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by ARLnow.com — February 2, 2016 at 11:20 am 0

Charles Hernick (photo via LinkedIn)Another Republican challenger to Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has emerged: an international environmental consultant who favors a strong national defense and “keeping the door open” to legal immigrants.

Arlington resident Charles Hernick kicked off his candidacy at last week’s Arlington County Republican Committee meeting.

While Hernick supports limited government, free markets, gun rights and a strong military — to “strengthen diplomatic efforts and keep our country safe” — he doesn’t sound much like his party’s presidential candidates, who often speak against regulation and the EPA, when describing his career.

“I’ve worked at the crossroads of economic development and environment for my entire career,” Hernick says on his website. “I understand the complexities and cost of government regulation, but I also understand the benefit that well-designed policies and programs — supportive of free markets — can bring.”

“I’ve worked with the private sector and state governments across the United States to keep our waters drinkable and swimmable while the economy grows,” Hernick continues. “I’ve worked with Muslim business owners in Africa whose livelihoods are under threat from religious extremists. I’ve seen the effects of intolerance, poverty, violence, and terrorism. I know that it takes a willingness to listen and take decisive action to keep peace.”

On the issue of immigration, Hernick writes: “Our approach to immigration should be balanced; we need to prevent illegal entry, while keeping the door open to migrants who believe in the American Dream.”

Hernick, who has yet to send a press release — at least to ARLnow.com — is a contrast compared to his GOP rival, Mike Webb, who is also seeking the party’s nomination for Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District. Webb has emailed 37 lengthy press releases to media outlets since Dec. 22.

The Republican nominee will be chosen at a party convention on May 7. The nominee is expected to face Beyer, who would be seeking his second term, in the fall.

by ARLnow.com — January 7, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Tannia Talento (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) A self-described local school activist is running to replace retiring Arlington School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez.

Tannia Talento announced her candidacy at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.

A first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, Talento and her husband, Gary, currently have two children in Washington-Lee High School.

From a fundraising page:

Tannia knows firsthand how important education is to ensuring children have the brightest future possible. That is why she is extremely involved in Arlington’s public schools. Tannia has served on the Math Citizens Advisory Committee, the ESOL/HILT Citizens Advisory Committee, the Superintendent’s Master Planning Working Group, and on the Advisory Council on Instruction as a Vice Chair. Some of her most recent work includes the Facilities Study Committee and serving on the Career Center Parent Advisory Committee. Now she is running for School Board to make sure all of Arlington’s students have a fair shot at a world class education.

From a press release:

Local school activist and community leader Tannia Talento announced her candidacy to become and Arlington School Board Member tonight at the Arlington Democratic Committee Meeting.

Talento, a first-generation American, spoke before a large crowd of local Democratic activists tonight announcing her campaign to replace Emma Violand Sanchez, who is retiring at the end of 2016, on the School Board.

In her remarks, Talento explained her personal story, having had to help care for her family during high school, and make sure that her siblings were cared for when their mother became seriously ill. Talento had to drop out of high school to care for her family, later earning her high school diploma through an alternative program, and working her way up to become a legal secretary at one of the world’s largest corporate law firms.

Talento spoke about her drive to achieve educational success in the face of adversity and her desire to see every student reach graduation day without experiencing the adversity she faced.

“I believe that we can ensure that every one of our students will make it to graduation day educated to the highest standards and prepared for their future so that no student in Arlington has to live a version of my story,” Talento said.

Talento has lived in Arlington with her family for 12 years and has spent the last 5 years working her way through the school committees and commissions. From her time on those committees, she believes that Arlington Public Schools has the opportunity and the necessity to better advocate for children of all walks of life.

“As a School Board Member, I will advocate for every child to ensure that their needs are met and that they are prepared for life beyond high school,” Talento said.

Retiring School Board Member Dr. Emma Violand Sanchez introduced Tannia Talento before her remarks and highlighted Talento’s service to APS and its students.

“Her work in our schools has been towards the advancement of students of all walks of life, and ensuring that every one of our children has a shot at success in our schools and beyond,” Dr. Violand Sanchez said. “I believe Tannia’s vision is what we need in Arlington… I am proud to support her candidacy.”

