Arlington, VA

This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Independent candidate Susan Cunningham.

I am running for Arlington County Board as a progressive Independent. As a community advocate, mother, and business owner, I know Arlington needs experienced, practical, and effective leadership right now. Professionally, I have led business, government, and nonprofits through crises and change. Here in Arlington, I have worked closely with every County and School Board member, while leading the Hamm Middle School construction (BLPC) and the Historic Interpretation Committee for the Stratford Junior High site, and as a founding member of both the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) and the Lee Highway Alliance.  Grounded in 25 years of professional and community experience, I will ask good questions, bring people together, and get the right things done for Arlington.

Two months ago, I started this campaign with clear priorities around accountability, collaboration, innovation, and practical investments. But the last eight weeks have taught me much more about what Arlington really needs in a new County Board Member. I have talked with Arlingtonians who come from very different places – geographically, politically, demographically, and economically. I’ve listened to their concerns, contemplated their advice, and learned even more about what Arlington needs and wants. And so now, just days before this election comes to a close, I want to share with you what I’ve learned and what I will focus on as your next Arlington County Board Member:

  1. Arlington needs to prioritize our core services. Schools, infrastructure, transportation, housing, and health must be at the top of every agenda during our recovery and beyond. In particular, we must bring APS and County together to innovate and deliver. If we don’t get these right, our future prospects are in peril.
  2. Arlington wants to reconnect our communities. We have to focus on both the visible connections and those that impact our daily lives in other ways. We must physically connect through planning and transit, economically connect through support services, and emotionally connect through facing tough realities about racial equality and justice.
  3. Arlington needs to simplify. For both residents and businesses, our community engagement process is burdensome and unequal for too many. We need to streamline, ensure more representative participation, utilize virtual meeting options, and actually heed community input instead of moving forward with predetermined outcomes. We have innovated during COVID to make it easier to do business — shifting permits online and helping restaurants with grab-and-go parking, signage, and outdoor seating — and should continue to innovate all of our government services for greater ease and efficiency.
  4. Arlington wants bold leadership, during COVID and beyond. Instead of upholding the status quo, I will bring to the Board a focused eye and an open mind. Drawing on decades of experience leading change in government and business, I will challenge our County Board to think differently, hold staff accountable, and be more fiscally responsible and results-oriented in its deliberations and action. Arlington has a $1.4 billion annual budget — we deserve professional management and professional results.
  5. Arlington needs to move away from one-party control. This is the biggest thing I’ve heard — the issue that many blame for an increasing deafness from the County Board and a reluctance of highly qualified candidates to run for local office. Every elected official in Arlington today has been blessed by a single party. This encourages groupthink and discourages tough questioning and drilling down on the details. As an Independent, I will challenge the status quo, probe assumptions, and prioritize critical infrastructure and fiscal discipline over gold-plated projects.
    I am confident I can deliver all of these wants and needs as your next County Board Member. My campaign is heading towards the finish line with incredible momentum, widespread support, and a real shot at upsetting what many assumed would be a predictable sleeper race. Arlington deserves better than a predictable outcome and I’m willing to put in the work to make us better. I humbly ask for your vote on July 7th.

Please join me at susanforarlington.com to volunteer, donate, or find your polling place.

Thank you.

Susan Cunningham

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This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Republican candidate Bob Cambridge

Bob Cambridge has been an Arlington resident for over 40 years. He has had a varied background, Captain in the US Army (Military Intelligence Branch), three years with the Central Intelligence Agency as an information science instructor, and over 40 years as an attorney, both corporate and as a litigator. Ideas developed over that period appear to be relevant to a lot that is going on now, and the opportunity to run for Arlington County Board was an opportunity to get those ideas out where they might do some good.

My website, https://BobCambridge.com, has articles which provide more detail supporting what I will say here. I invite you to check that site out too. I read a lot, and my website brings together several ideas I have shamelessly plagiarized to support other ideas I wanted to share that may be useful.

The website refers to the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant which illustrates the fact that people often disagree without necessarily disagreeing about the same thing. My experience has also been that we all have different perspectives about just about everything. The website refers to a book by Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, which offers some interesting suggestions for why there was male dominance for so long and why the recent emergence of a more balanced (and rational) arrangement should not be surprising. The website also provides observations that support the argument that we do better together because different perspectives properly solicited and actually considered can be a powerful tool for doing almost anything better. Please see https://bobcambridge.com/we-do-better-together/.

