Last 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 Chaz Crismon:
I am currently a stay-at-home dad of a 1st grader with special needs. I volunteer at Hoffman-Boston Elementary where I see my son happily learning. My talents include teaching Social Studies, speaking Spanish and Portuguese, listening and building trust.
As a young parent, I am a natural choice to work with parents as they make educational decisions for their kids. I will effectively collaborate with parent groups seeking stronger relationships with the School Board. I am the only candidate who will be a PTA parent throughout my four-year term. Our leadership team will build trust with a young parent like me on board.
We should have a licensed public school teacher on the board. I share the progressive Democratic values of our revered departing educator. On a full-time and part-time basis, I have taught Social Studies, English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Elementary Spanish Immersion classrooms. I will make sure we support our teachers so they can continue doing great work! Our current board is losing its best teacher liaison. Our leadership team will build trust with a public school teacher like me on board.
As I listen to citizens, I find many who are happy with our schools. Most trust we will do better. These are my priorities:
We need more fairness in our school system.
I want to revamp the lottery system so it gives all parents of entering students an equal chance of enrolling at a choice school available to them. The current system favors in-the-know codebreakers. Access to quality special education, gifted services, arts, language and science programming should be consistent across all our schools.
We need more space for instruction and creative play.
Our classrooms are spilling into alcoves, workrooms, and auditoriums. We have successfully reconfigured and expanded existing school sites, but we must work with the County Board on better solutions now. I have more than a decade of experience as a real estate professional. We will acquire private land and build a new school in a welcoming neighborhood. We must be aggressive and vigilant, so we can take advantage of buying opportunities. My parents in Arizona gave up a farm to a freeway and two business locations to an arts district. Their properties were never for sale, but Arizona got it done. Arlington can get it done too in a way advantageous to all. It takes time to close such deals, but I will make sure our county leaders do not drag their feet. I will enjoy solving our real estate problems.
We need more inclusion opportunities for disabled students.
Creative staffing solutions are necessary to accommodate the unique needs of students. We must provide more support for students with special needs in general education settings.
We need to close the achievement gap.
We must hire and retain the best teachers and support staff. As we respect and cultivate ties to the home culture and languages of students, the achievement gap will narrow.
I will work to address the unique needs of each child by actively engaging with the community and the superintendent’s office on a fulltime basis. I will work to harness the power of volunteerism to benefit all our schools. We should expand the reach of our existing volunteer networks to bring in more help from people less connected to our schools.
I have run the gauntlet of challenging leadership and academic training, as an Eagle Scout/Boy Scout Leader, an LDS missionary in the Dominican Republic, a Stanford grad, a Marriott credit manager in Peru after 9/11, a Thunderbird MBA, and an entrepreneur. After overcoming a bout of cancer, I wound down my real estate company to devote myself to education. My rigorous teacher training program saw almost 2 in 3 people quit. I completed my program on time even as I dealt with cancer treatment. Today, cancer-free, I am as optimistic as ever that I can make a difference. I have had the tremendous support of my wife, church and Arlington Public Schools to pull me through many challenges. I know the difference a good public preschool and bus service can make for a struggling family. I feel blessed to be able to run hard with the talents and time I have to share. The School Board needs my energetic new parent and teacher perspective to serve students.
If you value grit, determination, and experience working with and helping people of all backgrounds and circumstances, then vote Chaz D. Crismon for School Board.
The three candidates for Arlington County Board debated business and other public policy issues Monday, at a forum sponsored by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
Both Democratic contenders — incumbent County Board Chair Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall — vowed to make it easier for companies to do business in Arlington, for companies large and small.
Early on, Garvey pointed to the difficulty Boeing encountered in trying to build its D.C. area headquarters in Arlington as an example of something that shouldn’t happen again.
“Boeing had planned to build a second building but found the process here so unpleasant that they said they’d never build another building in Arlington,” said Garvey.
Gutshall, who is the owner of a small business, Clarendon Home Services, focused on customer service as the key to improving the experience of operating a business in Arlington.
“I firmly believe that Arlington County needs leadership that will accept nothing less than a culture of get to yes,” said Gutshall. “Too many citizens and business owners continue to have frustrating horror stories of the lack of transparency, accountability and helpfulness of our county. I know because I have more than a few of my own.”
They also discussed transportation, mentioning the need for improved transit infrastructure.
