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(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 6/26/23) The ballots have all been counted and the results are finalized: Maureen Coffey and Susan Cunningham are the Democratic nominees for the Arlington County Board.

The results, released at 3:15 p.m. today (Saturday), culminated Arlington’s trial run of ranked-choice voting method. Eyes across the state were reportedly on Arlington, which the state legislature allowed to use the process for County Board elections one year before extending the right to the rest of the Commonwealth.

At noon today, Arlington election officials adjudicated the remaining 135 provisional ballots and began tabulating them around 1 p.m. These ballots were not expected to change the outcome of the tabulation yesterday (Friday), when officials processed ballots from early voting, primary day voting, and mail-in ballots.

On Tuesday’s primary day, no candidate in the six-way race crossed the threshold with only the first round of votes counted. Arlington waited until all the ballots were in, save provisional ballots, before eliminating lower vote-getters and tallying second- and third-place rankings.

Coffey, a researcher for the think tank American Progress, appears to have captured votes from many millennial renters like herself, receiving 10,786 votes.

Cunningham, who ran an unsuccessful bid for Arlington County Board as an independent in 2020, received 14,208 votes, initially carried by several precincts north of Langston Blvd.

Arlington County Board Democratic Primary Round 1 votes by precinct (by Jo DeVoe)

Coffey emerged victorious in the fourth round, after Jonathan Dromgoole, Tony Weaver and Julius “JD” Spain were eliminated, in that order. Cunningham crossed the victory threshold in round six, after Natalie Roy was eliminated.

How the ranking rounds played out for Arlington County Board (via Virginia Dept. of Elections)

Tabulation yesterday and today at county government headquarters was open to the public as was the certification of the results.

Both Coffey and Cunningham were both present on Friday. Coffey observed the vibe in the tabulation room was upbeat, complimenting Director of Elections Gretchen Reinemeyer for walking through every step, even though it seemed boring and technical.

“But as we waited for each step to happen, people were joking and laughing and being silly with it,” she said. “I think it’s reflective, Arlington County has some really good people.”

After the preliminary results were finalized on Friday, Coffey seemed stunned.

“This is so surreal,” she said. “This is wild.”

Cunningham was similarly upbeat.

“I am just excited at the prospect of serving our community next January,” Cunningham told ARLnow shortly after the tabulation. “I’m ready to take a true deep breath and I’m really proud of our candidates and the community for having a good and clean race.”

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Arlingtonians could have an update on the results of the Arlington County Board Democratic primary as soon as this afternoon, according to the local elections office.

“We will be accepting about 500 mail and provisional ballots today and results will be uploaded throughout the afternoon,” says spokeswoman Tania Griffin. “We’ll also have an update regarding the [ranked-choice voting] tabulation later this afternoon as well.”

For the first time, Arlington voters used a ranked-choice system to pick their top candidates for the County Board, which has two open seats this year. The outcome will come down to who voters ranked second and third place.

It is a squeaker so far for Susan Cunningham, Natalie Roy, Maureen Coffey and Julius “J.D.” Spain, whose tally of first-choice votes are within a range of only 5 percentage points from most to least.

“This race is still wide open,” said Liz White, the executive director of UpVote Virginia, which has been educating residents about ranked-choice voting ahead of the primary.

“Four out of the six candidates could very well secure a win once subsequent rounds are tabulated,” she said in an email. “Round-by-round tabulation will occur as soon as all provisional and mail ballots are processed. Once all votes are processed, the tabulation is instantaneous.”

How Arlington County Board candidates ended Tuesday night with Round 1 votes in (via Virginia Dept. of Elections)

No candidate crossed the threshold for early victory: 33.3% of the first-choice votes, plus one vote.  The next step will be eliminating the lowest vote getters, in order. Who people picked after first ranking Jonathan Dromgoole and Tony Weaver could get any of the four other candidates past the finish line.

Cunningham, who took the lead in the first round of votes, tells ARLnow she has made peace with whatever happens next. Coffey, who currently sits in third place, says she is “on pins and needles” waiting for the results.

Political consultant Ben Tribbett is placing his bets that those who ranked Dromgoole first likely ranked Coffey or Spain next.

“When you get to the actual ranking of candidates, I think the third and fourth-place candidates are going to go on to win the election,” Tribbett said. “I would expect in that first round, that Maureen is going to win. There’s a chance Susan Cunningham could hold off J.D. in the second round.”

