Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Last night, commonwealth’s attorney candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti defeated incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos in a surprise victory that shocked many in the the county, and left some wondering about the future.

One person who wasn’t shocked was political strategist Ben Tribbett — also known as @notlarrysabato — of the Fairfax-based campaign consulting firm TRR Group.

“I think Parisa basically brought two very large groups together,” he told ARLnow today. “One are people newer to the county who really care about criminal justice reforms. The second was a coalition of people mad about internal Arlington politics.”

Tribbett said the first group is important because, “transient voters tend to get their info from national outlets.” He said the Washington Post’s endorsement of Tafti and the The Appeal’s critical look at Stamos’ handling of some juvenile cases could have helped sway those voters. The campaign even attracted an endorsement from multi-talented star John Legend.

A map of yesterday’s voting shows the densest support for Tafti was located along the county’s more dense and Metro-accessible areas — places where young transient voters often live. Tribbett pointed out state Senate candidate Nicole Merlene, who lost her race against incumbent Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st), performed well in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor but struggled in the leafier, single-family-home neighborhoods to the north.

Tribbett said Tafti’s other supporters, long-time residents fed up with Arlington politics, are part of the fallout from the election of John Vihstadt, who won the race for County Board in 2014 as an independent. Progressives are continuing a “decade-long war” against Democratic candidates like Stamos who supported Vihstadt over a fellow Democrat, Tribbett said, and could target County Board member Libby Garvey in the future.

But he said infighting costs the party influence at the state level, which comes at a time when Democrats across Virginia are striving to flip Richmond blue.

“What should have been a temporary rift has become a permanent rift,” Tribbett said. “It’s not good for the Democratic Party.”

Another perspective on the race comes from Paul Ferguson, current Clerk of the Circuit Court and former Arlington County Board member, who spoke to ARLnow in his personal capacity on Tuesday afternoon before polls closed.

Ferguson said Tafti has six months to settle in and choose which (if any) of Stamos’ assistant prosecutors she plans to keep on staff. (Stamos said last night she hopes her challenger will retain at least some of them.) Tafti will then be able to roll out policy changes, like her pledge to not prosecute low-level pot convictions, but Ferguson said it’s difficult to anticipate the impact because her victory is unprecedented.

“It’s reasonable to say in modern history, the last 40-50 years, the new prosecutor has always come from within the office, leaving very little policy transition,” he said. Nonetheless, he thinks it’s likely that there could be fewer misdemeanor cases cases in District Court, and perhaps fewer cases in Circuit Court, as a result of her changes.

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(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) The top prosecutor in Arlington and Falls Church has lost her bid for re-election.

In the most closely watched local race in today’s Democratic primary, incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos has been defeated by challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who ran a campaign centered on criminal justice reform. Tafti has 52% of the vote compared to 48% for Stamos, with all 59 precincts in Arlington and Falls Church reporting, though the results are unofficial until certified.

The total unofficial margin of victory was 1,128 votes.

“I knew it could happen!” one supporter shouted at Tafti’s victory party at Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse as the final votes were tallied.

“Change can come here to Arlington,” said a campaign volunteer, Arlington resident Symone Walker, who said she’s mailed postcards and held meet and greets for Tafti because of her belief the challenger could reform the county’s justice system.

Tafti herself was breathless and wide-eyed as she passed through the group and gave hugs to her supporters. When Stamos called to concede around 8:15 p.m., Tafti thanked her and offered to meet with the incumbent later this week.

In a speech a few minutes before 9 p.m., Tafti thanked a crowd of her supporters, saying “it would have been easy for you to be silent.”

“I feel humbled and grateful and excited but with no illusions about the work ahead,” she told ARLnow afterward.

“I always thought she could win and should win, but it’s never an easy battle against an incumbent,” said state Sen. Adam Ebbin, who supported Tafti’s campaign and stood next to her as she addressed the crowd.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe cheered during the event, later telling ARLnow that he supported Tafti’s campaign because he was “looking for new leadership” after Stamos opposed his legislation to restore voting rights to felons in 2017.

“I think a lot of people wondered why I did it,” he said of wading into a local prosecutor race. “But it was the right thing to do.”

