Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.
Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Audrey Clement:
Arlington County needs new leadership. Here’s why.
Although it is one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., Arlington is paying corporations millions in taxpayer subsidies to stay here, small businesses struggle, and too many longtime residents are being gentrified out of their homes.
At 18 percent, Arlington’s office vacancy rate is unacceptably high, as federal agencies move to cheaper digs elsewhere in Northern Virginia.
The County has recruited some high profile corporate tenants, and shaved a percentage off the vacancy rate. But small businesses are hurting and are likely to hurt even more should the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts go into effect.
In fact the George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis predicts that 10,000 federal sector jobs may be eliminated from Northern Virginia should Congress adopt the president’s budget.
This could spell hardship for Arlington County, which depends on tax revenue generated from federal jobs.
County Board increased the property tax rate this year even as it estimated a surplus. That was unfortunate, since neither the government workers who live in the County nor the local businesses that rely on their patronage needed another tax grab while facing the prospect of an economic downturn.
Arlington County also has a spending problem. County Board just voted to approve the design of a new Lubber Run Community Center with a whopping $47.9 million price tag. The new Wilson High School is currently estimated at $100 million.
By comparison, the town of Vienna recently completed renovating its community center for just $6.5 million, and the cost of a new high school under construction in Loudoun County is $81.7 million —- much less than the projected cost for Wilson High.
It’s obvious that Arlington taxpayers are paying a lot more for the same public services than elsewhere in Northern Virginia. This is not only wasteful, it may also prove to be unsustainable in the long run.
Clearly the current County Board is too complacent to change course now. It will continue to ignore the need for belt tightening. In the face of economic uncertainty, independent leadership is needed to constrain spending while optimizing services provided to County residents.
As an Independent candidate and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow, I am qualified to fill that role.
As an independent voice on County Board I pledge to:
- Seek tax relief for both residential and commercial taxpayers.
- Save our parks, not pave them over.
- Use bond money to fund schools–not Taj Mahals for some students and trailers for others.
- Stop recycling garden apartments into luxury town homes and cutting down our precious tree canopy for more parking.
- Stop the back room deals that too often govern the decisions made by County Board.
In addition, if elected, I will:
- Require a fiscal impact analysis for every major site plan development project to assure that it actually benefits the County.
- End the County’s pursuit of wasteful vanity projects.
- Redirect funds to basic needs like streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
- Consolidate housing programs and other public services.
- Install renewable energy on County owned buildings.
- Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.
I am a thirteen year Arlington resident with a ten year track of civic activism. With a Ph.D. in Political Science and experience on Capitol Hill, I have both the commitment and political know how to translate policy into practice.
Visit AudreyClement.com to find out more about my campaign for a better Arlington and donate to my campaign.
Let me know if you want to volunteer at the polls on Election Day and remember to vote for me, Audrey Clement, Independent, on November 7.