A Democratic County Board member endorsing a Democratic County Board candidate is not usually noteworthy, but Garvey and Gutshall were engaged in a sometimes bitter primary battle last year. Gutshall later endorsed Garvey after she won the primary.
In today’s endorsement, Garvey said Gutshall — who handily won this year’s primary for retiring Board member Jay Fisette’s seat — will bring a breadth of local experience “to help guide the many difficult decisions that we have to make on behalf of our community.”
More from a Gutshall campaign press release:
Today Libby Garvey announced her endorsement of Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board. The victor on Election Day this November 7th will fill a vacancy on the board left by retiring County Board Chair Jay Fisette. Gutshall is the Democratic nominee.
“Erik has seen Arlington from many different perspectives: resident, APS parent, small business owner, charity board member, commission chair, and more. He will bring that breadth of experience to the County Board table to help guide the many difficult decisions that we have to make on behalf of our community,” said Garvey in making her announcement. She also noted that, “Erik and I have a shared interest in making county government accessible for all Arlington residents. I look forward to working together with him to ensure that we listen to all residents and communicate effectively with them, and that we streamline public processes so it is easier to engage, and create new channels for residents to observe and participate in their government.”
In response to Ms. Garvey’s endorsement, Gutshall released this statement:
“I am honored and very grateful to have Libby’s endorsement; it means a lot to me. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work with Libby and the other board members to reboot civic engagement. I believe we reach the best decisions when we rely on accurate data, transparent and impartial analysis, and fair consideration of all viewpoints. The chief responsibility of the County Board is to create the environment for good decision-making by ensuring our county government conducts every transaction with our community in a totally honest, transparent, and open manner. Residents should never feel that an answer was already baked into the process. We both agree this is the essence of solving our problems as a community.”
Libby Garvey served 15 years on the Arlington County School Board, including five terms as chair, prior to being elected to serve on the Arlington County Board in 2012. After Garvey’s victory over Gutshall in the 2016 Democratic Primary, he proudly endorsed her for her successful re-election bid to a second term on the Arlington County Board.
With Election Day less than a month away, candidates for the Arlington County Board and School Board are honing in on their final pitches to voters.
And at a forum Wednesday night at Marymount University hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100, the six candidates clashed on a range of issues, from how to engage more millennials in county government to closing the achievement gap in Arlington Public Schools.
The format varied from previous forums, as each candidate was able to ask a question of their opponents before taking further questions from the audience.
Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady, who were victorious in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s caucus earlier this year for County Board and School Board, respectively, both touted their experience in county issues.
Both agreed that while Arlington is largely on the right course, it can do better. Gutshall, who is the current chair of the Planning Commission, said the county must not make too many concessions to developers on proposed site plans.
“If we don’t stick to our plans and our negotiations… and we don’t stick to our values, then we’ve lost,” he said.
Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement pointed to her regular attendance at the body’s monthly meetings as relevant experience.
And fellow independent Charles McCullough II said that beyond his involvement in the South Arlington Working Group among others, he would represent a fresh face with new ideas if elected to the County Board.
“We need to have other ideas, other experiences,” he said.
On the budget, Clement criticized the Board’s practice of spending closeout funds from higher tax revenue than anticipated. She said that the money should be paid forward to the following year to relieve the tax burden, rather than directed to “pet projects to satisfy its particularized constituencies.”
McCullough argued that developers in Arlington must pay their “fair share” to help make up budget shortfalls, while Gutshall said that rising property values must not be treated as a “blank check” for increased spending.
Among the School Board candidates, there were some sharp differences. O’Grady and fellow candidate Alison Dough agreed that the Arlington Career Center represents a “good opportunity” for a fourth comprehensive high school. But Mike Webb, running for School Board after an unsuccessful tilt at Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, disagreed.
Instead, he said, School Board members should focus on ensuring instruction is as good as possible, and that no students are left behind.
“Before we build another high school, we have to think about the achievement gap that affects all our students,” Webb said.
