Arlington, VA

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.

Elected officials from Arlington and Alexandria met this past week to discuss how better to work together across jurisdictional lines. The meeting was precipitated in large part by the arrival of Amazon.

The number one priority issue on the list from the meeting was affordable housing. That the issue rises to the top should surprise no one. It is one of the most talked about issues at the January kickoff meeting and remains on the campaign platform of County Board candidates year after year.

One of the tools Arlington uses to address affordable housing is partnerships with 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. While the intentions of these groups are admirable and they do good work, they have not been a sliver bullet for the County to solve affordable housing issues here.

That did not stop Arlington County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey from suggesting that the two jurisdictions consider forming a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to work on issues that impact both communities. The idea was rightly set aside. While it was not a formal proposal, such an organization could remove a layer of accountability from the voters for decisions impacting Amazon.

Speaking of accountability, voting is already underway for November 5. There are few contested elections locally with Democrats expected to hold on to every seat in Arlington.

It would serve the community well if a qualified Republican or Independent ran for all of these offices rather than leaving so many of them uncontested. An electoral contest provides the voters with the opportunity to hear a real debate on the issues and forces Democrats to make a case for the vote.

Imagine, for instance, if a Republican or Independent had filed for Commonwealth Attorney in 2019 after the divisive primary for the Democrats. However, it is understandable that many people who are qualified to serve take a pass on the race when they consider the uphill climb against the Democrat machine in the county.

If you are not happy with one or more of the candidates, you have the ability and even obligation to write in a qualified candidate on your ballot. With low turnout expected and short lines, it will take you just a couple extra minutes to exercise your right to vote for someone else. Bring a list if you want. It can serve as your own sample ballot.

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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