Candidate Essay: Audrey Clement

by ARLnow.com November 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm 5,241 44 Comments

Last week we asked the three candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Two County Board seats are up for election this year.

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement (G):

I’m long time resident of Arlington County with a Ph.D. in Political Science. I served as a congressional fellow in the 100th Congress, serving the House Subcommittee on Select Education.  I’m also an environmental activist. As treasurer of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, I fought the I-66 Spot Improvement Project as a waste of taxpayer funds, suing instead for an environmental assessment to study alternatives to widening I-66 piecemeal.

I am an officer of both the national and state Green parties. As treasurer of the Arlington Green Party, I participated in campaigns in 2008 and 2009 to consolidate Arlington’s housing programs to leverage more money for affordable housing by placing a countywide housing agency referendum on the ballot. The referendum garnered more than 30 percent of the vote in 2008, but County Board defeated a similar referendum in 2009 by lobbying the state legislature to impose draconian signature requirements on petitions to place future referendums on the ballot.

I’ve also participated in campaigns to create a year round homeless shelter and ban plastic bags in supermarkets and chain drug stores and Styrofoam in food retail outlets. These initiatives are opposed by County Board.

I think Arlington needs a change in leadership because County Board is in bed with developers. As new office towers go up overnight, employers move into the county, spurring demand for housing that drives up rents and real estate assessments and promotes excessive infill development. Nevertheless County Board continues to award developers with more density—50% more in Crystal City alone. Over the past decade the supply of affordable housing in this county has been cut in half, from 24,000 in 2000 to less than 12,000 today.

My opponents Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes call the gentrification of Arlington County “Smart Growth.”  But I ask you, what is smart about recycling moderate income tenants out of the county? What is smart about saddling taxpayers with expensive, risky, debt ridden, vanity projects like the $6.7 million Artisphere, the $130 million Columbia Pike Trolley, and the $65 million Long Bridge Park Aquatic Center–while the county’s infrastructure crumbles? Walter and Mary argue that county homeowners have the lowest tax rate in Northern Va. Yet the Arlington County Civic Federation reports that the County Manager has cooked the books, and county residents actually have the highest tax and fee burden in Northern Va.

Walter and Mary will tell you that Arlington’s growth is “green” and sustainable. The only thing green about it is the dollars that developers pocket. Nearly all indicators of environmental quality in Arlington—energy use, traffic congestion, recycling rates, tree canopy, green space–are trending down. Our county’s recycling rate is no better than the statewide average, a dismal 40 percent, well below the City of Falls Church’s 58 percent. The school system can’t keep up with enrollments; streets need repaving; and the Metro system is packed during rush hour.

If elected I pledge to:

  • Restore full funding for Arlington public libraries.
  • Restore full funding for social services.
  • Retrofit all public buildings with renewable energy.
  • Increase recycling in apartments and businesses.
  • Reduce litter by banning single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam in retail stores and food outlets.
  • Reduce energy costs by providing free residential energy audits for Arlington homeowners.
  • Consolidate housing programs in one agency to leverage more money for affordable housing.
  • Hire an Inspector General to audit the County budget.

By electing me, Arlington residents will guarantee the preservation of their neighborhoods and the conservation of their natural surroundings. That’s the Arlington Way. Vote CLEMENT for County Board on Tuesday, November 8.

  • i don’t think shes an incumbent

    • The error has been corrected, thank you.

  • AAA


    For anyone who thinks Greens are just liberals, this could change their minds.

    • South Arlington

      Everything she’s arguing for is liberal. From restoring social services, to the bag tax plan, to opposing “gentrification” and arguing to artificially maintain “moderate income housing”, she is the most liberal one running.

      • drax

        See my comment to steve below please.

      • Miriam Gennari

        Except that she does not plan to waste your money on vanity projects.

  • novasteve

    My lord, is there a single candidate for the board that is right of Lenin on the political spectrum?

    • drax

      She complains about wasteful spending (on Artisphere and the trolley!) and subsidies for low-income residents and that taxes are too high and that the Board is in bed with developers – what else could you want, Steve?

