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by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2015 at 7:35 pm 7,175 0

(Updated at 11:20 p.m.) Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey have captured the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board.

Cristol and Dorsey finished first and second, respectively, over fellow Democratic hopefuls Peter Fallon, Andrew Schneider, James Lander and Bruce Wiljanen.

Thanks to a spirited campaign and strong debate performances, Cristol, age 30, managed to propel herself from relative obscurity to a first place finish and a coveted spot on the Democratic ticket during a competitive primary. Her campaign highlighted issues like affordable housing, citizen engagement and diversity, government innovation, transit and economic development.

Dorsey, who lost to former in the 2002 County Board primary, was seen by many Democrats as a more moderate choice among a liberal field of candidates who often touted their progressive bonafides. During the campaign he spoke in favor of responsive government, affordable housing, adding school capacity and helping small businesses.

Both Cristol and Dorsey are South Arlington residents, while runners up Fallon and Schneider are North Arlington residents with a considerable base of supporters in their neighborhoods. Currently, the only South Arlington resident on the County Board is Libby Garvey.

“This started with the people in this room and ended with the people of Arlington,” Cristol told supporters at her election watch party at William Jeffrey’s Tavern on Columbia Pike. “I cannot wait to work with the people in this room to move my home of Columbia Pike forward. I cannot wait to work with all of you to run one heck of a general election campaign.”

Dorsey, whose campaign gathered at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington earlier in the night, joined Cristol at the bar after the final results came in.

“I feel great,” he said. “It’s always nice when something that you believe in so strongly and you find out that the people in your community are committed to you as well. It’s a tremendous feeling.”

Dorsey said he wants to “knock on five times as many doors” for the general election. If elected in November, he promised to work to provide more affordable housing and to bring down Arlington’s high office vacancy rate.

“We absolutely have to get our commercial sector energized again,” he said.

With all precincts reporting, final unofficial results are:

  • Katie Cristol: 4,498
  • Christian Dorsey: 4,420
  • Peter Fallon: 4,008
  • Andrew Schneider: 3,556
  • James Lander: 2,806
  • Bruce Wiljanen: 687

Election officials say there were no problems at Arlington’s 52 polling stations during voting hours. Light turnout was reported — but the total turnout of 10,857 voters, or 7.9 percent of the registered voters, bested the 7.2 percent turnout of a similar County Board primary in 1995.

This was the first election in which Arlington utilized its new paper ballot and optical scanning system. Some delays in vote reporting occurred as election officials worked through new processes.

Cristol and Dorsey will face two independent candidates in the November general election, for the seats being vacated by the retiring Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.

by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm 2,213 0

It’s an election that could set the direction of Arlington County policy for years to come — and so far turnout is light.

Voters are heading to the polls today to select two Democratic nominees in the race for County Board. There are six Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination: Andrew SchneiderBruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol, James Lander, Peter Fallon, and Christian Dorsey.

While it’s a rare opportunity to fill the open seats of two retiring County Board members — Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada — the turnout has been about as low as is usually expected for a local primary.

“Overall it’s been pretty slow so far,” county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. She said turnout has been especially sluggish along the county’s Metro corridors and along Columbia Pike.

Two areas of slightly higher turnout, according to Lindberg, have been:

Lindberg said there have been no reported problems with the county’s new paper ballot system, instituted after security issues were raised about electronic voting machines in Virginia.

“The voting has gone just fine, I’ve had no issues or complaints about the paper ballots,” she said. Asked about the potential for an evening rush of voters, Lindberg said delays at the polls are unlikely.

“There might be a slight surge around 5:00 or 6:00, but generally speaking I wouldn’t expect any lines.”

Polls close at 7:00 p.m.

The few people to be found outside the Arlington Forest and Randolph Elementary precincts this morning said they were aware of the potential importance of the race. Tonight’s two primary winners will face independent candidates Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin in the November general election.

“Especially with these two open seats, people they elect now are going to be there for a while,” said Brandon Forester, who was supporting Dorsey outside of Randolph Elementary. “It will set tone for years to come.”

“I think this is the most important election in Arlington County for decades,” said Michael Thomas, an Arlington Forest resident.

Cori Rattleman, another Arlington Forest resident, said her top issues in this election were schools, parks and affordable housing. She said she was confident that the primary winners will go on to win in November.

“In this case, this is the election,” she said. “Whoever wins the elections, this is pretty much it.”