“Transit is largely regional and we really need to make it easy with a single seat ride for folks from Fairfax to Loudon to Prince William to get into Arlington and D.C. This is how we will get more cars off the roads,” said Garvey.
A common theme raised by Gutshall was the need to make infrastructure investments.
“For the sake of our economy and quality of life, we must be forceful advocates for a second river crossing for Metro,” he proposed. Gutshall and Garvey both spoke about transit on Columbia Pike; Gutshall has been critical of Garvey and the county’s lack of action following the cancellation of the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar project.
“I’ll also work to ensure that bus routes on Columbia Pike contribute to the achievement of our main street vision by providing providing frequent 6-10 minute service, 18 hours a day that connects our diverse residents and businesses efficiently to the places they want and need to go — beyond work including more north to south connections in the county.”
Said Garvey: “I am pleased with the proposal to expand the transit way from Crystal City to Columbia Pike essentially running the same route as had been planned for the streetcar and we will have a one seat ride the west end of Columbia Pike all the way west through Crystal City.”
Also discussed was the proposed gondola connecting Rosslyn with Georgetown. Garvey has expressed skepticism about the gondola, while voting to approve funds for a feasibility study. Gutshall said he supported the study.
“I think that the gondola study is worthwhile,” said Gutshall. “I have my reservations and doubts seriously that it will come to fruition… It seems that it was a relatively modest sum for Arlington to kick in a little bit of funds just to see if it has legs and if it might go somewhere. But I will be very honest. I don’t think in the long run its going to have legs.”
Congressional candidate Mike Webb has an explanation for why web browser tabs for two pornographic web pages could be seen in a screenshot he posted Monday afternoon.
In an email to ARLnow.com, which he also posted to Facebook, Webb claims that he was testing the whether such sites could have been the source of the alleged “cyber attack” that prevented him from filing a report to the Federal Election Commission on time.
“Curious by nature, I wanted to test the suggestion that somehow, lurking out in the pornographic world there is some evil operator waiting for the one in a gazillion chance that a candidate for federal office would go to that particular website and thereby be infected with a virus that would cause his or her FEC data file to crash the FECfile application each time that it was loaded on the day of the filing deadline, as well as impact other critical campaign systems,” Webb said in a characteristically lengthy message that also included accusations of malfeasance against some critics and local Republican party members.
Webb acknowledged that the episode has brought his quixotic campaign renewed attention, following his defeat in the race for the 8th District Republican congressional nomination. He insisted that it hasn’t cost him votes.
“We have not gained any new enemies or lost any friends today,” he wrote.
In fact, Webb said in a subsequent post, the whole thing has been an overall positive for his campaign.
“The truly amazing thing about today was that ‘I saw also the Lord, high and lifted up,’ and I was very much moved by the love and support of those who expressed their encouragement and support, even some in the national and local press,” he wrote.
National news outlets including Gawker, the Daily Caller and the New York Daily News have picked up the story. The media attention has driven scores of wisecracking commenters to Webb’s Facebook page. As of midnight, three of his posts Monday have garnered a combined 2,937 Facebook comments.
Webb, meanwhile, said he’s busy trying to get the signatures necessary to make the November ballot as an independent, which would allow him to face off against incumbent Rep. Don Beyer (D) and Republican nominee Charles Hernick.
“As you know, we have to get 1,000 signatures in the next few weeks to get into the fight, and we are making great headway in this effort because people are very frustrated with our current politicians and their antics, as I probably should be, too,” he wrote.
A screenshot posted on the Mike Webb for Congress Facebook page is going viral for all the wrong reasons.
The post was intended to suggest that an Arlington County Republican Committee officer might have had something to do with a prank call Webb received. Instead of getting that point across, as of 3 p.m. the post had some 80 shares and 60 comments on Facebook due to an apparent inadvertent inclusion: the screenshot shows two web browser tabs associated with pornography websites.
Webb, an Arlington resident, was soundly defeated in his recent bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), but has announced his intention to run as an independent. In his voluminous press releases and social media posts, Webb has blamed the local Republican establishment for his defeat. There’s no evidence, however, to support the suggestion that the individual named in the post might have prank called him.
A Google search for the web page titles in question — “LAYLA RIVERA TIGHT BODY” and “IVONE SEXY AMATEUR” — point to a number of pages on various porn websites. Webb has not responded to a request for comment sent earlier this afternoon.
Some of those commenting on the Facebook post seemed incredulous that it had not yet been taken down.
