This spring, Arlington County began buying up properties in the Waverly Hills area to combat flooding.
Already, despite some concerns about how the program would work, three residents have agreed to sell their homes. The county will tear them down and replant the land so water has a place to flow during large rain storms.
All seven Arlington County Board candidates — six of whom are vying for the support of the local Democratic party this primary — say the county needs to change its land-use policies and get more people on board with adding stormwater infrastructure in their backyards, in order to make neighborhoods more resilient to a predicted increase in flooding.
“The July 2018 and 2019 floods in particular really drove this home for us — we had some real life-safety issues pertaining to flooding,” Susan Cunningham said in a forum hosted by nonprofit advocacy group EcoAction Arlington last week.
“[It] highlighted that, not only because of climate change but really because of lack of long-range planning, we have very outdated stormwater management systems that we don’t have a budget to improve,” she continued. “We do have a lot of catch up to do.”
Since the floods, Arlington County has taken steps to manage stormwater beyond buying homes for flood relief.
Starting next year, Arlington will fund its stormwater management plan with a stormwater utility fee. The county will charge property owners a rate based on how much of their property is covered in hard surfaces, like roofs and driveways. (Currently, it is funded by a tax based on property assessments.)
Other changes include new regulations requiring single-family home construction projects to retain more water and some $90 million in bond referenda from 2020 and 2022 for stormwater projects.
Developers of single-family homes report higher construction costs due to retention regulations. Bonds and the new stormwater utility fee, meanwhile, could spell higher taxes for residents.
So, in this race, some candidates say the county should examine how its own policies encourage flooding before requiring more of residents.
Cunningham and Natalie Roy, both of whom have opposed the recently adopted Missing Middle zoning changes, that starts with reducing the allowable buildable area that homes can occupy on a lot.
“This is something that we should’ve done 10 years ago and definitely something we should have done before approving the misguided [Missing Middle] plan,” Roy said.
Perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement said she would call for the repeal of Missing Middle, linking the new policy to tree loss and thus, increased flooding.
She said she would also end a practice among developers to subdivide lots to circumvent state environmental ordinances preventing construction near protected land along Arlington streams called “resource protection areas,” or RPAs.
“It was by this sleight of hand that the county permitted a tear-down McMansion in a North Arlington RPA in 2018 but also the destruction of a 100-foot state champion redwood on the same lot,” she said.
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Arlington’s police union is endorsing challenger Josh Katcher in the race for Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Katcher is running against incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in the Democratic primary to determine who has the local party’s nomination to run this fall.
Dehghani-Tafti campaigned on criminal justice reform and won her first term in 2019, after beating Theo Stamos, for whom Katcher previously worked (he also worked for Dehghani-Tafti before leaving the office).
The incumbent has focused her re-election campaign on the reforms she has made, such as ending cash bail, a requirement that defense attorneys hand copy all the prosecutor’s files about their criminal case, and prosecution for marijuana possession. She has endorsements of several current and former state legislators and members of the Arlington County Board and School Board and the Washington Post.
Katcher has focused on allegations of rising crime, staffing issues within the top prosecutor’s office and crime victims who say they were not respected. He picked up the endorsement from Arlington Coalition of Police (ACOP) because, the organization says, the current relationship between local police and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is crumbling.
“ACOP has spent the last 7 months attempting to stay out of the Commonwealth Attorney’s race,” it said in a press release. “We understood that whoever won, officers would still need to have a working relationship with the winner. Although that current working relationship is extremely poor, we worried that any statement would make the relationship even worse.”
The organization says it was reluctant to speak up until now — with less than a month before the primary on June 20 — but wants to correct the record about statements Dehghani-Tafti has made on the campaign trail.
In a recent Arlington County Civic Federation debate, the current Commonwealth’s Attorney said her office has a “healthy” relationship with officers and that prosecution rates are down because police are apprehending fewer people.
ACOP says this “could not be any further from the truth” and it “cannot sit by idly while she intentionally misleads the public.”
It listed some of the issues officers say they have with how the top prosecutor’s office currently runs:
On almost a daily basis, members of ACOP email their union representatives with complaints about Ms. Tafti’s office. The most common recurring complaints are about a lack of preparation from the prosecutors, subpoenas not being issued in a timely manner (sometimes never being issued at all), a case getting dismissed without ever contacting the arresting officer, DUIs being plead down to reckless driving with no explanation, subsequent DUIs being plead down to first offenses, and a general lack of communication about cases and outcomes.