Heather Mongilio contributed to this report

by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2015 at 9:15 am 1,300 0

Storm clouds over Arlington and D.C. (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Arlington Expects ‘Speedy’ Election Returns — The Democratic primary for Arlington County Board and the 45th Virginia House of Delegates district is taking place today, utilizing Arlington County’s new optical scanners. The county issued a press release on Monday promising that “changes should result in speedier reporting of unofficial results on election night.” Polls close at 7:00 p.m. and the first results are expected to be reported on the county website around 7:30.

Reminder: Candidate Essays — If you haven’t cast your ballot yet, you can peruse the “why should you vote for me” essays written by the six Democratic County Board candidates: Andrew SchneiderBruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol, James Lander, Peter Fallon, Christian Dorsey.

Working Group to Discuss S. Arlington School Site — Following the County Board’s scuttling of plans for an elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, the Arlington School Board has created a working group to help decide the location for a new South Arlington elementary school. Former School Board candidate Greg Greeley was appointed chairman of the group, which is charged with creating a final report by November. The School Board is expected to take action on the new school on Dec. 15. [InsideNova]

Swimming Fundraiser Planned — The swim teams from four private clubs are coming together for a fundraiser on Sunday, June 28. Teams from Arlington Forest Club, Donaldson Run, Overlee and Washington Golf and Country Club will swim laps to raise money for the Arlington-based Marjorie Hughes Fund for Children. The fund helps low-income children obtain medical care and medications. [GoFundMe]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2015 at 3:30 pm 2,639 0

Andrew Schneider

Last week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Andrew Schneider:

When you run for office and knock on doors, you start to hear the same questions over and over.  Why are you running?  What are your priorities?  How are you different from the other candidates?

Why am I running?

I am running because Arlington is facing two concurrent challenges that must be addressed aggressively and creatively.  The first is our rapidly growing school population. Where we put these kids and how we pay for them is fundamental to the future of our County.  The second challenge is what’s happening with our economy – the high vacancy rates, the impact of BRAC, increasing regional competition, and the changing nature of office space and work.  As an Arlingtonian and as a candidate I have thought how these issues are interconnected and how I can make a difference in each of these areas.

  1. Stronger collaboration with the School Board in budgeting, school location and construction, and forecasting.
  2. To pay for schools, we must aggressively work with our partners in the business community and Arlington Economic Development to lower the vacancy rate and to invigorate the commercial sector in key areas like Rosslyn and Crystal City.
  3. To attract businesses we must have great customer service and make it easier to interact with the County.  This goes for residents as well as businesses whether it’s applying for a permit, submitting a site plan, or reporting a pothole.
  4. We can’t do any of these things if we spend our time playing “sandbox” politics.  From day one, I have focused my campaign on One Arlington, One Community.  We have to stop pitting different parts of our community against one another – Schools vs. Parks, North vs. South, Housing vs. Parks, and Business vs. Residents etc.

How am I different than other candidates?

The candidates that I am running against are all good people and we share many of the same values.  I like to answer this question through three criteria 1) Values 2) Experience and 3) Leadership style.

  1.  Regarding our values, the fact that we are all Democrats means that many of our core values are similar and, frankly, there isn’t a huge amount of policy separation between us.   This fact has been born out in nearly every policy question asked of through the campaign.
  2. Regarding experience, each of us brings different skills and experiences to the table.  Some of my colleagues argue that this is the defining differentiation.  I believe that my experience as an Arlingtonian, Civic Association President, and member of the Lee Highway revitalization effort has partially prepared me for this office.  I also believe that my MBA, work in the private sector, having run a Chamber of Commerce, and my work in the public sector has also prepared me.  I am a sum of my experienced and I believe that my resume and my record of leadership and of civic engagement have prepared me to serve our County.
  3. Regarding my leadership experience, I offer myself as a leader who listens and works to build consensus.  I will not present myself as someone who has all the answers but rather  I will work tirelessly every day to learn and act on behalf of the community that we all love so much.

From day one of this campaign, I have run as a candidate who will listen, work hard, and do what I can to address the challenges that we face as a County.  I promise to never talk down to voters, to always have an open mind, to always think creatively and innovatively, and to always reply to funny, snarky, and creative GIFs in the comment section of arlnow.com

To learn more about me, see a list of Arlingtonians who have endorsed me, and to watch my campaign videos, please visit www.andrewforarlington.com

I’d be honored to earn your vote on Tuesday.

