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Sunday, March 26, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Withholding judgment, though it’s not my style

Editor’s Notebook: Withholding judgment, though it’s not my style

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Tuesday brought part deux of the Arlington County Civic Federation’s proposals for changes to Arlington’s governance structure.

The biggie to come out of the meeting was the recommendation to shift the timetable for County Board and School Board elections.

Rather than type up something original, let me just plagiarize from my own coverage in the two bullet points below:

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


• The 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.

The question becomes: Is bullet-point #2 actually an improvement over bullet-point #1? Color me not quite sold, but proponents have a month to convince the Civic Federation rank-and-file. So we’ll see.

No surprise in the other recommendation of Tuesday, proposing a switch from the winner-take-all to a ranked-choice method of election.

Even if all the improvements-cum-reforms-cum-changes are enacted, the reality is that Arlington Democrats are likely to maintain such dominance in local politics that it’s unlikely to really change the outcome of general elections. Democrats will simply nominate their candidates and saturate the voting public with their sample ballots.

Nothing suggests voting patterns in A-town are going to change.

ALSO ON THE CIV-FED FRONT: There also was an emergency resolution approved at Tuesday’s meeting, calling on the County Board to spend more time – several months’ worth – accepting public comment on the latest phase of the so-called Missing Middle housing proposal (also known as the greatest gift ever to be bestowed on the builder/developer industry in Arlington).

The fix is in on Missing Middle; County Board members are beholden to the interest groups that are pushing it, and it seems very unlikely that train can be stopped. Welcome to the end of the single-family zoning, Arlington. Ye Olde Sun Gazette told ya about five years ago that was the plan.

Good for the Civic Federation for at least trying to push for more community input as this steamroller rolls on. And in honor of the efforts, I’ll link another fabulous 1970s song – “Give Me Just a Little More Time” by that great band from the Carolinas, the Chairmen of the Board – to salute their efforts.

Great tune.

– Scott McCaffrey

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