Citing felony arrest and indictment data, it countered a claim she made in the debate that police are apprehending fewer people. ACOP says the number of arrests is “the highest it has been for at least six years,” if marijuana possession arrests are removed.
“Felony arrests in Arlington County have remained relatively consistent with the exception of 2020 during Covid,” the release said. “What has not remained consistent is the percentage of felonies that were indicted by the Commonwealth Attorney.”
In the 2019 fiscal year — the year before Dehghani-Tafti took office — approximately 41% of felony arrests were indicted to Arlington County Circuit Court, compared to 15% in 2022, ACOP says, citing recent budget materials.
Dehghani-Tafti provided data the state collected from Arlington indicating a steady decline in arrests made since 2012. while a sharp uptick in simple assaults — from 721 in 2018 to 1,146 in 2021 — may explain an uptick in offenses.
Meanwhile, a sharp uptick in simple assaults — from 721 in 2018 to 1,146 in 2021 — may explain an uptick in offenses.
As for indictments, Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow these are lower because her office is not hitting defendants with several charges related to one criminal incident, a tactic she says prosecutors can employ to force defendants to plead guilty and not go to trial.
“It’s our policy to not stack charges and over charge,” she recently told ARLnow. “We’re not afraid to go to trial and check our evidence with fair and reasonable charges. When we go to trial, we win more than the prior administration.”
Between 2020 and 2022, prosecutors in her office obtained guilty verdicts on cases with one or more charges 75% of the time compared to 64% under Stamos, she said. Guilty verdict for the most serious charges brought forward, across all misdemeanors and felonies tried, was 72% between 2020-22, up from 57% from 2015 to 2019.
(The chart, also provided by ACOP, does not include data for 2017 or 2018. ACOP said it could not find publicly available data for those years. ARLnow also could not immediately find data from those years in budget documents.)
ACOP said it has worked with Katcher for the last decade and see him as “experienced and competent.”
“Josh will be able to lead the office through his experience and mold the attorneys in the office into skilled litigators,” the organization said. “Most importantly, we know Josh will get the relationship between ACPD and the CWA office back on track to where prosecutions are a collaborative effort between the two departments.”
(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Earlier this month, Virginia House of Delegates 2nd District candidate Kevin Saucedo-Broach dropped out of the race to take care of a family member.
But when he announced this decision, he said a recurring conversation on the campaign trail will stick with him and inform his advocacy going forward. The topic was mental health.
“The more I talked to people across Arlington, the more sure I became that Virginia’s mental health crisis is traumatizing people from all walks of life and that those people were absolutely desperate for our government to do something serious about it,” he said.
These reflections, posted on Twitter, come as Arlington County is trying to fill in gaps in Virginia’s patchwork approach to mental health care — precipitated by the closure of state psychiatric beds during the pandemic — with community-based services.
This week, it celebrated the newly renovated Crisis Intervention Center, where people in a mental health crisis can go to receive services — away from hospitals and law enforcement, who are typically on the front lines of this issue.
Now that Saucedo-Broach is out, Adele McClure, who announced her bid more than a year ago, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary this June. An early opponent, Nicole Merlene, also dropped out.
Then, McClure will run in the November general election. There is no incumbent for this new seat, encompassing Arlington’s Metro corridors, created through a recent redistricting process.
Saucedo-Broach lamented that some 80,000 Arlingtonians in the 2nd District would no longer have the opportunity to see candidates debate issues like poverty and mental health. He says that speaks poorly of Arlington.
“For a county as vibrant, diverse, and politically active as Arlington, it certainly speaks very poorly of our work as a political and organizing community that so few residents felt it worthwhile to stand for election to a band-new legislative district with an open race,” he said. “Clearly, we have a great deal of work left to do to break down systemic barriers and expand political access in Arlington County.”
McClure acknowledged the news in a post on social media asking for support, as Saucedo-Broach’s name will still appear on the ballot. She has an interactive map for residents who want to see if she could be their next representative.
🧵: Earlier this week, we learned that the other candidate seeking the Dem nomination in the new 2nd House District has dropped out of the race. I thank him for running and wish him the best.
Due to the timing of this decision, his name will still appear on the ballot.
