Here is the unedited response from Matt Wavro (R):
I am running for the Arlington County Board because we need to elect a new voice to make sure that all voices are heard. Arlington residents deserve a County Board Member who will stand up and ensure their concerns are fully considered by the County Board. Arlington faces significant challenges and I will work to make sure that everyone has a voice in local government and not narrowly rely on a one-party echo chamber to guide governmental decisions that have a wide ranging impact on our community’s future.
I am an Eagle Scout, 100 Homes for the Homeless Survey volunteer and a Junior Achievement volunteer instructor. I am an active member of the community and am running to be the County Board Member that brings people together on the tough issues and fights for everyone to be heard. I will build a consensus around common-sense and ensure a level of governmental accountability that allows for meaningful public engagement and planning processes that are responsive to specific and practical community concerns.
Leadership, in my view, means providing a voice for residents. Leadership isn’t a matter of taking to the bully pulpit and arguing with elected officials. Rather, it is about including and applying a different perspective to the public policy process that makes sure the information important to the community is included in the decisions instead of the current practice of only including the information that confirms the decision that members of the County Board seek to make from the outset.
I am the only candidate in this race who has a plan to move the County Board to a better plan for Columbia Pike than the trolley. I will re-engage the public process by hosting town halls, building the case for a better plan, and convincing all the members of the board that the Columbia Pike Trolley project is not what is best for Arlington. Re-engaging the public input process is even more important after a current County Board member, having taken the untenable position of abstaining from voting on the trolley, walked away from the public process that included the efforts of citizens to respond within the formal comment process, attend the Alternatives Analysis meetings, and provide additional public comments at the County Board meeting.
I firmly believe that residents deserve a voice for fiscal responsibility. In previous years the County Board has increased tax rates on top of increased assessments. In doing this the board raised taxes on top of already increasing tax bills, spending more and more while providing the average tax-payer less and less value for their tax dollar. And renters shouldn’t think they are exempt from these property tax increases. Every year that the County Board increases property tax rates, renters see the increase as part of the next year’s rent increase on top of the rent increase from the current year. Included in any fiscally responsible approach to county taxes would be the use of close-out funds from this year to provide tax relief in the next year.
Part of electing a voice for fiscal responsibility means having a county board member who stands up against a capital spending plan that locks the county into raising additional revenues through ever increasing taxes each year for the next ten years, leaving little room for tax relief and the ability to respond to legitimate community needs as they arise. I would pursue a more responsible approach, funding more Neighborhood Conservation Fund projects and synthetic field conversions that cost less, but do more to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Improving our neighborhoods is a much better investment than the exorbitantly priced luxury aquatics center.
Active and engaged leadership includes providing a professional and independent review of governmental operations to the County Board and the community. When elected, I will work to establish an Office of Inspector General to provide this much needed governance reform. If the current County Board continues their insistence on a structural lack of accountability on tax, budget and spending issues, I will raise donations myself to fund an analogous position via a non-profit entity.
Arlington County faces fiscal, development, transportation and management challenges. I will work to meet our challenges in ways that best serve the entire community. I love Arlington and am proud to call it home. I want to see Arlington and all of us that call Arlington home prosper. Thank you for your consideration in this election. I ask for your vote on November 6th.
Republican County Board candidate Matt Wavro has an idea for the millions of dollars of unspent tax revenue typically left over at the end of the county’s fiscal year.
Instead of simply finding a way to spend the money or putting the money in reserve, as Arlington County does now, Wavro wants to see the “close-out funds” returned to county residential and commercial property holders in the form of a tax rebate. As the Sun Gazette reports, Wavro presented the idea at the County Board meeting on Saturday, saying that the county should provide tax relief after years of tax rate increases.
How do you think excess county tax revenue should be used?
IAFF: Only We Fight Fires in Arlington — IAFF Local 2800, Arlington’s firefighter union, wants residents to know that their members are the only ones who fight fires in Arlington. The union is trying to draw attention to a web page set up to clarify the differences between professional Arlington County firefighters and members of local volunteer firefighting organizations, who have been soliciting donations. “You may be wondering ‘are my fire and rescue services provided by volunteer firefighters?’” the union wrote. “The answer is no.” [IAFF Local 2800]
Wag More Dogs Gets New Mural — Wag More Dogs, the Shirlington dog grooming business that had to whitewash its doggy mural after losing a legal battle over signage restrictions with Arlington County, has a new mural that no one will interpret as a form of advertising this time around. The mural, painted by itinerant artists Zack Weaver and Rob Fogle, depicts two birds sitting in a hot tub on a tree. During the two weeks it took to create the mural, Weaver and Fogle lived in their truck (dubbed the “Art Cream Truck” and decorated with a painting of a well-endowed green-skinned woman) which they parked outside the dog park. [Huffington Post]
GOP Candidate Goes Against Chamber-Supported Tax — Republican County Board candidate Matt Wavro and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement have both come out against a 12.5 cent per $100 commercial property tax surcharge levied by Arlington County. The surcharge, which is used to fund transportation improvements, is supported by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. [Sun Gazette]
Post Endorses Kaine — The Washington Post editorial board has endorsed Democrat Tim Kaine over Republican George Allen in the race for U.S. Senate in Virginia. [Washington Post]
The participants were the three candidates for Arlington County Board: incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey, Green Party candidate Audrey Clement and Republican Matt Wavro.
