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The Arlington County Republican Committee’s rank-and-file recently channeled its inner Margaret Thatcher – “no, no, no!” – and then added another “no!” for good measure.
In an online survey of party members, respondents by large margins urged rejection of the four local bond referendums on the Nov. 2 ballot.
In particular, members took aim at the proposed $23 million school bond, with 71.4 percent of respondents suggesting it should be rejected, just 17.5 percent in favor and 11.1 percent unsure.
Percentages in opposition to the other three bonds were substantial but not quite as lopsided: 57.1 percent against parks, 59.5 percent against transportation/transit and 61.1 percent against community infrastructure.
The GOP survey was conducted online and does not to purport to be scientific, merely the views of those who took part. A total of 128 people responded, which Arlington GOP communications chair Matthew Hurtt said was a “representative sample” of the overall committee.
(For those wondering from above what Margaret Thatcher has to do with any of this, Britain’s then-prime minister in 1990 famously roared “No, no, no!” during a House of Commons debate over greater unification between the United Kingdom and Europe.)
Hurtt said opposition to giving the school system more bond funding boils down to two factors: “Parents are disappointed at the failure of Arlington Public Schools to provide the level and quality of education Arlingtonians expect over the course of the pandemic, and the growing opposition to the politicization of curriculum through critical-race theory and other social policies embraced by activist educators and administrators.”
“Republican parents in particular can’t justify approving the school bond, because they don’t see the return on investment,” Hurtt said. “Parents say, ‘APS hasn’t spent its annual budget wisely – why let them borrow more?’”
The Republican Committee is slated to meet Sept. 28 and will discuss, and potentially vote on taking positions related to, the bond package. The Arlington County Democratic Committee in August voted to support all four of them – not a particular surprise, since the bonds were proposed by the all-Democratic County Board.
Voters are likely to side with Democrats; no local bond referendum has been rejected by the electorate since 1979, and there has not been a widespread rejection of bonds on the Arlington ballot since 1975.
Hurtt opted against predicting how the committee might act on Sept. 28, but said he was pleased to see “such a strong percentage of fiscal hawks” responding to the survey.
“Fiscal conservatism is a minority viewpoint in Arlington County, but it is still important that viewpoint be expressed boldly and publicly,” he told the Sun Gazette.