Below is Republican- and Green-endorsed independent John Vihstadt’s unedited response:
I’m John Vihstadt, and I ask for your vote in the April 8 special election for County Board.
Mary and I have called Arlington home since 1981. Our two sons received an excellent education at Tuckahoe, Swanson and Yorktown. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. But at a time of rising taxes and budget pressures, we need a fresh perspective and some balance on our County Board. It’s time we re-examine our spending priorities and how we engage our diverse community.
I am running for three fundamental reasons:
- To Serve Our Community. I will put my community service of over 30 years to work for all of Arlington. In our neighborhoods, across the County and in our public schools, people know that I have the credibility and the record to get things done in a consensus-building way. I’ve served on the Aging, Housing and Planning Commissions, as well as on the Boards of Community Residences, Inc. for the developmentally disabled and the Arlington Historical Society. I’ve been elected president of my Civic Association and to the Board of the Arlington Civic Federation. And in our schools, I served as a PTA president, as a School Bond Campaign co-chair, as an officer in the County Council of PTA’s, and received the School Board’s Honored Citizen Award. Along with many others, I organized and advocated to accelerate the rebuilding of Wakefield High School.
- To Provide a New Voice. Voters want balance and a fresh perspective on a County Board that has grown insular and dismissive of different views for lack of true electoral competition. Too often, the County Board acts more like an echo chamber than a deliberative body. And too often, the County Board and School Board seem more like ships passing in the night than co-captains of the same boat. I’ll work to break down silos between the County and our schools, develop shared service delivery models and improve cooperation. I’ll ask questions at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, not just nod my head.
- To Adjust Our Spending Priorities and Provide Accountability. We need to focus spending on core services first–public schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance and neighborhood quality of life–not a $310 million streetcar, million dollar bus stops or a mismanaged aquatics center with faulty construction and operating cost projections. We are still waiting for that bus stop audit promised last fall, and wondering how a dog park in Clarendon could escalate to $1.6 million dollars.
Along Columbia Pike and through Pentagon City and Crystal City, we can implement a form of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) right now–and frankly, we should have already done so. BRT can be implemented more quickly, at a fraction of the cost, with less disruption, better regional connectivity and with more flexibility than a streetcar. And, as Arlington’s own plans for the Crystal City transitway demonstrate, BRT does not require dedicated lanes. Let’s also use earmarked transit funds to expand ART bus, augment express busses, and improve pedestrian safety and bikeways.
I’ve also called on Arlington to follow the recommendation of its own external auditor and implement a robust internal audit/inspector general function. Arlington Public Schools and adjacent jurisdictions have done so. Why not the County?
Why am I Running as an Independent? No political party has a monopoly on wisdom, new ideas or sound government stewardship. And at the local level, voters tell me that they don’t view things like educating our kids, picking up the trash or delivering human services through a partisan prism. People want practical, cost-effective results.
My Independent campaign is backed by current and former elected officials and citizens from across the political spectrum, ranging from Democrats like Theo Stamos, Frank Wilson, Libby Garvey and Peter Rousselot, to Republicans such as David Foster, Jim Pebley and Mike Brunner, as well as Greens and Libertarians. They know that I will not be a captive of any party, person, or ideological agenda.
If you are happy with the status quo and the County’s current spending priorities, there are other candidates. If you want positive, constructive change and new leadership with a proven record of accomplishment, please vote for me. Thank you. (www.VoteForVihstadt.com)