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(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) Starting at 6 a.m. today, voters began showing up at their polling places across Arlington as voting in the Democratic primary kicked off.

At Randolph Elementary School in Douglas Park, St. Agnes Catholic Church in Cherrydale, and Madison Community Center in Old Glebe, lines were short and skies were clear.

“It’s been slow, but steady. There’s been 83 people so far, or 2.7 percent turnout. It’s pretty normal,” said Bill Harkins, election officer at St. Agnes.

At Randolph Elementary around 41 people had cast their ballots by 7:41 a.m., according to election officer Harry Dunbar, and another 13 voters arrived in the next half hour. Dunbar said there are 3,000 people who live in the precinct.

“Half of that is normal for a busy general election,” Dunbar said, noting that primary election turnout is usually much lower.

By mid-morning, Arlington’s elections office reported that turnout was somewhat light, but higher in precincts in Arlington’s northwest. Voters in residential northwest Arlington tend to be a bit more conservative, at least relative to the rest of the county.

The only hiccup noticed so far was a ballot that wouldn’t scan at Randolph Elementary. At around 8 a.m., officials had identified the likely culprit: blocks that printed too faintly along the border of the document.

Today’s primary marks the end of several hotly contested races between the Democrats on the ballot — namely the race for commonwealth’s attorney and the state Senate seat in the 31st District. With most races still lacking a non-Democratic candidate, the primary could also decide the Nov. 5 general election.

At Randolph, the race on most people’s minds was the one for commonwealth’s attorney between incumbent Theo Stamos and challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti who have clashed in debates since kicking off their campaigns last winter.

Evelyn Luis, a long-time Douglas Park resident, said she doesn’t usually vote in the primaries but showed up today to support Stamos.

“Even though she’s running as a Democrat and I am not a Democrat I know I have to make a choice between the two candidates.” Luis said.

Luis wore a shirt from the 1990s-era Crime Prevention Council of Arlington County, on which she was a board member. She said she disagreed with Tafti’s platform and PAC funding.

Another voter, Aaron Willis, who has lived in the area for a decade, said he’s voted in every primary since moving to the D.C. region. He feels part of the “nerve center” of politics after coming from Ohio where he sometimes felt disconnected.

Willis said he supported Tafti in today’s election, citing her record of pushing for reproductive rights and restoring voting rights to felons.

The interest in the prosecutor’s race also ran high at St. Agnes.

“The important race to me was the commonwealth’s attorney,” said St. Agnes voter Chris Guest. “I think it’s always good to have options, but I wanted to vote against outside money, especially when that’s heavily for one candidate.”

“All of the races are important. Arlington is a great place to live and we have good candidates,” said St. Agnes voter Sarah Devoe this morning. “I’ve been surprised with the commonwealth’s attorney race; it’s not really a race I think of as being competitive. There’s been a lot of TV and print ads. There are two strong candidates.”

Stamos’ record in office and Tafti’s proposed criminal justice reforms have split support among local attorneys and sparked conversations about police brutality and the county’s discovery policy in criminal cases.

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Morning Notes

Polls Open for Democratic Primary — All Arlington voters can vote in today’s Democratic primary. Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. You can find your polling place and other information on the state elections website. [Twitter]

Politico Profiles Prosecutor Primary — “One sign that this era of agitated civic life is not merely a reflection of Donald Trump or Twitter is that the agitation has penetrated, of all places, into Arlington County, Virginia. In normal times, Arlington politics are polite and consensus-driven, almost proudly dull.” [Politico]

Clarendon Street Closed for Construction — “Through mid-August: North Edgewood Street closed between Clarendon and Wilson boulevards due to construction. Absolutely no impact on Whole Foods organic produce or imported cheese selection.” [Twitter]

Trade Group Moving to Ballston — “The Infectious Diseases Society of America announced today that it will be relocating its headquarters to 4040 Wilson Boulevard in the Ballston Quarter area of Arlington, Va., a hub of advanced research learning, technology and science in the Washington, D.C. metro area.  The Society has been at its current location at 1300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington since 2006.” [PR Newswire]

