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Election Day 2022 in Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

In the primary election next June, registered voters will be able to rank their preferred candidates for a seat on the Arlington County Board.

The change comes after the Arlington County Board unanimously endorsed testing out ranked-choice voting for County Board elections on Saturday.

“This reform alone will not be sufficient to overcome… the forces trying to undermine our democratic traditions,” Board Chair Katie Cristol said. “Nevertheless, I think this is worth trying. I hope that we can not only excite Arlington voters about the potential, give them an opportunity to express the full range of their preferences, but also provide a model to other communities.”

The Board’s decision makes Arlington the first locality in Virginia to move forward on adopting ranked-choice voting.

UpVote Virginia, a newly formed nonpartisan organization that supports changes like ranked-choice voting, celebrated the move.

“It’s not everyday in Virginia you can say you were the first to do something, but this resolution truly does signify a historic opportunity,” UpVote Virginia Executive Director Liz White said. “Looking forward, we hope your example today will set the stage for other localities across the Commonwealth.”

The change, which would only apply to primaries run by the county’s Office of Elections, comes months ahead of the primary. Legally, the Board has until March 22, 2023 to enact RCV for the June 20 primary.

Local political parties will declare whether they will pick their nominee via a primary run by Arlington’s election office or a party-run convention.

According to White, the method has bipartisan support.

“Even longtime political rivals have found common ground in support of ranked-choice voting,” she told the Board on Saturday. “At UpVote Virginia’s launch event in August, we heard remarks in favor of RCV from your very own Democratic Congressman Don Beyer and former Gov. George Allen, a Republican. It’s not often you get those two speaking at the same event, but that really encapsulates how broad RCV’s appeal can be.”

And in Arlington, a recently closed survey that netted 786 responses found that the majority of respondents support the change.

Support for ranked-choice voting drawn from a survey of Arlingtonians (via Arlington County)

Per the survey, support fluctuated some based on zip code. Support was weakest in the 22207 zip code — residential northern Arlington, which trends a bit more conservative than the rest of deep blue Arlington — where 63% of 152 residents support it. That compared with 75% of 177 residents in the 22201 zip code, which includes part of the Rosslyn-Ballston Metro corridor.

Other zip codes with smaller response rates had higher favorability rates.

Support for ranked-choice voting by zip code in Arlington (via Arlington County)

The potential change comes on the heels of other voting reforms enacted by the state, including expanded access to absentee ballots, new automatic and same-day voter registration and new legislative maps.

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Voting stickers (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ranked-choice voting graphic (via Arlington County)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morning Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to vote

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

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

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

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Voting stickers (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Early voting kicks off today (Friday) for the June 21 primary, with only one race on the ballot in Arlington.

In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer faces political newcomer, Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh.

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

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

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

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

The winner will face any non-Democratic candidates in November. A convention to decide the Republican Party’s nominee — open to all Republicans in the 8th District — is set to be held on May 21. There is a slate of Republicans looking to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

How to vote early

Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, because Virginia is an open primary state. Voters can also go to any early voting location.

Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd, Ste 311, will be open for early voting every weekday except for Memorial Day through June 18. Its hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Additional hours on Saturdays and in the evenings are scheduled as follows:

  • Madison Community Center, 3829 N. Stafford Street. Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday, June 14, and Thursday, June 16, 2-7 p.m.
  • Walter Reed Community Center, 2909 16th Street S. Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday, June 14, and Thursday, June 16, 2-7 p.m.

Early voting for the primary runs to June 18. The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration is May 31.

Voters can also cast an absentee ballot by mail. Mailed ballots will start to be sent out starting tomorrow. Requests for mailed ballots can be made through June 10, according to the Arlington County elections website.

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Morning Notes

An artist paints inside Palette 22 in Shirlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fallon Sings About Pentagon Chicken — “That stroke of social media brilliance was followed by even more exposure as ‘The Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon wrote a song for the bold bird. It began with the lyrics ‘Are you just a clucker or an undercover spy?’ We do not expect the Pentagon to answer.” [WTOP, Twitter, Facebook]

WBJ Calls Out Crystal City Erasure — “On Jan. 18, JBG Smith Properties announced it has started construction on a pair of multifamily towers at 2000 and 2001 S. Bell St., a block south of the Crystal City Metro station. In, I dare say, the heart of Crystal City. But in that 750-word press release, “Crystal City” does not appear. Not once. ‘National Landing,’ meanwhile, appears seven times.” [Washington Business Journal]

More on School Mask Judge — “The Arlington judge who dealt a blow Friday to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order making masks optional in schools is married to an Arlington teacher, but attorneys for Youngkin (R) and the school boards did not believe she should have recused herself.” [Washington Post]