Talento is running for the Democratic Endorsement, which will be determined through a “firehouse primary,” or open caucus. The caucus will be held on two dates, Thursday May 19th from 7pm to 9pm at Drew Model School and Saturday May 21st from 11am to 7pm at Washington-Lee High School.

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — January 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm 0

Erik Gutshall (photo via Facebook)Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey will face a primary challenge on her left this year.

Erik Gutshall, a small business owner and Arlington Planning Commission member, announced on New Year’s Day that he will be running against Garvey in the June Democratic primary. Garvey is nearing the end of her first four-year term on the Board.

Gutshall, who lives in Lyon Park and previously served as that community’s civic association president, said he intends to run a positive campaign against Garvey, who drew the ire of the local Democratic establishment after successfully campaigning against the Columbia Pike streetcar project and endorsing independent County Board member John Vihstadt in his two races against Democrat Alan Howze.

“Our county best meets the challenges we face when we are united behind our shared progressive values,” Gutshall said in a statement.

Gutshall is a home improvement contractor and owns Clarendon Home Services LLC. The full press release announcing Gutshall’s candidacy, after the jump.

Photo via Facebook

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by ARLnow.com — December 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm 0

Republican congressional hopeful Mike Webb (photo via Facebook)An Arlington Republican says he intends to challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in next year’s election.

Mike Webb announced his candidacy with a with a press release yesterday.

Webb says he’s a conservative Republican and a military veteran. A New Jersey native, Webb wants to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Virginia’s Eighth District. He’s trying to assemble a diverse group of supporters to propel him to an unlikely victory.

“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.

Webb’s Facebook page describes everything from his military background to his favorite movies.

“I own over 3000 DVDs and videocassettes, but still find myself at a movie theater looking for the latest film,” he writes. “I don’t think I have a favorite, but, I really like Good Fellas, and my favorite movie moment is Barbara Streisand singing ‘My Man,’ at the end of Funny Girl.”

After the jump: two of the first press releases sent by Webb.

Photo via Facebook

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by ARLnow.com — December 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm 0

Arlington's political affiliation score (screenshot via Crowdpac.com)Arlington has a long-held reputation for being one of the bluest bastions of Democratic politics in the country. But is that perception accurate?

At least one ranking of political allegiances suggests the answer is no.

The political data startup Crowdpac recently ranked nearly 5,000 cities in the U.S. with a population over 6,000, based on political donations of residents. Each locale received a ranking of how liberal or conservative it was, based on those donations.

The “People’s Republic of Arlington,” it turns out, is only the 985th most liberal place in the U.S., with a score of “2.0L.” The most liberal place in the D.C. area, meanwhile, was Takoma Park, Md., with a score of 7.4L.

Parts of Arlington, particularly those in the far northern reaches of the county near McLean, tend to vote more conservatively, though the vast majority of the county is reliably blue on election day. One notable exception was the 2014 election of John Vihstadt, the first non-Democrat elected to the County Board since 1983.

Screenshot via Crowdpac.com

by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2015 at 4:45 pm 0

ACDC Arlington County Democratic Committee logoThe Arlington County Democratic Committee is seeking a new name for its annual fundraising dinner.

The committee voted earlier this month to rename its Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Other local and state Democratic organizations have been renaming the traditional yearly Democratic dinner, since both former presidents were slaveholders and Jackson waged a bloody campaign to remove Native Americans from parts of the South.

From a press release:

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner has been the historical name for the annual fundraising event held by Democratic Party organizations across the Country, including ACDC. The name honors Presidents Thomas Jefferson, who established the original Democratic-Republican Party, and Andrew Jackson, who founded the modern day Democratic Party and was the first Democrat elected President.

However, ACDC and many Democratic Party organizations across the nation, including the statewide parties in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, believe the name is not reflective of modern Democratic values, including those of inclusiveness, diversity and equality.

“We honor the history of our Party, but we take this important step to clearly communicate that our party values all people,” said ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky. “It is incredibly important to do at this time when many in the Republican Party are voicing support for deporting all undocumented immigrants and closing our doors to Muslim refugees, and some are introducing legislation to discriminate against them.”

“We want a creative and inspiring name that is reflective of Democratic values,” said Virginia Robinson, the dinner’s chairman for many years. “This is an opportunity for us to make history by looking forward.”