“Still up 2 hrs later. Priceless,” said a post from more than an hour ago.
Some commenters, however, suggested the post might be a stroke of inadvertent genius.
“Refreshing for a politician to air their vices publicly instead of trying to hide it till a leak,” said one. “Keep up the good work.”
“What if he was desperate to take his social media platform to the next level?” asked another. “Genius. Tight booty porn for the win.”
While many comments were critical, others took a somewhat more forgiving tone.
“We all f–k up from time to time,” said a Facebook user, “but I’ve never used Yahoo instead of Google.”
Last month ARLnow.com reported that Webb had failed to file a report to the Federal Election Commission on time and had blamed the failure on a “cyber attack.”
Update at 12:25 a.m. — Webb said in an email to ARLnow.com that he was testing the porn sites for viruses.
Photos via Facebook
Gutshall, who is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey for the Democratic nomination, is, according to APAC, “a consensus-builder, with an eye to transparency and engagement all along the way.”
Garvey formerly served on the Arlington School Board.
From a press release:
APAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association, has recommended Erik Gutshall for the County Board seat to be contested in the Democratic primary June 14th. The APAC Steering Committee was impressed with Mr. Gutshall’s vision for the county, viewing his ideas as both far-sighted in scope and inclusive of all segments of the community. APAC Steering Team co-chair Gerry Collins noted that Gutshall has applied his knowledge of the county and experience at the planning level to lay out some well-considered ideas on housing, transit, schools and revenue streams.
Collins added, “Erik Gutshall approaches decision-making as a consensus-builder, with an eye to transparency and engagement all along the way. We support his view of the schools as both institutions of opportunity for our students as well as assets for community activities and events, and are encouraged by his support for school funding.”
Gutshall, Garvey and independent candidate Audrey Clement will face off during an Arlington Chamber of Commerce candidate forum tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Rosslyn Hyatt (1325 Wilson Blvd). The event is being moderated by ARLnow editor Scott Brodbeck
The forum is being organized by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. It will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Hyatt in Rosslyn (1325 Wilson Blvd). ARLnow.com, a Chamber member, is the event’s media sponsor.
During the forum, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall will be asked a variety of questions, with a special focus on local business.
“This business-themed candidate forum will feature a moderated discussion of topics important to the Arlington business community, and will provide each candidate with the opportunity to engage with local business leaders and address the key issues for the business community,” the Chamber said. “This event will also offer attendees the chance to gain an inside look into the candidates’ views on business in Arlington County.”
(Perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement, who has qualified for the ballot again this year, has also been invited to participate.)
In a debate earlier this month, Gutshall lamented that Arlington County’s economic development efforts are “geared towards the types of businesses that are going to fill office buildings,” more so than helping small businesses. Garvey said the county is “aware that small businesses are having issues” and is holding a small business summit next week.
Meanwhile, the county’s high office vacancy rate — some 8 million square feet of office space is vacant in Arlington — remains a significant issue.
This candidate forum is open to the general public. Registration is $10. Light refreshments will be provided.
The Arlington County Democratic Committee is planning its own candidate debate from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4. The debate will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive).
Mike Webb, who’s running for the Republican congressional nomination in Virginia’s Eighth District, which includes Arlington, says a “targeted cyber attack” prevented him from filing his quarterly campaign finance report.
The Federal Election Commission sent Webb’s campaign a notice on April 22, stating that it had failed to file its April quarterly report.
“Failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, an audit or other legal enforcement action,” the letter says. “The civil money penalty calculation for late reports does not include a grace period and begins on the day following the due date for the report.”
As of today, there was still no quarterly report for January through March 2016 on the FEC page for Webb’s campaign committee. A previously-filed financial report includes a note from Webb apologizing for it being late.
Webb’s campaign, meanwhile, said in a press release that it had not filed the April report due to technical difficulties it attributed to computer hackers. Here’s what the campaign said in the lengthy April 21 press release, one of more than 100 it has sent to local reporters since December.
… this morning, sources close to the campaign of Arlington resident Mike Webb, the putative front-runner in the Republican Party nomination race in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District disclosed that they have been the victim of what appears to have been a targeted cyber-attack.
