(Updated at 5 p.m. on 8/10/23) The Arlington County GOP says it’s pivoting away from national politics and working to assemble a broad coalition galvanized by hyper-local issues.
The first test of this new strategy will be the November County Board election when residents will have the opportunity to vote for the Republican nominee, Juan Carlos Fierro.
An immigrant from Ecuador with nearly three decades of experience in international business and finance, Fierro is aiding the party’s efforts to cultivate a diverse alliance and embrace Republicans, as well as Independents and Democrats, from myriad backgrounds.
The last time a Republican was elected to the Board was Mike Lane in 1999. But party leaders, including newly elected Chair of the Arlington County GOP, Matthew Hurtt, are optimistic that their new strategy will help Republicans establish a solid foothold in the predominantly Democratic county.
However, judging by recent fundraising numbers, Hurtt argues the strategy is already working.
“Thanks to generous supporters like you, the Arlington GOP raised $14,831 from July 13th until midnight last night,” Hurtt told donors in an email last month. “The average contribution from more than 110 individual donations was $131, and the Committee took in an average of $823 per day over the 18-day period.”
Hurtt noted these numbers were “unprecedented” for the party which typically brings in a little less than half that number.
He emphasized the majority of these funds will be allocated towards “local issue education,” “voter targeting,” and “mobilization efforts,” aimed at aiding local Republican candidates, including Fierro, in their campaigns for state senate and county board positions.
“With the imminent approval by this Committee, we will invest in our candidates in ways we have not done in decades,” Hurtt told his donors.
Hurtt attributes the party’s robust fundraising quarter to members’ renewed confidence Republicans can make headway in future local elections by using this strategy.
“When I was chairman of Young Republicans, we helped elect John Vihstadt to the county board in 2014… We helped legalize food trucks and Airbnbs in Arlington. And so we have won on policy issues and we’ve built broad based coalitions,” Hurtt said. “But I’m trying to get my members to say, ‘you know it is worth my time to be involved in local issues.’”
Heading into November, Hurtt said the party aims to turn out voters who turned out for Gov. Glenn Youngkin. He drew national attention after beating out former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2021.
Hurtt is under no illusion that Arlington will swing from blue to red anytime soon. Nevertheless, he pointed out that Youngkin garnered 22.8% of the Arlington vote — 6 percentage points more than former President Donald Trump a year earlier.
Following his victory, Youngkin was applauded by national, state and local party leaders, including Hurtt, who praised his ability to energize white suburban voters by capitalizing on parents’ frustrations over Covid-induced school closures, as well as other cultural issues such as the teaching of race in schools and transgender rights.
By aligning with the Governor and focusing on issues such as education, Hurtt said he believes Fierro and other Republican candidates may have a better shot in upcoming and future elections.
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]
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The ballot for the general election has been set, with three races to be decided by local voters.
Multiple candidates for Arlington County Board, School Board and the 8th Congressional District have qualified for the ballot. The first day of in-person early voting is Friday, Sept. 23 and the last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 17, according to Arlington’s election office.
8th Congressional District
In the 8th Congressional District Democratic primary, incumbent Rep. Don Beyer overcame challenger Victoria Virasingh. Beyer goes on to the general election to face the GOP nominee, Arlington resident Karina A. Lipsman, and independent candidate Teddy Fikre.
The seat for the 8th District, which encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, has been held by a Democrat for decades. Beyer won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District. Their trust in me is humbling, and I will continue to do all I can to earn it. pic.twitter.com/dZ34jFSyvW
— Don Beyer (@DonBeyerVA) June 21, 2022
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment,” said an email from the Arlington GOP after the nomination.
Lipsman, who is originally from Ukraine, outlines priorities such as supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion on her website. She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools and vocational training programs.
Among issues Beyer lists on his campaign website are climate change, housing, immigration, gun violence prevention, the federal workforce and others.
Fikre’s website says he is an IT project manager with an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, cares about inclusive justice and “implementing policies that restore fairness in America and enacting laws that are rooted in love.” Among issues he’s focused on are making taxes voluntary for the working, middle and upper-middle-class, as well as forgiving all student loans.
