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Voting at Swanson Middle School in November 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington could use ranked choice voting in next year’s primaries, ARLnow reported yesterday.

From our article:

The system, also known as “instant runoff,” prompts voters to rank candidates and a winner is selected over the course of many elimination rounds.

The Board could vote in November to introduce ranked-choice voting (RCV) during the primaries next June. […]

The survey of voter preferences went live yesterday (Wednesday). From now until Nov. 4, locals can share any comments and questions they have about RCV, whether they’ve voted that way before and — on a scale of “very unfavorably” to “very favorably” — how they view it.

The county may be surveying residents, but we also wanted to gauge reader opinions on ranked choice voting, which some see as a way to encourage more candidate diversity while minimizing the chance that a fringe candidate wins due to other candidates splitting the vote.

RCV is also being recommended by a citizen task force that was charged with recommending ways to improve Arlington politics.

Opponents say ranked choice is confusing to voters, produces results similar to standard plurality voting, and is inferior to conducting an actual runoff election between the top vote-getting candidates.

What do you think?

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Voting stickers (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Ranked-choice voting could be coming to Arlington as soon as next spring.

But first, the county wants residents to share whether they would like to vote this way for Arlington County Board members. The system, also known as “instant runoff,” prompts voters to rank candidates and a winner is selected over the course of many elimination rounds.

The Board could vote in November to introduce ranked-choice voting (RCV) during the primaries next June.

“In proposing we do this resolution in November, I’m trying to maximize the amount of time for outreach,” Board Chair Katie Cristol said during a meeting on Tuesday. “We probably don’t want to start advertising a new election system before this year’s election, lest we sow confusion.”

The survey of voter preferences went live yesterday (Wednesday). From now until Nov. 4, locals can share any comments and questions they have about RCV, whether they’ve voted that way before and — on a scale of “very unfavorably” to “very favorably” — how they view it.

“I know Board members are still forming their opinions, but I do think there is more appetite for taking on primaries as a pilot,” Cristol said. “We’re all really looking forward to hearing from the community directly.”

Ranked-choice voting graphic (via Arlington County)

She said 2023 is an ideal year to introduce the new system, since two County Board seats will be on the ballot.

“Voters are more likely to see a difference between ranked-choice voting and the traditional system, and learn how the system works,” she said.

Two-seat years already have an element of ranking, said Board Member Libby Garvey. During such races, she said she would ask voters for their second vote if she wasn’t their No. 1 pick.

“So it really keeps you from being too partisan and too negative, which I think will be a very good thing these days,” she said. “It might bring back some civility in our public life, which would be great.”

Proponents also say it helps more moderate candidates get elected while opponents say it confuses voters.

Legally, the Board has until March 22, 2023 to enact RCV for the June 20 primary, Director of Elections Gretchen Reinemeyer tells ARLnow. State law requires a lead time of 90 days.

“Since Ranked Choice Voting could impact someone’s decision to run for office, it’s my understanding that the preference is to determine if RCV will be used in advance of the campaign filing window,” she said in an email. “The filing deadline for candidates is January [to] March.”

The change would only apply to primaries run by the Office of Elections, she said. Early next year, local political parties will declare whether they will pick their nominee via a primary run by Arlington’s election office or a party-run convention.

“If the County Board approves a resolution that the primary in 2023 will use RCV, then that is the only option the parties will have if they choose to have a county-run primary,” she said. “They still have the option to choose to run their own nominating event.”

This time last year, Board members signaled interest in using instant runoff for the 2022 primary but that didn’t happen because Arlington needed the state Department of Elections to update its machines and codify standards for administering elections this way, Cristol said.

Technically, the county has had the ability to enact RCV since 2021. At the request of Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), the state granted Arlington the ability to test out the system one year before other Virginia localities, which were permitted to implement ranked-choice voting on or after July 1, 2022.

Moving forward before the state “would’ve cost us millions of dollars” to buy new machines to process the votes, Cristol said.

Independent candidates for County Board have criticized the decision to wait last year and this year. Candidate Adam Theo has chalked it up to a lack of political will, seeing as the system could make it easier for candidates without a party endorsement to win.

Last fall, the Arlington Electoral Board conducted public engagement with a Q&A and a “mock election,” in which participants used ranked-choice voting to choose their favorite farmers market.

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Arlington County Board “Missing Middle” work session (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Arlington County and School boards would be more competitive and diverse if they were bigger, better-paid and elected via ranked-choice voting, says a group of community leaders and former elected officials.

For about two years, members of the Arlington County Civic Federation Task Force in Government and Election Reform (TiGER) considered how to improve county politics by meeting with community members and hearing from other jurisdictions.

