Here is the unedited response from Jay Fisette (D):
Dear Fellow Arlingtonians –
Arlington has evolved into a vibrant urban community that has retained our traditional sense of caring and connectedness. We boast top-notch services, outstanding public schools, a robust transportation system, low crime and the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia.
Many thoughtful people are responsible for today’s Arlington, and I am excited to continue to do my part to move our community forward. I am especially proud of my past efforts to maintain sound fiscal policies and support our public schools, and my leadership in developing our Community Energy Plan, Capital Bikeshare program, pedestrian safety improvements, affordable housing programs and e-government enhancements.
We face several challenges, including housing affordability, growing student enrollments, and the job losses resulting from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission and from dysfunction in Congress. With the first two of these, we are victims of our own success – as Arlington is a desirable community to many, including more families with young children. I am prepared to tackle these issues and find creative, smart solutions that build on our assets. I am committed to thoughtful long-term planning and collaborative problem solving.
Protecting our Triple AAA bond rating and fiscal integrity is a priority. As a former auditor with the Government Accountability Office, I hate waste and will seek value for every dollar spent. I will balance the short-term budget decisions with the long-term capital infrastructure investments that will ensure our vitality and competitiveness in the future.
I am driven to create a sustainable community on all fronts, thus will work to implement Arlington’s energy reduction strategy. In 2010, I established a Community Energy & Sustainability Task Force, to take up the challenge of developing goals and concrete targets for reducing our energy use. Arlington now has an aggressive and achievable energy reduction strategy that will advance our economic competitiveness, enhance energy reliability and protect our environment. We will save residents and businesses money while enhancing our community’s sustainability.
Fisette Weds Long-Time Partner — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette married long-time partner Bob Rosen last week. After 30 years together, the couple tied the knot in a low-key ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church in the District. Fisette and Rosen’s union will not be recognized in Virginia, but Fisette said he thinks that same-sex marriage will be legalized in the Commonwealth within five years. [Sun Gazette]
Smash-and-Grab Lookout Sentenced — The man who served as a lookout in a series of smash-and-grab robberies in the D.C. area, including this robbery at the Tourneau store in Pentagon City, has been sentenced. Floyd Davis, 43, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for his role in the crimes. [Washington Post]
Reevesland Group Refines Proposal — A group that wants to convert the historic Reeves farmhouse into an agricultural learning center for school children has submitted a proposal to Arlington County. The group says its volunteers will lower the cost of necessary renovations to the building by 30 percent. It has offered to operate the center and make it available to Arlington Public Schools. In exchange, the group wants the county to pay for renovations (about $700,000), ongoing maintenance costs and utilities. [Sun Gazette]
Library Seeks Info on Mystery Football Photo — Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History is seeking more information about a photograph found at a local home. The photo shows a group of men wearing early 20th century football equipment, posing in front of a school. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Issues like the Columbia Pike streetcar and the housing authority referendum were at the forefront last night during the Arlington Civic Federation’s annual candidates’ forum.
The debate between County Board member Jay Fisette and Green Party challenger Audrey Clement was the night’s most divisive, with Clement challenging the streetcar project and the Board’s fiscal policies.
“I pledge to raise no taxes,” Clement said, “Repeal last year’s tax increase… and authorize an inspector general for the county’s budget.”
Clement again voiced her support for the referendum to create a housing authority, which Fisette and other Board members oppose. Fisette defended the Board’s actions, asserting that the tax increases were largely to pay for the increase in school enrollment and the streetcar “fulfills the vision of the revitalization of Columbia Pike.”
“I will ensure that Arlington continues to be a community that respects the differences among us,” he said. “I believe that there’s more to do, and I have more to give.”
Six races were represented during the forum: Fisette’s Board seat, James Lander’s School Board seat, and the 45th, 47th, 48th, and 49th District races for the House of Delegates. Lander and Del. Robert Brink (D-48) are running unopposed, and each gave two-minute speeches and took one question from the floor. Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45) did not have an opponent to debate at the forum after it was revealed that independent candidate Jeffrey Engle was not in attendance.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and Libertarian challenger Laura Delhomme — participating in her first debate — fielded questions about affordable housing, wind energy and their thoughts on the Republican state ticket. No Republican is running for any seat, state or local, in Arlington.