The one-party County Board we have had for forty or so years has not had incompetent or narrow-minded members. But that one-party board could have easily been better. Complaints I am hearing now often emphasize a perceived unwillingness of the Board to effectively consider a broader base of ideas. I hear of waiting three hours to speak two minutes at a Board meeting only to see no apparent effect that speech had on anyone. Promises are made, such as budgeting more for parks and Arlington’s tree canopy, only to see nothing actually budgeted and requests for information about that stonewalled by Board insistence that a Freedom of Information Act request be submitted. FOIA requests can be expensive and when our tax dollars pay for a study, why should we pay a second time to see the results of what we paid for?

My platform is different because while I definitely have preferences on some issues, I also freely acknowledge that I do not know everything and will not pretend that I do. The best decisions are made by decisionmakers who listen more than they talk. There seems to be a concern that comments and criticism of Board action will not be seriously considered. That concern will definitely act to suppress suggestions, many of which might actually be very effective and actually get us a bigger bang for some of our tax dollars. Five Board members, even supported by the County Staff, cannot provide number or quality of ideas anything near to what the quarter million Arlington residents supported by many more individuals who work in Arlington can provide. My platform, better laid out in my website, https://BobCambridge.com, is not so much support or opposition to specific issues, as to getting more transparency on the part of the Board and more involvement from a broader group of interested individuals. Why? Because that is a management process that has shown significant success in the private sector and it clearly should be used to make our government more successful too. The process is also oriented not to put in place a perfect solution – there is no such thing, promises of politicians notwithstanding – but to start and continue a process that makes unending improvement the goal. That is a goal shown to be achievable. Corporations have done it, continue to successfully do it, and there is no excuse why the Arlington County Government should not implement similar programs.

I ask that you vote for me if you choose, but please check out my website in either case. If you agree with the ideas, please pass them on. If you disagree, or if you can suggest an improvement (an inevitable occurrence) please send comment or criticism to [email protected]. I will do my best to respond, even after July 7.

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This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Democratic candidate Takis Karantonis

My name is Takis Karantonis and I am the Democratic candidate in the special election for the Arlington County Board on July 7. I was born in Greece and emigrated to the United States to join my wife, Lida, upon completion of her Ph.D. studies. Since moving to Arlington in 2007, I have experienced and appreciate the values that Arlingtonians hold important: safe and walkable neighborhoods; excellent schools; great public places and facilities; accountable governance; ethnic and cultural diversity; an unwavering commitment to community involvement; and neighbors who uphold and sustain these values.

My voice, my way of thinking, and my politics are rooted in civic engagement and day-to-day involvement with our community. I am running for County Board because I am proud of what Arlington is and stands for and because I truly believe in the importance of inclusivity of all voices in our governance. During the 60 days of this campaign two larger-than-life issues dominated my actions and thoughts: the permanence of COVID-19 conditions and their long-term effects on every aspect of life and the stark reminder, spurred by the murder of George Floyd, of racial inequity and divides in our community. To make Arlington a just and equitable place for all, I pledge to work with you to tackle inequities in housing, education, health, and life outcomes in our county. We must:

  • use the lessons of the COVID crisis to address the inequalities that COVID has revealed that have led to a disproportionate impact on our marginalized communities and communities of color;
  • actively advocate for a strong local social safety net that helps our less prosperous neighbors and all locally-owned businesses;
  • bring an equity lens to County Board work to identify metrics to chart progress; examine every decision to uncover who is helped, who is hurt, who benefits and who is left behind;
  • prioritize support for our small businesses by instituting a permanent revolving microloan program, which will also leverage private investment to boost small business creation and sustainability in the long term.

I am an economist and urban planner with over 25 years of urban and regional planning experience. I work for a non-profit micro-lender, currently helping Arlington’s small businesses recover from COVID-19. I have been involved with several Arlington non-profit organizations, appointed to advisory commissions and participated in many planning processes affecting progress in our community. My experiences as Executive Director of the ColumbiaPike Revitalization Organization, past chair of Eco ActionArlington and Vice Chair of the Alliance of Housing Solutions add to the vision, practical knowledge and insight I would bring to our Board. Politically, I have been an active and vocal supporter of local, progressive campaigns that challenged and changed the status quo (e.g., Erik Gutshall and Parisa Deghani-Tafti).