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1,250 0

Bruce WiljanenLast week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Bruce Wiljanen:

Hello. My name is Bruce Wiljanen, and I am running for a seat on the Arlington County Board in order to bring a mature, common sense voice focused on preserving the best aspects of Arlington as we grow, the things that make Arlington a great place to live and raise a family. I am a lifelong Democrat, and have served in the Clinton Administration and with the Democratic National Committee. My wife and I have lived in the Maywood neighborhood of Arlington for over 22 years, and have raised our daughter through our excellent school system. I am running for the County Board to ensure that the Arlington we know and love will be here for our children as well.

A neighbor recently asked me a very interesting question. “Who do you think are the least well represented people in Arlington?” I had to think about that. And I’m coming to the conclusion that by far the most underrepresented group of people in Arlington is the ordinary working family. I’m referring to the great number of Arlington men and women who go to work each day, whose children are in our schools, who live busy lives during the week and spend weekends with their friends and family, maybe involved in sports leagues or church activities, but are unable to participate in the inner workings of local government. I am talking about the large majority of Arlington voters who pay their taxes without complaint and quietly wait, and hope, for a practical, unpoliticized County Board to focus on taking care of the basic needs of our community in a frugal, equitable and common sense manner. These Arlington citizens continue to wait for the County Board to stop trying to please every constituency, and to work toward developing a strategic plan to guide our growth over the coming years. I am one of these Arlingtonians.

As a candidate for the Arlington County Board, I have had the singular experience of hearing recently from almost every group of citizens who would like to influence the decisions of our county government. I’ve talked with organizations that want more affordable housing, and those which construct office buildings. I’ve been contacted by artist’s and bicyclist’s interest groups, and by folks whose concerns are for parks and community gardens. I’ve spoken with union workers’ and teacher’s government affairs committees. We have many groups working tirelessly to get their agenda heard, funded, and passed into law by the County Board. Some of us are well represented, indeed!

But the biggest group of citizens we rarely hear from, by far, is the great majority of Arlington residents who never lobby for any special treatment from the county government, who only wish that our elected Board members would work more diligently to conserve our quality of life as our population grows by protecting our excellent parks and our superb schools, and continue to provide services for those of our neighbors who may need a helping hand. We just don’t hear from the many unrepresented Arlington residents who would like to be confident the Board would focus on building an infrastructure which serves the community and fosters new business growth, and wouldn’t overextend the budget to build legacy projects of questionable utility. Our County Board should not strive for grandiosity nor austerity, but work to put in place practical solutions to our everyday problems.

When we vote for a representative on the County Board, we are choosing a person who will be entrusted to make future decisions on our behalf, and for the benefit of all Arlingtonians. We are selecting a person able to weigh new and unanticipated situations in an equitable, unbiased, and common sense manner. We should elect a person who reflects our views regarding the overall direction the county should take, and not rely on those closely involved in the mechanics of commissions and boards to envision the future. As a principled Democrat who is not entangled in the current county government, I can be the truly independent Democratic voice needed on the Arlington County Board today. I am not endorsed by any of the current members of our local power structure, but I am willing to be endorsed by you, the average Arlington voter. I’m asking for your vote on the Bottom Line of the ballot, Bruce Wiljanen for County Board, to provide the people of Arlington with a mature, common sense advocate on the Arlington County Board for the years to come.

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm 2,276 0

Katie Cristol

Last week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Katie Cristol:

Thank you to ARLnow readers for engaging with us as candidates in the June 9th Democratic primary.

I’m running for the County Board because I believe that all of Arlington benefits when all of Arlington is represented. I believe we need new perspectives on the challenges Arlington currently faces, such as the high cost of housing that makes our young families and retirees alike worry they won’t be able to stay in our community. I believe we need new ways of looking at the trends shaping Arlington, including our growing school-age population and the shrinking federal government footprint in our commercial sector.

For the past few months, I’ve campaigned largely on my ideas for addressing the housing affordability crisis in Arlington; for moving my neighborhood of Columbia Pike forward with new transportation strategies; for restoring citizen trust and creating a more representative government. It’s been an honor to learn from and shape those plans with neighbors throughout Arlington, and to receive support from a growing coalition, including The Washington Post, five leading local unions, and dozens of Arlington leaders, small business owners and community advocates.

