Home 2020 Elections Arlington Special County Board Election Set for July 7; Dem Nominee to...

Arlington Special County Board Election Set for July 7; Dem Nominee to Be Decided by May 8, Only 14 Days from Today

Arlington Dems "asking Governor Northam and the General Assembly to move the special election date so that political parties have the ability to hold an open nomination process"

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With the *very* unfortunate and sad illness, resignation and then death of former Arlington County Vice Chair Erik Gutshall recently, a special election to fill the vacated County Board seat is necessary. This afternoon, the Special Election was called for July 7 by Arlington/Falls Church Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman, Jr., with the Arlington Electoral Board holding an emergency meeting (see video, below) to set the candidate filing deadline – which they ended up setting for Friday, May 8.

Also, see below for a statement from the Arlington County Democratic Committee, which says that “Arlington Democrats must nominate the Democratic candidate for the special election by May 8 — i.e., only 14 days from today,” which leaves “no option but to select the Democratic nominee through a closed virtual caucus, which involves a vote by the members of its Steering Committee and County Committee that will conclude by May 7.” Also, Arlington Democrats are “asking Governor Northam and the General Assembly to move the special election date so that political parties have the ability to hold an open nomination process, while respecting necessary social distancing measures.” This should be interesting…

By the way, possible Democratic candidates floating around include: Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen [UPDATE: she’s definitely running; see her announcement in the comments section of this post]; Nicole Merlene [UPDATE Sunday 12:30 pm: She’s definitely running] who ran in the Democratic primary in 2019 for State Senate against Sen. Barbara Favola; and possibly Chanda Choun [UPDATE: I hear he’s definitely running], who already is running for County Board in the regular election, [UPDATE: Choun tweeted that he’s *not* allowed to run in both elections, so will only be running in the special election] against Chair Libby Garvey. Any other names you’re hearing? [UPDATE: I’m also hearing that Takis Karantonis might be running.] It also will be interesting to see if Republicans put up anybody, or if former Board member John Vihstadt (I) tries to win back his former seat…

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Arlington Democrats,

Today we learned that the special election to fill the seat on the Arlington County Board that is now vacant due to Erik Gutshall’s untimely death has been set for July 7. Under Virginia law, the Arlington Democrats must nominate the Democratic candidate for the special election by May 8 — i.e., only 14 days from today.

Arlington Democrats believe a vote-by-mail nomination caucus open to all Democratic registered voters in Arlington would best serve the interests of democracy and Arlington voters in this unprecedented time of public health crisis. But, in order to meet the aggressive timeline set by the laws of Virginia, it is impossible to facilitate a vote-by-mail nomination process. This leaves the Arlington Democrats with no option but to select the Democratic nominee through a closed virtual caucus, which involves a vote by the members of its Steering Committee and County Committee that will conclude by May 7. 

Arlington Democrats is prepared to transform this virtual nomination process — which is detailed in the Arlington Democrats’ new special election webpage — into a vote-by-mail process open to all Democratic registered voters in Arlington if the nomination period is extended to encompass a two-month period. Arlington Democrats is actively exploring options to achieve this extension, including through consultation with multiple legal counsel.

Arlington Democrats also is asking Governor Northam and the General Assembly to move the special election date so that political parties have the ability to hold an open nomination process, while respecting necessary social distancing measures. Please help us to fight for the voting rights of Arlington voters by signing this petition — act today!

Regardless of the nature of the nomination process, we can be confident that our eventual Democratic nominee will honor the community-focused legacy of Erik Gutshall. Now more than ever, we need Erik’s brand of Democratic pragmatism and empathy in our leaders. Please join us today (virtually!) in fighting for that kind of leadership at every level of government.

Onward,

Jill Caiazzo
Chair, Arlington Democrats

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