UPDATED, April 2: After indicating both would appear for Candidates' Night, the hopefuls for the Arlington Housing Authority board did not appear Wednesday, March 31. Margaret Coppe, of the Lexington LWV, the Arlington moderator, announced at the beginning of the event that both would not be there.
She did not explain why, but Lynette Martyn did. The campaign manager and member of the steering committee of Arlington Fights Racism told YourArlington that night:
"While the Committee to Elect Kelda Fontenot appreciates that Mr. Mitropoulos was able to switch his business meeting to accommodate tonight’s debate, unfortunately Kelda’s newborn was not as flexible and has decided to arrive a week early. Kelda is currently in labor and she and her family are very excited to welcome a baby boy into their loving family.
"Kelda remained hopeful that she would make it tonight and continued to prepare while at the hospital and in between contractions. Alas, her son had other plans.
"Kelda appreciates Mr. [Nick] Mitropoulos' understanding and his gracious response. The LWVA invited him to make his opening statement and he declined in the spirit of fairness. Kelda invites Mr. Mitropoulos to participate in an ACMi debate next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at a time of his convenience. Kelda thanks voters for their patience and understanding and looks forward to providing an opportunity for them to hear from both candidates. Congratulations to the Fontenot family on the new addition to their family!"
Mitropoulos told YourArlington he was present and ready to speak on the evening of March 31. He has been asked for a statement.
On Tuesday, April 6, Fontenot will present on “The Structure and Importance of AHA” at 7:30 pm. Please register here >>
On March 26, Mitropoulos, a 20-year incumbent seeking reelection to the Housing Authority board, said he agreed to join Candidates' Night. The sponsors reported that day that challenger Kelda Fontenot is also exoected to attend.
Until the morning of March 24, Mitropoulos had declined, telling YourArlington that the evening conflicted with a work commitment.
Asked why he had changed his mind, the incumbent wrote: "I have listened to the tenants, the voters and now understand the importance of being at candidates night to everyone. With this, I approached my [business] partners, and they agreed to move the meeting.
"With this, I look forward to the night and letting everyone know who I am and what I stand for."
Mitropoulos last participated in the event in 2001, his first year in office.
Fontenot has been asked to comment about whether she will attend.
The sponsors are Envision Arlington and the League of Women Voter of Arlington. The annual, nonpartisan event has been held for years before the town election. Last year was an exception, as the pandemic caused a cancellation.
The focus is usually on candidates for major town offices, but public interest about the Housing Authority has increased this year.
The 11th-hour news came as the sponsors held a trial run of the candidate event on the evening of Tuesday, March 23.
In an opinion column, YourArlington urged the league to relax rules so that both housing candidates could participate. The thrust of that column changed when Mitropoulos agreed to appear.
This news summary was published Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Updated March 26, to add confirmation of Fontenot's expected appearance, as well as March 31 and April 2.