Photo by Frank Gruber on Flickr.

The major attention in Virginia this election cycle has focused on federal races, with high-stakes ad wars for both the Presidential and US Senate races. However, Virginia voters also have the opportunity to make some very important choices on local matters this November.

We suggest that voters reject statewide question 1 on eminent domain. We hope Alexandria residents will re-elect Mayor Bill Euille. In Arlington, we recommend that residents support all 4 bond measures and, despite some reservations, re-elect Libby Garvey to the County Board.

Question 1 (eminent domain): We recommend voting AGAINST Question 1.

This proposed amendment to Virginia’s state constitution would enact new rules on local governments’ eminent domain authority. Specifically, the amendment prohibits governments from using eminent domain for economic development, and broadly redefines takings law to require government compensation for any action that reduces access to private property.

The latter issue is particularly troublesome. As several editorials have noted, the amendment is worded so broadly that it might require local governments to give significant financial compensation to property owners for any number of mundane and necessary actions. For example, if a city in Virginia adds a median to a road in front of a business, even without actually taking any of the owners’ property, they could have to to pay every property owner because the access is in some way reduced.

Residents had some concerns about the breadth of eminent domain after the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, but the Virginia legislature already addressed these issues with a 2007 law. The overly broad language in this amendment would put a stranglehold on local government in Virginia. Routine projects could become prohibitively expensive, and get mired in court for years at a time. We urge you to vote against the amendment.

Alexandria Mayor: We recommend voting for Bill Euille.

Alexandria voters face a stark choice, between one candidate who is strongly pro-smart growth, and another who would force growth out of Alexandria farther from the regional core.

Mr. Euille, the 3-term incumbent, has shepherded extensive community planning efforts for redevelopment in Potomac Yard, the Beauregard Corridor, and Alexandria Waterfront. He has also pursued a transit-friendly transportation agenda pushing BRT corridors and an infill Metro station, with a possible streetcar connection to Arlington.

The challenger, Andrew Macdonald, is a classic anti-growth candidate who proposes to rein back the density of redevelopment projects. He offers no explanation for how the city or region should accommodate growth, except to say “not here.”

Arlington County Board: We recommend voting for Libby Garvey.

None of the three candidates for Arlington County Board have engendered our confidence, but the incumbent, Ms. Garvey, shows the most promise.

Transportation planning has been the dominant theme during this election. Unfortunately, Ms. Garvey and her challengers Matthew Wavro and Audrey Clement have all displayed little understanding of the subject. All oppose the Columbia Pike streetcar. Mr. Wavro is concerned that it will increase automobile congestion, Ms. Clement says money would be better spent on schools and libraries, and Ms. Garvey says BRT does the same thing at lower cost.

But transportation models do not suggest the streetcar will increase congestion, the streetcar’s funding sources cannot be spent on schools and libraries because they’re fully dedicated to transportation regardless of mode, and buses are profoundly different from streetcar service for many reasons.

Given their positions thus far, we do not offer a full endorsement to any of the candidates. However, we believe that Libby Garvey has the most open mind and is the least likely to damage Arlington’s decades-long commitment to smart growth. We are hopeful that she will win reelection, and with more experience become as strong an advocate for progressive urbanism and transportation as Arlington’s other County Board members.

Arlington County bond referenda: We recommend voting for FOR all 4.

Arlington is requesting authority to issue bonds for 4 purposes: Metro and transportation, parks and recreation, community infrastructure, and public schools. All 4 are worthy priorities for County funding.

The Metro and transportation bonds are of particular importance. They will fund continuing maintenance upgrades to Metrorail, Arlington’s bicycle and pedestrian initiatives, and provide matching funds that are necessary to obtain some federal and state grants.

These are the official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors discussed endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong consensus in favor of endorsing for or against each issue or candidate.