Shortly before the filing deadline for the quarterly disclosure reports to the Federal Election Commission, the Webb campaign indicated that it began to experience glitches with the filing software, making it difficult to input information. However, on the deadline filing date, the software would just crash whenever the data file was loaded, thereby blocking access to all previously entered data. The Webb campaign indicated that it made several attempts to re-install the program, and to install the program on a separate computer, but the attempts to address and remedy the situation appeared to confirm that there was nothing wrong with the software, but rather that the data file had somehow been corrupted.
“The Webb team had no further comment this morning regarding the incident, but did indicate that they were continuing to work with the FEC on submitting the report and recovering the lost data,” the campaign itself said in a press release, before continuing on for two additional paragraphs.
Webb is running against environmental consultant Charles Hernick for the Republican nomination. A district convention will be held on May 7 to select a nominee. The winner will face long odds against incumbent Democratic Rep. Don Beyer in the fall.
While Webb has participated in Republican-sponsored events leading up to the convention, his campaign has adopted an outsider’s stance, often speaking out against the local GOP establishment. In a press release today, in fact, Webb said he has notified local police and the FBI about a persistent Twitter critic who goes by the monicker “GOP Establishment.”
Accusing the anonymous Twitter user of “extortion,” Webb claims that he gave law enforcement the name of “every potential suspect from the long list of establishment officials and Young Republicans.”
Webb, an Arlington resident, has been idiosyncratic in other aspects of his campaign, particularly on social media. On April 20 he posted an image wishing his supporters a “Happy 4/20.” On January 11 he accused ARLnow of “censorship” for our moderation of the comments section of a Dec. 23 article about his candidacy.
Courtney Hill, the former campaign manager of Arlington School Board candidate Tannia Talento, is planning legal fight after she said Talento didn’t pay her what was owed in her contract.
Hill is a community activist who serves on Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women and on the steering committee of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. A single mother of two, Hill says she’s being evicted from her home after Talento refused to pay her. She is suing Talento, who refutes the allegations.
“At the onset of my campaign, Ms. Hill was employed as my campaign manager,” Talento told ARLnow.com, in a statement. “Shortly after we began our work together, I realized we had different expectations for the direction of the campaign. Her employment was eventually terminated and unfortunately we had a contractual disagreement which will be settled judiciously in our court system.”
The two parties are scheduled for a hearing in Arlington General District Court on April 11. The eviction proceedings against Hill were filed Feb. 16. It’s the second case against Hill filed by an Arlington landlord in three years, according to court records.
“Because of this unfortunate breach of contract and disheartening chain of events, I am now facing an eviction and will have to uproot my daughter who’s in middle school,” Hill wrote. “The past few years have been very difficult for my family, and I cannot imagine having to upend/end all of the things I’ve worked so hard for. This is not right and should not be supported by anyone who purports they are advocates for women, children, families and minorities.”
Hill said she worked as Talento’s campaign manager from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31. She said Talento “attempted to bully” her into changing the terms of her contract, but she refused due to provisions that would have prevented her from working on other campaigns and would have imposed a confidentiality agreement. Talento then refused to pay her full contract, according to Hill.
“Working on campaigns is what I do and how I pay my bills,” she said. “How dare she threaten and try to dismantle my livelihood?”
Hill, who is black, also accused Talento of an “unwillingness to meet with black leaders,” saying she was “constantly questioning the black community’s concerns/issues in regards to equal and quality education.” She further accused Talento of “having [a] very poor work ethic” and not doing “much of the leg work required to run an effective campaign.”
“I am running for the Arlington School Board, because I firmly believe in advocating for quality education and the success of every student in Arlington Public Schools,” countered Talento, who is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants. “It is important that we ensure equitable education for every child regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion or gender. My vision will ensure a continued focus on the Whole Child and will make strides in closing the achievement gap. Therefore it is unfortunate that Ms. Hill is undertaking this present course of action.”
Talento has picked up the endorsement of a number of current and former elected officials, including Del. Alfonso Lopez, former County Board member Mary Hynes and retiring School Board Chair Emma Violand Sanchez.
“Tannia has demonstrated integrity and passion for advocating all students in Arlington,” Sanchez said in a statement today. “I firmly believe she is one of the most ethical leaders that I know, and she will be an exceptional School Board Member. I am disappointed that these false allegations are being spread to discredit a highly qualified School Board candidate.”
Arlington Democrats will have four School Board candidates to choose from at an endorsement caucus in May.
The “unassembled caucus” — also referred to as a “firehouse primary,” with an instant run-off voting process used to determine the winners — will be held over two days:
- Thursday, May 19 from 7-9 p.m. at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.)
