The chairman of the Arlington County Board says he’s not going anywhere. But if the newly re-elected Christian Dorsey should resign from office, it likely would set up a special election in the spring.
Dorsey in recent weeks has been dogged by concerns over reporting of campaign contributions and his own personal financial situation. But at the Nov. 16 County Board meeting, he said he was staying put.
“I do appreciate their directness,” Dorsey said of the small group seeking his resignation, “yet I do not agree with their conclusions.”
“My personal financial issues do not impinge on my ability to work with colleagues both in Arlington and throughout the region, our county staff and our community,” Dorsey said. “I intend to demonstrate over the next four years those who voted to re-elect me did not make a mistake.”
Dorsey already has been sanctioned by the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, where he represents the Virginia suburbs, by being stripped of a committee chairmanship for not reporting in a timely manner a campaign contribution from a union representing Metro workers, and for not recusing himself on several matters where a conflict of interest might have been perceived.
But since the $10,000 contribution (since returned) did not violate any Virginia campaign-finance laws, it likely will have no impact on Dorsey’s status on the Arlington County Board.
Dorsey and fellow incumbent Democrat Katie Cristol on Nov. 5 easily turned back challenges from independents Audrey Clement and Arron O’Dell in the general election. Republicans did not field candidates.
Board members rotate into the chairmanship; Dorsey’s year at the helm will expire on Dec. 31.
During the campaign, Clement did press home the transit-union-contribution matter, which may be one reason Dorsey scored fewer votes than Cristol on Nov. 5. (Issues surrounding Dorsey’s own financial situation came to light after the election.)
At least one vocal local activist – Jim Hurysz – called on Dorsey (and Cristol) to resign for taking contributions from transportation unions. Cristol currently chairs the operating board of Virginia Railway Express.
(Since he was at the public-comment dais anyway as part of the meeting, Hurysz used his public-comment time on Nov. 16 to also call for the resignations of board members Erik Gutshall and Libby Garvey. He apparently had no issue with the fifth board member, Matt de Ferranti, staying on the job.)
While few expect Dorsey to be departing his board position, his departure in coming months would set up a springtime special election. The last time one of those was held for County Board (after Chris Zimmerman resigned in 2014 to take a job in the private sector), Democrats lost their monopoly when Republican-backed independent John Vihstadt defeated Democrat Alan Howze in the subsequent special election. Vihstadt then beat Howze again in that year’s general election, but was defeated by de Ferranti in 2018.