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Kim Phillip, a civic and political activist with roots in the Arlington County Democratic Committee and 8th District Democratic Committee, on Jan. 1 becomes the newest member of the Arlington Electoral Board.

Phillip was appointed by Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman Jr. to succeed Charlene Bickford, who has served two lengthy stints totaling 24 years and currently chairs the three-member body.

Phillip will join Democrat Matt Weinstein and Republican Scott McGeary on the panel. Her term, like all those of local Electoral Board members in Virginia, runs for three years.

Under state law, political parties submit a slate of prospective appointees to the Circuit Court, whose members either make the appointment collectively or delegate the decision to the chief judge. Phillip was among the nominees submitted by Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Jill Caiazzo.

State law gives the political party that controls the Governor’s Mansion two seats on each three-member Electoral Board, with the out-of-power party receiving the third. Had a Republican been occupying the governorship today, Bickford would have been succeeded by a nominee of the Arlington County Republican Committee.

In earlier years, appointments had begun in March; a change in state law switched that to Jan. 1 effective in 2021.

Bickford, a retired college educator/administrator and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, served on the Electoral Board from 1987-94, when she was bumped by Republican McGeary, then was reappointed in 2003 (bumping McGeary) and has served the past 17 years without interruption.

Her 24 years in office is among the longest in recorded Arlington Electoral Board history, although her tenure was exceeded by Maynard Carlisle (who served for at least 30 years before 1968) and Allen Harrison Jr. (who served from 1987-2016).

State law requires the two positions with the most responsibility on the body – chairman and secretary – to be occupied by members of different parties. Unless Phillip and Weinstein opt to elevate McGeary (a former Arlington County Republican Committee chair) to the chairmanship, the lineup probably will be Weinstein as chairman, McGeary as secretary and Phillip as vice chairman.

(Though Electoral Board members are not getting rich in their posts, the secretary – who has more statutory responsibilities than the other two positions – gets paid about twice what the chair and vice chair do.)

An organizational meeting is expected to be held in January to conduct a leadership election.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

(1) comment

CJE

There is no mention of political parties in the U.S. Constitution. Independents ran in Arlington this year for several elected offices. Independents ran for Arlington Board of Supervisors the past several years with no other candidate on the ballot but a Democrat. An Independent should have replaced Bickford on the Electoral Board.

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