Now, as Arlingtonians consider their decisions on June 9th, I’m making the case that I offer the right combination of experience, openness and innovation to put those ideas into practice, to serve all of Arlington and to move us forward:

Record of Service and the Skills to Do the Job. I bring a background in public policy — including my years of experience working with state and local governments on strategic planning and community engagement, and training in municipal finance and program evaluation — that will enable me to bring comparative perspectives and sound judgment to the County Board.

I also have a record of service in our community. On the Commission on the Status of Women, I have investigated and elevated issues like childcare affordability and sexual violence in Arlington. I’ve served our schools as an appointed member of the APS Advisory Council on Instruction. I know how things get done – and don’t get done – in Arlington, and I’m ready to lead effectively from my first day as a County Board member.

Openness and Innovation. Thanks to my experience, I know that Arlington is a place with tough challenges and smart people. If there were easy solutions, we’d have adopted them already. But openness and innovation – in our leaders and on the Board – is what helps us keep in check the pessimism and insularity that can accompany experience alone.

In all corners of the County, Arlingtonians are hungry for more responsiveness and greater inclusion; this requires leaders who are open to trying different things, and who have the intellectual curiosity to look for other models. And this is why I believe we all benefit when our five-member Board includes new perspectives, like the one I’m offering on June 9th.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope we’ll continue the conversation.

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm 1,357 0

James LanderLast week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from James Lander:

I’ve been honored to serve as your Arlington School Board member for the past five years, most recently as chairman.

I’m running for the Arlington County Board because our community is in the midst of change, and I believe experience and forward-thinking leadership will be essential in making a difference. Our community faces a number of challenges; the decline in nonresidential tax revenue, as well as continuing growth of our population, increased demand for services, additional transportation options, and increased need for essential infrastructures.

Arlington is gaining an average of 1,000 additional students a year.  Not only must our schools have the resources to educate additional students, we must not neglect the other values that have made Arlington a top-rated, livable community.  We must continue to support and encourage safe and attractive neighborhoods, well-maintained streets and parks, libraries, and access to recreation, entertainment, and the arts.

As a leader and member of the School Board these past five years, I am strongly familiar with the importance of a collaborative working relationship between our two elected boards. As your County Board member, I will lead an effort to specifically address the challenges of Arlington’s growing populations. This effort aims to thoroughly examine the many competing priorities in order to find ways to accomplish more with limited resources. As a member of the School Board, I’ve worked to be fiscally responsible while maintaining Arlington’s outstanding school system. Within the last year, I have overseen the reduction of costs within the APS annual budget while continuing to focus on student achievement and providing pay increases to our talented teachers.  I also have ideas to explore ways to address our challenges.

One of my specific proposals for addressing the growing need for faster, safer, more efficient, and more affordable alternatives options for transportation includes two Arlington circular lines, one in South Arlington and one in North Arlington. In South Arlington, I would pursue the idea of a continuous bus route connecting Columbia Pike, Crystal City, Shirlington, and Bailey’s Crossroads. This would enable us to connect areas primed for increased development and pave the way for bringing Northern Virginia Community College into Crystal City, where we currently have eight vacant buildings. Our educated workforce needs to locate where we want our businesses. I’m also seeking to implement a workforce development pipeline in partnership with the hospitality industry; there are 10,000 hotel rooms in Crystal City that could potentially provide paid internships for our adult students and our immigrant population.

In North Arlington, I would promote establishing a circular line that connects Lee Highway, Virginia Square, Ballston, and Rosslyn. This would contribute to encouraging attractive development along Lee Highway. I propose exploring public/private partnerships with developers and academic institutions on innovative projects such as micro-unit housing for graduate students and county employees. This approach would not only keep Arlington dollars in Arlington, but also keep Arlington students and new county employees in Arlington.

Our community, diverse and inclusive, boasting a well-educated workforce, attractive neighborhoods and commercial sectors, parks and open spaces, and committed to protecting the environment and the well being of its residents, did not achieve its great quality of life quickly or by accident. Strong democratic leadership, sound fiscal policies, and investment in its residents and infrastructure are what have made Arlington such an outstanding community.

I will dedicate myself to ensuring the views and voices of our community are heard and considered as decisions move forward.  I want to look for ways to improve the county’s financial burdens, including finding ways to reduce the vacancy rate in the county’s commercial sector.  Lastly, I pledge to continue to be a dedicated steward of ensuring Arlington County is among the top communities in the country to live, work, and raise a family.