On Tuesday, County Board member Takis Karantonis — who endorsed Coffey and Spain — said Coffey performed well on a per campaign dollar spent basis. Meanwhile Spain, who had racked up several endorsements and raised substantial funds, underperformed, which he called a “sobering result.”

Looking precinct by precinct, it is clear that each of the candidates had a base. The more urban places with younger voters went for Coffey, while single-family home enclaves went for Cunningham and Roy, who were most critical of the zoning changes known as Missing Middle.

Arlington County Board Democratic Primary Round 1 votes by precinct (by Jo DeVoe)

Spain told ARLnow on Tuesday night that he enjoyed strong support in his neighborhood, Penrose, while noting more confrontations with upset voters above Langston Blvd.

“We won the most diverse precincts in Arlington,” he said. “[I’m] proud of that.”

Tribbett was more blunt about what he saw as the electoral dynamic, citing the geographic distribution of votes in the Commonwealth’s Attorney race in particular.

“It’s the Karens versus the non-Karens,” he said. “Clearly, there’s a divide in the community that jumps out at you.”

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Arlington Sheriff candidate Jose Quiroz, Jr. greets Arlington County Board member Takis Karantonis at the Walter Reed Community Center on Tuesday (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

After taking the helm for longtime Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur, who retired at the end of 2022, Acting Sheriff Jose Quiroz is one step closer to taking charge permanently.

Quiroz — backed by four of five County Board members and several elected officials — won the Democratic primary Tuesday night. Following his victory, over former sheriff deputy Wanda Younger and Arlington County police corporal James Herring, Quiroz advances to the November general election.

No one has emerged as an outside challenger, according to the Arlington Dept. of Elections website. If elected as expected, Quiroz will be the county’s first Latino sheriff.

As of last night, the acting sheriff had nearly 40% of the vote, or 10,733 ballots. Younger was close behind him, with 1,600 fewer votes (~34%). Herring came in third, picking up nearly 7,200 votes.

Arlington County Sheriff results (via Virginia Dept. of Elections)

Looking forward, the acting sheriff says he will focus on mental health, substance use and programming for jail inmates. Running the local jail is the primary responsibility of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, along with providing court security and some law enforcement and civil process duties beyond the justice complex in Courthouse.

“I think the biggest thing is mental health. We all have that and all go through it, but some people need a little more care, attention, resources and services,” Quiroz told ARLnow. “I think the county has some work to do in that area.”

He stressed that he can only control treatment of inmates, not change the waves of people with mental illnesses and addictions coming to the jail. To that end, he says new biometric sensors — which inmates will wear so issues like withdrawal symptoms can be spotted before more inmates die — are close to go-time.

Meanwhile, he intends to maintain existing programs, including a series that teaches men how to connect with and be fathers to their kids.

“That’s how you break the cycle of the next generation,” he said. “It’s important to me as a father.”

He says he is thinking “outside the box” about support, stepping up pet therapy and possibly adding a pickleball court for staff and inmates.

In their concessions, Herring and Younger both said they campaigned on bringing to light problems in the jail.

“My campaign was about highlighting the issues and showing people the number of solutions we have available to us if we stop relying on the trope of ‘that’s the way it has always been done,’ or ‘it costs too much,'” Herring said. “Other Sheriff’s Offices in Virginia have implemented much of what I was talking about, often with smaller budgets. The problems facing our Sheriff’s Office are not financially driven, but an issue of priority.”

Next week, Herring will once more be patrolling the streets. He said he would run again if the problems he stressed in his campaign remain four years from now.

On social media, Younger said she is “proud to have raised the bar of the Sheriff’s Office with our ideas & solution-sets and to have brought light to the prevalent issues of the Arlington Sheriff’s Office which inhibit [its] growth and greatness.”

She also thanked voters for their confidence in her ability to carry out her platform.

“The Wanda for Sheriff team will continue to advance the rights and voice of the detainees, Sheriff’s Office staff and our Arlington community in the future as community advocates and caretakers, and we are honored to have earned your trust,” she said.

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‘I Voted’ stickers on June 20, 2023 (staff photo)

Our latest morning poll is, admittedly, a bit niche.

Only 16% or so of Arlington registered voters cast a ballot in yesterday’s Democratic primary. Beyond the closely watched Commonwealth’s Attorney race, the primary was notable for being the first locally to utilize ranked choice voting, for the six-way County Board race.

