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 Mike McMenamin:
Somewhere along the journey, “the Arlington Way” got off track. A county once revered for its innovative but prudent growth let the spending spigot flow too freely at the expense of homeowners and businesses.
The County Board built a million-dollar bus stop. Then there was the “well-intentioned” but ill-fated Artisphere. Arlington was all set to build an extravagant streetcar for Columbia Pike. Another pool, this time for Long Bridge Park, turned out too be overly expensive.
Last year, Arlington voters came to their senses by selecting another Independent, John Vihstadt, and signaled that Arlington County was through with such excessive spending. Still, bloated projects come our way. Take the $350,000 the county just gave Dutch contractors for an art project on the fence of a county sewage plant.
As Civic Federation President, Maywood Community President and a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have seen where the county spends our money. Sure, some of these projects are nice ideas. But they crowd out other projects that I consider more important. We need to get back to basics and spend our tax dollars on core government services, such as paving our roads, updating our infrastructure, schools, and parks. We must properly fund neighborhood conservation, so that neighborhoods can build the projects they need, e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalks, and storm water drainage.
Too much of the burden of costly projects falls on homeowners in Arlington County. We need to proactively draw in more tax-paying companies by filling the vast amounts of vacant office space caused by overbuilding and the departure of government agencies. By doing so, it will provide the much needed tax relief for homeowners.
I am the only candidate who is a small business owner in Arlington, so I know firsthand how difficult and expensive it is to run a business in the county. Quite frankly, opening a new business in Arlington is a marathon process. It takes a great deal of time to navigate the byzantine permit process, which planning and zoning staff have not made easy. This needs to change.
A major issue for the next board is the growth in the school-age population. As parents of two children who have attended Taylor Elementary, Swanson Middle School, Washington & Lee High School and H.B. Woodlawn, my wife and I know just how good our schools are. The board must work with the school board to find cost-efficient solutions in locations that do not disrupt neighborhoods. For instance, we should look to expand our schools by building them up instead of out.
I feel that the time is ripe for another Independent on the county board. I am proud to have gotten the endorsement of John Vihstadt and the Arlington Sun Gazette, among others. So I ask for your vote on November 3rd.