And on the subject of the upcoming boundary changes in Arlington Public Schools, Dough said that more immersion schools where classes are taught in more than one language could help relieve the capacity pressures on other buildings.
Dough, who said her special needs child inspired her to run for School Board, suggested more language programs, like immersion in Chinese, French or Russian to help APS students embrace new cultures.
“Let’s look at the boundary issue differently and give our parents a reason to switch schools,” she said.
And with the nationwide opioid epidemic also touching Arlington, O’Grady said parents and students alike must be educated on the risks and solutions.
“It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our communities,” she said. “Let’s come together to learn how to deal with this.”
All six agreed on the need for elected officials to encourage more county residents to get involved, and help uphold the so-called “Arlington Way.”
“We need to be opening that door,” Webb said. “We have to build that pathway to leadership.”
The candidates will face off in another forum Sunday (October 15) hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
The three candidates for Arlington County Board agreed on the need for more affordable housing at a forum Tuesday night, but offered differing methods on how to achieve it.
Speaking at a forum hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation at Virginia Hospital Center, the traditional kick-off for the fall campaign season, Audrey Clement, Erik Gutshall and Charles McCullough all argued more can be done.
McCullough, an independent endorsed by the Arlington Green Party, said the county must expand its use of rental assistance programs, especially for the likes of teachers and public safety workers like firefighters and police officers.
Democratic nominee Gutshall argued that the county should use its existing Affordable Housing Master Plan to create what he described as “missing middle housing” like apartments and townhouses for middle-income residents near Metro stations and along major thoroughfares.
“It’s a great formula to redefine our development paradigm and creates housing for the middle class,” he said.
To help prevent continued losses of such housing, Clement said the county should designate more areas as Local Historic Districts to capture architectural heritage and be tougher on developers.
McCullough agreed that developers should be held to a higher standard and compelled to provide more affordable housing and other amenities.
“For too long, development has meant displacement,” McCullough said. “That should not be the way, but unfortunately that has become the Arlington Way.”
Talk of the so-called “Arlington Way” of engaging with residents and gathering extensive community feedback came up when the candidates discussed how to get more people involved in local issues.
Clement argued that the Democrat-dominated County Board deters participation, as does a sense that controversial agenda items are left to the end of monthly meetings.
“It is really an endurance contest and that is really what discourages public participation,” Clement said.
Another emphasis of Gutshall: helping more small businesses open and operate more easily in Arlington. That follows reports of businesses having difficulty navigating the county’s permitting and inspection bureaucracy.
Earlier in the forum, Gutshall argued that he would go beyond party politics, and that the county’s progress has been not down to Democratic values, but “Arlington values.”
Gutshall emphasized that he was not a “hand-picked choice” of his party, after Democrats’ use of a caucus to pick their nominee was criticized as undemocratic by Clement. Both independents argued they would be unencumbered by any need to play “party politics” if elected to the Board.
“I tend to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and that’s where the voters are,” Clement said, noting that she previously was a member of the Greens but became “disillusioned” after it veered too far left.
“We need to be able to have an unencumbered voice for the issues we have right now,” McCullough added.
It may appear overshadowed by this year’s statewide races and political strife nationally, but the three Arlington County Board candidates are hard at work preparing for the fall campaign season.
Things get into high gear as the Arlington County Civic Federation hosts its first candidate forum, the traditional curtain-raiser on the final few months before Election Day. The forum will be held on Tuesday, September 5 in Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel Auditorium ( ive).
And the candidates — Democratic nominee Erik Gutshall, and independents Audrey Clement and Charles McCullough II — said they are looking forward to getting into the campaign’s final stages and winning over more voters in upcoming debates.
“It’s also education of people, because I think there can be misconceptions about what I stand for and where I come from and those that don’t know me real well… might believe things about me that are flatly untrue, demonstrably untrue,” Gutshall said. “People getting a chance to see who I really am and what I stand for, I think could happen from those forums to the extent I’m able to reach people who didn’t participate in the Democratic caucus process.”
