Last week we asked the two candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the November 8 election.
Here is the unedited response from incumbent Libby Garvey (D):
“What an exciting time to be in Arlington!” I said at our January meeting. Ten months on, my excitement about our community’s future has only grown. We have highly educated and incredibly talented people; diversity, which brings much of the world’s experience together in just 26 square miles; beautiful and safe neighborhoods; an outstanding school system; a strong safety net to protect the most vulnerable; and a committed and talented business community.
With our resources, we can solve just about any problem we face. And we’ve solved many. It has been a real privilege to serve you on the County Board for the past four-and-a-half years, and on the School Board for fifteen years before that. This is a wonderful community, but we have challenges. I am running for reelection to the County Board because I know that together we will continue to meet our challenges, and I want to help Arlington achieve our potential.
We must make sure our services work well for residents. We have taken steps this year, such as e-filing of building permit applications, but there is more to do. We must embrace new tools, but innovation and service delivery isn’t only about technology. I will continue to encourage our staff to try new processes to make using public services simple and straightforward.
I will continue my work to help us get around. The Transit Development Plan we approved this summer was a start toward realizing premium bus service on Columbia Pike and throughout the county, but we need to continue to update our transit services so they get riders where they want to go. The crisis with Metro reminds us that we must also deepen our cooperation around the region. I will continue to work with leaders around the region both to improve Metro and to build new regional transit options.
We must make sure that every Arlingtonian can participate in our community processes. We made a good start this year by webcasting and recording County Board work sessions and meetings of the Planning and Transportation Commissions, but we need to expand these webcasts to all commission meetings. I will continue to push for more online tools that both inform residents about what’s happening and allow them to provide feedback to their government. Traditional, time-intensive methods, which often don’t account for family and work commitments, cannot be a bar to resident participation in our community and government.
Arlington must be a place where everyone feels that she or he can contribute. This year, I helped bring people together on different sides of issues like Fire Station 8 and the Stratford school driveway to discuss the options openly before moving forward. Everyone can’t have his or her preferred outcome, and I did not have mine on every issue. But when we have an open dialogue and focus on speaking with – and listening to – each other, we make sure that everyone can contribute to the ultimate decision in some way.
We still need a strategic plan to unify all of our issue-specific master plans. Coming up with an overall strategic plan will take time and must include the whole community so that we hear everyone’s voice. We started down this path this year, and I look forward to building on it in my next term.
Arlington County is a place where residents, business, and government all work to bring out the best in our community. I ask for your vote on Tuesday to continue serving you as we work together to realize our full potential.