Home Prices Declining? — For the past two months, the median home sale price in Arlington has declined year-over-year. For September the median sale price was $515,000, down 10 percent compared to one year earlier. [WTOP]
Record Absentee Voting Expected — The total number of absentee ballots cast in Arlington is expected to reach 43,000 this year, smashing the county’s previous record of 35,000 in 2008. Arlington’s elections office hired “considerable extra staff” this year to meet voter demand. [Arlington County]
Va. Voter Registration Extended — To make up for a system failure before the Virginia’s voter registration deadline, a federal judge has ordered registration be extended through midnight tonight. [Politico]
Budget Guidance Anticipates Gap — County officials are projecting a $5.4 million funding gap for Arlington’s FY 2018 budget. That assumes a 2 percent growth in revenue, a 2.9 percent growth in expenditures, service levels remaining unchanged and the tax rate remaining at $0.991 per $100, which the county notes is the lowest rate in Northern Virginia. [Arlington County]
Local Man Competing in Maccabiah Games — David Ostroff, an Arlington resident, has been chosen to represent the United States on the 35+ Masters basketball team in the 20th World Maccabiah Game in Israel next summer. Ostroff is currently raising money for his sponsorship. [Maccabi USA]
Note: Photo (above) does not imply sponsorship or endorsement.
Arlington Featured on MTP — Arlington County was featured in a Meet the Press segment on Sunday, comparing the level of support for Hillary Clinton here to support for Donald Trump in a rural Ohio county. The show interviewed residents in the Clarendon area. [NBC News]
Surge in Registration, Absentee Voting — Officials are anticipating about 43,000 absentee ballots in Arlington this year, up 50 percent compared to the last presidential election in 2012. Throughout the region and the state, absentee voting is on the rise, which is generally good news for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, a surge in last-minute voter registrations yesterday and a statewide software slowdown has the county advising that it could take several days to process all of the applications. [Washington Post, WTOP, WTOP]
Vehicle Decal Design Contest Starts — The Treasurer’s Office Decal Design Competition is back for another year. Local high school students will compete to design the next Arlington County vehicle decal, which will appear on some 160,000 vehicles in the county. The submission deadline is Nov. 28. [Arlington County]
Pike Recycling Center May Move — Next month the Arlington County Board is expected to consider whether to relocate the recycling facility at the corner of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive to the Arlington Trades Center in Shirlington. County officials want to lower the level of illegal dumping that’s currently taking place. [InsideNova]
Historic Designation for Ballston Cemetery? — On Wednesday night Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will discuss the merits of a proposed local historic district designation for the Ball cemetery in Ballston. The cemetery is currently slated to be relocated to make way for the redevelopment of a church. [Preservation Arlington]
Last Day at Fuego Cocina — Fuego Cocina y Tequileria in Clarendon served its final meals and margaritas Sunday. “We’re turning the light off now. Farewell,” the restaurant said via Twitter. [Twitter, Twitter]
Residents in three Arlington voting precincts have received erroneous voter cards from the county.
With four weeks to go until Election Day, voters in the Crystal City, Wilson (Rosslyn area) and Abingdon (Fairlington) precincts were sent cards that incorrectly listed the Lyon Park Community Center as their voting location, Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg confirmed to ARLnow.com.
Those who live in the Abingdon precinct also received an erroneous flyer, intended for Wilson precinct voters. Wilson and Crystal City voters received the correct flyer.
“Our mailroom sent cards to the correct voters but pulled incorrect precinct data,” said Lindberg. “They are [resending] with a letter of apology from me. I personally proofed the new cards so I know they are correct.”
“The County mailroom has taken full responsibility for the error and are working to get the correct information out to voters as soon as possible,” Lindberg added.
Update at 1:50 p.m. — The Washington Post reports that about 9,000 Arlington voters received mailings with incorrect information. That number was not immediately available from officials this morning.
Two nonprofit organizations teamed up over the weekend in Arlington to provide voter registration to former felons after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe restored the voting rights of about 200,000 Virginia ex-offenders.
The League of Women Voters in Arlington and National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice held a voter registration event on Saturday at the Macedonia Baptist Church.