First-time candidate McCullough said he welcomed the opportunity to keep putting his progressive message forward and introducing his policy ideas to more and more people.
“What’s nice about getting in front of folks, just like I’ve been doing this entire time, what’s good is to be able to present that inclusive vision of Arlington and what it means to have a putting people-first attitude of policymaking,” he said. “[When] I’m able to forward that vision, the momentum is going to grow.”
Clement, a perennial candidate, said she is hopeful of picking up more votes as the statewide races come into the spotlight more and more. In last year’s election against Libby Garvey and on the same ballot as the Presidential race, Clement received just over 27,000 votes, something she put down to the high-profile nature of that race.
She said after the violence in Charlottesville at a white supremacist rally, Virginia’s elections take on added significance and that could help her.
“Last year, even though basically Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly took the county, I got a very sizable number of votes because the turnout was so high,” Clement said. “That’s not going to happen this year, but the Charlottesville incident has probably increased interest in the Governor’s race and that should help me. Insurgents always benefit from increased turnout.”
The Democrats running for Arlington County Board and the Virginia House of Delegates say they are united with the Board in its desire to rename Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway.
Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall and incumbent House of Delegates candidates Mark Levine, Patrick Hope, Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Alfonso Lopez praised the County Board’s stand. In a statement, an excerpt of which is below, all five applauded what they described as “a powerful statement from the Arlington County Board rejecting racism and bigotry.”
The county will need to first obtain the legal authority to rename both stretches of state highway within its borders, an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. But the incumbents pledged to try to do so, so the county can choose “who in our history we want to honor and celebrate.”
Erik Gutshall, Democratic nominee for Arlington County Board, said “I am proud to live in a community that has long shared the values of diversity and inclusion. I fully embrace the County Board’s determination to garner local control of the names of our roadways, as I know Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly do.”
“It’s long past time for us to rename highways that were labeled to send a hateful and divisive message to people of color in our community,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49th District), House Democratic Whip. “I look forward to working with the Arlington County Board to make sure they have the necessary authority from the General Assembly to make these important changes.”
Delegate Patrick Hope (47th District) said, “I have long-supported the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway in Arlington and commend the Arlington County Board for this bold statement of leadership. I look forward to supporting legislation to grant Arlington and all localities the freedom to rename buildings, roads, and to remove monuments that do not reflect our values.”
“Giving localities the authority to rename highways — like Jefferson Davis Highway — is long overdue,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan (48th District), “This is not about erasing or trying to change history — indeed, we must never forget the evil that led to our Civil War. Rather, this is about a community choosing who in our history we want to honor and celebrate. Arlington County should have that choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ This matters, and I applaud the County Board for choosing not to be silent on this important issue.”
“I’m very pleased that the Arlington County Board is committed to renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway, ” said Delegate Mark Levine (45th District). “Changing those street signs will no longer honor the Mississippi traitor (with little or no connection to Arlington) who was President of a rebellious group of states that seceded from the union to enforce and protect their cruel and odious institution of slavery. Street signs bearing the current name of this highway do a gross injustice to Arlingtonians who are loyal to their nation and who abhor slavery. I know the vast majority of us are looking forward to seeing these signs no more.”
