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Editorial: Referendum needed for change-of-government matters

It is not enough to allow five elected officials on the County Board enact massive change

We’re not sure it represents a major thaw in the cold war between the county government and advocates of a major governance overhaul in the 26-square-mile slice of paradise that is Arlington. But local leaders have agreed to support, albeit in a tangential way, a summertime forum on governance changes to be run by the Arlington County Civic Federation.

Détente may make it more likely that, come the 2025 General Assembly session, legislators statewide may look more favorably on Arlington-specific governance changes than this session, when a measure by Del. Patrick Hope was punted.

We want to tee up our viewpoint early. We remain somewhat dubious on some of the governance-change proposals emanating from the Civic Federation, but we could be won over. Most importantly, however, is this – any state legislation needs to require a community referendum to implement any changes. Allowing decisions on such seminal issue to be the province of five County Board members (whom most residents couldn’t pick out of a lineup) would be political malpractice of the worst kind. The electorate must have the final say.