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Tejada: No Reason For “Disgruntled Persons” to Change County

by ARLnow.com July 13, 2010 at 9:04 am 1,721 55 Comments

County board member Walter Tejada says Arlington is doing just fine under its current form of government, thank you very much.

Tejada was a guest on Friday’s Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU radio. Asked about the change-of-government petition circulating around the county, Tejada had this to say:

I think it’s important to understand where Arlington is today. We have the lowest unemployment in the region … we have the lowest crime index since 1960 … and our schools are rated in the top 1% in the nation. We have to take a hard look at where we are today. Should we change an entire county government only because there are a few disgruntled persons?

The “disgruntled persons” Tejada is referring to are Arlington’s public safety unions, along with their Republican and Green Party partners, who are collectively sponsoring the petition drive.

Tejada said that he was recently approached by a signature collector who tried to sell him on a claim that all current Arlington County board members live in North Arlington. The only problem, as Tejada points out in the video below, is that board member Chris Zimmerman lives in South Arlington.

  • Kim

    Oh gee, we get one board member. I heard the show, he didn’t even sound sincere.

    Labeling people unhappy w/ their representation as Republicans is unbelievably dismissive and is just a sign of the Board’s lack of care or understanding. The petition is signed by people of multiple political views who live South of Rte. 50 and continually receive lesser services – county trash cans are rarely emptied, big changes are proposed without community input, slow to receive road repair, and it’s home to the last high school to be renovated. But we’re Republicans so who cares what we think. Tajada, not everything is about big national politics.

    • Thes

      In many communities in this country, the under-served neighborhoods are afflicted with crime, unemployment, drug infestation, government workers who take bribes, and failing schools. Here in Arlington our under-served neighborhoods are afflicted with… wait for it….

      … Proposals (later withdrawn).

      Yep, proposals and facilities that get renovated AFTER the other facilities get renovated. Tough stuff! I can see why we need to change our entire local constitution!

      I remember one time I got hit with a proposal. It was awful! It came up from behind and roared so loud! Knocked me back a few feet but I chased it away with an old floorboard.

      Four out of the five School Board members are elected from South Arlington. With the one County Board member, that makes half of all the affected elected officials from South Arlington, which is much more than its proportion of the population. But why settle for that, when Columbia Pike could become the next Ward 8?

      • MB

        Don’t forget the math gangs. Have you ever been faced with a quadratic equation emerging from the shadows at night? Terrifying.

  • Shawn

    Just shows that the County Board is getting nervous that people have figured out their little game. Why is the County Board so afraid of giving equal representation. FYI Tejada many people east of 50 are Dems and fed up with your BS.

    • Jen

      East of 50? People in DC?

      • Charles Foster Kane

        50 bends around at Ft. Myer and briefly runs north-south. Clearly Shawn is talking about the Cemetery.

        • Shawn

          Charles and Jen way to show your stripes, I clearly was mistaken and meant west of 50. Stay classy you two.

          Thes way to state your case. So in your mind Columbia Pike has to be infested with gangs to legally sign a petition and place an initiative on the ballot. Don’t really follow your logic. Our library was saved by concerned citizens who voiced their concerns, I guess we were just belly aching.

          • cj

            “west” of 50 is either Clarendon, Lyon Park and environs, or, um … since 50 runs to California, west of there is Hawaii? which is clearly underrepresented in Arlington.

  • JR

    wanting to have real representation and someone who is accountable on the county board is being disgruntled??? what a jerk. the change of government will provide real diversity on the board and finally a little bit of accountability.

  • Lou

    Maybe Tejada covets his position as the only minority on the Board. His comment is pretty dismissive. The Board is very diverse in some aspects (not that there is anything wrong with that), but it could be more so. Since Charles Monroe passed, I don’t think a single African American candidate has been up for a Board position.

    I’m not a petition signer in this case, but I don’t see anything wrong with looking at the at-large nature of the board and ways we can improve.

    • Jen

      What does race have to do with any of this? And for the record, I hardly see Black Americans in Arlington.

      • Skeptical

        I guess you spend most of your time in a few parts of North Arlington. Or maybe your comment just has the positive implication of saying we don’t notice race as much as we used to.