How Glass Is Being Recycled — “Ever wonder where your glass goes? If you properly recycle it in Northern Virginia these days, it gets crushed into sand and turned into construction material… ABC7 recently took a trip to Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill in Lorton, where we found a glass graveyard and a big blue machine.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the Commonwealth’s Attorney race to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Theo Stamos:

By now, you know the issues in this election. Rather than rehash them, it is important for you to know who I am, my leadership in the legal community, why Arlington is so important to me, and why I deserve your vote for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

I am from the South Side of Chicago. After graduating from Northern Illinois University, I moved here to work in the Senate for a Democrat from Illinois, then worked full-time as a reporter while attending night school at American University Law School. In 1987, I started as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and have been proud to work for this community for over 30 years.

Soon after I started, I saw firsthand how Offender Aid and Restoration works closely with the courts, the jail, defense attorneys, prosecutors and the community to help offenders lead productive, responsible lives. I joined the Board to be a part of this important, collaborative work. Through OAR, I got involved with Encore Learning, becoming a member of its Advisory Council and a lecturer on criminal justice issues. Even back then, I was talking about criminal justice reform, educating our citizens on what our system looks like and how it can be improved. I am also a proud graduate of Leadership Arlington, cementing my firm belief that true leadership includes learning from those around you. My roots in this work are deep because I started so many years ago, forging relationships both within our legal system and the wider community.

The strength of these relationships is what fosters meaningful improvements of the criminal justice system.  Lasting change is done deliberatively, thoughtfully and most importantly, collaboratively. That’s why I am a member of the Steering Committee of Virginia’s Criminal Justice Conference, a statewide organization that brings together prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, legislators, and academics. We bring everyone to the table to work towards our common goal – a system that is fair and equitable for everyone. I helped create the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys Committee on Justice and Professionalism. Finally, I was honored to be inducted into the Virginia Law Foundation. That award only goes to attorneys who are leaders in both the legal profession and their communities who are “committed to the highest ideals of the law.”

My work is not only at both the local and state levels, but also on the national level. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Prosecutors’ Center for Excellence, focusing on improving criminal justice and on developing best practices in prosecution.

Legal ethics and professionalism are the cornerstone of our work. As a member of the Virginia State Bar’s professionalism faculty, I have taught young lawyers–and reminded old ones–that our most important assets are our credibility and our integrity. Two principles that should always guide us, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, are do the right thing, and always tell the truth.

While I worked in the office, I was raising my two boys with my husband, Craig. I had a bird’s eye view of the myriad ways lives can go off track with one poor decision. That motivated me to work with parents and young people to help them try to avoid dangers like substance abuse, and drunk driving. I became the Chair of the Family Network at both Swanson Middle School and Yorktown High School, providing a forum for these conversations. I convened a Town Hall to foster a dialogue between parents and our schools about the opioid crisis.

I am a proud Democrat and have been active in Democratic politics here for decades, knocking doors for other candidates, stuffing envelopes for Dollars for Democrats, and delivering the Messenger. I have always voted in general elections, Democratic primaries, and Democratic School Board caucuses.

My campaign is a grass roots campaign, run and funded here. I have spent many years earning the trust of our citizens through old fashioned hard work and heart. I love this community. I have worked to improve the criminal justice system so that it works for everyone – victims and defendants. I’ve lived my personal and professional life guided by principles of service to others, integrity, fairness, and equity.

This election is about Arlington, not any other community. No doubt that we have challenges and can do better. We are a criminal justice success story with much to be proud of, but with more work to do. I have the experience, the relationships and the integrity to continue that work. I ask for your vote on Election Day.

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the Commonwealth’s Attorney race to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Parisa Dehghani-Tafti:

My family and I are blessed to be part of this community. We are rightly proud of our schools, our local government, and the leadership role Arlington and the City of Falls Church have taken in the Commonwealth across a number of issues. The glaring exception remains our criminal justice system. But together we can change that and bring much needed reform to our Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office while keeping our families safe.

