77°Scattered Clouds

by Tim Regan — August 18, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Michelle Kwan, photo via Twitter : Hillary for VAA decorated former Olympian will campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Arlington today.

Olympic medalist and former figure skating world champion Michelle Kwan is slated to attend three Clinton campaign events in Northern Virginia, two of which will be in Arlington, according to a press release.

Kwan will make stops at a phone bank in Arlington’s Dominion Hills neighborhood and at a Thai restaurant in Ballston “to discuss Clinton’s agenda for tax fairness and help launch ‘Asian American and Pacific Islander Virginians for Hillary.'”

Kwan’s full schedule of appearances is below:

Small Business Retail Walk

WHEN: Thursday, August 18th at 12:00 PM
WHERE: Eden Center, 6751 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, VA

Arlington Phone Bank

WHEN: Thursday, August 18th at 4:30 PM
WHERE: 6035 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA

AAPI Virginians for Hillary Launch Happy Hour

WHEN: Thursday, August 18th at 6:00 PM
WHERE: Tara Temple Thai Restaurant, 4001 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA

Photo via Twitter / Hillary for Virginia

by Adrian Cruz — August 8, 2016 at 3:35 pm 0

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) speaks alongside Del. Charniele Herring (D) at a press conference outside of the Courthouse Metro station

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would help fix Memorial Bridge and the Metro system if she is elected president, local congressman Don Beyer said today.

Speaking at a brief press conference outside the Courthouse Metro station, Rep. Beyer (D-Va.) said Clinton would make it a top priority in her first 100 days in office to break through Washington’s gridlock and make the biggest investment in jobs and infrastructure since World War II.

Her economic plan would add jobs to the economy via investments in U.S. infrastructure, Beyer said, including Northern Virginia’s “two great priorities” — Memorial Bridge and Metrorail.

Without more investment, Metro’s long-term capital budget and the deteriorating bridge — which just received a federal grant — would continue to suffer, he said.

“We know the incredibly important role that infrastructure plays in job creation, economic development and raising incomes,” Beyer said. “In Virginia, we expect our leaders to enact policies that help our economy thrive. Hillary Clinton is committed to building an economy that works for everyone in Virginia and America, not just those at the top.”

Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief economic adviser, who joined Beyer and Del. Charniele Herring (D) at the news conference, said Clinton’s plan would have economic benefits for everyone.

“Hillary Clinton’s vision is an inclusive vision where economic growth benefits not just those at the very top, but middle class and lower-income households as well, where investments are made not simply in the bank accounts of those at the very top of the scale, but in people across the income scale,” he said.

According to the Clinton campaign, an analysis by Moody’s economist and former McCain adviser Mark Zandi suggests that Clinton’s economic plan would create 271,000 jobs in Virginia, compared to a projected loss of 89,000 jobs under Republican nominee Donald Trump’s economic plan. (Trump updated his plan in a speech today.)

Not everybody was impressed with the mid-morning press conference. An ART bus driver, picking passengers up at a nearby bus stop, asked a news photographer what was going on. Upon hearing that it was a pro-Hillary press conference, and that the candidate would not be attending, the driver said he was voting for Trump, before driving off.

by ARLnow.com — August 2, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Audrey ClementAudrey Clement says those who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary should come over to her side in the Arlington County Board election.

Clement, a perennial candidate who is running as an independent this year, after formerly running under the Green Party banner, says that she shares the “disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed,” a still touchy subject among some Democratic voters.

“I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values,” Clement says in a press release, below. “I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.”

Clement later says that her opponent, incumbent County Board Chair Libby Garvey, has gone back to “rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda” after splitting from party leaders over the Columbia Pike streetcar.

The full press release:

I’m Dr. Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board.

I applaud the efforts of all those Arlington voters who worked hard to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic Nominee for President, and I share your disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed.

I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values, among them a sincere interest in good government. As an Independent, I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.

So I’m asking you to join my campaign in order to make progressive changes locally that you tried to make nationally.

