Democratic County Board Candidates Call for Improved Government Transparency

Democratic County Board Candidates Call for Improved Government Transparency

Did you miss the recent candidate debate sponsored by the Arlington County Civic Federation? You can watch it here.

As Arlington Now reported, “The County Board forum began with topics such as police staffing and the office vacancy rate, but heated up during a later question about transparency. The question elicited criticism from every candidate about how the county makes information available. Multiple candidates suggested an overhaul of how Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are handled, saying the status quo is laborious for staff and expensive for residents.”

“We’ve not gotten to a place where our FOIA requests… are searchable and available to all, and that’s a waste of staff time and our own time,” said Democratic candidate Susan Cunningham.

Fellow Democratic candidate Maureen Coffey suggested another overhaul of the website to make it easier to find information, including more details about applications to build Missing Middle-type homes. “To the question of transparency from earlier, this is this is really concerning and that we should be pushing for it,” she said, noting that “it’s not realistic to ask people to go through 100 steps to get there.”

2023-09-05 ACCF General Meeting, 5 Sept 2023 from Arlington Cty Civic Fed [ACCF] onVimeo.

More News Coverage:

Statement on the Death of Abonesh Woldegeorges

For immediate release:

As speakers were gathering early Sunday morning at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington to continue the fight against injustice and inequality, Ms. Woldegeorges was found unresponsive only two miles away at the Arlington County Jail.

Following the death of Paul Thompson in February 2022, the Arlington County Sheriff reportedly implemented health and medical care reforms to improve medical care, including medical devices to “track heart rates and alert workstations.” Were these precautions in use? Did they effectively ensure timely emergency aid? If not, why not?

We will learn more as the Arlington County Police Department completes a death investigation and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determines the cause and manner of Ms. Woldegeorges’ death. In the meantime, I call on our County Board to act swiftly to:

  1. Convene a public work session to hear directly from the Sheriff on the steps his office has taken and intends to take to materially enhance the quality health care for individuals in County custody. NAACP and other community stakeholders should be invited to attend and present testimony.
  2. Direct the County Manager to review the extent and result of medical, behavioral health and rehousing support provided, or not, to Ms. Woldegeorges by Arlington and other regional jurisdictions, to identify gaps and better serve every community member’s needs.

Every life is precious, whether my child’s or a community member held in custody. Our community expects and demands that our leaders demonstrate that care and commitment.

Download Susan’s statement here.

“Ranked Choice” Voting Debuts in Arlington

“Ranked Choice” Voting Debuts in Arlington

Final results from our Democratic Primary in Arlington County were recently summarized in this graphic created for, the website of the Virginia Public Access Project: “Ranked Choice Voting — a method adopted by the state Republican Party to select its 2021 statewide ticket — made its debut Tuesday in a nomination contest for a local elected office. In Northern Virginia, Arlington County Democrats were given a ballot that allowed voters to rank their top three choices in a field of six seeking two party nominations on the November ballot. First-ballot results were released on election night, but election officials waited until all provisional ballots had been received on Friday before running the calculations to determine which two candidates received at least 33% of the vote.”

June 23 Statement from Susan: Honored to Be Your Nominee

June 23 Statement from Susan: Honored to Be Your Nominee

It’s (almost) official! I am honored to be elected as a Democratic nominee for the Arlington County Board general election in November.

With all votes now tabulated in this first Virginia primary election using Ranked Choice Voting, I am thrilled to have earned the most first round votes and now the Democratic endorsement after all second and third votes have been considered. I am humbled by our community’s vote of confidence, and I am ready to get to work to earn the final vote in November’s general election.

THANK YOU to the other candidates for offering their ideas and service to our community, to our election officials for their hard work and integrity, to my campaign team for their tireless work and patience, and to all who made time to participate in our local democracy as volunteers and voters.

As I criss-crossed our vibrant and diverse county, I heard many residents’ hopes and concerns about our community. There’s so much to be proud of and build on here in Arlington, yet there’s much more to do to make our government as responsive and transparent as we want it to be.

In the coming months I look forward to continuing to connect with residents across the county. Come January 2024, I hope to bring my common-sense leadership and experience as an engineer, an executive, and a mom to serve our whole community. Together we can shape Arlington’s bright future. We can develop a common-sense housing plan. We can reconnect our community and young people. We can create a responsive government that gets the basics right today and for the future.

I hope you’ll help me to get there. You can follow our progress and sign up to volunteer or contribute at

Thank you,


Great News: Susan Got the Most 1st Choice Votes! Thank You!

Great News: Susan Got the Most 1st Choice Votes! Thank You!

The campaign to elect Susan Cunningham to the Arlington County Board has some good news to share: with 98% of precincts reporting, round one primary results look promising. Thank you so much for your support!

Election results of first choice votes in Arlington’s Democratic primary for county board show Cunningham with 25%, Natalie Roy with 24%, Maureen Coffey with 22%, and JD Spain with 20% of first picks. Tony Weaver also received 5% and Jonathan Dromgoole got 4%. The county now begins the process of tabulating votes in the new ranked choice voting system. In each round of tabulation, the county eliminates the last place candidate with the least votes, and transfers their supporters’ second choice votes to the other candidates. The process continues until a candidate has crossed the 33.3% threshold to be declared a winner of one of two Democratic primary slots for the November election.

