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Friday, March 31, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionEditorial: Governance proposals worth a look

Editorial: Governance proposals worth a look

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We’re not going to say we’re enraptured by the proposal to change how Arlington County Board and School Board members are elected, as promulgated by the Civic Federation’s Task Force in Governance and Election Reform (or “TiGER”) last week.

But it’s an interesting concept and certainly deserves further airing.
To borrow liberally from our news coverage:

• Currently, the five-member bodies have one seat on the ballot three of every four years, with the remaining two other seats the fourth year.

• The TiGER proposal, which seeks to expand membership on each body to seven, would have four County Board members and three School Board members elected in a given year, followed by a gap year, followed by three County Board members and four School Board members elected. After another gap year, the process would repeat.


At first blush, it seems a little, well, overly complicated, and it also fails to address the reality that the Arlington County Democratic Committee, which for the past two decades or longer – with rare exceptions – has been the gatekeeper in local elections, is hardly likely to permit its nomination/endorsement processes to be diluted. The result will be a different format on Election Day but likely the same outcome (Democratic nominees win), which runs afoul of the dictum by one-time County Board member Al Eisenberg: “What problem, exactly, are we trying to fix?”

Assuming that the concept wins support of the Civic Federation’s rank-and-file next month, we’re willing to support further discussion. But don’t expect quick decisions: In addition to the Democratic hierarchy, the proposal also would require backing of the County Board, School Board, General Assembly and governor (a classic case of “strange bedfellows,” indeed…) And, we’d argue, any such relatively radical change to the status quo also should be subject to a voter referendum.

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