I live in affordable housing that’s in danger of being bulldozed for million dollar townhomes, displacing seniors, students, the disabled, and the working poor. I want affordable housing preserved and new affordable housing built that’s actually affordable for everyone in Arlington.

I’ve ridden a bicycle everywhere for decades. But bicycles shouldn’t be Arlington’s only transportation alternative to more parking for thousands more single-occupant vehicles.

And it’s time for on-site renewable energy installed throughout our County.

It’s time for electric vehicles throughout our County, charged by renewable energy sources.

It’s time to put a moratorium on Smart Growth — which is just a euphemism for gentrification — until there’s a comprehensive evaluation of where Smart Growth is taking our County.

Who wants to live in a County that is unaffordable to anyone who earns less than 100% of area median income, or $110,000 per year?

Not me.

My opponent says she’s “progressive”.  She initially voted against the Pike Streetcar and the most extravagant excesses of the Democratic Old Guard.

But, having been challenged in a primary election by an Old Guard Democrat, she’s gone back to rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda.

With your help we can have better, more diverse, County Government at less cost.

Please visit my website — www.AudreyClement.com — to volunteer, donate and/or comment on issues of concern to you.

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

On Friday, Hillary Clinton announced that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was her VP pick, capping months of speculation about the Democratic presidential nominee’s running mate.

The announcement rippled through Virginia politics, with elected officials from a local level on up weighing in on the decision.

Among Democrats representing Arlington in Richmond or across the Potomac, many were quick to praise the pick.

Said Sen. Mark Warner, in a statement:

I enthusiastically applaud Secretary Clinton’s choice. Without reservation, I can say there is no one of higher integrity and trustworthiness.

I first met Tim Kaine in law school 37 years ago, and our paths crossed years later in Virginia politics.  Whether serving as mayor of Richmond, Virginia’s lieutenant governor, governor, and now as U.S. senator, Tim has always shown a commitment to serving others.

He always finds reasons for hope and optimism in every situation, and he is centered by his faith and his family. Our country, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be very well-served by electing Tim Kaine as Vice President.

Said Gov. Terry McAuliffe:

I am thrilled to congratulate my friend Senator Tim Kaine on his selection to join the Democratic ticket with Hillary Clinton. As a Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor and United States Senator, Tim Kaine has demonstrated that he is the right choice to help lead our country forward as Vice President of the United State. His experience, intellect and dedication to making life better for people from all walks of life will make him an enormous asset to Secretary Clinton throughout the remainder of this campaign and as a leader in her administration over the next four years. This is a proud day for every Virginian.

Said Del. Alfonso Lopez:

Secretary Clinton has made a wise choice in Tim Kaine as her running mate. He is an extraordinary public servant who has dedicated his life to helping others. In his administration, I coordinated and supervised Congressional and Federal Relations for the Commonwealth and the Governor. In that position, I saw firsthand his intelligence, innate decency and ability to get folks from all points of view to work together.

A tireless champion for the citizens of the Commonwealth, Tim Kaine takes a pragmatic and results-oriented approach that has earned him respect on both sides of the aisle. He is a strong addition to the Democratic ticket and will be a true asset to a Clinton Administration.

Simply put, my old boss and friend U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is one of the best public servants and one of the best individuals I’ve ever encountered. In a world that sometimes feels like it has lost its way, the nation will benefit greatly from the leadership, compassion and infectious optimism of Tim Kaine.

Said state Sen. Adam Ebbin:

The speculation about who Gov. McAuliffe might appoint to replace Kaine in the U.S. Senate, should he and Clinton win the presidential race in November, has already started.

Among the local names being mentioned as possible Senate appointees are Rep. Don Beyer, Aneesh Chopra and Del. Lopez.

by Tim Regan — July 22, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine delivers a speech

Who will presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton choose as her running mate? Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) is reportedly on the top of her resume pile.

Kaine, 58, is said to be the frontrunner among the people Clinton is considering as the Democratic National Convention nears its opening in Philadelphia next week.