More news coverage here: Cunningham, Roy, Coffey Lead In 1st Choice Votes In Arlington Primary

More results to come by Sunday: Arlington Board Primary ‘Cliffhanger’ Awaits Ranked Choice Tabulations

Susan released a statement thanking her voters and supporters:

While at first count I have the most first choice votes, there are still votes to be counted and recounted as we see how ranked choice plays out. It could be a week before we know the final results, but for tonight, I’m happy and I’m grateful to so many people:

  • To my husband Philip and daughters – thank you for your (mostly) good humor, patience, calm, spreadsheets, logistics, snacks, and encouragement.
  • To my extended family and friends – wow, thank you for pitching in from near and far – amidst graduations, major medical events, job transitions, etc. – to take late night calls, share encouraging words, and to help in whatever way was asked. Thank you!
  • To those who believed in me enough to donate to the campaign (and, there is still an opportunity to pitch in), you helped get our message out far and wide. Thank you.
  • To the army of volunteers, including campaign strategist Candace Bryan Abbey, volunteer coordinator Lauren Hall, communications director Monica Mills, digital strategist David Browne, webmaster Christina Headrick, social media lead Joel Wood, sign manager Tim Cleary, songwriter/sister-to-all Nancy Cunningham, and the rest of the great team behind the scenes. You are amazing! For those who canvassed voters, went to events, hosted meet-and-greets, assembled and installed signs, worked all day again today; I am humbled by your efforts and dedication to our community.
  • To the other candidates, thank you for your enthusiasm and service to our community.
  • To the advice-givers, (usually) constructive criticism-sharers, and supporters: you made me a better candidate and a better person. Thank you.
  • To our elections staff and volunteers for keeping things fair and positive throughout.
  • And of course, most of all, thank you to every voter for studying, debating and choosing. As you may have heard a few times by now, I’m an Engineer, an Executive, and a Mom. I’m so excited to work with each of you to bring our community’s future into focus.

Thank you,


ARLNow 6/8/23: Why You Should Vote For Me

ARLNow 6/8/23: Why You Should Vote For Me

My name is Susan Cunningham. I am a common-sense problem-solver who will reconnect our community and young people, get housing right, and get the basics right.

I am running for County Board because I think Arlington’s best days are ahead and we need elected leaders with experience and common sense to bring us together to get there.

The recent missing middle housing debates and challenges facing our youth highlight that we have a lot of work to do to bring our community back together. I am ready to represent each of you on the county board to do just that. I’ve worked with many of you through professional and volunteer roles since I first moved to Arlington in 1994 (“back in the 1900s” as my daughters remind me) as an:

  • Experienced Problem-solver: Trained as an engineer, I am first and foremost a creative problem-solver. I know how to frame a problem, bring everyone to the table, and deliver solutions, including infrastructure investments and progressive environmental goals. Whether serving as a founding member of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, refurbishing a Donaldson Run rambler for a gigantic Afghani refugee family, serving as a founding member of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, or leading a divided community through the Dorothy Hamm Middle School project, I get things done for and with this community.
  • Common Sense Leader: I combine executive experience and common sense to solve complex problems and create a stronger, inclusive Arlington. As turn-around CEO of housing provider AHC, I know the many tools we need to get housing and planning right for our community. As a seasoned executive at U.S. Treasury and McKinsey, I know how to manage billion-dollar budgets and large organizations through challenges and change.
  • Long-time Neighbor: My husband, Philip, and I started our adult lives in Arlington right out of college. Arlington has been our home for over 25 years. Along with our two school-aged daughters, we are active members at Saint Mary’s Episcopal. As the Executive Director at Arlington Thrive (formerly AMEN), I know the challenges many in our community face and the strengths and challenges in our social services delivery.

As a County Board member I will prioritize:

  • Smart growth and planning that gets housing right – with diverse options for ownerships and rental across life stages and incomes. This includes monitoring and revising the newly adopted Expanded Housing Options policy to create a comprehensive, common sense housing plan.
  • Reconnecting our community – especially our young people, whose formative years  have been disrupted by the pandemic, political unrest, and climate anxiety. This means investing in out-of-school programming, expanding recreation center hours, and improving our bus network for all users.
  • Transparent, good government that gets the basics right – creating a vibrant and desirable community for residents and businesses and responding quickly when something needs attention. This includes a defined response time to resident inquiries, expanded data access, and improvements to permitting and site review processes.

So why should you make Susan your #1 vote? I will bring tested and proven leadership, with a healthy dose of problem-solving and common sense.

  • I have led Arlington through tough challenges before, from delivering the Stratford Junior High Historic interpretation plan and art installation to steadying our biggest nonprofit affordable housing provider, AHC.
  • I am the only candidate (and only board member come 2024) raising school-aged kids. My girls are both in Arlington Public Schools, and I understand first-hand the new challenges our young people are facing. Our future depends on reconnecting our entire community after the COVID emergency.
  • I am an experienced leader and problem-solver. As I did when adaptively reusing public buildings and driving innovation at the U.S. Treasury Department, I bring stakeholders together to develop and deliver lasting solutions in a transparent and collaborative way that gets great results while strengthening communities.

I hope my experience and priorities will inspire your support. You can learn more at I look forward to what we can achieve together and humbly ask for your #1 vote on or before Tuesday, June 20th. Thank you.

As published in ARLNow on June 8th.

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