More On Eyeglass Smash and Grabs — “Five men with hoods and heavy coats cased the store for about five minutes, Abbasi said, then smashed open the display cases holding Cartier, Gucci and Dior glass frames and made off with about $60,000 worth of merchandise. Surveillance video shows the five bandits rapidly shoveling the high-dollar frames into plastic bags while Abbasi is yelling at them and calling police, leaving a patina of shattered glass chunks in their wake.” [Washington Post]

‘Mental Health Crisis’ at County Jail — “Sheriff Beth Arthur said the man, Paul Thompson, should not have been there, pointing out he had no criminal history. But she admits he did suffer from mental illness like most of the county’s inmates… Of the 280 current inmates, some 170 have mental health challenges; 66 of them are serious. Even the longtime sheriff wants to know why the county is ‘dumping these people in jail when they need serious care.'” [WTOP]

Metro Budget Meeting Tonight in Courthouse — “Beginning Monday, February 7, Metro will hold the first of three public hearings for people to weigh in on Metro’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget. Hearings will be held next week and will provide for both virtual and in person public participation options.” [WMATA]

Beyer Challenger Launches Primary Bid — “An intra-party challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) kicked off her campaign Feb. 2 with a singular plea to Arlington Democrats. ‘Give me a chance,’ Victoria Virasingh asked during a kickoff speech… An Arlington native, Virasingh – who did not level any criticism at Beyer or even mention him by name in her remarks – said her goal was to create ‘a community that is rich and thriving and has opportunity for all of us.'” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — A slight chance of snow and freezing rain today before 9 a.m., then a slight chance of rain and snow after that. Otherwise partly sunny, with a high near 45. Sunrise at 7:07 a.m. and sunset at 5:37 p.m. Mostly sunny tomorrow, with a high near 43. [Weather.gov]

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Victoria Virasingh (via Victoria Virasingh/Facebook)

Arlingtonian Victoria Virasingh has thrown her hat into the ring to challenge Rep. Don Beyer for the 8th District Democratic primary next year.

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

Virasingh was born and raised in Arlington and is the Vice-Chair of Outreach for the Arlington Democrats. She was previously been part of Communities in Schools at Barcroft Elementary School. Her professional resume includes work for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, and controversial tech company Palantir.

“I was born in Arlington to immigrant parents,” Virasingh said. “My mom is from Ecuador. My dad was born to Punjabi Sikh refugees in Thailand. They are immigrants who worked minimum wage jobs here in Virginia’s 8th. I became the first in my family to go to college by getting a full scholarship to Stanford University. My story represents the American Dream, the belief that no matter where you come from, if you work hard you can achieve your own success.”

Virasingh said her return to Arlington for work highlighted that some of those support systems have gone.

“When I came back to work in Arlington it became clear to me that the structures — living wage, affordable housing — that helped my family succeed are gone,” Virasingh said. “We need to create opportunities for people to have healthcare and to live and work here. We need a $18/hour minimum wage, housing for all, equity in education and Medicare for All.

Virasingh said her life experience has shown her the need for “true progressive policies to level the playing field and provide opportunity for all.”

According to Virasingh’s website, some campaign priorities include:

  • Housing for all
  • Equity in education
  • Securing a living wage
  • Medicare for all

On Twitter, Virasingh noted that is she wins, she will be the first woman to hold the 8th District seat.

Virasingh listed the following as some examples of involvement in the 8th District.

I am the Vice-Chair Outreach for Arlington Democrats which means I work closely with our 9 caucuses.

I believe voter registration and education is an essential pillar of our democracy and as a precinct captain, I work to increase voter participation.

I was deployed to Barcroft Elementary School through Communities and Schools and worked side by side with the Site Coordinator there on family engagement, distribution of resource vouchers, and lead student programming.

During the pandemic, I lead Hispanic outreach for Rides to the Vaccines.

I strongly align myself with the mission and vision of Bridges to Independence, and they have called on me to  jump in on projects and meetings.

I am a member of the Arlington County Economic Development Commission.

Additionally, I attend meetings and events with LULAC, Latino Caucus, ASHPA, community events put on by interfaith communities in Arlington.

I am also part of Arlington Young Dems and the NAACP-Arlington Branch.

I built private-public partnerships at Palantir Technologies which led to the founding of the Future of Work Team. Leading the team took me to working in Europe while being based out of Germany.

While in California, I sat on the Youth Board of City Youth Now, a non profit organization that provides support to youth in the Juvenile system transitioning into independent living.

I have been an advisor for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority which I was a part of in college.

“I think that our district deserves to have a representative that takes leadership on progressive issues and drives the conversation on issues affecting our constituents everyday,” said Virasingh. “I thank Representative Beyer for his service. I think it’s time for new leadership that matches the composition of our district. I think it’s time for new leadership that is not reactive to adopting progressive policies, but is proactive in leading the charge for progressive policies that lift our communities up.”

