Report Card Time: Grading the Candidates

Arlington Sun Gazette
Report Card Time: Grading the Candidates

(Created: Thursday, September 6, 2007 5:01 AM EDT)

The Arlington Sun Gazette each year grades the performances of candidates at the Arlington County Civic Federation.

This year, there were no real flops, and a few standouts. Here’s our scorecard:

County Board:

Green Party candidate Josh Ruebner, for the second year in a row, gets our vote for best performance of the night. Though we don’t agree with much of his platform, he was polished and forceful. The rest of the board candidates were left in his wake. Grade: A-plus.

Republican Mike McMenamin, like Ruebner, is around for a second spin of the political wheel. He was stronger than at last year’s Civic Federation debate. While he’s not a dynamo on the stump, there’s a certain earnestness about McMenamin that you have to admire. Grade: B (almost B-plus).

Republican Joseph Warren is likely to be a one-note candidate, focusing on transportation, and while there wasn’t a lot of finesse in his performance, it exceeded our expectations and exuded a certain charm. Grade: B.

Democrat Mary Hynes, who like McMenamin is earnestness personified, seemed a bit too scripted for someone who has been through the Civic Federation debates before in her School Board years. It was a little lacking in specificity for the candidate who is odds-on favorite to get the most County Board votes in November. There is room for improvement, and we hope to see boldness where we thus far have seen caution. Grade: B (shading to B-minus).

Democrat Walter Tejada was mostly platitudes and generalities, which is odd as he was the only one on the dais with actual County Board experience. He did get in plugs for his role in helping create the Community Role Models program and the public defender’s office, but we’d like to hear more than phrases such as “Arlington’s greatest strength is in its diversity.” Grade: B-minus.

School Board:

Abby Raphael honed her rap in the Democratic endorsement process. She’s got it down; we hope she means it when she comes across as a fiscal watchdog. Grade: A.

General Assembly:

State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, D-31st, is the most polished of Arlington’s elected officials. After a dozen years in office, she knows how to work rooms like the Civic Federation. No complaints with her effort: Grade: A.

Del. Adam Ebbin, D-49th. Always comes across as earnest (there’s that word again) and fair-minded. And his answers to questions rarely come across as scripted. Grade: A.

Del. Albert Eisenberg, D-47th, started off with a joke (that worked) and gave a succinct litany of what he believes are his achievements in Richmond. Grade: A-minus.

Del. Bob Brink, D-48th, did much the same as Eisenberg. No soaring oratory, but no flubs. Grade: A-minus.

Del. David Englin, D-45th, always gives a fine performance. His Republican opponent, Mark Allen, seemed personable and, unlike some of the legislative candidates Republicans throw at us, seems to be clued-in to the district he seeks to represent. We give them both grades of B-plus.

James Ronald Fisher, the Independent Green candidate for the 49th House District, came across as a very likeable guy. And we learned that he has 120(!) nieces and nephews. His background is impressive, but his comments pertained more to the national scene than the local one. For that, we grade him a C. (Sorry!)

Clerk of the Circuit Court:

Candidates Paul Ferguson (Democrat) and Mark Kelly (Republican) each pitched the idea that new technology can improve the office they seek to inherit from veteran Dave Bell, but both also were careful not to suggest Bell – who has endorsed Ferguson – was doing anything wrong.

Kelly gets an A-minus for his effort, though he clearly remains an underdog.

Ferguson momentarily was blind-sided by a question about problems with an environmental audit at the county government’s Trade Center, and was forced to acknowledge he didn’t know anything about it. Not good for, as we recently called him, the poster boy for Arlington’s environmental initiatives. But otherwise, he did fine. Grade: B-plus.

Constitutional Officers:

The constitutional officers – Sheriff Beth Arthur, Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy – were offered time for brief remarks, so we will grade them on a pass-fail basis. All passed.


We will record grades of “Incomplete” for Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Trodden; Samuel Burley, the Independent Green candidate for Whipple’s Senate seat; and Steven Strasburg, the independent candidate for Arthur’s position. All three opted, somewhat inexplicably, to skip the event.

State Sen. Patsy Ticer, D-30th, was missing from the evening due to the death of her husband.

This entry was posted in Campaign for Arlington County Board, 2007, In the News, Political Campaigns. Bookmark the permalink.