Arlington, VA

This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Republican candidate Bob Cambridge

Bob Cambridge has been an Arlington resident for over 40 years. He has had a varied background, Captain in the US Army (Military Intelligence Branch), three years with the Central Intelligence Agency as an information science instructor, and over 40 years as an attorney, both corporate and as a litigator. Ideas developed over that period appear to be relevant to a lot that is going on now, and the opportunity to run for Arlington County Board was an opportunity to get those ideas out where they might do some good.

My website, https://BobCambridge.com, has articles which provide more detail supporting what I will say here. I invite you to check that site out too. I read a lot, and my website brings together several ideas I have shamelessly plagiarized to support other ideas I wanted to share that may be useful.

The website refers to the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant which illustrates the fact that people often disagree without necessarily disagreeing about the same thing. My experience has also been that we all have different perspectives about just about everything. The website refers to a book by Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, which offers some interesting suggestions for why there was male dominance for so long and why the recent emergence of a more balanced (and rational) arrangement should not be surprising. The website also provides observations that support the argument that we do better together because different perspectives properly solicited and actually considered can be a powerful tool for doing almost anything better. Please see https://bobcambridge.com/we-do-better-together/.

The one-party County Board we have had for forty or so years has not had incompetent or narrow-minded members. But that one-party board could have easily been better. Complaints I am hearing now often emphasize a perceived unwillingness of the Board to effectively consider a broader base of ideas. I hear of waiting three hours to speak two minutes at a Board meeting only to see no apparent effect that speech had on anyone. Promises are made, such as budgeting more for parks and Arlington’s tree canopy, only to see nothing actually budgeted and requests for information about that stonewalled by Board insistence that a Freedom of Information Act request be submitted. FOIA requests can be expensive and when our tax dollars pay for a study, why should we pay a second time to see the results of what we paid for?

My platform is different because while I definitely have preferences on some issues, I also freely acknowledge that I do not know everything and will not pretend that I do. The best decisions are made by decisionmakers who listen more than they talk. There seems to be a concern that comments and criticism of Board action will not be seriously considered. That concern will definitely act to suppress suggestions, many of which might actually be very effective and actually get us a bigger bang for some of our tax dollars. Five Board members, even supported by the County Staff, cannot provide number or quality of ideas anything near to what the quarter million Arlington residents supported by many more individuals who work in Arlington can provide. My platform, better laid out in my website, https://BobCambridge.com, is not so much support or opposition to specific issues, as to getting more transparency on the part of the Board and more involvement from a broader group of interested individuals. Why? Because that is a management process that has shown significant success in the private sector and it clearly should be used to make our government more successful too. The process is also oriented not to put in place a perfect solution – there is no such thing, promises of politicians notwithstanding – but to start and continue a process that makes unending improvement the goal. That is a goal shown to be achievable. Corporations have done it, continue to successfully do it, and there is no excuse why the Arlington County Government should not implement similar programs.

I ask that you vote for me if you choose, but please check out my website in either case. If you agree with the ideas, please pass them on. If you disagree, or if you can suggest an improvement (an inevitable occurrence) please send comment or criticism to [email protected]. I will do my best to respond, even after July 7.

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