Despite the fact that the audience lives north of Route 50, in a neighborhood that has plenty of concerns about traffic, development, aircraft noise and other issues, the main topic of the debate was the Columbia Pike streetcar. The streetcar so dominated the first half of the debate that the moderator had to eventually ask the audience to refrain from asking about it.
It’s ironic, then, that the candidates all essentially agreed with one another.
“We need sensible transit,” said Garvey, in her opening remarks. “I have been working deliberately to gather more information about the proposed streetcar and the more I look at it the more convinced I am that what we need is a bus rapid transit system, or BRT. That is by far the best solution for us at this point.”
Wavro also advocated for enhanced bus service along Columbia Pike instead of the streetcar, but he blasted Garvey for abstaining during a vote on the streetcar in July.
“We’ve had studies, more studies, then more studies on the Columbia Pike trolley,” he said. “With that amount of information out there, [Garvey] should be able to make a decision against the trolley.”
Clement echoed Wavro’s criticism.
“Board members are elected to take stands on controversial issues, not back away from them,” she said, adding that the streetcar will absorb tax dollars that could be used for capital improvements to Arlington’s existing transportation network and service enhancements like expanded weekend ART bus service.
There was disagreement over whether the Pike streetcar is a decision that can be reversed or not. Wavro argued that a lone board member would and should not be able to reverse the community process that led to the streetcar vote this summer. Garvey said the board only approved a “transit system” and that the “vehicle” for that system is a decision that will be made “down the line.”
“I think this will probably be the most important vote that I’m going to take in my time on the Board, and I’m hoping to be on the Board for about 12 years,” she said.
In addition to speaking out about the Columbia Pike streetcar, Clement also criticized Garvey’s vote to approve the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, which she said will eliminate affordable housing and “will transform the Pike into a gentrified urban canyon.” Wavro, meanwhile, spoke of the need to preserve market rate affordable housing — housing that’s affordable without government intervention — along the Pike and throughout the county.
Wavro made fiscal responsibility a pillar of his platform, saying the Board shouldn’t need to raise property tax rates — like it did this spring — on top of increases in property assessments.
“We should be able to fund our priorities through the increased assessments,” he said. “What we’ve seen from the County Board… is a trajectory of spending on capital projects that includes a tax or rent increase for every Arlington resident each year for the next ten years in order to maintain our AAA bond rating. I think we should have a much more responsible capital spending plan.”
Clement again agreed with Wavro, but delivered a sharper attack on Garvey and the Democrat-controlled County Board.
“In the current uncertain financial climate spurred by BRAC closures and the federal deficit, I view spending for key products in the [Capital Improvement Plan], including the [Long Bridge Park] aquatic center and the trolley, as reckless and irresponsible, and will oppose them unless the county’s economic outlook improves” she said. “In addition to opposing profligate capital spending, I have a specific plan for action to promote fiscal responsibility that emphasizes funding basic needs and investment in sustainable infrastructure.”
Republican County Board candidate Matt Wavro and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement — who will be facing Democratic County Board member Libby Garvey in November — both say that the streetcar is a bad idea.
“We should not hamper the ability of our community to continually improve our plans and development decisions by installing an inflexible, impractical and egregiously expensive circulator trolley that many citizens do not want,” Wavro wrote in a statement, released last week. “Instead of a circulator trolley, I would promote and support enhanced bus service from Columbia Pike and Crystal City through Pentagon City and on into Rosslyn.”
In a statement, Clement said she also supported a form of enhanced bus service on the Pike.
“In addition to its exorbitant cost I oppose the Pike trolley because it would induce demand for housing, thus accelerating gentrification of the Pike,” Clement wrote. “I prefer compact double-deck buses, like those that are being introduced into service in London, rather than articulated buses, on the Pike’s congested roadway”
County staff is recommending the Board approve the streetcar plan, saying the streetcar “will best achieve the vision for the Columbia Pike corridor as a vibrant, diverse, and pedestrian and transit oriented community.”
The full statements from Clement and Wavro, after the jump.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed FY 2013-2022 CIP describes the center as a “one-of-a-kind recreational, fitness, and competition asset [that] will provide long-term value to our community and attract people regionally to the unique combination of assets that is Arlington — to work, to play, to live.”
While supporters say Arlington County “can afford… world-class facilities” like the aquatics center (see statement from Nathaniel Giddings, after the jump), detractors — like fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki and GOP County Board candidate Matt Wavro — say that the county actually can’t afford such “vanity projects.”