Arlington Democrats are now seeking suggestions for a new dinner name. ACDC members and other Democrats are invited to email suggestions to [email protected].

The deadline for submitting suggestions is Dec. 23. A panel of judges will select a new name and announce it at the Jan. 6 ACDC meeting.

by ARLnow.com — November 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Democrats' victory party at P. Brennan's on Columbia Pike

Local Republicans see a silver lining in the lopsided defeat of Mike McMenamin in Tuesday’s Arlington County Board. But one local political watcher says it signals that the narrow window of opportunity to elect conservatives to local office in Arlington has passed.

McMenamin, an independent candidate with the endorsement of the local GOP, garnered 19 percent of the vote to 36 and 34 percent respectively for Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol. Perennial candidate Audrey Clement, who ran as an independent after several elections under the Green Party banner, received 10 percent of the vote.

Democrats say they were pleasantly surprised by the election results.

“It turned out much better than I predicted it to be,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Kip Malinosky. “I think people responded to an inclusive, welcoming message.”

“We always took [McMenamin] seriously,” Malinosky continued. “We knew he had a good record of public service. But we didn’t hear a positive vision for Arlington from Mike. Voters heard a lot of ‘no.'”

Matt Wavro, Chair of the Arlington County Republican Committee, sees things a bit differently. Via email, he told ARLnow.com that all four candidates in the race ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility — a victory of sorts, even though the GOP’s favored candidate did not win.

Mike ran a solid independent campaign. The Arlington GOP was very proud to endorse his independent candidacy. Mike’s earnest desire to bring people together to solve issues facing the county should be acknowledged by everyone involved in politics in Arlington.

The future of the Arlington GOP is strong. Our goals of cancelling the streetcar, reducing the cost of the Million Dollar Bus Stop, ending the subsidy of the Artisphere, preventing a property tax rate increase, and turning back the plan to build subsidized housing in our parks enjoyed and continue to enjoy wide community support.

With the exception of a firm commitment that subsidized housing should not be built in parks, every candidate for the County Board campaigned on our issues. Even the candidates who were leveling partisan attacks against Mike were trying to appropriate the very issues we considered as the basis for endorsing Mike.

Democrats on the County Board were very effective in 2015 at clearing the decks of issues that highlighted how out of touch narrowly partisan Democrats were from their more rational and reasonable neighbors of all political persuasions.

“Looking out at the issues that are likely to be taken up in the next year, our platform will continue to be a consensus-building counter-point to the partisan Democrat group-think we saw from our County Board members in 2013 and the decade prior,” Wavro added.

Despite Wavro’s optimism, one veteran Democratic campaign operative and election watcher thinks the result shows a return to normalcy in heavily-Democratic Arlington after a brief flirtation with center-right politics.

“It’s back to normal in Arlington,” Ben Tribbett told ARLnow.com. “The voters Tuesday were strongly Democratic, where they’ve always been.”

Tribbett, who correctly predicted the demise of Arlington’s streetcar project on the night of independent County Board member John Vihstadt’s election last November, said McMenamin’s defeat is “embarrassing” for Vihstadt.

“Vihstadt’s endorsement [of McMenamin] had no legs, voters basically ignored it,” Tribbett said.

The center-right flirtation was made possible by the streetcar, the Long Bridge Park aquatics center and other poorly managed, big-ticket projects that drew voter ire. With those out of the way, and with all candidates calling for some degree of fiscal responsibility, voters returned to other issues as deciding factors — issues that favored the Democrats.

Katie Cristol with Libby Garvey at Democrats' victory party at P. Brennan's on Columbia Pike(Other political watchers have suggested that it wasn’t just the streetcar that propelled Vihstadt to victory, arguing that he was a uniquely strong candidate with a long history of community involvement, thoughtful debate performances and well-tuned political acumen. There are no other Vihstadt-like candidates on the Republican-slash-Independent bench, some say.)

The Arlington electorate seems to have “lost their appetite for reform-type candidates,” Tribbett contended. That, he said, could signal trouble for Libby Garvey, who’s up for reelection in 2016.

