A record number of people turned out for last night’s Democratic Party straw poll, where County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and School Board candidate Monique O’Grady were some of the victors.
Hosted at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), more than 120 people cast ballots for Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board, Arlington School Board, lieutenant governor and governor. The attendance set a record for the event, now in its third year.
Lopez said the event raised around $12,500 from ticket sales, which he said will be funneled to Democratic candidates in other House of Delegates races across the commonwealth. Lopez added that getting people excited about the upcoming races was a big point of emphasis, as opposed to focusing purely on the straw poll results from a limited voter pool.
“I think what’s wonderful about it is people are so fired up,” he said in an interview. “They’re coming into the room fired up, excited about the campaigns, they’re excited about the candidacies, they’re excited about their friends running for office.”
Gutshall won the County Board poll with 38 percent of the vote, ahead of Vivek Patil with 30 percent, Peter Fallon with 22 percent and Kim Klingler with 10 percent.
Gutshall, who won the straw poll last year in his unsuccessful bid for a County Board seat, said creative thinking is required to solve problems like school overcrowding and housing affordability.
“We’ve got a wonderful county here that I’m proud to be a part of,” he said. “But we can’t stay the same.”
In her remarks, O’Grady cited her “experience keeping our school system strong,” as well as being co-chair of last year’s successful $138.83 million school bond campaign.
O’Grady won the School Board straw poll with 46 percent of the vote, ahead of incumbent James Lander with 36 percent and Maura McMahon with 18 percent.
In the statewide races, current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the straw poll for the governor’s race against former Rep. Tom Perriello with 67.5 percent of the vote. Speaking on Northam’s behalf, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) said Northam is a “fighter for our progressive values” and has advocated tirelessly for women, children and ethnic minorities.
“We can count on Ralph to be with us as the 73rd governor of Virginia,” Ebbin said.
Justin Fairfax took victory in the straw poll for lieutenant governor with 64 percent of the vote, ahead of Susan Platt with 20 percent and Gene Rossi with 16 percent. County Board member Christian Dorsey, who spoke on Fairfax’s behalf, praised his grueling campaign schedule and his long-term view on solving problems.
“The question is, who has the skill and the will and will fight for you?” Dorsey said. “In this regard, I am so impressed with Justin Fairfax.”
The Arlington County Democratic Committee holds its caucus for County Board nominee and School Board endorsement on May 9, 11 and 13. Statewide primary elections will be held on June 13.
Local Democrats are planning a series of events, dubbed the “Weekend of Action,” to “send a bold message to the new administration on its first day in office.”
The prelude to the events will kick off Friday night with a poster making party in the basement of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church (1305 N. Jackson Street).
On Saturday, local Democrats will meet on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge — accessible via the Arlington Cemetery Metro station; Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. — and around 8 a.m. will walk into the District to join the Women’s March on Washington.
“Walk together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our Commonwealth and our country,” says the Arlington Democrats website. “Marchers may choose to carry signs, shout through megaphones, walk in silence as a member of The Bricksters, or otherwise express their views in a peaceful manner.”
A number of local lawmakers, including Rep. Don Beyer and County Board members Libby Garvey, Katie Cristol and Jay Fisette, are expected to be among the marchers.
Wrapping up the weekend, on Sunday, is the Commonsense Commonwealth Rally and Brunch, featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello as keynote speakers. That event is scheduled from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd) in Clarendon.
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would help fix Memorial Bridge and the Metro system if she is elected president, local congressman Don Beyer said today.
Speaking at a brief press conference outside the Courthouse Metro station, Rep. Beyer (D-Va.) said Clinton would make it a top priority in her first 100 days in office to break through Washington’s gridlock and make the biggest investment in jobs and infrastructure since World War II.
Her economic plan would add jobs to the economy via investments in U.S. infrastructure, Beyer said, including Northern Virginia’s “two great priorities” — Memorial Bridge and Metrorail.
Without more investment, Metro’s long-term capital budget and the deteriorating bridge — which just received a federal grant — would continue to suffer, he said.
“We know the incredibly important role that infrastructure plays in job creation, economic development and raising incomes,” Beyer said. “In Virginia, we expect our leaders to enact policies that help our economy thrive. Hillary Clinton is committed to building an economy that works for everyone in Virginia and America, not just those at the top.”
Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief economic adviser, who joined Beyer and Del. Charniele Herring (D) at the news conference, said Clinton’s plan would have economic benefits for everyone.
