It was an annually recurring back-and-forth, a little belated perhaps, but one that had a surprise twist at the end. And it all revolved around campaign sign-swiping.
Acknowledging she was a little tardy compared to most years, perennial candidate Audrey Clement used the Jan. 21 Arlington County Board meeting to provide a data dump as to the number of her campaign signs she said were removed – “confiscated” in her view – from medians in the days following the Nov. 8 election.
Clement’s tally: About 525 of 750 signs that had been placed in public medians during the election season were gone before she or her supporters could get to them before the deadline for candidates to remove them.
“This is clearly illegal,” Clement said of her signs being removed. “Most of the medians had been wiped clean.”
Clement fingered the Arlington County Democratic Committee, or ACDC, as the “obvious suspect.”
“My signs were gone where the ACDC had removed theirs,” she said.
Clement came in second, with 28 percent of the vote, in the 2022 County Board race, trailing incumbent Democrat Matt de Ferranti, who took 61 percent. Independent Adam Theo received about 10 percent of the vote.
Clement has been running for office – usually County Board but sometimes School Board – for more about a decade. And she frequently comes to County Board meetings post-election to complain about signage, albeit expecting little help from Democratic board members.
“Welcome to the People’s Republic of Arlington, where the law is what ACDC says it is,” Clement said to wrap up the two minutes allotted to her during public comment.
It is at this point in the annual dance that the board members usually would at least feign commiserating with Clement, saying their signs, too, often are scooped up by others against the rules.
But the 2023 board chair, Christian Dorsey, who is serving his last of eight years as a board member, decided instead to channel what appeared to be an “I really don’t care” attitude not seen on the dais in some years.
“If you have allegations of illegality, this is actually not the most effective forum for you to take them,” Dorsey sniffed in response. “You should contact law enforcement. I don’t see how there can be any relief that can come from this board.”
Dorsey may not have been wrong, but he certainly wasn’t sticking to the script in this annual back-and-forth.