John Vihstadt, who is running as an independent for Arlington County Board, picked up the endorsement of Arlington Republicans Monday night, possibly the first time that a local candidate had the backing of both the Green Party and the GOP.
Vihstadt, who himself is a Republican, opted to run as an independent in heavily Democratic Arlington County after becoming frustrated with the elected leadership of the county on issues such as the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the fiscal support of Artisphere and the rising costs of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. A resident of the county since 1981, he has decades of community involvement and has picked up the endorsements of two elected Democrats, County Board member Libby Garvey and Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos.
His candidacy sparked some fear among some Democrats. During the race for the nomination, Peter Fallon openly positioned himself as the one most likely to beat Vihstadt. The Democrats chose Alan Howze as their candidate this past weekend. Several other candidates have announced their intentions to run: Libertarian Evan Bernick and Janet Murphy of the Independent Green Party as well as Stephen Holbrook, a retired FBI agent who unsuccessfully sought a County Board seat last year with a write-in campaign. The general election is likely to be April 1 or 8; the date won’t be set until incumbent Chris Zimmerman steps down from the board Feb. 10.
The Republicans issued a formal statement Tuesday afternoon, emphasizing Vihstadt’s fiscal views. In a statement, Chairman Ian Meyeroff added that Vihstadt’s work for Arlington Republicans “is only a tiny fraction of who he is.” He also noted that Vihstadt received the Arlington GOP’s 2008 Delyannis-Finta Award for Distinguished Community Involvement.
The local Democratic Party chairman, Kip Malinoski, said in a statement: “Mr. Vihstadt has shown us his true Republican colors. He has a long history of supporting conservative candidates and now he has the Republican Party’s endorsement. Voters now have a clear choice: Alan Howze is a real progressive leader who will move Arlington forward, while Mr. Vihstadt will be another Republican obstructionist.”