TiGER suggests elections where voters rank candidates by preference, with winners selected over the course of elimination rounds. It recommends expanding the five-member County and School boards to seven, paying them more, and electing three to four members every two years. To increase the boards’ sway in the region, chairs would have two-year terms, with the possibility for a second term.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity right now to improve both the electoral and governance systems of the county to ensure that both the County Board and School Board better represent our diverse community as well as promote effective citizen engagement with our county government,” Allan Gajadhar, TiGER chair and immediate past president of CivFed, told the Arlington Committee of 100 last week.

Some of these ideas are already on the table: Early next year, the Arlington County Board could consider ranked-choice voting, which Virginia has allowed since July 2021. Meanwhile, $20,000 raises for County Board members were part of the Fiscal Year 2023 county budget (for the School Board, wages sit at only $25,000 for members and $27,000 for the chair).

Instead, some attendees were interested in bigger changes, including one TiGER ultimately dismissed: district-based representation.

They pressed Gajadhar and another TiGER member, former School Board Chair Tannia Talento, to explain why redistricting won’t work. They asked if Arlington should become a city with a mayor, or if voters should elect the County Manager, who the County Board appoints.

One asked whether chairs should be elected for four-year terms, not chosen by sitting board members to lead for one year. Another expressed interest in setting aside a County Board seat or two for members of non-dominant political parties.

Problems facing Arlington today

TiGER levied heavy criticism of Arlington’s political landscape. It said the County and School boards do not adequately reflect the the county’s racial and ethnic, socioeconomic and viewpoint diversity, in part because Arlington has had five-person boards since 1930, despite the population being eight times larger today.

Elections don’t ensure proportional representation, encourage the most qualified and diverse candidates or provide competitive races in general elections, it said. Primaries and caucuses discourage people from running and voting and prevent federal employees from running.

These critiques are shared by independent County Board candidates and skeptics of how the Arlington County Democratic Party endorses candidates for the non-partisan School Board. Those who lose the caucus in the spring agree not to run unaffiliated in November, making the end result similar to a primary.

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County Board candidates Adam Theo, Audrey Clement and Matt de Ferranti (via Facebook)

For voters, evaluating Arlington County Board candidate views of Missing Middle will look a lot like Goldilocks sampling porridge.

Three familiar names are vying for a seat on the County Board: incumbent Matt de Ferranti and his independent challengers Audrey Clement and Adam Theo, who have both ran for a seat on the Board before — Clement numerous times before.

Now, potential Missing Middle zoning changes are becoming a key battleground for the candidates, as both community support and opposition intensifies. The two-year study is entering a final phase of community discussion before it is slated to go to the Planning Commission and County Board for consideration as early as this year.

County Board, School Board and congressional candidates fielded multiple questions from members of the Arlington County Civic Federation last night (Tuesday) during its annual candidates forum. The Civic Federation previously took up the issue of Missing Middle, passing a resolution saying residents need more negotiating power during upzoning and land-use proposal proceedings.

During Tuesday night’s questioning at the Hazel Auditorium in Virginia Hospital Center, Theo said he is “a huge fan” of Missing Middle because “it’s about not squeezing the middle class anymore, of allowing opportunities, options and housing types.”

Clement reiterated her equally entrenched opposition to it as “a scheme to rezone Arlington’s residential neighborhoods for much higher density multi-family dwellings,” which will keep housing types out of reach for anyone not making six figures.

De Ferranti, meanwhile, says he supports the construction of low-density units up to a point.

“Your input has led me to oppose eight plexes as not being worth the cost,” he added. “Your input has led me to tier the ideas so that the smallest lots would have duplexes and as you get to the largest plots, more density would be allowed.”

None, however, pronounced the county’s community engagement efforts as “just right.”

The Goldilocks principle reappeared when candidates discussed whether to do away with first-past-the-post voting for their seats and replace it with ranked-choice voting (RCV) for County Board elections.

Under this system, which has support from some current Board members and which the county has tested out, voters rank candidates by preference and a winner is selected over the course of many elimination rounds.

Clement, an independent, said it would increase competition in otherwise predictable election cycles. Theo agreed.

“Ranked-choice voting has potential, and I want it now in Arlington County,” he said.

Both independents support the change for general elections, while de Ferranti said he is supportive of it for primaries and more cautious about using it for the general election.

“It’s something I’m supportive of,” de Ferranti said. “There are fair critiques with respect to the simplicity and timeliness — as we just saw in Alaska — of the results.”

The County Board may consider ranked-choice voting before January, de Ferranti said.

While expressing support for ranked-choice voting, Clement claimed it would not work in Arlington because of media bias.

