Arlington, VA

Arlington residents were lined up down the block in Courthouse this morning, on the first day of early voting in Virginia.

The county’s elections office said on Twitter that 200 people cast ballots in the first hour this morning, after voting opened at 8 a.m.

Any registered voter who wants to vote early can do so through Oct. 31, at designated early voting locations. Currently, voting is taking place at the former Wells Fargo bank (2200 Clarendon Blvd) near county government headquarters in Courthouse. Four community centers will also open for early voting on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Voters who don’t want to show up to the polls in person, for fear of COVID-19 or otherwise, can request mail-in ballots through Oct. 23. The first of the ballots are being sent out today. As of early August, about 17,000 Arlingtonians — 10% of active voters — had requested mail-in ballots, according to the elections office.

More information on how to vote in the upcoming general election is available on Arlington County’s 2020 Voter Guide website.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3

More views of the line via social media:

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The candidates for School Board this November are weighing on how they might approach the prospect of additional cuts to the Arlington Public Schools budget next year.

The pandemic forced Arlington Public Schools to slash millions from its budget this year, and additional budget pressures may be ahead. The candidates — independent candidate Symone Walker, and Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy, who received the Democratic endorsement — were asked about that during an online forum this past Tuesday (Sept. 8), hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation.

Walker said she thinks “we need to ask for more money from the county.”

“What we absolutely cannot do is cut funding for curriculum and instruction,” said Walker. “That cannot be sacrificed on any circumstances or any programs that require equity. We have to look at how we’re wasting funds and how we streamline and save on funds. One way we could have done that is to replace iPads with cheaper Chromebooks.”

Diaz-Torres said the community should have more of a say on best choice of action.

“I think this is a really important place where collaboration is absolutely critical: work best with the community to identify where we can make cuts,” Diaz-Torres said. “But also, collaborating at different levels of government. The reality is that the only way that we’re going to get out of that 20-25% budget deficit is with a significant investment from the federal government.”

Priddy said budget cuts will not be easy and will require a deft hand.

“Your budget is comprised of: 80% is your operations and salaries, 10% is debt service, and that leaves your middle 10% where that’s what we have to look at and historically,” he said. “Arlington has looked at how do you cut programs instead of cutting personnel and I think we’re going to have it the same way.”

“This is where my professional background comes in,” Priddy continued. “I’ve had many decisions on what to cut and what’s in the best interest of the business and this way it’ll be the community and being from Arlington and knowing the policies of Arlington, I know that I’m the right person to make those decisions.”

Another topic of conversation was whether APS should try to use parkland to build new schools. The candidates largely said it was an option that should be considered, but stopped short of saying it should actually be pursued.

The candidates, who also spoke before an online meeting of the Arlington Committee of 100 this week, discussed why they were running for what’s usually a fairly thankless job. There are two open seats on the School Board this fall, after incumbents Nancy Van Dorn and Tannia Talento decided not to seek new terms.

Diaz-Torres emphasized that she’s a “former teacher and education policy specialist” who wants to “create an education system where all students have the ability to succeed no matter their race, income, or socioeconomic status.”

Priddy introduced himself as a “parent of two sons in Arlington Public Schools, business leader, and lifelong Arlingtonian, running for one of two open seats on the Arlington County school board because I know that with proper planning, we can build back in more equitable and transparent APS.”

Walker said she is an “APS parent and education activist, serving in the school community for the past decade, and as recently as co-chair of the NAACP.”

Walker added that she’s “running for School Board to be an instrument of change because a lot needs to change.”

“The opportunity gap has not closed in decades, the reading curriculum is leaving students farther behind, struggling students are graduating semi-literate, our Black and Latino students are performing far below their white and Asian counterparts,” she said.

The election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) held a meeting Wednesday with local and national election-focused organizations at Arlington’s Office of Elections in Courthouse.

Warner discussed the threats he feels loom largest over November’s election, specifically stressing his concerns about recent changes made to the U.S. Postal Service.

He also heard from Arlington’s and Alexandria’s respective election directors as well as representatives of The Center for Election Innovation & Research, New Virginia Majority, the Brennan Center for Justice, Fair Vote and Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program.

For Warner, foreign interference, the election system’s integrity and the risk COVID-19 poses to voter safety are the primary dangers facing the November 3 election, in which he is running for reelection.

