County Board petitions state to extend special election with support of Arlington Democrats


The July 7 election will determine who will fill the late Vice Chair Erik Gutshall's seat.

ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — The Arlington County Board is petitioning the Virginia Supreme Court to extend the July 7 special election to fill Vice-Chair Erik Gutshall’s seat for the remaining year and a half of his term. Gutshall died on April 16 after battling brain cancer. The election and election date are both required by Virginia code.

The board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that says the special election date would pose significant and unnecessary risks to public health “that would jeopardize election officials, candidates, and the members of the public.”

The Arlington Democrats submitted a letter to the court in support of the board’s petition, saying the Democratic Party wants a more open nomination process. The maximum extension the county may be granted is 30 days, which Arlington Democrats chair Jill Caiazzo says isn’t enough time for a vote-by-mail process.

“We are asking the court to consider certain constitutional arguments that might suggest to them that we think that a later election date is more appropriate; an election date that would enable an open election process,” Caiazzo said. 

Arlington Democrats is working to nominate a democratic candidate by May 8. Caiazzo says the nomination will guarantee a Democrat appears on the ballot, and may encourage more unified support. The party is hosting a candidate forum on Sunday. All four Democratic candidates are participating. Caiazzo says Arlington Democrats hopes to have its nomination paperwork submitted to the state by the evening of May 6. 

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