From Matt de Ferranti <[email protected]>
Subject Recapping June: Election Results & Board Meetings
Date July 14, 2023 9:34 PM
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Dear Friends,

I write today to offer thoughts, to be accountable to you regarding the June primary elections, and to summarize the June Board meetings. I am sorry for the slight delay in writing as we are now into July and, much to my surprise, already in mid-summer.
Brooke and Zonie and I took a vacation this past month, a fact that contributed to the delay in my writing to you, and, perhaps, a bit of relief from my emails that led up to the June 20th election :)
The June 20th primary election resulted in 28,897 Arlingtonians casting their ballots, simultaneously a record for an "off, off year," and less than half of the number of people who voted last year when more than 86,808 residents voted in the general election in the year I sought re-election. An "off, off year" is an election when the Presidency, the Virginia Governor's race, and Mid-Term Congressional elections are NOT on the ballot.

The results from the perspective of the candidates that I endorsed were simultaneously positive as a whole, but not all that I hoped for. That is, in some sense, the nature of a functioning democracy.

In the County Board election, I endorsed two candidates for the two open seats, Maureen Coffey and JD Spain. I am thrilled Maureen won as she shares my commitment to inclusive economic growth, worked extremely hard, is a dedicated listener, and will be a leader on climate issues.

JD ran extremely hard, finishing with approximately 1.5% fewer votes in the final rank choice round than he would have needed to win, after earning 20% of the vote in the first round. I am disappointed in this result; I believe JD's leadership on economic security for those most in need, mental health issues, and environmental protection would have been an asset to the Board next year.

I congratulate Susan Cunningham on winning the Democratic nomination along with Maureen. Susan and I worked together on the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission and I know we can and will work well together on our safety net, schools, public engagement, and environment. I look forward to working with Susan.

Rank choice voting in this County Board primary has been the subject of much debate. As I said last year when I ran for re-election, I see benefits and committed to supporting it in the primary, but I believe that the details of implementation are key as we consider rank choice further. It is important to note that Virginia law required us to use the method of tabulation that we used, removing the last place finisher each time. That means rank choice in a two candidate race required reaching a 33.3% threshold and not two separate, concurrent elections. In my view, reasonable concerns have been raised about rank choice voting when two candidates are on the ballot. Those concerns are not dispositive in my thinking on rank choice, but I think they are reasonable.

Three last points on the County Board race.
* First, it was a very close election. If just 400 Arlingtonians had voted differently, the election results could have led to the two other leading vote-getters winning. I believe the closeness of the election should lead us to be humble about the results and to respect both the election results and our neighbors views. For the full results, go here: [link removed]
* Second, while missing middle clearly seems to have been the most important single issue of this election, the result seems to reflect what I submit appears to be relatively split thinking on the issue. Having one Primary winner who was broadly supportive and one who had concerns might be reflective of where our community is. Recognizing that there are other issues and there is nuance on housing issues remains my view.
* Third, I want to thank Tony Weaver, Natalie Roy, and Jonathan Droomgole for running. Teddy Roosevelt is still right: it is not the critic who counts, but those who enter the arena and put themselves forward. Tony, Natalie, and Jonathan each added to the debate.

The Commonwealth Attorney's race was perhaps the most hotly contested race on the ballot last month. I am proud to have stood with Parisa Dehghani-Tafti as she won re-election. As I said volunteering on election day and many, many times this year, I believe Parisa is the right person to see through and implement the reforms she started four years ago. I acknowledge those who felt differently and voted for Josh Katcher and respectfully ask that we all reach for grace as we work to thoughtfully and fairly reform our criminal justice system to align with our ideals. I commit to working with Parisa and her office, our police, and our public defender's office to that end.
Jose Quiroz with his family on Election Night.
I am proud to have supported Jose Quiroz for Sheriff. I believe Jose's diligent commitment to the community ultimately won out in this race. Just last night, I spoke with Jose and he shared that he had spent the last full day engaging with his staff in exactly the manner that led me to endorse him. Wanda Younger and James Herring raised important issues as well. I thank them both for running and commit to working toward a safe and progressive jail over the years to come.
I joined our Community Services Board Chair Wendy Crawford and our Department of Human Services last month for a celebration of the work staff and volunteers do to serve those with mental health issues, in our jails, and those with other disabilities.
At our June meetings, the County Board approved an apartment building in Crystal City, additional high school construction through the Arlington Career Center, and approved an increase in the amount that Board Members could be paid over the next four years. Missing middle housing also became allowable on July 1st.

The apartment building in Crystal City is an 11 story building that will add housing supply and result in significant community benefits in the form of transportation, public space, and affordable housing. The building will likely house some of the residents who come as part of Amazon's HQ2 and is a step forward in terms of economic development and housing supply for the space that has been occupied by the Americana Hotel, if you know that building.

The Arlington Career Center approval is a long-anticipated step that will address school capacity issues at the high school level when complete in 2027. There was debate about the compatibility of some standards with the neighborhood and the environmental standards at this site with a fair critique that the building could be closer to net zero. I shared these concerns, but felt the project was worth moving forward at this stage even as I hope the neighborhood concerns can be addressed and APS can meet higher environmental standards in the course of construction.

On Board salaries, I voted to increase the salary cap--the allowable amount that Board Members could be paid over the next four years--to keep pace with 100% of median income for an individual. The amount allowed--but subject to whether future Boards put the money in each annual budget--is $119K for Board Members and $125K for the Chair. I believe this action is the right thing to do--serving on the Board is not a part time job or a job that should require a salary significantly below median income.

To read a summary of Board actions at the June meetings, go here: [link removed]

Last, expanded housing option/missing middle became allowable by right on July 1st. Eight applications have been submitted by July 5th: [link removed] Resources regarding EHO/missing middle are available here: [link removed] You may remember there is an annual cap. I think tracking this carefully is good policy. I also acknowledge the fact that there is a lawsuit objecting to missing middle. I believe we will be successful in the lawsuit and that the Board and staff were both well within the law and thorough and fair, although perhaps not perfect on process.

Thank you for reading and for the opportunity to serve you and Arlington,


Authorized by Matt for Arlington

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