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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.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

School Board candidate Reid Goldstein

Last week we asked the two Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. One School Board seat is up for grabs this year.

We did not receive a response from B. A. “Brooklyn” Kinlay, who’s affiliated with the Independent Green Party.

Here is the unedited response from Democratic-endorsed candidate Reid Goldstein:

Experience and proven leadership are assets I will bring to the Arlington School Board if elected November 3. As an activist for our schools and community for over twenty years, I understand how both APS and the county government function. This is critical now, when the county and APS need to work more together, not in parallel, to address the challenges our schools face.

Growing enrollment magnifies the challenge of maintaining our reputation for high quality schools that makes Arlington such an enviable place to live. Enlarging school capacity requires County Board and School Board collaboration as never before to address the financing necessary for capital construction, and mitigating adverse effects on the neighborhoods. As a civic association president and president of the CPRO board, I have experience working on the design of new buildings to address issues like traffic, parking, building height and density to assure that the design protects adjacent neighbors.

APS’ challenges are not limited to buildings. The key to APS’ high quality and reputation for excellence is our teachers. We need to continue to retain and attract the best teachers, even as enrollment rises and budgets are tight. I am the son of two teachers. One of my two daughters (both educated K-12 in Arlington schools) is also a teacher. Teachers have the single greatest effect on our children’s education, and will be a top priority if elected. APS has a broad range of choices and programs, including immersion, International Baccalaureate at all school levels, the HB Woodlawn program, the Stratford program, Arlington Traditional, Montessori, New Directions, the Career Center, Thomas Jefferson High School, pre-K, special education, high school continuation, and many others. Preserving this variety, designed to meet the individual needs and aspirations of each of our students, is essential to maintaining the quality and appeal of Arlington Public Schools.

Here are some examples of my leadership roles over the years (more information is available at http://www.reidgoldstein.com/ ):

HB Woodlawn PAC. Shortly before the start of the school year, our Parent Advisory Committee chair suddenly withdrew. I stepped in, and served 3 years.

Jefferson Middle School Exemplary Project. Our committee recommended adoption of the International Baccalaureate program. Without needing substantial financial commitments, the program has transformed Jefferson, energized the faculty and engaged the students and parents as never before.

APS Strategic Plan Committee. I worked on the committee that developed, for the first time, a strategic plan for APS.

Family Network. Realizing that PTAs offered programs of interest beyond their own schools, I helped revive a collaborative network among PTAs to share knowledge and resources, inviting all school and civic communities to all PTA programs on family issues including substance abuse, gap year, and students and the law. We did not need funding increases to broaden access to these popular programs, just commitment and collaboration.

Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. As president, I led the board of the organization that has worked to transform a fading collection of strip malls into an increasingly thriving business center, focused on quality of life for its residents.

Douglas Park Civic Association. President of the civic association for Arlington’s most populous neighborhood at a time of transition in the neighborhood and along Columbia Pike.

Housing Commission. Seeing that a stable home environment is the foundation for educational achievement, I worked on preservation of affordable housing for Arlington’s families.

Columbia Pike Land Use Study. I was a member of the steering committee guiding the work to preserve our neighborhoods, including affordable housing, along Columbia Pike, ultimately developing the Pike Neighborhoods Plan.

Glebe Road and Columbia Pike Left Turn Signals. Many will remember the days when left turns at the intersection of two of Arlington’s principal arterials required cutting through neighborhoods. Every government entity felt another was responsible for fixing the issue. With my neighbors, I brought together the county staff, VDOT, the county manager, and elected local officials and state legislators to hold them all responsible for making the solution happen. Successfully, the lanes were built and the intersection improved. But it took commitment, a willingness to hold people accountable, and knowledge of the workings of local government to make it happen.

These are examples of the leadership, experience and commitment I will bring to the Arlington School Board. I would be honored to have your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com — October 28, 2015 at 11:20 am 0

Remy Munasifi, the maestro behind the timeless Arlington Rap, has a new music video that’s sure to attract some attention.

Rather than parodying Arlington and its many brown flip flops and Starbucks, Remy has this time turned his comic crosshairs on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Borrowing the hook from Drake’s “Started From the Bottom,” Remy skewers Trump’s statement at a Today Show town hall event this week: “It has not been easy for me… I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”

Throughout the video Remy juxtaposes Trump’s “I’m really rich” braggadocio with images of his failed business ventures.