Many of you have told me your stories of the need for reform, and these stories have fueled this campaign:

Victims and people within the system told me the Commonwealth’s Attorney does not prioritize prosecuting acquaintance rape; wage earners said the office refuses to prosecute wage theft cases; our elected officials told me the Commonwealth’s Attorney routinely opposes their reform bills; parents of young teens report they have been pressured into pleas that leave their children with criminal records for youthful mistakes; families of loved ones with disabilities, mental illness, or addiction live in fear of the lack of real diversion programs; and community members are shocked to learn of the racial disparities in prosecutions and the jail population.

The data confirm your stories:

Since 2011, reports of rape and sexual assault have gone up 63% while the number of convictions has gone down 73%. Last year, the most frequent charge brought by the office was for simple marijuana possession.   In the last 6 years, over 3,200 such cases were prosecuted, 57% of which in the last 2 years were of Black people. Between 2013 and 2018, the average daily jail population increased 17% and is still higher per capita than it was at the height of the 1980s War on Drugs. Only in this election cycle has it suddenly gone down.

I will bring real reform by using restorative justice to decrease recidivism and help survivors; expanding diversion programs for youth; eliminating cash bail; establishing a mental health docket so that mental illness is treated and not prosecuted; stop prosecuting simple marijuana possession; being mindful that minor charges not lead to deportation; providing fair electronic discovery; working to establish an independent review mechanism for use of force; focusing on violent and serious crimes such as sexual assault, elder abuse, financial fraud, and wage theft; and collecting and sharing data to make the office transparent.

These reforms are well within the discretion of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Charlottesville eliminated cash bail almost 20 years ago; Prince William and Norfolk have mental health courts; Washington County, with a fifth of our population, has a drug court that serves 37, while ours serves only 9; Fairfax and Alexandria have long provided electronic discovery; Loudoun and Fairfax have restorative justice programs.

I know the community is eager for these reforms because of the breadth of support our campaign has received. The Washington Post endorsed me because I have the right experience for the job.  Governor McAuliffe, former State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, former County Board Members Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada, and Chris Zimmerman, and former Arlington Deputy Police Chief James Younger endorsed me because they trust me to keep us safe. Delegates Marcus Simon and Mark Levine, as well as Senator Adam Ebbin endorsed me because I will be an honest reform partner with them.  School Board Members Nancy Van Doren and Monique O’Grady, and the Arlington Education Association endorsed me because I will treat kids like kids. The carpenters, electrical workers, pipe trades, and service workers unions all endorsed me because I will protect workers’ rightsGreater Greater Washington, Indivisible Arlington, BlueNova, Arlington Action Group, Our Revolution Arlington, CASA in Action, New Virginia Majority endorsed me because it’s time to put justice back in the criminal justice system.

I humbly ask for your vote on June 11 as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and the City of Falls Church so that we can build a criminal justice system that keeps us safe and that reflects our values.

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the State Senate race for the 31st District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Nicole Merlene:

This Tuesday, June 11th, I hope you vote for a change by voting for me to represent you in the Virginia State Senate in the 31st District. A change for you to be represented by someone who prioritizes public transportation, spearhead infrastructure projects that improve our District’s parks, schools, and housing developments. With your vote, I hope to put our district on a track for continued, sustainable growth, and prioritizes an environment we should be proud to leave for future generations. A change away from representation that is representing themselves for private pay over the interests of the 31st District, and voting against our interests on transportation, development, and the environment because of donor influence. I want to help improve the schools I attended, the parks I played in as a child, the transportation system I use every day to get to work.

Transportation 

Why Me: Northern Virginia is a transient community. 2/3 of Arlington residents work outside of Arlington. We have systems in place from our buses to roads that do not prioritize regional travel causing unnecessarily long travel times. For example, we have a funding mechanism at the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority that by and large has localities submitting separate proposals for roads and highways without regional vision; Arlington, Fairfax, DC, Loudoun, all have their own bus systems that rarely cross jurisdictional boundaries.

As a region must also commit to being forward thinking on projects like high speed rail to connect multiple employment hubs across the east coast. My goal will never be to get “#Back2Good“. My goal will be state of the art. I am proud to be endorsed by Greater Greater Washington, the region’s thought leader on transportation and housing policy, for my vision on how to literally move the region forward.

