The Right Note: Progress 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

Mark KellyFor years, Republicans in Arlington have spoken out against wasteful spending projects and the need for more transparency and accountability from our local government. Things have taken a turn for the better in the past year.

Tax rates were lowered — albeit just a little. The aquatics center was put on hold. The trolley projected ended — it looks like other communities are rethinking their plans as well. And, soon subsidies for the ill-conceived Artisphere are slated come to an end as well.

This week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe cleared the way for the county to hire an independent auditor to take a deeper look at our spending. With any excuse removed that Arlington lacked the authority to make this change, the Arlington County Board should move to establish this office immediately. Doing so would mark a great end to a year of positive change.

Recently, outgoing Board Member Walter Tejada made a rather tone-deaf speech to Arlington Democrats with his insights on how Arlington is faring. It is safe to assume his call for “progressive and Democratic values” was targeted to the base in his own party. But, after voters rejected the path Arlington’s elected officials were taking us, such a speech demonstrates why it was time for a change in leadership.

It also harkens back to one of his former colleagues, Chris Zimmerman. Zimmerman was famous for making speeches about Arlington’s success being dependent on “progressive” values. The speeches always deride Republicans as those who are simply opposed to any government.

Mr. Tejada intimated that we are allowing “. . . ourselves to become a new Arlington of rich, entitled people, lacking in compassion, empathy and a sense of community, viscerally opposed to government of any kind, opposed to everything in alleged overspending on every front?”

This line of thinking shows a complete lack of understanding of the overwhelming majority of Republicans. Republicans believe government decisions are best made closest to the voters. Local governments, we believe, have a tremendous role to play in our everyday lives. Schools, roads, safety, and infrastructure decisions are best made closest to home.

Sure, Republicans are also the party that puts a strong emphasis on making these decisions in a fiscally responsible manner. We oppose waste. We think taxes should remain as low as possible to meet our needs.

What Arlington Democrats discovered last fall is that a growing number of Arlingtonians agree with Republicans on how our local government is spending our money. Mr. Tejada may not like it, but if he really was that passionate about his positions, maybe he would be running again instead of retiring.

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

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