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

Some weeks ago, we opined that it was a shame that – in a country of 330 million people – our choices for president boiled down to two out-of-touch old men better suited to running for leadership of a Florida senior-citizens condo.

(We did get one letter to the editor on the subject, asking us not to lump America’s seniors in with the likes of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Fair point.)

When it comes to the 2020 Arlington County Board race, we face a similar, though not identical, problem.

If the race between Democratic incumbent Libby Garvey and independent challenger Audrey Clement feels familiar, it’s because the two have run against each other three times before.

And, as has been the case in the past, Clement will score some points in debates but in the end never will come close; Garvey may not be universally loved by Democratic insiders, but the party sample ballot will carry her through.

Clement in some ways is savvy, and is at her best when pointing out when the emperor has no clothes, such as her dissection of the county government’s weak housing policy – one that is falling short in preserving affordable units and now has focused on a “missing middle” plan clearly designed to increase density (and the flow of real-estate taxes) without doing much to address affordability.

But any Clement candidacy suffers from two fatal flaws: She has run so often, her campaigns have become background noise, tuned out by the voters; and her political views, while sometimes on target, are scattershot. Depending on the issue, she is coming at the Democratic oligarchy from the left, from the right, from the middle, and sometimes from outer space.

Garvey, like Clement, at this point is effectively running for the sake of running. Except, in her case, it’s running for the sake of being elected and thence holding elected office for the sake of holding elected office, while occasionally rotating into the County Board chairmanship.

Have there been any out-of-the-box proposals from Garvey since she worked to scuttle the streetcar and overpriced bus stops lo those many years ago? As President Eisenhower said when asked whether Vice President Richard Nixon had contributed any ideas to his administration: Give us a week and we might come up with one.

Garvey has not covered herself in glory during COVID (nor has the county-government leadership in general). Our local government often is too timid when it needs to be bold, yet conversely too aggressive when it should be cautious. And, as Clement points out, government leaders proclaim their fealty to the progressive playbook, but seldom take tangible steps to advance said cause.

This weakness makes us yearn for the days of the likes of Chris Zimmerman (who may keel over when he hears that praise from us). He was able to lead the County Board – not always in the direction we wanted to see, but at least to keep it moving forward toward a purpose. There’s been little of that for years, and while the sclerotic thinking of late is not entirely Garvey’s fault, she is on the ballot.

Maybe something will happen in coming weeks to lead us toward an endorsement of either Garvey or Clement. But perhaps not; leftover sometimes are delicious, but in this case, it’s a rather bland array of options.

(5) comments


Reality - Like the Owners, Publishers, and Editors of other Media outlets McCaffrey has had a bias against Republican, Independent, and Third Party candidates going back almost two decades. As for Clement's candidacy, if the Washington Post spent a few hours investigating Audrey Clement's opponents in 2019 (as the Post was urged to do) Audrey would be on the Arlington County Board today. Worse than the Post is Arlington's other major news blog, whose Owner and Publisher uses surrogate commenters to attack candidates who don't go along with the program - one party government addicted to neighborhood-by-neighborhood infill-gentrification, no matter what the costs and consequences. Almost forgot that McCaffrey is not only local Media's biggest chamber of commerce booster, he served on the Arlington Chamber's Board of Directors for years. So what did you expect McCaffrey will say? That Libby Garvey should have retired four years ago? That Libby would have another wonderful 4 years on the County Board socializing with her favorite people, traveling around the world, promoting the interests of her favored special interests, and rubber stamp approving charades like 'car free diet', 'urban village', 'missing middle' and 'affordable housing'.

It sounds like Scott can't bring himself to endorse my do nothing opponent. Yet he knows he has to do that to maintain credibility or ad revenue or both. It's necessary to pin something on me that will make my opponent look good. Ergo he reports that my views are "scattershot".

Not exactly. I'm an independent. As such I don't align with any political party. Yet I have consistently criticized County Board for its lack of fiscal discipline resulting in a tax rate that is twice the rate of inflation for the past 10 years. I routinely criticize the Board for mindlessly approving development projects without regard to their impacts on streets, parks, schools and public safety. I also oppose upzoning, which will densify residential neighborhoods and displace existing residents, while providing no affordable housing. Does my assessment of County government square with yours? If so, then my views aren't all over the map. They're on the mark.


Time for the Real Journalists connected with Inside Nova to divorce Inside Nova from the biased Arlington Democratic Party / Arlington Chamber of Commerce press-releases-printed-as-news by Scott McCaffrey and the Sun Gazette.

Allen Muchnick

It's long past time for Inside NOVA to end the anonymous sock puppetry in the comments section.


Time for local media to stop allowing people from outside Arlington to constantly make abusive comments about anyone who doesn't go along with the program - decades of one party control of County Government dedicated to in-fill gentrification.

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