[Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
If, as one might expect, Democrat Takis Karantonis wins the July 7 County Board election necessitated by the untimely death of Erik Gutshall, it’s a reasonable choice.
Karantonis is smart, has a breadth of experience and institutional knowledge, and respectfully listens to other points of view – all traits that were found in Gutshall. We can hope that, should Karantonis ascend to the board dais, he will be a voice of moderation and independence.
That said, there also is an argument to be made that July 7 represents the opportunity to send a message to the existing four County Board members, who have managed to do the almost impossible – make us yearn for the era before 2014, another period when Democrats held a monopoly in Arlington governance.
At least the pre-2014 board (none of whose members currently is serving) was merely arrogant in its dealings with the public, particularly anyone who raised opposition to its gold-plated spending and sometimes goofy leftist(ish) policy positions.
The current board, though composed of individuals of no particular odiousness on a personal basis, has managed to couple increasing levels of arrogance with a tone of high-handed self-righteousness, lecturing and hectoring the public on how they should think and behave – while often skirting the rules they set for others.
Sending Karantonis down to defeat would be unfair to him, perhaps, just as it was unfair to Alan Howze in 2014, but sometimes a broader message needs to be delivered in order to get the existing board members back on track. As the old political truism goes: If you’ve got them by the [private parts], their hearts and minds will follow.
Of the two others on the ballot, we rule out Republican Bob Cambridge. An attorney, 40-year county resident and decent guy, he came into the race without a robust understanding of the issues involved and has had a tendency to go off on tangents. He might have been a better choice by the GOP to run against Democratic board chair Libby Garvey in the fall; he would not have won, but would have had more time to prep and focus on messaging.
Independent Susan Cunningham has more experience in community leadership, and as a letter-writer put it, she “knows the system, but has not been captured by it.”
For those wishing to send a message of dissatisfaction to incumbent County Board members who are falling into the bad habits of their predecessors, Cunningham might be the appropriate choice.
Your call, Arlington.