Remy produced the music video for ReasonTV, which is part of the libertarian think tank Reason Foundation. Reason has been critical of Trump’s brand of politics, particularly his anti-immigration stances.

by ARLnow.com — October 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm 0

Audrey ClementIndependent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement is proposing a “72 hour transparency rule” for Arlington County Board and county commission meetings.

Clement is decrying the not-uncommon practice of county staff waiting to post documents related to County Board items and commission agenda items until either right before the meeting or after. While the vast majority of board reports and other documents are posted a week or more in advance, some go down to the wire, raising questions about government transparency.

In a press release, Clement proposes a rule requiring documents to be posted 72 hours in advance of any such meeting, and asks other candidates to support the rule as well. It wouldn’t come at a monetary cost, it would just require tighter deadlines, Clement said.

The full press release:

I’m Audrey Clement, Independent Candidate for Arlington County Board. I’ve spoken to hundreds of voters, taxpayers, and residents while campaigning for County Board this year.

Many have related to me their frustration with the fact that Arlington County staff frequently withhold critical documents, data, and information, or delay posting critical information till the day before the next Board or Commission meeting.

How can residents, the Civic Federation, civic associations, homeowners associations, and other stakeholders study and understand information or hold meaningful discussions with their elected officials about important decisions when staff either withholds, or waits until the last minute to reveal pertinent information and detail? They can’t!

There is a better way: A 72-hour transparency rule. In the corporate world, boards of directors typically require at least 5 days’ advance receipt of meeting materials. If you want meeting attendees to be prepared (which includes having read relevant reports and detailed information in advance), you need to give them the materials far enough in advance to make it possible. It is common practice in the business world to require 3-to 5-day advanced delivery of all board-meeting materials.

Providing meeting materials 3 days in advance of County Board and advisory commission meetings isn’t a lot to ask. It’s just common courtesy. And a 72-hour rule isn’t any more expensive or time consuming; it simply means setting earlier internal deadlines. In fact most Arlington County meeting documents are ready several days prior to meetings, yet staff often holds them for a Friday-night document dump to the County’s website.

Please join me and others in asking all Arlington County Board candidates to pledge their support to a 72-hour (or longer) rule for the advance publication of County Board and advisory commission agenda items and reports.

by Heather Mongilio — October 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm 0

Mike McMenaminAffordable housing continues to divide the candidates for County Board, with the two Democratic nominees supporting the Affordable Housing Master Plan and the two independents proposing alternative methods at a debate over the weekend.

The County Board candidates all announced varying degrees of support for increasing affordable housing in Arlington, but disagreed on the best way to implement it during a candidate forum held by Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement Sunday evening.

“Everyone’s in favor of everything, and that’s the balancing act in this community,” said independent candidate Mike McMenamin.

The county needs to focus on geographic distribution of affordable housing units, said McMenamin, who has previously said affordable housing is not one of his priorities. The county should also go back and address its 2003 targets for the amount of affordable units, which it only met twice, he added.

McMenamin, who does not support the Affordable Housing Master Plan passed by the County Board last month, said that the County Board needs to look at how to add affordable housing and address school capacity, without sacrificing parkland for more affordable housing units or more schools. Finding the money to support all of these plans is also a challenge, he added.

Audrey Clement

One of the high costs to the affordable housing plan is the choice to increase the amount of committed affordable units (CAFs) instead of trying to incentivize market-rate affordable units (MARKs), said Audrey Clement, the other independent candidate.

“There is a serious question of whether CAFs are the way to go,” Clement said.

The new Affordable Housing plan calls for 15,800 affordable housing units, and making them all CAFs would be too expensive for the county, she said, arguing that MARKs are cheaper.

“Private developers can build units much more cheaply than the county can, so limit new construction to onsite units in market-rate developments,” she said.

Clement has spoken out against the Affordable Housing Master Plan, and if elected, plans on creating a housing authority to oversee all housing concerns in Arlington, similar to the authorities in Fairfax County and Alexandria.

Both Democratic nominees, Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey, reaffirmed their support in the affordable housing plan.

Beyond affordable housing, candidates all addressed community concerns about the disconnect between Arlington residents and the Board. The “Arlington Way,” the county’s system of community involvement in decision-making, needs some retuning, candidates said.

Christian DorseyIt is on the community’s shoulder to tell County Board members what the problems are in the county, Dorsey said.

“It’s not what I am going to do. It’s what you all are going to do, and everybody else in Arlington. You all are going to tell us what is necessary to make sure every voice counts,” he said. “It does not work if elected officials tell you what they are going to do to listen. You have to tell us what we need to do to make sure your voices are heard.”

