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ArlingtonDemocrats set plan for 2023 School Board caucus

Democrats set plan for 2023 School Board caucus

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Whether they will need it or not remains an open question, but the Arlington County Democratic Committee on Dec. 7 approved the timing and rules for a 2023 School Board caucus.

The action also sets a filing window of Jan. 2 through Feb. 22 for those seeking the Democratic endorsement for the single School Board seat on the November 2023 ballot.

That seat currently is held by Reid Goldstein. County Democratic chairman Steve Baker said Goldstein (who was not at the Dec. 7 meeting) had not given him any indication whether he plans to seek a third term, but odds seem to favor his retirement.

The caucus only would be needed if more than one aspirant materializes seeking the Democratic nod. If only one candidate emerges – as was the case this year with Bethany Sutton – the Democratic Committee would hold an up-or-down vote on the endorsement at a springtime meeting.

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Under the adopted plan, caucus voting would be held over the course of three days:

• May 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Charles Drew Elementary School.
• May 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Campbell Elementary School.
• May 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School.

If more than two candidates are on the ballot, the party will use instant-runoff voting to determine the winner.

Earlier this year, the Democratic Committee found itself under assault from some quarters over the running of its School Board caucuses. As a result, party leaders agreed to some changes, but left the format largely intact.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, Baker was quizzed why the party wouldn’t use electronic voting, as had been the case for one caucus several years ago. His response: That innovation had been funded by a $60,000 grant, and absent similar outside funding, the party does not have the cash to hold electronic balloting.

“To us, it is a lot of money,” he said. “Financially, we’re just not able, convenient as it was.”

Veteran party activist Bob Platt said the proposal adopted Dec. 7 represented a step forward, given that it expanded voting options to two full weekend days plus a weekday evening.

“This is the most voting [hours] we have ever done in a School Board race,” he said.

In case of the very unlikely chance that no candidate files for the caucus, Democrats will have until June to come up with a candidate, with the logistics of doing so left to the party’s steering committee.

In Virginia, School Board seats formally are non-partisan positions, but political parties can, and frequently do, endorse candidates. Democrats have held a monopoly on the five Arlington School Board seats since the conclusion of service of Republican-backed independent David Foster, who won two terms before retiring in 2007.

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