      • Thes

        Jen, out of the 10 Arlington elected officials who would be changed from at-large to districts, currently 20% are latino and 10% are black. Both are in excess of the voting population of Arlington. Also, Arlington voted over 70% for a black president. Of the last 10 humans actually elected to the County Board, one was black, one was latino, two were from South Arlington, three were women, two were Jewish, one was gay, and one was even a Republican. The idea that we need districts to bring racial or other diversity to the Board makes no sense.

        • JR

          Thes – you are clearly the spokesman for the local party machine… this has to do with diversity of ideas and perspectives, not diversity of gender and race. are we supposed to thank the party machine for “giving” us a hispanic on the board???? really? that is so insulting. the current system only benefits the party machine, not the people or true diversity as spoken by MLK.

          • 22205

            Actually, what’s insulting is suggesting Walter Tejada is a token. Progressives who denigrate successful people of color as being the result of a system rather than of their own merits add nothing to the conversation.

            I’m proud to have voted for Tejada; no machine made me do it. If you want a diversity of ideas and perspectives, make your best case on your own merits, rather than sullying someone else’s.

          • MB

            Thank you, Glenn Beck.

          • Jack

            that’s exactly what walter is. if you have ever met him – you will quickly realize there are a 1000 other people in the democratic party more qualified than him… but the party machine chose him as a token. it’s extremely sad, but very true.

          • Thes

            JR, look at the formatting this blog uses: I was responding to Lou’s specific complaint and explaining why it was incorrect. Doesn’t mean I agree with Lou’s premise at all.

          • Brewster

            Jack wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him. The notion of Walter as “token” chosen by the party machine show how little Jack knows. When did he move here anyway? A little history lesson for Jack and others. Walter ran to fill the seat vacated when Charles Monroe passed away. He was “chosen” in a Democratic party caucus. The candidates were Christian Dorsey, Walter, and Al Eisenberg. A significant number of party officials and elected supported Al. Al came in a distant third. Walter ran a great campaign and capitalized on the fact that Latinos are an increasingly large segment of Arlington and at the time lacked representation. He won. Then he won the special election against a Republican challenger. Then he won the general. Three elections in less than a year. And each time the voters selected him.

            The only people who “chose” Walter were the voters themselves. And I’m one voter who is glad I did.

          • JR

            Brewster – dude, seriously? you just argued that because we had an election, arlingotn isn’t run by a party machine. that’s outrageous. Chicago and NY both had elections when they were run by the machine (i guess chicago still is). the only reason democrats are opposing district voting is because this weakens the party machine: it forces them to final majorities in five locales vs. one.

            in addition – Walter was picked by the caucus (machine) and the people of arlington vote for democrats. to pretend that walter would have won in a real, free and fair primary or election without party labels is both crazy and a sad commentary on the people of arlington. have you met the man??? he is not a bright guy.

      • Shawn

        Get out of your house and come on over to Columbia Pike and look around at our diversity. You really are a piece of work.

  • MB

    At present, if an Arlington citizen is unhappy with any one of the Arlington County Board members, they can vote against that board member. Sounds like accountability to me.

    (That said, I think that many of the people who are behind this petition are confusing “accountability” with “getting everything I want, when I want.”)

    • GK

      The problem I think is that most people just vote the party line instead of really thinking about the issues in a rounded and intelligent way. So voting out the members you don’t feel are doing a good job is difficult.

      • Skeptical

        Exactly: we aren’t offered much of a choice. Option 1: Someone who has been, usually, groomed and hand picked by the people already in office or in control of the local Democratic party (and I have voted for yea more democrats in my life than any other party, just for the record). Option 2: In most elections, a “Republican popup” or Republican-endorsed independent who doesn’t seem to have much history in civic affairs. Don’t ask me why moderate Republicans who *do* have tenure on advisory boards — there are plenty — don’t run more often. But I suspect it’s because the hard-right-leaning types in ACRC and the 8th District committee would prefer arguments about ideological purity (I’ve heard that word used) to wholeheartedly supporting a plausible opposition candidate.

