With local-election season now upon us – that snuck up on us! – we are going to proffer our usual, and usually ignored, advice to those candidates in the local area attempting to unseat incumbents at the ballot box.
(In Arlington, that includes the three independent challengers for the County Board seat currently being defended by Takis Karantonis, and Republicans and independents running against incumbent Dels. Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan.)
Challengers, we do not want to hear platitudes. Frankly, we don’t care much about your life stories. Fourteen-point policy plans are about 13 too long for our attention spans. We’re not even much interested in what you’d do if you end up being elected, because the odds of that are long and the chance, even if elected, you will have much of a chance to implement a policy platform (particularly among the County Board oligarchy) is practically nil.
What we DO want to hear from you is this: What is the incumbent you are seeking to unseat doing wrong? Why is it therefore imperative that he (they are all “he” this time out) be ousted?
If you can’t answer that simple question – or if you choose not to do so – how in the world do you expect voters to vote for you, or us to endorse you?
We bring this up at the start of just about every election, and it is roughly at this point in the editorial that we note the case of Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who while not our favorite candidate, was very direct in the 2019 Democratic primary in pointing out what she believed incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos was doing wrong in office.
Deghani-Tafti gave people a reason to support her (even if we were not among them). That, plus a whoooole lot of outside cash, enabled her to eke out a victory in the primary.
So candidates of 2021, you have your marching orders. If you won’t draw clear distinctions between yourself and those you seek to topple, we (and voters) will lose interest in you verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry quickly.