Virginia had its presidential primary long ago and DC’s Democratic primary Tuesday won’t affect who wins the nomination. But if you’re a Democrat in DC or any voter in Arlington, your vote will absolutely matter in local races. Please vote!
Erik Gutshall (Arlington) and Robert White (DC).
Why it’s important to vote in Arlington
Arlington’s race may see low turnout because there’s no federal or statewide contest at the same time, but the county board race will have a big impact on the future of Arlington. It’s an important election.
Decades ago, Arlington was a declining inner-ring suburb where even getting a Home Depot was a faint hope. But a strategy of creating urban villages around the new Metro system has transformed the county into a national model.
The strong tax base from these urban areas (it gets 60% of its tax revenue from 11% of its land) let the county keep taxes low and services high. But when the recession, sequestration, and BRAC took a big bite out of office occupancy in Arlington, it created an opening for ambitious politicians to attack the county’s leaders and appeal to voters who’d rather the county do less rather than more.
Libby Garvey was one of them. She has never articulated a strong vision for moving Arlington forward. For Arlington to retreat into mediocrity by slashing its ambitions to build a better place to live risks sending Arlington back to the past.
Erik Gutshall has demonstrated his commitment to a strong future for Arlington as a member of its planning commission. Also, as the owner of a home services business, he knows what it will take to woo businesses (and keep the county from driving them away); how to spend responsibly but also invest as necessary.
Residents of Arlington can speak loudly on Tuesday for a forward-looking — and responsible-spending — county by showing up to the polls and electing Erik Gutshall.
The primary is open to people of any party registration and all county board seats are elected at large, so all eligible voters can participate. Find your polling place here. Polls are open from 6 am to 7 pm.
Why it’s important to vote in DC
While everyone on the DC Council is either a Democrat or a lifelong Democrat registered as an independent, that doesn’t mean there aren’t big differences between members — liberal versus conservative, urbanist versus not, motivated by a desire to improve DC versus personal ambition.
Too much (often all) of the political coverage is about things like who is on the “Green Team” or not, who’s angling for another political office or not, and so on. That’s mostly garbage. Greater Greater Washington focused on important issues facing the city, and if you agree with what we talk about, it’s important to try to figure out which candidates actually would cast good votes on critical legislation.
Vincent Orange rarely does. Often it seems he doesn’t even care about the issue, but is interested in angling for some political advantage, like when he agreed to flip a position on a key tax policy vote in exchange for an earmark for a parade at a theater whose board he’s on.
I’ve talked to Robert White many times and he absolutely believes in the basic values our community holds dear. If you don’t believe me, believe all of the other urbanist, environmental, and progressive groups and individuals that are supporting him.
David Garber also shares these values, but White has more experience, more political support, and the best chance of winning. From the beginning, I said I hoped people would figure out which of the two has the strongest support and all run to that side, hard as it might be for some.
Vince Gray was a dedicated, solid supporter of good urbanism, of a sustainable DC, of walking, biking, and transit, of adding housing to keep prices affordable, and much more. He’s running against Yvette Alexander, one of the councilmembers who’s been most consistently and openly contemptuous of the vision for DC we share here at Greater Greater Washington.
While allegations in a long-running investigation are potentially quite serious, that investigation was concluded with no charges, and he was objectively excellent on policy. Quite simply, having Gray on the council will shift a lot of votes in the right direction, and that matters.
Find your polling place here. You must be a registered Democrat in DC to vote in the Democratic primary (and no other party has a contested race).