— Adele McClure (she/her) (@AdeleMcClure_) May 20, 2023
She, too, says she will be an effective advocate for mental health policies because of her experience on the Arlington Community Services Board. This oversees the continuum of nonprofit- and county-provided services to people with disabilities, substance use disorders and mental health challenges.
“We need funding to expand community-based services and must recognize that each individual is unique and has different needs — some folks suffer from co-occurring mental health, substance use, and medical treatment needs,” McClure says.
“At a time when demand for behavioral health care treatment is rising, Virginians deserve a system that has ample capacity for pediatric, adult, and elder patients across the continuum of care so that people with mental health and substance treatment needs can receive care with dignity that is free of stigma or shame,” she continues.
McClure has picked up the endorsement of Del. Alfonso Lopez, the Virginia Education Association political action committee representing Virginia teachers, U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan, the progressive group New Virginia Majority and pro-abortion advocacy group Repro Rising.
Excited to announce the endorsement of Delegate Alfonso Lopez. Thank you for your commitment to public service and for your support of our campaign! pic.twitter.com/r9BT0jiNvS
— Adele McClure (she/her) (@AdeleMcClure_) May 23, 2023
Meanwhile, longtime state Sen. Barbara Favola is running against lawyer James DeVita to represent the 40th District. On mental health, Favola was chief patron of a bill that passed this session requiring hospitals to provide trauma-informed security.
Tackling the twin epidemics of mental health and substance use inside the jail is top-of-mind for the candidates for Arlington County Sheriff.
Six months ago, the Arlington County Board adopted ranked-choice voting for the upcoming Democratic primary.
Since then, the Arlington elections office has been busy educating anyone who asks on the method, which only applies to candidates for County Board.
The Arlington branch of the NAACP, however, says the county needs to step up its outreach to ensure all voters are prepared when they cast early ballots or go to the polls on June 20.
ARLnow, for instance, has heard from some residents who are unsure or skeptical of how votes will be counted.
“We have directly heard a series of grave concerns from our community regarding the implementation of this significant change,” NAACP President Mike Hemminger said in a statement. “We will be monitoring this change with intense focus in the run up to and after the election to ensure that no one’s foundational right to vote becomes disenfranchised or impeded in Arlington County.”
Concern about outreach highlights the stakes of this trial run. Arlington is the first Virginia jurisdiction to test ranked-choice voting for the primary and one election official tells ARLnow that people outside the county are watching closely.
“It’s fair to say, without sounding dramatic, that the eyes of the Commonwealth are on Arlington and this ranked-choice voting process,” Arlington Electoral Board Secretary Scott McGeary says.
Its success in the primary could also determine if ranked-choice voting is adopted to pick the successors for Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol in the November general election.
So far, interest in learning more about ranked-choice voting is strong, says Arlington Dept. of Voter Registration and Elections Director Gretchen Reinemeyer.
Her staff is working through an education plan it rolled out in April. Part of that is making presentations — at a clip of at least two presentations a week, and once three in one night — and helping community groups facilitate workshops.
“Rollout for ranked-choice voting has gone smoothly,” Reinemeyer says. “I would say that most voters understand the concept and are aware that the County Board race is using the voting method. A handful of voters are vocally unhappy. The most common question is ‘Do I have to rank all three?'”
The answer to that, McGeary says, is no. People can rank up to three candidates — the maximum county ballot machines can accommodate. Some recent endorsements have recommended how candidates should be ranked.
One key strategy was developing toolkits so that people and organizations could host information sessions and run mock elections, which Reinemeyer said has been an effective way to reach lots of people and explain how votes are counted.
“The idea of these toolkits is that anyone can take the toolkit and teach their friends, neighbors, community organizations about ranked choice voting,” Reinemeyer said. “We are seeing members of our community run with these toolkits.”
The county is also relying on materials the state produced. This includes two videos — one explaining how ranked-choice voting works and the other how votes are counted — as well as an FAQ page and flyers in Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.
One notable change, per a state video, is that if there are no clear winners, it could take up to seven days to apportion second- and third-choice votes to determine who actually won.
“I have no doubt we’ll be able to do the math properly and get the results as fast as possible,” McGeary said. “From a technical and counting standpoint, I’m confident we’ll be able to count and announce as soon as possible.”
School Board candidate Miranda Turner has found success on her second go-round.