- Saturday, May 21 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street)
There are two School Board seats in contention, one of which is up for grabs with the retirement of School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez. The candidates vying for the Democratic endorsement are:
Prior to the caucus, a candidate debate will be held at the Arlington County Democratic Committee monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Overall turnout was up — 42 percent this year to 40 percent in 2008. Fifteen percent of registered Arlington voters cast a ballot in the GOP race, while 27 percent voted in the Democratic race. That compares to 7 percent GOP and 33 percent Democratic turnout in 2008.
Tonight’s unofficial Arlington results on the Democratic race were:
- Hillary Clinton: 66.85% (25,561 votes)
- Bernie Sanders: 32.80% (12,541 votes)
- Martin O’Malley: 0.35% (134 votes)
The Republican results:
- Marco Rubio: 49.67% (10,944 votes)
- John Kasich: 22.56% (4,971 votes)
- Donald Trump: 16.78% (3,698 votes)
- Ted Cruz: 7.87% (1,734 votes)
- Ben Carson: 1.73% (381 votes)
Statewide, Clinton carried the state 64.3 percent to 35.2 percent for Sanders. On the Republican side, Trump won in Virginia with 34.8 percent of the vote to 31.9 percent for Rubio and 16.9 percent for Cruz. Across all Super Tuesday states, Clinton and Trump claimed enough victories to retain their frontrunner status in the presidential race.
On a night when Arlington ran out of preprinted GOP ballots due to unexpectedly high Republican turnout, there was speculation that many Democrats crossed over — Virginia has an open primary — to vote for a “non-Trump” candidate.
— Craig Merritt (@OldCT) March 2, 2016
Half a dozen folks at my NoVa polling place today around 1pm…ALL asked for R ballots. Unusual for the area. https://t.co/10uuYs5hy6
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 1, 2016
Most informed strategic electorate in the country is in NoVA https://t.co/Snba0WE9JM
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) March 1, 2016
Enthusiasm among local Republicans also appeared to have driven the high turnout.
— Arl-Falls Church YRs (@AFCYRs) March 2, 2016
After the jump, the Arlington County Democratic Committee statement, from party chair Kip Malinosky, on the primary result.
County elections officials had to begin photocopying the ballots in order to keep up with voter demand, Arlington Registrar Linda Lindberg confirmed to ARLnow.com. Ballot photocopies are legal, carry the Arlington seal and are authorized by the election board, but cannot be machine scanned and must be counted by hand, Lindberg said.
“No precinct has been out of ballots at any point in time,” she noted, dispelling rumors to the contrary.
In the absence of paper ballots, Lindberg said polling places also have the option of allowing voters to use an electronic ballot marking device, intended for those with disabilities. Ballots cast with the device are machine scannable, but there’s only one device per polling place.
As of 6:30 p.m., elections officials reported that total turnout had reached 38 percent of registered voters, with 24 percent voting in the Democratic primary and 14 percent voting Republican. That’s double the final GOP turnout in Arlington in 2008.
Polls close in Virginia at 7 p.m., but major Metro delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines tonight may keep some late voters from casting ballots.
As of 2 p.m. today, with five hours to go until polls close, the percentage of Arlington voters casting ballots in the Republican presidential primary has already exceeded the total from the 2008 GOP primary.
Mid-day Super Tuesday turnout was 24 percent of registered voters in Arlington — 9 percent Republican, 15 percent Democrat.
In 2008, when Barack Obama and John McCain cruised to victory in Virginia, 7 percent of registered Arlington voters cast Republican ballots while 33 percent voted in the Democratic primary.
“For the Republican primary in particular, it’s been a heavier than expected turnout,” said Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg. Democratic turnout, she predicted, is likely to be down slightly from 2008.
Absentee voting is up across all parties, but especially so for Republicans. This year, 2,570 Democratic and 952 Republican ballots were cast, compared to 2,166 Democratic and 440 Republican ballots in 2008.
Lindberg said polling places along the Orange Line corridor and in South Arlington, all Democratic strongholds, have seen surprisingly heavy Republican turnout, while turnout is in line with expectations in some of the more Republican-leaning precincts in far northern Arlington. That raises the possibility of crossover voting; Virginia is one of 18 states with an open presidential primary.