In order to secure voting rights again, the former felon must have completed his or her sentence along and finished supervised probation or parole.
“In my old life, I was just here. I didn’t feel as if I was part of the country, a citizen,” said Virginian Terry Garrett, who previously served time for shoplifting. “Whoever people voted in, I didn’t get to have a say. Today I know that I am an important part of society, and every vote counts. Now, I am a citizen and part of this country. Everyone should keep that right. No matter what.”
But the day before the event, the Virginia Supreme Court voted to overturn the governor’s executive actions, stating that McAuliffe does not have the authority to issue a blanket rights restoration. As a result of the decision, the court ordered that anybody who registered to vote as a result of the governor’s executive orders to be removed from the registry.
The governor is currently in the process of individually restoring the voting rights of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Despite the uncertainty after the decision, the event still went on as planned with 14 people coming to restore their voting rights. League member Karen Kimball said the court’s decision may have contributed to the low turnout, noting the possibility of individuals being confused or deterred from registering as a result.
“The League considers this event a success because it highlighted an important segment of our community whose right to apply for restoration of voting rights is too frequently unknown by former felons or ignored by them,” Kimball said. “The League believes that having and exercising the right to vote is part of their rehabilitation process and enables them to be full participating citizens in our community.”
Photos Courtesy Karen Kimball
(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey has won the Democratic County Board nomination, despite a tough challenge from within the party.
With all precincts reporting, Garvey had 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent over challenger Erik Gutshall. The final vote tally was 8,362 to 6,878.
Today’s County Board primary featured typically low turnout for a local race — 11 percent of registered voters — although it was notably higher than last year’s primary turnout of 8 percent.
Voters who spoke to ARLnow.com outside the polls today said they admired Garvey’s willingness to go against “establishment” Democratic orthodoxy. It was Garvey’s fight against the Columbia Pike streetcar project and her endorsement of independent John Vihstadt over a Democratic candidate in the 2014 County Board race that was perhaps the biggest impetus for a primary challenge.
During the race, Gutshall — a small business owner and member of the Arlington Planning Commission member — criticized Garvey’s leadership, Democratic bonafides and her supposed lack of effective long-term planning.
Gutshall amassed a long list of endorsements from current and former Democratic elected officials, including state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan, County Board member Jay Fisette and former Board members Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman.
Fisette was among those who stopped by Garvey’s victory party at a Columbia Pike restaurant Tuesday night.
“It’s a really high bar to run against an incumbent,” Fisette told ARLnow.com, citing Garvey’s name recognition from nearly two decades as an elected official. “I couldn’t be prouder of [Erik] as a candidate. I have great respect for him and I think he ran a great campaign.”
Fisette said he expects the Board to continue to work well together. In a press release, Arlington Democrats were quick to unify, with Gutshall endorsing Garvey.
“Tonight I endorse Libby Garvey for County Board and look forward to voting for her in November,” said Gutshall. “Now that the primary is over, it’s important that we come together as Democrats to ensure we keep Arlington blue, from the White House to the School House.”
“Libby Garvey is already a consensus building Chair of the County Board and we are honored to have her as our nominee,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) Chair Kip Malinosky.
Among those in attendance at Garvey’s victory party were Vihstadt, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Arlington Treasurer Carla de la Pava, former School Board member Abby Raphael and former ACDC Chair Peter Rousselot.
Going precinct-by-precinct, Gutshall’s strongest support was along the Columbia Pike corridor and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
All precincts in- Garvey (winner) precincts in green, Gutshall precincts in blue: pic.twitter.com/2QpdkjeERG
— (((Ben Tribbett))) (@notlarrysabato) June 15, 2016
“I worked the entire county [but] there’s only so much I could do,” Garvey said of the Columbia Pike vote. “I’m going to continue to serve the entire county and in four years I hope to have everyone’s vote.”
“This is about all of us… diversity is our strength,” she said. In a statement, Garvey said she looks forward to continuing her work on the Board as a Democrat.
“I am proud to go on to November to represent you as the Democratic nominee for County Board. I have based my campaign, as I have my service, on my idea that Arlington is a great community, but we have the potential to be even better. It means working together to support each other in friendship, knowing that together we can achieve so much.”
