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County Board Candidates Address Issues in Cherrydale Debate

by ARLnow.com January 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm 4,432 42 Comments

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Tonight, Arlington voters will head to Washington-Lee High School for the first of two caucuses to pick a Democratic nominee for County Board. In advance of the caucuses, six County Board candidates participated in a debate last night at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department.

Here are some of the candidates, in their own words, on a few key issues brought up during the debate.

Affordable Housing

Kim Klingler: “We have large employers here who want to bring the best and brightest to Arlington County. And they want them to live here. So let’s hold some of our business owners accountable to see if they can assist us in providing affordable housing for their staff.”

Libby Garvey: “We can work more with developers on bringing them increased density to provide more affordable housing than they built. And we do indeed need to work with preserving our existing stock, and offering tax incentives or loans to the current owners to maintain the affordable housing that they have now.”

Peter Fallon: “We need to revisit the affordable housing bonus density that is available in the zoning ordinance to incentivize more developers to keep using it … At the same time we need to not sabotage [existing affordable housing]. Columbia Pike — the county’s own study has indicated that the trolley would raise the average affordable rent by 30 percent.”

Melissa Bondi: “I would look at new tools like community land trusts, looking at statewide tax relief for existing affordable housing, and a statewide housing trust fund to help Arlington with the tools we already have in place.”

Audrey Clement: “Create a housing authority that would… [consolidate] all the county’s housing programs under one agency, enabling it to qualify for federal HUD money that it currently still does not qualify for, and leveraging the money that it has to build more affordable housing in this country.

Terron Sims: “We can’t do anything to control property values. So we’re going to be careful with how we invest in certain areas of the county where the affordable housing exists because of market forces. Depending on how development goes in certain areas… we may cause those [lower-income] citizens to go live somewhere else, which is not what we want to do.”

Traffic/I-66

Libby Garvey: “We need to make sure that we don’t become the highway everybody drives through to get other places. I think it’s a shame that we lost the voting member on the WMATA board that we had.”

Peter Fallon: “In the year 2000, somebody sent me something in the mail — that VDOT, the state, wanted to widen I-66. And I thought: heck no. I became a founding member of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation… and I continue to be opposed to the wholesale widening of I-66, particularly inside the Beltway.”

Terron Sims: “Having lived in this area since 1986, it saddens me that traffic has only gotten worse and there’s no real clear solution in sight. Our transportation problem is a regional issue — something that we’re going to have to tackle with D.C. and Maryland, as well as the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Melissa Bondi: “I too opposed the widening of I-66… I agree that we will need more express bus service that may run from west of Arlington through to the District of Columbia, and also those that start in Arlington.”

Audrey Clement: “I single-handedly took on VDOT in 2009 and challenged VDOT’s decision to proceed with the [I-66] spot improvement project… My efforts were quashed, I got no support from Arlington County Board. They paid lip service to the cause, they said they opposed the widening but they did nothing to stop it.”

Kim Klingler: “My plan, my approach, is a regional one — that we work with [various Northern Virginia localities] to ensure that transportation isn’t just about what’s happening in Arlington. Because, as you know, we’re all impacted by those who come and go across Arlington.”

Libraries/Parks

Terron Sims: “As a published novelist, libraries have a special place in my heart. I think the first thing we need to do to tackle this issue, as well as the nature centers… is we have to implement some budget forecasting.”

Melissa Bondi: “Our libraries, our nature centers, our community centers, our public facilities are the way that many residents interact with their government. We have an affirmative responsibility, and it’s a plus for Arlington that we invest in the maintenance and the operations of those facilities.”

Audrey Clement: “Local government should pay for basic services, not expensive, extravagant, overpriced capital projects, which is what this county is currently doing. I think if the county just took one item off its budget — that is, the Artisphere — that the savings could pay for not only restored branch library service but expanded branch library service… I think the Artisphere was a great concept, but it should be paid for by private philanthropy.”

Kim Klingler: “We know today that we have a capital maintenance backlog for parks and facilities of over $50 million, because we don’t know when we actually need to maintain our parks… Through my campaign I’ve been running through all the parks in Arlington, and I will tell you that some of them are in disrepair. We need to make sure this becomes a priority.”

Libby Garvey: “Cutting back on parks and libraries — those are basic core services. Those are facilities and resources that we have, and we need to keep up what we have before we get something new… You need to fix the leak in the roof before you get a new kitchen.”

Peter Fallon: “In a one billion plus budget, you do not balance it by nickel-and-diming the libraries or the nature centers. And while I fully support public-private partnerships, you don’t shake down the taxpayers and the residents by threatening to close or limit the hours or operation of something they use.”

Development/”McMansions”

Peter Fallon: “Virginia, as you probably already know, is a big property rights state… The rules are not always applied the way you and I would expect.”