Depending on which news article you were reading yesterday, voters were either flummoxed by the concept of RCV or thought it no big deal to fill in bubbles for their first, second and third choices of candidate.

“Virginia’s first ranked-choice election is vexing some Arlington voters,” said a Washington Post headline. The article went on to report that “Advocates for ranked-choice voting have cheered this pilot initiative, saying it will lead to results that better reflect the will of the electorate. But there seems to be one hiccup so far: Not many people understand how it works.”

WTOP talked to a voter who had trouble casting a valid ballot, but was able to fix it.

“Some found the ranked-choice voting system to be simple, while others encountered issues initially,” the radio station reported. “‘I did find it confusing, and in fact, on my first try, my ballot was rejected,’ Carol Davidson told WTOP, adding that she was eventually able to cast her vote.”

On the other hand, Virginia Mercury, a statewide outlet that’s part of a left-of-center nonprofit, said RCV voting in Arlington was “mostly smooth.”

“Many Arlington Democratic voters spoke positively about the ranked-choice voting system being pioneered this Primary Day for two county board of supervisors seats, although some said more education would have been helpful,” the outlet reported. “‘It was pretty easy,’ said Andrea Hansen, a resident who cast a ballot at the Westover precinct. ‘I think it gives the impression of more of an equal playing field and it encourages people to read up more on the candidates.'”

Either way, Arlington County is now asking for feedback on RCV, seeking voters who want to “share their opinions on and experiences with RCV in Arlington.”

We also want to know how ranked choice went, if you cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. Did it all make sense or did something about it confuse you?

All the while, Arlington awaits the results of the County Board voting: final tabulation to determine the Democratic nominees for the two open seats can take place no earlier than Friday, when the last of the legal mail-in ballots arrive.


(Updated at 9:25 p.m.) Commonwealth’s Attorney incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti has defeated challenger Josh Katcher in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Dehghani-Tafti has 56% of the vote to 44% for Katcher, her former deputy, in the heated race for the top prosecutor of Arlington and Falls Church. That’s as of 8:40 p.m., with all but a few hundred provisional and late-arriving mailed ballots counted in Arlington. Polls closed at 7 p.m.

Katcher, standing outside of his watch party at Lost Dog Cafe in Westover, called Dehghani-Tafti shortly before 8:50 p.m. to concede the race.

The contentious — and expensive — contest has been seen as something of a referendum on the incumbent’s brand of vocal justice reform advocacy. Katcher, while billing himself as also in favor of justice reform, put a spotlight on Dehghani-Tafti’s leadership, which he linked to departures of deputy prosecutors amid a reported rise in crime.

“Right now we’re going to celebrate what we were able to accomplish with this campaign and thank the volunteers,” Katcher told ARLnow before heading back into his event.

“Over the course of the last six months, we’ve had an important debate in our community over the future of criminal justice reform,” he said in a subsequent written statement. “Our team left it all on the field, as we sought to have a debate about what real reform and real justice could mean for our community… I stand ready to continue my commitment to this community, to its safety and to the goal of ensuring that we are balancing the need for both justice and compassion.”

Dehghani-Tafti also thanked her supporters. Gesturing to the crowd gathered at her event at Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse (held with County Board candidate JD Spain) she said those present reflect a tiny fraction of the people who donated, volunteered, “held my hand,” and knocked on doors.

“A campaign based on love, dignity and respect prevailed,” she said. “I’m grateful for the trust everybody has placed in me.”

In the other two closely watched local races, for County Board and Sheriff, leads were slim.

The three-way county sheriff race has Jose Quiroz with a widening lead compared to earlier in the night, with 40% to 34% for former deputy sheriff Wanda Younger and 27% for Arlington police corporal James Herring.

Quiroz was appointed Acting Sheriff after the departure of long-time Sheriff Beth Arthur earlier this year. The position is primarily responsible for running the county jail in Courthouse, with the Sheriff’s Office also handling court security, civil process serving, and some law and traffic enforcement responsibilities.

The Arlington County Board primary, meanwhile, is being conducted for the first time using ranked choice voting, which means final tabulation will not take place until Friday at the earliest. Results of “first choice” votes are being posted, however, showing Susan Cunningham with 25%, Natalie Roy with 24%, Maureen Coffey with 22%, and JD Spain with 20%.

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Just under 10% of voters have cast ballots in today’s Democratic primary as of 9 a.m.