Arlington County Board
During his tenure on the board, de Ferranti says he has focused on Covid response, racial equity and priorities like affordable housing, hunger, climate change and school funding.
Two independent candidates will also be on the ballot — and not for their first time — seeking a seat.
Independent Adam Theo, who is vice president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, is running on a platform of expanding government accountability, prioritizing public safety and making housing affordable. Theo describes himself as “a fierce non-partisan free-thinking ‘progressive libertarian.'” He was previously deployed to eastern Afghanistan while serving in the Air Force Reserve as a civil engineer.
Civic activist Audrey Clement is also running as an independent, seeking to reduce taxes, stop up-zoning, and preserve parks, trees and historic places. She said on her website she’s running “because the Board has pushed harmful policies resulting in: overcrowded schools, gentrification, loss of green space, and a 10 year average annual effective tax rate increase that is twice the rate of inflation.”
The Westover resident has been a perennial candidate over the last decade or so and says she believes once people realize the ‘Missing Middle’ housing push will rezone some neighborhoods, they will support a candidate like her.
Arlington School Board
‘Midsummer’ Starts Next Month — “Synetic Theater, the home of American Physical Theater and movement-based storytelling, announces the return of its acclaimed adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed and choreographed by company co-founders Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili. The production runs June 30 through July 24.” [Synetic Theater]
Local Donut Shop Expanding — “The owners of a Ballston doughnut shop and cafe are building out a commercial kitchen in Tysons to support a growing wholesale business and its own planned expansion… Charles Kachadoorian, a Good Company co-owner, said the shop has outgrown its capacity at 672 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, from which it produces sweets for its cafe, for other coffee shops to sell retail, and for its own catering business. It plans to expand across all of those avenues, Kachadoorian said, including with a new shop in Crystal City in the shorter term and one in D.C. in 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]
GOP Concern Over ‘Missing Middle’ — “Several Arlington Republicans have expressed your concerns about the County’s proposal to upzone single-family residential plots in neighborhoods across the county. We are passing along information from Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future (ASF), should you decide you want to make your voice heard on this issue.” [Arlington GOP]
Planetarium Supporters Look to Future — “Boosters of the Arlington school system’s planetarium are hopeful that new budget funding will enable the facility – shuttered since before the pandemic – to reopen with a permanent teacher attached to it by fall. School Board members in early May overruled Superintendent Francisco Durán and dropped in nearly $150,000 to support the David M. Brown Planetarium for the coming school year. Durán had proposed keeping the facility closed for another year.” [Sun Gazette]
Rosslyn Walk Planned — “When you’re out and about, do you find yourself contemplating how sidewalks, land use, and street connectivity influence your experience and enjoyment of public spaces? If so, make sure to RSVP to WalkArlington’s upcoming “Walk and Learn” focused on street design in Rosslyn on Wednesday, May, 25 from 5:30 – 6:45pm.” [GGWash]
W-L Boys Win District Soccer Tourney — “With the Washington-Liberty Generals hosting the championship match of the Liberty District boys soccer tournament, head coach Jimmy Carrasquillo expressed some pre-game concerns. The top-seeded Generals (15-0-1) entertained the third-seeded Yorktown Patriots in an all-Arlington clash, and Carrasquillo knew the rematch would be much tougher than his team’s 4-0 regular-season victory over its neighborhood rival.” [Sun Gazette]
Some Cicada Stragglers Spotted — “Have you ever been late to a party? I mean really late, so late that by the time you arrived, the party was over and the guests were long gone? If so, then you have something in common with the periodical cicadas that have been popping up in the last few weeks from Maryland to Tennessee. They’re a year late to the raucous party billions of their fellow Brood X cicadas threw last summer.” [Washington Post]
It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning, ending in the afternoon. High of 65 and low of 56. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:23 pm. [Weather.gov]
Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.
At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.
Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.
Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.
Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.
She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.
Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.
She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”
Lipsman’s website mentions extremists and divisive politics.
“Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” the website says. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”
After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.
“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”
Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee
Metro Delays Due to Safety Snafu — “Metro’s Chief Safety Officer reports that nearly half of Metro’s 500 rail operators have lapsed recertification… In consultation with the Board of Directors, Metro management is taking immediate corrective action to remove from service 72 train operators who became out of compliance prior to May 2021. This will result in a temporary reduction in Green and Yellow line service from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes due to an operator shortage.” [WMATA]
APS Changes Bell Schedules — “The School Board in Arlington, Virginia, voted to lengthen the school day by a little less than 10 minutes and to rearrange school start and end times in the first change to the county school system’s bell schedule in more than two decades. At its Thursday meeting, the board unanimously voted in favor of the adjustments.” [WTOP]
Psaki Spat With Arlington GOP — Outgoing White House Press Secretary (and Arlington resident) Jen Psaki “acknowledged that there have been instances in which she shared information with the Secret Service about threats… She said that no one has physically come to her home, but added, ‘There is a circulation of my address among the Arlington Republican Party.’ The Arlington GOP in a statement to The Hill said it ‘has not publicly disseminated any Biden Administration official’s home address.'” [The Hill]
Rosslyn Tunnel Congestion Revisited — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) is pressing leadership of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority not to forget about congestion at the Rosslyn tunnel. In a May 6 letter to (outgoing) Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld, NVTC chair Carek Aguirre urged the transit agency to ‘recognize the strategic importance of moving swiftly to design a solution to relieve train congestion’ at the tunnel.” [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Rowing Storms State Tourney — “At Saturday’s regatta… the Warriors stood just as deep as any other school on the Occoquan River and stepped into the dynasty conversation themselves, with the boys’ and girls’ top varsity eight boats each rowing to titles.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Trucker Protest Returning — “The People’s Convoy is slated to be in D.C. by Tuesday, as they’re currently in Ohio. Further, a convoy leader tonight took to the microphone to try and squash fear over being hit with eggs in the city, saying: ‘I happen to like eggs.'” [Twitter]
DCA Using UV to Zap Covid — “Reagan National and Dulles International airports now have ultraviolet disinfection technology to combat the spread of viruses including Covid… The airports authority’s statement of work specifically called for the technology to disinfect the air in 39 spaces at National and 73 spaces at Dulles, including ticketing and baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, transit platforms and gate hold rooms.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Real Estate is Really Expensive — “There may be an end in sight at some point for rising single-family home values in Arlington. But so far, it hasn’t been reached. The average sales price of the 100 single-family properties that went to closing in April was $1,348,813. That’s up 14.5 percent from a year before.” [Sun Gazette]
Missing Falls Church Teen — “City of Falls Church Police seek information to help a teen return home. Abigail… is 16 years old and was last seen at her home in the City at about 3 a.m. on Sunday after an argument with family. Abigail is about 5 feet tall, has black brown hair and a nose ring.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Monday — Rain and storms, some severe, in the afternoon and evening. High of 77 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:16 pm. [Weather.gov]
More on the Weird Chime Sound — “Janae Bixby first heard the sound near Pentagon City, where I-395 and Glebe Road intersect, as she picked up her kid from daycare on Monday evening around 5. She described it as ‘some sort of clock or doorbell chime that you would hear — very digital.’ She assumed the noise was coming from the building and started heading home. But then, in her car ride home to the southern edge of the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, she kept hearing it, again and again.” [DCist]
Parents Group Wants Smaller Class Sizes — “A group of parents in Arlington, Virginia, is urging the county’s board to allot additional funding to its school system in the next fiscal year’s budget. The group Arlington Parents for Education said in a letter to the board this week that more money should be provided so that class sizes can be smaller, teacher pay can be competitive with surrounding school districts and student mental health and learning loss can be addressed.” [WTOP]
TR Bridge Work Could Wrap Up in June — “A section of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that was closed abruptly for emergency repairs two months ago is likely to reopen to traffic in June, according to officials with the District Department of Transportation. Crews began work on the 58-year-old bridge after an early-February inspection found steel support beams had continued to deteriorate, prompting the closure of three middle lanes and restrictions on heavyweight vehicles.” [Washington Post]
