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 Democratic candidate Erik Gutshall:
I’m Erik Gutshall, life-long Democrat, proud father of three wonderful girls, an award-winning small businessman, and the current chair of the Arlington County Planning Commission. I am focused on the future, and I am asking for your support to be the next member of the Arlington County Board.
Arlington has a storied tradition of meeting challenges with inclusive collaboration between the community, elected officials, county staff, and the private sector. I have joined in this tradition as a civic association president, non-profit board member, and member of our Transportation and Planning Commissions. Working side-by-side with you to solve complex challenges for the last 15 years has ingrained in me the Arlington values of inclusiveness, collaboration, and long-term vision. While the successes of our past are remarkable, running a small business has taught me that if we don’t innovate, we will stagnate. Our success has brought new challenges; and while our values haven’t changed, our solutions have to. While some argue that our success is the problem and plot a course of retreat, I see the challenges of today as opportunities to remake our vision for the next generation, and I’m asking you to join me.
Our outdated zoning has created a difficult choice between increasingly unaffordable single-family homes and high-rise living, and many of our friends and neighbors have simply moved elsewhere. We must not throw up our hands and accept this as inevitable. To keep Arlington affordable for the middle class, I will use my planning and zoning experience to create market-driven, neighborhood-scale “Missing Middle” housing along our transportation corridors so that young families starting out, seniors aging in place, and everyone in-between can afford to live here.
Solving the school capacity crisis is critical to Arlington’s future. The fact that more and more families are invested enough to put down roots here despite the high cost of housing speaks volumes about the community we have built, but pitting community needs against each other is a recipe for failure. The School Board and County Board must work together to squeeze the most out of our limited space and dollars. I will champion the work of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) to find innovative solutions for the school and community facilities we need, while balancing the preservation and expansion of parks and open space.
As a small business owner, I passionately believe that the future of Arlington’s prosperity is in the hands of our entrepreneurs and innovators. Our small businesses are the “heart and soul” of our community with deep roots as they hire locally and invest locally. My first priority to restore Arlington’s reputation as a great place to start and grow a business will be to foster a “Get to Yes” culture of customer service so that our businesses can spend more time on their customers, and less time dealing with frustrating bureaucracy.
Inclusive, transparent, and collaborative problem-solving guided by progressive values yields innovative, durable solutions. That is the secret sauce of Arlington’s success. I’ve been working with you for the last 15 years, and with your support, I’ll be honored to do it for the next four as your board member. For detailed issue statements on my focus on the future of Arlington, please visit Erik4Arlington.com. Find your polling place and photo ID requirements at ARLVotes.com and please vote for me, Erik Gutshall, on Tuesday, November 7.