“Hillary Clinton’s vision is an inclusive vision where economic growth benefits not just those at the very top, but middle class and lower-income households as well, where investments are made not simply in the bank accounts of those at the very top of the scale, but in people across the income scale,” he said.
According to the Clinton campaign, an analysis by Moody’s economist and former McCain adviser Mark Zandi suggests that Clinton’s economic plan would create 271,000 jobs in Virginia, compared to a projected loss of 89,000 jobs under Republican nominee Donald Trump’s economic plan. (Trump updated his plan in a speech today.)
Not everybody was impressed with the mid-morning press conference. An ART bus driver, picking passengers up at a nearby bus stop, asked a news photographer what was going on. Upon hearing that it was a pro-Hillary press conference, and that the candidate would not be attending, the driver said he was voting for Trump, before driving off.
“Slow and steady.” That’s how the voting in today’s Arlington County Board Democratic primary is being described.
As of noon today, precincts around Arlington had recorded only about a 5 percent turnout. Election officials are expecting an approximately 10 percent overall turnout by the time the polls close at 7 p.m., compared to a 8 percent turnout in last year’s local primary.
By contrast, a whopping 46 percent of Arlington’s registered voters cast ballots in the March 1 presidential primary — 29 percent for Democrats, 17 percent for Republicans.
Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said things have been “pretty smooth” so far today. The biggest problem has been people showing up and asking why the presidential candidates aren’t on the ballot, she said.
Most voters who talked to ARLnow.com said they voted out of a moral obligation, stating that it was their civic duty to get out and vote.
“It’s a civil duty but its almost an obligation and everyone who can vote should vote,” said one voter at a polling station near Clarendon.
Of the voters willing to reveal who they voted for, the majority said they voted for incumbent Libby Garvey, citing as their main motivation her willingness to do things outside of the expected “establishment” Democratic norms.
“I voted for Libby Garvey because I don’t like the idea of ultra orthodox anything, politics or any other realm,” said a voter. “I don’t like the idea that somebody has to adhere to a certain line when they’re presented something.”
Another voter felt that having an independent voice was important.
“One of the reasons that I voted for Libby Garvey is because her own Democratic colleagues… have turned against her because they wanted a unified bloc of voting,” he said. “Since when has unanimity been the goal? You want some sort of discussion and dissent. I think many Democrats were disappointed that the Board does not allow dissent. It’s almost dictatorial in its approach. She didn’t think she had to vote with the entire group of Democrats just because she’s a Democrat and that upset a lot of people.”
One voter interviewed decided to vote for challenger Erik Gutshall, citing his experience and the desire to have a fresh perspective on the County Board.
“I ended up voting for Erik Gutshall. I read all of the propaganda from both of them that came in the mail and he’s been doing a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about him before a week and a half ago but he seems to be very active on the Lyon Park [civic] association, Planning Commission and all that and I think it would be interesting to give him a shot at it. I had saved all the things I received in the mail including six from Libby Garvey and they all had the same exact four points with one sentence on each. Not much substance.”
Most of the voters were older, although there were some younger people seen at the polls. When asked about the lack of younger voters, one voter shared his opinion on the matter.
“Older people are probably more invested in voting than most young people who are blissfully unaware,” he said.
When asked about the relatively low turnout, voters and staffers gave a number of reasons including the fact that it was a summertime election, the prevalence of absentee ballots and the more local nature of the election. One man using an ATM outside of a polling location was not even aware that there was an election going on at the moment.
Additional reporting by Adrian Cruz. Photos by Omar DeBrew.