Attendees raised worries about a national lack of funds for recruiting and training additional poll workers for this election’s unique circumstances. Inadequate public knowledge about the possibility that results may come in well after election, as well as  timelines for requesting mail-in ballots, were also cited as a problem.

The Postal Service recommends voters request ballots no later than 15 days before an election, and then send in a completed ballot no later than 7 days before an election.

“We’ve got to make sure we educate our voters about all the different small nuances that are coming out of the state,” David Hollberg, the marketing manager of the U.S. Postal Service’s NOVA district, said.

According to Gretchen Reinemeyer, Arlington County’s Director of Elections, the county has already received 20,000 requests for mail ballots, a record-setting increase from past years.

Warner recently sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former logistics executive, asking him to reverse changes he has made to the U.S. Postal Service that critics say have unnecessarily slowed operations and could impact how many mail ballots are counted in the election.

DeJoy, who was appointed by President Trump after being a major campaign donor, reassigned around 24 top Postal Service officials this past Friday, further provoking allegations of purposeful inefficiency.

“It’s more than a little fishy when you do a late Friday night reorganization of the management of the post office 85 days before election,” Warner told ARLnow. “Mr. Trump continues to try to undermine people’s confidence in absentee voting.”

Throughout the meeting, an overarching priority was ensuring that American voters will feel the November election was done fairly and without exterior influences.

“The voters have always had confidence … that their voices were going to be reflected in those votes,” Warner said. “Nothing would do Russia’s job better than for that confidence to be undermined.” 

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Earlier this week, thousands of Arlington residents received a mailing from the “Center for Voter Information” with a prepaid “vote from home ballot request form” enclosed.

Intended to make it easier for local residents to vote by mail during the pandemic, the mailing has instead led to mass confusion.

Much of the confusion locally can be traced to an error with the absentee ballot applications sent to 450,000 Fairfax County residents. The return mailing address for the application is, erroneously, that of the City of Fairfax, not Fairfax County.

There have also apparently been problems with mailings sent to other localities by the same get-out-the-vote nonprofit, leading the Virginia Dept. of Elections to issue a press release about it yesterday.

“The Center for Voter Information recently mailed absentee ballot applications to Virginia residents,” the department said, noting that it has no affiliation with the organization. “We are aware that voters in multiple localities that received an absentee ballot application were given pre-paid return envelopes addressed to the incorrect registrar’s office.”

Despite that, the press release notes that “any applications that arrive in the wrong locality’s office will be forwarded immediately to the correct office for processing.” The Center for Voter Information, for its part, says it’s working to fix the problems.

But with heightened concerns about funny business around the 2020 election, some who received the mailings are now under the false impression that they’re “fraudulent.”

“Have you guys come across the letters from the ‘Center for Voter Information?'” wrote one of numerous tipsters that have reached out to ARLnow. “There’s a vote by mail application form within, and they require a SS# to vote by mail (I’m already registered) and a return envelope to the Arlington County Registrar. Sketchy to say the least.”

“My wife received the same scam mail as shown in the article below,” another tipster said, linking to a Fairfax County press release. “I thought it may be of interest.”

Arlington County, meanwhile, issued its own press release Thursday (below), clarifying that the mailing sent to Arlington residents is not a scam and appears to contain correct information.

This week, many voters received pre-filled mail ballot applications from the Center for Voter Information. This is an independent organization not affiliated with the Arlington County Office of Voter Registration & Elections.

The form is the correct Virginia Vote by Mail Application for Arlington and can be used by voters to request a ballot for the Nov. 3 General Election. Voters can fold the application and return it in the provided envelope. It will be delivered directly to the Arlington County Office of Voter Registration & Elections for processing.

While there are reports of inaccurate information in other Virginia localities the ones provided to Arlington voters appear correct. The Center for Voter Information uses publicly available data sources.

Voters are encouraged to check their voter registration record online at vote.elections.virginia.gov. Voters who have submitted a request for a mail ballot in November do not need to submit another request. Ballots will be sent the week of Sept. 18.

Go to vote.arlingtonva.us to learn more about voting options for the November election.

If you have any questions, contact the Office of Voter Registration & Elections at [email protected] or by phone at 703-228-3456.

To be extra safe, voters should verify the pre-filled information in the Center for Voter Information mailer before sending it in, or should simply apply for an absentee ballot directly on the state website.

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Fulfilling a long-delayed promise, Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey dropped off a cashier’s check for $10,000 to the headquarters of the Amalgamated Transit Union International yesterday.

