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Monday, October 18, 2021
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: Arlington needs more wholesale changes to election process

Letter: Arlington needs more wholesale changes to election process

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Editor: In your Sept. 30 editorial, you called for the voters to deliver divided government, saying that it works better when neither Democrats nor Republicans control all of the levers of power, that “Virginia government works best when the two parties have to work with one another”; that either party with full control behaves badly but that when “we had split governance, there seems to be an equilibrium. The two parties have shown, when this was the case in the past, an ability to work together (to a degree) for the common good.”

Then you turned right around in your Oct. 7 editorial endorse incumbent Democratic County Board member Takis Karantonis even though “(t)here are portions of the policy platforms of the three independents running [against Karantonis] that are appealing and show the challengers understand the issues.”

“If only we had a political Dr. Frankenstein who could cobble together the good parts (and exorcise the faulty ones) of the three challengers into a single contender – then lavish campaign cash on the contender so he or she effectively could go up against the Democratic get-out-the-vote machine that will almost assuredly propel Karantonis to victory on Nov. 2,” you said.

Mr. Editor, like you I am reasonably happy with Mr. Karantonis, but you are not going to get to your dreamed-of state of split governance if you keep endorsing the candidate of Arlington’s monopoly party.

If you are hoping for representation of a greater variety of communities of interest, you should look at the characteristics of the Arlington system, passed down to us from the Byrd Machine-era Dixiecrats of the 1930s – staggered terms for County Board members nominated through partisan primaries. It’s a recipe not just for one-party dominance, but for dominance by the dominant faction in the dominant party.

The Arlington County Civic Federation in 1945 recommended that Arlington shift from staggered terms to simultaneous election of County Board members. It’s time to blow the dust off that recommendation and consider it again.

It can enable a wider variety among our electeds, and ensure that County Board members at least get some scrutiny compared with each other as they face the voters.

Dave Schutz, Arlington

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