(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) There were no surprises in Tuesday’s general election in Arlington, as Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was elected Arlington’s new prosecutor and all Democratic incumbents won new terms.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney race saw an elevated level of write-in votes — 10% of the overall vote — but the result was never in doubt as Tafti received 90% of the vote. She will take office as the top prosecutor for Arlington and Falls Church starting in January.
Tafti ran a progressive campaign centered on criminal justice reform during a contentious and expensive primary. She ran unopposed in the general election after beating incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos in a surprising upset in the primary, with 52% of the vote to Stamos’ 48%.
“It was really surreal,” Tafti told ARLnow of her win, after the final precinct results came in.
The incoming prosecutor added that she was “lucky” she had time between the June primary and the November election to start work on her transition. Tafti she’s looking forward to rolling out reforms come January — which one expert has said is the most aggressive policy transition for the office in living memory.
“I’m really excited to get a restorative justice program started,” she told ARLnow.
Elsewhere on the ballot, Arlington County Board incumbents Katie Cristol (D) and Christian Dorsey (D) defeated independent candidates Audrey Clement and Arron O’Dell with 40% and 38% of the vote, respectively. Clement’s 13% and O’Dell’s 7% compares to the 10% Clement and 19% Republican Mike McMenamin received in 2015, when Cristol and Dorsey were first elected.
In contested General Assembly races in Arlington, state Sen. Janet Howell, who ran unopposed in the primary, won out over Republican candidate Arthur Purves, 73% to 27%. Del. Alfonso Lopez defeated independent challenger Terry Modglin, 83% to 16%.
Other Democratic candidates won bids for re-election tonight after running uncontested races:
- Del. Patrick Hope
- Del. Mark Levine
- Del. Rip Sullivan
- State Sen. Barbara Favola
- Sheriff Beth Arthur
- Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy
- Treasurer Carla de la Pava
- School Board member Reid Goldstein
Acknowledging that most of its candidates were not facing strong challengers, the Arlington Democratic party has instead focused on supporting other Virginia progressives they hoped could flip the GOP-controlled state House and Senate. As of 10 p.m., the Associated Press projected that Democrats would, in fact, win control of both.
Virginia Democrats win majorities in both the state House and Senate, giving them control of the legislature and the governorship for the first time in 26 years. Follow our full U.S. election coverage. https://t.co/z2PXWC7DHk
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 6, 2019
Today may be Election Day in Arlington, but the Arlington Democratic party may well be watching other jurisdictions’ elections more closely.
Virginia is one of the few states with a “serious shot” at flipping both its House and Senate blue this election, an outcome Democratic leaders have long hoped for to pass a more progressive agenda in Richmond and boost Democratic presidential candidates come next November. Acknowledging that Arlington voters overwhelmingly vote blue already, the local party is casting its support out wider to help other Democratic candidates in the state.
“Arlington is fortunate to have an electorate that largely supports progressive candidates, as well as very engaged volunteers,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said in a statement yesterday (Monday). “Arlington Dems decided early to unleash its resources to support strategic contests beyond Arlington.”
“Our volunteers have fought hard across the state to elect Democratic candidates to the General Assembly who will pass important legislation on healthcare accessibility, economic opportunity for all, gun safety, women’s, voter, and reproductive rights, and other critical issues,” said Caiazzo.
Overall, the party said it has lent support to 14 House of Delegates and 7 state Senate candidates in Chesterfield, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fredericksburg, and Prince William counties, as well as the Virginia Beach. The roster of incumbent and challenger candidates supported include:
- Sheila Bynum-Coleman for Delegate District 66 (Chesterfield)
- Jennifer Carroll Foy for Del. District (Ashburn/Prince William)
- Lee Carter for Del. District 50 (Manassas/Prince William)
- Joshua Cole for Del. District 28 (Fredericksburg/Stafford)
- Wendy Gooditis for Del. District 10 (Loudoun/Frederick)
- Danica Roem for Del. District 13 (Manassas)
- Ibraheem Samirah for Del. District 86 (Fairfax/Loudoun)
- Kathy Tran Del. District 42 (Fairfax)
In the last two months, the party supported the General Assembly candidates by sending postcards (20,000), deploying volunteer canvassers (100), and running phone banks (25.)