This campaign has been like no other due to the compressed timeline imposed by Virginia law and by COVID-19: to substitute for face-to-face conversations, meetings, and debates, I became adept at online media and hosted 20 Zoom-and-Greets covering all neighborhoods in Arlington in 40 days.

I responded to multiple questionnaires that allowed me to express my vision on many issues: arts, education, environment, housing, mental health, and more. The diversity of organizations which submitted questionnaires is just one indicator of the diversity of priorities in our community. As a Board member, I would have an obligation to listen to and provide a seat at the table for all, as we move forward with discussions and policies to equitably address our community needs.

I believe in democratic values, collaborative leadership and inclusive planning expressed in the four pillars of my platform: equitable governance; fiscal sustainability and resilience; environmental sustainability; and principled and inclusive long-term planning. I have earned the endorsement of Arlington’s elected officials from the County and School Boards to the General Assembly to Congress; professional organizations; citizen-led advocacy groups (representing the African-American community, Latino community, Seniors, and the Immigrant community; supporting multi-modal transportation; cycling; public education; affordable housing; environmental sustainability; and mental health services) and more than 200 community leaders. These endorsements are the result of years of working on Arlington issues and a testament to my passion for good, responsive and responsible local governance.

I hope to earn your vote and the opportunity to serve as your next County Board member on July 7.

Photo via Takis for Arlington/Facebook

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Three candidates running to replace the late Erik Gutshall on the County Board met over Zoom for a debate hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100.

The special election candidates — Takis Karantonis (D), Bob Cambridge (R) and Susan Cunningham (I) — all called for a focus on equity and discussed ways to navigate a tighter county budget.

Karantonis, who serves as vice-chair of the Alliance for Housing Solutions and is former executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, laid out a several-pronged approach to how to focus the budget as the county works to manage a more limited revenue stream.

“COVID is an unexpected stress on our budget,” Karantonis said. “Citizens expect to have a government that reacts to such unexpected impacts. Right now, don’t know how deep or broad COVID economic impact will be. The focus [should be] social safety net expenditures as our first priority. Five-thousand families are on food assistance and the region has lost 300,000 jobs.”

Karantonis said in reviewing capital investments, the County Board should prioritize those that leverage external funding, like state and federal grants. Other priorities, he said, include micro-loans to help small businesses get back on their feet and trying to rescue Metro and the Arlington Transit bus service, which have seen substantial ridership losses during the pandemic.

“Then [we can] come out of this with a better base to decide how we will structure the county later,” Takis said. “I’m an economist, I’m trained to do this, and I’ve done it in the private sector and non-profit sector. The best focus is on economic development to rebound.”

Cambridge, an Army veteran and former CIA employee who works as a lawyer in Arlington, said his campaign is built on the idea that different political ideologies have good ideas that can contribute to each other. Cambridge said his approach to recovery would be built on incorporating more flexibility into the budget to address these sorts of crises.

“The budget is highly strained right now,” Cambridge said. “We have got to be flexible and respond as our understanding of challenges become more and more obvious. We do have a lot of city services we need. That is the sinews we all need. We really need to do things in a different way.”

Cunningham, who worked at the Internal Revenue Service and founded the nonprofit EdBuild, said the county should do more to improve how projects are financed.

“There are a lot of opportunities in our budget for improving our spending,” Cunningham said. “Not eliminating, but improving implementation. Our projects take too long, our community engagement takes too long, we don’t look back and do audits of capital programs. There’s a lot of room to improve and be more accountable.”

Cunningham said the budget should prioritize updating the outdated infrastructure, particularly Arlington’s stormwater and flood mitigation systems.

Cunningham and Cambridge both argued for a data-driven approach to solving issues of inequality on Arlington.

“Data and facts should guide us,” Cunningham said. “Our data elements tell us the story of suspensions that begin in kindergarten for black and brown children at much higher rates, and of COVID outcomes right now with over 50% of cases in the Hispanic community. The numbers tell us where we’re doing okay and where we’re not. We should use that to guide our efforts and evaluate the implementation of changes.”

Karantonis argued addressing inequality in Arlington has to go deeper than data and statistics, though, and must look at how different communities in Arlington are prioritized or ignored in county discussions. He pointed to a situation where he said the civic association of a historically Black neighborhood was overlooked in county discussions.

“We have to be active about doing this… including restorative justice efforts and looking at the educational system, making sure people have access to resources,” Takis said. “The numbers are great, but what matters is how people feel.”

