He may not come out on top, but Arlington County Board candidate Adam Theo believes that the real winner in the 2022 election will be the Missing Middle housing proposal.
Theo is a supporter of the proposal to largely eliminate single-family zoning throughout the community, and shares the ballot with County Board incumbent Matt de Ferranti, a Democrat who also supports Missing Middle – although remains a little hazy on what specifics he will back when push comes to shove.
Those two are on the ballot against independent Audrey Clement, who has latched on to concerns about Missing Middle in many single-family neighborhoods across the county as the signature issue in her latest of many runs for office.
Clement has positioned the County Board race as a referendum on Missing Middle. That’s just fine with Theo.
“What matters is the combined [vote] totals of myself and Mr. de Ferranti,” said Theo, making his second bid for elected office. “It will be a majority, and I’m expecting it to be a supermajority, of voters who express support for Missing Middle.”
If so, “that should put a lid on Ms. Clement’s and Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future’s shameful misinformation campaign to scare homeowners for their own political gain,” Theo told the Sun Gazette.
Clement, not surprisingly, sees it differently. She says that if she and Theo garner more than 50 percent between them, that will show a level of voter dissatisfaction with the County Board that has not raised its head since the 2014 election that brought independent John Vihstadt into office.
Both Clement and Theo were on the 2021 County Board ballot, Clement finishing second and Theo fourth but both well behind incumbent Democrat Takis Karantonis, who picked up just over 60 percent of the vote to 18 percent for Clement, 13 percent for Mike Cantwell and 6 percent for Theo.
Missing Middle was well down the list of issues discussed during that campaign, and did not begin to seep into the community’s civic consciousness until earlier this year.
Clement thinks that Theo – who positions himself as part-libertarian, part-progressive – could garner up to 10 percent of the vote, taking it largely from urban areas like the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridors. Her prediction is that de Ferranti will receive between 45 and 50 percent of the vote and she will receive between 40 and 45 percent.
(Clement’s best performance in a decade’s worth of runs was 31 percent against Democratic incumbent Jay Fisette in 2013. That result perhaps should have been a wake-up call to Democrats that the public was getting antsy over its policies, but the warning was not heeded – leading to Vihstadt’s twin victories of 2014.)
Despite proposals to move to a ranked-choice-voting system, Arlington’s County Board races remain winner-take-all affairs.