunteers to provide groceries, books and school supplies to families in need across Arlington.

Online voting was funded by a $59,000 grant from the nonprofit National Cybersecurity Center, which raises cyber awareness in the public and private sectors. Arlington Dems partnered with Democracy Live, which leadership described as the largest provider of mobile and cloud-based voting technologies in the U.S.

“We are pleased with the performance of the Democracy Live platform and grateful to the NCC for helping us to provide a safe voting option under the continuing pandemic conditions,” ACDC Chair Jill Caiazzo said.

Kadera will now face Mike Webb in the general election in the fall. Webb, a perennial candidate with a colorful history, filed paperwork for run for School Board, according to the county elections office.

Local Democratic leaders are urging Arlingtonians to vote in the upcoming June 8 primary election for local and statewide offices. Early voting has already started and is open until June 5 at three locations. On June 8, people can vote at their normal polling location.

The primary includes contests for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, the House of Delegates and the Arlington County Board. The winners will receive the Democratic nomination for the general election on Nov. 2.

For the County Board race, voters can choose whether to nominate Democratic incumbent Takis Karantonis or challenger Chanda Choun in a bid against independent Mike Cantwell.

“Virginia has the most competitive governor’s race in the country this year, and the Democratic majority in our state legislature also hangs in the balance. Virginia Democrats must rise — once again — to the challenge,” Caiazzo said.

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Morning Notes

Book: Bezos Helped Steer HQ2 to Arlington — “According to “Amazon Unbound,” a new book by Brad Stone that looks at the last decade of growth at the company, employees overseeing the HQ2 search winnowed the choices to a top three list that included Chicago, Philadelphia and Raleigh, North Carolina. When it came time to make a final choice, Bezos dismissed months of research by going with his gut and selecting Arlington and Long Island City in Queens.” [Washington Business Journal]

Democratic School Board Caucus Underway — “Voting in the Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board Endorsement Caucus opened at midnight today through a nationally recognized electronic voting platform that will allow Arlingtonians to conveniently, anonymously and securely cast their ballots from mobile devices or computers 24/7 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday (March 23)… Arlington Democrats will also offer 32 hours of in-person voting on May 18, 19 and 22, at four locations across the county.” [Arlington Democrats]

CivFed Studying Arlington’s Form of Gov’t — “The Arlington County Civic Federation’s study of the community’s form of governance will include nearly three months of online meetings to look at issues ranging from how to conduct elections to whether County Board and School Board members should be elected in districts… The effort, agreed to by Civic Federation delegates late last year, is dubbed ‘TiGER’ (Task Force in Governance and Election Reform). It has been assigned to study and possibly proffer changes to the county’s 90-year-old governance structure.” [Sun Gazette]

Layoffs Hit Rosslyn-Based Rosetta Stone — “None of the employees interviewed knew exactly how many people were laid off at the Harrisonburg office. IXL also laid off workers at Rosetta Stone’s Arlington and Seattle offices, as well. Employees told The Citizen that while a few were spared, ‘almost everyone’ in Harrisonburg was let go… Eric Bates, an IXL spokesperson, issued a statement to The Citizen saying, ‘while Rosetta Stone is moving in a new direction, the changes we are making at the company will ultimately help it grow.'” [The Citizen, Geekwire]

Two Hurt in North Arlington Crash — “Police and firefighters on scene of a T-bone type crash at the intersection of Lorcom Lane and Old Dominion Drive, near the Lee Heights Shops. Initial reports suggest two people suffered minor injuries, including a pregnant passenger.” [Twitter]

Secret Service Flying Drones Around Area — “The U.S. Secret Service will be conducting drone flights ‘in the greater Washington, D.C. area’ over the next two weeks, the agency announced Monday. The Secret Service said it will conduct the drone flights in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration. The drone flights will take place from Monday, May 17 through Monday, May 31.” [Patch]

YouTube Star Responds to DCA Petition — “JoJo Siwa says she’s a big fan of the movement to remove Ronald Reagan’s name from an airport in favor of her … telling us it would be the SICKEST THING EVER!!! We got the YouTube star at Craig’s in WeHo Wednesday night and asked about the petition to change Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to the JoJo Siwa Washington National Airport. JoJo says she’s on board with the change, telling us it’s the best idea she’s ever heard in her life. The petition’s already got 33,000 signatures and counting.” [TMZ]

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In a race upended by the coronavirus pandemic, Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy have emerged on top of a five-candidate field for the Democratic school board endorsement.