I ask for your vote for the Arlington County Board in the June 9th Democratic Primary. If you would like to visit my website to learn more about me, please go to www.jameslander.org.  Thank you.

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,462 0

Peter FallonLast week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Peter Fallon:

I have a reputation for speaking plainly. That’s why, even though the challenges facing Arlington are complex, I can sum up my solutions in just three words: transparency, accountability and communication.

I’m proud to be a Democrat. The long-term vision of Democratic leadership on the County Board has made Arlington a magnet for new residents and economic growth, and one of the finest communities in America. I should know – Arlington welcomed me when I moved here nearly 30 years ago, and I knew this would be where I raised my family.

I’ve proudly served our community for over 25 years as a Planning Commissioner, Transportation Commissioner, Civic Association President and Progressive activist. I’ve led initiatives that built six schools, three major parks and over 1,000 units of committed affordable housing in our community. I’ve had a front row seat as we’ve blossomed as a community.

It wasn’t always easy. Some of these projects weren’t popular at the time, but I fought for them because I believe a strong Arlington requires making tough, long-term decisions. Here’s how we’ll do it again.

Transparency

Good government requires transparency, both in sharing information and decision making. I support requiring a minimum of 72 hours for the release of Board documents. When voters feel the Board is acting without proper notice, it erodes the community relationship we depend on for effective governance. We can’t live up to our Arlington values when people feel they are irrelevant.

Accountability

I support the decision to create an independent audit function to provide better value for tax dollars and to keep our county programs efficient and effective. We also need firm deadlines on decision making. This will end the continual delays around tough decisions on school construction, community services and vital transportation improvements. We can no longer afford delays.

Communication

Voters often tell me they feel unheard by the County Board. Recent controversies surrounding school capacity, Reevesland and the future of the Wilson School show we must rebuild public trust in County Board operations. It’s time to get back into the community in a visible way, and that means practicing humility and owning our shortcomings in past community engagement.

Voters are eager to implement these ideas, and more.

Voters want a leader who will pay close attention to our finances, and ensuring we spend tax dollars wisely on real community priorities, and speak up when something is wrong.

Voters want to keep our schools strong and retain quality teachers. They want our children out of crowded trailers and in modern classrooms that prepare them for excellence.

Voters want a transportation plan that works for Columbia Pike and Crystal City. Just because we canceled a streetcar doesn’t mean we can dodge finding another solution. The County Board offered enhanced bus service as an alternative – now it’s time to bring residents into the conversation and act.

These best practices resonate with our leadership, too.

I’m proud to have the support of our strongest community voices, including Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Rip Sullivan, former Treasurer Frank O’Leary, The Sun Gazette, The Virginia Sierra Club and The Washington Post. But the endorsement I most seek is yours.

I hope you’ll join me in building a transparent, accountable and communicative Arlington by casting one of your two votes for me on June 9th. And I hope you’ll share your priorities with me at www.FallonforCountyBoard.org.

I can promise you this: even when we do not agree, I will always be transparent with you, and respectful of the diverse opinions that make our community strong. The County Board – our County Board – should pledge nothing less.

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1,611 0

Christian Dorsey

Last week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Christian Dorsey:

On June 9th, voters in the Democratic primary will select their nominees for two open County Board seats. Six candidates. Two slots. I ask that you select me, Christian Dorsey, for one of them.

Serving on the County Board requires having the ability to govern paired with the temperament to provide leadership on a range of issues from unsafe sidewalks to long-term capital investments. And now, perhaps more than ever, Board members must bring practical experience, strategic thinking, a commitment to inclusive decision-making and thoughtful independence if we are to realize what I believe is our shared vision–a strong and sustainable community.

To realize that vision, we need to: make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Arlington so that homeowners do not bear a disproportionate tax burden; prudently expand affordable housing so that modest wage workers, teachers, county employees and retirees are not priced out of our community; build adequate school capacity so that schools can focus on instruction; prioritize the nuts and bolts, like fixing potholes and sidewalks and enhancing pedestrian safety; and create opportunities for growth by improving public transportation.

As a south Arlington resident, daily bus rider and parent of two school-aged children, I regularly experience the issues that we must confront as a County. My professional and civic experiences provide a solid foundation for me to find solutions to our challenges.  I have served on the Planning Commission, chaired the Tenant-Landlord Commission and was a member of the Affordable Dwelling Unit ordinance task force. I currently serve on an advisory committee to the School Board that is concerned with facilities and capital programs.

