Arlington County Board Chairman Barbara A. Favola (D) and two Democratic incumbents on the School Board easily won reelection yesterday as Arlington voters also overwhelmingly approved the largest series of bond referendums in county history.
Favola beat Republican challenger F. Landey Patton IV -- a relatively unknown real estate agent -- by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio.
In the School Board races, Chairman E.T. "Libby" Garvey and board member Frank K. Wilson beat challengers William S. Barker and Shaun W. Whelden.
Voters also approved four bond referendum questions -- $18 million to pay for Metro equipment; $36 million for transportation and community infrastructure; $75 million for parks and recreation; and $78 million for Arlington public schools projects.
The money will be used in part for two big-ticket items on the county's wish list: $50 million for the North Tract, the planned swim and soccer complex to go on a piece of vacant land north of Crystal City, and $73 million for a new building to replace the decaying Washington-Lee High School.
Favola, 49, who has served on the board since 1997, said that after meeting with hundreds of voters over the past several weeks, she believes her constituents were pleased with the current County Board's effort, adding that she was "absolutely delighted" with her victory.
"It says people are satisfied with the way things are going, and you can't be too disappointed with that," she said. She also said she felt that the high turnout in majority-Democratic Arlington -- better than 80 percent of the registered voters went to the polls -- helped her cause. "It's an honor to serve this community, where people are aware and are so savvy," Favola said.
Patton, 64, said he was not surprised Favola won such a decisive victory. He called Favola a "very dedicated public servant," adding, "She is very, very good at what she does. I think the voters are pretty pleased with the way things are going and want to continue that."
During the campaign, Patton had criticized the all-Democrat County Board of "reckless spending" and said something must be done to offer more tax relief to residents who are bearing soaring property assessments.
The county reduced the tax rate by 2 cents per $100 of assessed value this year, but the average real estate tax bill continues to rise.
Garvey said that the voters' decision to reelect two well-known Democratic members of the board was a "referendum on how our school system is doing. I think we're doing well, and I think voters appreciate that."
One of the key issues in the School Board race was whether the county should redraw attendance boundaries to address enrollment population imbalances at several North Arlington elementary schools.
The school district recently caused a furor among parents when it posted four redistricting options on its Web site.
Both the challengers -- Whelden, 20, a Libertarian, and Barker, 52, who was endorsed by the Republican Party -- oppose the redistricting. Under Virginia law, school boards are nonpartisan and candidates run as independents, but are often endorsed by local political parties. Wilson and Garvey are Democrats.
Whelden -- a young Marymount University student who is a graduate of Yorktown High School -- said last night that he hoped the school system would drop the redistricting plans. "The people have made it clear. They don't want their neighborhoods carved up as a solution to the overcrowding problem," he said.
He said he was considering another run for the School Board to continue opposing redistricting and to promote such issues as increased school security.
Garvey, 53, said that she was waiting until a committee appointed by the School Board had a chance to examine school boundaries, speak with parents and report its finding to the board later this year. "We need to let the process work," Garvey said. "That's the Arlington Way."