Ballston Restaurant Makes Habit of Breaking Plates — Order the suckling pig at SER restaurant (1110 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston and the chef will chop it at the table with the blunt edge of a plate. After the chopping is done, the chef will smash the plate, as part of a Spanish tradition. [Washington Post]
Dem Dinner May Be Renamed — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is considering renaming its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, given that the event is currently named after two slaveholding presidents. [InsideNova]
Oakridge Pedal Desks Get National Attention — The pedal desks at Oakridge Elementary are getting some attention from a national cycling magazine, which write that the desk is “is a novel idea because it allows a child to fidget without creating a distraction.” [Bicycling]
School Bus Cameras to Start Issuing Tickets — Stop sign cameras on Arlington school buses will start issuing $250 tickets on Tuesday, the first day of school. The cameras were installed earlier this year and started issuing warnings this summer to those who drive past school buses while the stop sign is deployed. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
New Details About 2012 Murder — New details have been revealed about the 2012 murder of Old Glebe resident Mack Wood, Sr. Three men, including Wood’s son, have been convicted of the murder. Mack Wood, Jr., who’s now serving life in prison, reportedly hired two men to kill his 87-year-old, terminally ill father to get an inheritance from his multimillion dollar estate. [Washington Post]
Crystal City Transitway Construction Continues — Construction on the new Crystal City transitway is proceeding as planned. The transitway was expected to eventually serve a Crystal City streetcar line. Now that the streetcar project has been cancelled, it will only serve buses. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlingtonians Satisfied With Their Commute — Arlington residents are more satisfied with their commute to work than those who live in the outer suburbs, according to recently-released survey results. Some 72 percent of Arlington residents said in a survey that they’re satisfied with their commute. The average Arlington resident’s commute is 28 minutes. [InsideNova]
Dems in Disarray Since Streetcar Decision? — Democratic political blog Blue Virginia says that the Arlington County Board’s decision to cancel the Arlington streetcar project has harmed both the county and the Arlington County Democratic Committee. The committee could be spiraling toward “dysfunction and division,” the blog suggests. Meanwhile, there are rumblings that County Board member Mary Hynes may not run for reelection next year, and that Walter Tejada may face a primary challenge. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Silver Line Predictions for Arlington — A new report indicates the Silver Line will transform Reston and Tysons Corner into transit-oriented cities, similar to what occurred along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor after the arrival of the Orange Line. “Our Man in Arlington” notes the Silver Line will increase competition for businesses in Arlington, but quotes the director of Arlington Economic Development, who believes the county can hold onto its businesses. Arlington is expected to experience other changes from the Silver Line, such as changes in frequency for Orange Line trains. [Reston Now, Falls Church News-Press]
Look at Proposed Metro Changes — Metro’s recently announced proposal for a downtown loop , which would include one Arlington “super station” at the Pentagon, is getting some more in-depth looks. Plus, Metro indicates the need for another new line Northern Virginia by 2040, due to anticipated significant crowding on the Silver and Orange Lines. [Washington Post, Greater Greater Washington]
Howze Gains Endorsements — The competition is heating up among the three Democratic candidates seeking the nomination to run for the County Board seat being vacated by Chris Zimmerman. Alan Howze has picked up endorsements from Del. Bob Brink (D) and School Board member Noah Simon. Howze had already secured endorsements from County Board member Jay Fisette and Treasurer Frank O’Leary. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by wolfkann
(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Democratic Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey is explaining in more depth why she has decided to endorse an independent candidate to fill the Board seat to be vacated by Democrat Chris Zimmerman at the end of January.
Garvey is endorsing self-identified Republican John Vihstadt, who announced last week that he would run as an independent in the spring 2014 special election.
Garvey stated that none of the three announced Democratic candidates likely will change the way the current Board members set priorities. She decided to endorse Vihstadt instead because she believes he can provide change.
“The issue is that I don’t think there is a Democratic candidate that has or is going to announce for the endorsement that is going to alter the dynamic on the County Board right now… Vihstadt by far is so much closer to my values, my way of working,” Garvey told ARLnow.com. “He’s going to be the one to help me take the county in the direction I think it needs to go and the others will not. I am a Democrat, but in this case there is not a Democratic candidate that can do what needs to be done for Arlington. John can do that. So I’ve got to support him, why would I not? That’s what’s right for Arlington.”
She said Vishstadt “gets it” and he can help change the way current Board members operate.
“My colleagues are all good people, but they’ve been doing things a certain way for a very long time,” Garvey said. “I think we need a new perspective and a fresh way of looking at things, and John will bring that.”
One of the key reasons Garvey will not provide support to a fellow Democrat is her opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar. Vihstadt also opposes the streetcar, writing in his announcement of candidacy last week, “Now that the County’s application for federal funding has been rejected, Arlington taxpayers may be directly on the hook to finish a five mile line that will displace small businesses and affordable housing, will not connect to the Pentagon, and which fails to materially improve Pike transit.”
Although Arlington currently maintains a triple-A bond rating, Garvey believes the streetcar eventually could prove “financially disastrous” for the county. She noted that the project still can be re-evaluated considering it will be a while before final votes are taken.
“I know they all talk about how it’s a done deal, but it’s not a done deal until we sign a contract with a company and commit hundreds of millions of dollars to pay that company to build this thing. We’re not anywhere near that yet,” she said.
“The streetcar is useless and will actually make things worse on the Pike,” she continued. “A streetcar is nothing more than a bus on tracks with wires, but it costs a whole lot more… There are ways to accomplish what you want to for a whole lot less.”
Garvey believes a significant amount of money in the county’s Transportation Capital Fund that’s set aside for the streetcar could be used for more beneficial projects such as Metro funding and street paving.