But, my experience has not been limited to providing advice. I have been the CEO of several non-profits that: delivered outstanding literacy support for low-income children; pioneered a pop-up social services center in south Arlington; and developed a model diversity education and inclusion program for students.  Additionally, I assembled a development team that built an Earthcraft certified apartment building in the Nauck neighborhood.

As Arlington now faces the fundamental question of how to accelerate economic growth and strengthen the commercial sector to alleviate the squeeze on residential taxpayers, I have a unique and unrivaled expertise to make sure we get it right.

As a senior leader at Washington’s Economic Policy Institute, I lead the development of the alternative federal budget for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I know what it takes to align a budget with strategic objectives and how to ensure that it delivers maximum value to taxpayers. Furthermore, I understand that the growth we need will be facilitated by freeing businesses from unnecessary red tape and inefficient processes.  And retail, in particular, will benefit when we succeed in making housing more affordable so that even when income growth is stagnant, residents will have more money to spend.

Arlington’s future can be bright, but it will require hard work and making smart choices. I am prepared and eager to do my part, and I ask for your vote.  To see why Delegate Patrick Hope, Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, School Board Member Abby Raphael, former Delegate Karen Darner, former School Board Member Frank Wilson, the Arlington Education Association PAC, Working Families, New Virginia Majority and many of your friends and neighbors endorse my campaign, visit www.christiandorsey.org.

by ARLnow.com — June 2, 2015 at 11:30 am 1,982 0

Rainfall over Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4)

Record for Rainfall Set — A record amount of rain fell on Arlington yesterday. Reagan National Airport recorded 2.49 inches of rainfall, overtaking the previous record of 2.20 inches in 1907. [Washington Post]

Sun Gazette Endorses Fallon, Lander — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Peter Fallon and James Lander for the Democratic County Board nomination. The paper said Fallon can be “prickly” but has the “strongest community background,” while Lander can sometimes “wing it” on important matters but has “specific and out-of-the-box proposals.” [InsideNova]

Hynes Endorses Lander, Schneider — County Board Chair Mary Hynes has endorsed James Lander and Andrew Schneider ahead of the June 9 Democratic County Board primary. Hynes said Lander, the current chair of the Arlington School Board, is “the best partner on the School Board I’ve ever had.” She said she’s been “impressed with [Schneider’s] diligence and openness to different perspectives, new ideas.” [InsideNova]

New Rooftop Deck for Rosslyn Buildings — Rosslyn’s Twin Towers office building complex is getting a new rooftop deck. Located at 1100 Wilson Blvd, the 5,000 square foot terrace will feature sweeping views of the D.C. skyline, for use by tenants of the 31-story buildings. Tenants of the complex include WJLA and Politico. The terrace is expected to be completed by next spring. [Virginia Business]

Rise in New Catholic Priests — Following a national trend, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington is seeing a rise in the ordination of new priests. Bishop Paul Loverde is scheduled to ordain seven men to the local priesthood on Saturday, bringing the number of new priests ordained since 2012 to 20. [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

No Big Buses on the Pike, Yet — There’s a reason why there are no articulated buses running down the Columbia Pike corridor, at least not yet. For one, standard bus service is sufficient at this time. Another reason: there’s no local storage space for big articulated buses. [Greater Greater Washington]

Arlington Students to Attend Governor’s School — Twenty Arlington Public Schools students will attend the prestigious Governor’s Schools or Governor’s Foreign Language Academy this summer. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

by Heather Mongilio — May 28, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,789 0

Arlington County Board candidates discuss how to make Arlington more attractive for business.

At a forum last night, the candidates for Arlington County Board discussed ways to address the high amount of empty office space in Arlington while discussing how the county can be more attractive for businesses.

The eight candidates — six Democrats and two Independents — discussed transportation, commercial office vacancy and a diverse workforce during a candidate forum held by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

The empty space largely comes from the shrinking footprint of the federal government, the candidates agreed.

Bruce Wiljanen

Arlington has to realize that it cannot rely on the federal government as an employer like it once could, Democrat Bruce Wiljanen said. He suggested that the next major business sector may be high technology companies.

“I’m really encouraged by things happening in Crystal City right now,” Wiljanen said.

To fill the empty space, Arlington needs to do more to encourage businesses to move and stay here, the candidates said. It needs to be easier to open a business in Arlington, Democrats Andrew Schneider and Christian Dorsey said.