Diaz-Torres and Priddy will now advance to the general election, as they seek to fill the two Arlington School Board seats being vacated by Nancy Van Dorn and Tannia Talento. In November they are expected to face Symone Walker, who dropped out of contention for the Democratic endorsement and is instead running as an independent.

(School Board races are officially nonpartisan and parties can only endorse candidates, not nominate them as in a primary.)

Due to the pandemic, the Arlington County Democratic Committee conducted voting by mail, which was deemed “the only safe and reliable option for a large-scale caucus.” Steven Krieger, a candidate in the race who placed a close third, last month publicly criticized the format as inequitable.

“This process presented significant equity challenges to disadvantaged citizens including the poor, English language learning voters as well as voters with disabilities,” he wrote in an op-ed published by Blue Virginia. “The vote-by-mail election for the School Board caucus should serve as a clear reminder that if we fail, even for a moment, to be intentional in fighting inequities in our community, the most vulnerable members of our community will bear the consequences.”

Arlington Democrats, however, said the two-month process was the only one that would allow safe voting in a timely manner.

“This was the first all-mail School Board Endorsement Caucus in the history of the Arlington Democrats, and I am proud to say that our team and the community stepped up to make it a success,” ACDC Chair Jill Caiazzo wrote in an email to members tonight. “More than 5,700 ballots were cast, far exceeding the 1,994 ballots cast in the 2019 in-person School Board Caucus.”

In a press release, the party congratulated the two endorsees.

“The Arlington School Board’s thoughtful stewardship of our schools is a big part of what makes Arlington such an attractive place for both families and businesses,” Arlington Democrats School Board Endorsement Caucus Director Jacki Wilson said. “We congratulate Cristina and David, and thank all five candidates who stepped up to serve their community and sought our endorsement.”

More on the endorsees, from the press release:

Cristina Diaz-Torres is an education policy specialist who began her career as a part-time preschool teacher at a Head Start program, and then worked as a high school math teacher in Las Vegas, where she taught geometry and founded an AP statistics program. After leaving the classroom, Diaz-Torres served as a legislative fellow for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, where she worked on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the 2015 federal law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act governing U.S. K-12 public education policy.

David Priddy is an Arlington native, community activist and former business executive. Priddy attended Arlington Public Schools; he and his wife, Melanie, now have two sons who attend local public schools. Priddy serves on numerous education-related councils and committees, including the: Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Equity and Excellence; County Council of PTAs (CCPTA); and the NAACP Education Committee.

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Morning Notes

Ballston Residents Cheer for Healthcare Workers — A video shows residents in Ballston giving healthcare workers and other essential caregivers a round of applause at 8 p.m. last night. [Twitter]

New School Budget Coming Soon — “Arlington Superintendent Cintia Johnson this week will formally outline her plan to reduce spending in the wake of the health and economic crisis. Johnson will report to School Board members on April 16 with an updated budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning in July, supplanting one she had detailed less than two months ago.” [InsideNova]

‘Strong Response’ to School Board Caucus — “Less than a week after announcing a transition to a vote-by-mail process for its School Board candidate endorsement caucus, the Arlington County Democratic Committee (Arlington Dems) has received more than 2,000 ballot requests representing all 54 Arlington voting precincts.” [Press Release]

Former Va. Hospital Center Patient Donates Gowns — “In light of the coronavirus pandemic, a breast cancer survivor decided to donate her colorful hospital gowns to people going through the same thing she did.” [NBC 4]