Why Not My Opponent: Sitting on the Transportation Committee – it is not their priority. Has introduced more bills to toll I-495, I-66, and on towing than anything related to public roads and our public transportation system – after the tolling and towing industry were some of their largest donors (1, 2, 3) – putting in place regressive policy to tax favoring private over public infrastructure.

Development & Economy

Why Me: Due to Virginia being a Dillon Rule state, issues from flexibility for affordable housing zoning laws, allowing taxing flexibility on commercial real estate that would incentivize lower rents to support small and medium sized businesses, allowing local government to negotiate with developers to support local infrastructure, to connecting our schools to employers for 21st Century Jobs — all require state level action. Having experience from the civic association to economic development level, and a professional background in investment policy, I have what it takes to be your leader on development and economic policy in Richmond.

Why Not My Opponent: Sitting on the Local Government’s Committee – it is not their priority. Voted for the 2016 Proffer Bill that cut local government’s ability to negotiate with developers to give back affordable housing and other infrastructure funds to offset overdevelopment. This past session introduced a replacement bill that barely puts a dent in reversing the detrimental effects of what was passed in 2016.

Environment

Why Me: Environmental protections need to be baked into every policy that is written, from our roads to buildings. I would prioritize increased energy efficiency standards, alternative energy and solar freedom, expanding our state parks, and preserving our watershed – as this district is gerrymandered along the Potomac River. I believe in a green economy where we can do things like take our, now un-recycled glass, and transform it into road pavement in a joint venture with Fairfax and other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. I am proud to have been endorsed by leadership of the Arlington Tree Action Group and Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks for my commitment to preserving our parks, greenspace, and watershed.

Why Not My Opponent: After pledging not to take money from Dominion Energy, the state regulated utility that has been a massive hinderance to moving environmental legislation forward, my opponent immediately broke her pledge and took money from Dominion Energy lobbyists just weeks later.

There is no Republican challenger in this race and the winner of the Primary is likely to be your next State Senator. I hope to be your choice to represent the interests of our community in Richmond. This is just the beginning of a continued two-way policy conversation between you, and I, as your representative.

I humbly ask for your vote on June 11th.

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the State Senate race for the 31st District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Barbara Favola:

Why you should vote for me.

It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia State Senate. I am enthusiastically running for a third term to continue to fight for our Democratic values in Richmond. I am an effective lawmaker and recognized leader on progressive issues. My colleagues frequently refer to me as a pragmatic progressive.

My fourteen years of experience as an Arlington County Board member and a three-time chair of that body instilled in me the importance of governing in a pragmatic fashion while honoring the principles of equity and opportunity. Even though the General Assembly has been controlled by Republicans during my entire time in Richmond, I have passed over 40 bills that have improved the quality of life for Virginians.

My proudest accomplishment was requiring Virginia to participate in a Federal program to assist former foster youth between the ages of 18 and 21 continue with their education or job training. These youths were often left homeless and vulnerable to drug dealers and human trafficking. My legislation enables them to find a pathway forward that recognizes their talents and sets them up for success.

I have worked tirelessly to increase teacher pay, create smaller class sizes and reduce the number of SOLs. My efforts have resulted in fewer standardized tests, a more comprehensive approach to assessing academic progress and recognition of the contributions project-based learning provides. Going forward, I want to build on my record of passing anti-bullying legislation and bringing mental health services into the schools. I proudly carry the endorsement of the Virginia Education Association.

This past session, I introduced a bill that would provide debt-free community college for high-need workforce tracks. This idea garnered a lot of buy-in, but more discussions are needed to iron out the details. Our friends in organized Labor applauded the debt-free opportunity as a tool for helping families achieve the equity and opportunity that is often times missing in society. I am also a big supporter of increasing the minimum wage, preventing wage theft and requiring paid family leave. Once again, I enjoy the endorsement of all the organized Labor groups that are weighing-in on the 31st Senate primary race.

Gun Safety is an issue that must be addressed. However, real progress can only happen if the Democrats gain control of both Houses. I have repeatedly introduced or supported legislation that would require background checks wherever firearms are sold, ban high capacity magazines and stop the manufacture and sale of bump stocks in Virginia. Fortunately, I was able to pass a bill that requires an individual who violates a protective order to forfeit his firearms. The NoVA chapter of the Brady Group has endorsed me because of my tireless work on gun safety issues.