The action is, one would assume, the last chapter in the saga of a political donation that caused Dorsey to lose his seat on the WMATA Board and lose the trust of some of his constituents in Arlington.

Dorsey was ordered by the WMATA Board to return the $10,000 political donation to his Christian Dorsey for County Board political committee due to a conflict of interest — between his role in helping to run the transit agency and his acceptance of a donation from its largest labor union. He also faced ethics scrutiny for not disclosing the donation for four months.

Dorsey resigned from the WMATA Board in February after failing to return the donation; at the time, he did not have sufficient funds in his campaign account to do so. Most of Dorsey’s campaign cash in 2019 went to himself and his wife, in the form of loan repayments and payments for campaign services, respectively.

Dorsey filed for personal bankruptcy in October 2019. The bankruptcy case was still active in federal court as of last week.

Friends helped to raise additional campaign funds for Dorsey in February and March, despite him not being up for reelection until 2023. In addition to donations from fellow elected officials and from individuals, Dorsey accepted $1,000 from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and $2,000 from Steamfitters Local Union #602.

Dorsey wrote a $10,000 check dated Feb. 24, 2020 and sent it to ATU International but, according to reporting by the Washington Post last week, the check was somehow lost when it was sent from the union to the bank.

In response to subsequent inquiries from ARLnow, Dorsey said on Thursday that he had dropped off a cashier’s check drawn from his campaign account. He provided a photo of the check, and ATU International spokesman David Roscow confirmed that it had been received.

“I’d like for this saga to be closed as well, and will cooperate as necessary to do so,” Dorsey told ARLnow earlier in the week, though he added that he saw it as closed “at least as it pertains to my responsibility in the matter.”

“My promise was to return the contribution, which I did, as evidenced through the certified mail receipt and acknowledgment by ATU in February/March,” he said. “That they didn’t process it is a matter I cannot speak to, nor can I reasonably be held responsible for.”

According to the Virginia Dept. of Elections website, Dorsey’s campaign initially submitted a campaign finance report on July 15 that did not include the February return of the donation. That report was amended on July 19, to include the $10,000 check as an expenditure. The Post reported on July 23 that the check was never cashed.

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) President Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters in Rosslyn temporarily shut down last week after a campaign official tested positive for coronavirus, Politico reported Friday afternoon.

The campaign was chided by local officials last month after Vice President Mike Pence visited and was photographed with a sea staffers, all without masks. Now comes word that the office was recently deep cleaned due to a positive COVID-19 test and worries about the virus spreading in the open floor plan office.

More from Politico:

Inside the Trump campaign’s headquarters this week, a team of cleaners scrubbed down surfaces and disinfected equipment — a recognition that coronavirus has found its way into the heart of the president’s reelection bid, regardless of Donald Trump’s public dismissals of recent risk.

The campaign’s headquarters — located on the 14th floor of an Arlington, Va., office building that shares space with multiple businesses — is normally packed with dozens of staffers, often sitting in close proximity to conduct phone calls and other urgent campaign business, said three people with knowledge of its operations.

But the office was shut down for its first deep cleaning in weeks after a senior campaign official tested positive for the virus. The decision to conduct the cleaning came after two months of flouting the Trump administration’s own public health guidance: There are no face coverings or temporary barriers between desks at headquarters, and leaders have limited efforts to implement social distancing.

The article goes on to note that masks are encouraged for staffers outside of the office — “in case they’re spotted by reporters” — but not inside.

“You get made fun of, if you wear a mask,” one unnamed person told Politico, which is also based in Rosslyn. “There’s social pressure not to do it.”

The article then quotes Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who said last month — in response to the Pence photo — that violations of coronavirus-related safety orders are to be enforced by the state Dept. of Health, not local law enforcement.

Dehghani-Tafti told POLITICO this week that she wasn’t aware of any efforts by Virginia officials to enforce safety protections at the Trump campaign’s Arlington headquarters.

“I remain focused on the health and safety of all Arlingtonians and continue to encourage all to social distance, wear face masks, avoid large gatherings and maintain a rigorous regimen of hand washing,” Dehghani-Tafti added.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a fierce Trump critic who represents Arlington in Congress, criticized the campaign again for its reported lax stance toward a pandemic that keeps getting worse in the U.S.

An additional 44 coronavirus cases were reported over the weekend in Arlington, according to the Virginia Dept. of Health, bringing the seven-day trailing rate of new cases to 93 — the highest point since June 14.

