Column: Moving Forward with Alan Howze

The following is a guest column, submitted by Ed Fendley. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Ed Fendley(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington is an exceptionally good community. Our schools, our parks, and our walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented neighborhoods are all recognized nationally.

We didn’t get here by accident. Arlington voters in recent decades have chosen smart, progressive leaders. Our County Board has invested in our community, and those investments have paid off economically and with an improved quality of life.

Arlington now faces a choice. Do we continue on the progressive path that has served us so well? Or do we try a different approach?

I urge Arlington voters to join me in protecting what has made Arlington great.

Democrat Alan Howze combines the best traditions of Arlington civic engagement with new perspectives and energy. Howze is a community leader and an active school parent, and he brings a business background.

In his community work and on the campaign trail, Alan Howze has demonstrated wisdom and judgment. Anyone who has worked with Alan — including his former boss, then-Gov. Mark Warner — recognizes his skills.

Alan Howze is unapologetically policy-oriented. That is, he typifies Arlington and its informed, caring voters. Howze promises to promote innovation, and his thoughtfulness as a candidate and in his professional career gives us reason to believe he’ll deliver.

It’s not easy being an elected official. One more important thing about Alan is that he’s really hard working. I have talked with people all over the County who’ve been so pleased that Alan has knocked on their door. He’s done this all through the winter, and gotten to know Arlington residents in all our wonderful diversity. A common theme of people who’ve talked with Alan is their confidence that he has listened to them.

Alan will also bring to the County Board a perspective that is missing — that of a parent with children in our public schools. No one on the County Board — and no other candidates in this race — has children in Arlington Public Schools today. Alan is vested and committed to our schools. This is why Arlington Educators recommend his election.

Howze faces John Vihstadt, a longtime civic and Republican party activist. It is commendable that Vihstadt is running a serious campaign. The problem is that he, like his party, is on the wrong side of today’s issues.

Vihstadt’s pitch is that Arlington can no longer afford to invest in what has made our community so strong. But Arlington has never before chosen the disinvestment path. Vihstadt has given us no sound reason to roll back our efforts at the very time when we face challenges ranging from burgeoning school enrollment to a newly urgent need to do our part to protect the natural environment.

It is also curious that Vihstadt, who was the top 2008 honoree of Arlington Republicans and is a perennial big-dollar Republican donor, has indicated that for the purposes of this campaign he is not a Republican. Yet, he sought and received the endorsement of the Arlington Republicans. This strikes me as disingenuous.

If you believe Arlington’s best days are behind us, vote for Republican Vihstadt.

If you believe in Arlington, and our promise to get even better, please join me in voting for Democrat Alan Howze.

Ed Fendley is a Democrat and a former Arlington County School Board chairman. 

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