Also during the debate, the candidates discussed transit on Columbia Pike. None — including Karantonis, a booster of the Pike streetcar plan while at CPRO — expressed an interest in reviving the cancelled streetcar project, though the candidates “did press for increased attention to mass-transit along the Columbia Pike corridor, and leveled criticism at the county government for not acting fast enough or going far enough in meeting the transit needs of residents there,” the Sun Gazette reported.

The special election is scheduled to be held on July 7.

Image via Arlington Committee of 100

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(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a motorcade arrived at a Rosslyn office building.

Out stepped former Arlington resident Mike Pence. The vice president then made his way up to the offices of the Trump-Pence 2020 reelection campaign to rally the troops amid falling poll numbers.

After it was over, he sent out a tweet: “Stopped by to see the great men and women of the Trump-Pence Team today! Thank you for all of the hard work, keep it up! #FourMoreYears #KAG”

The tweet showed Pence standing in front of a sea of staff members in the Arlington office, with everyone flashing Trump’s signature double thumbs-up.

The problem: staffers were not social distancing and no one was wearing masks, a likely violation of Virginia’s mask requirement for indoor public spaces, as pointed out by local Democratic operative Ben Tribbett. Shortly after he did, Pence’s tweet was deleted.

The incident made some national headlines. While the spread of coronavirus has slowed in Arlington, it has not gone away, and other states are seeing a surge in cases.

Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a stalwart critic of the president, piled on with more criticism.

“This isn’t ‘law and order,'” Beyer said, in reference to Trump’s antagonistic tweets. “It’s a huge problem.”

Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said in a statement Thursday afternoon that no laws were broken that her office can prosecute. She said workplaces are exempted from rules about large gatherings, while the mask requirement is enforced by Virginia Dept. of Health, not local law enforcement.

The full press release about the incident from Beyer’s office is below.

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Morning Notes

Hundreds Protest Along George Mason Drive — Hundreds of people lined George Mason Drive Monday evening to protest racism and support Black Lives Matter. The protest was organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. [Twitter, Twitter]

Break-in at Claremont Elementary — “At approximately 12:30 a.m. on May 31, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary alarm. Arriving officers observed four suspects inside of a building and established a perimeter. While clearing the building, the four suspects were located on the roof and taken into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

Local GOP Amps Up Social Media Presence — “The Arlington County Republican Committee often has a hard time competing with its Democratic counterpart at the ballot box. But the local GOP is working to win the battle of social media. Local Republicans recently announced that Taylor Jack, a rising senior at James Madison University, has joined the party’s public-relations team.” [InsideNova]

Beyer’s GOP Challenger Selected — “The candidate who positioned himself as the more conservative in the field emerged the victor and will become the Republican challenger in a decidedly uphill battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th). Jeff Jordan defeated Mark Ellmore in the 8th District Republican Committee convention.” [InsideNova]

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Former Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt has endorsed a fellow independent in the July 7 County Board special election.

The race, to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall on the Board, features three candidates: Democratic nominee Takis Karantonis, independent Susan Cunningham, and Republican Bob Cambridge.

Vihstadt, who won a historic victory in 2014 before losing his reelection bid in 2018, said in a statement today that Cunningham is a civic leader who will “bring a renewed focus on valuing what’s essential in an open, transparent, and equitable way.” Cunningham said she welcomed the endorsement and is committed to nonpartisan governance.

More from a press release:

“I came to know and respect Susan’s community accomplishments during my County Board tenure. As demonstrated by her collaborative leadership on the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) and on the planning body for the renovated and expanded Dorothy Hamm (formerly Stratford) Middle School, she has a knack for bringing diverse minds together, cutting to the chase, and getting things done,” said Vihstadt.

Vihstadt continued, “We live in precarious times. Susan’s sober, well-informed and independent outlook on what local government can and can’t afford is exactly what the Board needs right now. She’ll speak truth to power and bring a renewed focus on valuing what’s essential in an open, transparent, and equitable way.”

“I am very proud to have earned John’s endorsement,” said Cunningham. “Like John, I’ll bring inclusive, non-partisan leadership, listen to all perspectives, and ask tough questions,” Cunningham added. “John proved that an Independent candidate can win in Arlington. Serving on the Board is not about advancing partisan agendas or political stepping-stones. It’s about doing what is right for all of Arlington — full stop.”

Cunningham’s campaign website — which adopts Vihstadt’s signature purple color — describes the Yale-educated mother of two as “a seasoned executive, entrepreneur, engineer, education reformer, and community leader” who “builds collaborative solutions that break through the status quo without breaking the bank.”