Operator Shortage Behind Bus Delays — From MetroHero: “For most of the morning, only one #WMATA 16Y bus has been in service where at least 5 are supposed to be running right… Previously-unannounced operator shortage was the cause of poor 16Y service this morning.” [Twitter]
School Bus Crash Yesterday Afternoon — “A crash involving several vehicles including a school bus has snarled southbound traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, near Campbell Elementary… No injuries have been reported and one lane of traffic is squeezing by the crash scene. This is the same stretch of road where a group of residents recently called for safety improvements. [Twitter]
Video: Adorable Baby Squirrel — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “We’ve definitely got the cutest thing on the internet today! This baby squirrel came to us underweight and hungry, so after a snack she was transferred to a local wildlife rehabber who will care for her until she can be released back into the wild!” [Twitter]
Arlington GOP Ramps Up Outreach — “They are still on the lookout for local candidates, but the Arlington County Republican Committee also is working to connect with prospective supporters. ‘There are thousands of Republican voters who turn out on Election Day but who are otherwise unengaged with the Arlington GOP,’ party communications chair Matthew Hurtt said. ‘We can change that.'” [Sun Gazette]
FBI Warns of Moving Scam — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning the public about increasingly prevalent moving fraud schemes and providing information about how to avoid being victimized by them. A typical moving fraud scheme begins when a customer is enticed into entering into a contract with a moving company to transport their household goods by offers of extremely low-cost estimates from a sales representative or broker.” [FBI]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]
Rent on the Rise — “Living in Arlington, Virginia has its perks. ‘Young. It’s vibrant,’ said Arlington resident Robert Buck. ‘That’s why I moved here.’ However, those perks come at a price and for many, that price comes with a roommate… Arlington isn’t getting any cheaper according to a new study from Apartment List that says while rents are getting higher across the DMV they have gone up the most in Arlington by 16% over last year, compared to 10% in D.C.” [WUSA 9]
New Subdivision Gets New Name — “Toll Brothers has chosen a name for the luxury subdivision it is building on the site of the historic Febrey-Lothrop House, demolished one year ago. The winner? The Grove at Dominion Hills. The company was considering suggestions to name the new streets its 40 new homes will require off McKinley Rd. and Wilson Blvd. for the former landowners Febrey and Rouse. But on learning of Arlington’s street grid (new streets would have to be three-syllable “M’s” and N. 9th St.), the firm opted not to seek an exception from the county board, I’m told.” [Falls Church News-Press]
APS on Spring Break — “Arlington Public Schools wishes you a wonderful, relaxing and safe Spring Break! APS schools and offices will be closed for the break, April 11-15, and Mon, April 18 for Grade Prep. We will see you back on Tue, April 19!” [Twitter]
Safety Push for S. Carlin Springs Road — “A dangerous stretch of road in Arlington is prompting community advocates, civic groups, and neighbors to request the county implement new safety measures. Arlington County Public Schools Parent, Gillian Burgess, says there are three schools along South Carlin Springs Road, and the traffic, as well as the congestion, makes her worried about children’s safety.” [Fox 5]
GMU Hosting ‘Yappy Hour’ Tonight — “Bring your pup and get to know the Arlington community at Mason Square! Bring your furry friends and get your paws on some doggie treats, puppachinos, toys, belly rubs, and more! It’s time to paw-ty!” [George Mason University]
Blood Drive This Afternoon — “Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar is partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services to host an Arlington Community Blood Drive on Monday, April 11. An Inova Bloodmobile will be parked in front of Fire Works, near the intersection of Clarendon Boulevard and North Adams Street, from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on April 11.” [Patch]
Lt. Gov. Sears Coming to Arlington GOP Dinner — “The Arlington and Alexandria Republican committees yesterday announced that the lieutenant governor would be the guest of honor at their joint Lincoln/Reagan Dinner, to take place May 19 in Alexandria. Tickets are $100 to $250. No doubt Sears will guarantee a sold-out event. People like a celebrity, and with no offense to the other two statewide officeholders in Virginia, it is Sears that has that status at the moment.” [Sun Gazette]
This Place Is for the Birds — From the Twitter account Bunnies of Arlington County: “Not a bunny, but birds appear to have nested in the A of the Oracle building in Court House.” [Twitter]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:38 am and sunset at 7:42 pm. [Weather.gov]
A full slate of candidates is vying to unseat Rep. Don Beyer as Arlington’s representative in Congress.