Melissa Bondi: “We’re still losing too many trees when these houses are being built, and that’s a concern to me.”

Terron Sims: “I walked the lot on Nottingham Street with the pipe stem… I was really shocked by how the developer was able to squeeze the house back there. What I would want to do as a board member is assist those communities in having a much more powerful and stronger say into what is built in their communities — especially when it comes to the size of the house, with respect to height restrictions and width.”

Audrey Clement: “Impose a moratorium on high density development projects like Crystal City, Columbia Pike and East Falls Church, until the county identifies their infrastructure requirements and funds to pay for them.”

Kim Klingler: “One of the comments that developers have said to me is: Kim, sometimes the county really lets us off easy. Because of our current processes that we have in place, a community might not know that an application has actually been put in for a large lot. Whether is be through email, Facebook — I mean most civic associations now have a website or a Facebook — we can use these tools to make sure citizens, residents know that the developer is looking at the land. And if that is the case, they can get ahead of the developer to make sure that we don’t pass these special variances.”

Libby Garvey: “People feel like development is something that’s happening to them, not with them. This is our community, it needs to happen with us. We need to have clear rules.

  • TGEoA

    One of those 6 had no business being up there. Hint, it wasn’t Bondi.

    • Burger

      That does raise an interesting question – why is Clement there. Is she running as a Democrat or Green party. If a Green party candidate she shouldn’t be there because no one will be voting for her in the caucuses.

      • TGEoA

        It aint Clement either. This was not Cherrydale Citizens Association event and all the participants were invited.

        • TGEoA

          Not an ACDC event. Hosted by CCA.

        • South Arlington

          Isn’t Clement a non-factor now that a Republican is running? Her appeal seemed to be Republicans that adopted her as an opposition candidate that happened to be against capital projects (while ignoring her ultra-liberal Green party platform).

          • Orange Line

            The use of the words Clement and appeal in the same sentence has got to be a first.

  • Burger

    I think most of these candidates have no clue what the Dillon rule does because most of their answers would violate said rule.

    Though, the more I read about Sims the more I like him.

    • John Fontain

      “the more I read about Sims the more I like him”

      Same here. He and Clement are the only ones who seem to remember that we need to keep to a budget and that government resources aren’t unlimited.

      I especially like hearing Sims answer the affordable housing question honestly. The truth is that the government can’t and shouldn’t try to keep housing costs are artificially low levels. It doesn’t work and someone always ends up paying for it (i.e., either other renters or taxpayers).

      • Zoning Victim

        Funny, the more I read his answers, the less I like him. At least he didn’t come off as having a lot of ideas from his statements in this article.

        His answer on I66 is basically “Traffic sucks and I don’t have any idea what to do.” His answer on Libraries and Parks is budget forecasting, which doesn’t make anything any cheaper. His answer to development is that he’d give the community members a stronger say, without any ideas about how he would do that (disclaimer: I think giving the community a stronger say to block development on a case by case basis is a terrible idea). I don’t know, maybe some of this stuff is just handpicked and out of context, but he didn’t come off as having well developed ideas about all of these issues.

        • Daniel

          +1 – Planning to keep the crappy areas crappy is a pretty weak answer, though I guess it plays well in Upper North Arlington.

          • speonjosh

            Now we can divide the nation’s smallest county into “Upper North Arlington.” Next, it’ll be – Far Upper Northwestern Arlington – and we’ll be talking about approx 50 people.

  • Wow

    I never thought I would say this, as I didn’t support him before, but the only one whose quote makes sense to me is Sims’. We have enough density and not enough affordable housing for people making 40-70K or households making 80-150K.

    • J.J.

      Sims should show the guts and fortitude to take ownership for O’Leary’s actions in this campaign. Frank O’Leary endorsed Sims; there is no way O’Leary takes the actions he did without clearing it with his endorsee.

      • Andrew

        You know for a fact that Sims knew what O’Leary was doing or are you making assumptions and potentially false accusations?

        • O’Leary stinks

          If Sims didn’t know, he clearly has done nothing since to distance himself from it. I’m sorry, but a candidate does have to take responsibility for his supporters, especially high profile ones.

      • Personus

        I’ve heard this allegation before about O’Leary on this blog. But where’s the evidence? He did call her a scofflaw in public–but if he’s willing to be public with that comment, why would he bother to hide his other criticisms of her?

        • O’Leary stinks

          The notion that a sitting treasurer can decide to release personal tax records in a middle of a campaign and then take to the press to call people scofflaws, when they don’t owe a single dime to the county and there is no outstanding bill against them from that office, should frighten all potential candidates for office.

          The notion that he would do so while backing Terron Sims in the race and while his own deputy treasurer and likely successor serves as Treasurer for Sims’ campaign, simply does not pass any ethical test. O’Leary also released the personal records of his opponent Bob James four years ago and took to the press about it. He’s well known for abusing his power and manipulating staff for political purposes.

