Democratic candidates unite in call to action to rename Jefferson Davis and Lee highways
Arlington, VA – Today, Arlington’s five Democratic candidates for local and state office applauded a powerful statement from the Arlington County Board rejecting racism and bigotry, adding their voices to the call for authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within the county.
As a county, Arlington is not authorized by law to name state highways such as Jefferson Davis and Lee highways. Next door, however, cities such as Alexandria have the power to do so. Arlington residents were recently appointed to an Alexandria advisory group established to recommend a new name for its section of Jefferson Davis Highway. Interested Arlington citizens and businesses are encouraged to submit suggested names in an on-line survey through September 15.
Erik Gutshall, Democratic nominee for Arlington County Board, said “I am proud to live in a community that has long shared the values of diversity and inclusion. I fully embrace the County Board's determination to garner local control of the names of our roadways, as I know Arlington's delegation to the Virginia General Assembly do.”
"It's long past time for us to rename highways that were labeled to send a hateful and divisive message to people of color in our community," said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49th District), House Democratic Whip. "I look forward to working with the Arlington County Board to make sure they have the necessary authority from the General Assembly to make these important changes."
Delegate Patrick Hope (47th District) said, "I have long-supported the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway in Arlington and commend the Arlington County Board for this bold statement of leadership. I look forward to supporting legislation to grant Arlington and all localities the freedom to rename buildings, roads, and to remove monuments that do not reflect our values."
"Giving localities the authority to rename highways -- like Jefferson Davis Highway -- is long overdue," said Delegate Rip Sullivan (48th District), "This is not about erasing or trying to change history -- indeed, we must never forget the evil that led to our Civil War. Rather, this is about a community choosing who in our history we want to honor and celebrate. Arlington County should have that choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' This matters, and I applaud the County Board for choosing not to be silent on this important issue."
“I’m very pleased that the Arlington County Board is committed to renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway, “ said Delegate Mark Levine (45th District). “Changing those street signs will no longer honor the Mississippi traitor (with little or no connection to Arlington) who was President of a rebellious group of states that seceded from the union to enforce and protect their cruel and odious institution of slavery. Street signs bearing the current name of this highway do a gross injustice to Arlingtonians who are loyal to their nation and who abhor slavery. I know the vast majority of us are looking forward to seeing these signs no more."
There does not appear to be any Confederate statues on County-owned land, according to the statement issued by the Arlington County Board.
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Erik Gutshall is the current Chair of the Arlington County Planning Commission and Democratic Candidate for Arlington County Board. www.Erik4Arlington.com
Mark Levine is seeking election to his second term in the House of Delegates to represent the 45th District, which includes parts of Arlington County, the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County. www.MarkforDelegate.com
Patrick Hope has served the 47th District, located wholly in Arlington County, since 2010. www.HopeforVirginia.org
Richard “Rip” Sullivan has served the 48th District, which includes parts of Arlington and
Fairfax Counties, as its Delegate since 2014. www.RipSullivan.com
Alfonso Lopez is a three-term member of the House of Delegates representing the 49th District, which includes parts of South Arlington and Eastern Fairfax County. www.AlfonsoLopez.org