Garvey, Clement face off

Arlington County Board candidates Audrey Clement (left) and Libby Garvey listen to a question posed at the Arlington County Civic Federation candidate forum held Sept. 6, 2016.

An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November.

Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disengenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.

“The state and local Democratic parties say they oppose the amendment because it doesn’t go far enough,” she said. “This argument is misleading, because without an independent redistricting commission, another partisan gerrymander is inevitable following the 2020 census – this time a Democratic gerrymander, which is evidently what they want.”

For generations, redistricting of legislative and congressional seats has been the prerogative of the General Assembly. A decade ago, following the 2010 Census, Republicans who controlled the House of Delegates redrew that body’s boundaries, while Democrats who controlled the state Senate did the same for the upper chamber. If the redistricting-commission proposal is not added to the constitution, next year likely would bring a redistricting process dominated by Democrats, as Clement contends.

Democrats on Aug. 6 voted online to oppose the constitutional amendment, one of two on the Nov. 3 ballot. Slightly more than three-quarters of those voting were in opposition.

The ballot measure, adopted by the General Assembly in 2019 and again in 2020, would amend Virginia’s 1971 constitution to set up an independent commission that will have the power – albeit not unlimited power – to determine congressional and legislative districts statewide.

Most Democratic leaders supported the measure in 2019, when Republicans held control of both houses of the legislature. But this year, when Democrats were in control of the two houses, some Democratic legislators defected – though not enough to keep the measure from being sent to voters.

Clement is a perennial candidate for local office, usually for County Board but sometimes for School Board. Initially running under the banner of the Arlington Green Party, in recent elections she has been an independent.

Four years ago, Clement and Garvey faced off, with the Democratic incumbent taking about two-thirds of the votes.

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