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Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District (via Fairfax County Republican Committee/Facebook)

Earlier this week, we invited the candidates running in Tuesday’s general election to write a post about why our readers should vote for them. Find information here on how and where to vote in Arlington on Nov. 8.

Below is the response from the Republican nominee for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, Karina Lipsman. It has been edited at the end to remove sentences that brought the submission above the 750 word limit.

Northern Virginia has been setting records.

Record high crime, record high cost of living, record high gas prices, record high inflation, record high lowering of standards in our schools, record high lack of transparency into what is happening in the hallways and what is taught in the classroom.

These are records brought on by Don Beyer and that is why I’m running for Congress.

I was born in Odesa, Ukraine when it was still under the Soviet regime and fled to the U.S. with my single mother and elderly grandparents when I was 8 years old. We did not speak English, lived in low-income housing, and survived on food stamps. On my first day of Baltimore public school, my fellow classmates stood up in unison and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and while I did not understand a single word, I felt that it was something I wanted to be a part of. So as soon as I turned 18, I became a U.S. citizen by choice and recited the most meaningful Pledge of Allegiance knowing how fortunate I was to have this opportunity that many around the world can only dream of.

I put myself through college in three-years with a bachelor’s in economics, earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins while working in the defense and intelligence communities and resigned my 14-year career to run for Congress full time.

I’m working for you because I am you. When I am in the community, I hear your concerns, and I feel them too. I feel the higher cost of living, I pump my own gas, which I am now afraid to do at night with rising crime. I talk to struggling parents across the district who are disenfranchised that they can’t afford private schools. Even with the high taxes we pay, the public schools are failing our children.

I could not watch the American Dream I lived slip away, and I promise I will be your voice in Washington to protect this Dream for all. I will never vote 100% with any party, and I promise to never embrace polarizing politics.

Sadly, my opponent is the opposite. He inherited a legacy business; making him the top 5 wealthiest members of Congress. He doesn’t feel the high cost of living, or the pain at the pump. He says we need to ban stock trades by members of Congress, yet he has made 102% returns on semiconductor stock trades after helping write and pass the CHIPS Act — a bill regulating and setting policy for this exact industry. While he claims the number one issue he hears about from constituents is “airplane noise,” I’m in the community hearing what really matters to residents: rising crime, rising cost of living, and crumbling schools.

My opponent is just another out-of-touch career politician who is in it for himself and not the people of Northern Virginia. Just look at the recent scandal in his office: he represents the Pentagon and the CIA and had to fire a staffer working for the Chinese Embassy! My opponent is compromised.

New leadership is needed now more than ever. It is time for someone who understands the struggle of the almost 47% minority or immigrants that now make up this district and the average person — not the political elite.

As your Congresswoman, I will be a strong and powerful voice in the incoming majority that will represent Northern Virginia. I will be the first female ever elected in this district, the first Republican since Ronald Reagan, the first refugee Ukrainian immigrant in Congress, and the largest political flip in the country. I will use this platform and my strong voice to bring common-sense and not partisan politics to the national spotlight.

I will prioritize positive solutions and will work across the aisle. I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, and improve our educational standards. I will keep Northern Virginia and America safe.

I am tired of the broken promises made by my opponent. If I break any of my promises to you, I ask you to vote me out of office.

You deserve better. Vote for me for the change we need, the fresh voice we deserve, and a new age in Congress. I would be humbled and honored to represent you.

Karina Lipsman is the nominee for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. Lipsman’s story is the American Dream. She is a refugee immigrant from Odesa, Ukraine.

Editor’s note: Candidates for local races are invited in advance to submit candidate essays, via contact information ARLnow has on file or publicly-listed contact information on the candidate’s website. Reminders are sent to those who do not submit an essay by the evening before the deadline.

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Candidates for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District during a public forum in September (via Arlington County Civic Federation/Facebook)

It’s not easy to beat a Democratic incumbent or endorsee in deep blue Arlington, but independent and GOP candidates in local races are trying to find ways to do just that in the days approaching next week’s general election.

Rep. Don Beyer, who is running to be re-elected to Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, is trading political punches with his challenger Karina Lipsman over news of an investigation into one his staff members.

Barbara Hamlett, a scheduler for Beyer, allegedly reached out to other congressional aides to set up meetings with Chinese embassy members to discuss policy, National Review reported.

“From the moment he learned of these inappropriate activities, Rep. Beyer closely followed directions of security officials, and the staffer is no longer employed by his office,” Beyer spokesman Aaron Fritschner told ARLnow in a statement. “He has been and remains a prominent critic of China’s record on human rights, its threatening behavior towards Taiwan, and its totalitarian repression of its citizens.”

Hamlett “did not have any national security or foreign policy role or influence,” and “inappropriately tried to connect staff in Republican offices with Chinese Embassy staff without Rep. Beyer’s knowledge or consent,” Fritschner said.

ARLnow asked what additional steps Beyer’s office has considered taking to prevent this from happening again. Fritschner said all he can say is that “we are working with security officials to address the issue.”

Lipsman has called for Beyer’s removal from Congressional committees and for a Congressional investigation. Beyer sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.

“I have been part of investigations on sensitive national security subjects before, and it’s very clear to me that, based on what we know, this matter must be thoroughly investigated by Congress,” she said. “The extent of Beyer’s office’s ties to the Chinese government needs to be determined, so the level of national security risk can be determined. His office has clearly been compromised. Again, I’ve held top-level security clearances for years and this situation is well within my experience. It needs to be treated extremely seriously.”

Lipsman said she has served for 14 years in the U.S. defense and intelligence communities and has had security clearances “exceeding Top Secret.”

Fritschner said Lipsman’s “baseless, Trumpian insinuations are reminiscent of her previous declaration that ‘Fauci should be jailed.'”

“Lipsman’s unserious demands are a ploy for attention and money, not a genuine concern about national security, which is why she is fundraising off them,” he said. “In reality, when she was busy scrubbing mentions of her opposition to abortion rights from her website in August, Congressman Beyer was in Taiwan standing with our allies in defense of freedom. Lipsman would rather make political hay out of this than talk about her backing for House Republican leadership which wants to wreck the economy, make inflation worse, cut Social Security and Medicare, and cut off support for Ukraine. We are confident that Northern Virginians will see through her.”

The back-and-forth comes a week before the election. This year, registered voters in Arlington can cast their ballots for the Arlington County Board, School Board and Virginia’s 8th Congressional district, as well as six local bond referenda totaling $510 million. For those who are still on the fence, ARLnow will publish, as we do every local election cycle, candidate essays on Friday.

Early voting numbers are down compared with 2021. As of the end of the day yesterday (Monday), about 11,600 people had voted, Arlington Director of Elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said. That tracks with the muted start to early voting in September.

“On average, we’ve been slightly slower than last year’s election,” she said.

A week prior to the election last year, about 15,400 people had voted.

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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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Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District, holds a campaign sign (via Fairfax County Republican Committee/Facebook)

Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.

At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.

Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.

Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.

https://twitter.com/karinacongress/status/1525243734480367617?s=21&t=YbRc9C9C12GqVzMD-SorYg

She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.

Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.

She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”

After her nomination, Arlington Democrats posted to Twitter calling her an “extreme right candidate,” linking to a recording of her allegedly saying “Fauci should be jailed” at a candidate forum.

Lipsman’s website mentions extremists and divisive politics.

“Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” the website says. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”

After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.

“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”

Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee

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