Garvey, a Democrat, went against the party by speaking out against the streetcar and endorsing Vihstadt last year. She could face a tough primary challenge this coming spring as a result.

by Heather Mongilio — November 3, 2015 at 8:25 pm 0

(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) There will be two new faces sitting on the County Board come January — Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.

Dorsey led the race the entire night, taking approximately 36 percent of the total vote. Ticket mate Cristol followed closely, garnering about 34 percent of the votes. The two Democratic candidates effectively boxed out independent candidates Michael McMenamin and Audrey Clement.

Today’s election was a historic one for Arlington. For the first time in years, voters were asked to select two new County Board members after Board Chair Mary Hynes and Vice Chair Walter Tejada decided to retire. After electing independent John Vihstadt last year, Arlington residents resumed voting for Democrats by giving Cristol and Dorsey the two seats.

“Now it’s time to get to work fulfilling the promise of the campaign, which was bring Arlingtonians together to talk about issues,” Dorsey said.

Voter turnout was relatively low, following the trend of most off-year elections in Virginia. Arlington election officials estimate that around 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot today, compared to 26 percent turnout in a comparable election four years ago.

The relatively low turnout is a sign that the county needs to do better with communicating how important local elections are, Cristol and Dorsey said.

“As much as I would love Arlington to be special and different, it’s tough when the County Board race is at the top of the ballot,” Dorsey said.

Cristol and Dorsey led the race for County Board with a large gap between them and the independent candidates. The unofficial results are:

  • Audrey Clement: 10.08%
  • Katie Cristol: 34.41%
  • Christian Dorsey: 35.71%
  • Mike McMenamin: 19.03%

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by ARLnow.com — November 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm 0

Despite one of the most consequential and competitive County Board races in recent memory, relatively light turnout has been reported at the polls in Arlington so far today.

Linda Lindberg, Arlington County’s top elections official, said turnout was around 12 percent as of 12:45 p.m.

“It’s been pretty light,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com “Some precincts are doing quite well and others are very, very slow.”

Lindberg said turnout is similar to the 2011 election, when 26 percent of registered voters went to the polls. She expects the final turnout today to be around that figure. The number of absentee ballots submitted this election cycle — 2,200 — is also comparable to 2011.

“I would have thought that we would have done a little better this time, because we do have a more competitive County Board race,” Lindberg said.

No major problems have been reported at the polls, which opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Arlington County is using paper ballots this year, a throw back to the mid-20th century. Most recently, Arlington had been using electronic voting machines that were later revealed to have serious security flaws.

Some voters who required assistance using the ballot reading machines have complained that poll workers could see who they voted for while demonstrating how to use the machines.

“We’re going to iron out those issues,” Lindberg said.

The Arlington County elections office will be tweeting County Board election results live tonight after polls close, via its @arlingtonvotes Twitter account.

Registered voters who have not yet cast ballots can find out more information about the candidates via the League of Women Voters voter guide.

by ARLnow.com — November 2, 2015 at 10:35 am 0

Multimodal transportation along I-66Democrats say independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin’s stance on I-66 would ” threaten the quality of our parks.” McMenamin says that his opponents are “purposely distorting his position.”

The latest skirmish involving a County Board candidate started when an automated call from Del. Rip Sullivan (D) started ringing in thousands of Arlington homes Sunday.

Sullivan’s recorded voice ripped into McMenamin for suggesting that he would support adding an extra lane to I-66 within the existing VDOT right of way in Arlington, tying that position into an issue near and dear to many Arlingtonians: parks.

Hi, this is Delegate Rip Sullivan. I have served on a Park Authority and Transportation Commission, and I’ve got an important message for you about the use of parks and green space in Arlington.

Independent-Republican for County Board, Mike McMenamin, supports widening I-66, which would threaten the quality of our parks at Madison Manor, Bon Air, Thrifton Hills, McCoy, and other parklands across the County. It would also threaten the quality of the Custis Trail. To protect parkland throughout Arlington County from development, join me in supporting Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol. If protecting Arlington’s parks and green space is important to you, then vote on Tuesday, November 3rd for the two candidates committed to protecting parks and green space: Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol.

Paid for and authorized by Christian Dorsey for County Board and Katie Cristol for County Board.

