A near-capacity crowd packed into Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon Wednesday night for a Democratic showdown between County Board member Libby Garvey and primary challenger Erik Gutshall.
The Arlington Young Democrats-hosted debate was perhaps not the battle royale some were expecting, but there were a few pointed barbs from Gutshall and an assertive defense from Garvey of her record.
Gutshall started his line of attack before the debate even started, by CCing news outlets that morning on a letter to Garvey, questioning why former Republican Congressman Tom Davis donated $1,000 to her campaign. (In 2014, Davis also donated $1,000 to the campaign of independent County Board member John Vihstadt, who Garvey endorsed over Democrat Alan Howze.)
“I was shocked to learn that someone running to be the Democratic nominee would so openly solicit, and accept, campaign contributions from someone whose job and mission it was to defeat Democrats,” Gutshall wrote. He asked Garvey to sign a pledge to only support Democratic candidates and to reject campaign contributions from current or former Republican elected officials.
At the debate, Gutshall said it was “not acceptable” that Garvey had not signed the pledge, also citing her decision not to endorse Del. Rip Sullivan during his campaign.
“Absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent I will support the Democrat, period,” Gutshall said.
Garvey, meanwhile, declined to make any absolute promises, saying she would make decisions based on “what is the right thing for Arlington… what is best for the people I serve.”
“Generally, that’s the Democrat,” she said. Her answer was followed by a couple loud boos from the crowd.
Gutshall attempted to re-litigate the streetcar battle, saying that Garvey “has sat on the sidelines” since she and Vihstadt helped to scuttle the project, which would have brought light rail transit to Columbia Pike. (The county has said an alternative transit plan will be coming this year.)
“We don’t have the transit that’s there to meet the needs of density” along Columbia Pike, said Gutshall. “We have the right to expect more and do better.”
Garvey said that until January, when she took over the County Board chairmanship, she “did not have the votes” to push a Bus Rapid Transit plan for the Pike. With the addition of like-minded Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey this year, she said the County Board is functioning well as a team.
“Your board is a very exciting board right now,” she said. “I have done a lot since January. I would like to build on this experience and build on this work.”
Gutshall accused Garvey of abandoning the infrastructure investment mindset that led previous generations of local Democratic leaders to support, for instance, the building of the Metrorail system.
“Progress comes by investing in the future,” he said. “The main reason I’m running here is that I have heard rhetoric that we should turn and look inward and that we cannot afford to meet these challenges.”
Arlington Man Found Dead in Canal — Police have identified the man found floating dead in the C&O Canal in Georgetown as 51-year-old Arlington resident Osbaldo Lemus Bernal. So far, his death has not been deemed suspicious. [DCist, Patch]
Gutshall Steps Up Campaign Against Garvey — Planning Commission member and County Board hopeful Erik Gutshall is stepping up the rhetoric against his Democratic primary opponent, County Board member Libby Garvey. Gutshall, in an email, called Garvey a “failed… career politician.” At an event last night he blasted her tenure on the School Board — saying she did not do enough to address the school system’s capacity crisis — and her alleged lack of effort in addressing transit issues along Columbia Pike, following the cancellation of the streetcar project. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]
Gutshall Wins Straw Poll Landslide — Those attending Del. Alfonso Lopez’s (D) second annual straw poll event on Columbia Pike last night favored Erik Gutshall over Libby Garvey in a landslide. One could argue that the event was attended by a select group of Democrats pre-disposed to oppose Garvey, but Gutshall captured 88 percent of the vote to Garvey’s 12 percent. The straw poll also asked attendees about the School Board race (Nancy Van Doren – 46%, Tannia Talento – 35%, Michael Shea – 11%, Chaz Crismon – 7%) and the Democratic presidential nomination (Hillary Clinton – 77%, Bernie Sanders – 23%).
