Last week we asked the four Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.
Here is the unedited response from Vivek Patil:
My name is Vivek Patil and I am an engineer, entrepreneur, and community builder. As a leader at a global life science company and founder of two biotech startups, I have consistently faced seemingly impossible ideas requiring innovative thinking and persistence to make a reality. I’ve put this perspective into practice since my appointment to Arlington’s Economic Development commission, where I lead an advisory group exploring innovative and disruptive economic development ideas with the potential to transform Arlington.
In my experience, an equitable economy cannot be built without buy-in from all stakeholders. That is one of the reasons why I co-founded Building Bridges, a community outreach group that has built meaningful relationships with communities across Arlington. Our mission has been to reintegrate the diverse voices and visions of community stakeholders into our political and community processes through persistent outreach, listening, and engagement. In conversation, I have heard wonderful things about our progressive values, our inclusive and welcoming community, and Arlington’s remarkable livability. However, I have also heard stories of fading economic opportunity and housing affordability, a growing divide in incomes as well as our community issues and interests. I felt compelled to run for County Board to incorporate these voices into our ‘Arlington Way,’ and facilitate civic engagement that seeks out our community’s broad range of perspectives and collectively addresses school capacity, housing affordability, transportation infrastructure, and the fostering of economic opportunity.
This campaign is about re-imagining a bold, new economic vision for Arlington; one that transforms our community by creating a green and clean tech innovation economy. While nurturing our current business infrastructure, Arlington possesses the ingredients to build a green energy innovation hub rivaling Boston’s biotech space or Silicon Valley’s information technology economy. This new economy emphasizes our region’s talent, expertise, geography, and financial and strategic resources and it speaks to our progressive values of compassionate capitalism, equitable economic opportunity, and environmental protection.
Constructing this economy will require a regional DMV-area partnership that leverages our globally competitive green tech anchor companies and federal energy expertise to attract new entrepreneurs and startups. It will require strengthening of our university consortium along Fairfax drive and creating high-tech incubators to house and nurture new technologies and innovators. Older buildings in Crystal City and the metro corridors could be redeveloped through creative financing and cooperative investment models to house new companies as well as future entrepreneurs, employees, and families.
The green and clean tech sector is unique in that it requires an innovate-build-manufacture economy, utilizing both skilled and unskilled labor at each step of the way. A skilled workforce of engineers can design the next generation batteries or solar panels and trained workers can build them in facilities in Arlington or across the Commonwealth. It creates an economic opportunity continuum, bridging divisions between Virginia’s counties by advancing prosperous yet equitable growth.
Our schools and universities are indispensable to this economic transformation. I propose stronger collaboration between the County and School Board focused on preparing our children to be globally competitive in this innovation economy. Programs like Arlington Tech that offer project-based learning can partner with universities and employers, providing an applied learning construct with career opportunities for our high-school, career center, community college, and four-year university graduates. After all, Arlington only succeeds when all Arlingtonians succeed.
If elected to the County Board, I will act expeditiously and decisively to facilitate this bold new vision, well aware that it will require strategic collaboration, community engagement, and patience. A more sustainable, equitable, and diversified economy will help us generate the wealth necessary to fund our 21st century multi-modal transportation system, develop globally competitive schools, nurture our burgeoning arts infrastructure, and create a more biophilic and energy-efficient urban infrastructure. Arlington is uniquely qualified to lead this sector and I stand ready to lead our community in meeting this challenge. I hope you join me in achieving this innovative vision and I ask for your vote at the Democratic caucus on May 9th, 11th or 13th.