The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

De Ferranti wins second Arlington term; Read leading in Fairfax City mayor’s race

De Ferranti won more than 60 percent of ballots cast, a share of the vote on par with other Democratic incumbents in recent years

Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti (D) in May. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post)

Matt de Ferranti (D) won his second term on the Arlington County Board, while Catherine Read held the lead in the Fairfax City mayoral race and Kelly Burk was poised to be reelected as mayor of Leesburg, according to unofficial results.

De Ferranti pulled ahead of two independent challengers in a contest for the Arlington board’s only open seat — one that had been marked by sharp differences among the three candidates and their supporters over the question of housing density.

Although Democrats have not lost a seat in this deep-blue locality since 2014, some feared the incumbent’s waffling on a divisive countywide rezoning push would leave him with one of the narrowest margins of victory in recent memory.

But those fears were unfounded: De Ferranti won more than 60 percent of ballots cast, a share of the vote on par with other Democratic incumbents in recent years.

“I love working for Arlington residents and I’m ready to work as hard as I can to be as good as they are,” he said. “I’m humbled, I’m grateful, and I’m eager to serve all Arlingtonians for the next four years.”

Arlington’s five county board members are all elected at-large and serve staggered four-year terms. De Ferranti was the only one up for reelection this year.

The contest was dominated by debate over the county’s controversial “missing middle” framework, which would roll back zoning rules and allow developers and homeowners to build duplexes, townhouses and small apartment buildings with up to eight units on any residential lot. (In single-family neighborhoods, any new middle-density housing would need to conform to existing setbacks, floor area ratios and other design standards.)

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De Ferranti stopped short of the framework presented by county planners this year, saying he would at most support “sixplexes” on larger lots and “fourplexes” across the board.

Arlington’s sole county board race a proxy war over ‘missing middle’

His challengers, Audrey Clement and Adam Theo, tried to win over voters by saying de Ferranti’s stance on the framework would bring too much — or not enough — density to Arlington’s single-family neighborhoods.

Critics of the plan rallied behind Clement, in her 11th bid for the office, casting the election as a way to show that the all-Democratic board that voters disagreed with the premise of “missing middle.”

“It seems like out of the three choices, she’s the one that’s against it the most,” Faheem Haque, a 41-year-old pharmacist, said as he voted at an elementary school near the four-bedroom townhouse he owns in Lyon Village. “ ‘Missing middle’ is not well-thought-out. It’s not going to reach the objectives that it wants.”

Theo, the co-founder of the civic group YIMBYs of NoVA, had criticized De Ferranti for not going far enough on the proposal, appealing to millennials, renters and others who overwhelmingly support it as a way to lower housing costs.

But Ben Longsdon, a 25-year-old consultant, said he was most compelled to vote for Theo given his desire to lower property taxes. Longsdon, who rents a two-bedroom apartment in the Court House neighborhood, recently moved to Arlington from Louisville but is delaying registering his vehicle because of high property taxes, he said.

As housing prices soar, a wealthy county rethinks the idea of suburbia

De Ferranti tried to make the race about more than just that marquee issue, campaigning on his work on climate change, immigration and criminal justice as well as his leadership as county board chair during part of the coronavirus pandemic.

One voter at Innovation Elementary School in Court House, 29-year-old Nate Trentanelli, said the “missing middle” proposal wasn’t a priority for him but that climate concerns are. De Ferranti had earned his vote, he said, with a push for a countywide net-zero energy goal.

Kim Le, a 37-year-old Realtor, said she voted for de Ferranti given his stance on the “missing middle” framework.

“There’s definitely housing for low-income people, and the rich people don’t need much help,” she said. But others “still deserve a chance to own in an affordable way.”

Others were less familiar with de Ferranti’s record — or his name — but offered their support anyway. “I’m voting for whoever the Democratic candidate is,” said Sean Howard, 24, who works in finance. “They align more with my policies and what I want out of local government.”

Regardless of the outcome, at least one vote on the board cannot be swayed by reading the tea leaves of the election results: The board’s chair, Katie Cristol (D), who is one of the strongest voices supporting the “missing middle” proposal, said she is not running for reelection when her term is up next year. A final vote is expected early next year.

In the race for one seat on the Arlington school board, Bethany Sutton, who was endorsed by local Democrats, was projected to win over James “Vell” Rives IV.

In Fairfax City, the nonpartisan mayoral race between Read and Sang Yi drew interest from both major political parties. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) appeared as a featured speaker at a fundraiser for Yi, a GOP congressional staffer, while several Democratic lawmakers donated to Read’s campaign.

Read, a community engagement strategist, said she would work to add more sidewalks to the city and would champion the construction of public bathrooms inside its parks. Yi said he would work to add more affordable housing in the city while attracting more businesses to the downtown area.

Lots of partisan money in Northern Va. city’s nonpartisan mayoral race

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Georgia runoff election: Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) won re-election in the Georgia Senate runoff, defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker and giving Democrats a 51st seat in the Senate for the 118th Congress. Get live updates here and runoff results by county.

Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

What the results mean for 2024: A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign shortly after the midterms. Here are the top 10 2024 presidential candidates for the Republicans and Democrats.

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