          Ask around, and you will see. There are many, many victims of O’Leary in this county and they have had enough of his hijinks.

          • pARtyGiRl

            Maybe, but O’Leary is a blast to talk to at parties 🙂

    • Steamboat Willie

      I think I’m voting tonight for Sims.

  • Lou

    Is Clement attending these just to get her name out there or are there not going to be general election debates after the caucus?

  • South Arlington

    Fallon said “Columbia Pike — the county’s own study has indicated that the trolley would raise the average affordable rent by 30 percent.”

    Nothing would be better than wiping out the slummy apartments on Columbia Pike. Higher rents means the buildings are nicer and the demand is higher – people would actually want to live there. Not a bad thing as far as I can tell. The goal should be de-slumming, not allowing the status quo of disrepair to continue.

    • SoArl

      +1

    • Andrew

      Kind of goes against making sure there is affordable housing available, doesn’t it?

      • SoArl

        And?

        • Andrew

          Interesting that some (one?) of the candidates endoreses both the trolley and thinks we need more affordable housing…

          • SoArl

            Ha- you’re right!

      • dk

        That was my reaction, too.

  • Shelagh

    Does any of it really matter? It is one party rule in the county. I can’t distinguish between any of them as they all have the same agenda at the end of the day.

    • got that right

      Shelagh is right on. It does not matter what any one of the six Dems say this meeting as they are pledged to support the “annoited one” after the Dem caucus.

  • For information, the candidate forum was organized by the Cherrydale Citizens Association (CCA). All candidates, of any party, were invited. Participants in the Democratic caucus will be required to not support other-party candidates in the special election in March, so it was useful to hear from all the candidates, even though the Democratic caucus is today and Saturday. CCA intends to sponsor a forum in advance of the general regular election, again inviting all the candidates. Our neighboring civic association, Waverly Hills, is planning a similar forum just before the March special election. Thanks to everybody who attended — and you read the highlights here at ArlNow.

  • truth be told

    Kim Klingler has the only sensible position in I66. Cha ching….my vote is cast.

  • MC

    Sims is evasive and basically says he wouldn’t do anything. Gravey wants to “make sure” various things don’t happen, but is evasive on how (she also assets that the libraries are broken for some reason and need fixing.) Klinger’s “hold developers accountable” displays an unrealistic and naïve outlook. Fallon probably says the fewest outrageous things, but still is more focused on what he is against than what he is for. A pretty uninspiring lot.

  • charlie

    isn’t cherrydale mostly in 22207. who cares about that. 22201 rules.

  • Marie

    I didn’t like the comments about being careful how we invest in areas with affordable housing because it will improve the areas and increase housing costs. That sounds like a continuation of a plan to keep the poor concentrated along Columbia Pike in an area largerly ignored, improvement wise, for decades.

  • enough already

    if i hear one more word about increased density i will lose my mind. increaded denisty means no parking on your own block. dogs from massive apartment buildings pooping on your lawn. trash in the street from apt dwellers who just toss it in front of your house to get it out of their cars. giant houses on tiny lots, poor drainage, stormwater problems and clearing all the trees off the property to ease construction and allow for BIG houses.
    NO, NO NO more density. do not support this, it ruins neighborhoods.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Amen, amen, and right on!

    • John K.

      Nope. Sorry. Through the Arlington Way, we have decided on increased density. Except in north Arlington.

    • NorthArlingTim

      Totally agree with everything you said. My neighborhood is much as you describe. I’ve already lost my mind. I just cringe anymore. I live in supposedly wonderful 22201 and just as I used to love it many years ago, over the last decade I’ve been increasingly disliking it. How much denser can we get? .

      • Dan

        +10
        “Smart Growth”=higher tax revenues for the county

      • Clarendon

        I feel the same way- about the place I used to live, which is why I moved here 20 years ago and have been liking most of the changes.

        Why would you stay in a place that makes you cringe and lose your mind ? Is there someplace else that you admire that you could move to ? Where would that be ?

    • [Insert Fake Name Here]

      Yes! My family moved out of Logan Circle for ALL of these reasons.

  • [Insert Fake Name Here]

    BTW, saying that I-66 and the county’s traffic problems are “regional issues” is nothing but a huge cop out. It’s like saying that pollution is the Earth’s problem so we’re not going to take action locally. It may be true, but that doesn’t meant that there is nothing to be done here.

    Start by amping up public transportation options. For example, the buses that run from Ballston (closest metro to me) to my neighborhood STOP running at 6PM. (Well, not stop, but slow down to one every 30-40 min). How does that make any sense?

    Any yes, 66 should obviously be widened! How does 20,000 stuck in traffic (with their engines running!) help our residents or the environment?!

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