Home 2014 Races Democrat Alan Howze Debates Big-Time Republican John Vihstadt for Arlington County Board

Democrat Alan Howze Debates Big-Time Republican John Vihstadt for Arlington County Board


Earlier this evening, the two main Arlington County Board candidates – Democrat Alan Howze debated big-time Republican donor (including to McCain/Palin, Romney/Ryan, etc.) John Vihstadt – debated in Cherrydale. Howze did an excellent job – highly knowledgeable about Arlington County at both a “vision” and “granular” level; level-headed; calm; reasonable – my only complaint being that I wish Howze had more forcefully called out Vihstadt’s numerous erroneous and misleading statements.

One whopper which Vihstadt repeated several times is that we can have Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Columbia Pike. In fact, Columbia Pike already has tons of bus service. Even more to the point, Columbia Pike DOES not and CAN not have the dedicated lanes which are crucial to having a BRT system that’s worth anything.

In addition to the Columbia Pike streetcar disinformation put out by Vihstadt, he also demagogued about the “million-dollar bus stops,” as if Alan Howze or anyone else is a fan of “million-dollar bus stops.” What a bunch of bull.

On and on it goes, including big-time Republican donor Vihstadt trying somehow to pretend that he’s not really THAT kind of Republican, but some sort of socially “moderate,” fiscally prudent person…you know, like a Democrat. Why he’s doing this is obvious: Arlington is an overwhelmingly Democratic county, and Vihstadt knows that if he’s seen as the “Republican candidate” – which he most certainly is, given his donation history and the fact that he was endorsed by the Arlington County Republican Committee – then he’ll lose badly. Which anyone who cares about the future of Arlington should hope he does.

P.S. I’ll post video as it uploads to YouTube. Here’s Alan Howze’s closing statement for now.

P.P.S. I didn’t see any other media (hello Washington/Bezos Post? Sun Gazette, which always likes to mock the “lesser media?”) covering this debate. I find that very telling, especially given the demise of the Patch newspapers (my guess is they would have sent a reporter to this).

  • independent in arlington

    That ArlNow was not at the debate.

    On the substance, I am planning on voting for Howze, because I think the streetcar is an important long-term investment.  However, I can understand why people are worried about Arlington’s long-term spending outlook and are interested in someone who might wish to dial-back on certain projects.

  • The problem is, almost nothing Vihstadt says is factually accurate. Kinda hard to “debate” someone when they have their own set of “facts.”

  • scottbrodbeck

    I appreciate the Lowell is calling out two of our competitors but still feel compelled to respond.

    ARLnow.com was not at the Cherrydale debate primarily because we did not know about the Cherrydale debate. We did not receive any sort of notification about the event, either via email or a submission to our event calendar. No one from Cherrydale or any of the campaigns emailed before or after the event.

    Local reporters are not omnipotent. We cannot cover what we do not know about. And a month and a half out from an election, we are not exactly seeking out political debates to cover — there will be plenty of opportunity for that as we get closer to April 8.

    At ARLnow.com, there are only two of us (a third, part-time freelancer was hired away to do PR for Arlington County). We are doing our best to prioritize coverage of elections in which there are at least 15 active candidates.

    This incident aside, there have also been numerous times during this and previous campaign cycles when we’ve been publicly or privately accused of “bias.” Most of the time this is the result of someone looking at one article with a microscope and trying to find some way in which it represents a slight against their candidate of choice. We’ve been invested in the Arlington community for four years now and it’s frustrating that otherwise smart and civic-minded people still do that, rather than looking at our full body of work.

    Instead of complaining and casting aspersions, I would suggest that those with a political agenda who would like more coverage of their candidate or event do a better job of communicating with the media.

    P.S. To be clear, sometimes the feedback we get is fair and constructive, and we absolutely listen to that and appreciate it. For instance, a printing error recently left out Sen. Ebbin’s name from an informal, in-person poll we did about the congressional race. We do our best to correct those errors as quickly as possible and the above comments are not directed at such situations.

  • This is basically laughable. The fact is, John Vihstadt is a major Republican donor, including thousands to McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan. His attempts to redefine today’s far-right-wing Republican Party as the party of “thrift, hard work, and self reliance” is beyond laughable, given that today’s GOP most definitively stands for none of those things (e.g., they reward those who live off of investments rather than earned income; they refuse to grant hard-working Americans an increase in the minimum wage, while lavishing the wealthy and big corporate donors with huge tax breaks; they run up enormous deficits under Republican presidents, such as Reagan and Bush; etc.). His claim to be a “social moderate” is lovely, but of course he has not voting record so there’s no real way Arlington voters can verify that he, say, supports LGBT equality or maintaining Arlington as a welcoming place to immigrants. And no, cherry picking a few Democrats who support him, whether out of personal friendship or because they are angry at members of the County Board or whatever, does NOT counteract the lifetime of being a Republican and the thousands of dollars in donations to far-right-wing candidates like Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan. #FAIL #FAIL #FAIL