Arlington, VA

What’s Next with Nicole is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.

My name is Nicole Merlene and I’d like to welcome you to my new column, What’s Next with Nicole. Thank you to the ARLnow team for inviting me to write this regular opinion column.

I plan to write about a wide range of topics that impact our community. My hope is to not only provide a forward-thinking perspective on current policy considerations, but also to shed light on less publicized topics.

A bit about me: I am a 27-year-old Arlington native. I grew up in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood, where I attended Glebe Elementary School, A.T.S., Swanson Middle School, and Yorktown High School. Currently, I am a renter living in a “market-rate affordable” garden apartment in Virginia Square.

This spring I ran for Virginia State Senate in the 31st district to represent areas of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties. I have also served as the Vice President for both the Arlington County Civic Federation and North Rosslyn Civic Association, and currently serve on the Arlington Economic Development Commission. Prior to my run for office, I was Policy Director for the international trade association, Invest in the USA.

Arlington has one of the most educated populations in the country and I relish the opportunity to productively advance our public discourse in a new way. This column will focus on providing solutions rather than simply presenting problems, and while the solutions presented may not always be perfect, the goal is to bring thoughtfulness and a forward-looking perspective to local issues.

It is a wonderful thing that in contrast to what is happening on the national stage, our local community is able to have respectful conversations on substantive policy topics. I’m honored to be writing this column for ARLnow and look forward to kicking off my first full piece next week.

Nicole Merlene is an Arlington native and former candidate for Virginia State Senate. She has served as a leader in the community on the boards of the Arlington County Civic Federation and North Rosslyn Civic Association, as an Arlington Economic Development commissioner, in neighborhood transportation planning groups, and as a civic liaison to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

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