County Board Chairman Jay Fisette did not mince words when responding to a public comment about the proposed change in Arlington’s form of government at Saturday’s board meeting.
“It is certainly my view that this would be a step backwards for Arlington,” he said of the proposal. “I think the message is, if you’re asked to sign that petition, please decline to do so.”
The Committee for a Better Arlington, which is behind the petition drive to get the proposal on the ballot, is now firing back. The organization released this statement in response to Fisette’s comments:
It is sad to see the Chairman of the County Board opposing people having a say in how their government is run. We started this initiative because we believe every Arlington resident should have a voice in their government. One would hope the Chairman of the County Board would respect those rights more than anyone else. Instead of trying to dissuade voters to sign a petition that would simply give Arlingtonians the right to have a discussion about how County government works, the Chairman and the County Board should step aside and let the democratic process play out.
The proposal would actually give more power to the county board. But Fisette said giving the board the responsibly for hiring, firing or setting the salary for Arlington’s 3,500 county employees, as well as oversight over county purchasing, could open the door to corruption.
“Look in the region itself at the number of stories that come up about the influence that some elected leaders have over… public contracts for service,” Fisette said.