Home 2016 elections Video: Libby Garvey Denies Taking Money from Real Estate Developer; Erik Gutshall...

Video: Libby Garvey Denies Taking Money from Real Estate Developer; Erik Gutshall Provides Proof She Did


The Arlington County Board Democratic primary debate this evening between Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall was the most interesting one to date, in part because the candidates were able to ask each other questions. I’ll upload more video later (check out the comments section), but I’ll start now with a question from Gutshall to Garvey on whether she “ever accept[ed] campaign contributions from a large landowner and developer who often comes in front of the County Board” (see video below).

First, the facts.

  1. Libby Garvey declared her candidacy for Arlington County Board on November 17, 2011, following then-County Board member Barbara Favola’s victory in the race for State Senate (thus creating a vacancy on the Arlington County Board).
  2. A couple weeks later, on December 2, 2011, Garvey received a $250 contribution from Timothy Helmig of Monday Properties, a real estate developer that’s very active in Arlington, and which often comes before the County Board.

So, clearly, Garvey DID “accept campaign contributions from a large landowner and developer who often comes in front of the County Board.” Yet Garvey’s answer to the question was a point-blank “no,” that she’s actually returned checks because she thought they “might come before the Board” (although, oddly, she said that she’d “take $100 from anybody,” because “who’s going to think $100 is going to affect me in anything?”).

In response, Gutshall noted (accurately): “it’s a matter of public record that in the 2011 race for County Board, that the COO of one of the largest property owners in Rossyln did in fact give a campaign donation to Ms. Garvey’s campaign and has subsequently come before the Board several times.”

Garvey responded that she was on the School Board in 2011 (true, but misleading; again, Garvey declared for County Board on November 17, 2011) and that she didn’t “necessarily know I was even running for the County Board” (strange response; she certainly knew she was running for County Board by November 17, 2011, when she declared, and presumably she knew at least a few weeks if not months prior to that, given that then-County Board member Barbara Favola was almost certainly going to be moving up to the State Senate following her primary victory back in August 2011, creating a vacancy on the Arlington County Board).

Anyway, I thought it was a striking exchange, definitely worth passing along IMHO. With that, let’s go to the videotape!

  • Video: Question about new gun store in Arlington. Erik Gutshall says there was a “great deal of frustration…that there was no heads-up notice, that felt sort of blindsided, that the county certainly knew that the application had been put in and there was no communication…with anyone in the community.” In Gutshall’s view, the County Board should pass a “non-binding resolution that says, this is not the appropriate use for that neighborhood retail center, and go on record as being on the side of the community that has spoken very loudly and plainly and clearly against the gun shop.”

    For her part, Garvey raised the issue that she’s a Quaker and that “Quakers don’t do guns, we don’t do gun shops.” She also says she had to uphold the law, that the County is helping with the lawsuit, that we shouldn’t let the gun shop make this a “cause celebre.”


  • Video: Asked whether the campaign has been “divisive,” Gutshall said there are “strongly-held views on both sides,” and that “what Democrats are all about is the opportunity to debate the issues openly and publicly.” Gutshall notes that Garvey “needs more time to decide whether or not to move forward with the transit station” on Columbia Pike, and argues Arlington “ought to be willing to spend a little more” so that the bus stops will have a 50-year life. On affordable housing, Gutshall says it’s not “divisive to talk about how we go about funding our affordable housing investment fund.” Also have a “legitimate policy disagreement” on the tax exemption for seniors. “It’s not divisive, it’s good, old-fashioned democratic debate.”


  • Video: On “negative campaign literature,” Gutshall says he insisted that his campaign “focused on the issues” and be “factually correct,” and that’s what his campaign has been doing. He stands “100%” behind “every claim that we make and what the factual basis is for those claims.”


  • Video: Question on historic status for Westover Village. Gutshall says “what’s happening in Westover is a shame for two reasons…because we’re losing market-rate affordable units” and because “it didn’t have to happen”…we’ve been “warning that this was going to happen,” and “this is why I’ve been talking about the ‘missing middle’ and the value of planning in Arlington…more options for middle-income housing…there’s a lot that we can do in this area…but it can’t be done when we don’t have the leadership on the board to push these things forward and to make sure that we’re actually implementing our affordable housing master plan, being proactive and getting out in front of our challenges instead of just letting them wash over us.”


  • Video: Erik Gutshall says Arlington is “ready for smarter growth…the next generation of smart growth…preserving the character of our neighborhoods…home-town retail…parks and open space.” Gutshall hits Garvey on Rosslyn plan, which calls for 1-acre park, and the developer came in with a plan for 0.81 acres — Garvey voted to approve it.


  • Video: Question on Metro “Safe Track” – Erik Gutshall says he hasn’t seen anything from Arlington County on what riders should do Monday morning.


  • Video: Question on retaining talented young professionals in Arlington


  • Video: Question on Balancing County Board with Family, Business


  • Video: Libby Garvey on Balancing Different Priorities


  • Video: Question to Libby Garvey on Taking Credit but Not Blame for Schools


  • Video: Which Business, Store or Vendor Would You Bring to Arlington


  • Video: Question on Building an Entirely New High School; Gutshall says it’s a “good microcosm” of this campaign, in that there’s a “fundamental difference” between Garvey and him is that Gutshall believes we should implement the Community Facilities Study – the “blueprint for how we’re going to have these conversations, and I don’t think they ought to be a private conversation between a County Board member and a School Board member,” but “the 2×2 committee — 2 County Board members, 2 School Board members, the County manager and a representative from the Superintendents office meeting on a regular basis in PUBLIC, in OPEN, with all the cards on the table, so everyone can understand what is at stake, what tradeoffs are being made, and how we get there.”