McMenamin responded in turn by accusing the Democrats of tying to “hide their weakness on parks.” From a press release:

Mike McMenamin today accused Delegate Rip Sullivan of making an 11th-hour attack purposely distorting his position on I-66.

“It shows that the political establishment in Arlington is worried about losing,” said McMenamin, who is running as an Independent for the County Board.

In a robo-call to thousands of voters on Sunday, the Democratic delegate said that McMenamin’s support for widening the interstate freeway would threaten the quality of various county parks.

McMenamin countered that he would only tolerate widening the highway within the current right of way and no further. Such widening, he said, would not take away any parkland at all.

“My opponents have been unwilling to say that they won’t build affordable housing on parkland, a position they know is unpopular, so they are trying to muddy the waters with these dubious attacks,” McMenamin said. “In fact, I am the only candidate committed to not building on our parks.

The Independent candidate said he is committed to keeping parkland and trails intact. “If any VDOT proposal would negatively affect any parks in Arlington, I think I would be the most effective voice for the neighborhoods.”

“While I don’t like the idea of having to widen 66, I fear the State is inevitably going to do just that,” he said. “After all, VDOT owns the road. So, I have taken the position that Arlington must strike the best deal possible.”

McMenamin also opposes tolls for I-66, saying it will lead to more surface traffic in nearby neighborhoods.

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by ARLnow.com — October 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

Christian DorseyWith only a few days to go until Tuesday’s election, the Arlington GOP and Democratic County Board candidate Christian Dorsey engaged in a press release skirmish Friday afternoon.

Arlington GOP Chairman Matt Wavro sent out the following press release just before 1:30 p.m., accusing Dorsey of trying to mislead Republican and independent voters with an erroneous automated phone call.

Today Matt Wavro, Chairman of the Arlington GOP filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections against Christian Dorsey and called on him to publicly apologize for misleading voters in telephone calls that hit voicemail inboxes and answering machines on Thursday.

A large number of Independent and Republican voters received a telephone call from Mr. Dorsey’s campaign reminding them to vote at their regular polling place “tomorrow” [October 30, 2015].  Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd 2015.  “Misleading Independent and Republican voters, by asking them to vote on the wrong day of the election causes confusion, and ultimately can reduce voter turn-out,” said Wavro.

Chairman Wavro went on to add that “Christian Dorsey misleading Independent and Republican voters after supporting a frivolous complaint against one of his opponents at the direction of Democrat party bosses reached a new low in dirty politics and a new high in the amount of hypocrisy Democrats think voters will let them get away with.”  After all summarized Wavro, “Christian has run before and should know better.”

Voters should remember to vote for Independent Mike McMenamin on November 3rd at their regular voting place. Mike will do what is best for our neighborhoods and our community, not what party elites dictate.

Dorsey’s campaign responded with a statement of its own, acknowledging the erroneous robocall but saying it was the fault of a telecommunications vendor. Dorsey said, essentially, that Republicans were trying to gin up controversy about an honest and quickly corrected mistake.

“On the afternoon of Thursday, October 29th, an erroneous robocall was sent to a limited number of voters that included information about “tomorrow’s election.” The recording was mistakenly sent due to a software glitch from Robocent, Inc. They mistakenly used a recorded script set for Monday, rather than the script for Thursday. Their statement, taking full responsibility for this error, is attached.

“As soon as the error was brought to my attention, I immediately recorded a second call apologizing for the error, and clarifying that the election was on Tuesday, November 3rd. This apology and clarification call went to more phone numbers than those originally affected out of an abundance of caution to ensure we spread the message far and wide. The voice recording of this call can be found at the following link: https://api.twilio.com/2010-04-01/Accounts/AC2ba64a6ec3824a9da645efee9f7346d4/Recordings/RE0b9851617dca73a090d373c7811ea35b.mp3

“Furthermore, contrary to accusations made by the Republican Party, this call went to more than just Republicans. I believe that the job of County Board member involves representing all Arlingtonians, and not just those of a particular political party or set of beliefs. Unfortunately, the Arlington Republican Party seems to believe that elected officials should only talk to those who they always agree with. Voters should be cautious if this is what the Arlington GOP’s endorsed candidate, Mike McMenamin, also believes.