“Unfortunately, ranked-choice voting only works in competitive elections, where the media are unbiased and endorse candidates on their merits. That is not how media operate in Arlington,” Clement said. “A continual stream of press releases by and features about those who promote the status quo are published as news, together with biased editorials, all but guaranteeing the defeat of their challengers.”

(ARLnow no longer publishes opinion columns and has never endorsed candidates for office, though the Sun Gazette routinely publishes editorials and letters to the editor.)

Like their County Board counterparts, School Board candidates Bethany Sutton and Vell Rives said they would work to improve community engagement.

“A change I might make is to make sure we have multiple ways for people to engage and we are deliberately transparent as to how all that engagement has factored into the board’s decision making,” said Sutton, who received the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee after another candidate, Brandon Clark, withdrew from the caucus and then the election entirely.

Rives, meanwhile, said the School Board needs to vote on all “massive decisions,” such as extended school closures or starting a new school.

Sutton and Rives both said a chief concern is addressing student mental health. Both said APS can tighten security at school entrances, while Rives supports reinstating School Resource Officers and Sutton called for clear, consistent emergency communications.

The School Board removed school-based police officers last summer, citing racial disparities in juvenile arrests in Arlington. Following the decision, the Arlington County Police Department said it would be a challenge to staff the program again.

The two School Board candidates both support the construction of a new Arlington Career Center, but criticized how the project was discussed and the strain it could put on future budgets.

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Morning Notes

Ballston at twilight with storm clouds looming (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Issues at Court House Station — Noted in a new Washington Metrorail Safety Commission report on the maintenance, cleaning and inspections of automatic train control systems: “For example, at Court House Station on the Orange and Silver Lines, a technician noted racks that were dusty and covered with black soot and noted that an electronic-friendly vacuum cleaner was required for proper cleaning, but no work order was opened. The records also showed missing manuals and reference documents, but no work order was opened.” [WMSC]

Anniversary of Pentagon Officer’s LODD — “Pentagon Police Cpl. George Gonzalez died in the line of duty one year ago today. At the Training Range named for him, members of his Pentagon Force Protection Agency platoon honored Gonzalez again on Tuesday.” [WJLA]

School Board Race Fundraising — “For the period through June 30, independent James ‘Vell’ Rives IV outraised Democratic endorsee Bethany Sutton by $14,286 to $13,132, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Elections. But from those figures you have to subtract the $7,000 loan that Rives gave his campaign, and also chop off a couple of thousand dropped in by Sutton family members to hers, when parsing the data.” [Sun Gazette]

Light Pole Knocked Down on the Pike — “Scanner: Columbia Pike temporary shut down at S. Wakefield Street after a vehicle ran into a county light pole, knocking it down. Driver reported to be injured, but not seriously.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — After a stormy Thursday night comes another hot day with rain and strong storms in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A runner passes a construction site in Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Capital Plan, Bond Referenda Approved — “The Arlington County Board has unanimously approved a $3.9 billion ten-year Capital Improvement Plan that focuses on stormwater management and flood response, climate and environmental programs, parks, transportation, and community infrastructure over the next decade… [as well as] bond referenda totaling $510.5 million to be put before Arlington voters on the November ballot.” [Arlington County]

GOP Group Wants Fewer Vote Drops — “A Republican group seeking to have Arlington election officials reduce the number of 24-hour voting dropboxes in the county got something of a cold shoulder at the July 14 Electoral Board meeting… Representatives of a national Republican voter-integrity effort asked that the number of dropboxes be reduced from nine to as few as three, citing both cost and ballot-integrity issues.” [Sun Gazette]

Primary Voting Stats — “About 57 percent of the just over 25,000 voters who cast ballots in the primary did so on Election Day at polling precincts, according to data reported to Arlington Electoral Board members on July 14. About 30 percent cast ballots by mail, and the remaining 13 percent cast ballots in advance at one of three early-voting sites.” [Sun Gazette]

Car Show This Weekend — The Green Valley antique and classic car show is happening this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at Drew Elementary School. The 8th annual event will also feature a parade. [Twitter]

Family Bike Ride Planned — From Kidical Mass ARL: “Tour de Spraygrounds! This Saturday 7/23 meet at 11am at Mosaic Park in @Ballston (come early to play in the water!) We’ll bike on neighborhood streets down to the sprayground at @PenroseSquare. All are welcome. Tell your friends.” [Twitter]

Car Crash PSA — From Dave Statter: “Video of the crash with 1 hurt this afternoon on I-395N at Boundary Channel provides a good reminder. Before getting out of your vehicle after a collision make sure it’s safe to do so & your vehicle is secure & won’t continue to roll.” [Twitter]

Arlington-Born Gym Expanding — “A boutique gym is bringing its boxing-inspired workouts to Fairfax County. Introduced to Rosslyn in 2018, BASH Boxing will soon extend its reach beyond Arlington County for the first time with a new studio at the Mosaic District in Merrifield.” [FFXnow]

It’s Thursday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 92 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Voting at Swanson Middle School in Westover in November 2021 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The ballot for the general election has been set, with three races to be decided by local voters.