— Monique OGrady (@Monique4APS) November 5, 2019
The efforts to bolster Democrats in other jurisdiction began months ago, as the local party highlighted Loudoun County’s candidate for Senate District 13 (John Bell) and Fairfax County’s candidate for Delegate District 40 (Dan Helmer) and Newport News’ Delegate candidate for District 94 (Shelly Simonds) at its annual Blue Victory Dinner in May.
“We believe this election will have historic implications for Virginia and will be a shot across the bow to the White House that 2020 is coming. We are just getting started,” said Arlington Young Democrats President Dan Matthews.
It’s Election Day — Voting today in Arlington will take place between 6 a.m.-7 p.m. at your local polling place. Most of the local candidates in competitive races penned essays describing why Arlington residents should vote for them. [Arlington County]
‘Baby Trump’ Greeting Key Bridge Commuters — Arlington Democrats have inflated a 13-foot “Baby Trump” on the Virginia side of the Key Bridge as part of a get-out-the-vote message. [Twitter]
Anti-Trans Group is Based in Shirlington — “From the 12th floor of a glass office tower in the Washington suburbs, a campaign to sway the governor’s race in Kentucky on Tuesday is being waged with an alarmist claim that has little to do with the race itself: If Democrats have their way, soon boys will be able to compete against girls in school sports.” [New York Times]
Growing Season Over in D.C. Area — “As of this morning, the growing season has been declared to have ended across our entire forecast area. Frost and freeze [watches and warnings] will not be issued again until Spring 2020.” [Twitter]
Pedestrian Enforcement in Clarendon Tomorrow — “As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement… November 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. [on the] 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard (Pedestrian Enforcement Detail).” [ARLnow]
Nearby: Va. Tech Unveils Plan for Potomac Yard — “Plans are starting to take shape for North Potomac Yard. Virginia Tech has submitted its first concept plan, showing what its Innovation Campus will look like just as the design of the Potomac Yard Metro station nears its final design phase.” [ALXnow]
The General Election next Tuesday, November 5 follows a tumultuous, pricey primary election in which incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos lost to challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who is now unchallenged on the ballot after running a campaign centered on criminal justice reform.
Incumbent state Sen. Barbara Favola and Del. Alfonso Lopez both defeated their progressive challengers in the the June primary, and will be on the ballot. However, Lopez will now face a challenge to his bid for reelection from independent candidate Terry Modglin.
Del. Janet D. Howell, who ran unopposed in the primary, faces a challenge from Republican candidate Arthur G. Purves, who is focusing his campaign on what he describes as problems with progressive education.
Residents will also be casting their votes for two County Board seats — currently filled by Democratic members Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol and contested by independent candidates, Audrey Clement and Arron O’Dell.
The ballot will also feature several other incumbent Democrats running unopposed including:
- Del. Patrick Hope
- Del. Mark Levine
- Del. Rip Sullivan
- Sheriff Beth Arthur
- Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy
- Treasurer Carla de la Pava
- School Board member Reid Goldstein
Today (Tuesday, October 29) also marks two important days for voters.
First up the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot be mailed to your address today at 5 p.m. Voters who want to request a mailed ballot can do so by emailing, faxing, or mailing Arlington’s Office of Elections (2100 Clarendon Blvd.)
Second is the start of absentee voting in-person, also at the Office of Elections, which runs from today until Thursday, October 31, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Those interested in absentee voting must present a reason why they are unable to vote on Election Day.
Voters who cast their ballots in person will given the county’s newly-designed “I Voted” stickers.
(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) The top prosecutor in Arlington and Falls Church has lost her bid for re-election.
In the most closely watched local race in today’s Democratic primary, incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos has been defeated by challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who ran a campaign centered on criminal justice reform. Tafti has 52% of the vote compared to 48% for Stamos, with all 59 precincts in Arlington and Falls Church reporting, though the results are unofficial until certified.
The total unofficial margin of victory was 1,128 votes.
“I knew it could happen!” one supporter shouted at Tafti’s victory party at Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse as the final votes were tallied.
“Change can come here to Arlington,” said a campaign volunteer, Arlington resident Symone Walker, who said she’s mailed postcards and held meet and greets for Tafti because of her belief the challenger could reform the county’s justice system.
Tafti herself was breathless and wide-eyed as she passed through the group and gave hugs to her supporters. When Stamos called to concede around 8:15 p.m., Tafti thanked her and offered to meet with the incumbent later this week.