I am passionate about tackling climate change, including efforts to reduce carbon emissions and diversify our energy sources. Because of my work to facilitate the capture of solar energy and enable residences or businesses to sell excess solar back to the grid, I earned the Energy Freedom award from the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club in 2018. Much more progress is needed but rest assured, I will continue to fight for sensible environmental policies.

As chair of the Women’s Healthcare Caucus in the Senate, I will continue to work to codify Roe vs Wade in Virginia. It is incredibly important that women be allowed to exercise their constitutionally protected right to privacy when making reproductive healthcare decisions.

I believe Senator Kaine captured the essence of my public service in his statement endorsing me. “I know Senator Favola will serve with our shared values of fairness and justice in mind, I’m proud to endorse Senator Favola’s candidacy for a third term in the Virginia Senate.”

Given my experience, leadership and ability to work across the aisle, I am best positioned to provide a pathway forward for the change we want. I respectfully ask for your vote on June 11.

Sincerely,

Senator Barbara Favola (D 31)

Representing parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the House of Delegates race for the 49th District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Julius “JD” Spain, Sr.:

The 49th District deserves the best leadership. As Delegate, one my priorities will be to introduce legislation to reform our mental health system. In Virginia, our mental health system is broken, and we are losing too many children and young adults because we have not done enough to support them. This issue is one that requires immediate attention. I will work with experts in mental health to improve access to mental health resources for individuals and families.

I will advocate for polices and legislation that will allow people in the community to work near their homes, ensure we have adequate affordable housing, reliable and economical transit, and quality affordable childcare. I will fight for social justice and criminal justice reform, including discrimination based on race, gender, socio-economic status and against our LGBTQ community. I pledge to protect the rights of all and work for safer communities.   I will work to fix the many public transportation and safety issues from the Seven Corners region to Columbia Pike which have left behind.

The people of the 49th District can trust that I will deliver on these promises because I have a track record of service to this country and in our community. I served our country honorably for 26 years in the United States Marine Corps retiring in December 2016. The hallmarks of a Marine are honor, courage, and commitment and those characteristics are part of my moral fabric. When elected, I will bring these qualities and values to the position always remembering to be faithful to the people.

Having served on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Fellow in the US Senate, and as a Senior Legislative Advisor for the Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs-Pentagon, I have a thorough understanding of legislative affairs and public policy. I am a team player and results-oriented leader.   In 2014, the Arlington County Board appointed me to serve for four years as Commissioner to the Arlington County Civil Service Commission and I currently serve as president of the Arlington Branch NAACP, which is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. As a delegate, I will stand up against any form of racism and discrimination of citizens.

This election is about Integrity, Character, Judgement, Transparency, and Accountability. Now, more so than ever, it is essential voters of one the most vibrant and diverse communities in Virginia take a position on what type of leadership we want leading our district and representing us in Richmond. I am happy to have the support of community leaders Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr., The Honorable Frank Wilson (Retired), Mr. Gabe Rubalcava, Vice Chair of the Arlington County Board, The Honorable Libby Garvey, countless citizens, and pleased to have earned the endorsements and support of OUR Revolution Northern Virginia and OUR Revolution Arlington.

This campaign is about inclusion. I am proud that I have taken no donations from corporations or special interests’ group. If elected, I will continue with this pledge. I hope the people of the 49th District will give me the opportunity to represent them, confident they will have a leader that is Progressive, Transparent, and Accountable.

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the House of Delegates race for the 49th District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Alfonso Lopez:

It has been the greatest honor of my career to serve the residents of the 49th District as your Delegate in Richmond. Our district, which runs along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads and then up Route 7 to Seven Corners, is one of the most vibrant and diverse places in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Moreover, I am reminded every day that we live in a special community that believes in lifting everyone up and leaving no one behind. Indeed, those are the core values that have guided my legislative agenda in the General Assembly.

When I first ran for the House of Delegates, I made a pledge that I would be a champion for the progressive values that have made our community such a welcoming place for people from every corner of the world. These values have come under attack by a far-right element of the Republican majority that has sought year after year to overturn Virginia’s progress by gutting the social safety net, eliminating reproductive freedom, and demonizing the immigrant community.

