He performed on par with expectations – neither particularly better nor egregiously worse – but Takis Karantonis believes his success in retaining his County Board seat shows the Arlington public is generally supportive of the policies being followed by the all-Democratic body.
As a result, Arlington leaders should not be shy in touting “how well we got things done in Arlington,” Karantonis said on Nov. 9, when he delivered a valedictory (online) to the monthly meeting of Arlington Senior Democrats.
Karantonis brought home just a hair over 60 percent of the vote in a contest that pitted him against independents Mike Cantwell, Adam Theo and Audrey Clement. Though a scrappy bunch in the few debates that took place during campaign season, the independents were no match for the resources of the Arlington County Democratic Committee or the leanings of the electorate.
“I feel I’ve been campaigning 18, 19 months continuously,” Karantonis said. And in a way that’s true: He first won office in a July 2020 special election necessitated by the death of board member Erik Gutshall, and not long after had to mobilize to defend it.
Karantonis in the summer of 2020 benefited from the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s instant-runoff-voting system for choosing a candidate for that race; he initially ran behind School Board member Barbara Kanninen in the first round of the Democratic caucus, then leapfrogged her after voters for other candidates gave their second and third votes to him, not her. This year, he easily brushed back a challenge in the June Democratic primary from Chanda Choun.
Despite being knocked around from both the left and the right in debates this campaign season, Karantonis was able to stand his ground, and he said the end result prove the criticisms of his opponents were not entirely embraced by the electorate.
“In general, Arlingtonians feel we are listening to them,” he said of the five-member County Board.
Younger voters, he said, “wouldn’t buy the more negative narrative” of a number of the other candidates.
With his expected victory now in hand, Karantonis plans to “paint a picture of Arlington as we see it going forward,” pointing to a community that is evolving demographically.
“The next step is to build up a better-connected relationship” will all the various constituencies, he said.
A native of Greece and an urban planner by profession, Karantonis previously served as executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, now the Columbia Pike Alliance.
Like all five County Board members, Karantonis serves a countywide constituency. His new term starts Jan. 1; a ceremonial swearing in is likely next month.