Arlington Man’s Dog Found Days After Fatal Crash — Ten days after 57-year-old Arlington resident William F. Schlesinger died in a crash on I-95 in North Carolina, his dog has been found alive. Nellie is being called a “miracle dog” after she wandered into a convenience store late at night with a broken leg and numerous bug bites. She had been riding in the pickup truck with Schlesinger when he reportedly fell asleep, veered off the highway and slammed into a tree. [Fayetteville Observer]
Local Election Fundraising Very Light — The frontrunners for Arlington County Board and School Board only have a few thousand dollars apiece in the bank as of the beginning of the month. Their opponents have even less. “It may turn out to be one of the least costly County Board general elections in recent history,” the Sun Gazette reports. [InsideNova]
State Dept. Office Staying in Arlington — The U.S. State Department is keeping its footprint in Rosslyn for another decade-and-a-half. The GSA signed a lease worth just over $200 million over 15 years for nearly 350,000 square feet of office space in central Rosslyn. The lease extends over two buildings, with one of the buildings also housing a private State Department contractor. [Washington Business Journal]
Update: W-L Expected to Reopen Next Week — Washington-Lee High School is expected to reopen for summer school classes next week after an air conditioning issue closed the school this week. W-L’s summer school classes were temporarily moved to Yorktown High School this week. [Arlington Public Schools]
‘Capital Bikeshare Fiesta’ in Nauck — “Arlington’s Dieta Cero-Auto program will be promoting Capital Bikeshare this Saturday at Drew Sprayground (3514 22nd Street S.) from 2-5 p.m. Stop by and purchase your CaBi membership for 50% off!” [Event Calendar]
Discovery Named ‘Green Ribbon School’ — “Discovery Elementary School is being recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School… Discovery is one of 45 schools being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Bryce Harper Sightings — There have been a number of sightings of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in Clarendon in recent days. In addition to his Clarendon activities — two people claim to have seen him on separate days at smoothie shop South Block — Harper has been busy on the baseball field, setting an MLB record for runs in the month of April. [Twitter]
Gutshall Endorsed by GGW — The urbanist website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Erik Gutshall for Arlington County Board in the upcoming Democratic caucus, calling him “thoughtful and insightful.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Northam, Perriello in Ballston — Democratic candidates for governor Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello were in Ballston last night for a progressive forum. Technical difficulties cut off part of Northam’s appearance from the forum’s livestream video. [Blue Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 6:45 p.m.) With two weeks to go until the start of the local Democratic party’s caucus for its County Board nominee, Erik Gutshall leads the way in fundraising and endorsements from elected officials.
Gutshall is one of four candidates for the nomination in early May’s caucus, and has racked up backings from current and former County Board members as well as General Assembly representatives.
Throwing their support behind Gutshall are current Democratic Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan, as well as state Sen. Barbara Favola (D).
Favola is one of several former County Board members to support Gutshall, alongside Mary Hynes, Chris Zimmerman, John Milliken, Mary Margaret Whipple and Joe Wholey. Former School Board members Elaine Furlow, Ed Fendley, Margaret Lampe, Michael Timpane and Richard Barton endorsed Gutshall, as well as numerous former members and chairs of the planning commission.
Retiring Board chair Jay Fisette endorsed Gutshall shortly after he announced his candidacy on March 1. Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson has also endorsed Gutshall, a small business owner who came up short in his primary challenge to Libby Garvey last year.
“Erik Gutshall has the experience, passion, and progressive values that Arlingtonians deserve from their County Board members,” said Lopez in a statement. “Erik’s extensive experience in transportation, planning and entrepreneurship will bring a unique voice to the County Board, and I trust Erik to fight every day for all Arlingtonians.”
At a candidate forum last week, Gutshall rejected the notion that these endorsements mean he is a so-called “party insider.”
Gutshall also has a fundraising advantage. As of the last filing deadline for declaring donations, Gutshall had raised $22,513, with $13,700 left in hand.
Of the other candidates, Vivek Patil has raised $20,320 and Kim Klingler has raised $14,352. Peter Fallon reported $51,129 in contributions, but that included $41,100 in “in-kind” contributions from himself. And ahead of November’s general election, independent Audrey Clement has raised $17,517.
But other candidates have racked up the endorsements too. Patil’s candidacy received an early boost with the backing of County Board vice chair Katie Cristol, who praised his innovative approach.
“We need a perspective like Vivek’s at the table: creative, open-minded and optimistic, with deep experience in the innovation economy and a real dedication to Arlington’s traditions of community engagement,” Cristol said in a statement at the time.
Meanwhile, Fallon picked up the early endorsement of School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen, who introduced him when he formally announced his candidacy at this month’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
And Kim Klingler’s website touts a long list of endorsements from local activists and business leaders, as well as Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy and IAFF Local 2800, the county’s firefighter and paramedic union.