In the General Assembly, I have worked to build coalitions of legislators, policy advocates, and community activists to successfully defend against far-right legislation and to pass common-sense bills that will move Virginia forward. I am proud to have been able to patron, co-patron, or chief co-patron 115 bills over the last eight years that were signed into law–49 of which were bipartisan efforts. These include bills strengthening tenant protections, expanding healthcare to immigrant mothers and children, protecting passports and military IDs from identity theft, and incentivizing the use of solar and other renewable energy sources across Virginia.

One of my top priorities in the House of Delegates has been addressing our region’s housing affordability crisis. As someone who grew up in Fairfax County and now lives along the Columbia Pike corridor, I have witnessed first-hand the changes our community has seen over the last few decades. As our region continues to grow, housing is becoming more and more expensive–preventing many young people from becoming homeowners and leading to fears that lower-income residents are being pushed out of communities they may have lived in for decades.

This is an issue I’ve been focused on for many years. In 2013, the General Assembly passed my bill creating the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF)–an important tool used by the state to provide funding to projects dedicated to preserving and building affordable housing, as well as addressing homelessness. In the years since its creation, the VHTF has already helped create housing for thousands of Virginians–including hundreds of families in the 49th District.

As a member of the House Democratic leadership team, I have strived to use my voice to amplify the concerns and needs of the many working-class families and marginalized communities that call the 49th District home. We have worked to end the school-to-prison pipeline by limiting long-term school suspensions, increased teachers’ salaries by 5%, secured a dedicated source of revenue for the Metro system, worked on criminal justice reform, expanded no-excuse absentee voting, and–perhaps most importantly– expanded Medicaid to almost 400,000 Virginians across the state, including 5,600 of our neighbors in the 49th District.

Nothing has been more rewarding, however, than the work my office has done to provide direct assistance to the constituents of our district. As a Delegate, my most important role is that of being a liaison and advocate for constituents and their needs with state and local government.

For example, when VDOT announced the pending closure of the DMV on Four Mile Run, my office and I worked quickly to organize a community meeting to allow residents to express their concerns about the impact the closure would have on low-income residents and the elderly. By amplifying voices from the community and facilitating intense negotiations between community leaders and state officials, my office was able to keep the DMV in Arlington where it continues to serve thousands of our neighbors to this day.

Our Commonwealth and our community have made a number of great strides in the past few years, but it’s clear that we still have much work to do. Going forward, I am determined to continue pursuing an agenda that is focused on social and economic justice for all of Virginia’s families. As your Delegate, I will always be committed to creating a community and a Commonwealth that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.

I ask for your support and vote on June 11th!

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Morning Notes

Favola’s Consulting Questioned by Challenger — “Is two-term Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) a rising star, poised to become chairwoman of a Senate committee if Democrats seize control of the Senate? Or is she an opportunist capitalizing on insider influence for personal gain? That’s a question for voters this June in a primary that pits Favola against challenger Nicole Merlene.” [Arlington Connection]

Video: CCTV Sewer Inspections — Arlington County uses cameras inserted into manholes to inspect its sanitary and storm sewers for cracks and other problems. [YouTube]

Another Arlington Cybersecurity Firm Acquired — “Arlington-based endpoint cybersecurity firm Endgame is being acquired by Netherlands-based search and data management firm Elastic N.V. for $234 million in stock and debt repayment, according to an announcement by the two companies.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Cybersecurity Firm Unveiled — “[Arlington-based] Kfivefour today emerged from stealth and announced the immediate availability of its full spectrum Red Team assessments, training and penetration testing services. Kfivefour is a private sector focused cybersecurity affiliate of Millennium Corporation, a defense contractor and cybersecurity company.” [PR Newswire]

Local Startup Founder Arrested — “[Former Arlington resident] Andrew Powers, the founder and CEO of communications technology firm CommuniClique Inc. — sometimes known as Clique API — has been arrested by the FBI, which has charged him with a felony for what it described as part of ‘a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.'” [Washington Business Journal]

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