Registration Open for Rosslyn Social Event — Registration is now open for City Social, Rosslyn’s annual meeting. The event, on May 11, is open to residents and will be attended by a number of Rosslyn movers and shakers. In addition to live music and giveaways, attendees at this year’s City Social will be able to enjoy wine, beer and a bourbon bar from Barley Mac, which is preparing to open in the former Red, Hot & Blue space on Wilson Blvd. [Rosslyn BID]
Wegman’s Inches Closer to Arlington — Arlington’s favorite unattainable grocery store obsession will soon be closer than ever. Wegman’s is reportedly planning to open a store in Tysons Corner in 2019. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Vida Fitness Coming to Ballston? — D.C.-based Vida Fitness is reportedly planning a 30,000 square foot gym in Ballston. The plan depends on County Board approval of a site plan amendment for the as-yet-unbuilt final building in the Liberty Center development. Given the high office vacancy rate, local developer Shooshan Co. is proposing to reconfigure what would have been a 20-story office building into a 22-story building that mixes residential, office and retail space. [Washington Business Journal]
‘WeLive’ Close to Opening in Crystal City — WeWork recently opened its new coworking space at 2221 S. Clark Street in Crystal City. Now, the company is nearing an opening for “WeLive,” a communal living space in the same building. WeLive is opening “very soon” and the company is now giving tours to prospective tenants, we hear. A second WeLive location, in Manhattan, recently opened for “beta testing.” [Fast Company]
Rail Was Once Planned for Columbia Pike — In the 1950s planners envisioned Columbia Pike as a rail corridor. That plan was scrapped when Metro was built and the Blue and Yellow lines ran south instead of west. In 2014, of course, a planned streetcar system for the Pike was also nixed. [InsideNova]
County Board Campaign Gets Underway — County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her Democratic primary challenger, Erik Gutshall, both held campaign events on Columbia Pike over the weekend. Garvey said getting out the vote will be the key to victory in the June 14 primary. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Lawmakers Ask Gun Store Landlord to Reconsider — Seven state legislators who represent Arlington have written to the landlord of a planned gun store in Lyon Park, asking her to reconsider the lease. The letter cites Virginia’s 1990s reputation for being the “gun-running capital of the East Coast” and says the new store, which is located near a private preschool and daycare center, “could be the site for potentially nefarious and illegal activities.” [Washington Post]
Three Arlington Bars Make D.C. Dive List — The website UpOut has compiled a list of “10 Ridiculously Cool Dive Bars in Washington D.C.” Among them are three Arlington favorites: Galaxy Hut, Cowboy Cafe and L.A. Bar and Grill. [UpOut]
More Millennials Coming to Arlington? — In Arlington, 35-40 percent of the population is of the Millennial generation. That makes Arlington one of the most Millennial-heavy places in the country. But the county’s demographer doesn’t think the county’s Millennial boom has peaked yet. “Whether Millennials choose to stay or leave Arlington could have a major impact on schools, since the bulk of that population group has not yet embarked on creating families,” notes the Sun Gazette. [InsideNova]
Memorial Bridge May Close in Five Years — After years of deferred maintenance, the 84-year-old Memorial Bridge is in such bad shape that the National Park Service could be forced to close it by 2021 unless it can get funding for a $250 million complete reconstruction. [Associated Press, Twitter]
Where You Might Bump into an Arlington Trump Voter — Chris Slatt has again compiled some interesting Arlington election data into map form. Slatt’s maps show Democratic turnout by precinct, Republican turnout by precinct and the population density of Donald Trump voters — the highest concentration of which are along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Separately, another sage election watcher, Carrie Johnson, estimates that 5,500-6,000 voters who usually vote Democratic in Arlington voted Republican in Tuesday’s presidential primary, thus in part explaining why John Kasich and Marco Rubio outperformed here compared to the rest of the state. [InsideNova]
New Rosslyn-Based Online Publication — Rosslyn continues to cement its reputation as Arlington’s media hub. ABC 7 (WJLA) parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group is launching “D.C. Refined,” a new online-only local culture magazine. The publication will “fall under the umbrella” of Rosslyn-based WJLA. [Washington Business Journal]
Overall turnout was up — 42 percent this year to 40 percent in 2008. Fifteen percent of registered Arlington voters cast a ballot in the GOP race, while 27 percent voted in the Democratic race. That compares to 7 percent GOP and 33 percent Democratic turnout in 2008.
