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Thursday, December 8, 2022
ArlingtonDemocrats aiming for consistent messaging on Missing Middle

Democrats aiming for consistent messaging on Missing Middle

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Leaders of the Arlington County Democratic Committee appear concerned enough about the impact the Missing Middle housing debate could have on the Nov. 8 election to give their foot soldiers a tutorial on addressing the matter with the voters.

Democratic captains of the county’s 54 voting precincts have been summoned to an Oct. 9 meeting with County Board members Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantontis, where the issue will be discussed.

It was unclear whether the precinct captains were being invited to attend at their discretion, or were being more aggressively pushed to show up.

Whether the Oct. 9 meeting represents a red alert, a yellow alert or merely the desire by Democrats to cover all bases is hard to divine from the outside looking in. But the Arlington County Republican Committee used Sun Gazette coverage of the special meeting to suggest the controversy over Missing Middle was getting to Democrats.

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“Dems in Disarray” is how the subject line of an e-mail from the Republican Committee to its own faithful described the situation. (A recent poll of those GOP faithful found most, though not all, opposed the Missing Middle proposal as currently conceived.)

Though left unsaid at the Oct. 5 Democratic Committee meeting where the date was set, one presumes the goal of the precinct-captain meeting is to disseminate consistent messaging on the contentious topic, which then will percolate down from the precinct captains to the roughly 700 Democrats meeting voters and handing out sample ballots on Election Day.

The current proposal to effectively eliminate single-family zoning in Arlington has become the most controversial hot-potato in local politics since the Columbia Pike streetcar fight of a decade ago. Democrats do not expect community discontent to imperil the re-election bid of de Ferranti, but if challengers Audrey Clement and Adam Theo can collectively hold the incumbent to less than 60 percent, it will widely be perceived as a rebuke to the current, all-Democratic County Board.

(Clement, who has campaigned for office consistently for more than a decade, opposes Missing Middle, while Theo, making his second run for County Board, says it should be implemented more aggressively than de Ferranti appears willing to go.)

The Oct. 9 meeting will be open only to precinct captains, not other party activists, the public or press, according to Democratic leaders. Were more than two County Board members to take part in the gathering, it’s likely it would fall under Virginia’s open-meetings laws, allowing the public to take part.

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