The Right Note: No Choice, Yet?

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

Republicans have yet to field a candidate for any countywide office in Arlington this year. Unfortunately, fielding no candidates lets the Democrats sitting in office completely off the hook.

There would be no accountability for the tax increase that is putting the squeeze on homeowners and businesses alike. The two Board Members up for re-election would not have to answer for the 6.3% spending increase. They would not have to explain how that spending falls in line with their rhetoric that this was a “tough budget year.” The $2 million slush fund given to the County Manager gets the voters’ stamp of approval by default.

Christian Dorsey would not have to answer for his comments earlier this year that suggested that he does not want to work as hard as other Board Members. Dorsey has also served on the WMATA Board for years. If you think he has failed to demonstrate real leadership qualities in these capacities, you can just give him a piece of your mind during the next public comment period.

If you didn’t like how the County Board handled the Amazon deal, you can write a letter to the editor.

If you are unhappy with how the county processes permits and zoning, you can keep complaining to your neighbors.

If you think the County Board should do more to hold the School Board accountable during the budget process, you can write-in a friend when you go to the polls in November.

If you want answers to why the County Board approved a $50 million line of credit as a new mechanism to finance projects, you can send them a strongly worded email about the pitfalls of taking on too much debt.

But there is still time for someone to get on the November ballot.

Having run as a Republican in a November general election myself, it is certainly understandable that qualified people sit out of the process. If you are serious about running, you are committing to work the equivalent of a second full-time job for several months in the face of extremely long electoral odds.

While running against the party that controls everything is tough, there are some benefits to becoming a candidate.

You would gain a new appreciation for candidates who are willing to put in the hard work of running for office.

You would meet a lot of nice people and visit parts of the county where you may not spend much time. Most people, including the ones not voting for you, appreciate having an informed conversation about what is happening in their neighborhood. (You also learn how to deal with difficult people, but these are the exceptions.)

You would also get a lot of exercise knocking on doors. If you have never gone door-to-door here, you probably don’t realize just how hilly Arlington really is.

In all of this, you would learn a lot about yourself and the community in which you live. And, you would perform an invaluable public service by holding your elected officials accountable and by giving voters a choice.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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