“The rapidly growing landscape of Arlington County requires a leader who understands the need for the best trained and fairly compensated first responders to provide a safe environment for the residents and visitors of Arlington County,” the organization wrote in a statement. “Kim Klingler has pledged her support of these vital issues as well as the ‘live where you work’ program which assists Arlington County public servants to establish long-term residence within Arlington County.”
The candidates will face off in a forum Wednesday hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at Synetic Theater, then again on May 3 at ACDC’s monthly meeting. The caucus is set for May 9, 11 and 13 at Key Elementary, Drew Model School and Washington-Lee High School, respectively.
Budget Plan Has Slightly Lower Tax Rate Hike — The 2017-2018 county budget that Arlington County Board members are set to vote on this weekend includes a 1.5 cent tax rate hike, a half cent lower than first proposed. The budget includes increased funding for schools, Metro, county employee raises, land acquisition and services for immigrants faced with deportation. It raises the tax burden on the average homeowner by about $300. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
No Easter Egg Roll Tix for APS — Arlington Public Schools received hundreds of tickets to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll under the Obama administration, but did not receive any for President Trump’s first egg roll this year. D.C. Public Schools also were not invited. Critics say minority children were under-represented at the event. [Patch]
Big County Events This Weekend — Among the events in Arlington this weekend are a trio of major annual happenings: the Arlington Homeshow and Garden Expo at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, the Arlington Teen Summer Expo at Wakefield High School and the Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon.
Blue Virginia’s County Board Endorsement — Influential local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the race for Arlington County Board. A party caucus will be held next month for the four-way Democratic contest. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Searching for Ultimate Frisbee Coaches — With ultimate frisbee approved as a new school-sponsored sport, Arlington Public Schools in now on the hunt for frisbee coaches at each of its middle and high schools. [InsideNova]
Dems Hold Unity Event — Arlington Democrats are presenting a unified front heading into election season. After a bruising primary, both County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her once-challenger, Erik Gutshall, attended a Democratic unity event at the house of County Board member Jay Fisette last night. [Twitter, Twitter]
‘Tranquility’ in Crystal City Underground — Gallery Underground, the subterranean art gallery in the Crystal City Shops, is preparing for its next exhibit, on the theme of “Tranquility.” The month-long art show starts Sept. 1. [Gallery Underground]
Photo courtesy Eric LeKuch
Competing Convention Watch Parties — The Arlington GOP and Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans are hosting a Republican convention watch party tonight at Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill in Courthouse. The Arlington Young Democrats, meanwhile, are holding their own watch party for the last night of the GOP convention. That event is being held at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon. [Facebook, Facebook]
Youth Hockey Team Profiled — As part of its “Harris’ Heroes” segment, TV station ABC 7 yesterday profiled the NOVA Cool Cats, a hockey team for youth with developmental disabilities. The team plays at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [WJLA]
Road Rage Incident in Rosslyn — A man allegedly brandished a handgun and followed two women during a road rage incident on Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, after the female driver honked her horn while the man’s vehicle blocked her path. [Arlington County]
Lighting Task Force Needs More Time — A task force trying to determine whether to add lighting to the Williamsburg Middle School athletic fields says it will present its findings in January. The task force, chaired by former County Board primary challenger Erik Gutshall, was originally expected to wrap up its work in June. [InsideNova]
(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey has won the Democratic County Board nomination, despite a tough challenge from within the party.
With all precincts reporting, Garvey had 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent over challenger Erik Gutshall. The final vote tally was 8,362 to 6,878.
Today’s County Board primary featured typically low turnout for a local race — 11 percent of registered voters — although it was notably higher than last year’s primary turnout of 8 percent.