That includes 7% who voted early or by mail and 2% voting at the polls Tuesday morning, according to Arlington County election officials.

Today’s primary, for the first time in Arlington, features the use of ranked choice voting, for the six-way race for the two open Arlington County Board seats. Voters are asked to fill in the bubble for up to three candidates, in order of priority — one each for first, second and third choice.

The County Board race has seen a wide range of endorsements and one particularly divisive issue dividing candidate factions: the recently-passed Missing Middle housing ordinance allowing smaller-scale multifamily homes in neighborhoods previously zoned only for single-family detached houses.

The other closely watched race today is that for Arlington and Falls Church’s top prosecutor, between incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and her former deputy, Josh Katcher.

The incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney has continued to campaign — and raise significant campaign funding — on her national profile as a justice reformer. Katcher says he supports a more practical and effective implementation of justice reform, and has picked up an endorsement from the local police union amid a rise in crime, according to recent police statistics.

The race has also seen Katcher face some criticism for taking campaign contributions from Republicans.

Additional races include a three-way race for county Sheriff, a two-way race for State Senate (40th District), and a race for House of Delegates (2nd District) featuring one active candidate, Adele McClure, and Kevin Saucedo-Broach, who withdrew but remains on ballots.

Though turnout today is light compared to years in which federal races are on the primary ballot, it is in line with the last four-year cycle, in 2019, when Dehghani-Tafti defeated incumbent Theo Stamos for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Total voter turnout in that race was just under 17%.

Polls opened today at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.

While the results of most races should be known within a few hours, the final tally for County Board will take a few days — potentially extending into the weekend — due to how ranked choice votes are tabulated, including the need to wait until all legal mailed-in ballots are received

ARLnow previously asked candidates to write essays describing why Arlington voters should support them. Links to those posts are below.

Commonwealth’s Attorney: Josh Katcher and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. County Board: Tony WeaverJonathan DromgooleJD SpainMaureen CoffeySusan Cunningham, and Natalie Roy. Sheriff: Jose QuirozJames Herring, and Wanda Younger. State Senate: Barbara Favola.

Update at 1:50 p.m. — Primary day turnout is up to about 5%, bringing total turnout to 12%, according to the county elections office.

Voting in Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Just a few days remain to vote in the Arlington County Democratic primary.

Voters can cast their ballots early and in-person today (Friday) and tomorrow — or they can hit the polls on Tuesday.

This year, for the first time, residents are using ranked-choice voting to determine which Arlington County Board candidates will run with a (D) next to their names in the November general election. The format for every other primary contest is unchanged.

This article explains how to vote, how your vote is counted and why full results may come next weekend. At the minimum, this is what you should know:

  1. Anyone registered to vote, regardless of party, can participate in the primary.
  2. You can rank up to three of the six County Board candidates. You can only rank one or two if you want.
  3. Only two candidates will get the nomination.
  4. Only mark one oval per column and ask for assistance if you need help.

Filling out your ballot

Need a visual? This Arlington County flier provides step-by-step instructions:

Ranked-choice voting flier (via Arlington County) 

The scanner will reject ballots that look as follows.

Ranked-choice voting ballot errors (via Arlington County)

“Voters have the option to mark a new ballot or cast their ballot with the errors,” Arlington Dept. of Elections Director Gretchen Reinemeyer says. “A vast majority choose to spoil their original ballot and mark a new ballot.”

If you mailed in a ballot with errors, it will be reviewed.

“Their ballots are scanned after they are separated from the voter’s name to preserve voter privacy,” Reinemeyer says. “These ballots are held until election day and will be adjudicated by teams of election officers to determine voter intent.”

The rate of spoiled ballots so far this primary season is a little higher than normal, but still small, she noted. Final stats on spoiled ballots will be published after the election.

How are the winners picked? 

Liz White, the executive director of UpVote Virginia, tells ARLnow she used this analogy to explain tabulation when her organization educated Arlingtonians on ranked-choice voting.

You have $1 to spend to elect someone. Everyone pays their first pick $1 and whoever gets the least amount of money is eliminated.

A candidate who wins by a large margin does not need the full $1 — just, for instance, 70 cents. Your second pick gets 30 cents.

If your first-place candidate is eliminated, your second-place pick gets your full $1. Everyone has a whole vote: for some, it is split among two and for others, it supports the second-place pick.

Armed with this knowledge, White says do not get too strategic.

