Editor: Over the last decade, Audrey Clement has lost nine races for County Board and two campaigns for School Board. She’s running again this year as one of the two “independent” challengers to Democrat Matt de Ferranti for County Board.
Given Clement’s track record, it might be easy to write her off as just a tiresome gadfly. But that would be dangerous given some of the policies Clement has put forth in her various races – positions that place her far out of the Arlington mainstream.
Just two years ago in her campaign for County Board against Libby Garvey, Clement raged against the board’s then-recent unanimous enactment of a ban on carrying guns on county-government property or at county-government-sponsored events. The board’s common-sense move was supported by gun-safety proponents whom Clement wrote off as “Brady activists.” Clement championed “gun-rights advocates” and complained that their arguments “fell on deaf ears.”
Clement insisted that people with concealed-carry handgun permits should be allowed to carry their weapons on county property and at county-sponsored events. She even objected to spending county funds on defending the ban if it was challenged in court.
In her School Board race in 2018 against Barbara Kanninen, Clement objected to one of the key steps to remove the name of a Confederate leader from one of the county’s three high schools. In a Sept. 24, 2018, campaign press release, Clement laid out her campaign pledges. Leading the list was, “Preserve the name of Washington-Lee High School.” So, atop Clement’s agenda was keeping the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee for a public school where it would daily confront hundreds of descendants of enslaved Americans whose servitude Lee fought to maintain.
Throughout her electoral career, Clement has been out of step with voters on a key housing issue. She has regularly supported creation of a county housing authority to be responsible for building and maintaining affordable housing. That idea has been rejected by Arlington voters at least four times, beginning in 1958 and as recently as 2013, when the measure failed by about two-to-one. In recent years, the feeling among Arlingtonians seems to be that the county government provides sufficient support through the Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
Clement, perhaps because she spends so much time campaigning, seems to have a hard time keeping track of basic things. For instance, last year Clement told The Washington Post in a candidate questionnaire that she was 52 years old. In fact, the Post determined, Clement is 72. As Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, told the Post: “If you can’t trust someone to accurately represent themselves, where is the trust for anything else as a public servant? In the realm of ridiculous, it’s off the charts.”
Just as ridiculous as guns in county-government buildings or Robert E. Lee’s name on a county school.
Cragg Hines, Arlington