Arlington civic activist John Vihstadt on Thursday announced an independent candidacy for the expected Arlington County Board special election created by the upcoming resignation of long-time board member Chris Zimmerman.
Vihstadt, 61, said it’s time to break the lock that Democrats have on Arlington County’s local politics because “no political party has a monopoly on wisdom, good ideas or sound government stewardship.”
Three Democrats have announced they are seeking their party’s nomination for the special election, on a date yet to be set but expected to take place in March. Neither the Republicans nor the Green Party have announced a candidate for the opening.
The last Republican elected to the Arlington County Board was Mike Lane, who won a special election in 1999. Before that, independent Ben Winslow won another special election in 1993.
“While running as an independent, I’m sending a signal that we need a balance on the board, we need a fresh perspective,” said Vihstadt. “We need a robust community discussion on our priorities. We have an empty skyscraper and packed schools. The county appears to be dead-set to go ahead on a $400 million streetcar that originally was supposed to cost less than half that much. We have an aquatic center whose operating subsidy is now going to be more than $4 million a year. We’re subsidizing the Artisphere at about $1.5 million per year. Let’s hit the reset button... and get back to core services.”
Vihstadt supports an Arlington Civic Federation resolution calling for the establishment of an independent internal audit function. He’s been a leader in the anti-streetcar group, Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit, and served on the county’s planning, housing and aging commissions and has been active in the schools as well.
He already has the support of County Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos, multiple former school board members and former Civic Federation president Jim Pebley.
Vihstadt, a multi-family and health-care real estate attorney who works in downtown Washington, has been an Arlington resident since 1981. He lived first in South Arlington and in 1989 moved to Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood near Westover, where he still lives.