Political consultant Bill Lockhart was named the new chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee Thursday as local party leaders began planning for the 2005 elections. Lockhart said he seeks to awaken and organize Republicans in Arlington, considered a Democratic stronghold.
"Our one-party government in Arlington has not been responsive to the concerns of taxpayers and neighborhoods," Lockhart said. "It's time to communicate that message loud and clear. In a time of skyrocketing real estate assessments, Arlingtonians are overtaxed more and more each year.
Lockhart is the Director of Political Systems for Synnovative Consulting, a firm headquartered in Alexandria.
"There is so much potential in Arlington for the Republican Party," he said.
Lockhart has served as the Virginia Field Director for the College National Republican Committee and managed Steve Sass' 2003 campaign for delegate in the 48th District.
"It's a tough job," said Scott Tate, stepped down as Republican Committee Chairman in January. "I certainty know that. I think that he's a very able and enthusiastic young man who will put the right energy into the getting our message out there. The biggest challenge is to increase our communications efforts. I'm convinced there are many discouraged Republicans in Arlington."
Taxation and county spending, Lockhart said, are among his top concerns.
"It's all tied together by the fact that one party makes up the leadership," he said. "Just because we have an extra $2 million, that doesn't mean we have to spend it."
Lockhart added that local Republicans have yet to pick any candidates for the coming election but they are actively seeking them. In 2004, Republican F Landey Patton ran for a seat on the County Board against Democratic incumbent Barbara Favola. Favola won by a margin of about 40,000 votes. Former School Board Candidate Bill Barker also ran that year as an independent candidate with a Republican endorsement. Barker, who captured more than 26,000 votes, said that from his perspective, Arlington voters appear to want more independent voices than party affiliated candidates.
"More people in Arlington are looking for an independent perspective," Barker said. "People want something different. They just don't expect the status quo."
Barker added that Republicans need to reach out more to young people and minorities in the county, both growing segments of the population that tend to lean more towards the Democratic end of the political spectrum.
"There is a ground swell of young people," Barker said. "The Republicans have a great opportunity in Arlington to challenge the powers that be."