File photo via Twitter

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(Updated at 10:45 p.m.) Democrat Takis Karantonis will fill the late Erik Gutshall’s former Arlington County Board seat.

Karantonis, an economist and the former director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, captured 62.4% of the vote. He overperformed among absentee ballots, with 71% of the more than 10,000 absentee ballots cast amid the pandemic.

Susan Cunningham, who described herself as a “progressive Independent,” received 32.6% of the vote. A civically-involved professional and mother of two, Cunningham was endorsed in the race by John Vihstadt, the last non-Democrat to win a seat on the County Board.

Republican Bob Cambridge, a former CIA instructor, received 4.8% of the vote.

In all, 19,866 votes were cast — a turnout of 12.6% of the Arlington electorate. That’s below the 22,264 votes tallied in the 2014 special election, in which Vihstadt first won his seat on the Board.

Besides taking place during a pandemic, today’s election was also hampered by a relatively short campaigning period, and an election day just after the Fourth of July. Karantonis won the Democratic nomination in a closed caucus of about 250 local Democratic party insiders, as the party decried not having enough time to organize a broader primary or caucus.

Karantonis’ initial term on the Board will run through Dec. 31, 2021.

In a press release issued by the Arlington County Democratic Committee, Karantonis pledges “true progressive policies and effective leadership.”

“Arlington voters responded overwhelmingly to Takis’ positive, issues-oriented campaign, surmounting the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus to elect an experienced leader to the County Board,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said. “Takis will be a leader for all Arlingtonians. He has the expertise and empathy to build on the impressive legacy of Erik Gutshall. We know he’ll serve Arlington well.”

During the campaign, Karantonis touted his status as an immigrant as a reason he’ll be particularly effective during these fraught times for the country. He has been a resident of Arlington for 14 years, currently living with his wife in the Arlington Village neighborhood.

“As an immigrant and a first-time candidate, I did not expect to receive the overwhelming amount of support from Arlingtonians throughout every zip code in our county,” Karantonis said shortly after the election was called. “Our victory is meaningful for two specific reasons: it is the recognition of my many years of civic engagement in Arlington and it serves as a testament to Arlington voters’ expectation of true progressive policies and effective leadership.”

Karantonis previously served as executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, and now directs micro-lending for the Ethiopian Community Development Council, an Arlington-based nonprofit. He serves as vice chair of the Alliance for Housing Solutions, and previously was president of the Columbia Heights Civic Association and board chair of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (now known as EcoAction Arlington). A native of Greece, Karantonis lived and worked in several European countries before immigrating to the United States. He speaks eight languages.

Cunningham, in a statement, thanked her opponents “for a spirited and hard-fought race” and wished Karantonis well on the County Board.

“Tonight I want to thank each and every voter in Arlington,” Cunningham said. “And I also want to thank my daughters and my husband, along with an incredible army of volunteers, who pulled out all the stops during a pandemic. This was always an uphill battle — not just against my opponents but also against an entrenched one-party system in Arlington… I truly hope we started some important conversations about the perils of one-party rule and the need for greater accountability.”

“I hope all of our elected officials will get serious about transparency, accountability, and improved School-County collaboration,” Cunningham concluded. “I have been deeply honored to meet and talk with so many Arlington residents. I look forward to many more discussions in the future.”

More on the turnout from the county elections office:

File photo

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While many elections are spaced out over months, sometimes even years at the presidential level, three Arlington candidates have been running for County Board in a 61-day sprint towards the special election on July 7.

Takis Karantonis (D), Susan Cunningham (I) and Bob Cambridge (R) are all first-time candidates in the most unconventional race in recent memory.

“It’s unprecedented and extremely short,” said Karantonis. “We have the COVID-19 [pandemic] and it is a special election [held] right after Fourth of July. Everything you can imagine that is non-typical for an election is typical for this one.”

The 61-Day Campaigns

The special election was triggered by County Board member Erik Gutshall’s resignation in April. Ten days later, Gutshall died after a battle with brain cancer. On May 7, Karantonis bested three other candidates to be chosen as the Democratic nominee in a closed caucus.

Karantonis, and economist and the former director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, faces opposition in the election from Cunningham, a business executive and independent who has been involved in several major planning efforts, and Cambridge, a Republican and former instructor in the CIA.

For each candidate, it’s been a struggle to adapt over the span of weeks to national and local changes — from the phased reopening to the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd.