So far, Kaine hasn’t given much indication as to whether Clinton might choose himbut there are signs that such a pick would make sense. Additionally, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this week that Kaine is someone President Obama would recommend for the job.

Kaine, who speaks Spanish, attended Harvard Law School and was a Catholic missionary before entering the political realm. He has served as Mayor of Richmond, Governor of Virginia and was elected to the senate in 2012.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is the other top candidate for the job, the Washington Post reported.

Clinton is expected to choose her running mate “soon,” according to Hillary for America director Adam Parkhomenko:

by ARLnow.com — July 5, 2016 at 2:15 pm 0

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) President Fitzgerald Grant will be making a campaign appearance at a Clarendon bar tonight.

“Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn, best known for his role as President of the United States on the ABC drama series, will be attending a Democratic young professional happy hour tonight in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The event is taking place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at American Tap Room (3101 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon. RSVP is required.

“I have been passionate about Hillary’s campaign for a long time,” Goldwyn said in a recent email to Virginia residents. “She is the toughest, smartest, and kindest candidate we could wish for, and I know she’s got what it takes to be president. (It isn’t an easy job — except maybe when the Oval Office is on a soundstage!)”

“I so look forward to meeting you and hearing the reasons why this election matters to YOU,” Goldwyn continued. “We may even have time for a selfie!”

by ARLnow.com — June 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm 0

Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze

Two-time Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze is moving to Kansas City.

Howze, who was twice defeated by John Vihstadt in back-to-back races in 2014, announced the news of his impending move on Facebook this afternoon.

I have accepted a position as the first Chief Knowledge Officer for the Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County, and we will be moving to Kansas City, Kansas this summer.

I am thrilled at the opportunity to return to public service, alongside a forward looking leadership team, and in areas (government efficiency, effectiveness and transparency) that I am passionate about. It is a new position that in…cludes direct management of Information Technology, GIS Mapping, 311 Operations, and Open Data, and a charge to support innovation, collaboration, and data-driven decision making across the UG.

There is much that we will miss about Arlington, starting with great friends and neighbors, and the neighborhood and community leaders that we have had the privilege to work with and learn from. Harper, Morgan and Katherine have had a fantastic experience in Arlington’s schools, and we are grateful for the strong foundation of learning that APS teachers have provided.

Howze said he, his wife and his kids plan to make the move later this summer.

by ARLnow.com — June 14, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Screen shot of former Miss Universe Alicia MachadoFormer Miss Universe Alicia Machado and former Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada will be among those speaking at an Arlington press conference on “Donald Trump’s Year of Hate” tomorrow.

The press conference is being held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Atlacatl Restaurant (4701 Columbia Pike).

Machado, who won the pageant in 1996 as a contestant from Venezuela, became a U.S. citizen in May, prompting a congratulatory tweet from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Machado is an avowed opponent of Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, accusing him calling her “Miss Piggy” after she gained 50 pounds within months of winning the crown.

The press conference is being organized by advocacy groups People For the American Way and CASA in Virginia. From a press advisory:

On Wednesday, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta will join People For the American Way (PFAW) to mark the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and launch PFAW’s new campaign, ‘Donald Trump’s Year of Hate.’

Since June 16th of last year, when he infamously described Mexican immigrants as “rapists” at his campaign launch, Trump has only increased his attacks against immigrants and Latinos. Starting on Thursday, new Spanish-language ads from PFAW will run for four weeks, highlighting Donald Trump’s campaign of hate thus far.

The press conference on Wednesday, co-hosted by CASA in Action (Virginia), will include more details on the ad launch. At the event, Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe winner, will share her story about why she’s becoming a citizen to vote against Donald Trump. She will discuss her personal interactions with Donald Trump, including how he derogatorily referred to her as “Miss Housekeeping” and “Miss Piggy.” Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and is a board member of PFAW, will discuss the importance of the Latino vote and speak out against the hate Donald Trump has displayed over the last year. Virginia leader and former elected official J. Walter Tejada will focus on the Latino vote in Virginia, and leaders from PFAW and CASA in Action will speak about their stand against Trump’s bigotry.

by ARLnow.com — June 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

“Slow and steady.” That’s how the voting in today’s Arlington County Board Democratic primary is being described.