“One of the nice things is that voters don’t have to be pundits,” she said. “They can truly say, ‘If I don’t have this one candidate, I want to have this one.'”

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This spring, Arlington County began buying up properties in the Waverly Hills area to combat flooding.

Already, despite some concerns about how the program would work, three residents have agreed to sell their homes. The county will tear them down and replant the land so water has a place to flow during large rain storms.

All seven Arlington County Board candidates — six of whom are vying for the support of the local Democratic party this primary — say the county needs to change its land-use policies and get more people on board with adding stormwater infrastructure in their backyards, in order to make neighborhoods more resilient to a predicted increase in flooding.

“The July 2018 and 2019 floods in particular really drove this home for us — we had some real life-safety issues pertaining to flooding,” Susan Cunningham said in a forum hosted by nonprofit advocacy group EcoAction Arlington last week.

“[It] highlighted that, not only because of climate change but really because of lack of long-range planning, we have very outdated stormwater management systems that we don’t have a budget to improve,” she continued. “We do have a lot of catch up to do.”

Since the floods, Arlington County has taken steps to manage stormwater beyond buying homes for flood relief.

Starting next year, Arlington will fund its stormwater management plan with a stormwater utility fee. The county will charge property owners a rate based on how much of their property is covered in hard surfaces, like roofs and driveways. (Currently, it is funded by a tax based on property assessments.)

Other changes include new regulations requiring single-family home construction projects to retain more water and some $90 million in bond referenda from 2020 and 2022 for stormwater projects.

Developers of single-family homes report higher construction costs due to retention regulations. Bonds and the new stormwater utility fee, meanwhile, could spell higher taxes for residents.

So, in this race, some candidates say the county should examine how its own policies encourage flooding before requiring more of residents.

Cunningham and Natalie Roy, both of whom have opposed the recently adopted Missing Middle zoning changes, that starts with reducing the allowable buildable area that homes can occupy on a lot.

“This is something that we should’ve done 10 years ago and definitely something we should have done before approving the misguided [Missing Middle] plan,” Roy said.

Perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement said she would call for the repeal of Missing Middle, linking the new policy to tree loss and thus, increased flooding.

She said she would also end a practice among developers to subdivide lots to circumvent state environmental ordinances preventing construction near protected land along Arlington streams called “resource protection areas,” or RPAs.

“It was by this sleight of hand that the county permitted a tear-down McMansion in a North Arlington RPA in 2018 but also the destruction of a 100-foot state champion redwood on the same lot,” she said.

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Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and her challenger, Josh Katcher (photo illustration by ARLnow)

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Arlington’s police union is endorsing challenger Josh Katcher in the race for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Katcher is running against incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in the Democratic primary to determine who has the local party’s nomination to run this fall.

Dehghani-Tafti campaigned on criminal justice reform and won her first term in 2019, after beating Theo Stamos, for whom Katcher previously worked (he also worked for Dehghani-Tafti before leaving the office).

The incumbent has focused her re-election campaign on the reforms she has made, such as ending cash bail, a requirement that defense attorneys hand copy all the prosecutor’s files about their criminal case, and prosecution for marijuana possession. She has endorsements of several current and former state legislators and members of the Arlington County Board and School Board and the Washington Post.

Katcher has focused on allegations of rising crime, staffing issues within the top prosecutor’s office and crime victims who say they were not respected. He picked up the endorsement from Arlington Coalition of Police (ACOP) because, the organization says, the current relationship between local police and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is crumbling.

“ACOP has spent the last 7 months attempting to stay out of the Commonwealth Attorney’s race,” it said in a press release. “We understood that whoever won, officers would still need to have a working relationship with the winner. Although that current working relationship is extremely poor, we worried that any statement would make the relationship even worse.”

The organization says it was reluctant to speak up until now — with less than a month before the primary on June 20 — but wants to correct the record about statements Dehghani-Tafti has made on the campaign trail.

In a recent Arlington County Civic Federation debate, the current Commonwealth’s Attorney said her office has a “healthy” relationship with officers and that prosecution rates are down because police are apprehending fewer people.

ACOP says this “could not be any further from the truth” and it “cannot sit by idly while she intentionally misleads the public.”