It’s also about going to meet the community where they are, Dorsey and Cristol said.

“We have to get rid of this excuse that they don’t come to our meetings,” Cristol said.

Increasing community engagement means making meetings at times that are reasonable to community members and personally inviting leaders to come to meetings, she said.

It’s also important that the public is brought into the process at the beginning, not the tail end, said McMenamin, citing the recent discussions about Fire Station 8.

If elected, he plans on going to community meetings, talking to people at farmer’s markets and even knocking on people’s doors to get their opinions about bigger decisions, he said.

“You have to listen to the neighborhoods and do what’s right,” he said.

Katie CristolIn addition to fixing the “Arlington Way,” all candidates pledged to focus on the school capacity crisis and the commercial vacancy rate issues that are plaguing the county.

Addressing the school capacity rate needs to be figured out by both the Arlington School Board and the County Board, Cristol said, adding the community has to be involved from the beginning.

“To me, this issue is one of how do we manage our growth,” she said.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — September 11, 2015 at 10:30 am 3,526 0

TitleMax in the former 7-11 location on Lee Highway Arlington County Board candidate Christian Dorsey is taking a stand against TitleMax, which he deems a “predatory lender.”

In a press release, the Democrat said he would seek to terminate TitleMax’s lease at 5265 Lee Highway, should that building be included in a land swap between its owner, Virginia Hospital Center, and Arlington County.

Dorsey has also launched an online petition, asking residents to support him in his call to “do all we can to protect Arlingtonians from predatory lending practices.”

The press release from Dorsey’s campaign:

Christian Dorsey, a Democratic nominee for the Arlington County Board, attended a public forum on Wednesday at the Virginia Hospital Center discussing the process for a potential deal between Arlington County and the hospital for County-owned land adjacent to the hospital’s property. One potential deal includes a land swap, where Arlington County would acquire property currently owned by the hospital on the corner of Lee Highway and North George Mason Drive. That property is currently being leased by TitleMax, Inc., a predatory vehicle title lender.

Should Arlington acquire the property, Dorsey committed to opposing any lease renewal for TitleMax. He went further by promising to explore all possible ways to terminate the lease early in the case that Arlington becomes the owner of the property.

“Predatory lenders charge desperate families up to 264% interest on loans,” said Dorsey. “Arlington County should not be in the business of profiting off of those that prey on our most vulnerable populations. That’s why I will oppose any extension of the lease to TitleMax should Arlington acquire the property. Further, I will pursue all avenues that would allow us to terminate that lease upon acquisition of the land.”

“Predatory lending runs counter to our values here in Arlington,” continued Dorsey. “Richmond should be ashamed that they allow these businesses to operate with so little regulation. Charging over 260% interest on a car title loan should not be permissible under any circumstances, and I’ll do everything in my power to stop these businesses from preying on Arlington’s vulnerable working families.”

by Heather Mongilio — September 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm 2,262 0

Candidates field questions from the audienceAffordable housing in the county has become a dividing line between the Democratic and independent candidates for County Board.

The candidates fielded questions from Arlington’s civic associations about various issues facing the county, including communication with residents and the commercial vacancy rate during a Civic Federation meeting last night. Arlington residents will vote for two new County Board members on Nov. 3.

Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol both spoke in favor of the Affordable Housing Master Plan, which the Board will decide on this month, while independents Mike McMenamin and Audrey Clement said they would vote against the plan.

The problem with the affordable housing plan, said Clement, is that it continues to rely on “densification” — building more housing in order to also add subsidized affordable units. Development has made housing more expensive, and has contributed to the loss of market rate affordable housing, she said.

Audrey Clement

“The actual economic assumption behind it is fallacious,” said Clement.

If voted onto the County Board, one of her first priorities would be the creation of a housing authority, which would put all housing agencies under one roof, similar to Fairfax County, Clement said. She also took issue with what she said would be a $90 million cost that the county would shoulder each year.

Dorsey disagreed, arguing that the plan is good for the county from an economic standpoint.

Christian Dorsey

“When you have people who can live affordably, you have people who can spend money in your community,” Dorsey said.

For Cristol, the plan presents a way to help protect the middle class. While campaigning, she has heard from residents who say they would not be able to afford their homes if they had to buy them today.

“I believe the status quo in Arlington is hostile to the middle class,” Cristol said.