Beyer has held onto his 8th District seat — which includes all of Arlington County, the cities Alexandria and Falls Church, and portions of Fairfax County — since he replaced the retiring Rep. Jim Moran in 2014.
Virasingh, a daughter of immigrants, was born and raised in Arlington and is active with the Arlington County Democratic Committee. She previously worked for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit and headline-making tech firm Palantir.
Local Republicans, meanwhile, will be able to select their preferred candidate from five hopefuls. The field is full of candidates looking to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin last November, though Virginia’s 8th District remains heavily Democratic.
The 2020 Republican nominee, Arlington resident and retired U.S. Army Major and counterintelligence officer Jeff Jordan, is running again. He is going up against Arlington resident and former engineer Karina Lipsman, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine when it was still under the control of the Soviet Union.
Other candidates include Alexandria resident and small business owner Kezia Tunnell, McLean resident and Open Fairfax County Public Schools Coalition activist Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher who ran in 2020.
A convention to decide the nominee — open to all Republicans in the 8th District — is set to be held on May 21.
Local GOP Supports NAACP’s Caucus Call — “We agree with the NAACP Arlington Branch when they exclaim ‘holding a partisan caucus outside the general election schedule leads to voter confusion and thus undermines voter engagement… and candidate recruitment,’ and we support the NAACP’s strong recommendation that the ‘ACDC cease its School Board caucus and endorsement process…'” [Arlington GOP]
New Mahjong Speakeasy in Pentagon City — “Scott Chung, the restaurateur behind Bun’d Up, was chatting with fellow chef Andrew Lo not long ago about how to best make use of the back room of his Taiwanese gua bao eatery in Pentagon City. Chung had a vision for a dive bar. Lo suggested a hub for mahjong… The end result is Sparrow Room, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar and dim sum restaurant at Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) that opens Thursday, Jan. 27.” [Arlington Magazine]
ACFD Rolling Out Telehealth Pilot Program — “Hospitals and emergency crews are stretched thin across the region, which has Arlington County turning to telehealth to help. Paramedics will still respond to 911 calls, but the new pilot program will give patients with less serious emergencies the option of skipping the trip to the emergency room and seeing a doctor through a screen instead.” [Fox 5]
Arlington Church Gets Grand Organ — “St. George’s Episcopal Church is slated to formally present Northern Virginia with an extraordinary and lasting musical gift, a magnificent $1.2 million pipe organ designed by world-renowned organ builder Martin Pasi. The grand instrument, to be used in public concerts as well as for congregational services, is described by Pasi as ‘unique in the Northern Virginia area and comparable to the best in Europe.’ And potentially, it could be making music for the next three centuries.” [Sun Gazette]
Lunar New Year Celebration at Eden Center — “Through February 6th, Eden Center will celebrate the Lunar New Year (called Tet in Vietnamese) with traditional lion dances, music, special dishes, and other activities. Like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, Vietnam follows the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, which assigns each year to an animal in the Chinese Zodiac. This year, the year of the Tiger, promises passion and tumult, according to astrologers.” [Arlington Magazine]
It’s February — Today, Feb. 1, will be mostly sunny, with a high near 40. Sunrise at 7:13 a.m. and sunset at 5:30 p.m. Tomorrow will be partly sunny, with a high near 47. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) Last night’s election gave Arlington’s local Republican and Democratic parties both reason to celebrate, while at the state level, Democrats ceded ground to the GOP.
