Last week, we removed Peter Fallon and Vivek Patil from consideration, narrowing our choices in this week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee County Board caucus to Kim Klingler and Erik Gutshall.

While neither is a flawless candidate and neither has run a flawless campaign, we believe both Klingler and Gutshall are qualified to fill the County Board seat of Jay Fisette, who is retiring after 20 years in office. It is not an easy decision.

Each has experience as a civic-association president, which provides real-world perspectives on Arlington governance. And each has been involved in Arlington’s advisory-body hierarchy, with Klingler more in the public-safety and emergency-preparedness arenas and Gutshall in planning and economic development.

Klingler’s background on public-safety issues would be a boost to the County Board; she would fill a niche that would complement other board members. That’s a point in her favor.

We also have been impressed with a slightly more specific and common-sense set of policy goals and objectives that have emanated from Klingler’s campaign, compared to some others.

What Gutshall has in his favor is his experience as a small-business owner, something missing (for far too long) from the County Board.

Gutshall is well-versed in the frustrations that can be felt when interacting with the government bureaucracy, and has promised to work on improvements.

Gutshall has picked up the majority of endorsements from current and former elected leaders and the civic cognoscienti who have taken a stand, but that can be a double-edged sword, suggesting he is the choice of an in-crowd that often comes across as too insular and unwilling to look outside its bubble to improve life in the county. But it also suggests Gutshall has worked collaboratively through his years in civic life, picking up more friends than enemies along the way.

The Democratic caucus asks voters to rank the candidates 1-2-3-4 in an instant-runoff format. It’s a tough call for us, with only a small separation between the top two, but our recommendation is that the Democratic electorate rank the contenders in this order: Gutshall, Klingler, Fallon, Patil.

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