Following a three-day caucus process, Turner has captured the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board, with 1,004 votes to 332 for Angelo Cocchiaro. Turner will face at least one independent candidate in the November general election: James “Vell” Rives, who is also running for the second time.
Cocchiaro appeared to be considering dropping out of the race in April, but ultimately stayed in and picked up some key endorsements, including from outgoing School Board Chair Reid Goldstein. Cocchiaro’s promise to be “a prizefighter for our teachers and school staff” also helped to win him the endorsement of the political action committee of the local teachers union.
Following the release of the caucus results, the 22-year-old youth organizer said in a statement that “Arlington Democrats have made their voices heard, and I am proud to give my full-throated and unequivocal endorsement to Miranda Turner.”
“It is critical that Arlingtonians elect a candidate this November who will uphold, defend, and advance the progress achieved by this School Board, and who will advocate for every student,” he continued. “Miranda Turner is that candidate.”
Turner notably advocated for a swifter return to in-person school at Arlington Public Schools in the fall of 2020, at a time when concerns about the health impacts of such a move were heightened. Her campaign this year has focused on classroom instruction and support for teachers and students.
“The need for high-quality instruction, appropriate intervention, and the use of data to support our students is more urgent than ever,” her website says. “If elected, I will ensure a laser focus on instruction and providing an excellent education for all students.”
Turner is a Brown- and UVA-educated attorney, focused on insurance litigation, and a partner at a prominent D.C. law firm. On her website, she highlights her pro bono work and representation of Planned Parenthood.
Turner’s website notes, additionally, that she has been an APS parent since 2015 and has been active in her elementary school’s PTA and in the Green Valley Civic Association.
More on the caucus results, below, from an Arlington County Democratic Committee press release.
With early and caucus voting underway, some candidates for local office are getting boosts from prominent Arlington Democrats.
Arlington is a Democratic stronghold for state and national politics. On the local level, that ethos has fueled intense focus on who will get the official support of the local party — even for non-partisan positions on the Arlington School Board.
Among sitting County Board members, there is strong support for Acting Sheriff Jose Quiroz, who has received endorsements from outgoing Chair Christian Dorsey, Vice-Chair Libby Garvey and member Matt de Ferranti. Quiroz also has support from State Sen. Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Patrick Hope, as well as his predecessor, former sheriff Beth Arthur.
His opponents, retired Deputy Sheriff Wanda Younger and Arlington police officer James Herring, have not published endorsements on their websites.
No other candidate websites list endorsements from Dorsey or outgoing member Katie Cristol, both of whom are stepping down this year. Of the remaining County Board members, they diverged on their support for a Commonwealth’s Attorney. De Ferranti and Karantonis support incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti while Garvey supports challenger Josh Katcher, who worked for Dehghani-Tafti and her predecessor, Theo Stamos.
Dehghani-Tafti’s website lists a slew of endorsements from elected Democrats, including Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer McClellan, State Sen. Barbara Favola, Dels. Hope and Lopez as well as endorsements from the Washington Post and the Falls Church News-Press. Campaign financing records show she has received donations from political groups that support progressive prosecutors.
Katcher’s supporters including former Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen, education activist Symone Walker and the local firefighters union. Campaign materials shared with ARLnow show that Stamos has promoted meet-and-greet opportunities with Katcher, one of which former independent County Board member John Vihstadt hosted.
Campaign financing records show some of Katcher’s biggest recent contributors of $1,000 or more include himself, former School Board member Abby Raphael, retired Deputy Chief of Police Daniel Murray, a former candidate for Stafford County’s treasurer, and longtime local GOP civic figure John Antonelli, who previously donated to Vihstadt and Stamos.
For County Board, stances on housing and development seem to have informed which sitting Board members support them.
De Ferranti endorsed two candidates to join him on the Board: Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. and Maureen Coffey, who also picked up an endorsement from Takis Karantonis and $5,000 contributions from a labor union. The stances of the two candidates on housing and the environment have also earned them the support of YIMBYs of Northern Virginia, Greater Greater Washington and the Sierra Club.
Vice-Chair Libby Garvey has diverged from her colleagues, endorsing Natalie Roy and Susan Cunningham, who previously ran for County Board as an independent.
Cunningham, who has led affordable housing and social safety net nonprofits, and Roy, who also considers environmental action a top priority, staked out positions opposed to the zoning changes known as Missing Middle for being short-sighted. Garvey helped usher in the new ordinance, allowing by-right development of 2-6 unit buildings on single-family lots, but later elaborated on her misgivings.