Andrew Schneider

“I had a small business owner that said after a year of starting his business that he didn’t have to start — both he and his wife work full-time jobs downtown — that he would have started his business in Falls Church,” Schneider said.

Arlington needs to look at its regulatory processes and weed out what is unnecessary and harmful, Dorsey said. Having a business ombudsman is good — the county recently created the position — but it’s just the first step.

Christian DorseyDorsey said that the county needs to rethink the way it helps entrepreneurs start and sustain new businesses. The permit processes need to be changed as well, he said.

“These are the things, little as they may seem, that give a community the character of a place where business is welcome and it is a good place to do business,” said Dorsey.

Arlington also needs to foster a diverse workforce, candidates said.

Katie CristolArlington needs to be attractive to both millennials and older workers, Democrat Katie Cristol said. This can be done through affordable housing, she said. Cristol, the youngest candidate in the race, lists affordable housing as one of her top issues.

A commitment to affordable housing is needed, Democrat Peter Fallon said. Arlington has a highly skilled workforce, but in order to keep it, there needs to be housing for Arlington’s employees.

With a more diverse workforce comes a need for more diverse businesses. One area Dorsey listed was through grocery stores. If neighborhoods are more diverse there is a need for standard grocery stores like Giant or Safeway but also for ethnic grocery stores, he said.

James LanderJames Lander also encouraged a focus on millennials in the new workforce. Lander, a Democrat who is the chair of the Arlington School Board, emphasized the need to focus on invest in community amenities, specifically schools. He also said the county should invest more resources into helping small businesses.

 

“We can’t turn our back on investment,” Lander said.

The candidates agreed that transportation is one of Arlington’s best features, but also one that has area to improve.

“We have great people and we move them well,” Cristol said.

The Metro has allowed Arlington to be easily accessible and allowed it to be attractive for businesses. Many of the candidates argued that it is necessary for the County Board to get its seat back on the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority Board. With a seat on the board, County Board members could advocate for more investment in Metro infrastructure.

Congestion on Columbia Pike also needs to be addressed, candidates said. The candidates had different views about the need for the streetcar system that was canceled last year, but all agreed it was time to move forward.

“We need to wake up from our post streetcar hangover,” Dorsey said.

Peter Fallon

Fallon echoed Dorsey in saying that the County Board needs to start planning now for new transit options on Columbia Pike. Such plans need to be reasonable in scope, without requiring too much infrastructure, he said.

Cristol suggested enhanced bus service on Columbia Pike. The buses need to be able to move more fluidly, which could be accomplished with off vehicle payment system and/or doors at both ends, she said.

Wiljanen suggested that a mobile app for the bus may improve service. A real-time location app would help residents know when a bus was coming and, possibly, how many seats were on the bus.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — May 27, 2015 at 9:00 am 2,811 0

Bluemont Oak (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

GOP Offers Support to Gun Store Owner — A Change.org petition against a planned gun store in Cherrydale has reached more than 1,900 signatures. The store’s landlord now says he’s trying to figure out ways to legally break the lease. Countering the backlash, the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans have launched a petition in support of the store and its owner, 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran James Gates. “We can’t remain silent while Arlington liberals push their radical anti-gun agenda,” the petition says. [AFCYR]

Hynes Fires Back at Reevesland Sale Critics — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes is firing back at criticism of the Board’s 3-2 decision to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse to a private owner. Critics charge that the sale was hastily added to the Board agenda the day before the vote and that citizen groups should have had more time to propose alternatives. Hynes said the house would have needed $2.5 million in work to be brought up to code for public use and noted that interested groups have had 5 years to suggest better alternatives for using the house. [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Outdoor School in Fauquier County — Every year thousands of Arlington Public Schools visit the APS-operated Outdoor Lab in Fauquier County, experiencing nature and wildlife first hand. The property was purchased with private funds for school use and is beloved by students. However, some worry that a proposal to increase summer use of the 225 acre site may overtax the lab and its ecology. [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — May 22, 2015 at 9:15 am 1,222 0

Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally at the Pentagon (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

Memorial Day Closures — Arlington County government offices, courts, schools, and community centers will be closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Arlington’s public indoor pools will be open, trash and recycling will be collected and ART buses will operate on a holiday schedule. [Arlington County]

Flags In at Arlington National Cemetery — More than 1,000 soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard, placed small American flags in front some 275,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. The annual ceremony, known as “Flags In,” has been taking place before Memorial Day for more than 60 years. [U.S. Army]

