Arlington, VA

Richard “Rip” Sullivan (D) is the newest member of the state General Assembly after soundly defeating Republican Dave Foster in tonight’s special election.

Sullivan won 62.21 percent of the vote, not counting provisional ballots, and captured 3,934 of 6,277 votes cast in Arlington. Sullivan will replace Del. Bob Brink, who resigned in June, representing the easternmost parts of Arlington and the McLean area of Fairfax County.

The election was scheduled for tonight by House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, a move Sullivan panned during his campaign — and did again in his victory speech at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon — as an attempt to get low voter turnout in the Democratic-leaning district. Brink, who was there to congratulate Sullivan, said he was “surprised” at Howell’s decision.

“Rip showed you can’t game the system,” Brink told ARLnow.com. “I think he’s going to do a tremendous job. He’s shown he is a thoughtful legislator who can get things done. I think he’s going to be great.”

Sullivan credited his team for leading a successful campaign — two campaigns within eight weeks, he pointed out, after winning the Democratic “firehouse” primary in early July — and the district’s voters for supporting him despite the unusual election timing. According to Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg, it’s the first general election Arlington has had in August in at least 20 years, and she said she couldn’t find record of any August election before that.

During the campaigns, Sullivan focused primarily on social issues, such as women’s reproductive rights, and on expanding Medicaid. Foster’s campaign hinged largely on his opposition to the streetcar, while hoping his education experience — he was a two-time chair of the Arlington School Board and the head of the Virginia Board of Education under former Gov. Bob McDonnell — would garner some swing votes.

“I had great faith and confidence in the voters of the 48th District,” Sullivan said. “I knew they would care about more than one issue. I wanted to talk about all of the issues and I think that resonated with voters. They knew what they were getting with me.”

Brink retired after being appointed Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services for Virginia. Sullivan said Brink, known in Richmond as a dealmaker, has offered guidance.

“Bob was highly regarded for his intellect and demeanor,” Sullivan said. “I expect to rely on him and consult him regularly. I hope to follow in his footsteps as someone people can trust and work with.”

Sullivan is an attorney and a partner at Reed Smith in Washington, D.C., and serves as an adjunct professor at the George Mason University law school. He lives in McLean with his wife, Beth, and the two have four children.

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48th District candidates Rip Sullivan (left) and David Foster (right)The special election to replace retired Del. Bob Brink in the 48th District is tomorrow, and despite the unusual timing, turnout among absentee voters is strong.

The election is between Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican Dave Foster, two attorneys who have had to throw together campaigns in less than two months after Brink announced his resignation on June 27.

According to Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg, her office has already received about 1,000 ballots, which is more than the total number of absentee ballots cast in the county for the June Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District seat. Lindberg theorized that the numbers are inflated because so many people will be out of town tomorrow, but was still surprised at the volume.

“What’s really significant is when you consider the June primary was the entire County, but this election is only 13 precincts,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com in an email today. “We expected our numbers to be comparable to the primary for the precincts involved, not to necessarily exceed them. So in that respect, yes, absentee turnout has exceeded expectations… The numbers are clearly a reflection of the work the campaigns have done to get out the vote.”

Each candidate took time away from campaigning this afternoon to speak with ARLnow.com, and both said they felt good about their chances tomorrow.

“We have overcome, I think, quite well what I have viewed as a trap election,” Sullivan said, referring to House of Delegates Speaker William Howell’s decision to hold the election so soon after the seat was vacated. “[Howell] opted to set it on this fast track, I think knowing a lot of people would be out of town on vacation or taking their kids to college… I think we’ve done a nice job in putting a full-scale professional campaign into six short weeks, and we feel real good about our chances.”

Sullivan said voters told him their priorities in the election were expanding Medicaid in the state and the state’s economic circumstances, particularly after Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is facing a $2.4 billion shortfall in the budget next year.

“It’s certainly a bigger shortfall than anyone would want,” Sullivan said. “I was talking at the debate (Aug. 5) about how Virginia, and Northern Virginia particularly, needs to focus like a laser on diversifying our economy and weaning off a dependence on federal dollars.”