“Lastly, Republican GOP chair Matt Wavro claims that I did not respond to his email requesting an apology. Mr. Wavro’s email was sent to me at 1:23pm, and his press release accusing me of not responding was sent at 1:27pm. His accusation came only four minutes after he gave me the opportunity to respond. Matt Wavro and the Arlington Republican Party are the ones playing dirty, deceptive tricks in support of Mike McMenamin. I was in fact typing a response to Mr. Wavro when his press release was sent out.

“I strongly believe that our democracy functions best when more people participate. My entire campaign has been centered on the principles of responsiveness, inclusion, and transparency. That’s why I took quick, swift, and decisive action when a phone service company sent an erroneous call on my behalf. I apologize for any inconvenience that this caused the limited number of Arlington voters who received the original erroneous call.”

The controversy follows a Washington Post article that included allegations against Michael McMenamin, accusing his campaign of a commissioning a misleading telephone push poll.

Dorsey and McMenamin, along with Democrat Katie Cristol and independent Audrey Clement, are running for two open County Board seats.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

County Board candidate Mike McMenamin

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Mike McMenamin:

Somewhere along the journey, “the Arlington Way” got off track. A county once revered for its innovative but prudent growth let the spending spigot flow too freely at the expense of homeowners and businesses.

The County Board built a million-dollar bus stop. Then there was the “well-intentioned” but ill-fated Artisphere. Arlington was all set to build an extravagant streetcar for Columbia Pike. Another pool, this time for Long Bridge Park, turned out too be overly expensive.

Last year, Arlington voters came to their senses by selecting another Independent, John Vihstadt, and signaled that Arlington County was through with such excessive spending. Still, bloated projects come our way. Take the $350,000 the county just gave Dutch contractors for an art project on the fence of a county sewage plant.

As Civic Federation President, Maywood Community President and a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have seen where the county spends our money. Sure, some of these projects are nice ideas. But they crowd out other projects that I consider more important. We need to get back to basics and spend our tax dollars on core government services, such as paving our roads, updating our infrastructure, schools, and parks. We must properly fund neighborhood conservation, so that neighborhoods can build the projects they need, e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalks, and storm water drainage.

Too much of the burden of costly projects falls on homeowners in Arlington County. We need to proactively draw in more tax-paying companies by filling the vast amounts of vacant office space caused by overbuilding and the departure of government agencies. By doing so, it will provide the much needed tax relief for homeowners.

I am the only candidate who is a small business owner in Arlington, so I know firsthand how difficult and expensive it is to run a business in the county. Quite frankly, opening a new business in Arlington is a marathon process. It takes a great deal of time to navigate the byzantine permit process, which planning and zoning staff have not made easy. This needs to change.

A major issue for the next board is the growth in the school-age population. As parents of two children who have attended Taylor Elementary, Swanson Middle School, Washington & Lee High School and H.B. Woodlawn, my wife and I know just how good our schools are. The board must work with the school board to find cost-efficient solutions in locations that do not disrupt neighborhoods. For instance, we should look to expand our schools by building them up instead of out.

I feel that the time is ripe for another Independent on the county board. I am proud to have gotten the endorsement of John Vihstadt and the Arlington Sun Gazette, among others. So I ask for your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm 0

Katie Cristol

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Katie Cristol:

Thank you, ARLnow readers, for your time spent reading about the candidates for Arlington County Board.

It’s an honor to offer my experience and perspective for consideration for one of two open seats on the Board. My community experience in Arlington’s commission process and as an appointee on the School Board’s Advisory Council on Instruction, as well as my professional experience as an education policy advisor, afford me the necessary background and insights to serve on the County Board. I believe I can pair this background with an ability to look at issues differently and a genuine openness to community ideas.

Across the past ten months of door-knocking, candidate nights and neighborhood coffees, I’ve heard a common theme: Responsibility. Arlington is unmistakably entering a period of difficult decisions regarding land use and expenditures. We’ll need County Board leaders who can demonstrate not just fiscal responsibility, but responsibility for the whole of Arlington and its long-term future.