Supporters for Roy and Cunningham include some previously elected Democrats as well as community and civic association leaders and, for Cunningham, advocates for affordable housing and more robust social safety net initiatives. Roy picked up the support of former School Board members Nancy Van Doren and James Lander.
Roy’s largest contributor donated $7,000 in this race, including $4,000 to her, $1,000 to Cunningham and $2,000 to Katcher. Cunningham’s largest supporter donated $2,000 to her this race and in her 2020 bid as an independent.
The specter of Missing Middle haunts the slate of candidates for Arlington County Board.
Two months ago, the County Board allowed the by-right construction of 2-6 unit buildings on lots previously zoned for single-family homes.
Prior to voting for the changes, Board Chair Christian Dorsey and member Katie Cristol announced that they would not be seeking reelection. Those vying to replace them vary widely in their stances on Missing Middle, though a forum last week hosted by Arlington County Democratic Committee revealed areas of common ground.
Some Democrat hopefuls opined about how the process leading up to the zoning changes divided the community and revealed how renters are underrepresented in civic life. Mostly, the candidates suggested that they are focused on life after Missing Middle and supporting other policies to help people afford to live in Arlington.
“We don’t get a do-over. There is no do-over, there is only a do-next,” said policy analyst Maureen Coffey. “We need to learn from this process, what went wrong — never repeat that ever again — and move forward, bringing everyone to the table to talk about how this is going to play out and what we need to solve our housing and larger issues.”
All of the candidates agreed the county will need to analyze data before deciding on next steps.
“Monitoring closely is going to be really important — especially monitoring on elements of diversity and affordability,” said Susan Cunningham, who has run for County Board before as an independent and criticized the zoning changes.
Cunningham suggested modifying rules for accessory dwelling units and for lot coverage, which could curb the development of large homes oft-derided as “McMansions.”
“My biggest problem with Missing Middle was not just the process but the fact that we did not do a comprehensive look at housing,” Cunningham said. “Housing is complicated and housing this whole community in its diversity and amazingness is also complicated, and we oversimplified that in my opinion.”
To that end, another candidate opposed to the changes, real estate agent Natalie Roy, detailed her views on housing in a three-part plan. It includes implementing a proposal from the Arlington branch of the NAACP to prevent the displacement of low-income residents.
Roy said the county should provide a public dashboard showing where and what kind of permits are issued, as well as the selling price for completed units. Arlington County has already committed to publishing this data once it becomes available.
Missing Middle supporter Jonathan Dromgoole said he too is watching where the units are built. Next, he said, the county should focus on shoring up the dwindling supply of relatively inexpensive, market-rate units. This is something Arlington County is already looking at as these units are continuously lost to redevelopment and rehabilitation.
Former NAACP Arlington Branch president Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. said he is thinking farther outside the box.
Voting to determine which School Board candidate gets the endorsement of the local Democratic party kicked off yesterday and continues this week.
Candidates Angelo Cocchiaro and Miranda Turner are vying to be the Democratic-supported candidate who will run in the general election in November to replace outgoing School Board Chair Reid Goldstein. The winner will face any independent candidates, which so far includes James “Vell” Rives, who is running for the second time.
Both Democratic hopefuls continue racking up high-profile endorsements. In addition to Goldstein’s support, Cocchiaro was endorsed by the political action committee of the teachers union, Arlington Education Association (AEA). Turner earned the support of some Arlington County Board members, former chairs of Arlington County Democratic Committee and community leaders.
In a statement released Friday, the political action committee representing Arlington Public Schools educators and staff said it believes Cocchiaro’s “youthful vision and strong commitment to students, educators and the labor movement will make him a fresh voice for APS.”
“He impressed the interview committee with his student activism in support of educators in West Virginia,” the statement continued. “His support of labor rights and collective bargaining will serve our students, community, and staff well by giving those on the front-lines of providing educational service to our community a real voice in planning to make it the best it can be.”
The teachers union recently won an election by county school employees to be the exclusive representative for educators once collective bargaining begins with Arlington Public Schools.
Cocchiaro said he is willing to go the extra mile “to be a prizefighter for our teachers and school staff.”