Garvey will face independent candidate Audrey Clement in November’s general election.
County Board Primary Voting Today — Arlington residents are heading to the polls today to vote in the Democratic County Board primary, choosing between incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall. Polls close at 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
More Security at Local Gay Bar — Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City has tightened its security, banned backpacks and is now searching purses in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando. [NBC Washington]
Art Therapy Group Shutting Down — The 296 Project, which provided art therapy for veterans with PTSD, is closing down. On June 25, the group will be hosting a big art supply giveaway at its Crystal City studio. [Facebook]
Local Jewelry and Fashion List — Washingtonian Magazine has released a list of what it says are “the best places to shop in Arlington for local art, custom jewelry, and discounted designer fashion.” [Washingtonian]
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.
As of 2 p.m. today, with five hours to go until polls close, the percentage of Arlington voters casting ballots in the Republican presidential primary has already exceeded the total from the 2008 GOP primary.
Mid-day Super Tuesday turnout was 24 percent of registered voters in Arlington — 9 percent Republican, 15 percent Democrat.
In 2008, when Barack Obama and John McCain cruised to victory in Virginia, 7 percent of registered Arlington voters cast Republican ballots while 33 percent voted in the Democratic primary.
“For the Republican primary in particular, it’s been a heavier than expected turnout,” said Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg. Democratic turnout, she predicted, is likely to be down slightly from 2008.
Absentee voting is up across all parties, but especially so for Republicans. This year, 2,570 Democratic and 952 Republican ballots were cast, compared to 2,166 Democratic and 440 Republican ballots in 2008.
Lindberg said polling places along the Orange Line corridor and in South Arlington, all Democratic strongholds, have seen surprisingly heavy Republican turnout, while turnout is in line with expectations in some of the more Republican-leaning precincts in far northern Arlington. That raises the possibility of crossover voting; Virginia is one of 18 states with an open presidential primary.
One factor for the increased Republican turnout may be the presence of Donald Trump in the race. Supporters of the businessman and GOP frontrunner have been particularly prolific in placing signs around polling places in Arlington — so much so that Lindberg said the county elections office has received at least one complaint about the Woodmont polling station having too many Trump signs.
(While county ordinance limits political signs in roadside medians to no more than two per candidate per median, there’s no limit at polling places on the day before or day of an election.)
One Trump supporter got an earful this morning while placing signs around Arlington. Reuters reported that former Republican congressional candidate Gwendolyn Beck was putting Trump signs up in front of the Arlington Arts Center, in Virginia Square, when local attorney and cycling advocate Mark Blacknell walked by en route to a nearby polling place.
“I came here to tell you you’re a terrible person,” Blacknell told Beck, according to Reuters.
“Signs normally don’t bother me, but there’s a whiff of burning crosses to Trump’s,” Blacknell later explained.
“Respect for other opinion is fabric [sic] of the USA,” Beck said in response, via Twitter.
No significant problems have been reported at the polls, Lindberg said, though a slight discrepancy between Arlington’s voting instructions and those on the state-provided ballots are prompting some questions.
The instructions in the polling places say that voters may place an “X” in the bubble to mark their vote for a candidate. Virginia’s ballots have older instructions, telling voters to completely fill in the bubble. Either works just fine, said Lindberg.
“It’s just confused a few voters, that’s all,” she said.
After the jump: tweets from those commenting on the Trump signs around Arlington, as well as a tweet from this afternoon’s John Kasich rally at George Mason University in Virginia Square.