Foster said the voters he’s spoken to have told him they oppose the Columbia Pike streetcar. He said if he’s elected, he will push for a referendum and explore funneling $160 million-plus in potential state transportation funding away from the streetcar. He also said the voters “know me” from his former tenure on the Arlington School Board.

“The voters appreciate my record of service on education issues in particular,” Foster said. “Arlingtonians know me not simply as a Republican, but as someone who knows how to work on a bipartisan, pragmatic basis to get things done.”

Foster noted that Sullivan’s campaign received a $35,000 donation from the Democratic Party of Virginia last week, a sign, he said, that they believe Republicans have a chance to win the Democrat-leaning district. In all, Sullivan has raised more than $165,000, according to the latest data from the State Board of Elections. Foster has raised just over $100,000.

“We’re definitely in the hunt,” Foster said. “We think we have him on the ropes.”

Polling places will open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow. The State Board of Elections allows you to double-check your polling place online. The 48th District runs along the Potomac River from Crystal City to Rosslyn and Clarendon and includes the McLean area of Fairfax County.

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Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)This month, we asked the candidates for the House of Delegates 48th District special election to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Aug. 19.

Here is Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan’s unedited response:

The election on August 19th is not just about the candidates. It’s about the values of this District’s voters and our shared vision of a more welcoming, innovative, forward-looking society.

I’m running to be your next Delegate because I share the core values of 48th District voters — opportunity, inclusiveness, and equality. I’m running because I refuse to sit back as 400,000 Virginians are denied healthcare services. I’m running so that our children inherit a clean environment. I’m running because voters of the 48th district deserve a Delegate who will passionately fight for their values, not minimize the importance of those values for the sake of winning an election.

The Washington Post endorsed my candidacy last week, noting that I’ve taken “forthright stances” and that “voters would know what they are getting with Mr. Sullivan.” Throughout this campaign, I’ve made clear where I stand and how I will vote on all the issues of importance to the 48th District.

  • On Medicaid, I unequivocally support expansion immediately.
  • On gun control reform, I support reinstating the one-gun-a-month law, universal background checks, limits to high capacity magazines, banning assault weapons, and closing the gun show loophole.
  • On women’s reproductive health, I believe those decisions should be between a woman and her doctor. I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.
  • On LGBT issues, I fully support marriage equality and ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • On the environment, I’ve shown how we can create a 21st century economy, with Virginia as a leader in creating jobs through clean technology and energy innovation.

In telling voters who I am, I have not tried to reposition myself or suggest that this is a single-issue election, because voters in the 48th District should base their vote on the many issues that will come before the General Assembly.

This is in stark contrast to my Republican opponent, Dave Foster, who is on the wrong side of so many issues. After interviewing him, the Washington Post concluded that Mr. Foster is a “shape-shifter,” saying “he has scrambled to rebrand himself… by taking vague, wait-and-see stands on several key issues.” The Editorial Board went on to highlight that his campaign strategy is “designed to mainly shift attention away from tough votes.”

And Mr. Foster acknowledges as much. At our most recent debate, Mr. Foster — again — refused to reveal to voters what his positions are on choice, gun control, marriage equality, or climate change. He sheepishly concluded to the audience that “I don’t talk about gun control and abortion… as I campaign for this because I know one has to establish priorities.”

Really?

Those are issues Dave will have to vote on in Richmond, and they are priorities to the voters. Voters are entitled to know where he stands before they cast their vote. Read More

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Dave Foster (photo via Foster for Delegate)This month, we asked the candidates for the House of Delegates 48th District special election to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Aug. 19.

Here is Republican Dave Foster’s unedited response:

I have demonstrated as a two-term chairman of the Arlington School Board and President of the state board of education that my problem-solving, consensus-building style gets results for our citizens. We need effective bipartisan representation in Richmond to address the Arlington streetcar, Medicaid, schools, the state’s economy, and the many other pressing issues we face. I will be that voice for the citizens of the 48th District.

I have been married for 33 years to Martha Tyahla Foster, of McLean. Our two children attended Arlington and Fairfax public schools and graduated from Virginia universities. I was President of the Arlington County Civic Federation and involved in numerous other community nonprofits, advisory committees, and PTA’s. It is my concern for the welfare of our community that led me to seek the office of Arlington School Board and the same concern motivates me to seek the office of House of Delegates.