In a speech a few minutes before 9 p.m., Tafti thanked a crowd of her supporters, saying “it would have been easy for you to be silent.”
“I feel humbled and grateful and excited but with no illusions about the work ahead,” she told ARLnow afterward.
1/x I am humbled and honored at the trust the voters of Arlington and the City of Falls Church have placed in our campaign. This election wasn’t about me but about the community’s recognition that criminal justice reform is one of the civil rights issues of our time.
— Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (@parisa4justice) June 12, 2019
3/3 Arlington and Falls Church stand ready to show the Commonwealth and the country what it means to put justice back in the criminal justice system.
— Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (@parisa4justice) June 12, 2019
“I always thought she could win and should win, but it’s never an easy battle against an incumbent,” said state Sen. Adam Ebbin, who supported Tafti’s campaign and stood next to her as she addressed the crowd.
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe cheered during the event, later telling ARLnow that he supported Tafti’s campaign because he was “looking for new leadership” after Stamos opposed his legislation to restore voting rights to felons in 2017.
“I think a lot of people wondered why I did it,” he said of wading into a local prosecutor race. “But it was the right thing to do.”
As of 1 p.m. the Arlington elections office reported an estimated 10 percent turnout. That points to what may be upwards of 15 percent turnout by the time polls close at 7 p.m., according to Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg.
“It’s been a slow day” in Crystal City, Columbia Pike, Fairlington and other south Arlington neighborhoods, Lindberg said, “but we’re doing some pretty brisk business up in the northwest,” where commonwealth’s attorney candidates Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Theo Stamos live.
Fifteen percent turnout may be low compared to a presidential election year, but it would be 50 percent higher than the last equivalent election cycle. In 2011, with multiple candidates running in the Democratic primary for commonwealth’s attorney, the 31st state Senate district and the 49th House of Delegates district — just like this year — 10 percent of voters cast ballots, Lindberg recounted.
Following a broader trend of higher absentee voting, in the 2011 primary some 1,500 voters cast absentee ballots, while this year more than 2,000 have cast in-person absentee ballots alone; mailed absentee ballots have not yet been counted for today’s primary.
No problems have been reported at the polls so far, and Lindberg noted that one thing is going particularly well this year: new electronic poll books — tablet computers with ID scanners, used to check voters in at polling stations — are in use in Arlington for the first time and so far have been working flawlessly.
“We’re very pleased,” said Lindberg, Arlington’s long-time election chief who is retiring this summer.
(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) Starting at 6 a.m. today, voters began showing up at their polling places across Arlington as voting in the Democratic primary kicked off.
At Randolph Elementary School in Douglas Park, St. Agnes Catholic Church in Cherrydale, and Madison Community Center in Old Glebe, lines were short and skies were clear.
“It’s been slow, but steady. There’s been 83 people so far, or 2.7 percent turnout. It’s pretty normal,” said Bill Harkins, election officer at St. Agnes.
At Randolph Elementary around 41 people had cast their ballots by 7:41 a.m., according to election officer Harry Dunbar, and another 13 voters arrived in the next half hour. Dunbar said there are 3,000 people who live in the precinct.
“Half of that is normal for a busy general election,” Dunbar said, noting that primary election turnout is usually much lower.
By mid-morning, Arlington’s elections office reported that turnout was somewhat light, but higher in precincts in Arlington’s northwest. Voters in residential northwest Arlington tend to be a bit more conservative, at least relative to the rest of the county.
Update: looks like some of our northwest precincts are reporting a higher turnout, closer to 8% as of 10:30.
— Arlington Elections (@ArlingtonVotes) June 11, 2019
The only hiccup noticed so far was a ballot that wouldn’t scan at Randolph Elementary. At around 8 a.m., officials had identified the likely culprit: blocks that printed too faintly along the border of the document.
Today’s primary marks the end of several hotly contested races between the Democrats on the ballot — namely the race for commonwealth’s attorney and the state Senate seat in the 31st District. With most races still lacking a non-Democratic candidate, the primary could also decide the Nov. 5 general election.
At Randolph, the race on most people’s minds was the one for commonwealth’s attorney between incumbent Theo Stamos and challenger Parisa Dehghani-Tafti who have clashed in debates since kicking off their campaigns last winter.