“From COVID-19 to school capacity and Amazon, the next few years will be among the most challenging in Arlington’s history,” the website says. “Susan brings the context and skills Arlington needs now, to act swiftly on top priorities for residents and businesses.”

Among the two other candidates in the race, Karantonis is an economist by training and the former director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. His website says he is “committed to ensuring that our community builds on our legacy of safe and walkable neighborhoods; ethnic and cultural diversity; excellent schools, public places and facilities; fiscal responsibility and accountable governance; and an unwavering commitment to community involvement.”

Cambridge’s website acknowledges the long odds of a Republican being elected in deep blue Arlington, and adds a bit of self-deprecating humor.

“While success is unlikely – there have been no Republican members of the Arlington County Board since 1983 – it is an opportunity to share some ideas and that is to my mind well worth doing,” the website says. A banner at the top reads: “Committee to Elect Bob Cambridge: So far that’s just me, but I am working on convincing my wife.”

Cambridge, an Army veteran who now works as an attorney, says he wants “to see more effective and efficient use of the taxes that I pay each year” and “more ideas can advance that agenda.”

The deadline to register to vote, in time for the July 7 special election, is today (May 26). Early voting is currently underway and absentee ballots can be requested through June 16.

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There will likely be at least one independent candidate in the upcoming Arlington County Board special election.

While Arlington Democrats work to select a nominee internally, Susan Cunningham — a civically-involved mother of two — has announced her intention to run as an independent to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.

“I believe good local government is non-partisan,” she said in her announcement Tuesday morning. “We are all Arlingtonians; I want to work for Arlington’s common good, regardless of party.”

Cunningham outlined a wonky policy agenda, anchored by “data-driven solutions that are financially sound and make Arlington a great place to live and to do business.” Among her priorities are:

  • Planning processes for north-south corridors like Glebe Road and George Mason Drive, similar to efforts underway for Lee Highway (of which she is a participant.)
  • “Needs-based budgeting and efficient delivery of core services,” including “proactive investments in sustainable infrastructure like stormwater, sewers, and emergency management.”
  • Improving transparency and access to public information, while “streamlining community engagement processes to make them more fair, less cumbersome, and more equitable.”
  • Long-term planning for public facilities and “selective upzoning to enhance business viability and housing choice and affordability.”

The filing deadline for candidates to run in the July 7 special election is this Friday at 5 p.m. Arlington County General Registrar Gretchen Reinemeyer tells ARLnow that she has “received some inquiries” from independent candidates, but so far only Cunningham has filed partial paperwork.

One candidate not likely to run: former independent County Board member John Vihstadt.

“While many of you have encouraged me to run in the July 7 special election for the remainder of Erik’s term, I’m enjoying being back into law practice full-time,” he told supporters in an email on Monday. “I’m inclined not to run and am channeling my commitment to Arlington in myriad other ways. But these are precarious times, and I hope someone will still step forward to run who (a) shows a blend of civic leadership and fresh ideas, (b) has a sober, well-informed and independent outlook on what local government can and can’t afford and (c) will question authority and speak truth to power.”

Arlington’s elections office, meanwhile, is expected to announce today that it will not be running a party nomination event ahead of the November County Board general election. The expected announcement comes after Libby Garvey’s would-be challenger, Chanda Choun, withdrew from the primary in order to seek the Democratic nod in the special election. Polls will still be open June 23 for a Republican U.S. Senate primary.

With elections in June and July, and a presidential election in November — all amid the coronavirus pandemic and some legally uncharted territory — Reinemeyer said Arlington election officials have been keeping “very busy” in 2020.

The full announcement from Cunningham is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Social Distancing Decline in Arlington? — “On April 20 in Arlington County, Va., nearly half of cellphones that SafeGraph provided data for were staying at home. Over the next couple days in that suburb of Washington, D.C., the number declined to one-third — as low as it was during the middle of March. It has since increased but is still down from its peak.” [NPR]

Masks Now Required at Costco — “Costco has announced new guidelines for its stores and is requiring all customers — age 3 and older — to wear masks before entering stores beginning Monday, May 4.” [MSN]

MU Launches Program for New Economy — “Marymount has launched ‘Upskilling for the What’s Next Economy,’ a unique and comprehensive range of modular graduate certificates and degree qualifications that will provide students with technical, management, entrepreneurial and leadership skills and get them back to work.” [Marymount University]

