The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
This is not news, but the Democratic party controls every elected office in Arlington. While we witnessed a rare, and extremely close, intra-party endorsement contest for sitting School Board member James Lander last week, the accountability for what our elected officials do falls primarily on the press and the public at large.
However, a competitive electoral process with candidates from across the spectrum is healthy, and one we need to see more of here in Arlington.
Running for the County Board twice myself gave me the opportunity to talk to thousands of Arlingtonians from across the political spectrum. When I write about concerns with major spending projects, or the levels of taxation and debt, or the frustrations of business owners, it comes from listening to people. And, I can say for certain, even before I opened myself up to the comments section here, that Arlingtonians are not shy with their opinions.
Over time, many of the people I’ve spoken with have just accepted that our County Board will do what it wants, regardless of any public protestations. I remain eternally optimistic. I believe if we make it a priority to consistently hold our elected officials accountable they will either change their course of action, or the voters will eventually change it for them.
Look at what my counterpart from the left Peter Rousselot has had to say many times in his take. He has called upon his party to have even more competitive primaries. And, he agrees with me that the county’s spending priorities are currently out of whack.
Living in Arlington is certainly a choice for most of us. I appreciate my neighbors and enjoy my relatively easy commute into the District. My children attend our public schools and play in our recreational sports leagues. And, the church we attend is just a short drive away in Alexandria.
Even though our quality of life in Arlington is relatively high, the way to make it higher is not for our County Board to continually dream up new ways to spend our money. Instead, we should hang that big ‘Open for Business’ sign on the door. We should demand independent accountability with an Inspector General. We should put our county’s checkbook online in real time, and then ask if we are getting our money’s worth for our tax dollars.
You have to evaluate for yourself whether you believe a change in leadership would produce better results. Would new ideas and a fresh perspective be a welcome change? If so, you have the power to help make that happen. There is still time to file as a candidate for office this fall. You can actively support a Republican, Green or Independent candidate who does file. Or, you can become more vocal by speaking up in your civic association, at County Board public comment times, and at other public meetings. But please, if you agree that a little change would be a good thing, do something.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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