“I’m not a socially liberal Republican, I’m not a fiscally conservative Democrat,” said Delhomme, who suggested repealing the state income tax and the Virginia Marriage Amendment.
Hope advocated for transferring more of Virginia’s energy from coal and natural gas to wind power and discussed how difficult it was to make progress in the General Assembly.
“In my first four years in office, I’ve learned that change can be very difficult,” Hope said. “Getting government out of our bedrooms and our doctor’s offices has divided our state and our parties.”
In the final debate of the night, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), running in his first re-election bid, and Independent Green Party candidate Terrence Modglin, showed the starkest disagreement, particularly on abortion. Modglin supports greater restrictions on abortion.
“I think the laws and regulations enacted, the intent of them was to, regardless of what the language was, reduce the number of abortions in Virginia and I think that’s a good thing in terms of public policy,” Modglin said.
Following Modglin’s response, Lopez looked slightly taken aback. He shook his head before he responded.
“A woman’s right to choose is non-negotiable,” Lopez said. “The [transvaginal ultrasound] legislation put up…was a travesty. It made us a laughing stock on the national stage. I will definitely fight these backdoor ways of reducing a person’s access to contraception.”
Election Day is on Nov. 5. The forum, held at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel auditorium, is organized every year as the unofficial start to Arlington’s fall campaign season.
(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) This morning, in a historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thus allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.
The high court also ruled on California’s Proposition 8. The ruling will have the end effect of allowing gay marriages in the state of California, barring further legal challenges.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, issued the following statement about the ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today puts the court on the right side of history. DOMA is unjust, un-American, and out of step with the values of our country. Beginning today, same-sex couples in the 12 freedom to marry states will be eligible for the federal protections and responsibilities afforded all other married couples.
Our nation has a long history of fighting to overcome discrimination to secure civil rights for all citizens. I hope this decision gives momentum to efforts across the country to enshrine marriage equality into our laws. Discrimination has no place in our country.
Republicans have wasted more than $3 million on this lawsuit over the past three years. That’s unconscionable while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs.
The Declaration of Independence affirms that “all men are created equal” and that every American has a right to “the pursuit of happiness.” These principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.
Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, talked to ARLnow.com shortly after the rulings. An excerpt:
It’s a terrific day for the country and for fairness. It’s another important step forward for the inevitability of marriage equality.
You feel a sense of pride at the progress and the ability of people in this country to learn and grow and address the irrational fears that existed 30 years ago. It’s so wonderful that a country and a democracy can make [this progress] despite the challenges.
This does not provide what I would call marriage equality across the board for all Americans. One thing has not changed: Bob [Rosen, Jay's partner] and I cannot get married in Virginia. In Virginia, we have… a conservative General Assembly that has no interest in providing marriage equality. We’re still in the baby steps phase.
Fisette said that while he and Rosen have in the past rejected the “symbolism” of getting married in another jurisdiction, like D.C. (which allows same-sex marriage), the DOMA decision may prompt them to reconsider.
Gourmet Deli Coming to Ballston — Taylor Gourmet, a Philadelphia-inspired hoagie shop, will be opening its first Arlington location. The self-proclaimed “gourmet deli” will be the first business to move in at the Liberty Center South development (4000 Wilson Blvd). Taylor Gourmet has eight other locations in the metro area. [Washington Business Journal]
Fisette Takes Water Bottle Crusade to Civic Association — County Board member Jay Fisette continued his personal crusade to discourage water bottle use during a presentation at the Arlington County Civic Federation meeting. His new goal is to get 10,000 people, or about five percent of the county’s population, to join him in backing the cause. So far, only about 250 people have signed the online pledge to use tap water instead of bottled water. [Sun Gazette]
Arlingtonian Wins Caption Contest — An Arlington resident won this week’s popular The New Yorker Cartoon Caption contest. The magazine staff narrows down the contest entries and readers vote for their favorite. David Karlsruher won the honor of having his witty line seen by readers around the world. [The New Yorker]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Fisette will moderate and George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host “a special public forum to discuss the environmental and economic implications of single-use plastic water bottles,” from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, April 15. The forum, entitled “Say NO to Bottled H2O,” will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall Auditorium (3351 Fairfax Drive).