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]
Advisory Board Wants Birthday Cake Banned from Schools — Student birthday celebrations are getting out of hand in Arlington Public Schools, with too many sugary treats being consumed as a result. That’s the view of the Student Health Advisory Board, which made its case to the School Board last week. Some individual schools in Arlington have banned birthday celebrations or, at least, sweet birthday treats. The overall school system, however, does not currently have a formal policy on the matter. [InsideNova]
Del. Hope Wants to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has introduced a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in Virginia. Practitioners of the controversial “therapy” claim that it can change the sexual orientation of individuals from homosexual to heterosexual. [Washington Blade]
The Corner Tex-Mix Lives? — Despite being pronounced dead by ARLnow and Google, it appears that The Corner Tex-Mix at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive was open last night, at least for a short period of time. A tipster said lights were on and an employee answered the phone and confirmed they were open, shortly before a power outage sent everyone home. The county health department confirmed to ARLnow this morning that there have been no health code violations that would have closed the restaurant temporarily. The tipster said The Corner Tex-Mix seems to just be keeping “odd hours.” [ARLnow]
‘WeLive’ Apartments to Feature Free Cleaning, Sunday Supper — Details of a new apartment building in Manhattan from co-working company WeWork have been released, and they’re likely to also apply to the company’s second “WeLive” building, in Crystal City. The apartments will be fully furnished and will have cable TV, monthly cleaning and a communal Sunday supper included, among other amenities. [UrbanTurf]
$5 Ribs from Texas Jack’s Barbecue — Ribs at the recently-opened Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Lyon Park will cost you around $5. As in, nearly five bucks per rib. The restaurant, in the former Tallula and EatBar space, features a menu of smoked meat created by Executive Chef Matt Lang, winner of the Food Network’s Best in Smoke 2011 and formerly of Hill Country Barbecue in D.C. [DCist]
Va. Voter Registration Deadline Approaches — The deadline to vote in Virginia’s March 1 presidential primary is Monday, Feb. 8. On the GOP side, the election will feature a somewhat controversial loyalty pledge requested by the state party. “Voters who wish to vote in the Republican Primary must first sign the following non-binding statement, which is permitted under § 24.2-545.A of the Code of Virginia: ‘My signature below indicates that I am a Republican,'” county officials note. In-person absentee voting, meanwhile, starts Friday. [Arlington County]
Highest Voter Turnout in N. Arlington — The Arlington neighborhoods north of I-66 had the highest concentration of voter turnout for Tuesday’s election. Arlington’s high-density Metro corridors and neighborhoods south of Columbia Pike generally had the lowest turnout. [Twitter]
Eric Cantor Buys House in Arlington — Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has purchased a $1.8 million house near Pentagon City. Cantor, who works for an investment banking firm in D.C., formerly lived in the Representative condominium on Arlington Ridge, overlooking Pentagon City, while serving in Congress. [Washington Business Journal]
Sport & Health Closing in Crystal City — The Sport & Health Crystal Gateway club at 1235 S. Clark Street has told members that it will close Dec. 4, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. The health club is set to be replaced by a new Earth Treks Climbing Center.
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) There will be two new faces sitting on the County Board come January — Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.
Dorsey led the race the entire night, taking approximately 36 percent of the total vote. Ticket mate Cristol followed closely, garnering about 34 percent of the votes. The two Democratic candidates effectively boxed out independent candidates Michael McMenamin and Audrey Clement.
Today’s election was a historic one for Arlington. For the first time in years, voters were asked to select two new County Board members after Board Chair Mary Hynes and Vice Chair Walter Tejada decided to retire. After electing independent John Vihstadt last year, Arlington residents resumed voting for Democrats by giving Cristol and Dorsey the two seats.
“Now it’s time to get to work fulfilling the promise of the campaign, which was bring Arlingtonians together to talk about issues,” Dorsey said.
Voter turnout was relatively low, following the trend of most off-year elections in Virginia. Arlington election officials estimate that around 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot today, compared to 26 percent turnout in a comparable election four years ago.
The relatively low turnout is a sign that the county needs to do better with communicating how important local elections are, Cristol and Dorsey said.
“As much as I would love Arlington to be special and different, it’s tough when the County Board race is at the top of the ballot,” Dorsey said.
Cristol and Dorsey led the race for County Board with a large gap between them and the independent candidates. The unofficial results are:
- Audrey Clement: 10.08%
- Katie Cristol: 34.41%
- Christian Dorsey: 35.71%
- Mike McMenamin: 19.03%
A group of more than 40 people in yellow shirts has been knocking on the doors of homes in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts the past few days in hopes of increasing voter turnout today.