        Lately, we’ve gotten a couple of impressive candidates from the Green Party, but they carry the baggage of a national party that has, well, people like Cynthia McWilliams on their sample ballot. I’ve voted for them anyway. I suspect they would do better in a district election, where their style of addressing local concerns and long-term quality of life would bring out more support.

        Meanwhile, in every election year after year, deep pockets in the richer parts of the County fund the ACDC candidate and it doesn’t raise the questions it would raise if someone from Chain Bridge Forest wrote a whopping check to someone running south of Columbia Pike.

        I retain some reservations about the change to the County Manager form of government just because of all the do-overs. But district voting is considered MORE fair and populist in most parts of the country. Only here are we told that it is a regressive option. Hm.

        • Mike

          +1

  • William

    @Kim – I would think that saying the Board has a lack of care or understanding is just as dismissive. I’ve met and worked with four of the five current board members and I believe they all care a great deal about the entire county… those living here, those working here, those learning here, those shopping here and those visiting here.

    I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt to look at changing things up every now and then – that’s always a great idea. However – this proposed change doesn’t seem like it would really bring a real change in diversity to the board. I would be more supportive of imposing term limits as a way of refreshing the board members every so often.

    The awards and accolades do however show that the board has been doing a number of things right. Tejada didn’t mention this but Arlington was recently listed as one of the 20 least stressed counties in the US. The other 19 on that list were all mid-west, prairie locations – not one real major metropolitan area:
    http://www.wtop.com/?nid=600&sid=1918116

    I don’t believe the board is perfect in all of their decision making – but I still believe they are deliberative and resourceful and do an excellent job.

    Also – while Wakefield may be the 3rd traditional high school in the county to get new construction funded and started – there’s a 4th high school/secondary program in North Arlington that’s not slated (as far as I’m aware) to get any new construction.

    @Shawn – how can you live East of Rt 50?

    And for the record – I live right on Rt 50. My street address has no North or South designation.

    • Jack

      over the 10 years i’ve lived in Arlington i’ve e-mailed all of them simple questions about taxes or development, and never once have i received a response or an acknowledgment. they don’t care about the voters. they care about the democratic party.

  • Jillian

    @MB Thanks!!! My thoughts exactly. If Board members are not currently as geographically diverse as voters would like, encouage more candidates to run. Then vote to achieve those ends! I live in South Arlington and I oppose the change. If each member is only accountable to their one area, we can expect gridlock. @William, you are right, I think term limits could be more impactful.

  • Arlington Observer

    Bear in mind, there are currently no elected Board members who live north of Lee Highway. You may very well end up with LESS south Arlington representation if we go to districts. And there are issues in the far north too. School overcrowding, for example. Remember the effort to close the Nature Center? (that was also reversed after public outcry). I think some people just like to play the victim but the facts are not in their favor.

  • Eponymous Coward

    I for one support this move to a ward system. If we structure our local government like the District of Columbia, we can expect to reap benefits like their lower taxes, better services, nationally recognized schools, greater competence, and absence of political infighting.

    • South Walter Reed

      And we have a winner for comment of the day! Thanks for the laugh, EC.

    • William

      You forgot less crime!

  • Mike

    That’s the fact Jack.

    Thes and BM are just ACDC hacks practicing their vile lies.

    • AllenB

      Attaboy, Mike. Attack the messenger because you can’t refute his message.

      • Jack

        but when he is right, he is right.

      • Mike

        Can’t refute his message? I’ve refuted every point the inclined-to-whine side has spewed thus far.

        To be fair, Thes is at least making an attempt at discussion. He may be a partisan hack, but at least he’s doing it under the guise of intellectual honesty. BM needs to be flushed.

  • AllenB

    I’ll take it you mean that Thes is right. That I agree with.

  • Darwin

    Only Democrats would actively fight to prevent the right for people to actually vote on the issue!!!
    This petition does NOT change the law, it just allows the people to decide! If it is really a bad idea it will fail in November PERIOD!

    • Lou

      I also think it will fail, but a little revolution(ary thinking) now and then is still a good thing.

  • Darwin

    For the record I signed the petition outside Giant but plan to vote “no” in November. Unless it is an issue that the dangers of democracy could lead to the violation of a civil right then there is no excuse for not allowing it to be on the ballot.

