Last week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.
Here is the unedited response from Bruce Wiljanen:
Hello. My name is Bruce Wiljanen, and I am running for a seat on the Arlington County Board in order to bring a mature, common sense voice focused on preserving the best aspects of Arlington as we grow, the things that make Arlington a great place to live and raise a family. I am a lifelong Democrat, and have served in the Clinton Administration and with the Democratic National Committee. My wife and I have lived in the Maywood neighborhood of Arlington for over 22 years, and have raised our daughter through our excellent school system. I am running for the County Board to ensure that the Arlington we know and love will be here for our children as well.
A neighbor recently asked me a very interesting question. “Who do you think are the least well represented people in Arlington?” I had to think about that. And I’m coming to the conclusion that by far the most underrepresented group of people in Arlington is the ordinary working family. I’m referring to the great number of Arlington men and women who go to work each day, whose children are in our schools, who live busy lives during the week and spend weekends with their friends and family, maybe involved in sports leagues or church activities, but are unable to participate in the inner workings of local government. I am talking about the large majority of Arlington voters who pay their taxes without complaint and quietly wait, and hope, for a practical, unpoliticized County Board to focus on taking care of the basic needs of our community in a frugal, equitable and common sense manner. These Arlington citizens continue to wait for the County Board to stop trying to please every constituency, and to work toward developing a strategic plan to guide our growth over the coming years. I am one of these Arlingtonians.
As a candidate for the Arlington County Board, I have had the singular experience of hearing recently from almost every group of citizens who would like to influence the decisions of our county government. I’ve talked with organizations that want more affordable housing, and those which construct office buildings. I’ve been contacted by artist’s and bicyclist’s interest groups, and by folks whose concerns are for parks and community gardens. I’ve spoken with union workers’ and teacher’s government affairs committees. We have many groups working tirelessly to get their agenda heard, funded, and passed into law by the County Board. Some of us are well represented, indeed!
But the biggest group of citizens we rarely hear from, by far, is the great majority of Arlington residents who never lobby for any special treatment from the county government, who only wish that our elected Board members would work more diligently to conserve our quality of life as our population grows by protecting our excellent parks and our superb schools, and continue to provide services for those of our neighbors who may need a helping hand. We just don’t hear from the many unrepresented Arlington residents who would like to be confident the Board would focus on building an infrastructure which serves the community and fosters new business growth, and wouldn’t overextend the budget to build legacy projects of questionable utility. Our County Board should not strive for grandiosity nor austerity, but work to put in place practical solutions to our everyday problems.
When we vote for a representative on the County Board, we are choosing a person who will be entrusted to make future decisions on our behalf, and for the benefit of all Arlingtonians. We are selecting a person able to weigh new and unanticipated situations in an equitable, unbiased, and common sense manner. We should elect a person who reflects our views regarding the overall direction the county should take, and not rely on those closely involved in the mechanics of commissions and boards to envision the future. As a principled Democrat who is not entangled in the current county government, I can be the truly independent Democratic voice needed on the Arlington County Board today. I am not endorsed by any of the current members of our local power structure, but I am willing to be endorsed by you, the average Arlington voter. I’m asking for your vote on the Bottom Line of the ballot, Bruce Wiljanen for County Board, to provide the people of Arlington with a mature, common sense advocate on the Arlington County Board for the years to come.