I’m committed to bringing to the Board both good judgment and a critical eye towards major new expenditures, honed through my experience working with resource-challenged localities. But Arlington’s complex challenges cannot be met by a ‘back to basics’ ideology alone. Meeting the needs of more students and more seniors, for example, will require innovation in how we think about public facilities. For example, improving joint use agreements for recreational facilities between schools and County; building vertically and undergrounding parking to protect green space; and constructing facilities that can evolve in use over their multi-decade lifetimes. Economic redevelopment, too, will require adaptability, such as more flexibility in the permitting and signage processes that business interests cite as common barriers to locating in Arlington.The Board will need to foster a climate of experimentation — such as extending the terms of our interim use ordinance –as we transition from reliance on federal agencies to new sectors.

By contrast, Independent candidates in this race have promised appealing but less-than-responsible solutions: Cutting taxes on businesses while spending more on streets and parks, with few specifics about how to balance the remaining budget. Taking pledges on land use that will tie the Board’s hands in considering recommendations from the citizen task forces that study countywide needs.

Here is what I can — responsibly — promise: To approach Arlington’s challenges analytically, and with a fresh perspective. My approach to affordability is an example. I believe we need to look more expansively at land use solutions to affordability issues. Revisiting the restrictions around accessory dwelling units can unlock market rate affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods throughout the County, while enabling seniors to age in place with on-site caregivers or additional rental income. Pursuing childcare centers as first-floor retail-equivalent uses and negotiating with developers to commit affordable rent for childcare providers can help address the lack of childcare supply that so challenges our young families. Either way, deliberate planning for a diversity of earners is not “a nice to have” luxury that we put off for flush times. A diverse workforce is a precondition for Arlington’s economic competitiveness, which is why the recent Affordable Housing Master Plan was supported by Arlington’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission as well as all five current County Board members.

I am proud to have received the endorsement of theWashington Post, which described my policy positions as “clear and balanced” this week and my candidacy as “serious and substantive” in its primary endorsement, as well as that of the Sun Gazette. I’m also pleased to be supported by Arlington’s teachers, firefighters, and twenty of our elected leaders.

I hope you will join these community members and leaders in their support. I’d be honored to earn one of your two votes on November 3.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Christian DorseyLast week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Christian Dorsey:

Arlington is at a crossroads. With challenges like a rapidly rising school enrollment and high commercial vacancy rates, we need leaders who can bring people together and get to work on day one. Serving on the County Board requires the ability to govern, paired with the temperament to provide leadership on a wide range of issues, from unsafe sidewalks to long-term capital investments. And now, perhaps more than ever, Board members must bring practical experience, strategic thinking, a commitment to inclusive decision-making, and thoughtful independence to realize what I believe is our shared vision–a strong and sustainable community.

To realize that vision, we must:

  • Make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Arlington and address our high commercial vacancy rate so that homeowners are not forced to bear a disproportionate tax burden;
  • Ensure adequate school capacity so that schools can focus on instruction;
  • Expand and protect our community’s open space;
  • Prioritize the nuts and bolts, like fixing potholes and sidewalks, and enhancing pedestrian safety;
  • Improve Arlington’s affordability to ensure that seniors can stay in their own homes and more first responders, teachers, and young families can afford to live here;
  • Foster a more inclusive, responsive, and transparent government, where community input isn’t seen as a box to be checked, but rather a critical step in the decision-making process;
  • Create opportunities for growth by improving and enhancing public transportation.

As a more than twenty-year Arlington resident, Arlington Public Schools parent, and appointee to the Tenant-Landlord and Planning Commissions, I understand the challenges we must confront as a County. I have also served on the boards of directors of several of our community organizations, like the Arlington Free Clinic, Arlington Committee of 100, A-SPAN, and Arlington Independent Media.

Professionally, I work as a macroeconomic policy expert. I develop budgets that promote broadly-shared prosperity while maximizing value to taxpayers. Previously, I have served as the CEO of several non-profits that: delivered literacy support for low-income children; pioneered a pop-up social services center in South Arlington; and developed a model diversity education and inclusion program for students.

Arlington’s future can be bright, but it will require hard work and smart choices in these changing times. It will require people to come together to address Arlington’s challenges, and someone to foster a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, rather than a culture of tear-down, divisive politics. That’s why I have earned the support of all five County Board Members–four Democrats and one Independent. Along with the Washington Post, Arlington Education Association, Firefighters and Paramedics, Realtors, and Working Families Coalition, all five board members believe I have the requisite experience, passion, commitment to service, and independence to build a better, stronger, more sustainable Arlington County.