Voters who spoke to ARLnow.com outside the polls today said they admired Garvey’s willingness to go against “establishment” Democratic orthodoxy. It was Garvey’s fight against the Columbia Pike streetcar project and her endorsement of independent John Vihstadt over a Democratic candidate in the 2014 County Board race that was perhaps the biggest impetus for a primary challenge.
During the race, Gutshall — a small business owner and member of the Arlington Planning Commission member — criticized Garvey’s leadership, Democratic bonafides and her supposed lack of effective long-term planning.
Gutshall amassed a long list of endorsements from current and former Democratic elected officials, including state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan, County Board member Jay Fisette and former Board members Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman.
Fisette was among those who stopped by Garvey’s victory party at a Columbia Pike restaurant Tuesday night.
“It’s a really high bar to run against an incumbent,” Fisette told ARLnow.com, citing Garvey’s name recognition from nearly two decades as an elected official. “I couldn’t be prouder of [Erik] as a candidate. I have great respect for him and I think he ran a great campaign.”
Fisette said he expects the Board to continue to work well together. In a press release, Arlington Democrats were quick to unify, with Gutshall endorsing Garvey.
“Tonight I endorse Libby Garvey for County Board and look forward to voting for her in November,” said Gutshall. “Now that the primary is over, it’s important that we come together as Democrats to ensure we keep Arlington blue, from the White House to the School House.”
“Libby Garvey is already a consensus building Chair of the County Board and we are honored to have her as our nominee,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) Chair Kip Malinosky.
Among those in attendance at Garvey’s victory party were Vihstadt, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Arlington Treasurer Carla de la Pava, former School Board member Abby Raphael and former ACDC Chair Peter Rousselot.
Going precinct-by-precinct, Gutshall’s strongest support was along the Columbia Pike corridor and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
All precincts in- Garvey (winner) precincts in green, Gutshall precincts in blue: pic.twitter.com/2QpdkjeERG
— (((Ben Tribbett))) (@notlarrysabato) June 15, 2016
“I worked the entire county [but] there’s only so much I could do,” Garvey said of the Columbia Pike vote. “I’m going to continue to serve the entire county and in four years I hope to have everyone’s vote.”
“This is about all of us… diversity is our strength,” she said. In a statement, Garvey said she looks forward to continuing her work on the Board as a Democrat.
“I am proud to go on to November to represent you as the Democratic nominee for County Board. I have based my campaign, as I have my service, on my idea that Arlington is a great community, but we have the potential to be even better. It means working together to support each other in friendship, knowing that together we can achieve so much.”
Garvey will face independent candidate Audrey Clement in November’s general election.
“Slow and steady.” That’s how the voting in today’s Arlington County Board Democratic primary is being described.
As of noon today, precincts around Arlington had recorded only about a 5 percent turnout. Election officials are expecting an approximately 10 percent overall turnout by the time the polls close at 7 p.m., compared to a 8 percent turnout in last year’s local primary.
By contrast, a whopping 46 percent of Arlington’s registered voters cast ballots in the March 1 presidential primary — 29 percent for Democrats, 17 percent for Republicans.
Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said things have been “pretty smooth” so far today. The biggest problem has been people showing up and asking why the presidential candidates aren’t on the ballot, she said.
Most voters who talked to ARLnow.com said they voted out of a moral obligation, stating that it was their civic duty to get out and vote.
“It’s a civil duty but its almost an obligation and everyone who can vote should vote,” said one voter at a polling station near Clarendon.
Of the voters willing to reveal who they voted for, the majority said they voted for incumbent Libby Garvey, citing as their main motivation her willingness to do things outside of the expected “establishment” Democratic norms.
“I voted for Libby Garvey because I don’t like the idea of ultra orthodox anything, politics or any other realm,” said a voter. “I don’t like the idea that somebody has to adhere to a certain line when they’re presented something.”
Another voter felt that having an independent voice was important.
“One of the reasons that I voted for Libby Garvey is because her own Democratic colleagues… have turned against her because they wanted a unified bloc of voting,” he said. “Since when has unanimity been the goal? You want some sort of discussion and dissent. I think many Democrats were disappointed that the Board does not allow dissent. It’s almost dictatorial in its approach. She didn’t think she had to vote with the entire group of Democrats just because she’s a Democrat and that upset a lot of people.”
