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 ARLnow.com.
Last week I attended my neighborhood community forum, which featured the leading County Board candidates — Alan Howze and John Vihstadt. After the forum, I spoke to one of my neighbors who made a simple observation. He told me that the message was clear to those in attendance. If you want to continue with the status quo, you will vote for Alan. If you want to put someone who will change things up, you will vote for John.
The candidates difference on their approach to government is exemplified by their positions on the Columbia Pike trolley. Howze made the case to move forward with it as planned. Vihstadt, a regular bus rider, countered that bus rapid transit would provide the same value in moving people at a fraction of the cost.
Howze will almost certainly chase the shiny ball of vanity projects. Vihstadt will take a more common sense approach that keeps value for our tax dollars in mind.
John Vihstadt, in making his case for running as an Independent, noted that potholes, water mains, trash pickup and street lights are not partisan issues. He also noted that the three candidates for the 2012 special election — Libby Garvey (Democrat), Audrey Clement (Green) and me — all had endorsed him in this campaign.
Alan Howze twice, in his opening and closing statements, called his Independent opponent a Republican — both times to audible jeering from the audience. Howze’s standard talking point fell flat. He was standing in the middle of three precincts where a majority of voters had voted for me running as a Republican two years earlier.
Calling Vihstadt a Republican seems to be one of the key pillars of Howze’s campaign strategy. The Howze campaign is using it online, while knocking on doors and making phone calls. It seems as though it is the worst thing Howze can think of to say about an opponent who spent 30 years giving back to his community on countless boards, commissions, and civic organizations. Vihstadt worked with Arlingtonians from all political stripes in those activities, and in return he has received significant endorsements from across the political spectrum.
It is not a new strategy for Democrats. Back in 2012, a Democrat volunteer called one of my supporters and said that Republicans were responsible for what was wrong in Arlington. My supporter reminded him that Democrats had controlled the County Board for nearly three decades and asked how it was possible Republicans could be held responsible?
Whatever party you identify with, one thing is clear — Democrat County Board members own every issue you have with how Arlington County operates. The trolley, the million dollar bus stop, red tape for businesses, the gold-plated aquatics center, the neverending Artisphere subsidies, the failure to maintain our roads, our aging infrastructure and the failure to take community input into account despite having more meetings to do so, are because of Democrat decisions.
If you want things to change after April 8, you have to send a clear message to the Democrats who have run Arlington for 30 years. Electing John Vihstadt, a proven independent voice, will send that message.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village