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The Right Note: County Democrats Affirm Garvey’s Independent Thinking

by Mark Kelly June 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

The 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 ARLnow.com.

Mark Kelly

It wasn’t a landslide, but Libby Garvey handily won Tuesday’s primary in the race for County Board. In a presidential election year and with no Republican on the ballot, she is almost assured of re-election in November.

Garvey’s willingness to break away from the insular group think of her predecessors on the County Board earned her a comfortable majority of her fellow Democrats — many of whom had undoubtedly crossed over to vote for Republican-backed Independent John Vihstadt two years ago. Many County Board watchers are now curious whether this will have any impact on the only holdout from the old board, Jay Fisette, and his decision about seeking another term in 2017?

Unfortunately, the efforts of Garvey and Vihstadt on the new audit function of the county took a blow this week when County Auditor Jessica Tucker announced her resignation. Tucker came to Arlington from Fairfax County and she brought a background as a government auditor from the local to the federal level.

As the County Board re-opens the search, they should also use the opportunity to re-examine the charge for the position.

First, the Board should consider candidates with a private sector background. If we truly want to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of our government operations, maybe we should consider someone with experience outside of other government bodies. It doesn’t mean we have to run government exclusively like a business, but running it more like a business could be helpful.

Second, the Board should provide the budget for at least one or two additional dedicated staff members who report directly to the Auditor, not the County Manager. If we are going to have an independent audit function, the office needs to be able to have the capacity to operate independently.

Third, the Board should consider removing the County Manager and Director of the Department of Management and Finance from the Audit Committee. If this function is to be truly independent and report only to the Board, then why does the county staff have a direct say in what will be audited?

Starting over with a new person is an unfortunate step backward. Hopefully the Board will use the opportunity to move toward more independence while working diligently to fill the position as quickly as possible.

Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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