It listed some of the issues officers say they have with how the top prosecutor’s office currently runs:

On almost a daily basis, members of ACOP email their union representatives with complaints about Ms. Tafti’s office. The most common recurring complaints are about a lack of preparation from the prosecutors, subpoenas not being issued in a timely manner (sometimes never being issued at all), a case getting dismissed without ever contacting the arresting officer, DUIs being plead down to reckless driving with no explanation, subsequent DUIs being plead down to first offenses, and a general lack of communication about cases and outcomes.

Citing felony arrest and indictment data, it countered a claim she made in the debate that police are apprehending fewer people. ACOP says the number of arrests is “the highest it has been for at least six years,” if marijuana possession arrests are removed.

“Felony arrests in Arlington County have remained relatively consistent with the exception of 2020 during Covid,” the release said. “What has not remained consistent is the percentage of felonies that were indicted by the Commonwealth Attorney.”

Arrests by Arlington County Police Department (via Arlington Coalition of Police)

In the 2019 fiscal year — the year before Dehghani-Tafti took office — approximately 41% of felony arrests were indicted to Arlington County Circuit Court, compared to 15% in 2022, ACOP says, citing recent budget materials.

Dehghani-Tafti provided data the state collected from Arlington indicating a steady decline in arrests made since 2012. while a sharp uptick in simple assaults — from 721 in 2018 to 1,146 in 2021 — may explain an uptick in offenses.

Arrests versus offenses in Arlington through 2021 (courtesy Parisa Dehghani-Tafti)

Meanwhile, a sharp uptick in simple assaults — from 721 in 2018 to 1,146 in 2021 — may explain an uptick in offenses.

Simple assaults appear to be on the rise (courtesy Parisa Dehghani-Tafti)

As for indictments, Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow these are lower because her office is not hitting defendants with several charges related to one criminal incident, a tactic she says prosecutors can employ to force defendants to plead guilty and not go to trial.

“It’s our policy to not stack charges and over charge,” she recently told ARLnow. “We’re not afraid to go to trial and check our evidence with fair and reasonable charges. When we go to trial, we win more than the prior administration.”

Between 2020 and 2022, prosecutors in her office obtained guilty verdicts on cases with one or more charges 75% of the time compared to 64% under Stamos, she said. Guilty verdict for the most serious charges brought forward, across all misdemeanors and felonies tried, was 72% between 2020-22, up from 57% from 2015 to 2019.

The ratio of felony cases that are indicted (via Arlington Coalition of Police)

(The chart, also provided by ACOP, does not include data for 2017 or 2018. ACOP said it could not find publicly available data for those years. ARLnow also could not immediately find data from those years in budget documents.)

ACOP said it has worked with Katcher for the last decade and see him as “experienced and competent.”

“Josh will be able to lead the office through his experience and mold the attorneys in the office into skilled litigators,” the organization said. “Most importantly, we know Josh will get the relationship between ACPD and the CWA office back on track to where prosecutions are a collaborative effort between the two departments.”

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Six months ago, the Arlington County Board adopted ranked-choice voting for the upcoming Democratic primary.

Since then, the Arlington elections office has been busy educating anyone who asks on the method, which only applies to candidates for County Board.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP, however, says the county needs to step up its outreach to ensure all voters are prepared when they cast early ballots or go to the polls on June 20.

ARLnow, for instance, has heard from some residents who are unsure or skeptical of how votes will be counted.

“We have directly heard a series of grave concerns from our community regarding the implementation of this significant change,” NAACP President Mike Hemminger said in a statement. “We will be monitoring this change with intense focus in the run up to and after the election to ensure that no one’s foundational right to vote becomes disenfranchised or impeded in Arlington County.”

Concern about outreach highlights the stakes of this trial run. Arlington is the first Virginia jurisdiction to test ranked-choice voting for the primary and one election official tells ARLnow that people outside the county are watching closely.

“It’s fair to say, without sounding dramatic, that the eyes of the Commonwealth are on Arlington and this ranked-choice voting process,” Arlington Electoral Board Secretary Scott McGeary says.

Its success in the primary could also determine if ranked-choice voting is adopted to pick the successors for Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol in the November general election.

So far, interest in learning more about ranked-choice voting is strong, says Arlington Dept. of Voter Registration and Elections Director Gretchen Reinemeyer.

Her staff is working through an education plan it rolled out in April. Part of that is making presentations — at a clip of at least two presentations a week, and once three in one night — and helping community groups facilitate workshops.

“Rollout for ranked-choice voting has gone smoothly,” Reinemeyer says. “I would say that most voters understand the concept and are aware that the County Board race is using the voting method. A handful of voters are vocally unhappy. The most common question is ‘Do I have to rank all three?'”