Multiple candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and the 8th Congressional District have qualified for the ballot. The first day of in-person early voting is Friday, Sept. 23 and the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 17, according to Arlington’s election office.

8th Congressional District

In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer overcame challenger Victoria Virasingh. Beyer goes on to the general election to face the GOP nominee, Arlington resident Karina A. Lipsman, and independent candidate Teddy Fikre.

The seat for the 8th District, which encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, has been held by a Democrat for decades. Beyer won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment,” said an email from the Arlington GOP after the nomination.

Lipsman, who is originally from Ukraine, outlines priorities such as supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion on her website. She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools and vocational training programs.

Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.

Fikre’s website says he is an IT project manager with an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, cares about inclusive justice and “implementing policies that restore fairness in America and enacting laws that are rooted in love.” Among issues he’s focused on are making taxes voluntary for the working, middle and upper-middle-class, as well as forgiving all student loans.

Arlington County Board

Three familiar names are up for consideration for a County Board seat. Incumbent Matt de Ferranti was not challenged for the Democratic nomination.

During his tenure on the board, de Ferranti says he has focused on Covid response, racial equity and priorities like affordable housing, hunger, climate change and school funding.

Two independent candidates will also be on the ballot — and not for their first time — seeking a seat.

Independent Adam Theo, who is vice president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, is running on a platform of expanding government accountability, prioritizing public safety and making housing affordable. Theo describes himself as “a fierce non-partisan free-thinking ‘progressive libertarian.'” He was previously deployed to eastern Afghanistan while serving in the Air Force Reserve as a civil engineer.

This is Theo’s second time running for the County Board in as many years. Last year, he ran in a crowded County Board race for the seat that Democrat Takis Karantonis occupies.

Civic activist Audrey Clement is also running as an independent, seeking to reduce taxes, stop up-zoning, and preserve parks, trees and historic places. She said on her website she’s running “because the Board has pushed harmful policies resulting in: overcrowded schools, gentrification, loss of green space, and a 10 year average annual effective tax rate increase that is twice the rate of inflation.”

The Westover resident has been a perennial candidate over the last decade or so and says she believes once people realize the ‘Missing Middle’ housing push will rezone some neighborhoods, they will support a candidate like her.

Arlington School Board

After some commotion surrounding the Democratic endorsement for the School Board seat up for grabs, only two names will be on the ballot: James Vell Rives and Bethany Sutton.

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Morning Notes

Raining Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Medic Saves Man at Nats Game — “The Clements were sitting in the front row of section 209 when John suffered a heart attack. He thought he was going to die… Jamie Jill, an Arlington County EMT, and Lindy Prevatt, an emergency room nurse, were sitting in different sections when they saw something was wrong and jumped into action.” [NBC 4]

Arlington Soccer Players on National TV — A group of Arlington Soccer players were prominently featured last night on an NBC Nightly News segment on the 50th anniversary of Title IX. [Twitter]

Would-Be Candidate Changes Mind — “Brandon Clark is officially off the Nov. 8 ballot for School Board after he decided not to make the run. Clark, a public-school teacher, initially announced plans to seek the Democratic endorsement for the School Board seat being vacated by Barbara Kanninen. But he later dropped that bid, saying he instead would run as an independent in the general election. Then he changed his mind again, getting out of the race entirely.” [Sun Gazette]

Rail Bridge Proposal Advancing — “For now, a single rail bridge carries millions of Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express passengers and freight trains between Virginia and D.C. each year. But a $1.8 billion expansion plan to ease that congestion and add a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists spanning the Potomac River is picking up steam… The National Capital Planning Commission is scheduled to vote July 7 on the project’s preliminary site development plans.” [Washington Business Journal]

May Home Sales Stayed Strong — “It’s an admittedly lagging indicator in a fast-evolving market, but Arlington home sales held up strong in May, according to new data, overcoming inventory challenges and a more complex economic environment. A total of 313 properties went to closing during the month, down just 6 (or 1.9%) from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 74 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Parkour in Gateway Park in Rosslyn before the rain (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Beyer Wins 8th District NominationUpdated at 9:50 a.m. — “Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District. Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month… With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.” [WTOP, Fox 5]

