The apex remains unchanged, but a lot of the other stones in the Arlington County Civic Federation’s leadership pyramid will look different when the 105-year-old organization reconvenes in the fall.
Allan Gajadhar, a delegate from the Cherrydale Citizens Association, was unopposed for the one-year term. He had become president while filling out the term of Sandy Newton, who was forced to resign due to illness in early 2020.
Gajadhar will provide continuity, but new names will rotate in for most other leadership positions.
Nicole Merlene, who was in the leadership pipeline to become Civic Federation president until departing to make a run – ultimately unsuccessful – for state Senate in 2019, was elected as vice president, and Stacy Meyer was elected treasurer. They, like Gajadhar, were unopposed.
The race for secretary, however, was highly competitive, with incumbent Allen Norton of the Bluemont Civic Association facing off against Alistair Watson of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association.
“Both choices are outstanding,” said the federation’s schools-committee chair Michael Beer. But voters opted for the challenger; Watson won 65 percent of the vote, with Norton receiving 35 percent. There were a handful of abstentions.
“I have no beef with Allen,” Watson said, but “a lot of these issues require a fresh face and a fresh mind. I will put my all into it. A strong secretary will lead to a strong Civic Federation.”
Norton suggested Watson was stretched thin with other leadership roles in the organization, and would not be able to give the secretary post full time and attention.
Elected to the board of directors were Eric Cassell, Nadia Conyers, Mary Glass, Mona Steffen, Julia Tanner and Chris Wimbush. All but Cassell are new arrivals in the posts.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Civic Federation’s leadership team will be finding a way to placate both those eager to get back to in-person meetings (which have been on hold for 16 months) and those who have grown accustomed to online gatherings.
“There’s a lot that has been missed by not being face-to-face,” said Gajadhar, who suggested some kind of hybrid approach to monthly meetings might be worked out.
The Civic Federation has just wrapped up its 105th year. Starting with six homeowners’ associations, it has grown to 85 member organizations.