The answer to that, McGeary says, is no. People can rank up to three candidates — the maximum county ballot machines can accommodate. Some recent endorsements have recommended how candidates should be ranked.

One key strategy was developing toolkits so that people and organizations could host information sessions and run mock elections, which Reinemeyer said has been an effective way to reach lots of people and explain how votes are counted.

“The idea of these toolkits is that anyone can take the toolkit and teach their friends, neighbors, community organizations about ranked choice voting,” Reinemeyer said. “We are seeing members of our community run with these toolkits.”

The county is also relying on materials the state produced. This includes two videos — one explaining how ranked-choice voting works and the other how votes are counted — as well as an FAQ page and flyers in Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.

One notable change, per a state video, is that if there are no clear winners, it could take up to seven days to apportion second- and third-choice votes to determine who actually won.

“I have no doubt we’ll be able to do the math properly and get the results as fast as possible,” McGeary said. “From a technical and counting standpoint, I’m confident we’ll be able to count and announce as soon as possible.”

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With early and caucus voting underway, some candidates for local office are getting boosts from prominent Arlington Democrats.

Arlington is a Democratic stronghold for state and national politics. On the local level, that ethos has fueled intense focus on who will get the official support of the local party — even for non-partisan positions on the Arlington School Board.

Among sitting County Board members, there is strong support for Acting Sheriff Jose Quiroz, who has received endorsements from outgoing Chair Christian Dorsey, Vice-Chair Libby Garvey and member Matt de Ferranti. Quiroz also has support from State Sen. Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Patrick Hope, as well as his predecessor, former sheriff Beth Arthur.

His opponents, retired Deputy Sheriff Wanda Younger and Arlington police officer James Herring, have not published endorsements on their websites.

No other candidate websites list endorsements from Dorsey or outgoing member Katie Cristol, both of whom are stepping down this year. Of the remaining County Board members, they diverged on their support for a Commonwealth’s Attorney. De Ferranti and Karantonis support incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti while Garvey supports challenger Josh Katcher, who worked for Dehghani-Tafti and her predecessor, Theo Stamos.

Dehghani-Tafti’s website lists a slew of endorsements from elected Democrats, including Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer McClellan, State Sen. Barbara Favola, Dels. Hope and Lopez as well as endorsements from the Washington Post and the Falls Church News-Press. Campaign financing records show she has received donations from political groups that support progressive prosecutors.

Katcher’s supporters including former Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen, education activist Symone Walker and the local firefighters union. Campaign materials shared with ARLnow show that Stamos has promoted meet-and-greet opportunities with Katcher, one of which former independent County Board member John Vihstadt hosted.

Campaign financing records show some of Katcher’s biggest recent contributors of $1,000 or more include himself, former School Board member Abby Raphael, retired Deputy Chief of Police Daniel Murray, a former candidate for Stafford County’s treasurer, and longtime local GOP civic figure John Antonelli, who previously donated to Vihstadt and Stamos.

For County Board, stances on housing and development seem to have informed which sitting Board members support them.

De Ferranti endorsed two candidates to join him on the Board: Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. and Maureen Coffey, who also picked up an endorsement from Takis Karantonis and $5,000 contributions from a labor union. The stances of the two candidates on housing and the environment have also earned them the support of YIMBYs of Northern Virginia, Greater Greater Washington and the Sierra Club.

Vice-Chair Libby Garvey has diverged from her colleagues, endorsing Natalie Roy and Susan Cunningham, who previously ran for County Board as an independent.

Cunningham, who has led affordable housing and social safety net nonprofits, and Roy, who also considers environmental action a top priority, staked out positions opposed to the zoning changes known as Missing Middle for being short-sighted. Garvey helped usher in the new ordinance, allowing by-right development of 2-6 unit buildings on single-family lots, but later elaborated on her misgivings.

Supporters for Roy and Cunningham include some previously elected Democrats as well as community and civic association leaders and, for Cunningham, advocates for affordable housing and more robust social safety net initiatives. Roy picked up the support of former School Board members Nancy Van Doren and James Lander.

Roy’s largest contributor donated $7,000 in this race, including $4,000 to her, $1,000 to Cunningham and $2,000 to Katcher. Cunningham’s largest supporter donated $2,000 to her this race and in her 2020 bid as an independent.

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