As of noon today, precincts around Arlington had recorded only about a 5 percent turnout. Election officials are expecting an approximately 10 percent overall turnout by the time the polls close at 7 p.m., compared to a 8 percent turnout in last year’s local primary.

By contrast, a whopping 46 percent of Arlington’s registered voters cast ballots in the March 1 presidential primary — 29 percent for Democrats, 17 percent for Republicans.

Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said things have been “pretty smooth” so far today. The biggest problem has been people showing up and asking why the presidential candidates aren’t on the ballot, she said.

Most voters who talked to ARLnow.com said they voted out of a moral obligation, stating that it was their civic duty to get out and vote.

“It’s a civil duty but its almost an obligation and everyone who can vote should vote,” said one voter at a polling station near Clarendon.

Of the voters willing to reveal who they voted for, the majority said they voted for incumbent Libby Garvey, citing as their main motivation her willingness to do things outside of the expected “establishment” Democratic norms.

“I voted for Libby Garvey because I don’t like the idea of ultra orthodox anything, politics or any other realm,” said a voter. “I don’t like the idea that somebody has to adhere to a certain line when they’re presented something.”

Another voter felt that having an independent voice was important.

“One of the reasons that I voted for Libby Garvey is because her own Democratic colleagues… have turned against her because they wanted a unified bloc of voting,” he said. “Since when has unanimity been the goal? You want some sort of discussion and dissent. I think many Democrats were disappointed that the Board does not allow dissent. It’s almost dictatorial in its approach. She didn’t think she had to vote with the entire group of Democrats just because she’s a Democrat and that upset a lot of people.”

One voter interviewed decided to vote for challenger Erik Gutshall, citing his experience and the desire to have a fresh perspective on the County Board.

“I ended up voting for Erik Gutshall. I read all of the propaganda from both of them that came in the mail and he’s been doing a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about him before a week and a half ago but he seems to be very active on the Lyon Park [civic] association, Planning Commission and all that and I think it would be interesting to give him a shot at it. I had saved all the things I received in the mail including six from Libby Garvey and they all had the same exact four points with one sentence on each. Not much substance.”

Most of the voters were older, although there were some younger people seen at the polls. When asked about the lack of younger voters, one voter shared his opinion on the matter.

“Older people are probably more invested in voting than most young people who are blissfully unaware,” he said.

When asked about the relatively low turnout, voters and staffers gave a number of reasons including the fact that it was a summertime election, the prevalence of absentee ballots and the more local nature of the election. One man using an ATM outside of a polling location was not even aware that there was an election going on at the moment.

Additional reporting by Adrian Cruz. Photos by Omar DeBrew.

by Adrian Cruz — June 10, 2016 at 5:15 pm 0

With the Arlington County Board primary fast approaching, Democratic candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall took to the airwaves in their final debate before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

The candidates went on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU-FM radio show, The Politics Hour, Friday afternoon.

Some of the topics covered included the capacity crunch in county schools, affordable housing and the ongoing battle with aircraft noise.

The full debate can be viewed above. Here are some highlights:

Garvey on what she wants voters to know about her time serving Arlington 

“I think over the past 20 years I’ve done a pretty good job serving Arlington. Fifteen years on the School Board help make our schools among the best in the country. And in my 4 years on the County Board I’ve done quite a bit to make our government more responsive and more transparent. One of the things we just started to do was video streaming our work sessions. Up until then if you wanted to watch the board actually getting work done at work sessions, you had to sit in the room and that was hard for a lot of people to do.”

Gutshall on why he’s running

“I’m running because I think I’m better qualified to make sure that we are meeting the challenges that we face today with solutions for tomorrow.

