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The Right Note: The Last One

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

As the readers of ARLnow know, this is the final week for regular opinion columns. First, let me say thank you to Scott Brodbeck for asking me to do this nine years ago.

Drafting the last one is a bitter-sweet moment for me. Along with Peter Rousselot, I have been writing faithfully since January of 2013 when his first column was published just hours before mine.

By my rough count, I have written 374 columns, and they averaged around 400 words each. So, I have typed enough words to fill a 500 page book. I have written on vacation, in the middle of the night, and occasionally an hour before one was due.

While I will not miss writing the columns on the weeks I have trouble locating time in the schedule or finding a topic I really want to talk about, I will miss running into random people across the county who tell me they read what I write. Some thank me. Some tell me they agree sometimes and disagree other times. To those who had nothing for me but a glare, thanks for letting me know I struck a nerve. And thanks for reading, even if it was just to see what “stupid” thing I would say next.

For the record, I never got paid a dime for any of it. I did it to insert a more conservative point of view in the public dialogue in a county where Democrats reign the political world. This became even more important as Republicans stopped regularly fielding candidates for the County Board. I tried to run myself twice, coming close once – close for a Republican in Arlington anyway.

Republican Mark Kelly speaks at the Civic Federation County Board candidates debate in 2010 (staff photo)

I generally didn’t read many of the comments, though I checked in from time to time. Once there was a less than favorable haiku left in the comments after I discussed Arlington’s decision to hire a county poet. I responded with one of my own in the next column:

Trolley has been nixed.
Taxpayers are rejoicing
gondolas are next.

Thinking of back to the comments section and the trolley leads me to one of the best moments of writing this column – getting the email that the Columbia Pike streetcar project was being cancelled in the wake of John Vihstadt’s election to a full term. Having written a lot about that project, one week some of the commenters expressed a great deal disgust at the frequency of my criticism along with the fact I called the project a “trolley” at all. The next week as I wrote a column on another subject, I used the first letter of each paragraph to spell T-R-O-L-L-E-Y. I am sure no one noticed, but I knew it was there. I also once paid tribute to my dad on his birthday with a similar first letter of the paragraph approach.

One of my biggest disappointments is that the budget process, including the closeout spending, and all of the “woe is me,” fake “budget shortfall,” “we had to make tough decisions” rhetoric has remained unchanged. Sadly, a majority of Arlingtonians do not find the spending habits of their elected officials objectionable enough to vote in a majority of Independents or Republicans or even Democrats who would do things differently.

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The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Arlington has seen its share of school board members come and go the past few years. It is not because the work is not important or extremely worthwhile. No, it’s because there is nothing more personal to people than their children, as Terry McAuliffe found out the hard way. And, there is virtually no decision of consequence that can leave everyone happy.

School boundaries can leave parents fuming after spending $1 million or more to move into their preferred Arlington neighborhood. Every school budget almost certainly leaves something popular on the cutting room floor. Curriculum and classroom policy decisions can quickly inflame passions on both sides. Even the names of schools now generate extreme controversy.

Right now, learning loss from COVID-based decisions not to teach full-time, in-person for five straight academic quarters is probably the leading hot-button topic. Studies continue to point to our kids falling behind because they were locked out of in-person learning.

Many parents who could afford it have removed their children from APS and are not coming back. Many more who could not afford to leave are still upset that teachers and administrators could not figure out a way to get kids back in the classroom in one of the richest school districts in America. And now they do not see enough progress being made to make up for lost time.

As an aside, if you are going to run for school board anywhere in America, Arlington is the easiest if for no other reason than money is no object. Despite all the protestations to the contrary, Arlington Public Schools have virtually unlimited resources. We will likely spend over $25,000 per child this year, and we have millions left over each and every year that we budgeted for and did not spend. One year we “shook the couch cushions” to provide thousands of extra computers for students.

And of course, there are decisions on school safety. Just this past year, APS opted to remove school resource officers. Fortunately for Arlington, we have not seen some of the same incidents that lead Alexandria school officials to reverse a similar decision. Let’s hope and pray it stays that way.