“It was right at the end of April [when Gutshall resigned], ” Cunningham said. “I mulled it over, talked it over, then filed before the end of the month and before the party caucuses. It was not particularly premeditated — it was an unusual time with a lot of grieving and a lot of need. The rest of us were shaken by Erik’s death and we had to get a lot of signatures in the middle of the pandemic.”

Without a party infrastructure to back her up, Cunningham said she has had to take a grassroots approach in a compressed election cycle when traditional door-to-door campaigning grassroots tactics weren’t viable. Cunningham considered throwing her hat into the ring for the Democratic primary but said she felt more comfortable running as an independent.

“I thought long and hard about whether to run as an independent because there’s only, like, one example of that working,” Cunningham said, referring to independent John Vihstadt’s victories over Democratic candidates until he was bested in 2018. “It really was a values-based decision. I’ve always through local government should be non-partisan. The issues are not the national party issues; it’s potholes and schools.” Read More

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Three candidates running to replace the late Erik Gutshall on the County Board met over Zoom for a debate hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100.

The special election candidates — Takis Karantonis (D), Bob Cambridge (R) and Susan Cunningham (I) — all called for a focus on equity and discussed ways to navigate a tighter county budget.

Karantonis, who serves as vice-chair of the Alliance for Housing Solutions and is former executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, laid out a several-pronged approach to how to focus the budget as the county works to manage a more limited revenue stream.

“COVID is an unexpected stress on our budget,” Karantonis said. “Citizens expect to have a government that reacts to such unexpected impacts. Right now, don’t know how deep or broad COVID economic impact will be. The focus [should be] social safety net expenditures as our first priority. Five-thousand families are on food assistance and the region has lost 300,000 jobs.”

Karantonis said in reviewing capital investments, the County Board should prioritize those that leverage external funding, like state and federal grants. Other priorities, he said, include micro-loans to help small businesses get back on their feet and trying to rescue Metro and the Arlington Transit bus service, which have seen substantial ridership losses during the pandemic.

“Then [we can] come out of this with a better base to decide how we will structure the county later,” Takis said. “I’m an economist, I’m trained to do this, and I’ve done it in the private sector and non-profit sector. The best focus is on economic development to rebound.”

Cambridge, an Army veteran and former CIA employee who works as a lawyer in Arlington, said his campaign is built on the idea that different political ideologies have good ideas that can contribute to each other. Cambridge said his approach to recovery would be built on incorporating more flexibility into the budget to address these sorts of crises.

“The budget is highly strained right now,” Cambridge said. “We have got to be flexible and respond as our understanding of challenges become more and more obvious. We do have a lot of city services we need. That is the sinews we all need. We really need to do things in a different way.”

Cunningham, who worked at the Internal Revenue Service and founded the nonprofit EdBuild, said the county should do more to improve how projects are financed.

“There are a lot of opportunities in our budget for improving our spending,” Cunningham said. “Not eliminating, but improving implementation. Our projects take too long, our community engagement takes too long, we don’t look back and do audits of capital programs. There’s a lot of room to improve and be more accountable.”

Cunningham said the budget should prioritize updating the outdated infrastructure, particularly Arlington’s stormwater and flood mitigation systems.

Cunningham and Cambridge both argued for a data-driven approach to solving issues of inequality on Arlington.

“Data and facts should guide us,” Cunningham said. “Our data elements tell us the story of suspensions that begin in kindergarten for black and brown children at much higher rates, and of COVID outcomes right now with over 50% of cases in the Hispanic community. The numbers tell us where we’re doing okay and where we’re not. We should use that to guide our efforts and evaluate the implementation of changes.”

Karantonis argued addressing inequality in Arlington has to go deeper than data and statistics, though, and must look at how different communities in Arlington are prioritized or ignored in county discussions. He pointed to a situation where he said the civic association of a historically Black neighborhood was overlooked in county discussions.

“We have to be active about doing this… including restorative justice efforts and looking at the educational system, making sure people have access to resources,” Takis said. “The numbers are great, but what matters is how people feel.”

Also during the debate, the candidates discussed transit on Columbia Pike. None — including Karantonis, a booster of the Pike streetcar plan while at CPRO — expressed an interest in reviving the cancelled streetcar project, though the candidates “did press for increased attention to mass-transit along the Columbia Pike corridor, and leveled criticism at the county government for not acting fast enough or going far enough in meeting the transit needs of residents there,” the Sun Gazette reported.