Arlington Man Convicted of Sexual Abuse — Arlington resident Gary Hankins, a 45-year-old former licensed clinical social worker, has been convicted of sexually abusing a 17-year-old patient. The boy’s parents first contacted authorities after they discovered sexually suggestive texts from Hankins on his phone. [NBC Washington]

Candidates Bash Board’s Reevesland Vote — The Democratic candidates for County Board are criticizing the County Board’s vote this week to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse. At a debate lacking one candidate — School Board Chair James Lander, who had a School Board meeting — candidates took turns bashing the decision, calling it “shameful,” “bad business” and “beneath Arlington.” [InsideNova, Washington Post]

APS to Discuss Swanson, Williamsburg Plans — Next month Arlington Public Schools will hold public forums to discuss “interim options” for addressing capacity issues at Swanson and Williamsburg Middle Schools. “These interim solution options include the use of both on-site or off-site locations to house some portion of the school populations, the possibility of some interior redesign, the use of relocatables as part of the solution, and changes in scheduling,” APS said in a press release. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by Mark Kelly — May 21, 2015 at 1:45 pm 647 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyThumbs Up to the County Board for delaying consideration of the proposal to extend parking meter hours from 6pm to 8pm. After watching ground floor retail space sit empty, hopefully the Board will scrap this idea altogether when they reconsider it this fall.

Thumbs Up to Board Members Vihstadt and Garvey for refusing to vote for the Washington Redskins resolution.

There is no shortage of strong opinions as to whether the Washington Redskins should change their name. But when it comes to Members of the Arlington County Board, their personal opinions on the matter have nothing to do with their responsibilities to take care of the needs of Arlington County. Our fortunes will not rise or fall on the name of Washington’s professional football team whose stadium is in Maryland.

The resolution did support the team’s move to Virginia, provided it had a new name. Of course, when FedEx Field was constructed Arlington’s elected leaders ultimately opposed a site in the County and would almost certainly do so again.

Thumbs Down to meaningless resolutions from our County Board.

Telling a football team what to do with its name is not the first time the Board has taken up this type of resolution. In 2012, for example, the Board called on Congress and the American people to pass a Constitutional Amendment limiting the ability of corporations to enjoy the protections of the First Amendment and make political contributions. That resolution essentially called the Citizens United Supreme Court case a threat to our democracy. Though to my knowledge, no County Board Member who voted for that resolution ever refused to accept corporate contributions to their own campaigns as allowed by Virginia law.

Thumbs Down to the Board for unanimously adopting a plan to build an inadequate ART bus facility. As the County’s press release noted, “The new ART bus facility will not be large enough to meet all the County’s projected needs for ART facilities. It can house neither the entire existing ART fleet, nor accommodate all of the buses that will expand the fleet over the next decade.”

The total cost of the ART facility and surrounding street improvements will cost at least $17.6 million, but will only save the taxpayers $57,000 per year.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,275 0

View of the Potomac and Roosevelt Island from Rosslyn

Survey Says: Resident Satisfaction High — Resident satisfaction with Arlington County is high, according to Arlington County. The county’s fourth Resident Satisfaction Survey, conducted by an outside research firm, suggested an 89 percent overall satisfaction rate with the quality of county services. “Just two percent of residents were dissatisfied with the overall quality of County services,” said a press release. One notable area for improvement: maintenance of county streets, with a satisfaction level of only 42 percent. [Arlington County]

Peak Memorial Day Traffic Expected Thursday — Contrary to conventional wisdom, the worst Memorial Day holiday traffic in the D.C. area will be Thursday evening, not Friday. According to an analysis of average travel speeds, drivers hoping to escape local holiday traffic should leave at night, around lunchtime Wednesday or Thursday, or Friday morning. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]

Split Board Approves Reeves Farmhouse Sale — The Arlington County Board voted 3-2 last night to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse. “The County worked with the community for six years to find a way to retain public ownership of the house, or to create a public-private partnership to restore the house and open it to the public, but we were unable to achieve such a partnership, and the cost of restoring the property and bringing it up to code for public use was prohibitively expensive,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. Much of the land around the house will remain publicly-owned. [Arlington County]

County to Outsource Volunteer Program — The County Board also last night voted 3-2 to outsource Volunteer Arlington, the county’s volunteer management program. The county will now seek a nonprofit with which to form a public-private partnership. [Arlington County]

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