The Right Note: March (Budget) Madness

Mark KellyThe 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

Next week, Arlingtonians will have their opportunity to weigh in with the County Board on the annual budget. The two night event will feature opportunities for Arlingtonians to provide feedback on the advertised tax rate and the proposed budget — both on the same night if they so choose.

Many fiscal conservatives in the County tell me they do not go to speak because they feel like their voices will not be taken into account.

With two new Board Members and two others who have been willing to shake up the status quo, now is the time to speak out. Those in Arlington who want more spending and higher taxes will certainly be there to make their case.

Has bi-partisan love has broken out across Arlington?

First, Delegate Patrick Hope gives John Vihstadt an “attaboy” for his work with the Republican controlled General Assembly to reinstate the tourism tax. For years, Republicans in Arlington campaigned for on the idea of producing a better working relationship with Richmond. Turns out it was not just an empty campaign promise.

Then Democrat Electoral Board Members Dave Bell and Charlene Bickford showed up at a — wait for it — Arlington Republican Party meeting. Granted, the appearance in enemy territory was for a salute their outgoing colleague Allen Harrison. The consummate gentleman, Harrison was rightly being honored for nearly three decades of service to the voters of Arlington.

Allen is without question a dedicated and fiercely loyal Republican. But Allen always treated his appointment to the Electoral Board as a non-partisan protector of the rights of Arlingtonians to vote.

On a more serious bi-partisan note.

I did not know Tiffany Joslyn well, but I did have an opportunity to cross paths with her from time to time. We first met when I was running for County Board. I found her to be someone who you could disagree with politically without a trace of acrimony.

We also had an opportunity to talk about her professional passion — criminal justice reform. And, we agreed quite a bit on the issue of reforming our criminal laws. Even if we had not found an issue of agreement, she still would have made her points in a way that left a favorable impression.

It goes without saying that her death was tragic, and she will be missed.

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