A lot of parents would give the entire board a low grade when it came to providing leadership through the pandemic. What we could use moving forward is someone on the school board who without question is dedicated to preparing our children to succeed in college or the workforce.

Arlington does not need to be a beta tester on our kids. Woke notions should never supplant things that work academically, and buzzwords like equity should never be used as an excuse for missing the mark. Moreover, how much more we borrow and spend each year, or even the number of new buildings, should never be the measure of how we are doing. The budget process should be approached with the idea we will identify what is working — and what isn’t — and spend only what we need to get the job done.

There is a natural constituency for someone who puts first things first when it comes to our kids. If that is you, maybe you should run for school board.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Virginia voters shook up the national political landscape two weeks ago by electing a Republican statewide ticket just one year after giving Joe Biden a 10% victory.

No doubt, the race was influenced by the current national political environment, including soaring prices of just about everything. But what can Independents and Republican here in Arlington learn from these results?

1. Contrary to some Democrat claims, turnout was not the reason Democrats lost. 2021 saw the most voters ever go to the polls in a gubernatorial election. Across Virginia 54.9% of voters went to the polls this year, up from 47.6% in 2017 and 43% in 2013. Terry McAuliffe received nearly 200,000 more raw votes than Ralph Northam did and still lost by more than 60,000 votes.

2. The Republican statewide ticket made gains in virtually every jurisdiction, including right here in Arlington versus 2020. Governor-Elect Youngkin’s increase of 5.5% of the vote versus President Trump in Arlington nearly equaled his statewide increase of 6.5%. Youngkin did it by communicating on kitchen table issues across Virginia.

3. This election demonstrated a rural rejection of, and suburban reaction to, the Virginia, and in some ways national, Democrats’ leftward policy march. Democrats in Northern Virginia seem to believe they simply have a communication problem, and not a policy problem, when it comes to the disconnect with rural voters. That gap will widen if Democrats insist on telling rural, and even some suburban, voters they are wrong on the issues.

4. For example, parents do not want to be told they have no role in their child’s education. In what was one of the most tone-deaf statements ever, Terry McAuliffe effectively told parents — who were rightly concerned about everything from learning loss, to curriculum, to mandates, to school safety — to sit down and shut up. McAuliffe continued to double down on the sentiment through his closing campaign rally when he invited the national leader of teachers’ unions to be a featured speaker. And McAuliffe was not helped by the Biden Justice Department announcement that they would be using the FBI to investigate parents at school board meetings.

5. Here in Arlington, the Democrat sample ballot remains extremely difficult to beat. From the school bond to the Governor’s race, there was little doubt about how election day would go here in our 26 square miles. Only John Vihstadt has overcome the Democrats sample ballot endorsement in recent memory.

6. However, despite overwhelming support for the Democrat statewide ticket, Arlington voters have not moved very far when it comes to local issues. When I ran for County Board in 2010, Democrat Chris Zimmerman received 58% of the vote versus my 38% (Audrey Clement received the remainder). Zimmerman ran just 5% behind the “top of the ticket,” which that year was Congressman Jim Moran. This year Takis Karantonis received just 60% of the vote compared to nearly 77% for Terry McAuliffe. Running nearly 17% behind the top of the ticket is hardly an overwhelming vote of confidence in how things are going.

Moving forward, we may not yet be able to see a path on the horizon for a Republican to win Arlington in a statewide contest. However, there is still a coalition available of Republicans, Independents and concerned Democrats who would vote for local County Board and School Board candidates who campaign on the right set of issues.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

The annual closeout process, or second round of spending, is upon us again. Tonight, the County Board will formally receive the excess funds available report and recommendations on how to spend all $284.9 million from the County Manager.

While real estate revenues once again soared past estimates by $16 million and taxes collected from businesses were up by $12.5 million, overall revenue inched up by just $3.7 million in the past fiscal year. As you might imagine, sales taxes, hotel taxes and meals taxes were off by about $27.7 million.

The recommendation from the County Manager is to spend $1.8 million on a one time pay adjustment for county employees. The remainder would be set aside to supplement the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. While taxpayers would be better served with real estate tax relief than increased spending next year, the funding would in theory keep pressure off the so-called – though never materializing – budget gap.

