My pages of notes from last night’s Arlington County Civic Federation candidate forum have piled up, and I will massage them into news coverage in a timely manner.
(As I said to a certain someone on prom night: “Do you want it done fast or do you want it done right? I can give you one or the other but I’m not capable of both.” True when it comes to providing news coverage, as well.)
But for now, some random thoughts:
COUNTY BOARD RACE:
• Incumbent Democrat Matt de Ferranti seemed to get rattled a bit about 20 minutes into the County Board debate, and only somewhat regained his equilibrium, but didn’t commit any unforced errors. I suppose he’d agree that it’s a different ballgame being an incumbent and thus called to account by two challengers, as he was on the dais this year, compared to being the largely unknown challenger with no track record to be used against him, as he was four years ago.
• Independent Adam Theo seemed at times a tad too snarky for the room. Given that odds favor he’s going to finish last (although I’m happy to admit being wrong if it happens), I’m not sure I was in love with the snark when it bubbled to the surface. Theo he doesn’t need to employ it; it’s distracting even if it goes above the heads or below the radar of many in the audience.
• Independent Audrey Clement finally has an issue that could prove a winner with voters (she’s the only one of the three opposed to the Missing Middle zoning plan), but as I’ve noted again and again, she refuses to build a campaign infrastructure and raise funds in order to actually be competitive. Clement also toward the end of the debate griped about unfair press coverage, always the sign (Republican, Democrat or independent) of a campaign that’s flagging.
SCHOOL BOARD RACE:
• Democratic endorsee Bethany Sutton gives off a vibe akin to Mary Kadera of a year before — you harbor the forlorn hope that she might be a true independent voice in office, but it’s like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as those hopes, eventually, are dashed. Assuming she wins, and with the Democratic endorsement she’s likely to win, one wonders which emerging faction Sutton starts to align with as the board reconfigures its alliances in what will be a post-Barbara-Kanninen environment. (I’m gonna miss you, Barbara, just like I’ve come to miss Chris Zimmerman on the County Board. Lordy, who’d have predicted that back in the day!)
• Independent James “Vell” Rives certainly seems he would be more of an independent voice, but he needed to use the debate to knife away at the Democratic governing oligarchy if he wanted to stand out, and there were times when he pulled his punches instead of going in for the kill. Quoting “Cannonball Run,” as I do often: If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 8TH DISTRICT: Admittedly my interest level was flagging by the third debate. Republican Karina Lipsman and independent Teddy Fikre didn’t score any home runs against incumbent Democrat Don Beyer, who’s on his way to another two-year term. Not to say that the challengers did anything wrong, but they didn’t really address that seminal question: “What problem are we trying to fix?” What is Beyer doing, or not doing that merits his removal? There are a few examples available, but if his opponents aren’t going to bring them up, it’s not my job to help them out. So it seems we may have a rerun of the 8th District Democratic primary, where Beyer’s unknown challenger made her points earnestly and politely against the incumbent but never drew any blood, the end result thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
— Scott McCaffrey