I ask for your vote on November 3rd so that, together, we can take Arlington to new heights. For more information, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], or visit my website at www.christiandorsey.org.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

Audrey Clement

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement:

As an Independent candidate for the Arlington County Board, I, Audrey Clement, ask for your support in making Arlington County government more responsive and more accountable to the people it serves.

Having lived in Westover and worked alongside many other dedicated Arlingtonians for over 11 years, I have devoted significant time and energy to advancing fiscal responsibility, promoting a sustainable environment, and supporting fairness and equality in our community.

Today, we must confront serious challenges — ones that require independent and innovating thinking, reality-based planning, and a commitment to using limited resources wisely.

Free from partisan constraints and beholden to NO special interests or groups, I can meet these challenges and help put our county back on a more solid footing in the years ahead.

At over 20%, Arlington’s office vacancy rate remains stubbornly high. Each percentage represents millions in lost commercial revenue, which places a greater burden on homeowners. Several federal agencies — including the National Science Foundation, Fish and Wildlife Service and TSA — are relocating or have recently relocated due to escalating rents driven, in part, by higher taxes.

Our ongoing school enrollment crisis results from the County and School Boards’ failure to plan realistically for a future that appears to include relentless residential growth. In 2014, the School Board itself predicted a 2,500-classroom seat deficit even after approving a $450 million capital budget.

The County Board plans to fund the new Affordable Housing Master Plan — mandating 15,800 new committed affordable units (CAFs) in the next 25 years — but refused to insist that staff provide a thorough analysis of the plan’s costs and impacts on county services. Ultimately, no plan can be implemented successfully without a thorough understanding of the costs and how to pay for them.

Though the County pays lip service to the environment, it lags behind neighboring jurisdictions in installing renewable energy infrastructure in public buildings, and it enthusiastically supports development that increases impervious surfaces, reduces the mature tree canopy, and further degrades our environment.

The Arlington County Board talks a lot about the so-called Arlington Way while routinely ignoring citizen input and dismissing our concerns. For example, the County Board already had a signed, undisclosed letter of intent (LOI) in place with developer Penzance when it convened the West Rosslyn Area (WRAPS) citizen’s group — whose assigned task was to consider what should be built on the site.

The result? That neighborhood will lose public parkland even as its population doubles, and the historic Wilson School will be demolished.

The County also unilaterally decided to relocate historic Fire Station #8 and sell the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont Park until neighbors rebelled. These are a few of the recent examples of County Board’s insular and autocratic decision-making style.

The Democratic candidates acknowledge a crisis of confidence in County government exists but continue passing the buck with platitudes and promises to do better. I have specific solutions. If elected with your support, I pledge to lobby the County Board to:

  • Reduce the Business/Professional/Occupational Licenses (BPOL) taxes on small businesses, streamline the business permitting process, and consult with the Governor to ask for help in filling the new 30-story office building near the Rosslyn Metro, which still has no tenant two years after construction.
  • Urge that support of County schools be given a greater weight in site plan negotiations with developers for community benefits.
  • Ask the School Board to reduce reliance on trailers by increasing secondary class size by one student per class (bringing Arlington’s student-teacher ratio in line with neighboring jurisdictions), utilize existing land and space more efficiently, and reduce costs.
  • Use housing funds to preserve the County’s remaining market-rate affordable apartment units and renovate them, which can be more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable over the long term than razing existing buildings to construct new units.
  • Encourage developers to incorporate on-site affordable housing into their projects to disperse the units more evenly countywide and reduce costs.
  • Strengthen the County’s efforts to enable disabled and retired citizens (who lived on fixed incomes) to age in place and remain in our community.
  • Install renewable energy on all newly constructed or renovated public buildings and recruit developers who will adopt the LEED Platinum standards and install on-site, solar-driven electric charging stations.
  • Adopt a transparency rule requiring online publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings to restore democracy to County government.

To make County government work better, I ask for your help. Please:

  • Visit www.AudreyClement.com to volunteer or donate.
  • Vote Clement  your Independent candidate — for Arlington County Board on Election Day, November 3, 2015.

Together, we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

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