After already allocated projects are accounted for and we send our reserves to $95.5 million, the County has just over $20.5 million in excess funds available to spend for the non-schools portion of the budget. This comes from the $3.7 million in excess revenue plus $16.8 million in unspent budget items. And, it is roughly equivalent to last year’s figure.

The more eye-popping numbers are on the school side of the ledger. Despite a public posture that the schools were approaching bad financial footing, Arlington Public Schools had $58.7 million in unspent funds last year. If the County Manager’s recommendations are adopted, the schools will have $62 million available to spend as they see fit as part of the closeout process.

What is the bottom line?

First, even in the face of an unprecedented pandemic and the government’s economy-crippling response to it, Arlington taxpayers still provided record levels of revenue to fund our local government. Also, it proves once again that county staff habitually underestimates property tax revenue in order to help create the annual “budget shortfall” narrative.

Second, Our schools’ budget was off by roughly 10% last year, even further off than their current enrollment estimates were.

How can voters send a message in the November 2nd elections?

To the School Board: Vote NO on the $23 million school bond. The schools have the cash available to pay for it now and still have $39 million left over. Why go further into debt when there is no longer the estimated upward pressure on enrollment?

To the County Board: Vote for anyone but the incumbent. Takis Karantonis is about as virtual a lock as you can get in politics, so sending a message that we want a better process for spending taxpayer funds, or better yet returning excess funds to the taxpayers, is all we can do.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

For years, Democrat politicians across Virginia campaigned on creating a redistricting commission. Arlington Delegate Rip Sullivan and former Governor Terry McAuliffe were leaders in the effort.

It always seemed like an interesting political maneuver from a party that, while in control of the Virginia Senate 10 years ago, drew a map that divided Arlington into three separate senate districts despite Arlington’s population being roughly equivalent to a single district. Alas, they wanted to use Arlington’s heavily Democrat population to impact three districts, not just one.

Democrats persisted in the redistricting reform push anyway and ultimately reached a deal with the Republicans to put a constitutional amendment to Virginia voters.

At the same time, Democrats won control of the House of Delegates, Senate and Governorship. Under the old system, they could now have total control of the map-drawing process. So what did the state Democrats do? They rejected the redistricting reform they had campaigned in favor of for years and officially opposed the commission when it went to the ballot last year.

Ultimately, only the loyal sample ballot following Arlington Democrats produced more votes against it than for it. Every other jurisdiction passed it. So, Democrats quickly passed statutory limitations on the commission in an attempt to shape the outcome.

As the commission approaches its deadline for House and Senate maps, many prognosticators believe that the commissioners will not be able to produce maps for approval by the General Assembly. If they fail, the decision will be left to the Virginia Supreme Court. The only upside of that outcome is that it would be extremely difficult for Virginia Democrats to challenge the constitutionality of the Supreme Court-drawn maps mid-decade like they did to gain seats a few years ago.

From the some issues never go away category, last week the Sun Gazette reminded us once again that some Arlington residents do not believe the County Board is doing enough to eliminate aircraft noise. Whether it is jets flying into Reagan National Airport or helicopters to the Pentagon, the issue comes up at fairly regular intervals.

This is because airplanes and helicopters have always made, and most likely will continue to make, noise. The FAA is well aware of it and spends a lot of time and money to study and address it. So too has Arlington County.

For residents who continue to complain about it, please keep in mind that Reagan National opened 80 years ago, just before the Pentagon 78 years ago. Meaning, there is a good chance the offending locations were in existence and receiving aircraft long before you bought your house. In other words, you knew or should have known about the offending noise when you decided to purchase your home.

The good news is that the continued existence of the Pentagon and Reagan National are big economic boosters for Arlington. So, every time you hear a helicopter or airplane just remember your house is worth more money than if it were located 30 miles away.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

School is back in session and Arlington’s Public Schools had some bad news to deliver. Last week we learned that enrollment at the beginning of the school year is off by nearly 2,200 students from projections in the current budget — from 29,100 projected to 26,932 actual.