      • novasteve

        Crying about gentrification talking about BANNING things she doesn’t approve of “renewable energy”, all that sort of stuff.

        • drax

          So you don’t want to BAN anything you don’t approve of, Steve? Nothing at all?

          And how dare we have renewable energy instead of energy that’s going to pollute our air until it runs out. So stupid. What is she thinking?

  • Really?

    Audrey is not County Board member, but she did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express.

  • Clizzledizzle

    Her passion is admirable, but I am against everything she stands for.

    • Miriam Gennari

      Really you like single use Styrofoam? Questioning your judgement?

  • Quoth the Raven

    I wonder where she’ll find the $$ for all those initiatives she supports! “Restore full funding for social services” sounds sort of pricey.

    • madisonmanor

      What do you mean?
      “expensive, risky, debt ridden, vanity projects like the $6.7 million Artisphere, the $130 million Columbia Pike Trolley, and the $65 million Long Bridge Park Aquatic Center”

      She identified over $200 million in savings. More than enough to fund a couple more social programs and restore library hours for the first year. Or retrofit some public buildings with renewable energy. What? Those aren’t real savings? Well, coupled with the plastic bag tax. . . Right.

      Maybe with her PhD she could invent a more reliable way to represent sarcasm on the Internet.

      • Zoning Victim

        She also complains about high taxes, which she won’t be able to do anything about if she diverts funds from a few projects she doesn’t like over to a few that she does support. Shifting money from one ill-conceived set of plans to another doesn’t really save anything.

        • Josh S

          I wonder if you have the same level of pessimism / negativity in other aspects of your life. For example, can ZV do anything right? How about ZV’s family? Was there ever a boss or co-worker in ZV’s life that wasn’t a dumbass? Teacher or professor?

          • Zoning Victim

            Is this really supposed to be productive or are you just needling?

  • Captain Obvious

    My favorite thing about her candidacy is that she utterly fails to grasp that the County Board CANNOT BAN PLASTIC BAGS AND STYROFOAM. It’s called the Dillon Rule, Audrey. You might want to look it up–it would be nice if you knew something about the powers of the body you’re running for.

    • Carl

      I agree. Same with Favola asking why Arlington does not have more power to regulate guns.

      • novasteve

        Liberals have no problem with the constitution or law sgetting in their way of imposing their crap on everyone else.

        • drax

          That’s true.

          Same goes for conservatives.

          • novasteve

            While that may be true, liberals have a lot more crap that they like to impose on others, it doesn’t just affect tiny minorities.

          • drax

            Sure, Steve. Conservatives don’t have a loooong list of ways they want to run people’s lives.

          • Zoning Victim

            I hear the complaint about conservatives wanting to run people’s private lives during political discussions, but other than abortion and their gay marriage stupidity, I can’t think of a law or regulation to run people’s private lives that has the backing of conservatives. Smoking bans, gun bans, helmet & seatbelt laws, trans fat laws, banning parents from packing lunches for their kids so the schools can choose what their kids eat for them, bringing undue scrutiny to fast food restaurants and threatening them with regulation/lawsuits if they don’t add health items to their menus, forcing everyone to buy health insurance; these are all liberal pursuits.

            While the conservative wing of government is certainly responsible for rolling back privacy rights since 2001, for helping to create a police state that kicks down people’s doors for practically every warrant they serve these days and for doing whatever they legally can to make it more difficult to get an abortion, I really don’t understand how liberals are pointing the finger at conservatives and saying they’re the ones trying to control everyone’s personal lives.

            Whenever I bring this up to my liberal friends, I always get some meaningless statement like, “well, you know what I mean.” No, I don’t know what it means, so if someone can please let me know what exactly has been proposed as legislation/regulation by the conservative side that runs people’s private lives, I’d certainly be interested to know what this means.

          • NorthArlingTim


        • NorthArlingTim

          oh – like you want to impose your freedom to pollute your lungs on everybody else’s lungs?

