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Two New Arlington County Board Candidates Emerge

Updated: Apr 8, Jo DeVoe, February 8, 2024 at 10:45am

Two new candidates for Arlington County Board have emerged — one is new to the ballot, while another is returning.

First-time candidate and current Planning Commissioner Tenley Peterson and second-time candidate J.D. Spain, Sr. announced their bids for the seat Chair Libby Garvey will vacate at the end of the year.

They will go up against Natalie Roy — who had Garvey’s support during the last Board race — as well as first-time candidate Julie Farnam and former State Senate candidate James DeVita in the Democratic primary on June 18.

Garvey has spoken highly of Peterson but tells ARLnow she is withholding endorsements this early in the campaign.

“There is so much to love about Arlington but our region is changing,” Peterson, a substitute teacher in Arlington Public Schools and consultant for nonprofits, said during the Arlington Democrats meeting at Lubber Run Community Center last night.

“We must be intentional about how we grow and adapt, ensuring it works for all Arlingtonians,” she continued.

Peterson outlined her priorities, including tackling housing shortages, climate change and educational disparities, while improving Arlington’s social safety net. She said she supported the Missing Middle/Expanded Housing Options zoning ordinance changes but still wants to see more transit-oriented development, too.

A self-described progressive Democrat and with experience on budget and planning issues, Peterson spent eight years reviewing budgets on the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, including four as chair.

She joined the Planning Commission in 2019 and chaired community engagement for Amazon’s HQ2 project, supporting contributions to affordable housing, a new community park and a home for Arlington Community High School.

“I know how Arlington works,” she says on her website. “I’m a consensus builder who listens, brings people to the table, and finds solutions that work. I want to find common ground, so Arlington can continue to move forward and function as a place we can be proud of.”

Spain, a veteran and former president of the Arlington branch of the NAACP, announced his bid in an email newsletter to supporters, shared with ARLnow.

“I am running for public office because I believe in the fundamental principles of democracy, equality, and justice. I am running to be your representative and your champion in the pursuit of a safe, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable Arlington for all,” he said in the newsletter.

His said his top campaign issue is “ensuring the well-being and safety of our community.”

“As your representative, I will prioritize policies and planning initiatives to strengthen our public health infrastructure, expand access to healthcare services, and address the underlying social drivers of health,” he said, emphasizing investments in mental health and substance use education among students.

He is also campaigning on tackling rising economic security — by promoting job creation, supporting small businesses and taking on housing initiatives. Spain also spoke of the need to address climate change locally.

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