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The Right Note: Open for Business?

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 KellyWhile school-aged kids love a good snow day, it can be hard on small businesses. If you are operating on a relatively low profit margin, the loss of a day’s revenue can really put a squeeze on your bottom line for the month.

When Jay Fisette said he would make economic development a priority for his year as chairman of the Arlington County Board, many in the business community sat up and took notice. It was met with cautious optimism, maybe even a little skepticism, based on the record of Fisette and the all-Democrat Board over the last two decades.

Democrat candidate for the County Board Cord Thomas made making Arlington more business friendly one of the centerpieces of his campaign. Thomas, a small businessman himself, certainly experienced first-hand many of the issues small business owners shared with me when I ran for the Board.

These job creators and tax base expanders want Arlington to hang a big “open for business” sign on the front door of the county government. They want to comply with reasonable county laws and regulations, but they do not want compliance to be an ordeal that steals time, resources and energy from making their business successful.

Independent John Vihstadt makes the point in his stump speech that Arlington now faces stiffer competition for business from a revitalized District of Columbia as well as the coming development accompanying the Silver Line.

Arlington Democrats put forward Alan Howze as their nominee for County Board. He carried an overwhelming number of endorsements from current and former local elected Democratic officials. In short, he is the choice of the status quo.

On the issues page of his website, there is not even the slightest nod to the importance of our business community to Arlington’s success. Howze does cite the Columbia Pike trolley as an “investment.” However, Columbia Pike redevelopment is governed by the form-based code. It has already started to happen and will continue with or without the trolley.

Many business owners along the Pike argue the trolley will not be a net positive for development. The traffic headaches from the construction will reduce revenue for existing businesses. After its completion, a fixed rail trolley system running down an existing lane of traffic during rush hour will almost certainly increase traffic congestion. As we have seen from the current traffic headaches, changing traffic patterns is a valid concern.

The trolley is symbolic of the mentality of the status quo board — trust us, we know better. On April 8, voters will decide whether they wish to trust the status quo when it comes building a stronger local economy.

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

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