The plan isn’t perfect, Cristol said, adding that some of her South Arlington neighbors have asked for the plan to be more firm about geographic distribution.

“It’s a tough issue,” Cristol said. “It’s a complex issue.”

Michael McMenaminWhile housing affordability is an important topic, McMenamin said it is the wrong issue to be prioritizing, separating himself from the three other candidates who include affordable housing as a top platform issue.

“We’re betting everything on affordable housing when we have a school crisis,” he said, referring to the burgeoning student population, overcrowded schools and the proliferation of trailer classrooms across the county.

Arlington also needs to focus on the commercial vacancy rate, McMenamin said, an issue all candidates agreed on.

The county needs to work on “getting businesses back in the county,” he said. The county should focus on becoming a home for large companies like Marriott — which is considering moving from Maryland — but also provide a nurturing environment for startups, he said.

The county needs to find “creative ways, like tax relief,” to make the county more attractive to business, McMenamin said.

Making it easier for small businesses is an absolute must, Dorsey said. He proposed streamlining the process of starting a business in Arlington.

Katie CristolCristol agreed that Arlington could be a hub for new businesses, such as companies in the medical technology industry, but she said that the county should not keep lowering the tax rate without a plan.

“We need to plan for the Arlington we want to see instead of blindly lowering the tax rate,” she said.

Candidates were also asked about the process behind County Board decisions, which some residents said is unsatisfactory.

All candidates said they would work to be open and more transparent about decisions, acknowledging decisions around the Western Rosslyn Area Plan, Reevesland Farmhouse and Fire Station 8, were not handled properly when it came to informing the community.

by ARLnow.com — July 27, 2015 at 9:45 am 2,121 0

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey at the John Vihstadt victory party 4/8/14More than a year after she resigned from the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC), County Board Libby Garvey wants back in. But after applying, Garvey has been told she will need to wait at least a few months.

Garvey resigned in April 2014, preempting a committee vote to remove her, after she supported independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze. Both Vihstadt and Garvey opposed the now-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project.

This year, Garvey is planning to support the Democratic nominees for County Board — Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey — and wants to officially rejoin the ACDC and its steering committee, on which elected Democrats are given seats. She was told to reapply for membership, but after submitting the proper paperwork she was then told that she would have to wait until November to apply again, a source told ARLnow.com and Garvey confirmed.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” she said in a phone interview over the weekend. “I’m a Democrat, I’m not a member of another party, I’m planning to support all the Democratic candidates — I think they’re all great.”

ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky said the move is simply a matter of staying focused heading into a key election, in which the Democratic County Board candidates will have to fend off two experienced independent candidates: Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin.

“This year we have two exceptional county board candidates in Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey,” Malinosky said. “Because the focus should be squarely on them, as well as the rest of our great candidates, we deferred discussion about the subject of Libby’s readmission until after this year’s election.”

by Heather Mongilio — July 2, 2015 at 11:35 am 0

Del. Rip Sullivan

In order for Virginia to move forward on issues like medicaid expansion and climate change, more Democrats need to be elected to House of Delegates, said Democratic House of Delegates candidates Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Rip Sullivan and Mark Levine.

The candidates spoke to the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night to announce their candidacy and touch on why they need Democratic support in the upcoming November election.

While all candidates spoke briefly on ideas they felt need attention, such as Medicaid expansion or better mental health care, most of the speeches focused on how Republicans in the House of Delegates were blocking important laws or passing laws that the candidates said would be dangerous for Virginia.

“Let’s call it for what it is. Republicans are killing their constituents,” said Hope, who is running for the 47th District seat. “They are killing their constituents by not expanding healthcare insurance to them. We know that’s a fact that people die when they don’t have health insurance. They’re killing them by pushing coal.”

Hope will face Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy in the Nov. 3 general election.

Republicans have refused to allow any conversation about Medicaid expansion in the General Assembly, Sullivan said.

“They’re not going to start talking about it, as my friend Patrick Hope has said before, until they start losing elections over this issue,” he said. “And we need to have some of them lose elections over this medicaid issue.”

Sullivan, who is running unopposed for the 48th District seat, warned that Republicans were also very close to passing “dangerous” legislation last year. He cited a proposed bill that would legalize switchblades, ninja stars and spring-loaded weapons that he said “flew” through House committees. He said the bill would have passed the House of Delegates, but Republican majority reversed their opinions, a move he attributed to it being a reelection year.