In addition to a panel discussion with environmental and water experts, the event will feature a screening of the documentary “Bag It,” which critically explores the use of single-use disposable bags. The forum is being co-sponsored by GMU, Arlington County, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, Arlington Public Schools, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Marymount University and the George Mason Environmental Law Society.
The forum is also the kick-off for a new grassroots organization called “Tap in Arlington,” which asks residents to “choose to drink tap water instead of purchasing single use plastic water bottles.”
The organization says 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce billions of single-use plastic water bottles annually, and less than 30 percent of those bottles are recycled. Bottled water is 2-4 times the price of gasoline, according to statistics cited by Tap in Arlington.
Fisette said the effort reflects the public commitment he made on New Years Day to bring attention to the use of bottled water and its environmental impacts.
“I raised the issue on January 1, stating that I would begin a ‘personal crusade’ to reduce the use of plastic water bottles,” Fisette said. “Well, the crusade is about to begin.”
Fisette Promises Details on Water Bottle ‘Crusade’ — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette says he will provide additional details about his “crusade” against single-use water bottles — first announced at the Board’s New Year’s meeting — in April. Fisette did reveal that the anti-bottled water effort would involve a 15-member steering committee. [Sun Gazette]
New Metro Station in Rosslyn? — As part of Metro’s “Momentum” plan to revamp and expand the aging transit system, the agency has proposed building a new station in Rosslyn. Greater Greater Washington expounds upon that plan and examines the possibility of splitting the Blue Line at Rosslyn, building a separate Blue Line station, and running the line separately across the Potomac and into Georgetown. [Greater Greater Washington]
Metro Cell Phone Installation Delayed — Metro’s effort to enable cell phone service in its tunnels has hit a snag: after the contractor performing the work filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It could be 2016 before riders are able to use their cell phones in Metro tunnels. [Washington Examiner]
Above-Normal Lead Levels Found in Office Building – The General Service Administration has found above-normal lead levels in an office building in Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White.
Last weekend, Arlington County hosted a “life-size board game” that challenged residents to think harder about their energy choices.
The Energy Journey Game was held at Washington-Lee High School on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 2. Participants learned strategies for cutting down on energy use during all four seasons.
In an interview with the county’s Arlington TV channel, above, County Board member Jay Fisette hailed the event as a “creative” way to further Arlington “commitment to sustainability.”
“We need to do outreach continually, to bring to people the ideas — the awareness — of how they can save [money] and protect the environment in their everyday behavior,” Fisette said.
Fisette will formally announce his reelection run at next week’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, his campaign said today.
In a press release, Fisette’s campaign describes his goals for a hoped-for next term.
During his last term, Fisette has focused on maintaining sound fiscal policies as well as the development of Arlington’s Community Energy Plan, the successful launch of the Capital Bikeshare program, improvements to pedestrian safety, protection of affordable housing and e-government enhancements. Fisette has combined Democratic values with independent leadership.
Fisette’s objectives in his next term include balancing Arlington’s budget while also meeting long-term needs such as ensuring that Arlington public schools remain among the very best; maintaining a strong social safety net including affordable housing options; and implementing Arlington’s energy reduction strategy.
In a symbolic Valentine’s Day act, a gay couple submitted an application for a marriage license to the Arlington County Circuit Court Clerk’s office this morning — only to be denied because Virginia does not permit same-sex marriages.
James Fisher and Ron Bookbinder were joined outside the Arlington County courthouse by several dozen supporters of gay marriage, including County Board member Jay Fisette, Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, four local ministers and a local rabbi.
Following speeches and prayers outside, Fisher and Bookbinder went inside the courthouse to submit their marriage license application. Ferguson accepted the application but explained that state law prohibited him from issuing the license. He then promised to keep the application on file until gay marriage is legalized in Virginia, according to Elizabeth Wildhack, one of the event’s organizers.