Evelyn Luis, a long-time Douglas Park resident, said she doesn’t usually vote in the primaries but showed up today to support Stamos.
“Even though she’s running as a Democrat and I am not a Democrat I know I have to make a choice between the two candidates.” Luis said.
Luis wore a shirt from the 1990s-era Crime Prevention Council of Arlington County, on which she was a board member. She said she disagreed with Tafti’s platform and PAC funding.
Another voter, Aaron Willis, who has lived in the area for a decade, said he’s voted in every primary since moving to the D.C. region. He feels part of the “nerve center” of politics after coming from Ohio where he sometimes felt disconnected.
Willis said he supported Tafti in today’s election, citing her record of pushing for reproductive rights and restoring voting rights to felons.
The interest in the prosecutor’s race also ran high at St. Agnes.
“The important race to me was the commonwealth’s attorney,” said St. Agnes voter Chris Guest. “I think it’s always good to have options, but I wanted to vote against outside money, especially when that’s heavily for one candidate.”
“All of the races are important. Arlington is a great place to live and we have good candidates,” said St. Agnes voter Sarah Devoe this morning. “I’ve been surprised with the commonwealth’s attorney race; it’s not really a race I think of as being competitive. There’s been a lot of TV and print ads. There are two strong candidates.”
Stamos’ record in office and Tafti’s proposed criminal justice reforms have split support among local attorneys and sparked conversations about police brutality and the county’s discovery policy in criminal cases.
Polls Open for Democratic Primary — All Arlington voters can vote in today’s Democratic primary. Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. You can find your polling place and other information on the state elections website. [Twitter]
Politico Profiles Prosecutor Primary — “One sign that this era of agitated civic life is not merely a reflection of Donald Trump or Twitter is that the agitation has penetrated, of all places, into Arlington County, Virginia. In normal times, Arlington politics are polite and consensus-driven, almost proudly dull.” [Politico]
Clarendon Street Closed for Construction — “Through mid-August: North Edgewood Street closed between Clarendon and Wilson boulevards due to construction. Absolutely no impact on Whole Foods organic produce or imported cheese selection.” [Twitter]
Trade Group Moving to Ballston — “The Infectious Diseases Society of America announced today that it will be relocating its headquarters to 4040 Wilson Boulevard in the Ballston Quarter area of Arlington, Va., a hub of advanced research learning, technology and science in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The Society has been at its current location at 1300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington since 2006.” [PR Newswire]
How Glass Is Being Recycled — “Ever wonder where your glass goes? If you properly recycle it in Northern Virginia these days, it gets crushed into sand and turned into construction material… ABC7 recently took a trip to Fairfax County’s I-95 landfill in Lorton, where we found a glass graveyard and a big blue machine.” [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Total fundraising in the heated race for Arlington and Falls Church’s top prosecutor is nearing an unprecedented $1 million as the June 11 primary approaches.
Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti raised $604,682 between April 1 and May 30, in large part due to one political action committee (PAC), according to new campaign finance filings.
The Justice and Public Safety PAC, which is funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, previously donated to Tafti’s campaign and paid for her social media videos. In the latest filing period it made a total of $515,492.28 in donations, including $190,000 in cash and $325,492.28 in in-kind contributions.
After spending $189,000 on a TV ad buy, and racking up other expenses, Tafti’s campaign reported ending the quarter with $57,255 in its coffers.
Theo Stamos’ campaign, on the other hand, reported closing out May 30 with $22,077 left in its war chest, after raising $55,426 and spending $133,999 in total.
All told, the incumbent raised $161,760 for her 2019 re-election bid compared to the $743,604 Tafti raised to unseat her.
The combined sum of $905,364 from both candidates dwarfs the money raised in the state’s other commonwealth’s attorney races.
“I think our voters are going to see through this effort from all this outside money,” Stamos told ARLnow today (Tuesday.) “It’s so unprecedented for it to be happening in Arlington.”
When asked if her challenger’s large fundraising haul affected her chances of keeping her seat, Stamos said she thought residents will end up voting for someone they’ve known for years over Tafti who has, “absolutely no experience, who is not prepared for the job, and who has quite honestly run a fundamentally dishonest campaign.”
Tafti said in a press release earlier today that she was “proud” the campaign has continued, “to garner the support of not just small dollar donations but also that of local and national organizations that will help maintain enthusiasm and engagement” in the election.