“We’d have to raise taxes to do that right now because all of this money is sitting in a fund that is, as I understand it, reserved for the streetcar,” she said. “This is, again, why I’m supporting John, because I believe he will help me to get the Board to sort of re-examine some of these things and work through the community with it.”
Sheriff Sees Former Inmates Around Town — Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur gets recognized by former inmates when out and about in Arlington. “I’ll be in the grocery store, and they’ll come up to me and say, ‘Hi, I was in your jail,'” she said in an interview. [Washington Post]
Metro Sends Ad Out to Alert Subscribers — Subscribers of MetroAlerts received an ad from WMATA — selling tickets to the BB&T Classic basketball tournament — in their inbox last week, upsetting some customers. Opined a Greater Greater Washington writer: “Spamming riders with promotions unrelated to Metro service reduces the value of MetroAlerts and it wastes riders’ time.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Dems to Control All Elected Offices — Assuming Virginia Attorney General-elect Mark Herring survives a recount following his razor-thin victory, a Democrat will be in every local, state and federal elected office in Arlington for what may be the first time ever. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
At last week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, party leaders stressed the importance of giving voters a positive reason to come out and support gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in November.
You might question the sincerity of that plea since the meeting took place immediately after a “dramatic reading” of excerpts from Attorney General Cuccinelli’s book. Based on Mr. McAuliffe’s ongoing resume problems, they may actually spend a lot of time talking about the Attorney General instead.
But, what about a little farther down the ticket? What does County Board Vice Chairman Jay Fisette offer to inspire Arlingtonians to vote in 2013?
Mr. Fisette stands firmly behind the Columbia Pike trolley boondoggle. And, he has offered no indication that he would support a straight up or down vote on the issue. Yes, a vote is possible if the Board adjusts the funding mix to include a small amount from general obligation bonds.
It follows that Mr. Fisette is squarely in favor of building the 24 super bus stops on Columbia Pike as well. Yet, the first one took so long, cost so much, and was subject to such intense public ridicule, that the project has now been stopped pending review.
ARLnow ran a story on Monday on the black hole of spending known as the Artisphere. Mr. Fisette recently admitted the arts center did not meet expectations. It should not have surprised him as the Board ignored those who predicted the Artisphere’s shortcomings at the time the Board approved the project.
The Board will raise taxes yet again this year and still may not be able to fully fund our police and fire departments. Remarkably enough, fiscal responsibility and public safety are the top two issues listed on Mr. Fisette’s campaign website.
Website issues list aside, Mr. Fisette has made a “crusade” against single use water bottles — his number one pet project for the year. He announced it at the Board’s kick-off meeting January 1st and has followed through by scheduling a public forum on the topic.
Any effort to legislate on water bottles at the County level will likely go the way of efforts to regulate single use plastic bags, single use styrofoam, or even energy use in private homes — another Fisette idea. The Virginia General Assembly is unlikely to lift the Dillon Rule for Arlington to regulate these items any time soon.
However, it might make you wonder if a water bottle “crusade” was what the local Democratic leaders had in mind to inspire voter turnout.
It might be time to schedule another dramatic reading.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Yesterday the Democratic blog Blue Virginia reported that the call claimed Shuttleworth was “doing a conference call… with [Democratic National Committee] Chairwoman [Rep.] Debbie Wasserman Schultz on women’s issues.” In reality, Blue Virginia blogger Lowell Feld wrote, “this call was simply ‘one of several monthly constituency caucus calls the Chair is making this week, with several thousand total participants.'”
In response, the Shuttleworth camp released a statement it sent to to Blue Virginia.
There was no intent to misrepresent the candidate’s status on the call as anything other than a participant.
In light of the ongoing attacks on Women’s rights in this country by the political right wing, Bruce Shuttleworth is encouraged by the DNC Chair’s initiative to energize women in support of the only party which protects their rights — the Democratic Party. That you don’t think it is important to widely share this initiative is a shame.
Bruce Shuttleworth will continue to encourage the citizens of VA-8 to get active and engaged and to fight for social and economic justice for all citizens. In fact, there will be another robocall going out tonight that will encourage Latino voters to participate in the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit this weekend in the District. We think it is important to support the President and get the Latino community engaged.
The campaign also released a transcript of the call (after the jump). Shuttleworth will face incumbent Rep. Jim Moran in the Democratic primary this coming Tuesday, June 12.
State Democratic officials say an error, not corruption, was the reason why Democratic congressional challenger Bruce Shuttleworth was initially not allowed on the 8th District primary ballot.
