In a Sweep, Democrats Clinch Races For County Board, Sheriff, Court Clerk

By Kirstin Downey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It was a Democratic landslide in Arlington County yesterday, as early morning voters braved rain and wind to express their party solidarity and dissatisfaction with Republican leadership on national issues. But illegal immigration, transportation and development were also high on their minds.

County Board Vice Chairman J. Walter Tejada (D) was reelected to a second term and was the top vote-getter in the race for two board seats. Mary H. Hynes (D), a 12-year veteran of the Arlington School Board, followed closely behind to win the second seat.

County Board Chairman Paul F. Ferguson (D) was elected Circuit Court clerk, and Sheriff Elizabeth F. Arthur (D), in that office since 2000, was reelected.

"It's another great result for Democrats in Arlington, once again," Hynes said. "We've had decades of proven leadership . . . which has resulted in wonderful benefits for the community."

Republican candidates said theirs had been an uphill battle. "The Democratic base really came out this year," said Michael T. McMenamin (R), who ran for the County Board.

Joanne Edwards, an independent from North Arlington, said she voted strictly for Democrats to send a message to Republicans locally and nationally. "We've got to get this administration out," she said.

Samir Ghosh, an immigrant and retired tax consultant who usually leans Democratic, said his primary concerns were the war in Iraq, the economy and global warming. But he said he is also paying attention to immigration.

"I think only those who have earned their citizenship should be able to get a driver's license," he said.

Ghosh said he does not like the idea of anyone who is pulled over by police being asked about their immigration status. "But if anyone is caught doing something wrong, the police should be able to check," he said.

At the Drew Community Center in Nauck, a predominantly African American neighborhood, Ra¿l Angulo, who moved from Bolivia 22 years ago, said he voted Democratic because the party has been more willing to help immigrants, both legal and illegal.

"Illegal immigrants are humans also. They need help," he said. "But others treat them like trash. Who's going to do the jobs they do? That's my question."

Democrat Evelyn Newman saw it differently. She has lived in her house for more than 40 years and said there is no place to park because of overcrowded housing.

"I'm all for legal immigration," she said. "But I think we should know who is in this country. And I don't think our tax dollars should be spent on them. A lot of people say I am a racist. I'm not. And I should know. I'm black. I'm not saying we should send them all home. But we have to work something out."

Tejada, who is from El Salvador, said that in his weeks of knocking on doors, he found that most voters had immigration on their minds and supported the resolution that the board recently adopted expressing support for immigrants.

"Most people have told me they really appreciate that," he said.

"What we did really contradicts what they're doing in Loudoun and Prince William and other places," Tejada continued. "Nobody is defending criminals. If you commit a crime, you do the time. But the people here who are working, own a car, pay taxes -- you have to remember one out of four people in Arlington were born in another country -- they appreciate our view."

Staff writer Brigid Schulte contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company