Press Club

The Right Note: Opening Day

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 KellyNext Wednesday, County Board members will hold the traditional New Year’s Day meeting. I started attending, or watching live online, a few years back. If you don’t mind sitting through five political speeches, it can give you some insight into the priorities of Board Members.

Another thing to expect from the Jan. 1 speeches is some good old fashioned Republican-bashing. County Board members usually spend some quality time blaming Republicans in Washington and Richmond. In general, all failures of leadership will be declared to be Republicans’ fault. This is always an interesting perspective from an all-Democratic County Board who rarely takes responsibility for its mistakes.

If you have never experienced it in person, you should consider a trip to the County Board room at 11:00 a.m. on Jan. 1. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see whether the normally collegial dynamic of the opening meeting changes now that Libby Garvey has endorsed Independent John Vihstadt for the upcoming special election.

The 2013 opening day meeting set up an interesting trolley debate for the year as well as saw Jay Fisette’s announcement he would start a personal crusade against single use water bottles. Since Fisette is about to assume the Chairmanship, we will see where this crusade goes in 2014.

The 2013 meeting also offered a preview of incoming Chairman Walter Tejada’s plans. Chairman Tejada wanted a Columbia Pike TIF and to approve chickens in backyards. Tejada was successful in moving the trolley-induced TIF forward, but the chickens did not make it across the road.

As we know, Chris Zimmerman’s upcoming departure once again gives Arlingtonians an opportunity to elect a Board Member with real political independence. Looking back at the columns I wrote over 2013, I identified a number of reasons to make the change, but here are five:

1. Arlington needs more transparency and fiscal accountability. Summed up in a few short words — $1 million bus stop. Or, the never-ending Artisphere subsidies. Or, to shed light on the close-out process.

2. The Board’s reputation of not listening to us is well-earned.

3. Arlington should be open for business. While the latest federal budget deal will put more (borrowed) money back into the local economy, we should not bank on federal dollars alone for our fiscal future.

4. In general, new perspectives are needed.

5. Because it is not too late to stop the trolley.

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

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