Statement from Beyer — “I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District… This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress.” [Twitter]

Singing Challenger’s Praises — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “Thank you to @Victoria4VA for running and raising important issues in our community. It’s never easy to step into the arena and, win or lose, we should all be grateful to those who do. I am sure we have not heard the last of Victoria!” [Twitter]

Man Drowns in Four Mile Run — “No foul play is suspected in the drowning death of a 52-year-old man in Four Mile Run, according to Alexandria Police. Police were called around 2 p.m. on Monday, June 20. Rescuers found the man in the stream near the 3900 block of Richmond Highway.” [ALXnow]

Neighbors Want Public Garage — “County, regional and state officials descended on Shirlington Road on June 15, ceremonially kicking off construction of a much-awaited and oft-debated maintenance facility for the Arlington Transit (ART) bus fleet… But the proposal still calls for using a parking garage on the parcel exclusively for staff use. ‘Given local parking challenges, a little creative thinking would open sections of the garage for public use, too,’ Stombler said.” [Sun Gazette]

Acquisition for Arlington Company — “Leonardo DRS Inc., the Arlington subsidiary of Italian defense and space contractor Leonardo SpA, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. in an all-stock deal that will create a new public company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Storms Possible Today — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Heads-up for Wednesday afternoon + evening: HEAVY RAIN threat for parts of region and possibility of flooding. * Storms — possibly numerous — between 3 and 10p * It won’t rain the whole time but some areas could see multiple bouts of heavy rain — evening may be busiest.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Rain and storms in the evening and overnight. High of 86 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) Today is the last chance Arlingtonians have to vote in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives.

In-person voting is underway for the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, in which incumbent Rep. Don Beyer faces political newcomer and Arlington resident Victoria Virasingh.

As of 9 a.m., Election Day turnout was just 1% so far, according to the Arlington County elections office. By 1:30 p.m. it was up to 3%. With early voting and mail ballots, turnout is around 7% of registered voters total.

Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She was previously part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and tech company Palantir.

Virasingh’s website lists some campaign priorities as housing for all, equity in education, securing a living wage and Medicare for all.

Beyer has held onto the 8th District — which also includes Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County — since he won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.

The winner will face any non-Democratic candidates in November, including GOP-nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman.

How to vote

Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, because Virginia is an open primary state. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, was May 31.

Polling locations are open until 7 p.m. Voters must cast their ballots at their assigned location, which can be found on the Virginia elections website.

If mailing a ballot, it must be postmarked no later than today or delivered in person today, according to the Arlington County elections website.

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State Senate candidate Nicole Merlene in 2019 (staff photo)

A would-be Democratic candidate for a House of Delegates seat in Arlington says she decided not to run due to home affordability concerns.

Nicole Merlene announced her intention to run for the newly-redrawn District 2 seat but late last month announced again that she had reconsidered.

“After much consideration I have made a personal decision not to seek the nomination for Virginia’s House of Delegates 2nd District in 2023,” she wrote at the time. “To those who have donated to me, you will receive a full refund of your kind contributions. Arlington has a bright future, and I am confident it will be well represented moving forward.”

(The only other Democrat to announce their intention to run for the seat so far is Adele McClure, Executive Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.)

Merlene, a former ARLnow opinion columnist who previously sought the Democratic nod for state Senate and County Board, revealed in an email to supporters Tuesday that her decision actually stemmed from housing affordability: she was unable to find a home she wanted to buy and could afford in District 2.

She wrote:

It has been a lifelong goal of mine to own a home. After 5 months searching in the 2nd District it became obvious this wasn’t in the cards. A policy that I have always preached is that people of all backgrounds need an equal opportunity to build wealth — through affordable education, well paying jobs, and the greatest investment in the American economy, owning a home. It would not be of service to the 2nd District to serve for just one or two terms and then move, and it would be a disservice to myself to continue to rent just to run for office when I have the ability to invest in myself and own a home.

After ending my bid for office, the search for a home became open to the entire DC and northern Virginia area. Truth be told, my perfect first home was actually right here in Arlington, just not in the new 2nd District. I look forward to engaging with all of you as I continue to deepen my roots here as a homeowner. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.

District 2 mostly consists of several Metro corridor communities — Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Crystal City and Pentagon City — as well as the single-family home neighborhoods surrounding them.

Merlene, who previously said affordable housing would be one of her top campaign issues, tells ARLnow she was able to buy a small house along a main road in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.

Merlene noted that she only formed an exploratory committee for the 2023 race and was not officially a candidate. Candidate filings are typically made starting in January.

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