After a split from the Arlington Democratic establishment following her opposition to the streetcar project and her support of independent John Vihstadt, County Board Chair Libby Garvey faced a primary. Democratic opponent Erik Gutshall had gathered the support of fellow County Board member Jay Fisette as well as Arlington’s Democratic state legislators. But with a 10 percent vote lead, Garvey retained the Democratic nomination in last week’s primary.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time knocking on doors and doing coffees with citizens,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “People want a government that’s transparent and responsible, The positive message resonated well with people.”
Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership at George Mason University, said the election came down to personal preference rather than party politics.
“Arlington voters tend to follow the ‘Arlington Way,’ so that they are less partisan and more focused on bottom lines,” said Shafroth. “As Chair Garvey describes it: Arlington’s citizens and organizations help her, and she helps them. She seems focused on building community, and I think voters lean to someone they perceive as putting their interests (and results) over party interests.”
Garvey herself didn’t seem to disagree, citing her experience in local elected office, particularly in the Arlington School Board, as part of her deep roots in the local community.
“This is my 20th year in elected office, so people know me,” said Garvey. “I have a record. [Arlington voters] appreciate experience and they like an issues-oriented campaign. That’s what the voters wanted.”
With no Republican challengers filing for the November election, Garvey’s only opposition will be independent Audrey Clement.