Tonight’s unofficial Arlington results on the Democratic race were:
- Hillary Clinton: 66.85% (25,561 votes)
- Bernie Sanders: 32.80% (12,541 votes)
- Martin O’Malley: 0.35% (134 votes)
The Republican results:
- Marco Rubio: 49.67% (10,944 votes)
- John Kasich: 22.56% (4,971 votes)
- Donald Trump: 16.78% (3,698 votes)
- Ted Cruz: 7.87% (1,734 votes)
- Ben Carson: 1.73% (381 votes)
Statewide, Clinton carried the state 64.3 percent to 35.2 percent for Sanders. On the Republican side, Trump won in Virginia with 34.8 percent of the vote to 31.9 percent for Rubio and 16.9 percent for Cruz. Across all Super Tuesday states, Clinton and Trump claimed enough victories to retain their frontrunner status in the presidential race.
On a night when Arlington ran out of preprinted GOP ballots due to unexpectedly high Republican turnout, there was speculation that many Democrats crossed over — Virginia has an open primary — to vote for a “non-Trump” candidate.
— Craig Merritt (@OldCT) March 2, 2016
Half a dozen folks at my NoVa polling place today around 1pm…ALL asked for R ballots. Unusual for the area. https://t.co/10uuYs5hy6
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 1, 2016
Most informed strategic electorate in the country is in NoVA https://t.co/Snba0WE9JM
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) March 1, 2016
Enthusiasm among local Republicans also appeared to have driven the high turnout.
— Arl-Falls Church YRs (@AFCYRs) March 2, 2016
After the jump, the Arlington County Democratic Committee statement, from party chair Kip Malinosky, on the primary result.
County elections officials had to begin photocopying the ballots in order to keep up with voter demand, Arlington Registrar Linda Lindberg confirmed to ARLnow.com. Ballot photocopies are legal, carry the Arlington seal and are authorized by the election board, but cannot be machine scanned and must be counted by hand, Lindberg said.
“No precinct has been out of ballots at any point in time,” she noted, dispelling rumors to the contrary.
In the absence of paper ballots, Lindberg said polling places also have the option of allowing voters to use an electronic ballot marking device, intended for those with disabilities. Ballots cast with the device are machine scannable, but there’s only one device per polling place.
As of 6:30 p.m., elections officials reported that total turnout had reached 38 percent of registered voters, with 24 percent voting in the Democratic primary and 14 percent voting Republican. That’s double the final GOP turnout in Arlington in 2008.
Polls close in Virginia at 7 p.m., but major Metro delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines tonight may keep some late voters from casting ballots.
It’s March 1 — Not only is today the first day of March, with spring (March 20) and Daylight Saving Time (March 13) around the corner, but it’s also the Super Tuesday presidential primary day here in Virginia. Arlington’s 52 polling places opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
Committee of 100 to Discuss Racial Tensions — On Wednesday, March 9, the Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a discussion entitled “Are Arlington’s Police and Justice Systems Prepared to Respond to Community and Racial Tensions?” Among the speakers are Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Police Chief Jay Farr. [InsideNova]
It’s a Good Time to Lease an Office in Arlington — D.C.-based commercial real estate firm West, Lane & Schlager is advising companies to consider leasing office space in Arlington in the near future. The firm says the D.C. area is definitely a tenant’s market at the moment, but the tide will eventually turn. With vacancy rates stabilizing, companies can take advantage of lease concessions now, before the market turns in favor of landlords, the firm says. [Patch]
Four Courts Four Miler Coming Up — The popular annual Four Courts Four Miler race will take place Saturday morning, March 12. Registration is currently $40 and will, in part, benefit the Arlington County Police Benevolent Fund. As in previous years, those who beat the runner dressed up as a leprechaun — Ireland’s Four Courts manager Dave Cahill, a 3:10 marathon runner — will get a special gift from the pub. [Pacers Running]
In the eyes of some, Arlington Public Schools students have already had enough days off school this year. Still, there are some murmurs that Arlington should follow the lead of other school systems and give students an off day on March 1 — the Super Tuesday primary election in Virginia.
Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties have all decided to close schools on March 1 while voters go to the polls in the contentious presidential primary.
Arlington has no such plans.
“March 1 is still a school day for students,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
Those who support students getting the day off typically say that the flood of voters could disrupt the normal school day and could pose security concerns. Those who want school to go on as usual say the election could be a backdrop for a hands-on civics lesson.
What do you think?
Democratic County Board candidate Erik Gutshall would like to see further progress on the planning process for the future of the Lee Highway corridor.
Gutshall, a small business owner who serves on the Arlington Planning Commission, warned in a statement (below) that Lee Highway could experience “crazy-quilt development” if not for “a thoughtful, community-led planning process.” He called on the County Board to prioritize long-range planning for Lee Highway this year.
Gutshall is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary.
Erik Gutshall called today for the Arlington County Board to make development of a long-range plan for Lee Highway a priority for the County Manager for the coming year.
Gutshall, who is challenging the incumbent Board Chair in the Democratic Primary, congratulated the Lee Highway Alliance, a collaborative effort of all neighborhood civic associations abutting Lee Highway from Arlington’s North Highlands community along the Potomac River to the Falls Church line, noting, “…the Lee Highway community has shown uncommon leadership in developing a vision for the future of Lee Highway.”
Gutshall called on the County Board to appoint a citizen-led task force quickly to undertake the development of a Lee Highway Plan, provide the task force with significant staff support and outside expert resources, and develop a scope of work that allows the task force to think big about the Lee Highway of the future. “Lee Highway,” Gutshall said, “is the last major unplanned commercial corridor in Arlington. Similar plans for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have been a central reason for that area’s great success.”
Gutshall, as a task force member, was engaged in the development of today’s plan for Clarendon. “Without a plan,” he said, “we can expect crazy-quilt development along Lee Highway; changes that aren’t the result of a thoughtful, community-led planning process are much less likely to meet Arlingtonians’ needs and are likely to detract from, rather than add value to, surrounding neighborhoods.”
Gutshall noted that long-range plans are extraordinarily valuable to the community and have underpinned much of Arlington’s standout prosperity. These plans are a concrete expression of the community’s hopes for the future and provide property owners with the policy guidance needed to encourage thoughtful, responsible and responsive development. “Unfortunately,” Gutshall said, “County Board leadership looks at the County’s long-term plans as merely advisory, something that can be easily dismissed. In my view, these plans are a compact between our elected representatives, developers and the community and embody the collective vision for the neighborhoods where we live, work, learn, and play.”
Ballston Company Raises $100 Million — Ballston-based Snagajob has announced a $100 million funding round. The company is planning to hire at least 150 new employees for its Arlington and Richmond offices and make some significant acquisitions. [Tech.co]
Democratic Challenger Launches Campaign — Small business owner and Planning Commission member Erik Gutshall formally launched his campaign to unseat Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Gutshall’s primary pitch to Democrats is “responsive, progressive leadership that you can trust.” Garvey upset many Democratic voters by endorsing independent Board member John Vihstadt and campaigning (successfully) to kill the Columbia Pike streetcar project. [InsideNova]
Bikeshare By the Numbers — Critics of Capital Bikeshare are pointing to some system stats to suggest that it’s inefficient and serves a narrow segment of the population, though the reality is a bit more gray. Capital Bikeshare lost 30 cents on the dollar — rider revenue covers 70 percent of operating costs. But that’s not too shabby compared to other transit systems. In terms of operating costs per passenger-mile, Bikeshare is between Metrorail and Metrobus. Critics also point out that 84 percent of Bikeshare members are white while the District’s population is only 44 percent white (and Arlington’s population is 64 percent white). [Daily Signal]
DESIGNArlington Winners Revealed — The 11 winners of the annual DESIGNArlington awards for architectural and landscape projects have been announced. Among the projects receiving a “Merit Award” is the somewhat controversial sewage plant fence art project entitled “Ripple.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington resident Charles Hernick kicked off his candidacy at last week’s Arlington County Republican Committee meeting.