Beyer told ARLnow that he has also supported Medicare for all for years, and his plan for now is to focus on doing his job as best he can.

“The seat belongs to the people of Virginia’s 8th District,” Beyer said. “[Competitive elections] make our community stronger, our democracy stronger, and makes me a more effective candidate and leader. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. God bless her and I never want to discourage anyone from being involved.”

The 8th district seat is up in the 2022 election, and the Democratic primary is currently scheduled for June 21.

Photo via Victoria Virasingh/Facebook

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County Board members Takis Karantonis (left) and Matt de Ferranti (right) at the Madison Community Center polling place on June 8, 2021 (photo via Takis Karantonis/Twitter)

Primary day was a good day to be an establishment Democrat in Arlington, though not necessarily so for every incumbent.

A primary challenge to incumbent County Board member Takis Karantonis was soundly rejected by voters, who gave Karantonis just over two-thirds of the vote. He defeats Chanda Choun, who ran on a platform of responsive government, technological advancement, and lower taxes, among other things.

Karantonis, who was first elected in a special election and is running for his first full term, will now face a trio of independent candidates in the fall: Audrey ClementMike Cantwell and Adam Theo. He thanked his volunteers and Choun for “a positive, well-fought campaign.”

In the 49th House of Delegates district, which runs along Columbia Pike, voters said yes to one of the most liberal state lawmakers in the Commonwealth and said no to a candidate running to his left. Del. Alfonso Lopez, who was first elected in 2012, cruised to another Democratic nomination over Karishma Mehta, by a vote of around 70% to 30%.

Mehta, a Pentagon City resident, was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, the Sunrise Movement and local activist group Our Revolution Arlington. She was openly critical of her new corporate neighbor, Amazon, which is building its HQ2 within the district and will eventually be Arlington’s second largest employer — second only to the Department of Defense.

Lopez thanked voters tonight for their “resounding support.”

The other contested local primary was in the 45th House of Delegates district, which includes portions of South Arlington, Alexandria and southern Fairfax County. In it, incumbent Del. Mark Levine simultaneously lost his reelection bid in the 45th district while also falling short in his run for lieutenant governor.

Emerging victorious is Alexandria Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who is garnering nearly 60% of the vote district-wide to 40% for Levine. The margin in Arlington was closer — 53% to 47% — but nonetheless a defeat for Levine, who loaned his campaign nearly $1 million in his unsuccessful statewide run.

Bennett-Parker was endorsed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, and County Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol, among others. In declaring victory via social media, she also thanked her campaign volunteers.

In statewide races, Arlington voted the same way as Virginia as a whole.

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe is again the Democratic nominee for governor, with 60% of the vote in Arlington and 62% statewide.

Hala Ayala is the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee, despite a last-minute controversy over a political donation from Dominion, with 35% of the vote in Arlington and 36% statewide.

Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring, meanwhile, is also advancing to the November general election after garnering 68.5% of the vote in Arlington and 56% statewide in his race against Jay Jones, who was endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

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(Updated at noon) After relatively robust early voting, day-of voting in today’s Democratic primary in Arlington is off to a very slow start.

As of 9 a.m., only about 0.5% of active local voters cast ballots during the first three hours of voting this morning, according to the county elections office.

“It’s a slow one,” the office said via Twitter.

The highest turnout — 1% — was seen in the 45th House of Delegates district, which features a competitive race between Alexandria City Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and incumbent Mark Levine, who is also running for Lieutenant Governor.

Arlington is not alone in seeing low turnout. The neighboring City of Falls Church had only recorded 132 voters as of 9 a.m. Across the state, in fact, low turnout is being reported and is causing some concern among Democrats about a potential lack of voter enthusiasm.

One exception to the low turnout trend today: Alexandria, where competitive citywide races have drawn more a turnout of more than 10% as of 10 a.m.

Polls in Virginia are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

The contested races on the ballot in Arlington — all Democratic primaries — are below.

A number of non-Democrats will be on the ballot this fall, facing off against the primary winners in the November general election.

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(Updated 5:40 p.m.) Arlington has seen significantly higher early voting turnout than usual, ahead of the Democratic primary tomorrow.

Neighborhood polling places will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those who have not voted early or absentee. Voters will see a full slate of Democratic candidates for local and state elections. Primary winners will face non-Democratic candidates in November.

Arlingtonians have been taking advantage of early voting opportunities since April 23. According to the Arlington County elections office, 2,803 people voted early and in-person before that option closed last week — a 140% increase over the last Virginia gubernatorial election cycle in 2017.