In the press release, the progressive campaigner also highlighted $39,000 in cash contributions from individuals and the endorsements she’s received, saying: “Simply put, this level of local support for a challenger is unprecedented in a local primary election where the incumbent has not ever faced a robust primary challenge. What it shows is that community leaders and ordinary citizens understand the office is in dire need of reform.”
Two other PACS also donated to Tafti’s campaign this past quarter.
Racial justice-focused New Majority Virginia PAC donated $31,545 to Tafti’s campaign last month, and Real Justice PAC, which was co-founded by civil rights activist Shaun King donates to progressive prosecutor candidates nationwide, contributed $5,814.
Other notable donations to Tafti’s campaign include:
- $1,350 in combined donations from four local private defense lawyers. Three of the lawyers (Terry Adams, Edward Ungvarsky, and Christopher Leibig) previously signed a letter opposing Stamos. The fourth lawyer-donor (Mark Rochon) did not sign the letter.
- $1,000 from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has publicly endorsed Tafti’s campaign.
- $150 from former Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman.
For Stamos, some notable donations included:
- $1,162 from former independent County Board member John Vihstadt, whose unsuccessful bid for re-election Stamos supported despite displeasure from her Democratic colleagues. The figure includes a $912 in-kind contribution from Vihstadt’s campaign committee.
- $651 from former Arlington School Board member Noah Simon
- $500 from theater labor union I.A.T.S.E. Local 22
Next week’s primary will determine which Democratic candidate progresses to the November general election. Voters can cast their votes between 6 a.m. to 7 p.m on Tuesday, June 11.
Candidates from other parties may declare their intention to enter the race after the primary election. If no other candidates runs, the winner of next week’s primary election will most likely win the general election.
Arlington County’s Election Board asked residents to vote on a new design for its 2019 “I Voted” sticker and they responded, picking the winner by a slim, two-vote margin.
Election officials, in partnership with the Arlington Artists Alliance and Arlington Public Library, solicited votes on the county website earlier this month. Voters cast their votes for five different designs over four rounds of voting.
John Musco’s design, “Shout It From the Skyline,” received 543 votes in the final round, edging out Anna Radjou’s “Voting, the Language of Arlington’s Diversity,” which received 541 votes.
The winning “Skyline” sticker will be distributed to voters who vote at the polls on Nov. 5.
Because the final voting was so close, election officials decided the second-place design will be given to voters who cast in-person absentee votes. Absentee voting for the November general election begins on Sept. 20.
Arlington first-grader Mira Shomali’s design, “The Arlington Stars and Stripes,” received an honorable mention. Her design will be adapted as a new Future Voter sticker, which will be given to kids accompanying their parents to the polls.
The county is currently in the run-up to a primary election, which decides the candidates for the November election.
Your vote DOES make a difference! Here are the Ranked Choice Voting results of our "I Voted" Sticker Contest. The winner won in the last round by just TWO votes. #votingcounts pic.twitter.com/kqcBiHFg9j
— Arlington Elections (@ArlingtonVotes) May 21, 2019
Images via Arlington County
‘I Voted’ Sticker Design Competition — “The Arlington Electoral Board is teaming up with the Arlington Artists Alliance and the county library system on its first-ever ‘I Voted’ decal competition. Modeled on a similar effort in New York City, the contest encourages Arlington residents to submit designs for the decal that will be distributed to voters on Election Day and used in a variety of outreach campaigns.” [InsideNova]
Crystal City Startup Implodes — “One of Trustify’s investors is asking Delaware’s Chancery Court to appoint a receiver to oversee the company, claiming in court documents that founder and CEO Danny Boice ‘misappropriated Trustify corporate funds for personal use’ and effectively abandoned the business.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington No. 1 for Working Moms — Arlington is the No. 1 best “city” for working moms, according to a new study. “Women in Arlington earn a median salary of $76,438, and the pay gap is narrower than the U.S. average,” the study notes. [Haven Life]
Local Gov’t Contractor Makes Acquisition — Clarendon-based By Light Professional IT Services LLC yesterday “announced the acquisition of [Tysons-based] Phacil, Inc., a diversified software, cybersecurity, systems engineering and managed services provider to the US Government. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” [PR Newswire]