“There are those who would create an artificial, invisible wall between AEA and the School Board,” he said in a statement. “Let me be clear: not me. As a Democrat’s Democrat, I’ll always take the side of labor over management — I’ll have their back — and that’s never going to change.”
Cocchiaro says he will fight for “raises that beat inflation,” 12 weeks of paid family leave and a “Live Where You Work” housing support program. Arlington County offers financial assistance to eligible staff looking to rent or buy in Arlington and APS has offered similar grants in the past.
Turner also advocates for better pay and benefits and paid parental leave for APS staff. She says the school system should let staff who live in Arlington enroll their children at the school where they work, and says the county and school system should explore providing grants to teachers looking to buy a home in Arlington.
James “Vell” Rives is entering the race to fill the Arlington School Board seat being vacated by Reid Goldstein.
He will be running in the general election in November against the candidate who wins the Arlington County Democratic Committee endorsement caucus, either be Miranda Turner or political newcomer Angelo Cocchiaro, who both nabbed high-profile endorsements recently.
Voting in the caucus will take place in early May.
Rives, an Arlington resident of 24 years with two children in Arlington Public Schools, ran as an independent last year, nabbing the endorsement of the then-Sun Gazette (now the Gazette Leader). He lost to Bethany Sutton, who had the support of Arlington Democrats and captured 68% of votes on Election Day, compared to the 30% Rives garnered.
“His campaign priorities include school safety, academic rigor, and teacher retention,” Rives’ announcement says.
Some of his previous campaign issues included reinstating School Resource Officers and doing away with standards-based grading, per a video on his website.
Rives is a psychiatrist and past co-chair of the Arlington Public Schools School Health Advisory Board (SHAB). He currently represents SHAB for the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative and his website details his policy positions on the twin epidemics of student drug use and mental health issues.
“Substance Abuse has increased since the pandemic among students nationally, and anecdotal reports suggest the same for Arlington,” Rives’ website says. “While continuing preventive education in school, I support aggressive early intervention to change the trajectory for students using drugs.”
Earlier this year, a 14-year-old student died of a drug overdose at Wakefield High School, which one of his children attends. APS has since stepped up education and increased the availability of the overdose reversal drug Narcan but some teachers say they do not feel heard when they report concerns to administrators.
Rives says APS should redirect resources to address rising mental health concerns.
“We must also rebuild connectedness among the school community by promoting athletics, performing and visual arts, and physical education that involves exercise and play,” he said.
The budget that the Arlington School Board is teed up to adopt later this year includes a handful of additional substance abuse counselors and a psychologist and social worker to maintain current staffing levels.
Rives says he also supports the position of SHAB that APS should adopt a policy requiring students to keep personal devices off and stored during school hours. A handful of schools have independently adopted this but SHAB says it needs to be systemwide to be enforceable. Some current School Board members support such a policy, while others oppose it.
As for the Democratic candidates, Turner has also staked out positions on mental health, such as more teen programming and tighter controls on APS-issued devices, as well as greater academic rigor, especially calling for more math interventionists.
On substance use, Cocchiaro says he would like to add more counselors.
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Two candidates have emerged as top fundraisers ahead of this year’s Democratic primary: Natalie Roy for Arlington County Board and Josh Katcher for Commonwealth’s Attorney.
That’s according to newly-filed quarterly campaign financial reports.
The six candidates for County Board, two for Commonwealth’s Attorney and three for Sheriff will run in a primary on June 20 to determine the local party’s nominees headed to the general election. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus in May to endorse a School Board candidate.
In statements, Roy and Katcher said the numbers show their message resonates with people who do not feel heard or are concerned with the direction Arlington is headed — whether on housing and community engagement or on prosecutorial reforms.
Roy, a realtor noted for getting around on bicycle, kicked off her campaign by expressing misgivings with the zoning ordinance changes known as Missing Middle, which passed in March. She instead suggested other solutions — such as turning the vacant, condemned Key Bridge Marriott into housing and county amenities.
She comes in first at $51,237, followed by former Arlington NAACP branch president Julius “JD” Spain, $48,032, and businessman Tony Weaver, $46,087.
While Roy has the most donations over $100, her campaign highlighted that 80% of donors were Arlington voters and 80% donated less than $250.
“This shows both strong grassroots and widespread community support, a sign that Natalie’s message has been resonating with Arlington voters who feel like their voice has not been heard in recent years,” per a statement she released on Tuesday.