Meanwhile, Arlington’s Republican party says it is celebrating greater enthusiasm for the party locally than it has seen in years. At the state level, Republicans swept Richmond: Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin beat former governor Terry McAuliffe, while fellow Republicans Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares became the first Black woman and Latino respectively to win statewide office.
“Terry was a low-energy candidate,” Arlington GOP Communications Director Matt Hurtt said. “Glenn was a dynamic candidate who enthused Republicans and independents. You have to believe a candidate is going to win, and Republicans believed Glenn was going to win. Even in a place like Arlington, we had a 33% increase [in Republican votes].”
At the county level, 60% of voters secured the re-election of incumbent Democrat Takis Karantonis to the Arlington County Board. Voters handily elected Arlington Democrats-endorsed Mary Kadera to the Arlington School Board, succeeding Monique O’Grady.
Arlington re-elected Virginia House of Delegates members Patrick Hope (D-47), Rip Sullivan (D-48), and Alfonso Lopez (D-49), while Democrat Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, currently the City of Alexandria’s vice mayor, was elected to represent the 45th District, which includes parts of Arlington.
“The tremendous outpouring of Democratic support in Arlington was inspiring and contributed to victories in several critical races,” Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Jill Caiazzo said in a statement. “At the end of the day, we fell short statewide, but we’re confident that the Democratic leaders elected today will continue the fight for a brighter future in Virginia for everyone.”
Karantonis, who has been through three county-wide elections in 20 months, says largely, the priorities of Arlingtonians — and his three vanquished independent candidates — remain the same: housing, healthcare, economic development, the environment, equity, schools and transportation.
“I do believe this election season has underscored the set of issues that have been present along the entire 20 months that I’ve been in political campaign mode,” he said. “It was just a re-emphasis on things that residents need, and I’ve been proposing approaches that could bring measurable improvement.”
Republicans ride education to victory
While Arlington had a solidly Democrat showing, Hurtt said enthusiasm for Republicans grew leading up to election night. He pointed to the nearly 6-percentage point shift to the right between Donald Trump, who netted 17% of Arlingtonians’ votes, to Youngkin, who received 22.8% of votes.
An Arlington GOP meeting in May had 80 people — the highest attendance in decades, we’re told — and the record was soon broken by an event two weeks ago that netted 200 people and the Tuesday night watch party that attracted 300.
And one new issue drove that support, Hurtt says: education.
“I think the frustration there among parents was palpable,” he said.
That frustration came from a number of new schools issues taken on by Republicans, who’ve traditionally rallied around school choice and homeschooling.
Among them: how systemic racism is taught in schools; policy decisions to eliminate or lower admissions standards for advanced programs in the name of education equity; and in places such as Arlington and Fairfax counties, frustrations over school closures and masking.
“Unequivocally, [Critical Race Theory] 101 is not being taught in Virginia schools. That said, the lens through which every subject is taught… has the lens of critical theory, a philosophy of questioning the institutions,” Hurtt said. “To say to a child that everything around them is stacked against them or stacked in their favor [based on their race] is a destructive way to teach someone who’s forming their belief system.”
On education equity issues, he pointed to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County changing its admissions standards.
At Parents for Youngkin rallies in NoVa, the changes in admission policy at Thomas Jefferson High were more on the minds of many parents than the changes in the list of novels or history texts in their kids' classes. https://t.co/BDjihuFsPw https://t.co/IRo7vOn5wu
— Marc Fisher (@mffisher) November 3, 2021
At the state level, the Virginia Department of Education also cited equity in its decision to eliminate accelerated math courses prior to 11th grade.
Dems wanted the “CRT backlash” to be about crazy people not wanting their kids to be taught that slavery happened. But the issue really bites if it looks like some bureaucrat is going to cancel their kid’s advanced program because it’s not diverse enough.
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 3, 2021
On these issues, Hurtt said, McAuliffe wasn’t strong.
“It was clear in the last 96 hours of the campaign that Terry had lost his footing,” Hurtt said. “He gave us the greatest gift by saying, ‘Parents shouldn’t have a say in kids’ education.’ Whether he meant to say it that way or not, that’s what parents went into the polls considering.”