    • Shawn

      Darwin I don’t understand the hostility concerning putting an initiative on the ballot? As you stated if it is a bad idea it will be voted down in November. If that is the case, at least the citizens’ wishes were represented fairly come election time as opposed to ad hominem attacks or at the very least dismissive attitudes towards citizens’ concerns.

  • Declined to Sign

    Darwin, the reason not to sign is that the people collecting signatures are being deeply dishonest about why they’re collecting them and what the effects would be. I would have supported this effort being on the ballot if the people pushing it weren’t using such inappropriate tactics. I also really don’t think the measure actually does anything to help the firefighters. It makes me laugh when labor teams up with the GOP–do they really think the GOP will be better for them than the Dems?

  • Shawn

    Declined to sign can you give some examples of the “deep dishonesty” of the people collecting signatures? Thanks

    • Charles Foster Kane

      Here’s one for you, Shawn. At the Courthouse farmers market several weeks ago, petition circulator “Russ” and a “Decline to Sign” volunteer were engaged in a discussion with a voter about the potential effects of referendum approval. “Decline to Sign” stated that Arlington would be required to adopt the “County Board Form” of government which currently is used by four rural, sparsely populated counties in southwest Virginia. The verbatim response from “Russ” the circulator: “That’s a lie — all the other counties in Virginia have it.” That, Shawn, was an outright falsehood.

      More?

  • Efrem Hornbostle

    What does Walter Tejada know about governing with a mentor like Chris Zimmerman?

    Look at the condition of METRO after Zimmerman being on the Metro Board for more than 10 years. Zimmerman couldn’t manage a Jiffy Lube.

    Tejada wants Arlington to remain a sanctuary county for illegal aliens that he considers law-abiding immigrants.

    Tejada has as much skill at governing as Julia Child had at pouring concrete. Tejada is a joke.

    • Courthouse Resident

      Julia Childs… excellence in concrete pouring… who knew!?

  • Efrem

    So Courthouse Resident thinks Walter Tejada is good at governing?

    Here’s a quiz for all you elitist progressive Democrats out there:

    1. What has Walter Tejada ever done for Arlington except to lure more illegal aliens to move here to live off the taxpayers dole?

    2. What has Walter Tejada ever done to entice illegal aliens to become legal citizens, learn English and assimilate into the fabric of America?

    3. What has Walter Tejada ever done to support those immigrants that came here legally and to use their example as the proper means to become an American citizen.

    4. What has Walter Tejada ever openly offered from the County Board dais, in direct contrast to his counterparts, to save Arlington citizens tax dollars?

    5. What has Walter Tejada ever offered to shed the image of Arlington being a sanctuary for illegal aliens?

    • SC

      Look at the stats that Tejada cites – low crime, great schools – so why is your sole concern illegal aliens in Arlington? It’s disgusting how some people seek to exploit an issue or a population simply because of their own personal issues.

      Would you rather live in Prince William County, with its harsh anti-immigrant laws, or in Arlington, which promotes the integration of newcomers?

      • Mike

        Last time I checked being an illegal alien was, well illegal.

  • flicker

    Walter Tejada is a decent, honest person who really cares about helping others and takes his role seriously in that regard. He has personally helped me resolve an issue and I was impressed by his responsiveness.

  • Jillian

    I’ve signed the petition but plan to vote no…but last night, I got a ‘support the firefighters’ pitch on the petition, which is quite disingenuous…

    • Thes

      Jillian,

      By signing the petition, you indicated that you want a community “discussion” on the change of government proposal. You now know it’s a bad idea, but that the supporters will be making misleading claims about it all the way up until Election Day. As someone who helped put this choice before the voters, will you be planning to volunteer to make phone calls, or contribute money for “vote no” mailings to make sure voters are accurately informed?

      • Mike

        You guys will sure need the money. You already look stupid for trying to block the petition in the first place.

  • Ron

    If the County Board represented the interests of the Citizens of Arlington County, this would not even be an issue. Priorities of the present leadership need to be challenged; it is very convenient to have a County Manager as a fall guy. If the present board does not want this change, perhaps they should ask themselves why there is support.

    • Captain Obvious

      There clearly isn’t much support! And most of the support the COG people garnered was from people who didn’t understand the issue.

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