I am concerned, as you are, about having a balanced, rational approach to transportation issues in our area. Unlike my opponent, I oppose the Arlington Streetcar proposal because it is neither practical nor affordable and will consume up to $164 million in state transportation funds that could be better used elsewhere. Roads and Metro, schools and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than this ill-considered project, which will not only require an initial investment of over $500 million but also an annual operating subsidy of several million dollars. If elected, I will introduce legislation to create a public referendum on the streetcar proposal so that taxpayers can have a voice in this decision just as they do on local bond proposals.

As a two-term Chairman of the Arlington School Board and former President of the Virginia Board of Education, I have worked for lower class sizes, improved school safety, enhanced foreign language offerings (Mandarin and Arabic), Virginia’s “No Child Left Behind” waiver, improved Standards of Learning (SOLs), and many other shared priorities. I would like to continue to my work to strengthen our public schools as your Delegate in Richmond. We must protect the cost-of-competing adjustment to state funding that recognizes the higher cost of providing high-quality education in Northern Virginia. We should also give our school boards increased local control over public school calendars and budgets. I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.

We must once again make Virginia the best place to start, expand, or relocate a business. I will protect our right to work law and oppose mandatory project agreements of the kind that almost derailed the Silver Line Metrorail. I will also resist the imposition of costly and unwarranted state regulatory mandates that duplicate federal mandates. Building upon the transportation package passed by the last General Assembly, with a focus on projects that reduce congestion, improve safety, and spur economic development, is also a priority.

Because I am the most experienced and effective candidate, I ask for your vote on August 19th.

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48th District candidates Rip Sullivan (left) and David Foster (right)(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Nominees for the 48th district House of Delegates seat, Republican Dave Foster and Democrat Rip Sullivan, plan to debate at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Aug. 11 prior to the special election Aug. 19.

“I am pleased that even in the short time afforded by this special election, we will be able to discuss the issues,”  Foster said in a press release yesterday.

Foster is the former President of the Virginia Board of Education and an Arlington resident. He works as a partner in the Fulbright & Jaworski law firm in D.C.

Sullivan, a former Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission member and Fairfax County resident and partner at Reed Smith law firm, called for a debate soon after he defeated six other candidates in the Democratic caucus on Sunday. 

“I’m an issues-oriented guy, which is why I’ve served on boards and commissions dealing with housing, education, transportation, and legal policy over the last 25 years,” Sullivan said in a press release. “I look forward to a substantive debate where we can talk about the issues we’ll face in Richmond.”

Sullivan opposes widening I-66 inside the beltway and will try to “incentivize use of public transportation and expand mass-transit opportunities” if elected, according to his website. He supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia, increased gun control and reproductive health rights for women.

Foster is opposed to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and if elected, would spearhead a public referendum to end the project that he called “impractical and unaffordable.” Foster also “pledged to work for a solution to the Medicaid expansion controversy that has roiled Richmond this year,” according to his website. As a former Arlington School Board member, he said he supports “adequate funding and local decision making” for Arlington schools. Sullivan said on his website that he wants to “tackle the issues of overcrowding and larger class sizes currently facing Arlington.”

After the sudden resignation of Del. Bob Brink (D-48), who retired last month to serve as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Sullivan received more votes than six other Democratic nominees in the “firehouse” primary. Foster was the only Republican to run for the open seat.

In addition to the Arlington debate, another debate between Foster and Sullivan is scheduled to take place at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Aug. 5.

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Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)Richard “Rip” Sullivan was selected as the Democratic nominee to replace Del. Bob Brink (D-48) during an instant runoff primary election on Sunday.

Seven candidates were on the ballot for the hastily-scheduled “firehouse” primary. Sullivan was listed as voters’ first choice for the 48th District seat on 905 of the 2,126 ballots cast on Sunday at two locations: Yorktown and McLean High Schools. Voters were asked to rank their preference of candidate and, during the instant runoff process, the candidates with the lowest number of votes were eliminated one-by-one — and their votes reassigned — until one candidate received a majority of votes.