The event was one of three such events in Virginia today planned by a group called People of Faith for Equality in Virginia. Religious leaders and their congregants were expected to witness several gay couples attempting to get married in Richmond and in Fairfax later in the day.
“These actions are part of a growing movement in Virginia to recognize the value of all families,” said Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, President of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, in a statement.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wildhack
Arlington lost its long-held vote on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board this month, as an appointed representative of the state government was granted voting power on the Board in place of Arlington’s representative.
Now the Arlington representative, County Board Chair Mary Hynes, is limited to “alternate” status on the Metro Board. In response, Hynes released a statement expressing disappointment but also noting that the county “does still have a voice at Metro.”
For the first time since Metro was formed in the 1960s, Arlington does not have a principal voting seat on the Board of Directors for the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA). The seat that was previously Arlington’s is now filled by a Commonwealth of Virginia representative.
Of course we’re disappointed.
Arlington does still have a voice at Metro. As an alternate WMATA Board member, I continue to serve as a voting member of all Metro committees, where, under WMATA Board rules, all of the Board’s important work is performed. While the exact composition of the committees — Governance, Finance & Administration, Customer Service and Operations, Safety and Security , Planning, and Audits — has yet to be determined, the WMATA Board has agreed that all Board members will continue to be welcome at all Committee meetings. I pledge to you that I will continue to vigorously represent Arlington’s interests and ensure that our viewpoints are heard.
It’s also fair to say that we’re concerned about the role the Commonwealth will play in continuing strong support for WMATA‘s – and our region’s – future.
The eight principal voting members of the Board of Directors hold our region’s future in their hands. It is a funding and governance responsibility Arlington has taken very seriously for more than 35 years. No one in the region disputes that Arlington has nurtured a spirit of regionalism in its approach to critical challenges, even as we’ve been a leader in fully utilizing the tremendous opportunities that regional transit investment provides to local communities. It’s also fair to say that, to date, the Commonwealth of Virginia has had a far less keen interest in supporting vital transit services than have the founding Virginia WMATA jurisdictions – Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax.
This month, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission – the body which appoints WMATA Board members — unanimously passed a resolution PDF file I co-authored that calls on WMATA Board members to actively work together for the good of the agency, our local jurisdictions and our region. I am heartened by this agreement. The resolution also called on the Commonwealth to “provide sustainable and dedicated revenues to support WMATA, in order to ensure the safety and reliability of the Metro system and the economic sustainability of our region.”
Clearly, Metro is an invaluable asset in the region. And Arlington will continue to invest in Metro. Our Metro system is the largest urban transit system in the United States without dedicated funding. We will continue to advocate for long-term, dedicated funding for the system, which is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of WMATA. It is our hope that, as the Commonwealth assumes 50% of Virginia’s voting power on WMATA, the Governor and General Assembly will rise to meet the enormous, unavoidable challenge of vigorously supporting transit so that Northern Virginia can remain one of the Commonwealth’s strong economic engines – a role it has played for many decades.
While Arlington is losing some influence on the Metro Board, it is gaining some influence on another regional transportation body. County Board member Jay Fisette was just elected chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
“NVTC plays a vital role in coordinating and managing transit in Northern Virginia,” Fisette said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues from throughout the region to protect and improve the existing transit systems, and to ensure that we are meeting the growing demands of this region.”
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington County and the American Foreign Service Association will dedicate a historic marker on the Virginia side of Chain Bridge on Tuesday.
The marker will commemorate the spot where, in 1814, a State Department clerk first hid the Declaration of Independence and some of the young country’s most precious documents ahead of the British attack on Washington, D.C.
From Arlington County:
Arlington County Board Member Jay Fisette and an American Foreign Service Association representative will join residents and history buffs on Tuesday, November 15, to dedicate a historic marker on the Virginia side of Chain Bridge. The dedication highlights Arlington’s early history as the bicentennial of the War of 1812 approaches.
