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Dems, McMenamin Trade Barbs on I-66, Parks

Multimodal transportation along I-66Democrats say independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin’s stance on I-66 would ” threaten the quality of our parks.” McMenamin says that his opponents are “purposely distorting his position.”

The latest skirmish involving a County Board candidate started when an automated call from Del. Rip Sullivan (D) started ringing in thousands of Arlington homes Sunday.

Sullivan’s recorded voice ripped into McMenamin for suggesting that he would support adding an extra lane to I-66 within the existing VDOT right of way in Arlington, tying that position into an issue near and dear to many Arlingtonians: parks.

Hi, this is Delegate Rip Sullivan. I have served on a Park Authority and Transportation Commission, and I’ve got an important message for you about the use of parks and green space in Arlington.

Independent-Republican for County Board, Mike McMenamin, supports widening I-66, which would threaten the quality of our parks at Madison Manor, Bon Air, Thrifton Hills, McCoy, and other parklands across the County. It would also threaten the quality of the Custis Trail. To protect parkland throughout Arlington County from development, join me in supporting Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol. If protecting Arlington’s parks and green space is important to you, then vote on Tuesday, November 3rd for the two candidates committed to protecting parks and green space: Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol.

Paid for and authorized by Christian Dorsey for County Board and Katie Cristol for County Board.

McMenamin responded in turn by accusing the Democrats of tying to “hide their weakness on parks.” From a press release:

Mike McMenamin today accused Delegate Rip Sullivan of making an 11th-hour attack purposely distorting his position on I-66.

“It shows that the political establishment in Arlington is worried about losing,” said McMenamin, who is running as an Independent for the County Board.

In a robo-call to thousands of voters on Sunday, the Democratic delegate said that McMenamin’s support for widening the interstate freeway would threaten the quality of various county parks.

McMenamin countered that he would only tolerate widening the highway within the current right of way and no further. Such widening, he said, would not take away any parkland at all.

“My opponents have been unwilling to say that they won’t build affordable housing on parkland, a position they know is unpopular, so they are trying to muddy the waters with these dubious attacks,” McMenamin said. “In fact, I am the only candidate committed to not building on our parks.

The Independent candidate said he is committed to keeping parkland and trails intact. “If any VDOT proposal would negatively affect any parks in Arlington, I think I would be the most effective voice for the neighborhoods.”

“While I don’t like the idea of having to widen 66, I fear the State is inevitably going to do just that,” he said. “After all, VDOT owns the road. So, I have taken the position that Arlington must strike the best deal possible.”

McMenamin also opposes tolls for I-66, saying it will lead to more surface traffic in nearby neighborhoods.

In a press release of their own, Dorsey and Cristol quoted Sullivan again.

“There’s only one candidate in this race whose policy positions would undoubtedly diminish the quality of Arlington’s parks and green space, and that’s Mike McMenamin,” Sullivan said. “Throughout this campaign, Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol have articulated their support and appreciation for Arlington’s parks and green space. Arlington voters are smart, and I’m confident they’ll see right through McMenamin’s false attacks on Dorsey and Cristol when it comes to park space. If Arlington voters want to protect the integrity of our parks, the choice is clear: vote for Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol this Tuesday.”

Voting in the County Board race and other state and local races will take place between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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