In the fifth round of ballot counts, Sullivan secured the nomination with 1,111 votes, ahead of Paul Holland’s 523 and Andrew Schneider’s 444 votes. In the first ballots cast, David Boling received 209 votes, Atima Omara-Alwala received 159, Yasmine Taeb received 77 and Jackie Wilson received 58.

Brink officially retired from the House of Delegates on June 30 to become Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services. Brink had served as delegate for 17 years, and most recently was re-elected last fall after running unopposed. House of Delegates Speaker William Howell announced the special election would be held Aug. 19, making the election filing deadline today at 5:00 p.m.

“Speaker Howell threw all he had at us, but Arlington and Fairfax Democrats demonstrated their firm commitment to the democratic process, which is why turnout far exceeded expectations,” Sullivan said in a press release. “Republicans in the House of Delegates continue to refuse to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginias, refuse to accept the reality behind climate science, and continue impose limits on women’s reproductive health. These are not my values, and these are not the values of the 48th district.”

Dave Foster (photo via Foster for Delegate)Sullivan, a Fairfax County resident, will be joined on the ballot by former Arlington School Board Chairman Dave Foster, who was announced as the 48th District Republicans’ nominee hours before the Democratic caucus’ votes were counted. Before Sunday afternoon, no Republican had publicly expressed interest in running for the open seat in the Democrat-heavy district.

Foster, an Arlington native who has also served as the President of the Virginia Board of Education, said if elected he plans to introduce legislation to bring a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar to the General Assembly, calling the streetcar “impractical and unaffordable.”

“Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley,” Foster said in a press release. He added he would fight for more local control over school decisions. “I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.”

Sullivan and Foster are both attorneys: Sullivan is a partner at Reed Smith and Foster is a partner at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski.

Photo (top) via Facebook. Photo (bottom) via Foster for Delegate

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Morning Notes

Tidal Basin an D.C. monuments, as seen from a flight arriving at DCA (Flickr photo by Rob Cannon)

Seven Dems Line Up to Replace Brink — Seven Democrats are running for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Del. Bob Brink, who’s heading to the McAuliffe administration. The candidates, who will compete in a firehouse primary on Sunday, made their pitch to members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee at its meeting in Ballston last night. Also last night, Brink thanked ACDC members for their support over his 17 years in office. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post, InsideNova]

O’Leary to Retire Monday — County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, also speaking at last night’s meeting of Arlington Democrats, formally announced his retirement. O’Leary, who has served more than 30 years as county treasurer, touted his record of reducing tax delinquency rates, increasing the county’s return on financial investments, and improving customer service. His deputy, Carla de la Pava, will be sworn in as interim treasurer after O’Leary submits his resignation Monday. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]

Aurora Hills Babysitting Co-op Turns 50 — A babysitting co-op in Arlington’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Babysitting is free in the co-op, which requires members to contribute by babysitting each other’s children. [Washington Post]

SoberRide Returns for July 4 — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free taxi rides on Independence Day tomorrow through its SoberRide program. Revelers can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride home from 10:00 p.m. on July 4 through 4:00 a.m., as long as the fare is under $30. [WRAP]

DCA Warns of Long Lines — The Fourth of July holiday is expected to result in longer lines and wait times at Reagan National Airport this weekend. The airport is advising travelers to arrive two hours early, especially during its “peak travel times… typically during the early morning (5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.) and late afternoon (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).” There may also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Adding to the problems, the airport reports that some airlines are canceling flights due to Hurricane Arthur. [MWAA]

Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon 

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Morning Notes

Aerial view of apartment buildings in Courthouse (Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian)

Fallon, Baker Out; Omara, Schneider In for 48th — The list of contenders in the race to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48) continues to change. Peter Fallon, mentioned as a possible candidate, says he will not run. Steve Baker, who threw his hat in the ring for a few hours, is no longer running. Young Democrats of America President Atima Omara, meanwhile, is running, as is Yorktown Civic Association President Andrew Schneider. At last count, there are six Democrats and no Republicans in the race.

Endorsements in 48th District Race — Candidates for the 48th District special electoin are starting to tout high-profile local endorsements. Del. Patrick Hope and former Va. lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra have endorsed Rip Sullivan. Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes, Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos have endorsed Paul Holland. In Arlington, a firehouse Democratic primary in the race will be held on Sunday.