Thumbs down to the APS staff who had originally projected an additional 500 students would be back in school this fall and only pulled back at the request of School Board members.

If the current enrollment number holds that means Arlington will spend just a shade under $26,000 for every student enrolled under the topline budget number passed this spring. That number will drop slightly as Arlington will see its share of state funds reduced, but it should be remembered when the School Board claims they don’t have the resources to adequately educate our kids.

The School Board should give the public more answers on what went wrong in the projections? On the surface, it appears that many parents who opted their kids out when the schools were locked down are simply not coming back. Whatever the reason, as we build next year’s budget, we need to do a better job on behalf of the taxpayers who are footing the bill.

The County Board is also back from a two month break. Soon the board will start talking about another round of closeout spending and next year’s budget.

In the meantime, thumbs down to the new five cent plastic bag tax. Arlington has long wanted to impose the tax, but was previously unable to under Virginia law. The tax, which will go into effect in January, will produce little revenue and will do little to reduce plastic bag use. However, the new proposal makes Arlington feel like it is doing something for the environment. And, Arlington would have been left out of the club as D.C., Alexandria and Fairfax will all have bag taxes moving forward. Remember though, if you are switching to reusable bags to please wash them regularly as they often carry dangerous bacteria.

Speaking of Alexandria and D.C., thumbs down to the new logo which features the other two jurisdictions prominently in its design. The logo may have been one of the best among bad options, but it is still a disappointment. With all the name and logo changing, one has to wonder if calls to change the name Arlington itself will come one day?

Finally, thumbs up to the allocation of $15.1 million for stormwater infrastructure improvements. This is the type of infrastructure funding we should expect as regular course from our county officials, but why not give the appropriate pat on the back for doing the right thing?

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Every year is an election year here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This November, voters will head to the polls to select new statewide leadership and elect every member of the House of Delegates.

In fact, the House of Delegates are likely to conduct elections in three consecutive years. Due to the delayed Census data, delegate races will be held under existing district lines this year. Then special elections will be conducted in 2022, and regular elections again in 2023, both under the new lines.

The new bipartisan redistricting commission is now at work and is slated to produce maps for the General Assembly and Congress in October. Over the last week, the Commission opted to evaluate political data in drawing the maps. They also opted to do two things which seemingly stand in opposition to each other — take into account where incumbents lived while also starting the maps from scratch. Hopefully, the Commission and the General Assembly can meet the deadlines laid out by law and avoid leaving this up to the Virginia Supreme Court.

But before these maps take effect, hundreds of millions of dollars will flow into Virginia to impact a statewide election which often foreshadows the mood of the voters nationally after a presidential election. There are big questions about who will turn out to vote and why?

According to the most recent VCU poll on the 2021 gubernatorial election, Virginia voters see “the economy” as the biggest issue facing the new Governor. When combined with those who put “employment” at the top of their list, a full 40 percent of Virginians are most concerned about how they will provide for themselves and their families. Healthcare is a distant second at 17 percent.

Here in Arlington where unemployment numbers for residents remains relatively stable, our workforce shrank by 8.3 percent year-over-year, higher than the national average of 4.5 percent. This should come as no surprise after a year of lockdowns, mandates and uncertainty. Some businesses closed their doors. Others were hurt but found a way to survive.

Many businesses have help wanted signs up and are hoping workers will return. That’s good news for displaced low wage workers have benefitted from enhanced unemployment benefits which are likely coming to an end soon. The trillions of dollars of federal stimulus propping up the economy (and driving inflation) may be coming to an end soon as well.

Over the long term, we need to get back to the fundamentals of the private marketplace not government intervention, and the voters are evaluating who is right to lead Virginia through an economic recovery. It is no surprise then, that despite Republican losses in every statewide election since 2009 we see businessman Glenn Youngkin within the margin of error in poll after poll in the Governor’s race. Former Governor Terry McAuliffe is having trouble approaching the 48 percent of the vote he received in 2013. Maybe it’s because McAuliffe is a known quantity, but it’s not for his business acumen?