One voter interviewed decided to vote for challenger Erik Gutshall, citing his experience and the desire to have a fresh perspective on the County Board.
“I ended up voting for Erik Gutshall. I read all of the propaganda from both of them that came in the mail and he’s been doing a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about him before a week and a half ago but he seems to be very active on the Lyon Park [civic] association, Planning Commission and all that and I think it would be interesting to give him a shot at it. I had saved all the things I received in the mail including six from Libby Garvey and they all had the same exact four points with one sentence on each. Not much substance.”
Most of the voters were older, although there were some younger people seen at the polls. When asked about the lack of younger voters, one voter shared his opinion on the matter.
“Older people are probably more invested in voting than most young people who are blissfully unaware,” he said.
When asked about the relatively low turnout, voters and staffers gave a number of reasons including the fact that it was a summertime election, the prevalence of absentee ballots and the more local nature of the election. One man using an ATM outside of a polling location was not even aware that there was an election going on at the moment.
Additional reporting by Adrian Cruz. Photos by Omar DeBrew.
With the Arlington County Board primary fast approaching, Democratic candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall took to the airwaves in their final debate before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
The candidates went on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU-FM radio show, The Politics Hour, Friday afternoon.
Some of the topics covered included the capacity crunch in county schools, affordable housing and the ongoing battle with aircraft noise.
The full debate can be viewed above. Here are some highlights:
Garvey on what she wants voters to know about her time serving Arlington
“I think over the past 20 years I’ve done a pretty good job serving Arlington. Fifteen years on the School Board help make our schools among the best in the country. And in my 4 years on the County Board I’ve done quite a bit to make our government more responsive and more transparent. One of the things we just started to do was video streaming our work sessions. Up until then if you wanted to watch the board actually getting work done at work sessions, you had to sit in the room and that was hard for a lot of people to do.”
Gutshall on why he’s running
“I’m running because I think I’m better qualified to make sure that we are meeting the challenges that we face today with solutions for tomorrow.
We’ve got to make long-term strategic investments. We have a capacity crisis in our school that’s in our sixth year and we still don’t have a plan for getting out in front of rising student enrollment. We have to make sure that we’re making investments in our transportation infrastructure and we’re dragging our feet in moving forward with the capital improvement plan for doing that.
We’ve got a major issue in Arlington County of housing affordability. It’s the issue that’s going to define our time, our day. We are not moving forward in the way that we need to and the way that I believe Arlingtonians want to in order to make sure that the middle class does not get squeezed out of Arlington.”
Garvey on her long-term plan for handling the school issue
“My long-term plan is to be supporting the School Board. I’ve been on the County Board for four years. That’s really the School Board’s job to come forward to us with plans.
I will say that little over a year ago, the School Board came to the County Board asking to build a school on the Thomas Jefferson site. Four of my colleagues unfortunately thought that it needed more of a community process. I was the one vote to go ahead and move forward with that. A year later, the whole board moved to move forward and we lost a whole year in the process. I have always been supportive of moving our schools forward and getting the work done.”
Gutshall on balancing the seat numbers with the growing student population
“I would hope it wouldn’t wait until I took office on January 1 to move forward with the implementation of the Community Facilities Study. Moving forward, what we need to do is we need to make sure that we’re having a conversation with the School Board and we’re going to miss the opportunity on this CIP now. We need to move forward on laying out a comprehensive plan where all seats, elementary, high school, middle school, all neighborhoods, north, south, east and west are accountable.”
Gutshall on housing and development
“What we have here is a problem that’s created by our success. Everybody wants to be here, that’s a good thing. Rising property values, that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that we are keeping an eye on what we can do for the problem and risk of squeezing out the middle class. What I’ve been talking about is what’s called the missing middle: the idea where you have medium density, not the high rise density of our Metro corridors and not the low density in our single family neighborhoods, but in between that, the missing middle for example along Lee Highway and Glebe Road and other major arterials served by transit where right now you might see a lot of old strip malls, used car lots, basically underutilized land.