    • Miriam Gennari

      You are wrong. I suggest you do a little research. The Dillion rule is an excuse. Arlington does have the ability to reduce waste under it’s waste management directive. only 13% of plastic bags are recycled and styrofoam is 100% waste. At the very least it could be banned from government offices and from county events to start. The county would rather pay outside organizations to pick up trash and celebrate a clean stream for one weekend, rather then eliminating trash from out waterways. The state is not likely to challenge the ban considering DC’s success and a similar tax in Mongomery County. It is happening all around the country. I think they would ignore it to avoid the embrassment. Also, the wasteto energy plant that burns our trash does not want plastic bags or styrofoam, they burn to hot, damages their equipment and energy output is weak. Oh and by the way more density mean more trash. Want to spend your tax dollars wisely? Wasting it on waste is not wise.

      • Zoning Victim

        You should take your own advice; neither DC nor Montgomery County actually ban so called “onetime use” plastic bags. They levy a tax on them; I’m not qualified to say whether or not taxing certain items like that falls under the Dillon rule, but they haven’t been granted the authority to actually ban anything.

        It is not possible for something to “burn too hot” and have weak energy output.

  • ArlForester

    You don’t audit a budget.

    • Smoke_Jaguar4

      No, but you can audit spending. It’s her only idea that has any merit. The rest is confusion:

      – She wants more affordable housing without increasing density? In studying her Ph D, has she ever heard of the “Law of Suppy and Demand”?

      – She wants to swap high density, high demand housing for more homeless shelters and affordable housing? It sounds like she wants to turn Arlington County into DC, circa 1985.

      – And then she crows about a referendum that failed by more than 60%? Here, where no referendum ever fails? There is a place here for affordable housing; It’s called Fairfax County.

      • Zoning Victim

        I agree with everything you have said, but ArlForester still has a point. This woman has a PhD and she puts that in writing? I also don’t understand how the Green party candidate is against density. The alternative is more sprawl and pollution.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      An independent IG can audit budget projects – OMB and congressional IG’s do it all the time. Can you say – Artisphere, Trolley, Library Solar. Maybe someone with some skin in the game about being accurate rather than pushing a political agenda might lend some credibility.

  • zzzzz

    Yesterday morning I found a bunch of postcards for her on the front porch of my condo building. Thanks for littering my front yard, green candidate!!!

    • Miriam Gennari

      Ok how would you spread the word. Tell me your camaign plan. Oh and by the way no corporate donations allowed.
      How would you get your message out? Every event, even the ones neither incumbent are involved in allowed Walter and Mary a chance to speak. Sad that you would even mention literature drops and the environment. Maybe she should write her message on the Styrofoam trays served at county events.

  • JB

    So she wants more affordable housing, but opposes density. How does artificially limiting the supply of housing create more affordable housing? I’m confused. Or maybe she is.

    • Josh S

      I don’t think she’s confused. These are clear statements of what she thinks the community should look like.

      It’s just that practically, it’s probably impossible to get it to actually look like that.

      Nonetheless, a Third Party voice on the Board would be extremely valuable. It is unlikely for any of us to find a candidate with whom we agree on everything. In American politics, with neither of the two dominant political parties worth two bits, I submit we need third party candidates to be successful to help restore us to actual debate and compromise, the only way democracy can actually work….

      • Smoke_Jaguar4

        A third party? Just try getting a 2nd party on the board… They don’t have to be a Beck-lovin’ Tea-publican, just someone closer to the center than the current crew.

  • FW

    I agree with everything except the affordable housing.

    Yes, the rents suck around here…but it pisses me off when I am paying an arm and a leg for a one-bedroom on the Orange line and someone making $30K/year can get the same space for $900 per month.

    • Josh S

      So trade places…..

      • Jennifer


  • Andrew

    Audrey Clement is a hypocrite: she claims environmental awareness while her paper flyers litter the county!

  • Julie

    Density? People are boarding horses two miles outside Arlington. Put the density there.

  • Barry

    Clement wiped the floor with Tejada and Hynes during the candidates’ debates. They are so far into the pockets of the developers who want to gentrify everyone out who isn’t upscale that they can only mumble platitudes when asked questions about meg-development.


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