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Columbia Pike Streetcar May Weigh Heavily On Special Election In Arlington

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Democrat Rip Sullivan delivers a victory speech in the cafeteria of Yorktown High School.
WAMU/Michael Pope
Democrat Rip Sullivan delivers a victory speech in the cafeteria of Yorktown High School.

A special election will be held next month in Arlington to pick a replacement for Del. Bob Brink, who took a position in the McAuliffe administration. This weekend, both parties picked their candidates.

The Republican candidate in the race is Dave Foster, a former chairman of the Arlington County School Board. After securing the Republican nomination on Sunday, Foster vowed that his first act in the General Assembly would be to introduce a bill calling for a referendum on the controversial streetcar proposal on Columbia Pike.

"I believe it's a very ill-advised, overpriced and unaffordable option for Arlington and for Fairfax," he said.

The streetcar proposal has become increasingly polarizing in Arlington, where an independent candidate was able to beat a Democrat in a County Board election earlier this year based largely on opposition to the streetcar proposal.

"There is intense public concern about it, and I think it would be prudent for us to authorize Arlington to have a referendum on it," said Foster.

The Democrat in the race is Rip Sullivan, who beat out six other candidates in a crowded Democratic caucus Sunday night. After securing a victory, though, Sullivan didn't have much to say about his position on the streetcar proposal.

"My position is that I'm going home to bed. The campaign starts tomorrow. I'm not going to get into issues tonight," he said after his win. "It's not that I don't have a position but I'm not interested in talking about it tonight. I'm going to go home and go to bed. I'm exhausted, alright?"

The special election is scheduled for August 19.


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