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The Right Note: Two Events, One Night

by Mark Kelly May 3, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The 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 ARLnow.com.

Last night, Scott McGeary was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame. McGeary was recognized for his significant contributions, not only to the business community, but to Arlington as a whole. It was a well-deserved honor.

McGeary currently serves as secretary of the Arlington Electoral Board, but has also been a leader in the Civic Federation, Committee of 100, Arlington Chamber and Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of Arlington’s Board of Zoning Appeals and served on George Mason University’s Board of Visitors.

He’s well regarded across the political spectrum for his work ethic and for the professional and respectful manner he has gone about both his work and community service for the past three decades. Not only do our elected leaders know him, but he has built relationships with them.

He is exactly the type of person who would make a great county board member, but his longstanding association with the Republican Party would make such a run an uphill climb.

Speaking of the County Board, local Democrats hosted a forum last night for their candidates to take on incumbent John Vihstadt, who, like McGeary, made a name in the community long before his surprise wins in 2014.

Common themes at the forum included a “tough” budget, economic growth, housing, transportation and education. The forum questions also touched on the gondola, guns and immigration.

Tough budgets, economic development and transportation have recently been addressed in this space and are things the County could address in some very common sense ways.

Arlington’s policies on housing have done little to overcome market forces. In addition to our high level of taxation, Arlington also makes it more expensive to build new housing than it should be through its zoning regulations. Those costs are passed directly onto homeowners and renters. The candidates offered little in the way of specifics to change our present course.

One disappointing theme from the opening statement of Matthew de Ferranti invoked the need to run against President Trump this fall. Unfortunately, that strategy probably plays well with party loyalists.

When I campaigned for County Board in 2010, I was told by a voter that Ronald Reagan was to blame for the problems in Arlington. Never mind that he has not been in office for twenty years or that Democrats had controlled the County Board since then.

Chanda Choun closed by saying he should win because he was the candidate who could bring change. Except the Board is controlled by Democrats 4 to 1. If you have a problem with what they are doing, defeating Vihstadt will not really change anything. One could really argue things would be more likely to stay the same because no one from outside the dominant political party will have a microphone or a vote to change it.

Both candidates struggled to answer the questions of what Vihstadt has done, or how he has voted, that they specifically oppose. In other words, he has done a pretty good job, which is precisely why Vihstadt stands an excellent chance of being re-elected.

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