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Venerable Electoral Board member to depart over summer

McGeary has served three stints totaling two decades in post
2023 Arlington Electoral Board vice chair Richard Samp, secretary Scott McGeary and chair Kimberly Phillip are shown with director of elections Gretchen Reinemeyer.

For three different stints totaling 20 years, Scott McGeary has represented the interests of Republicans and the broader community on the Arlington Electoral Board.

That will end sometime this summer, as McGeary and his wife Linda will be moving to Frederick County, Va.

“I will do my duty as long as I can,” McGeary told Arlington County Republican Committee members on May 22, noting that his departure-from-Arlington date will be dependent on the completion of a house they are having built.

“Everyone moves out to more Republican counties,” sighed Arlington GOP chair Matthew Hurtt, and indeed, Frederick County is something of a polar opposite to Arlington. Glenn Youngkin in 2021 received 69 percent of that county’s vote for governor, compared to 23 percent in Arlington.

(Fun fact: It was from Frederick County that George Washington began his political career, winning seats from the Winchester area to the Virginia House of Burgesses – the colonial forerunner of today’s General Assembly – in 1758 and 1761.)

McGeary, an attorney and government-affairs representative for Washington Gas, grew up in Arlington and began his involvement with Republican politics in the early 1960s. He served a lengthy stint as secretary of the Arlington County Republican Committee, followed by a two-year term (1986-88) as party chair.

“I’ll carry these memories forward,” he said.

McGeary also chaired the Arlington Chamber of Commerce (and is enshrined in the Arlington Business Hall of Fame) and saw service on the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals. But it has been his lengthy tenure on the Electoral Board – three years as vice chairman, nine as chairman and eight as secretary – where he might be most identified.

Even those on the other side of the political aisle praised his performance and personality.

“I truly value Scott’s expertise, experience and enthusiasm,” said Kim Phillip, chairman and currently the lone Democrat on the three-member Electoral Board. “His input, feedback and support of fellow Electoral Board colleagues and staff are greatly appreciated and will be missed.”

At the GOP meeting, McGeary said he would remain in office at least long enough for the June 20 Democratic primary, to “see through this ranked-choice-voting experience” as Arlington implements a new voting process in the County Board race.

McGeary has informed members of the Arlington Circuit Court, who appoint Electoral Board members on the advice of political parties, of his plans to step down. It is likely the Arlington GOP leadership will seek applicants and then forward three finalists to the court for a final selection.

The appointee will serve the remainder of McGeary’s term, which has a little under a year to run.

Each of Virginia’s more than 100 local electoral boards has the same composition – two of its three members come from the party that holds the governorship, the third from the party that does not. When there is a change in the party holding the governorship, the composition of all electoral boards changes over time to reflect the flip.

McGeary is living testament to how the process plays out in a real-world environment:

• In 1994, he replaced Democrat Charlene Bickford (a former Arlington County Democratic Committee chair) after George Allen was elected governor.

• In 2003, he was replaced in turn by Bickford after Mark Warner was elected governor.

• In 2011, McGeary returned, supplanting Democrat David Bell (a former clerk of the Circuit Court) when Robert McDonnell was elected governor.

• In 2014, Bell returned the favor, being appointed to succeed McGeary after Terry McAuliffe won the governorship.

In 2016, McGeary came back onto the board, being appointed to succeed Republican Allen Harrison Jr. upon the latter’s retirement. Harrison defied the odds, serving a modern-day Arlington Electoral Board record of 29 consecutive years without falling victim to removal owing to a change in the governorship.

The trio of McGeary, Harrison and Bickford provided the Electoral Board with a seemingly endless institutional memory. With the looming departure of McGeary, the board will be relatively new: Phillip was appointed in 2021 and Republican Richard Samp earlier this year.

In his remarks to the GOP committee, McGeary said he considered his two most important, and happy, votes on the Electoral Board to have been the appointments of, successively, Linda Lindberg and Gretchen Reinemeyer as director of elections for the county.