Meanwhile, more than 3,900 mail ballots for the Democratic primary were distributed before the May 28 deadline to request a ballot, the office said in a tweet. These can still be returned by mail but must be postmarked by tomorrow (June 8) and received by the local voter registration office by noon on Friday.

On the ballot in Arlington are three statewide elections, two contested House of Delegates elections, and the Democratic race for County Board.

Democrats have a number of potential replacements for Gov. Ralph Northam, including former governor Terry McAuliffe and Jennifer Carroll Foy — both of whom visited Arlington last week — as well as Jennifer McClellan, Lee Carter and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

The winner of the gubernatorial primary will face off Glenn Youngkin, who beat out a half-dozen other Republican candidates to win the GOP nomination.

Meanwhile, seven Democrats are competing for Fairfax’s current role as Lieutenant Governor. They are Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Sam Rasoul, Norfolk Council Member Andria McClellan, Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman, Del. Mark Levine and Arlington businessman Xavier Warren.

Voters can also choose between incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring or his Democratic challenger Jay Jones.

Challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez for the 49th District is Karishma Mehta, while Alexandria City Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker is going up against Levine (who is also running for Lieutenant Governor) in the 45th District.

The 47th and 48th districts are not facing primary challenges on the ballot this year. Incumbent Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th) faces no challenger and Matt Rogers, who launched a bid to unseat incumbent Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th), is not on the ballot due to a paperwork snafu. He contested a decision by the State Board of Elections not to grant him and two other candidates a filing deadline.

Meanwhile, locals can choose to keep incumbent Democrat Takis Karantonis in his County Board seat or select his opponent, Chanda Choun. In November, the winner will face off a trio of independents: Audrey Clement, Mike Cantwell and now, Adam Theo.

Theo describes himself as a patriotic Libertarian Buddhist. He is the chair of the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia, which operates in the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Tomorrow also is the deadline for candidates to file the forms needed to have their names printed on the ballot in the November general election.

There is no Republican primary, as “the Republican party did not call for any primary elections in Arlington,” the county elections office noted. Any voter can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, regardless of party affiliation, as Virginia is an open primary state.

Registered voters can find their polling place on the Virginia Department of Elections website. A pocket guide from the department includes a list of acceptable IDs that voters can use to prove their identity when they arrive at the polls.

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Less than a week before the primary, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, Del. Alfonso Lopez, and Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn paid a visit to Acme Pie Company on Columbia Pike.

All three Democrats are running for office in the upcoming primary, set for Tuesday, June 8 — with early voting happening now. (Filler-Corn is unopposed in the primary.)

Around slices of blueberry and lemon curd pie, joined by Acme’s owner Sol Schott, they discussed small businesses, economic recovery, and their love of pie.

“The best pie in America,” Lopez said about Acme’s offerings. A few moments later, McAuliffe bought a whole pie.

“I got five kids,” the McLean resident and former governor said as his reasoning.

The campaign stop was intended to highlight the plight and hoped-for recovery for Virginia’s small businesses.

“Almost 41% of Black and Brown [owned] businesses have closed. How do you rebuild? How do you bring small businesses back?,” McAuliffe asked. “We do microloans, access to capital, and working on the regulatory structure.”

While Acme Pie has found ways to survive over the last year, it’s been rough going with the shop losing a large slice of its wholesale business.

The business did get a Paycheck Protection Program loan and Schott said that one of the most frustrating aspects was dealing with paperwork and navigating the legalese.

“I would like to see some more hands-on help with paperwork,” Schott told ARLnow. “I did get help from Alfonso personally on that.”

Lopez, who is facing an intra-party challenger in his run for re-election in the 49th District, agrees that the paperwork and amount of work that small business owners need do to gain access to loans and capital can be a barrier.

“What we need to be doing is dealing with procurement reform… and changing the definition of what a small business is,” Lopez said in an interview with ARLnow. “There’s so much more we could do to help these folks who are literally putting everything into their dream of a small business and be able to take care of their family.”

McAuliffe, who is seen as the front-runner for the competitive Democratic gubernatorial nomination, told ARLnow in an interview that the Commonwealth needs to be directly involved in providing access to capital to small businesses.

“We as a state should stand up our own, basically, investment bank structure to help small businesses, to get them off their feet, and work with them,” he said. “The state being involved in micro-financing and other lending opportunities, I think is very important for us.”

The four spoke about other issues impacting residents in Arlington and across Virginia, including education and affordable housing.

“We’ve got to invest in education… You’ve got to have the best education system if you’re going to recruit businesses in the 21st century,” McAuliffe said. “Today, [Virginia] is 50 out of 50 states in average teacher pay. That’s disgraceful… so, raising pay above the national average.”

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