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The Right Note: When One Era Ends

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

This week, 20-year County Board veteran Jay Fisette announced he would not seek re-election.

Just a little more than five years ago, the Board was made up of Fisette, Chris Zimmerman, Walter Tejada, Mary Hynes and Barbara Favola. Between School Board and County Board service, they had each been elected multiple times over. After November it is likely that four of the five members of the Board will be in their first full term serving the County in any elected capacity. And this new perspective is certainly a good thing.

While Fisette had kept his intentions under wraps, signs were pointing toward this decision. Fisette helped engineer a closed nominating process for Democrats that would ensure maximum power for the party regulars in choosing a nominee to succeed him. Fisette also took the lead to stop spending on the gondola project — taking away an issue from a Republican or Independent challenger.

As someone who has run for local office and who has worked for elected officials, I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone who is willing to run for and serve in these positions. It is hard work, requires personal sacrifice and often results in intense criticism from those who disagree with you.

However, an Independent or Republican should not shy away from making a run at this open seat just because it’s hard. I can tell you that when you knock on all but the most partisan doors in Arlington, you will be greeted by people who are willing to listen. You will not be dismissed out of hand because you are not a card carrying Democrat. The people of Arlington are concerned about the direction of their community and are willing to listen to someone who shares that concern.

If you want to run, you should be prepared to make a case for how the County should approach housing, transportation, and working with the School Board on education issues. But here are two areas you could focus on to usher in a new era where we put an end to business as usual:

Spend time making Arlington a more business friendly community for everyone, not just looking for opportunities to provide taxpayer funded giveaways to new businesses that move here. That includes improving permitting, zoning and other processes that even partisan Democrats have complained about. And it means embracing the idea of doing away with the time sucking tangible personal property tax on businesses as well as the regressive business privilege tax — the name alone is troublesome let alone the gross receipts method of calculating it.

Reform the budget process which is built to add spending and increase the tax burden each year as well as create a year-end slush fund known as the closeout process. The budget should also focus more on core services and stop borrowing money for items that should be budgeted for each year. It should require increased transparency when it comes to spending — in particular, we should know more about how contracting decisions are made.

And a bonus item that might lead into any discussion of ending business as usual, is reinstating the ability of individuals to require public comment and debate on County Board agenda items. This would reestablish a longstanding check on their actions.

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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done. 

Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.

The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.

2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference

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Submit your own Announcement here.

Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!

Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!

A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.

Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!

Submit your own Announcement here.

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Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
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Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!

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