Hazmat Scare at TJ Middle School — There was a hazardous materials scare at Thomas Jefferson Middle School yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. According to an Arlington fire department spokeswoman, the family of a former school employee who passed away brought a box of art supplies to the school as a donation. A school staff member sorting through the donation opened a bag, smelled a strong odor and began to feel sick. Arlington’s hazmat team arrived and determined that the bag contained a chemical used for gold plating. A cleanup crew was brought in to dispose of the chemical and the employee was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

STEM School Proposed — During a discussion about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the Arlington School Board began talking about the possibility of opening a new STEM-focused middle school or high school. Such a facility could potentially compete with Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school attended by a number of Arlington students. [InsideNova]

New Va. Laws Take Effect — A number of new laws in Virginia took effect Tuesday. Among them: the abolition of a $64 tax on hybrid vehicles, a law requiring fewer Standards of Learning tests for grades 3-8, and a law that requires motorists to maintain more space between their vehicles and bicyclists. [Reston Now]

Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian

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The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyDespite all of the spin by Democrats about low turnout (50 percent higher than the last special election) causing Tuesday’s loss, the message from voters was clear — it is time to shake things up.

One week earlier, Arlington Civic Federation delegates voted by a two-to-one margin to call on the County Board to lower the property tax rate by at least three cents. In the face of rapidly rising assessments, the Civic Federation decided that keeping tax rates level was simply not good enough.

What would that mean to the average homeowner? About $200 less in taxes for the upcoming year.

That level of tax relief might still keep us in first place for highest property tax bills in the region, but it may keep us from permanently cementing our top spot.

One of the first orders of business for new County Board member John Vihstadt will be to vote on setting the tax and spending levels for fiscal 2015. Vihstadt’s convincing 16 percent margin of victory came in a county that just five months ago handed Democrat Terry McAuliffe a 49 percent margin. The result was clearly a mandate to rethink the status quo in county government.

Looking back, Arlington County has not had to make really tough budget decisions like so many local governments have, despite rhetoric to the contrary. Arlington was largely insulated from the worst of the recession because our economy is dependent on the federal government and the contractors, law firms, trade associations and service industries its presence in the region supports. Even with federal spending restraint over the past three years, Arlington’s real estate tax receipts continued to rise.

Because the Board did not have to make really tough decisions, they did not have to take a long hard look at budget priorities. They were able to continue subsidizing the failed Artisphere experiment. They spent more than $1.5 million on a dog park. They moved forward on million dollar bus stops and then drug their feet on producing the report on why it cost so much.

Is it any wonder that long time civic activists finally said enough is enough?

We have very real issues to address moving forward, like school capacity and maintaining our aging infrastructure. If the Board wants to make room for these spending priorities in future budgets, they should re-examine spending priorities now.

Between excess tax revenue already identified for the current year budget, reserve funds, and closeout dollars, the Board can cut the tax rate without endangering any essential services. The only thing providing this tax relief will do is make the County Board work a little harder to finalize the budget and plan for the future.

The voters asked for more fiscal discipline on Tuesday, now we will see if they get it.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotIn Tuesday’s County Board election, Arlington voters rendered a decisive verdict on the budget priorities of the current majority on the Arlington County Board. The verdict: fundamentally change your budget priorities, or we’ll elect others who will.

Independent John Vihstadt won his landslide victory by uniting a broad-based, multi-partisan coalition that shared his policy positions:

  • prioritize spending on Arlington’s core government services (e.g., overcrowded schools, fire, police, sensible transit), and
  • end spending on wasteful vanity projects.

County Board Budget Priorities Repudiated

Vihstadt made his criticisms of the County Board’s budget priorities (e.g., $310+ million unnecessary Columbia Pike streetcar, $80+ million gold-plated Aquatics Center) the focus of his winning campaign. Democrat Alan Howze lost because he refused to repudiate those budget priorities. Howze hoped — falsely — that he could win simply because he was the Democratic candidate.