Local TSA Employee Dies — “A second Transportation Security Administration employee died from coronavirus the same day the agency announced its first worker had died. Alberto Camacho, a branch manager for the TSA’s Acquisition Program Management in Arlington, Virginia, died April 3, according to a TSA news release.” [USA Today]

‘Buy a Neighbor Lunch’ Pilot Program — “Volunteer Arlington… announced today a new initiative to facilitate community support for local families in need of meals called Buy a Neighbor Lunch. The program enables supporters to donate individual meals to be delivered to families in need.” [Volunteer Arlington]

Dog Daycare Owner On Coronavirus Challenges — “We lost over half our business in just three short weeks… Every day puts us more and more at risk of losing everything. I’m not one who backs down from a challenge easily, but the uncertainty of this one is life-crushing and breaking my soul.” [Arlington Magazine]

Photo courtesy Amy Kelly

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A caucus will be held in May to determine the Democratic endorsees for Arlington School Board.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee announced the caucus dates and format last week. It will be split between two separate days and at two locations, though caucus goers will only need to show up once:

  • Thursday, May 7 from 7-9 p.m. at Drew Elementary (3500 23rd Street S.)
  • Saturday, May 9 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High (1301 N. Stafford Street)

The deadline to file as a candidate is March 2. This year’s School Board election will fill two empty seats. The announced candidates so far include:

  • Cristina Diaz-Torres
  • Steven Krieger
  • Sandy Munnell
  • Dave Priddy
  • Terron Sims
  • Symone Walker

School Board races in Virginia are considered nonpartisan, and candidates technically run as independents, but the Arlington Democrats endorsement caucus serves as a kind of de facto primary.

Separately, the local party announced that that it will hold a primary for the Arlington County Board race on Tuesday, June 9. (The presidential “Super Tuesday” primary in Virginia is happening March 3.)

The general election this year will be hold on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The full press release from the Arlington County Democratic Committee is below, after the jump.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Goldstein Fends Off Challenger — “Incumbent School Board Chair Reid Goldstein emerged as the victor Saturday night in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s [School Board endorsement] caucus… Goldstein received 1,231 votes out of 1,999 ballots counted, or 61.6%… Challenger David Priddy received 763 votes.” [Arlington Democrats]

Car Runs Off Glebe Road Into Ditch — “At 1:54pm Sunday, units were called for a car off the road in 4500 blk of N Glebe Rd. Crews were able to walk 1 patient out with minor injuries. Patient was transported to local hospital while Hazmat team worked to contain leaking fluids. Please watch your speed on the wet roads.” [Twitter]

Del. Hope Not a PAC Man — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has joined a group of Democratic state Senators in announcing “their intention to introduce legislation in the 2020 General Assembly legislative session to limit excessive campaign contributions from influencing Virginia elections.” The proposed bill is in response to a PAC contributing nearly $1 million to the commonwealth’s attorney primaries in Arlington and Fairfax. [Blue Virginia]

New Additions to Amazon HQ2 Job Page — There are now 47 open jobs listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page. Among the positions Amazon is hiring for in Arlington are hardware, system and software development engineers; recruiters; and numerous Alexa-related technical positions. [Amazon]

Middle School Project Running Behind — “It might be a little cramped for the first few months as students settle in at Arlington’s Dorothy Hamm Middle School… County school officials have known for months that the expansion of the school won’t be ready for occupancy when classes begin in September… On its website, the school system now pegs completion of the expansion at next March.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Places Third in Horse Race — “Mike Wardian, 45, of Arlington, Va. did not succeed at outrunning all the horses at the 40th anniversary of Whole Earth Man v. Horse Marathon in Wales yesterday, but he did pretty well nonetheless, placing third among the humans and finishing in 2:34:03.” [Trail Running]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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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

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Morning Notes

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

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Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) announced last week the formation of the Virginia Latino Caucus in the General Assembly.

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.

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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 PlayStitcher or TuneIn.p

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Morning Notes

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]

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