While Hernick supports limited government, free markets, gun rights and a strong military — to “strengthen diplomatic efforts and keep our country safe” — he doesn’t sound much like his party’s presidential candidates, who often speak against regulation and the EPA, when describing his career.
“I’ve worked at the crossroads of economic development and environment for my entire career,” Hernick says on his website. “I understand the complexities and cost of government regulation, but I also understand the benefit that well-designed policies and programs — supportive of free markets — can bring.”
“I’ve worked with the private sector and state governments across the United States to keep our waters drinkable and swimmable while the economy grows,” Hernick continues. “I’ve worked with Muslim business owners in Africa whose livelihoods are under threat from religious extremists. I’ve seen the effects of intolerance, poverty, violence, and terrorism. I know that it takes a willingness to listen and take decisive action to keep peace.”
On the issue of immigration, Hernick writes: “Our approach to immigration should be balanced; we need to prevent illegal entry, while keeping the door open to migrants who believe in the American Dream.”
Hernick, who has yet to send a press release — at least to ARLnow.com — is a contrast compared to his GOP rival, Mike Webb, who is also seeking the party’s nomination for Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District. Webb has emailed 37 lengthy press releases to media outlets since Dec. 22.
The Republican nominee will be chosen at a party convention on May 7. The nominee is expected to face Beyer, who would be seeking his second term, in the fall.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey will face a primary challenge on her left this year.
Erik Gutshall, a small business owner and Arlington Planning Commission member, announced on New Year’s Day that he will be running against Garvey in the June Democratic primary. Garvey is nearing the end of her first four-year term on the Board.
Gutshall, who lives in Lyon Park and previously served as that community’s civic association president, said he intends to run a positive campaign against Garvey, who drew the ire of the local Democratic establishment after successfully campaigning against the Columbia Pike streetcar project and endorsing independent County Board member John Vihstadt in his two races against Democrat Alan Howze.
“Our county best meets the challenges we face when we are united behind our shared progressive values,” Gutshall said in a statement.
Gutshall is a home improvement contractor and owns Clarendon Home Services LLC. The full press release announcing Gutshall’s candidacy, after the jump.
Photo via Facebook
Mark Levine Wins in 45th — Talk show host and attorney Mark Levine has won the Democratic primary in the 45th House of Delegates district, which includes Alexandria and parts of South Arlington and Fairfax County. So far, Levine doesn’t have any general election opponents as he seeks to replace Del. Rob Krupicka. [Washington Blade, Patch]
Townhouse Fire on Lee Hwy — Arlington County firefighters battled a small townhouse fire on the 4300 block of Lee Highway around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. [Twitter]
Arlington Gay Marriage Company Acquired — Arlington-based GayWeddings.com has been acquired by Chevy Chase, Md.-based WeddingWire. [Washington Business Journal]
Bistro 360 Now Serving Lunch — Bistro 360, a restaurant at 1800 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, is starting weekday lunch service as of today. Lunch will be served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
(Updated at 11:20 p.m.) Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey have captured the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board.
Cristol and Dorsey finished first and second, respectively, over fellow Democratic hopefuls Peter Fallon, Andrew Schneider, James Lander and Bruce Wiljanen.
Thanks to a spirited campaign and strong debate performances, Cristol, age 30, managed to propel herself from relative obscurity to a first place finish and a coveted spot on the Democratic ticket during a competitive primary. Her campaign highlighted issues like affordable housing, citizen engagement and diversity, government innovation, transit and economic development.