We’ve got to make long-term strategic investments. We have a capacity crisis in our school that’s in our sixth year and we still don’t have a plan for getting out in front of rising student enrollment. We have to make sure that we’re making investments in our transportation infrastructure and we’re dragging our feet in moving forward with the capital improvement plan for doing that.

We’ve got a major issue in Arlington County of housing affordability. It’s the issue that’s going to define our time, our day. We are not moving forward in the way that we need to and the way that I believe Arlingtonians want to in order to make sure that the middle class does not get squeezed out of Arlington.”

Garvey on her long-term plan for handling the school issue

“My long-term plan is to be supporting the School Board. I’ve been on the County Board for four years. That’s really the School Board’s job to come forward to us with plans.

I will say that little over a year ago, the School Board came to the County Board asking to build a school on the Thomas Jefferson site. Four of my colleagues unfortunately thought that it needed more of a community process. I was the one vote to go ahead and move forward with that. A year later, the whole board moved to move forward and we lost a whole year in the process. I have always been supportive of moving our schools forward and getting the work done.”

Gutshall on balancing the seat numbers with the growing student population

“I would hope it wouldn’t wait until I took office on January 1 to move forward with the implementation of the Community Facilities Study. Moving forward, what we need to do is we need to make sure that we’re having a conversation with the School Board and we’re going to miss the opportunity on this CIP now. We need to move forward on laying out a comprehensive plan where all seats, elementary, high school, middle school, all neighborhoods, north, south, east and west are accountable.”

Gutshall on housing and development

“What we have here is a problem that’s created by our success. Everybody wants to be here, that’s a good thing. Rising property values, that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that we are keeping an eye on what we can do for the problem and risk of squeezing out the middle class. What I’ve been talking about is what’s called the missing middle: the idea where you have medium density, not the high rise density of our Metro corridors and not the low density in our single family neighborhoods, but in between that, the missing middle for example along Lee Highway and Glebe Road and other major arterials served by transit where right now you might see a lot of old strip malls, used car lots, basically underutilized land.

We can look at our zoning ordinances. We can open up opportunities for developers to come in and create different housing choices for young families just starting out, for seniors who want to age in the community.”

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — May 31, 2016 at 4:25 pm 0

Hillary Clinton (courtesy photo)Tuesday, June 7 could be a be a big day for supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

If all goes well, Clinton will mathematically clinch the Democratic nomination following primaries in California and New Jersey.

To celebrate, local Hillary boosters will be holding a watch party in Clarendon.

The event is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on June 7, at Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd).

From an event calendar entry:

Join fellow Hillary supporters to celebrate this historic event!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the first 50 attendees will be eligible to enter a raffle for a free Apple Watch! (Get it, “watch” party?) Join us and bring your friends!

THIS IS A FREE EVENT OPEN TO ALL!

by ARLnow.com — May 31, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Erik Gushall's "seniors" mailerUpdate at 4:30 p.m. — Gutshall’s campaign has published an explanation of its claims here.

Libby Garvey says she’s not “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington,” as alleged in a mailer from the campaign of County Board challenger Erik Gutshall.

The mailer, sent in advance of the June 14 Democratic primary, said that Garvey “wants to eliminate tax exemptions for seniors” and “repeatedly voted against funding for affordable housing.”

(Another Gutshall mailer alleged that Garvey, who formerly served on the School Board, did not act quickly enough to address the capacity crunch at Arlington Public Schools.)

Garvey is firing back at the “putting Arlington’s seniors at risk” mailer, posting a response on her website entitled “Setting the record straight: I want seniors to afford their homes.”

Here’s what Garvey wrote:

I work hard for an Arlington that provides affordable living options for all people, of many income levels and at all stages in their lives. We face many challenges in realizing this vision, and one particularly acute one is how to help seniors whose property tax bills are rising beyond their ability to pay because of the ever increasing value of their property. We need to make sure that they can remain in the homes where they built their lives and helped build our community.

My opponent in this election recently sent a flyer claiming that I am “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington.” I assure you that this claim is false.

