Garvey Wins Special Election to Arlington County Board
Democrats maintain dominance of local government.
Democrat Libby Garvey won Tuesday’s special election to fill a vacant seat on the Arlington County Board by a little more than 800 votes, according to unofficial results.
Garvey, 60, campaigned on the experience she gained from 15 years of service on the local school board, on setting priorities and on managing the growth and change that comes to Arlington. Her win once again cements the one-party dominance of local government.
“I think my message resonated,” Garvey said at a victory party Tuesday night in the Douglas Park community. “I have a really good record. I think people like what they see.”
Thanking the 60-or-so supporters at Arlington County Revenue Commissioner Ingrid Morroy’s home, Garvey said the race had been “tough” and that “we were biting our nails.”
Garvey won 7,007 votes, or about 49 percent of ballots cast, according to unofficial results. Republican Mark Kelly received 6,194 votes, or about 43.5 percent of the total.
“That’s a small margin for a Democrat in Arlington,” Garvey said. She reminded people on the campaign trail and in email blasts that Democrats lost two of the last four special elections for county board.
Kelly carried a handful of precincts, including Crystal City and the Madison Precinct in North Arlington. Green Party candidate Audrey Clement won 1,007 votes, or about 7 percent of ballots cast.
The race forced questions about major Arlington County projects -- like a proposed Columbia Pike trolley and the Artisphere -- into the spotlight. Kelly and Clement opposed those and other costly endeavors.
About 9.5 percent of registered voters turned out to vote. Earlier Tuesday, county Registrar Linda Lindberg said she was hoping for at least 10 percent and called that “sad.”
The Arlington County Democratic Committee’s Joint Campaign hit the streets and the phones to support Garvey’s bid. Morroy, one of the campaign’s three co-chairs, called it a “dry run” to prepare Democrats for high-stakes contests later in the year.
“This is the beginning of many more victories to come,” she said.
In January, Garvey won a five-way caucus for her party's nomination. She has since pointed out that no sitting board members supported her then.
Garvey will tentatively be sworn in to office at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Her first meeting as an Arlington County Board member is a Thursday night budget work session – with the Arlington School Board.
“It’s cool,” Garvey said. “I think it’s poetic.”