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The Right Note: Back to Basics Election?

Mark Kelly

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.

Last year, the County Board election was a referendum on shiny object budgeting by the County Board. The Board chased vanity projects like the streetcar, Artisphere and aquatics center without broad community support. The result was that an otherwise qualified Democrat nominee lost two elections he would have most certainly won nearly any other year.

Since that election, the streetcar and Artisphere projects are no more, and the aquatics center is still on the shelf. Now, we can focus on how a Board still dominated by Democrats is doing on the basics of governing.

The first obvious question for voters is do they believe the Board is really listening to them or were the decisions on the streetcar and Artisphere a way to release the political pressure without making fundamental changes to how they operate?

Do we believe the County Board is doing enough to work with the School Board to address school enrollment issues?

Should we be satisfied with what the Board is doing to maintain streets and roads? Will the Board put pressure on WMATA to drastically improve Metro?

Do County policies, and the staff who enforce them, work for Arlingtonians in a way that creates an environment to encourage more economic opportunity, fill vacant office spaces, create jobs and raise wages?

Will the Board ever acknowledge they use the closeout process to unnecessarily drive up spending, and thus our taxes, every year?

These are not headline grabbing questions like whether we should spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a single project without even giving voters a say on a bond question. But for the long term health of our County, they are equally, if not more important.

The CivFed debate did not provide a lot of insight into how these candidates would govern. But, all four will be out and about in Arlington asking for your vote. When you see them, you can ask them about how they will approach transportation, schools, economic development and budgeting in general.

You have an opportunity to elect two new voices to the Board on Nov. 3. Arlington deserves two new County Board members who will roll up their sleeves and get back to the basics of good government regardless of party affiliation.

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