Arlington has two major programs for senior tax relief. One defers taxes until the house is sold, at which time the back taxes are paid from the proceeds of the sale. I believe that we probably should lower the qualification levels for this program so that it is available to more seniors. The second program forgives the taxes entirely. Under this second program, when the home is sold, whoever sells — whether the senior or the beneficiaries after the senior’s passing — keeps the entire proceeds of the sale and never pays the taxes. This can provide quite a windfall to the beneficiaries.

I, along with the entire County Board by a 5-0 vote, asked our staff to study these programs to see if we are publicizing them adequately. We did this to ensure that everyone who needs them is benefiting from them. We also asked our staff to review the criteria for appropriateness to see who is truly benefiting from them. Among the questions we asked our staff to consider is the possibility of eliminating that portion of the tax forgiveness that goes only to beneficiaries, because the program was never meant to benefit beneficiaries — it is meant to benefit seniors. I want our staff to explore whether making this change will free up more money to enable us to expand both programs for our most vulnerable seniors.

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

Arlington School Board Vice Chair Nancy Van DorenLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from incumbent candidate Nancy Van Doren:

I am seeking re-election to the Arlington School Board and ask for your vote during the School Board Democratic Caucus May 19, 7-9 pm, at Drew Model School and May 21 at Washington-Lee High School from 11 am-7 pm.

Since joining the Board in 2014, I have brought family and community voices to the table to ensure that APS maintains the highest educational standards while expanding capacity for its growing student population.   In recognition of this work, I have been endorsed by A-PAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association.

Last summer, my Board colleagues elected me to serve as Vice Chair. In this leadership role, I have maintained my focus on instruction and educational excellence. My primary goal is to prepare every student to be successful in our 21st century economy. To this end, I have ensured an increase in specialized interventions for struggling readers, expanded opportunities for students with disabilities to succeed alongside non-disabled peers, ensured high expectations for English language learners, and supported the expansion of foreign language classes at all elementary schools. I continue to support APS’ digital learning initiative, which provides all students with access to technology to strengthen their learning. I fully support the launch of Arlington Tech, a new STEM-centered high school program that includes hands-on learning, industry credentialing, and dual enrollment classes for college credit.

To meet APS’ growing capacity needs, I supported the internal renovation project at Washington-Lee High School that added 300 seats. I will support similar projects at Wakefield and Yorktown High Schools. I voted for additions and renovations at Stratford, Abingdon and McKinley Schools as well as for a new secondary school in Rosslyn and elementary school in South Arlington to be built and opened by fall 2019. I served as the School Board liaison to the APS/County Community Facilities Study, which developed recommendations to better coordinate County and School facility resources. I strongly support funding in APS’ 2016 Capital Improvement Plan to complete needed current and future projects on time and within budget. I will advocate for funds to increase high school and elementary school capacity as soon as possible, so APS can meet the needs of what will be a 30,000 student school system by 2022.

Today, my priorities remain clear:  build a strong infrastructure to meet the needs of our expanding school system while maintaining a keen focus on educational excellence for all our students.

Before joining the School Board, I volunteered on various APS committees covering instruction, transportation, and special education.   I served as Jefferson Middle School PTA president, founded the ArlingtonADHD and ArlingtonReading parent support groups, and co-founded the Arlington Latino Network.

Prior to moving to Arlington, I lived overseas with my husband, Jack Zetkulic, in Serbia, Sweden, and Switzerland. We have lived in Ashton Heights with our four children since 2004.  In addition to my Arlington school system experience, I had previously worked in business and communications. I spent 12 years in the private sector with Connecticut National Bank, The Travelers Companies, and The Hartford Courant in Hartford, CT. and then at Newsday in New York. I am a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and have a Masters in Management from The Hartford Graduate Center/ Rensselaer. I lived in Spain and Nicaragua and am fluent in Spanish.

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board candidate Tannia TalentoLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Tannia Talento:

Thank you to ARLnow.com for the opportunity to engage Arlington voters on the issues facing Arlington’s schools.