In order to get more Democrats elected, the three candidates plan to talk to Virginia residents in areas that elect Republicans. Levine, who is thus far running unopposed for the 45th District, announced that he would be making a trip around Virginia to talk to residents and boost Democratic candidates.

“We’ve got to elect more Democrats, not just in Arlington, but in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

Levine recently argued for more gun control at conservative conference in Denver, Colorado and said that he was able to convince some National Rifle Administration members to think about stricter gun regulations, such as better background checks. If elected, Levine said he also wants to start talking about mental health, education and jail time for drug users.

“We put too many people in jail. I don’t think non-violent drug users should go to jail,” he said.

by ARLnow.com — June 30, 2015 at 9:30 am 3,321 0

Sen. Bernie Sanders (photo via Facebook)Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is scheduled to be a special guest speaker at a policy forum in Arlington next week.

The discussion, entitled “Rebooting Our Policy Agenda To Reclaim The American Dream,” will take place from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, at the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association, at 4301 Wilson Blvd.

Sanders will be joined by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), a fellow member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“This event is a free-of-charge policy discussion by leading progressive voices, not an endorsement of any candidate for public office,” an event page notes.

The event is at capacity and registration has closed.

Photo via Facebook

by Heather Mongilio — June 10, 2015 at 8:05 pm 2,399 0

Katie Cristol and Christian DorseyHousing affordability will be the buzz word of the Arlington County Board elections.

Both Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey, who received the Arlington County Democratic Committee nominations last night after a tight primary race, ran a campaign with it as one of their platforms.

ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky sees their nominations as a sign that housing affordability is becoming the trending topic in the county.

“It [Cristol and Dorsey’s nomination] really means voters were looking for a new generation of leadership,” Malinosky said, adding that school overcrowding and responsive government figure to be two other key pillars of the general election campaign.

Both candidates, who hail from South Arlington, also told ARLnow.com they would make housing affordability one of their top campaign priorities.

“It’s become a middle class issue, preserving the middle class,” Cristol said.

Arlington is one of the richest counties in the county, making housing out of reach for some who want to settle in the county. While housing affordability is often associated with subsidized housing and low-economic families, Cristol argues in her platform that it also applies to young families and millennials looking to place roots.

The vote reflected Arlington resident’s wish for more affordable housing, Dorsey said.

Cristol 2015 primary election watch party (with Dorsey)“I’m excited because I think Arlingtonians really, by their votes, I think more people are going to focus on making affordable housing a real priority,” Dorsey said. “Not just for one segment of people but really for all people because they recognize that it’s something that can benefit the whole community.”

But affordability is only one of the issues that Dorsey and Cristol plan to tackle while campaigning, they said.

“We absolutely have to get our commercial sector energized again,” Dorsey said.

In the general election, Dorsey will also be looking to promote filling empty office space, discuss school overcrowding and tackle transportation problems on Columbia Pike. Like Dorsey, Cristol will be campaigning with hopes of fixing transportation problems on Columbia Pike, which is her home. She will also look at livability in Arlington, such as issues with childcare, along wiht issues facing young people, which she said was part of her campaign strategy.

“You know a majority of Arlington County is under the age of 35 and we knew that we weren’t going to win by claiming to be the candidate of the under 35 majority,” she said. “We had to make the case that this growing population of Arlingtonians have a stake here and have something in common with our more established neighbors. And I think that’s what we saw people respond to.”

Local Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett said the primary result — and the recent election of independent County Board member John Vihstadt, driven by crossover Democratic votes — reflects a desire for a change among the Democratic electorate.

“The Arlington voters have clearly differentiated what they’ve been looking for in County Board candidates over the past two years,” Tribbett said. “They’ve been sending a message and I think the message is loud and clear that they want to have a different Board than what they had. I don’t think they wanted radical change… they just wanted to see something different than what was going on, some people who were a little more responsive.”

“Someone like Katie is a great example of that,” Tribbett continued. “She was energetic during the campaign, she went around everywhere. I don’t know how you can send a better message of ‘I’m going to be responsive as your elected official’ than what she did. It’s not by saying it, it’s the action that shows it.”

Tribbett says that precinct-level results from Tuesday night’s primary show that runners up Peter Fallon and Andrew Schneider largely split the vote in North Arlington — “they tended to vote for one and not the other” — whereas Cristol and Dorsey both made a strong showing in much of South Arlington while also picking up votes in North Arlington.

