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The Right Note: 6 Reasons A Residency Requirement Makes Sense

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

Mark KellyWhen I campaigned for the County Board, I called for the county manager and superintendent of schools to both be required to live in the County. The superintendent currently does, but the county manager does not.

In a recent story on the idea, Board Chairman Walter Tejada resorted to the line “we want the best person for the job.” Of course we do. However, if the best person wants a job that pays nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year, they should be willing to move to Arlington.

Here are my top six reasons why:

6. Circling the wagons. There are times when Arlington must act in a parochial interest when it comes to dealings with Alexandria or Fairfax or Washington, D.C. We should have someone who is 100% invested in the community quarterbacking the team in those situations.

5. Credibility. Arlington County’s press releases usually end with boilerplate language praising the county as a “world-class” community. How can we make such a claim when our county manager, the one who ultimately signs off on all county actions, is unwilling to live here?

4. Perspective. You have a different perspective about the community you live in. You explore on the weekends, finding new places to eat. You walk or bike around the neighborhoods for exercise. Your kids play in recreational leagues. Regardless of how long Ms. Donnellan has worked in Arlington, it is not the same thing as living here.

3. Emergency Response. In the case of emergencies, a county manager should be able to get into the office within minutes if necessary. We certainly live in a technological age, but we also live in a region with heightened security concerns. If you were here on 9/11, you remember that the phone lines on the East Coast were completely jammed.

2. Consequences. If a county manager is going to recommend a tax increase, they should have to pay the tax increase. Our Board members live with the tax increases they vote for, despite drawing salaries that are roughly 20% the size of the manager’s. It only makes sense that the county manager can live with it as well.

1. Feedback Loop. Arlingtonians are not shy about sharing their views on an issue. The county manager should not be able to drive out of the county at the end of each day to avoid hearing them.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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