Kubicki, chair of the Arlington County Civic Federation’s Revenues and Expenditures Committee, said in a statement (excerpt below) that the aquatics center will impose a long-term fiscal burden on taxpayers, who are already faced with a rising county budget.
Donnellan has proposed including $42.5 million worth of the aquatic center’s $70+ million cost included in a larger park bond, to be considered by county voters in November. The Civic Federation has called for the aquatics center to appear on the ballot as a separate bond item.
Kubicki made the following personal remarks to the County Board at Tuesday’s hearing.
The CIP projects 3% annual revenue growth for FY14 through 16….
Combining just the operating costs for new items such as Arlington Mill ($3.3M) and the Silver Line (our first year cost is $1.7M), and increased debt service costs, our FY14 budget already needs over $14M in growth – before increasing anything.
Funding the proposed CIP will necessitate major revenue growth, well over 3%, and unlike the past two fiscal years, where the burden of increased spending fell mostly on our commercial sector, the next several years will more heavily fall on homeowners. Commercial assessments are very unlikely to jump a third straight year.
There is one prime candidate for controlling some of this – the Long Bridge pools building, with its $73M price tag.
With our admittedly deteriorating infrastructure, and pressing school capital & operating needs if enrollment growth continues, coupled with uncertain future revenues and the over $7M in annual operating subsidies for the two streetcar lines upcoming, is Long Bridge really a priority? Can it seriously be called a “need”?
Combining proposed debt service, including the $20M interim non-bond borrowing, with its projected operating subsidy, Long Bridge’s annual cost is nearly $7M per year. That’s over one cent on the current tax rate- for one single building, that most residents will never use, and that many would have trouble finding, even if you gave them a map.
The Long Bridge project raises the term “vanity project” to a new level, and fiscally has the potential to be the Artisphere on steroids.
If Long Bridge is on the fall ballot, it should be as a separate, stand-alone referendum, with nothing else attached to it, as the Civic Federation strongly recommended to you. The fiscal ramifications of this project deserve separate discussion and a separate vote.
Matt Wavro, Republican candidate for County Board, said that the funds proposed for the aquatics center should instead be used for neighborhood projects and for the maintenance of existing recreational facilities. (Excerpt of his remarks, after the jump.)
Wavro will be facing Democrat Libby Garvey and perennial Green Party candidate Audrey Clement in November, following Garvey’s recent defeat of a better-known Republican candidate in a very low-turnout special election — an election that was billed as the GOP’s best chance of getting on the Board since 1999.
Wavro’s chances are especially long due to the other, higher-profile races that are on the bill for November 6 — the presidential race, a U.S. Senate race and a House of Representatives race — all of which are sure to draw droves of Democrats to the polls in Arlington.
Nonetheless Wavro, who lives in Crystal City and works as a human resources consultant, says he’s prepared to make a strong case to voters for why he should be elected. In an email to ARLnow.com, Wavro detailed some of his positions on the issues.
Like many in Arlington, I am concerned with the direction of our county. We score well in magazine surveys, but the health of our civil society and the quality of life of our neighbors is a much better measure of the performance of our political leadership. The civil and political health of our community continues to decline under the control of a single-party controlled County Board. It is the lack of any dissenting voices on the board that has allowed the County Board to continue their plans to rapidly redevelop neighborhoods and redesign our lives and our community around their ideological beliefs.
I am running for a seat on the Arlington County Board to stand up for our neighborhoods. It shouldn’t be considered part of living in Arlington that you have to regularly mobilize your neighbors to speak out against a local government action, program or plan that members of the County Board have determined does not require public input. We deserve a County Board Member who will insist on meaningful collaboration with homeowners, renters and local businesses instead of a top-down, rigid ideological approach to sidewalks, streets, zoning, permits, signs and outdoor restaurant seating.
I am running to bring active and engaged leadership to the County Board. The Arlington County Civic Federation has regularly called for an Inspector General to provide a professional and independent review of governmental operations to the County Board and the community. When elected, I will work with my colleagues to establish an Office of Inspector General to provide this much needed governance reform. If the current County Board continues their obstruction and insistence on a structural lack of accountability on tax, budget and spending issues, I will raise donations myself to fund an analogous position through a non-profit entity.
I am running to stand with our community against the wholesale redevelopment of particular neighborhoods and to develop a better plan for Columbia Pike than the trolley. I am running to prove that Arlington County government can be both effective and efficient without increasing taxes on top of already increased property-tax assessments. Lastly, I am running to appropriately prioritize projects in our county’s capital improvement program so that we can give our schools the flexibility to solve the capacity problem without another massive tax increase or an equally damaging downgrade to the County’s bond rating.
Anyone interested in more information can visit my website www.Wavro2012.com to sign up for email updates and get involved.
Photo via Facebook