I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe I am the candidate best equipped to provide a voice for our students who are underserved and for our students who are looking for options after high school that may not include college. I want to ensure our students are not only college ready but career ready. I believe our school system is in a position to make sure every student is able to access a productive path to their dreams on graduation day, whether it includes college or something else.

I have campaigned all over our county this spring talking about issues that are on the minds of parents, students, community members and teachers: increasing access to mental health resources and education by working closely with existing county resources; closing our achievement gap by looking at our students individually and not in wide-ranging categories, so we can deploy our resources in a targeted and effective manner; and how we address our capacity needs with a growing student population and a tight fiscal environment while continually engaging our community earnestly and sincerely.

These issues are incredibly important to our students, parents, teachers and community. We have a great school system and the challenges we face today are born from the success of our schools and the success of Arlington’s smart growth policies. We should meet these challenges head on with the full engagement of our community; however, this requires a leader who understands the perspective of our underserved communities as well as the greater community and understands how to engage all of our community members including community members who are not traditionally engaged. I am that leader.

As a first generation American, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to advocate in our school system. My parents, who both immigrated from Guatemala, worked hard to provide everything they could, but still did not understand how to advocate for us in school. I faced many challenges and finished high school on an untraditional path. I moved to South Arlington and worked full-time in Crystal City at a law firm and worked my way up in my profession to become a legal secretary, while taking night classes at NOVA Community College and starting a family. While I didn’t finish college, I cultivated a trade and worked hard in my career, ultimately achieving success. I re-married and now have a blended family of 5 kids. I became actively involved in our schools 5 years ago, working on issues on curriculum through ACI, the Math Advisory Committee, and the Superintendent’s Master Planning Working Group; capacity issues through the Facilities Study Committee in 2015; and advocacy issues working on the ESOL/HILT Committee among many others which you can read on my website.

As a leader in our community, I want to make sure we are engaging every stakeholder where they live and work by pushing for open office hours which rotate between schools. In ensuring all corners of our community have a voice, we can arrive at the best solutions for everyone.

I hope to earn your vote tonight or Saturday. You can vote tonight at Drew Model School from 7pm to 9pm and on Saturday at Washington-Lee from 11am to 7pm.

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Michael SheaLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Michael Shea:

After years of serving on advisory committees to both Arlington Public Schools and the County government, I decided to run for School Board. My intention is to ensure that the high quality education our son has received is available for the students coming after him, as well as to help APS shift in some new directions so we can do even better. I’m an advocate for open data, problem-based learning, and new designs for our school construction.

The “new designs” theme encourages us to plan new schools and facilities in areas such as Rosslyn and Crystal City, even using former office space to convert into classrooms. Arlington has a high office vacancy rate and an urgent need for new school facilities. A continued focus on new construction in the rest of the County will cause us to lose park space and create more traffic.

To advocate for these ideas, I have knocked on thousands of doors all across Arlington. As I expected, I have had many conversations with parents who have had highly positive experiences with Arlington Public Schools. But I have also talked with families who are frustrated that we do not offer a more inclusionary learning environment for students with special needs. I have talked with teachers who are frustrated by excessive testing requirements, poor planning in the program to distribute notebook computers, and decisions where their voice is not heard. I have talked with families who are disappointed by the lack of socioeconomic diversity in many of our schools. And I have talked with parents and teachers who are disappointed that the quality of some facilities has deteriorated while our attention seems to be only on the new construction.

Learning from these frustrations and disappointments has affirmed my view that we can do better. We need to expand the conversations and affirm our commitment to a consistently high quality of facilities all across Arlington, to a more inclusionary learning environment for students with special needs, and to reducing testing time.

I have not been filling up the median strips of Arlington with campaign signs, so my name is not as widely known as some others. But my doorstep conversations with families has filled my life for the past several months. I better understand the problems we face and I thank everyone who took the time to talk with me. I am asking for your vote in the Democratic School Board Caucus to be an advocate for those ways in which we can do better and for protecting the high quality of education so many families have known.

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