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Alan Howze: Why You Should Vote for Me

Democratic County Board candidate Alan HowzeThis week, we asked the Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them in the Democratic caucus. The caucus is being held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. today and from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Here is the unedited response from Alan Howze:

I am running for the County Board to bring a new voice, fresh perspective and years of experience in business, government and community leadership to solving the challenges that we face.

I believe in progressive Democratic values that reflect Arlington’s commitment to equality, opportunity and shared prosperity. I was born and raised in Arlington, and I want to leave to my three children an Arlington that is even better tomorrow than today. I have knocked on over 2,000 doors, and there are four issues that emerge as priorities.

1) Great Schools  we must maintain Arlington’s excellent schools and respond to surging student enrollment.  I am proud to have the endorsement of Arlington’s teachers, and I am also the only candidate in the race who currently has children in Arlington Public Schools.

2) Affordable and livable community — we need an Arlington with more affordable housing; where seniors can age in place gracefully; where high-quality transit and walk/bike options are accessible.

3) Clean Environment — we need to accelerate our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and support continued Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.  I earned the endorsement of the Sierra Club for my support for the environment and expanding transit access.

4) Fiscally Responsible Government — we must provide high quality services and strong value for our tax dollars. We must also continue to invest in Arlington while keeping a close watch on our debt capacity and protecting Arlington’s AAA bond rating. I will bring innovation and a focus on making government work better to deliver high-quality, efficient services.

I bring to the race a set of experiences that prepares me to tackle the challenges we face.

My business experience with IBM has focused on bringing innovation to government and working to reduce costs and improve the delivery of government services. I will bring the same scrutiny and focus on innovation to our county government.

I know how government works — from working on Capitol Hill and serving then-Gov. Mark Warner in Richmond — and how we can make it work better.

Extensive community leadership has given me a profound respect for the diverse strengths of our community.  I serve as the President of my civic association, Vice-Chair of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, and Board Member of the Alliance for Housing Solutions. I’m an active member of the Tuckahoe Elementary School PTA and a youth coach with the Arlington Soccer Association.

I have worked hard to reach out to all parts of Arlington and build a broad base of support.  I am proud to have the support of the Arlington Teachers, the Sierra Club, Greater-Greater Washington, Blue Virginia, and community leaders including Paul Ferguson, Frank O’Leary, Mary Margaret Whipple, Del. Bob Brink, Jay Fisette, Noah Simon, Ed Fendley, Dave Bell, Karen Darner, Judy Connally and Joe Wholey, plus many more.

Let me also address several issues that have been in the news lately.

I support the recent decision by the County Manager to pull back on the proposed aquatic center at Long Bridge Park.  While there is significant demand in the community for aquatics, we need a clearer picture of the capital and operating expenses.

Like a lot of Arlington residents, I was skeptical of the Crystal City and Columbia Pike streetcar project. After looking closely at the project and alternatives, I believe that the streetcar is an investment which — managed correctly — will benefit all of Arlington and will help us address our overcrowded schools. We cannot give the streetcar project a blank check, and there are questions on design and financing that need to be addressed, but done right, the streetcar will improve transportation through the Pike corridor, provide broad-based community benefits, and have lower lifecycle costs.

I grew up on N. Jackson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro, and I have seen over the course of my lifetime how the transit investment in Metro transformed Arlington. We know from our own experience the quality of life, environmental and economic benefits that transit can bring.  I encourage readers to go to my website and download a more extensive position paper that outlines my thinking on this important transit investment.

I am committed to working collaboratively to find innovative, durable and fiscally sound solutions to the issues before us.  Even in the face of these challenges, I am optimistic about the future of our community. I ask for your vote so that together we can move Arlington forward.

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