The special election is scheduled to be held on July 7.

Image via Arlington Committee of 100

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(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a motorcade arrived at a Rosslyn office building.

Out stepped former Arlington resident Mike Pence. The vice president then made his way up to the offices of the Trump-Pence 2020 reelection campaign to rally the troops amid falling poll numbers.

After it was over, he sent out a tweet: “Stopped by to see the great men and women of the Trump-Pence Team today! Thank you for all of the hard work, keep it up! #FourMoreYears #KAG”

The tweet showed Pence standing in front of a sea of staff members in the Arlington office, with everyone flashing Trump’s signature double thumbs-up.

The problem: staffers were not social distancing and no one was wearing masks, a likely violation of Virginia’s mask requirement for indoor public spaces, as pointed out by local Democratic operative Ben Tribbett. Shortly after he did, Pence’s tweet was deleted.

The incident made some national headlines. While the spread of coronavirus has slowed in Arlington, it has not gone away, and other states are seeing a surge in cases.

Arlington’s Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a stalwart critic of the president, piled on with more criticism.

“This isn’t ‘law and order,'” Beyer said, in reference to Trump’s antagonistic tweets. “It’s a huge problem.”

Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said in a statement Thursday afternoon that no laws were broken that her office can prosecute. She said workplaces are exempted from rules about large gatherings, while the mask requirement is enforced by Virginia Dept. of Health, not local law enforcement.

The full press release about the incident from Beyer’s office is below.

Read More

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Former Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt has endorsed a fellow independent in the July 7 County Board special election.

The race, to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall on the Board, features three candidates: Democratic nominee Takis Karantonis, independent Susan Cunningham, and Republican Bob Cambridge.

Vihstadt, who won a historic victory in 2014 before losing his reelection bid in 2018, said in a statement today that Cunningham is a civic leader who will “bring a renewed focus on valuing what’s essential in an open, transparent, and equitable way.” Cunningham said she welcomed the endorsement and is committed to nonpartisan governance.

More from a press release:

“I came to know and respect Susan’s community accomplishments during my County Board tenure. As demonstrated by her collaborative leadership on the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) and on the planning body for the renovated and expanded Dorothy Hamm (formerly Stratford) Middle School, she has a knack for bringing diverse minds together, cutting to the chase, and getting things done,” said Vihstadt.

Vihstadt continued, “We live in precarious times. Susan’s sober, well-informed and independent outlook on what local government can and can’t afford is exactly what the Board needs right now. She’ll speak truth to power and bring a renewed focus on valuing what’s essential in an open, transparent, and equitable way.”

“I am very proud to have earned John’s endorsement,” said Cunningham. “Like John, I’ll bring inclusive, non-partisan leadership, listen to all perspectives, and ask tough questions,” Cunningham added. “John proved that an Independent candidate can win in Arlington. Serving on the Board is not about advancing partisan agendas or political stepping-stones. It’s about doing what is right for all of Arlington — full stop.”

Cunningham’s campaign website — which adopts Vihstadt’s signature purple color — describes the Yale-educated mother of two as “a seasoned executive, entrepreneur, engineer, education reformer, and community leader” who “builds collaborative solutions that break through the status quo without breaking the bank.”

“From COVID-19 to school capacity and Amazon, the next few years will be among the most challenging in Arlington’s history,” the website says. “Susan brings the context and skills Arlington needs now, to act swiftly on top priorities for residents and businesses.”

Among the two other candidates in the race, Karantonis is an economist by training and the former director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. His website says he is “committed to ensuring that our community builds on our legacy of safe and walkable neighborhoods; ethnic and cultural diversity; excellent schools, public places and facilities; fiscal responsibility and accountable governance; and an unwavering commitment to community involvement.”

Cambridge’s website acknowledges the long odds of a Republican being elected in deep blue Arlington, and adds a bit of self-deprecating humor.

“While success is unlikely – there have been no Republican members of the Arlington County Board since 1983 – it is an opportunity to share some ideas and that is to my mind well worth doing,” the website says. A banner at the top reads: “Committee to Elect Bob Cambridge: So far that’s just me, but I am working on convincing my wife.”

Cambridge, an Army veteran who now works as an attorney, says he wants “to see more effective and efficient use of the taxes that I pay each year” and “more ideas can advance that agenda.”

The deadline to register to vote, in time for the July 7 special election, is today (May 26). Early voting is currently underway and absentee ballots can be requested through June 16.

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