McAuliffe and company are running the same anti-Trump playbook Democrats have used since 2017, and banking on recent voting trends to carry him to victory and hold the majority in the House of Delegates. Will it work with the economy-weary voters of 2021? We will know 10 weeks from today.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

The Arlington County Board is in the middle of its traditional August break. As such, it is a good time for a performance review.

What should we expect from local government?

Ultimately, the most important level of government to our daily lives, outside of self-government, is local government. It is where our tax dollars meet the asphalt. It is where our children attend school, our homes are kept safe, our water is dispensed, and our trash is collected. It is where we should be able to most easily and directly petition our elected officials for assistance. And, at least theoretically, it should be the most responsive to our needs with the smallest amount of bureaucracy and red tape.

As part of the review, let’s ask all of our elected officials to do a self-assessment.

Please rate your job performance based on the following four criteria and provide specific examples to explain your rating:

1) Exercising fiscal discipline
2) Responsiveness to community concerns, particularly in light of the pandemic
3) Meeting basic government services responsibilities
4) Actions to increase transparency and accountability

Points will be deducted for the use of buzzwords (as in “equity”) without concrete examples to back it up.

So where are we?

If you recall, one year ago the County Board had just passed a confusing emergency ordinance that would have prevented a family of five from walking down the sidewalk together and the School Board was scrambling to figure out how to implement virtual learning when teachers refused to return to school.

While APS met Governor Northam’s mandate to return to part-time in-person instruction in March, school officials are currently scrambling as enrollment numbers appear to be lower than anticipated again. While officials are hoping for a turnaround, it seems thus far to be a vote of “no confidence” after a lost year of learning. Many parents who could afford to get their kids out did, and they may not be coming back.

Elected officials have reacted to rising crime by relaxing prosecutorial standards, creating a new disciplinary board for police, and removing school resource officers.

The County Board continues to drive up cost of living by raising taxes, spending surpluses rather than returning them to the taxpayer, adding to our debt, building in higher labor costs, and permanently raising construction costs. The board also made it harder and more expensive for many people to park in front of their own houses.

How would you rate your elected officials this year? Now consider rating them again as if they were all independents and had to run on their record, not on their party label.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

As expected, the County Board put more pressure on Arlington taxpayers’ checkbooks at its July meeting. The Board voted unanimously to adopt a prevailing wage for contracts over $250,000. That is expected to add 15% to the cost of almost everything we build and buy moving forward.

Then the Board voted to increase our annual debt service obligations by $10.7 million by authorizing an additional $86 million in bonds. Technically the voters will have to approve it in November, but local Democrats will endorse the bond measures on their sample ballot which means it is all but certain to pass. Presumably, the latest round of borrowing would have cost taxpayers just $75 million before the prevailing wage vote.

The Board also voted to adopt collective bargaining which is estimated to cover up to two-thirds of its public employees. Instead of taking responsibility for hiring and paying county staff appropriately, the County Board is punting the accountability to a labor negotiation process which time and again has put local and state governments under financial strain.

While it is difficult to estimate the long term impacts of labor agreements, there is little doubt that it will ultimately result in millions of dollars of additional spending each year down the road with little flexibility afforded to future County Boards to make reasonable adjustments. As Chairman Matt de Ferranti said, “elections have consequences.” In this case, it will be higher taxes to cover the costs.

Higher prices for contracts, more debt, increased labor costs and higher tax rates are on the way. The County Board’s inflation is going to be added on top of climbing gas prices, grocery bills, housing costs and higher health expenses. One might ask what does driving up the cost of living do for equity in Arlington?

Speaking of public employees, the County Board voted to implement a civilian oversight board for the Arlington Police Department, complete with an independent auditor. No doubt this auditor will have more financial resources than the County Auditor who is tasked with examining the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of Arlington government overall. If so, it’s another reminder that the Board does not place a high priority on responsible spending.

The County Board also voted away its subpoena power for the investigative process to this unelected administrative panel. And the Board ignored warnings that this new panel could put unhelpful pressure to recruit and retain good officers on a department that should be focused on the recent uptick in crime. One thing is sure, when added on top of the removal of School Resource Officers from schools, the signals being sent to the men and women of law enforcement is that Arlington’s elected officials do not trust them.