Officials announced yesterday that Shuttleworth had, in fact, submitted the necessary number of signatures to quality for the ballot, after they determined last week that he was 18 signatures short. At a press conference today, Shuttleworth charged that his opponent, Rep. Jim Moran, was somehow behind the snafu.
In a statement, a Moran spokesman didn’t respond directly to the allegations, but said the campaign hoped that officials would “get to the bottom of the situation.” The campaign also took a shot at one of Shuttleworth’s political backers.
The Moran campaign submitted their petitions well ahead of the deadline to avoid any last minute problems. It’s a deep concern that petitions appear to have been misplaced by the Fairfax County Registrar’s Office. We urge local officials to get to the bottom of the situation to find out what really happened, to ensure the Democratic process is protected.
For our campaign, nothing has changed. We were fully preparing for a primary, and the coming attacks from the conservative, Texas oil money fueled Super PAC that has stated their intent to try defeat the congressman, who has been a champion of the environment throughout his time in Congress.
Later this afternoon, Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy explained what had happened.
Democratic 8th Congressional District Committee chairwoman Margo Horner, who was named in Shuttleworth’s federal lawsuit challenging the initial petition decision, had passed off the petition signatures to impartial local election officials in Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington, in an effort to avoid the certification process becoming too “politicized,” according to Coy.
Somehow, Coy said, the Fairfax County registrar lost a number of petitions during the process. They only discovered that the petitions had been lost after Arlington County registrar Linda Lindberg notified them that there were Fairfax County signatures within her office’s stack of petitions, according to Coy.
After the error was discovered — which was after Shuttleworth had initially been denied a spot on the ballot — the lost petitions were found, counted, and yesterday afternoon it was determined that Shuttleworth had, in fact, qualified for the ballot. Coy said that correct procedures were followed and denied that there was any intentional effort to leave Shuttleworth off the ballot.
“The results of this process had nothing to do with anything other than whether or not Mr. Shuttleworth had enough signatures,” Coy said. “Any insinuation that the party lost the signatures, that they did anything other than… go above and beyond the procedures that are laid out… is inaccurate.”
Coy added that “the responsibility to certify petitions lies with our congressional district committees” — not centrally with the Democratic Party of Virginia, whose chairman is Brian Moran, the congressman’s brother.
Will Radle has dropped out of the Eight Congressional District Democratic primary and has endorsed Bruce Shuttleworth against incumbent Rep. Jim Moran.
Radle announced his candidacy for the seat in January. Previously, the Fairfax County resident had run for public office as both an independent and a Republican. Since last year, Radle’s runs for public office have been dogged by media mentions of his guilty plea on an assault charge out of Arlington in 2010.
In his endorsement, Radle made no mention of Moran, but instead lauded Shuttleworth as “a true gentleman who will represent the Democratic Party well in fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves; battling for those who too often battle for us in faraway lands and governing as an honest broker.”
Radle’s full press release, after the jump.
Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are on a “values crusade,” newly-elected state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) told a press conference last week.
Favola accused Republican lawmakers of focusing on various red-meat social issues while neglecting issues like education.
“The so-called party of small government is rushing bills through the Senate that interfere in the most intimate, personal details of people’s lives,” Favola said. “Virginia’s families want a crusade to improve public schools across the Commonwealth. We need to educate a workforce for the 21st century.”
Among the bills Democrats have opposed during the current legislative session are:
- A bill that would consider unborn children at every stage of development a “person” under Virginia law
- A “conscience clause” bill allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to place children with gay couples
- A bill eliminating Virginia’s one handgun purchase per month limit
- A bill requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound
- A bill eliminating the state’s requirement that girls receive a HPV vaccine
- A bill requiring certain welfare recipients to be screened for drugs
Republicans, however, say that Democrats are the ones in Richmond obsessed with ‘values’ legislation
“While our Democrat colleagues remain singularly focused on a small number of social issues, we are enacting the reforms necessary to move Virginia forward,” Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) told the Washington Post.
The election is being held to fill the seat vacated by Barbara Favola, who defeated Caren Merrick in the race for Virginia Senate last month. The date could not be set until Favola formally resigned from the County Board.
Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg said the County Electoral Board will meet on Wednesday to determine candidate filing deadlines for the special election. Candidates could not officially file to run until the special election date was released. Until now, they were required file as if they were running in the November 2012 election, and then amend the request once the special election date was official. So far, there are six Democrats who have expressed intent to run, but no Republicans.
Whoever claims victory in the special election still must run again for the seat in November.