He opted against getting into the fray himself, but former County Board member John Vihstadt now has a dog in the hunt when it comes to the July 7 special election.
Vihstadt on May 26 formally endorsed Susan Cunningham, who is running as an independent in the three-way race to succeed County Board member Erik Gutshall, who died in April.
Cunningham “has a knack for bringing diverse minds together, cutting to the chase and getting things done,” Vihstadt said in a statement released by the Cunningham campaign.
“We live in precarious times,” Vihstadt said. “Susan’s sober, well-informed and independent outlook on what local government can and can’t afford is exactly what the County Board needs right now. She’ll speak truth to power and bring a renewed focus on valuing what’s essential in an open, transparent and equitable way.”
The endorsement is perhaps not unexpected – Vihstadt considered, but decided against, a run to fill the remainder of Gutshall’s seat, and seemed to lean in Cunningham’s direction after that.
Vihstadt rode a wave of community discontent to win a special election and the subsequent general election for County Board in 2014, ending a Democratic monopoly on the body that had existed for years. But the arrival of Donald Trump’s presidency re-energized local Democrats, who took the seat back in 2018.
Still, Cunningham – who has been a leader in a number of school-planning processes in Arlington – believes lightning can strike again in local politics.
“John proved that an independent candidate can win,” she said. “Serving on the County Board is not about advancing partisan agendas or political stepping-stones. It’s about doing what is right for all of Arlington.”
The three-way race also features Democrat Takis Karantonis and Republican Bob Cambridge.