One factor for the increased Republican turnout may be the presence of Donald Trump in the race. Supporters of the businessman and GOP frontrunner have been particularly prolific in placing signs around polling places in Arlington — so much so that Lindberg said the county elections office has received at least one complaint about the Woodmont polling station having too many Trump signs.
(While county ordinance limits political signs in roadside medians to no more than two per candidate per median, there’s no limit at polling places on the day before or day of an election.)
One Trump supporter got an earful this morning while placing signs around Arlington. Reuters reported that former Republican congressional candidate Gwendolyn Beck was putting Trump signs up in front of the Arlington Arts Center, in Virginia Square, when local attorney and cycling advocate Mark Blacknell walked by en route to a nearby polling place.
“I came here to tell you you’re a terrible person,” Blacknell told Beck, according to Reuters.
“Signs normally don’t bother me, but there’s a whiff of burning crosses to Trump’s,” Blacknell later explained.
“Respect for other opinion is fabric [sic] of the USA,” Beck said in response, via Twitter.
No significant problems have been reported at the polls, Lindberg said, though a slight discrepancy between Arlington’s voting instructions and those on the state-provided ballots are prompting some questions.
The instructions in the polling places say that voters may place an “X” in the bubble to mark their vote for a candidate. Virginia’s ballots have older instructions, telling voters to completely fill in the bubble. Either works just fine, said Lindberg.
“It’s just confused a few voters, that’s all,” she said.
After the jump: tweets from those commenting on the Trump signs around Arlington, as well as a tweet from this afternoon’s John Kasich rally at George Mason University in Virginia Square.
The university is warning of potential traffic and parking issues around its Arlington campus.
“This event is open to students, faculty and staff, as well as the broader community,” GMU said in a press release. “Though we expect no changes to operations at Hazel Hall and the Arlington Campus, there are likely to be parking and traffic impacts associated with the event.”
“We expect additional traffic on campus on Tuesday as Founders Hall is a designated polling place for Arlington County for the Virginia Primary Election,” the university added.
Photo via John Kasich/Flickr
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were the big winners in yesterday’s New Hampshire primary.
How will “outsider” candidates Trump and Sanders fare in Arlington, when the Virginia presidential primary takes place on Super Tuesday, March 1? Let’s find out.
The following polls reflect the Virginia presidential ballot as approved in December. If you’re planning to vote, let us know who you’re planning to vote for on March 1.
Democratic County Board candidate Erik Gutshall would like to see further progress on the planning process for the future of the Lee Highway corridor.
Gutshall, a small business owner who serves on the Arlington Planning Commission, warned in a statement (below) that Lee Highway could experience “crazy-quilt development” if not for “a thoughtful, community-led planning process.” He called on the County Board to prioritize long-range planning for Lee Highway this year.
Gutshall is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary.
Erik Gutshall called today for the Arlington County Board to make development of a long-range plan for Lee Highway a priority for the County Manager for the coming year.
Gutshall, who is challenging the incumbent Board Chair in the Democratic Primary, congratulated the Lee Highway Alliance, a collaborative effort of all neighborhood civic associations abutting Lee Highway from Arlington’s North Highlands community along the Potomac River to the Falls Church line, noting, “…the Lee Highway community has shown uncommon leadership in developing a vision for the future of Lee Highway.”
Gutshall called on the County Board to appoint a citizen-led task force quickly to undertake the development of a Lee Highway Plan, provide the task force with significant staff support and outside expert resources, and develop a scope of work that allows the task force to think big about the Lee Highway of the future. “Lee Highway,” Gutshall said, “is the last major unplanned commercial corridor in Arlington. Similar plans for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have been a central reason for that area’s great success.”
Gutshall, as a task force member, was engaged in the development of today’s plan for Clarendon. “Without a plan,” he said, “we can expect crazy-quilt development along Lee Highway; changes that aren’t the result of a thoughtful, community-led planning process are much less likely to meet Arlingtonians’ needs and are likely to detract from, rather than add value to, surrounding neighborhoods.”
Gutshall noted that long-range plans are extraordinarily valuable to the community and have underpinned much of Arlington’s standout prosperity. These plans are a concrete expression of the community’s hopes for the future and provide property owners with the policy guidance needed to encourage thoughtful, responsible and responsive development. “Unfortunately,” Gutshall said, “County Board leadership looks at the County’s long-term plans as merely advisory, something that can be easily dismissed. In my view, these plans are a compact between our elected representatives, developers and the community and embody the collective vision for the neighborhoods where we live, work, learn, and play.”