Rating the Candidates at the Civic Federation Debate

Arlington Sun Gazette, September 10, 2006
Rating the Candidates at the Civic Federation Debate


(Created: Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:14 AM EDT)

The Sun Gazette’s “Political Notes” column this week assigns letter grades for the performance of candidates at the annual Arlington County Civic Federation debate, held Sept. 5.

“It was, as Wall Street types like to say, a ‘narrow trading range.’ Few candidates truly bumbled, but few also stood out,” editors said in their analysis of how candidates did.

Here’s how the paper viewed their performances:

County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman: The incumbent stayed true to what no doubt will be his campaign theme, that Democrats are working hard to meet challenges, and that the county overall is in good shape despite the best efforts of the evil developers and meanies in Richmond to stymie the County Board’s progressive agenda. We would have liked, however, to have seen him acknowledge (a) that there is a looming fiscal crisis in county government, and (b) that the county government bears its share of responsibility for declining levels of affordable-housing in Arlington, and for its failure to work better with developers (both for-profit and non-profit) to secure more housing. All the happy talk may play well with the uninformed, but insiders find it grating and irresponsible. Grade: B.

Republican County Board candidate Mike McMenamin: He was more animated than we expected, and pushed some important issues. But McMenamin a newcomer on the stump, and as such he sometimes looked befuddled when trying to read from prepared remarks (we call it the “Jim Webb look”). He performed better than we expected, but needs to improve further, and in a hurry, to make the race competitive. Grade: B.

Green Party County Board candidate Josh Ruebner: He took this very column’s earlier advice, and came after Zimmerman – hard – from the left. Although clearly lacking the experience of Zimmerman, or even McMenamin, we thought Ruebner scored some points. Somebody out there has to raise the fact that the County Board is standing by as gentrification takes place, and it looks like Ruebner’s the one. Grade: A-minus.

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