The group is part of the Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement, an organization that supports social justice causes like affordable housing and that strives to increase the amount of people who actively engage in local politics.
As of 9 a.m. this morning, Nov. 3, VOICE members had talked to almost 600 people who pledged they would vote, said VOICE spokeswoman Marjorie Green. Arlington residents are voting for two new County Board members, making this an election that will set the direction of county policy for years to come.
“Even if only a third of those voters actually go to the polls, we figure we will have contributed to a more than 20 percent increase in voter turnout, a pretty significant figure in an election in which, as I just heard, the county registrar is saying turnout thus far is only about 15 percent,” Green said.
VOICE’s goal with its “Get Out the Vote” push is to engage with 2,000 people in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts in hopes of raising voter turnout by 5 percent, the group said in a press release. The Glebe voting district includes the Nauck neighborhood, and the Arlington Mill district is made up of people in Columbia Pike and Arlington Mill areas.
VOICE is targeting the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts because people living there have historically skipped voting in off-year elections, like today’s, Green said. They have also raised concerns of their voices not being heard by county officials, said Rev. James E. Victor, Jr., the pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington View and a VOICE leader.
Residents in the Glebe voting district can vote at the Drew Recreation Center (3500 23th Street S.) and those in the Arlington Mill district can vote at Campbell Elementary School (737 S. Carlin Springs Road).
VOICE members stood at bus stops this morning encouraging people to stop by the two polling places and to cast their votes, Green said, adding that the organization will also be calling people throughout the day in hopes of getting more people to vote.
Despite one of the most consequential and competitive County Board races in recent memory, relatively light turnout has been reported at the polls in Arlington so far today.
Linda Lindberg, Arlington County’s top elections official, said turnout was around 12 percent as of 12:45 p.m.
“It’s been pretty light,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com “Some precincts are doing quite well and others are very, very slow.”
Lindberg said turnout is similar to the 2011 election, when 26 percent of registered voters went to the polls. She expects the final turnout today to be around that figure. The number of absentee ballots submitted this election cycle — 2,200 — is also comparable to 2011.
“I would have thought that we would have done a little better this time, because we do have a more competitive County Board race,” Lindberg said.
No major problems have been reported at the polls, which opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Arlington County is using paper ballots this year, a throw back to the mid-20th century. Most recently, Arlington had been using electronic voting machines that were later revealed to have serious security flaws.
Some voters who required assistance using the ballot reading machines have complained that poll workers could see who they voted for while demonstrating how to use the machines.
“We’re going to iron out those issues,” Lindberg said.
The Arlington County elections office will be tweeting County Board election results live tonight after polls close, via its @arlingtonvotes Twitter account.
Registered voters who have not yet cast ballots can find out more information about the candidates via the League of Women Voters voter guide.
Voter turnout is only about 10-12% so far. Come on, Arlington – we can do better, so get out to vote! Polls close at 7 pm.
— Arlington Elections (@ArlingtonVotes) November 3, 2015
Group Offers Cheap Drinks to Encourage Voting — A nonprofit group will outside a half dozen Arlington polling stations on Tuesday, handing out wristbands good for cheap drinks at Clarendon bars, to “encourage young voters to celebrate democracy” and “draw more apathetic young voters out on Election Day.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Asking for Aquatics Center Feedback — Should Arlington County build the stalled Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center? If so, what kind of features should it include? That’s what the county is asking in a new online survey. Arlington originally launched a public input process for the planned aquatics facility in March. [InsideNova]
Airport to Cease Being a Homeless Haven — Starting today, Reagan National Airport will be kicking out the homeless who have used it as a makeshift shelter. Because it was clean, safe and open 24/7, dozens of local homeless individuals would pretend to be waylaid travelers and sleep in the airport’s terminals overnight. Increased use as a homeless sanctuary prompted airport officials to decide to no longer tolerate what will now be treated as trespassing. [Washington Post]
Fuel Spill at DCA — On Friday hazmat crews and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a reported spill of 7,500-9,000 gallons of jet fuel on the south side of Reagan National Airport. The spill has been largely contained and is not a threat to drinking water, officials say. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik