Although Democrats have not lost a seat in this deep-blue locality since 2014, some feared the incumbent’s dithering. a divisive countywide rezoning push would leave him with one of the narrowest margins of victory in recent memory.
Two candidates, Sang Yi and Catherine Read, were competing for a vacant mayoral seat in Fairfax City, which also had six seats on the city council. The towns of Herndon and Leesburg also elect mayors and council members.
The five members of the Arlington County Board of Directors are all elected at-large and serve staggered four-year terms. De Ferranti was the only one to be re-elected this year.
The contest was dominated by a debate over the county’s controversial ‘missing middle’ framework, which would override zoning rules and allow developers and owners to build duplexes, townhouses and small apartment buildings with up to eight units in any residential lot.
De Ferranti stopped short of the framework presented by county planners this year, saying he would at most support “sixplexes” on larger lots and “fourplexes” at all levels.
His challengers tried to win over voters by saying de Ferranti’s position on the framework would bring too much — or not enough — density to Arlington’s single-family neighborhoods.
Critics of the plan rallied around Clement in his bid for the job, making the election a way to show the all-Democratic council that voters disagreed with the “missing middle” premise — and perhaps to be with the general management of this growing suburb.
“It seems that of the three choices, she is the most opposed,” said Faheem Haque, a 41-year-old pharmacist, as he voted at a primary school near the four-year-old townhouse. rooms he owns in Lyon Village. . “’Missing middle’ is not well thought out. He will not achieve the goals he wants.
Theo, the co-founder of NoVA’s civic group YIMBYs, had criticized De Ferranti for not going far enough on the proposal, appealing to millennials, tenants and others who overwhelmingly support it as a way to cut costs of accommodation.
Many of his supporters hoped to tell the other four board members not to succumb to a long list of concerns from “missing middle” skeptics, as they said De Ferranti seemed to be doing.
But Ben Longsdon, a 25-year-old consultant, said he was most compelled to vote for Theo given his desire to cut property taxes. Longsdon, who rents a two-bedroom apartment in the Court House neighborhood, recently moved from Louisville to Arlington but is delaying his vehicle registration due to high property taxes, he said.
De Ferranti has tried to make racing more than this flagship issue, campaigning on his work on climate change, immigration and criminal justice as well as his leadership as chairman of the county council during part of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday evening, outside Innovation Elementary School in Court House, he greeted the last wave of voters en route before the polls closed.
“I hope I can win your vote; I’m already a Democrat on the board,” he said.
A last-minute voter, Nate Trentanelli, 29, said the ‘missing middle’ proposal was not a priority for him, but climate concerns were. De Ferranti had earned his vote, he said, by pushing for a countywide net zero energy goal.
Others were less familiar with De Ferranti’s record – or his name – but still offered their support. “I vote for the Democratic candidate, whoever he is,” said Sean Howard, 24, who works in finance. “They align more with my policies and what I want from local government.”
Whatever the outcome, at least one council vote cannot be swayed by reading the tea leaves of the election results: council chair Katie Cristol (D), who is one of the loudest voices supporting the ‘missing link’ proposal said she would not stand for re-election at the end of her term next year. A final vote is expected early next year.
In Fairfax City, the nonpartisan mayoral race between Read and Yi has attracted interest from both major political parties. Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) appeared as a featured speaker at a fundraiser for Yi, a GOP congressman, while several Democratic lawmakers donated to Read’s campaign.
Yi said he would work to add more affordable housing to the city while attracting more businesses to downtown. Meanwhile, Read said she would work to add more sidewalks to city areas and advocate for the construction of public restrooms in city parks.