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 James Lander:
I’ve been honored to serve as your Arlington School Board member for the past five years, most recently as chairman.
I’m running for the Arlington County Board because our community is in the midst of change, and I believe experience and forward-thinking leadership will be essential in making a difference. Our community faces a number of challenges; the decline in nonresidential tax revenue, as well as continuing growth of our population, increased demand for services, additional transportation options, and increased need for essential infrastructures.
Arlington is gaining an average of 1,000 additional students a year. Not only must our schools have the resources to educate additional students, we must not neglect the other values that have made Arlington a top-rated, livable community. We must continue to support and encourage safe and attractive neighborhoods, well-maintained streets and parks, libraries, and access to recreation, entertainment, and the arts.
As a leader and member of the School Board these past five years, I am strongly familiar with the importance of a collaborative working relationship between our two elected boards. As your County Board member, I will lead an effort to specifically address the challenges of Arlington’s growing populations. This effort aims to thoroughly examine the many competing priorities in order to find ways to accomplish more with limited resources. As a member of the School Board, I’ve worked to be fiscally responsible while maintaining Arlington’s outstanding school system. Within the last year, I have overseen the reduction of costs within the APS annual budget while continuing to focus on student achievement and providing pay increases to our talented teachers. I also have ideas to explore ways to address our challenges.
One of my specific proposals for addressing the growing need for faster, safer, more efficient, and more affordable alternatives options for transportation includes two Arlington circular lines, one in South Arlington and one in North Arlington. In South Arlington, I would pursue the idea of a continuous bus route connecting Columbia Pike, Crystal City, Shirlington, and Bailey’s Crossroads. This would enable us to connect areas primed for increased development and pave the way for bringing Northern Virginia Community College into Crystal City, where we currently have eight vacant buildings. Our educated workforce needs to locate where we want our businesses. I’m also seeking to implement a workforce development pipeline in partnership with the hospitality industry; there are 10,000 hotel rooms in Crystal City that could potentially provide paid internships for our adult students and our immigrant population.
In North Arlington, I would promote establishing a circular line that connects Lee Highway, Virginia Square, Ballston, and Rosslyn. This would contribute to encouraging attractive development along Lee Highway. I propose exploring public/private partnerships with developers and academic institutions on innovative projects such as micro-unit housing for graduate students and county employees. This approach would not only keep Arlington dollars in Arlington, but also keep Arlington students and new county employees in Arlington.
Our community, diverse and inclusive, boasting a well-educated workforce, attractive neighborhoods and commercial sectors, parks and open spaces, and committed to protecting the environment and the well being of its residents, did not achieve its great quality of life quickly or by accident. Strong democratic leadership, sound fiscal policies, and investment in its residents and infrastructure are what have made Arlington such an outstanding community.
I will dedicate myself to ensuring the views and voices of our community are heard and considered as decisions move forward. I want to look for ways to improve the county’s financial burdens, including finding ways to reduce the vacancy rate in the county’s commercial sector. Lastly, I pledge to continue to be a dedicated steward of ensuring Arlington County is among the top communities in the country to live, work, and raise a family.
I ask for your vote for the Arlington County Board in the June 9th Democratic Primary. If you would like to visit my website to learn more about me, please go to www.jameslander.org. Thank you.