We can look at our zoning ordinances. We can open up opportunities for developers to come in and create different housing choices for young families just starting out, for seniors who want to age in the community.”
Last month we asked the two Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the June 14 primary.
Here is the unedited response from Arlington Planning Commission Vice Chair Erik Gutshall:
As the June 14 Democratic Primary nears, I ask you for your support and your vote.
I am running for the future of Arlington, not for the past. I want Arlington to stay wonderfully diverse and inclusive. This campaign is about how we go forward together — about seriously getting ahead of our sky-rocketing student enrollment, about addressing housing affordability creatively with a focus on the “Missing Middle,” about providing more ways for people to move around our community, and about a commitment to ensure sufficient open spaces and access to nature — building on Arlington’s successes and our progressive vision to ensure a sustainable future for our kids.
I want to take this opportunity to share my vision, and in the process, hopefully dispel some things about me you may have heard!
On School Overcrowding: It’s time to get ahead of school overcrowding. Enough is enough! The Community Facility Study recommendations give us a blueprint for moving forward. We need to implement them yesterday. With three kids in APS, I am committed to working tirelessly with my School Board colleagues to get this done.
On Fiscal Responsibility: I would be the only small business owner on the County Board. I launched my business right here in Arlington and, in 2012, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce recognized us as the Small Service Business of the Year. I must balance budgets and make payroll and I know the difference between an expenditure and an investment. There will be no $1M bus stops on my watch! I will demand that every tax dollar be spent wisely while ensuring we make smart long-term investments focused on Arlington’s sustainability.
On the “Democratic Establishment”: A year ago, I thought ACDC was a rock band! Though a life-long Democrat, my prior partisan activities were knocking on doors for President Obama and hosting coffees for local candidates. My civic resume includes civic association president, soccer coach, board member for Doorways for Women and Families, and Transportation and Planning Commissioner. I am proud to have earned the support of Arlington leaders representing more than four decades of public service and as a member of the County Board I will answer only to Arlington voters.
On Transportation: The streetcar is dead. I have never proposed bringing it back. I’m not interested in re-litigating the past or dividing us further. I support forward-thinking transportation solutions. From Columbia Pike to I-66, we must invest in enhanced bus service, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian paths. Our focus has to be on moving people, not just vehicles. We must invest in our transportation network, the lifeblood of our economy, to ensure we do not lose our competitive advantage.
On Development: On the Planning Commission, I’ve pushed back against developers, fighting for community benefits like open space and parks to ensure that redevelopment adds value to surrounding neighborhoods. The Planning Commission is a voice for our residents, balancing our adopted policies/plans and the legitimate needs of businesses. We must be careful as we grow. I will ensure that physical changes to our community fabric add to, not degrade, our quality of life. I will make sure Lee Highway is an opportunity for smart planning where we get ahead of and guide development to create the future the surrounding community desires.
On My Mailings: Some have raised concerns with the tone and imagery of my seniors mail piece. I agree that the overall message could have been communicated without such emotional imagery. It’s become a distraction from our continued disagreement on this important policy issue. I remain confident that my mailing content is factual and encourage people to review the citations on arlingtonfacts.com. As 11 current and former elected leaders stated, “We believe that Erik’s well-documented discussion of the issues in the County Board race falls well within the bounds of robust healthy democratic debate.”
I’m proud to have earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, Arlington Educators, Take Action Virginia (a coalition of labor organizations), Greater Greater Washington and 22 current and former Arlington officials.
I am ready to engage with our community as we work collaboratively and creatively to address our challenges.
Arlington Democrats have a very clear choice for the future of Arlington. Let’s turn the page. I ask for your vote in the Democratic Primary for County Board on June 14th. Vote at your regular polling place between 6AM and 7PM.