The marker notes that it was to this spot that a State Department Clerk, Stephen Pleasonton, carried the Declaration of Independence and other iconic American documents that he had packed into a wagon on August 23,
18121814 as the British marched on Washington. Pleasonton initially hid the documents in an abandoned grist mill at the site. On August 24, 18121814, the British burned parts of the District, including the White House and Capitol.
The dedication will take place at 11:00 a.m. The location is described as the “trailhead for Pimmit Run trail under the GW Parkway Bridge, where it crosses over Glebe Rd. at Chain Bridge Rd.”
“Very limited” parking is available.
First Day of Fall, Flash Flood Watch — Today is officially the first day of fall, but it’s not going to feel like it. A storm system bringing tropical moisture to the area will provide warm temperatures and heavy rains that may produce flash flooding. [Capital Weather Gang]
Reminder: DUI Checkpoint Tonight — As part of a national DUI crackdown, Arlington County Police will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint somewhere in the county tonight.
What If Arlington Was Part of D.C.? — The Washington City Paper wonders aloud: What would the District look like had Arlington and Alexandria not been retroceded back to Virginia? The move, which would place part of North Arlington in Northwest D.C. and the rest in Southwest D.C., would add 252,000 registered voters, 56 public and charter schools, and 44 Starbucks locations to the District. [Washington City Paper]
Fisette to Be Honored for HIV Outreach — County Board member Jay Fisette will be honored by the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry as its 2011 Honoree at the organization’s Red Ribbon Gala next month. “NOVAM is proud to honor a well-known community leader who is a strong community advocate for HIV prevention and care for nearly 25 years,” the group said. [Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry]
ACFD Captain Retiring — Arlington County Fire Department Captain Ed Hannon is retiring after 28 years. As he was recounting his years of experience during a TV interview, Hannon’s colleagues decided to pull a prank: they sneaked up from behind and smeared his face with whipped cream as cameras rolled. [MyFoxDC]
The editors of Southern Living were so impressed by the transformation of Fisette’s yard from bland to beautiful that they featured it in a three-page spread in their April issue. Per the magazine’s folksy style, the language used in the article was — colorful.
“Jay Fisette and Bob Rosen have a nice house, but their front yard was as exciting as watching a frozen turkey thaw,” the article said. “A nearly featureless lawn bisected by a skinny front walk stretched between the Arlington, Virginia house and the street. It was, shall we say, a royal snoozer.”
“By addressing a few basic issues, Tom created a colorful, welcoming space that has easy access and stands out from its environs like a Bolshoi ballerina in a mattress store,” said the article.
Among the changes made: A “parking court” just off the driveway, a wider front walk, and plenty of colorful plants.
Fisette said that he’s heard from about a dozen people who have stumbled upon the article (it’s not available on the internet) including his mother and Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur. While downplaying the significance of the publicity — Jay wouldn’t go so far as saying the article was “an honor” — he did say the article was an enjoyable experience for himself and Rosen.
“It was fun for us,” Fisette said. “We were impressed by the article ourselves.”
Fisette discussed board vice chair Chris Zimmerman’s decision to step down from the Metro board, the firing of former county manager Michael Brown, and Arlington’s legislative priorities for 2011.
Fisette’s interview starts at 35:30 in the recording found here.
Here’s a sampling of the interview.
On Gov. McDonnell’s Government Reform Commission:
“We all have some high hopes that the Governor’s Reform Commission will come through with some good ideas,” including a loosening of Dillon Rule restrictions.
On the proposed privatization of Virginia’s liquor wholesale and retail business:
“It really wouldn’t accomplish what it set out to do.”
On the Community Energy Plan:
“Reliability and the cost of energy are going to be a huge issues [in the future... At the federal level there's kind of a void over the past decade or so, no one has really tackled this, so it falls to local governments."
"We're in the process... of adopting a plan that will set goals, targets and strategies for generating, distributing and reducing the use of energy. It will make Arlington more competitive for business in the future."
On former county manager Michael Brown:
"After a few months it became clear to us... that it was time to ask Mr. Brown to move on... Fortunately for us, our deputy county manager [Barbara Donnellan] stepped in and has done a terrific job.”