Last month we asked the two Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the June 14 primary.
Here is the unedited response from Arlington Planning Commission Vice Chair Erik Gutshall:
As the June 14 Democratic Primary nears, I ask you for your support and your vote.
I am running for the future of Arlington, not for the past. I want Arlington to stay wonderfully diverse and inclusive. This campaign is about how we go forward together — about seriously getting ahead of our sky-rocketing student enrollment, about addressing housing affordability creatively with a focus on the “Missing Middle,” about providing more ways for people to move around our community, and about a commitment to ensure sufficient open spaces and access to nature — building on Arlington’s successes and our progressive vision to ensure a sustainable future for our kids.
I want to take this opportunity to share my vision, and in the process, hopefully dispel some things about me you may have heard!
On School Overcrowding: It’s time to get ahead of school overcrowding. Enough is enough! The Community Facility Study recommendations give us a blueprint for moving forward. We need to implement them yesterday. With three kids in APS, I am committed to working tirelessly with my School Board colleagues to get this done.
On Fiscal Responsibility: I would be the only small business owner on the County Board. I launched my business right here in Arlington and, in 2012, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce recognized us as the Small Service Business of the Year. I must balance budgets and make payroll and I know the difference between an expenditure and an investment. There will be no $1M bus stops on my watch! I will demand that every tax dollar be spent wisely while ensuring we make smart long-term investments focused on Arlington’s sustainability.
On the “Democratic Establishment”: A year ago, I thought ACDC was a rock band! Though a life-long Democrat, my prior partisan activities were knocking on doors for President Obama and hosting coffees for local candidates. My civic resume includes civic association president, soccer coach, board member for Doorways for Women and Families, and Transportation and Planning Commissioner. I am proud to have earned the support of Arlington leaders representing more than four decades of public service and as a member of the County Board I will answer only to Arlington voters.
On Transportation: The streetcar is dead. I have never proposed bringing it back. I’m not interested in re-litigating the past or dividing us further. I support forward-thinking transportation solutions. From Columbia Pike to I-66, we must invest in enhanced bus service, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian paths. Our focus has to be on moving people, not just vehicles. We must invest in our transportation network, the lifeblood of our economy, to ensure we do not lose our competitive advantage.
On Development: On the Planning Commission, I’ve pushed back against developers, fighting for community benefits like open space and parks to ensure that redevelopment adds value to surrounding neighborhoods. The Planning Commission is a voice for our residents, balancing our adopted policies/plans and the legitimate needs of businesses. We must be careful as we grow. I will ensure that physical changes to our community fabric add to, not degrade, our quality of life. I will make sure Lee Highway is an opportunity for smart planning where we get ahead of and guide development to create the future the surrounding community desires.
On My Mailings: Some have raised concerns with the tone and imagery of my seniors mail piece. I agree that the overall message could have been communicated without such emotional imagery. It’s become a distraction from our continued disagreement on this important policy issue. I remain confident that my mailing content is factual and encourage people to review the citations on arlingtonfacts.com. As 11 current and former elected leaders stated, “We believe that Erik’s well-documented discussion of the issues in the County Board race falls well within the bounds of robust healthy democratic debate.”
I’m proud to have earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, Arlington Educators, Take Action Virginia (a coalition of labor organizations), Greater Greater Washington and 22 current and former Arlington officials.
I am ready to engage with our community as we work collaboratively and creatively to address our challenges.
Arlington Democrats have a very clear choice for the future of Arlington. Let’s turn the page. I ask for your vote in the Democratic Primary for County Board on June 14th. Vote at your regular polling place between 6AM and 7PM.