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Katie Cristol: Why You Should Vote For Me

Katie Cristol

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Katie Cristol:

Thank you, ARLnow readers, for your time spent reading about the candidates for Arlington County Board.

It’s an honor to offer my experience and perspective for consideration for one of two open seats on the Board. My community experience in Arlington’s commission process and as an appointee on the School Board’s Advisory Council on Instruction, as well as my professional experience as an education policy advisor, afford me the necessary background and insights to serve on the County Board. I believe I can pair this background with an ability to look at issues differently and a genuine openness to community ideas.

Across the past ten months of door-knocking, candidate nights and neighborhood coffees, I’ve heard a common theme: Responsibility. Arlington is unmistakably entering a period of difficult decisions regarding land use and expenditures. We’ll need County Board leaders who can demonstrate not just fiscal responsibility, but responsibility for the whole of Arlington and its long-term future.

I’m committed to bringing to the Board both good judgment and a critical eye towards major new expenditures, honed through my experience working with resource-challenged localities. But Arlington’s complex challenges cannot be met by a ‘back to basics’ ideology alone. Meeting the needs of more students and more seniors, for example, will require innovation in how we think about public facilities. For example, improving joint use agreements for recreational facilities between schools and County; building vertically and undergrounding parking to protect green space; and constructing facilities that can evolve in use over their multi-decade lifetimes. Economic redevelopment, too, will require adaptability, such as more flexibility in the permitting and signage processes that business interests cite as common barriers to locating in Arlington.The Board will need to foster a climate of experimentation — such as extending the terms of our interim use ordinance –as we transition from reliance on federal agencies to new sectors.

By contrast, Independent candidates in this race have promised appealing but less-than-responsible solutions: Cutting taxes on businesses while spending more on streets and parks, with few specifics about how to balance the remaining budget. Taking pledges on land use that will tie the Board’s hands in considering recommendations from the citizen task forces that study countywide needs.

Here is what I can — responsibly — promise: To approach Arlington’s challenges analytically, and with a fresh perspective. My approach to affordability is an example. I believe we need to look more expansively at land use solutions to affordability issues. Revisiting the restrictions around accessory dwelling units can unlock market rate affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods throughout the County, while enabling seniors to age in place with on-site caregivers or additional rental income. Pursuing childcare centers as first-floor retail-equivalent uses and negotiating with developers to commit affordable rent for childcare providers can help address the lack of childcare supply that so challenges our young families. Either way, deliberate planning for a diversity of earners is not “a nice to have” luxury that we put off for flush times. A diverse workforce is a precondition for Arlington’s economic competitiveness, which is why the recent Affordable Housing Master Plan was supported by Arlington’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission as well as all five current County Board members.

I am proud to have received the endorsement of theWashington Post, which described my policy positions as “clear and balanced” this week and my candidacy as “serious and substantive” in its primary endorsement, as well as that of the Sun Gazette. I’m also pleased to be supported by Arlington’s teachers, firefighters, and twenty of our elected leaders.

I hope you will join these community members and leaders in their support. I’d be honored to earn one of your two votes on November 3.

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