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Arlington’s State Lawmakers Unanimously Oppose Referendum

Arlington’s entire delegation to the General Assembly in Richmond has come out against a proposal that would change the county’s form of government.

In a letter to Arlington County voters, lawmakers argue that changing from a county manager form of government, to a form that gives more executive powers to the county board, “could significantly impair our ability to advance Arlington’s interests in Richmond.”

The letter is signed by state senators Mary Margaret Whipple and Patsy Ticer, delegates Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope, and a number of former state lawmakers — all Democrats.

A group, the Committee for a Better Arlington, is attempting to collect more than 14,000 signatures by July 15 in order to put the change-of-government proposal to voters in the form of a referendum.

The lawmakers’ letter, after the jump.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

General Assembly

Richmond

June 1, 2010

TO ARLINGTON COUNTY VOTERS:

Signatures are being gathered to place on the ballot a referendum that would require Arlington County to adopt a new form of government structure. Based on our experience in the General Assembly, we oppose this effort. It could significantly impair our ability to advance Arlington’s interests in Richmond.

Arlington is unique among Virginia counties and cities. We are the only jurisdiction to have adopted the “County Manager Plan” of government, and a separate section in the Code of Virginia sets out Arlington’s powers and responsibilities.

Over the years, we and our predecessors in the General Assembly have succeeded in securing special powers for Arlington that reflect both the needs of an urban, diverse population, and our values as an inclusive, forward-looking community. For instance:

● Arlington’s requirements for child day care operations are far more stringent than statewide standards in terms of staffing ratios, personnel qualifications, etc.

● Arlington’s Human Rights Ordinance uniquely gives us the power to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

● Arlington’s Affordable Dwelling Unit Ordinance enables us to expand the stock of critically needed affordable housing in the County.

These and other authorities would be placed in jeopardy if Arlington were forced to abandon its current governing structure. The referendum would require us to adopt a form of government that is used by four rural, sparsely populated counties in far southwestern Virginia — jurisdictions with which Arlington has virtually nothing in common. Any change to this new form of government would need the concurrence of those counties.

In the coming years, Arlington faces great challenges — and even greater opportunities — in Richmond. The Arlington delegation will be better able to meet those challenges and capitalize on those opportunities if we aren’t required to expend our resources trying to regain existing powers and authorities. For these reasons, we oppose the “Change of Government” referendum.

Patsy Ticer
Senator, 30th District

Mary Margaret Whipple
Senator, 31st District

Adam Ebbin
Delegate, 49th District

Patrick Hope
Delegate, 47th District

Bob Brink
Delegate, 48th District

David Englin
Delegate, 45th District

Judy Connally
Delegate, 48th District
1992-1998

Ed Holland
Senator, 31st District
1972-1996

Karen Darner
Delegate, 49th District
1991-2004

Al Eisenberg
Delegate, 47th District
2004-2010

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