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Editorial: Our choices for Arlington County Board primary

Four are possibilities, but two ultimately rose to the top

Pop quiz: Eight years ago this very springtime, Arlington Democrats were selecting County Board nominees to succeed which two retiring office-holders?

If you reflexively knew the answer was Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes, pat yourself on the back. If not, perhaps brush up on your local-government history, because you can’t know where a community is going without knowing where it has been, and who has guided it.

Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey succeeded to the seats of Tejada and Hynes, but after two four-year terms have decided enough is enough. They have had modest accomplishments over eight years, but the days of County Board members who last for more than a decade and record significant achievements seem to be on the wane. Current board members have been more likely to be followers (largely of staff) than visionaries.

With that digression out of the way, we turn to the Democratic field to replace Cristol and Dorsey. Six are attempting to secure the Democratic nod, and with due respect to Audrey Clement and any others who might materialize for the November ballot in coming weeks, the party nomination often is tantamount to election.

Two weeks ago, we opined on the strengths and weaknesses of each of the six candidates in the primary; if you missed it, track that editorial down HERE. We will spare you a rerun; today’s job is to cut to the chase.

Our picks? Let’s start with the honorable-mentions.  Susan Cunningham and Tony Weaver almost made the cut into the top two. Both have some positions we can get behind, and both have experience in civic life. They are viable options who should not be overlooked by voters.

But they were not our top selections. Instead, we are urging voters to choose Natalie Roy and J.D. Spain Sr.

An odd combination, some might say, but we were not searching for candidates in lock-step themselves – or with us. Instead, we sought out those combining community involvement with policy reasonableness. By those criteria, Roy and Spain rose to the top.

Roy would be our No. 1 pick in part because she, more than any other candidate on the ballot, understands the risks that no-holds-barred urbanization will have on residents, and has been unabashed in calling for a think-it-through approach to moving forward. That has enraged some in Arlington’s political power structure – as self-satisfied a group as one will ever find – but we see it as a good thing to have some independence on an elected body that has taken groupthink to a whole new level.

Spain has his detractors, too, but he has been reasonable and solutions-oriented on the stump and, we believe (or perhaps hope), would be thoughtful in his approach to governance matters that come before him.

Given the ranked-choice nature of this election, all bets are off as to which contenders will finish 1-2 and advance to the general election. We suggest Roy and Spain are the best, albeit not necessarily only, options for the local electorate. The final choice is yours.