Most of Foundation’s COVID Funds Exhausted — “Sixty-five Arlington nonprofits have received a total of nearly $800,000 in emergency response support from the Arlington Community Foundation COVID-19 Prompt Response Fund. On Giving Tuesday Now and throughout the week of May 4, the Community Foundation hopes Arlington residents and businesses will help replenish the fund to meet continuing urgent, crisis-related needs.” [Press Release]

Progress on I-66 Sound Walls — “Glad to see @VaDOT making progress on the installation of new noise barrier walls along I-66E in Arlington and Falls Church.” [@HopeforVirginia/Twitter]

School Board Candidates Worry About Accessibility — “Arlington Public Schools needs to do a better job of designing facilities that provide improved accessibility, candidates for School Board say, and should go well beyond consideration of physical disabilities in its design process.” [InsideNova]

Sims Scores Second Sitting Senator’s Support — “U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Cory Booker have announced their official endorsements for Arlington Virginia School Board candidate Terron Sims II.” [Press Release]

Campbell Elementary Teacher Featured on TV — “An Arlington County teacher is coming up with creative ways to keep her students engaged during distance learning. News4’s Leon Harris introduces Nicole Croce.” [NBC 4]

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While they can’t meet in person, the five candidates vying for the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s School Board endorsement will meet virtually tomorrow (Tuesday) for a debate.

There are two spots opening on the School Board, with incumbents Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren not running for reelection. The candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement are Steven KriegerCristina Diaz-TorresDavid PriddySandy Munnell, and Terron Sims. A sixth candidate, Symone Walker, is no longer seeking the Democratic endorsement and is instead running as an independent.

The debate will be streamed on Facebook Live on the Arlington Young Democrats page starting at 7 p.m., according to the event listing.

Questions for the forum should be sent in advance online.

“We are excited to be hosting a forum along with Arlington Dems before the deadline to request a School Board caucus ballot,” Arlington Young Democrats said on the event page. “Arlington registered voters may request a ballot by (a) completing and submitting an online ballot request form or (b) downloading and mailing a PDF version of the ballot request form. (We also are happy to provide a hard copy printout of the ballot request form to anyone who needs one.)”

To vote in the caucus, ballots must be received by May 7.

Image via Arlington Young Democrats/Facebook

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(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) Arlington residents will select a new County Board member on July 7, following the resignation of the late Erik Gutshall.

Gutshall resigned from the Board just 10 days before passing away from brain cancer on Thursday, April 16.

Earlier this afternoon, Arlington Circuit Court Chief Judge William T. Newman, Jr. set Tuesday, July 7 as the special election date for Gutshall’s successor, who serve out the rest of his term through the end of 2021.

State law “provides that the special election shall be held not less than sixty days and not more than eighty days after the occurrence of the vacancy,” Newman noted in his decision. It cannot be held “within the fifty-five days prior to a general or primary election.” The statewide Virginia non-presidential primary this year is scheduled for June 23.

Late Friday afternoon, in an emergency meeting, Arlington’s Electoral Board set a candidate filing deadline of Friday, May 8.

Following the selection of the filing deadline, the Arlington County Democratic Committee announced that it would be holding a closed caucus among its Steering Committee and County Committee members, unless Gov. Ralph Northam and the state legislature act to push the special election date back.

More from an email sent by the local party to members:

Arlington Democrats believe a vote-by-mail nomination caucus open to all Democratic registered voters in Arlington would best serve the interests of democracy and Arlington voters in this unprecedented time of public health crisis. But, in order to meet the aggressive timeline set by the laws of Virginia, it is impossible to facilitate a vote-by-mail nomination process. This leaves the Arlington Democrats with no option but to select the Democratic nominee through a closed virtual caucus, which involves a vote by the members of its Steering Committee and County Committee that will conclude by May 7.

Arlington Democrats is prepared to transform this virtual nomination process — which is detailed in the Arlington Democrats’ new special election webpage — into a vote-by-mail process open to all Democratic registered voters in Arlington if the nomination period is extended to encompass a two-month period. Arlington Democrats is actively exploring options to achieve this extension, including through consultation with multiple legal counsel.

Arlington Democrats also is asking Governor Northam and the General Assembly to move the special election date so that political parties have the ability to hold an open nomination process, while respecting necessary social distancing measures. Please help us to fight for the voting rights of Arlington voters by signing this petition — act today!

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