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John Vihstadt: Why You Should Vote for Me

John Vihstadt debates at the Arlington Civic federation on Sept. 2, 2014This month, we asked the candidates from each competitive race on the ballot on Election Day to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Nov. 4.

Here is Republican-endorsed Independent County Board member John Vihstadt’s unedited response:

Dear Fellow Arlingtonian:

Last April, Arlington voters had a real choice at the polls — for a change. Two major candidates; two futures.

Option One: Business as usual.

Option Two: A little balance; an Independent voice.

Independence won.

Thanks to our fusion campaign and unprecedented support from reform-minded Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Independents, 57 percent of Arlington voters elected me as an Independent voice on the otherwise one party County Board.  I now seek your vote for a full four year term.

I’m keeping my commitments to you pledged when I first announced my Independent candidacy:

Leveraging My Record. I’m leveraging my 30 years of community service and consensus-building in our public schools, our neighborhoods and across the County to work for everyone.

My record of leadership and alliances as a school bond co-chair, PTA president, in the Civic Federation, on County commissions and on nonprofit boards has provided a firm foundation for immediate effectiveness. I have spoken up where change is needed, while working cooperatively with my colleagues on both the County Board and School Board to build upon what is great about Arlington. I continue to approach every issue in a fair, nonpartisan, pragmatic fashion.

Stressing Shared Priorities. Arlington is at a crossroads. Yes, we must continue to invest in our communities for the long haul, but our tax dollars are not unlimited. There are costs and trade-offs. We cannot say yes to everything, especially all at once.  When we try to make everything a priority, nothing is truly a priority.

My positive vision focuses on assigning priority to long-term, fiscally responsible, sustainable investments in our over-crowded public schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance, Metro, bus rapid transit and neighborhood quality of life — the true measures of community success — not wasteful and extravagant projects like a $500 million dollar streetcar that will run largely in mixed traffic, million dollar bus stops, an over-budget aquatics center the County still wants to build, or another over-the-top dog park.

Despite the red flag of the DC streetcar fiasco on H Street, the County presses ahead with consulting and engineering contracts and a massive taxpayer-financed PR campaign designed to swing public opinion, while, at the same time, refusing to allow a public vote. Though my Democratic colleague Libby Garvey and I have not yet stopped the streetcar, it is far from a “done deal.” There will be more votes on more contracts and another election next year. Until then, my election is the only referendum available to speak out on this folly.

There has been recent debate about “public land for public good.” I believe that Arlington’s 149 parks and our many recreation centers are the very essence of “public land for public good.”  It is counterproductive to locate housing, schools, or other non-parks and non-recreation-related development on increasingly precious parkland and recreational sites. We must better assess how our development decisions are impacting our parks and playing fields, as well as our schools, infrastructure and the diversity and character of our neighborhoods.

My Independent Advantage. I’m providing balance, accountability and a fresh perspective on a County Board that needs another voice, and that must listen to, and account for, a full range of community opinion. I’m asking questions at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, not just nodding my head.

I’m still pushing for a truly independent County auditor to ensure our money is well-spent, and I’ve asked why over 450 employees have a County credit card. I’ve asked why developers contribute to everything BUT to our schools to help handle the families they bring. I’ve made sure we actually debate the streetcar at the Board table, and I’m the only Board member who has spoken up for car sharing services like Uber to operate in Arlington. Finally, we must work with all communities earlier and more transparently on issues ranging from the location of schools and fire stations to neighborhood streets and sidewalks.

Raising issues and questioning authority is not divisive. Lively debate and the exchange of ideas is not wrong. It’s responsible government. And in my view, it’s essential to ensure that Arlington reaches its full potential — for everyone.

Your vote counts, and I need it once more to continue the discussion and results so critical to our collective future — now and after November 4. Please join people from every neighborhood and political party in casting it for me. Visit www.VoteForVihstadt.com to learn more.

Yours for an even better Arlington,

John Vihstadt – Independent

Arlington County Board

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