And finally, Arlington released its latest set of logos for public consideration. The new set is a very slight improvement over the previous set released earlier this year. You can vote here for your favorite. The winner will last until the County Board decides to change our name altogether.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

At Thursday’s school board meeting, members should receive a superintendent’s update on the reopening plan for the fall. As of now, it looks like APS will continue to move toward full in-person learning when schools open their doors again in August. Classrooms will be at normal capacity with an all-virtual, but no hybrid, option.

The CDC last week said vaccinated students and teachers could safely attend school without masks. Absent updated guidance, however, all APS students and personnel will still be required to wear masks while indoors.

While mask wearing will certainly be a controversial topic, it would be interesting to learn the status of enrollments for the fall. Across the country, there are reports that school districts are not returning to pre-pandemic levels of enrollment. Some parents who moved their children to homeschooling and private schools will simply not return. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the schools are hosting enrollment block parties to counteract the enrollment decline.

Last fall, Arlington saw an official enrollment decrease of 1,125 students after they had predicted an increase of 1,122. APS should have a realistic projection at this point of the summer based on the levels of kindergarten enrollments as well as if students who left the district last year are re-enrolling now.

The superintendent will undoubtedly paint a rosy scenario of “anticipations” when it comes to enrollment, if he reports on it at all. However, holding steady or a second straight decrease in the student count should certainly impact budget decisions for this year and into the future as spending approaches $25,000 per student.

One thing that will not be in the schools this fall are the school resource officers (SROs). In June, the Arlington County School Board voted unanimously to remove the SROs from school buildings, becoming the second Northern Virginia jurisdiction to do so. This decision was made after a working group was quickly brought together to “study” the issue. The final report was short on rationale and data, but few politicos around the county doubted this would be the ultimate outcome.

Now every parent will be left to rely on hope that no incident occurs that could have been stopped, or mitigated, by the on campus presence of an officer.

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


The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Two years ago, Arlington Democrats picked a new prosecutor in a contentious primary. Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was backed by George Soros to put social justice front and center in the prosecutor’s office.

Since taking office in January of 2020, she took on the Circuit Court judges on the crimes she must prosecute. And she announced earlier this spring she would focus on reducing racial disparities in prosecutions by 20 percent.

The annual Crime in Virginia report from the Virginia State Police is out for 2020. The latest crime statistics gives us one objective measure to look at the effect on public safety during Dehghani-Tafti’s first year on the job.

In 2019, there were 822 simple assaults reported. In 2020, there were 906 or a 10 percent increase. Aggravated assaults are up 40 percent. Vandalism is up 13 percent. Theft from a motor vehicle is up 16 percent. And robbery was up by 27 percent. And while reports of “Group A Offenses” is essentially unchanged, arrests are down by 12 percent.

There were drops in some crimes, including a significant reduction in credit card fraud, which is to be expected with businesses being closed for so long in 2020 due to COVID. Thefts from buildings and drug violations also dropped.

If you want to track crime statistics monthly, the Arlington County Police Department also provides reports. May’s report shows a 16 percent uptick for 2021 over the same period last year.

Dehghani-Tafti used the recent release of ACPD’s 2020 crime report to tout her support for a regional task force to combat carjackings which are up dramatically in 2021. Two weeks ago, Dehghani-Tafti took a ride along with Arlington Police detectives who are trying to stop the spread of car thefts and thefts out of vehicles across the county. She tweeted “Seriously, lock your doors please.”

Dehghani-Tafti also used the event to push back on the idea that insufficient prosecution, or being a “reformer” is the reason for rising crime numbers. She promises to overhaul her office’s case management system to provide data to the public to back up her assertions that her office is focusing prosecutorial efforts “on crimes that are a public safety risk,” including “car tamperings and car thefts.” Hopefully, these numbers are forthcoming soon to show how her office’s reforms translate into measurable data.

If numbers were the only thing that mattered to voters, most of Congress would have been fired for putting us nearly $30 trillion in debt. However, they do give us something objective to measure. And ultimately, the voters will have to use the numbers as they evaluate whether Dehghani-Tafti’s overall job performance deserves re-election in two years.

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


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