Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
I’m a proud Arlington Democrat, and I am voting for Independent John Vihstadt in the April 8 special election for County Board. You can read about John’s extensive community service, the issues on which he is running, and his support from across the political spectrum here.
This election is about Arlington’s core spending priorities not about core Democratic Party values.
When John Vihstadt announced his candidacy for County Board on December 12, 2013, he stated:
Something is seriously wrong when schools across Arlington are over capacity and fighting for funding, while County leaders continue to plow millions into high profile projects beyond the scope of core community needs like education and public safety.
I agree. These are the bread-and-butter issues that our local government has the responsibility to solve.
Arlington’s current budget priorities have been set by a group of long-term incumbent County Board members who happen to be Democrats. Their budget priorities are wrong for Arlington. Those priorities would be wrong regardless of the political affiliation of any Board member who sought to perpetuate them.
Whether to spend $310+ million on an unnecessary Columbia Pike streetcar is not a core Democratic Party value. Whether to spend $80+ million on a gold-plated Aquatics Center at Long Bridge Park is not a core Democratic Party value. Whether to spend $1 million on a bus stop is not a core Democratic Party value.
The harder issue for some Arlington Democrats is whether to vote for John Vihstadt or vote for his Democratic opponent simply because that opponent is the Democratic candidate. Before deciding to support Vihstadt, I tried and failed to convince two other prominent Arlington Democrats to run for election to this seat. I then decided to support Vihstadt because simply being the Democratic candidate in this election is not enough of a qualification.
Arlington Democrats should join me and many other Democrats in voting for Vihstadt because the current County Board has grown so insular and set in its ways that it needs someone like Vihstadt, who has the independence and experience to change the Board’s current dynamic. Vihstadt’s Democratic opponent does not have sufficient independence and experience to do that.
I have never in my lifetime voted for anyone other than a Democrat for any elected office. On April 8, I am going to vote for John Vihstadt because it is more important to me to change the dynamic on the current Board than to preserve my 50-year record of voting only for Democrats.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.