Arlington, VA

Earlier this month 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 during the March 27 special election.

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

I’m eight year resident of Arlington County with a doctorate in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. As a long time Green Party leader and civic activist, I’ve worked hard to promote a better quality of life for Arlington residents. As treasurer of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation, I filed suit in 2009 to compel VDOT to assess alternatives to piecemeal widening of I-66 westbound. In 2008 I helped to place a referendum on the ballot to consolidate Arlington’s housing programs in one agency to leverage more money for affordable housing. I’ve lobbied to create a year round homeless shelter and ban plastic bags in supermarkets and chain drug stores and Styrofoam in food retail outlets.

I think Arlington needs a change in leadership because County Board doesn’t understand that sustainable growth and so-called “Smart Growth” aren’t the same. 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. As a result, the supply of affordable housing in this county has been cut by two-thirds in one decade. This isn’t sustainable.

To be sustainable, basic public infrastructure must keep pace with new residential and commercial construction. Sustainability requires the County Board to support not discourage construction of moderate income housing. Otherwise those who move into the County are stuck in a never-ending cycle of tax and rent increases as others are gentrified out. To be sustainable, we need to do more than accumulate LEED points. We need truly energy efficient buildings and on-site renewable energy. To be sustainable, we must appreciate the difference between needs and wants.

  • We don’t need a $50 million aquatic center, when Northern Va. is already drowning in public pools.
  • We don’t need a $250 million trolley when bus service can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost.
  • We may want a cultural center and a black box theater. But we must get the private sector to finance them, not the taxpayers.
  • We may like the already over capacity Taj Mahal high schools recently constructed in this county. But what we need is to expand classroom space at a reasonable cost even if that means building up or renovating rather than building new.

In addition to promoting sustainability, I am running to promote fiscal responsibility.  My Democratic opponent Libby Garvey says she’s proud of the three new high schools built while on the School Board. Yet at over $100 million, Washington-Lee is one of the most expensive high schools in the nation. At $18,000 per pupil, Arlington spends more on students than any other county in the state, even though its state report card indicates that at 76% Arlington’s overall high school graduation rate is less than the state average.

My GOP opponent Mark Kelly says he wants fiscal responsibility too. Yet Kelly is employed as legislative director for a Tea Party Congressman Tim Huelskamp, who is peddling toxic legislation that will bar EPA from regulating green house gases, and the Department of Labor from conducting union elections. Kelly is clearly out of touch with even the Republican voters of Arlington County. If elected to the County Board, I will promote fiscal responsibility without sacrificing the health and welfare of its residents.

I pledge to make developers pay their fair share of infrastructure costs. I also plan to fully fund libraries, schools, and programs for youth, seniors, and the disabled, emphasize recycling and renewable energy; and hire an Inspector General to audit the County’s budget. You can find out more about my Campaign for a Greener Arlington by visiting AudreyClement.org.

With your help, I will work to preserve the Arlington Way. Vote Clement for County Board on March 27th.

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