Dorsey, who lost to former in the 2002 County Board primary, was seen by many Democrats as a more moderate choice among a liberal field of candidates who often touted their progressive bonafides. During the campaign he spoke in favor of responsive government, affordable housing, adding school capacity and helping small businesses.
Both Cristol and Dorsey are South Arlington residents, while runners up Fallon and Schneider are North Arlington residents with a considerable base of supporters in their neighborhoods. Currently, the only South Arlington resident on the County Board is Libby Garvey.
“This started with the people in this room and ended with the people of Arlington,” Cristol told supporters at her election watch party at William Jeffrey’s Tavern on Columbia Pike. “I cannot wait to work with the people in this room to move my home of Columbia Pike forward. I cannot wait to work with all of you to run one heck of a general election campaign.”
Dorsey, whose campaign gathered at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington earlier in the night, joined Cristol at the bar after the final results came in.
“I feel great,” he said. “It’s always nice when something that you believe in so strongly and you find out that the people in your community are committed to you as well. It’s a tremendous feeling.”
Dorsey said he wants to “knock on five times as many doors” for the general election. If elected in November, he promised to work to provide more affordable housing and to bring down Arlington’s high office vacancy rate.
“We absolutely have to get our commercial sector energized again,” he said.
With all precincts reporting, final unofficial results are:
- Katie Cristol: 4,498
- Christian Dorsey: 4,420
- Peter Fallon: 4,008
- Andrew Schneider: 3,556
- James Lander: 2,806
- Bruce Wiljanen: 687
Election officials say there were no problems at Arlington’s 52 polling stations during voting hours. Light turnout was reported — but the total turnout of 10,857 voters, or 7.9 percent of the registered voters, bested the 7.2 percent turnout of a similar County Board primary in 1995.
This was the first election in which Arlington utilized its new paper ballot and optical scanning system. Some delays in vote reporting occurred as election officials worked through new processes.
Cristol and Dorsey will face two independent candidates in the November general election, for the seats being vacated by the retiring Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.
It’s an election that could set the direction of Arlington County policy for years to come — and so far turnout is light.
Voters are heading to the polls today to select two Democratic nominees in the race for County Board. There are six Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination: Andrew Schneider, Bruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol, James Lander, Peter Fallon, and Christian Dorsey.
While it’s a rare opportunity to fill the open seats of two retiring County Board members — Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada — the turnout has been about as low as is usually expected for a local primary.
“Overall it’s been pretty slow so far,” county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. She said turnout has been especially sluggish along the county’s Metro corridors and along Columbia Pike.
Two areas of slightly higher turnout, according to Lindberg, have been:
- The South Arlington precincts within the 45th House of Delegates district, which are voting for a Democratic nominee to replace Del. Rob Krupicka.
- The Marshall and Yorktown precincts in North Arlington, home to Fallon and Schneider, respectively.
Lindberg said there have been no reported problems with the county’s new paper ballot system, instituted after security issues were raised about electronic voting machines in Virginia.
“The voting has gone just fine, I’ve had no issues or complaints about the paper ballots,” she said. Asked about the potential for an evening rush of voters, Lindberg said delays at the polls are unlikely.
“There might be a slight surge around 5:00 or 6:00, but generally speaking I wouldn’t expect any lines.”
Polls close at 7:00 p.m.
The few people to be found outside the Arlington Forest and Randolph Elementary precincts this morning said they were aware of the potential importance of the race. Tonight’s two primary winners will face independent candidates Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin in the November general election.
“Especially with these two open seats, people they elect now are going to be there for a while,” said Brandon Forester, who was supporting Dorsey outside of Randolph Elementary. “It will set tone for years to come.”
“I think this is the most important election in Arlington County for decades,” said Michael Thomas, an Arlington Forest resident.
Cori Rattleman, another Arlington Forest resident, said her top issues in this election were schools, parks and affordable housing. She said she was confident that the primary winners will go on to win in November.
Heather Mongilio contributed to this report