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by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2015 at 7:35 pm 7,175 0

(Updated at 11:20 p.m.) Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey have captured the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board.

Cristol and Dorsey finished first and second, respectively, over fellow Democratic hopefuls Peter Fallon, Andrew Schneider, James Lander and Bruce Wiljanen.

Thanks to a spirited campaign and strong debate performances, Cristol, age 30, managed to propel herself from relative obscurity to a first place finish and a coveted spot on the Democratic ticket during a competitive primary. Her campaign highlighted issues like affordable housing, citizen engagement and diversity, government innovation, transit and economic development.

Dorsey, who lost to former in the 2002 County Board primary, was seen by many Democrats as a more moderate choice among a liberal field of candidates who often touted their progressive bonafides. During the campaign he spoke in favor of responsive government, affordable housing, adding school capacity and helping small businesses.

Both Cristol and Dorsey are South Arlington residents, while runners up Fallon and Schneider are North Arlington residents with a considerable base of supporters in their neighborhoods. Currently, the only South Arlington resident on the County Board is Libby Garvey.

“This started with the people in this room and ended with the people of Arlington,” Cristol told supporters at her election watch party at William Jeffrey’s Tavern on Columbia Pike. “I cannot wait to work with the people in this room to move my home of Columbia Pike forward. I cannot wait to work with all of you to run one heck of a general election campaign.”

Dorsey, whose campaign gathered at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington earlier in the night, joined Cristol at the bar after the final results came in.

“I feel great,” he said. “It’s always nice when something that you believe in so strongly and you find out that the people in your community are committed to you as well. It’s a tremendous feeling.”

Dorsey said he wants to “knock on five times as many doors” for the general election. If elected in November, he promised to work to provide more affordable housing and to bring down Arlington’s high office vacancy rate.

“We absolutely have to get our commercial sector energized again,” he said.

With all precincts reporting, final unofficial results are:

  • Katie Cristol: 4,498
  • Christian Dorsey: 4,420
  • Peter Fallon: 4,008
  • Andrew Schneider: 3,556
  • James Lander: 2,806
  • Bruce Wiljanen: 687

Election officials say there were no problems at Arlington’s 52 polling stations during voting hours. Light turnout was reported — but the total turnout of 10,857 voters, or 7.9 percent of the registered voters, bested the 7.2 percent turnout of a similar County Board primary in 1995.

This was the first election in which Arlington utilized its new paper ballot and optical scanning system. Some delays in vote reporting occurred as election officials worked through new processes.

Cristol and Dorsey will face two independent candidates in the November general election, for the seats being vacated by the retiring Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.

by ARLnow.com — June 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm 2,213 0

It’s an election that could set the direction of Arlington County policy for years to come — and so far turnout is light.

Voters are heading to the polls today to select two Democratic nominees in the race for County Board. There are six Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination: Andrew SchneiderBruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol, James Lander, Peter Fallon, and Christian Dorsey.

While it’s a rare opportunity to fill the open seats of two retiring County Board members — Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada — the turnout has been about as low as is usually expected for a local primary.

“Overall it’s been pretty slow so far,” county General Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com. She said turnout has been especially sluggish along the county’s Metro corridors and along Columbia Pike.

Two areas of slightly higher turnout, according to Lindberg, have been:

Lindberg said there have been no reported problems with the county’s new paper ballot system, instituted after security issues were raised about electronic voting machines in Virginia.

“The voting has gone just fine, I’ve had no issues or complaints about the paper ballots,” she said. Asked about the potential for an evening rush of voters, Lindberg said delays at the polls are unlikely.

“There might be a slight surge around 5:00 or 6:00, but generally speaking I wouldn’t expect any lines.”

Polls close at 7:00 p.m.

The few people to be found outside the Arlington Forest and Randolph Elementary precincts this morning said they were aware of the potential importance of the race. Tonight’s two primary winners will face independent candidates Audrey Clement and Michael McMenamin in the November general election.

“Especially with these two open seats, people they elect now are going to be there for a while,” said Brandon Forester, who was supporting Dorsey outside of Randolph Elementary. “It will set tone for years to come.”

“I think this is the most important election in Arlington County for decades,” said Michael Thomas, an Arlington Forest resident.

Cori Rattleman, another Arlington Forest resident, said her top issues in this election were schools, parks and affordable housing. She said she was confident that the primary winners will go on to win in November.

“In this case, this is the election,” she said. “Whoever wins the elections, this is pretty much it.”

Heather Mongilio contributed to this report

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