Run Again!

Run Again!

More than 3,000 people agreed with him at the polls last week, but Green Party candidate Josh Ruebner isn’t sure he’s going to run again because there are other party faithful that might want a shot at the title. At least, that’s what he intimated in last week’s Connection.

Mike McMenamin, the Republican candidate, said in that same article that he’s holding open the possibility of another run, after he got nearly one third of the voters to side with him.

Both men fell to Chris Zimmerman, a long-standing Democrat on a day when more Arlingtonians — 73,000 of them — came out to vote than in any other non-presidential election.

Zimmerman had his best year ever at the polls with nearly 43,000 votes; that’s about 2-of-3 voters. If news reports are correct, Arlington politicos didn’t expect him to do this well, but it was way more than Ruebner or McMenamin could overcome.

Big losers, sure, but I say run again, and here’s how you’ll fare better:

Ruebner, you ran a nice tight campaign focused specifically on affordable housing. Your instincts were correct: there’s plenty of room to the left of Arlington Democrats, especially on the issue of development. Your arguments were sound and made sense to those of us whose politics lean left.

However, I live in one of the affordable neighborhoods—Buckingham—but I don’t remember seeing you swinging by my house canvassing for votes. Perhaps I wasn’t home that day, but I still say get out there and glad-hand more; kiss babies; bring a friend who speaks Spanish and hit the voters in the predominantly-Spanish-speaking apartment complexes.

And notice that I’m saying YOU. You now have a political history. News stories in the next campaign season will refer to you as “the man who garnered a surprising five percent in his first run for the board.” That’s not a bad line to come after your name.

Plus, you’ve burned my retinas green with “Vote Ruebner” signs on roadway medians. Don’t make some new Greenie get out there to do all the same work you did for name recognition only to get five percent of the vote.

McMenamin, the stories about you said you got into politics because you couldn’t get the county to install a stop sign in your neighborhood. This is something I understand very well.

A run for the board basically meant you envisioned a more responsive county board with you on it, a board that can get a stop sign at a busy street corner. But somehow this got turned into the hackneyed Republican battle cry, “Cut Taxes!”

But cutting taxes isn’t a vision for the county. It’s a nice idea, but it’s nothing I could rally behind. Sure, everybody wants more money, but I don’t want to cut it from one program if all it means is I get a few bucks back while someone else suffers.

So I say run again, but make “Responsive Government!” your battle cry. Explain to voters that a more responsive board makes a more efficient government. The more efficient something is, the less it costs. Therefore, you’ll be able to cut taxes. I think that would resonate with Arlingtonians such as myself.

Plus, the county has plenty of space where a man looking to streamline government could make a mark for himself.

I backed Mr. Zimmerman on my blog and at the ballot box, but the county board could be doing a lot more. They need strong opposition to force their hand. So run again! It will be good for everybody.

Steve Thurston writes About Arlington for The Connection every other week and posts to his news blog,, on Wednesdays and Sundays.