Arlington Republicans voted relatively narrowly on Oct. 7 to take no position on the four local bond referendums on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The 16-11 vote forestalled what likely would have been a second vote urging the Arlington electorate to reject all four referendums.
Even though a survey of members of the Arlington County Republican Committee showed large majorities opposed to supporting the bonds, party chair Andrew Loposser suggested to the party faithful it would be better to eschew taking an official party stand.
“I don’t think we should take a position on the bond issues,” he said at the Oct. 7 meeting, although for a time it appeared as if those participating in the online meeting would force his hand. After a voice vote suggested that the side wanting no formal position appeared to have more support, a (rare for the party) roll call took place, leading to the 16-11 final tally.
Left mostly unsaid during the discussion: If Republicans came out against the bonds for transportation, schools, infrastructure and parks in a community where those referendums typically garner 70-percent support among voters, it could hurt the local GOP in rounding up needed votes for its candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
“It’s the year to maximize support for our nominees,” said former party chair Scott McGeary, who supported the decision to take no position on the bonds.
Prior to the vote, the only significant conversation among Republicans about the package at the meeting was focused on the school bond. On hand attempting to entice support (or at least neutrality) on that $23 million package were Alistair Watson and Rebecca Hunter, co-chairs of the bond-passage committee set up in conjunction with the Arlington school system.
Hunter said the 2021 school bond is “very targeted” at making improvements to security, health and accessibility, and shouldn’t be rejected because the public was frustrated by some previous decisions on facilities by the School Board and top staff on capital spending.
“They’ve made some extremely egregious, horrible decisions,” noted Hunter, who serves on the school system’s Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs.
The decision to not take a position on the school bond or others may have left some participants vexed, but party communications chair Matthew Hurtt said the differences of opinion embody a diversity of viewpoints in the GOP that “produces more energy and enthusiasm.”
“The membership is more robust when the conversations are robust,” Hurtt said.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee in August voted to support all four bond referendums. Earlier this month, Arlington Greens voted to oppose the park bond and stay neutral on the other three.