“From hosting small meet & greets in their living rooms, to knocking doors, to donating, their strong and steady support has made it possible for me to do the best part of a campaign — meeting with and hearing from Arlingtonians across the county,” Roy continued.
With $105,526 raised and more than $90,000 spent, Katcher — who worked as a prosecutor under Theo Stamos and his now-opponent, incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti — outraised and outspent his former boss.
“Ours is the people’s campaign, and once again the Arlington and Falls Church City communities have stepped up and proven that,” he said in a statement. “Since I kicked off my campaign in November, we have surpassed our fundraising targets — twice. Thank you to all the supporters who have helped make this possible.”
Katcher’s campaign said all his support is derived from individuals. Per the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, which compiles campaign reports, some 400 people have donated to his campaign. Dehghani-Tafti has received donations through some 150 individual contributions in addition to three PACs.
The largest of these is an in-kind donation of $8,000 from Justice and Public Safety PAC, a PAC funded by George Soros. The billionaire philanthropist donated millions to the PAC, supporting dozens of progressive prosecutor candidates in the U.S., including several hundred thousand dollars in cash and services to Dehghani-Tafti’s successful 2019 campaign.
Outgoing Arlington School Board chair Reid Goldstein has endorsed School Board candidate Angelo Cocchiaro in the race to replace him.
While Goldstein is the first sitting School Board member to endorse a candidate thus far, his opponent Miranda Turner was endorsed by a former top-level administrator for Arlington Public Schools.
Cocchiaro announced news of the endorsement today (Monday), less than a week after quieting talk that he was pulling out of the race. He will be going up against Turner, a second-time candidate, to gain the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Goldstein said Cocchiaro’s youth and lived experience will be an asset to the School Board as it tackles issues plaguing students, including drug use and mental health.
We have seen critical student issues recently surrounding mental health, safety and security, and substance abuse — with many calls for our response to include student voices. With the distinct advantage of his youth, Angelo Cocchiaro is the candidate best positioned to listen, understand, and bring student solutions to student issues. Achievement will never progress until the issues impeding learning are resolved. He will uphold, defend, and advance the progress this School Board has achieved. Angelo has my full and complete endorsement to serve as my successor on the School Board.
ENDORSEMENT ALERT 🚨
Thank you, my friend @ReidForSchools, for your support, and your vote! I will work hard defend and advance the progress of this School Board.
In that task, I will have big shoes to fill. Together, I know our community can achieve the #ChangeThatsOverdue! pic.twitter.com/eTSxe7qTAh
— Angelo Cocchiaro (@AngeloForChange) April 17, 2023
Cocchiaro thanked Goldstein for his endorsement in a statement. He said he supports the progressive policy stances the Goldstein and the School Board have taken on grading for equity and removing School Resource Officers.
“I stand behind the progress that has been achieved,” he said. “I have also supported this School Board’s leadership in other areas, such as when they protected school communities from a premature pandemic reopening, and resisted calls to go the other way… And yet, I will differ from this School Board in bringing my unique lived experiences to the table, and I will push progress even further.”
APS closed in March 2020 and started to reopen on a two-day-a-week hybrid basis one year later, mandated by the state and then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and, added more days later at the urging of the School Board. Dueling parent groups formed to advocate for a faster return and greater caution.
Turner, a parent who has been involved with local PTAs and a superintendent’s advisory committee, made a name for herself calling for a quicker return to school. One of her top priorities now is learning loss attributed to pandemic-era educational disruptions.
She was endorsed by Brian Stockton, the former Chief of Staff for Arlington Public Schools.
“In every interaction I had with her, it was clear that she was committed to the notion that every student deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” he said in a statement Turner’s campaign shared with ARLnow. “She has and will continue to be a highly-involved parent and community member who puts the needs of Arlington County children first and foremost.”
His endorsement continues as follows.
Miranda has shown dedication to children at all levels that was fair and equitable, and she has continually fought to ensure APS is seeking to maintain high standards for academic achievement for every student. Her display of love for the community demonstrates a genuine concern and kindness for the well-being of the children of Arlington. It is clear to me that she possesses the mastery and skills required for effective Board management and governance.
Furthermore, Miranda possesses the temperament, knowledge and commitment to Arlington County that is required for today and the future. I believe she will be a strong asset for Arlington County parents and students, and as such she has my unfettered endorsement.