Implications for Arlington Democrats

Before the election, a few Democrats boasted that even if Vihstadt won the special, he would lose in November. Why? Because even if Howze’s policies on issues like Arlington’s budget priorities were repudiated by Arlington voters in the spring, Howze would win in the fall because he would get enough more votes from Democrats who care only about state or national issues. The size of the Vihstadt tsunami casts serious doubts on this hoped-for scenario. Much worse, these Democrats’ reasoning reflects an unbecoming smugness about the irrelevance of local policy to Arlington Democrats.

As a proud Arlington Democrat myself, I reject their reasoning. I do care — a lot — about the policy positions on local issues of any candidate seeking an Arlington local office. As Tuesday’s election shows, lots of other Arlington Democrats agree with me. Between now and November, we’ll all be aggressively explaining why to other Arlington Democrats who didn’t vote Tuesday.

What about the politics of it? What are the implications for the Arlington County Democratic Committee if it continues to nominate or endorse candidates for County Board who have policy positions on local issues that are both wrong and very unpopular? This is politics 101: those implications are highly negative.

Voters to ACDC: this time, we didn’t buy what you were selling either. It’s not because you don’t excel at the electoral mechanics, or because we don’t like you personally, or because someone is feuding with someone else. It’s because policy positions on local issues matter. Don’t be insular like the current County Board majority which anointed Alan Howze and pushed him over the finish line in the ACDC caucus. Their principal goal is to perpetuate their own budget priorities.

The County Board’s budget priorities are dragging ACDC down.

It’s time for ACDC to do some serious soul searching. Get out of your bubble and into the community. Don’t become zombie Democrats.

There are some great, positive lessons that ACDC can learn from this campaign.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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(Updated at 11:35 p.m.) For the first time in 15 years, a non-Democrat will sit on the Arlington County Board.

John Vihstadt, a Republican who ran as an independent with the endorsement of the local Republican and Green parties, has won the special election to replace Chris Zimmerman (D) on the Arlington County Board.

Vihstadt captured 57 percent of the vote to Democrat Alan Howze’s 41 percent. Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy and independent Stephen Holbrook each captured about 1 percent of the vote.

“We won the race by a higher margin than my most aggressive expectations,” Vihstadt told supporters at his victory party tonight. “The most exciting and gratifying measure of our victory was that it was north to south and east to west. There really is one Arlington, not two Arlingtons.”

Given that the race hinged largely on the hot-button issues of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar and Long Bridge Park aquatics center, the result is likely to be viewed by many as a voter rebuke of the County Board’s major capital spending projects.

“People want cost-effective, results-oriented solutions on the local level,” Vihstadt said.

Vihstadt touted his “true rainbow coalition” of supporters. Those supporters included all three candidates for County Board in 2012: current Democratic County Board member and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, Republican ARLnow.com columnist Mark Kelly, and frequent Green Party candidate Audrey Clement. Also supporting Vihstadt was Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, a close friend of Vihstadt and his wife, Mary.

“It was an easy call for me,” said Stamos, a lifelong Democrat. “He’s a good man and we need to sometimes think outside the box.”

“This is a victory for good government,” Garvey said. “I’m going to get choked up, this is Democracy at its best. This is the way it’s supposed to be.”

“The people have spoken and the County Board needs to listen,” Garvey added.

Vihstadt, whose yard signs were purple to represent a blend of red and blue politics, said he plans to “work in a collaborative fashion to get things done for the county.”

“This was a victory not for one person or one party, but for Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians and people with no party,” Vihstadt said. “I’m not going to be a captive of any political party, any person, any ideology — I’m going to call issues as I see them.”

Voter turnout today was relatively light, which benefited Vihstadt. With no state or national-level races energizing the Democratic base, its appears that many party-line Democrats stayed home. Total unofficial turnout was 22,209, or about 16 percent of registered voters.

Vihstadt will be the first non-Democrat on the Board since Republican Mike Lane served briefly after winning a special election in 1999. Lane lost in the general election several months later. Similarly, Vihstadt is expected to face Howze again in the November general election, when a U.S Senate and a House of Representatives race will be on the local ballot.

Howze told dozens of his supporters at the Democrats’ election party at Whitlow’s in Clarendon that he continues to believe infrastructure and education investments are the core values of Arlington voters.

“The special election is behind us now, and I look forward to continuing this conversation into November and moving Arlington forward,” he said. “There’s a lot at stake.”

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