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The Right Note: Never a Dull Moment in Arlington

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyI need to check the record books, but 2014 is shaping up to have the most special elections in Arlington history. Over the past week, Del. Bob Brink, School Board member Noah Simon, and Treasurer Frank O’Leary have resigned. The special election for the seat in the General Assembly will take place Aug. 19 and the other two are likely to be held in conjunction with the general election Nov. 4.

Del. Brink started spending more time in Richmond and less in Arlington in recent years, and is not to be blamed to want to take a full-time Virginia government job as he contemplates retirement. I first got to know Del. Brink in 2007 while campaigning around the county. I joked with him after redistricting that he intentionally had me drawn out of his district to cut down on potential opposition.

Brink quipped that he was almost never on the winning side of a vote in the House of Delegates. Maybe voters will take into account who can actually work with the overwhelming Republican majority in Richmond to advance Arlington’s interests. With 68 of 100 seats, the Republicans are set to control the chamber for years to come. Sending another solid “NO” vote on everything would seem counter-productive.

Noah Simon had a promising future ahead of him that was cut short by the tragic loss of his wife. He is to be commended for putting his children first in this decision, and my prayers are with his family.

Simon’s replacement joins the School Board at a critical time to try and thread the needle on meeting capacity needs without overshooting the target, with limited space to build new buildings, and with tremendous pressure on where boundary lines fall. And, when Arlington spends more than $22,000 per child, parents will have high expectations on how those decisions are made.

There was never a dull moment with Treasurer O’Leary. Readers of this column know that I particularly appreciated it that he took the County Board to task for growing surpluses. O’Leary felt like taxes could be lowered instead. His fellow Democrats on the County Board, on the other hand, did NOT appreciate it.

In November, voters will permanently elect the first new treasurer in 31 years. It would be nice if the guardian of our tax dollars would increase the pressure on the County Board to account for where all those dollars go.

Infusing new blood into Arlington’s elected leadership is healthy. Just as in April’s special election for County Board, I hope voters will have a choice between competing ideas and directions when they head the polls. If nothing else, it will force Democrats to take, and defend, positions on the issues we face.

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

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