We reported in November that the DMV was planning to end its lease this spring and move to the Barcroft Plaza shopping center in the Falls Church area.
The planned move was not particularly well-received in Arlington nor in Fairfax County, where the new DMV office was to open. Del. Lopez organized a community meeting in Arlington to hear concerns about the plan, while residents of Fairfax County’s Mason District lambasted the plan and the anticipated traffic and parking problems the new DMV would bring.
“The locals really did not like it,” Lopez noted.
In a quick series of deals this month, the DMV was released from its Barcroft Plaza lease and renewed its lease at 4150 S. Four Mile Run Drive, according to Lopez. The state government will even get a reduction on its rent.
“It’s good for the community and it’s good for the state,” Lopez said. “I think everyone wins with this deal — the state government, the property owners and Arlington County. It’s really good news for South Arlington, for all of Arlington in terms of DMV convenience.”
The new DMV office that’s planned for Virginia Square, meanwhile, is still expected to open later this spring. The press release from Del. Lopez’s office is below.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has signed a lease to keep open the Arlington Customer Service Center on Four Mile Run Drive. In addition to continuing convenient service in South Arlington, the DMV will move forward with its plans to open an additional office in the Ballston area to increase service for all Arlington residents.
“I was very happy to work with Commission Holcomb and his team to ensure that DMV service remains in South Arlington. I am also pleased that DMV is adding additional service in the Ballston area of Central Arlington,” said Delegate Lopez (D-Arlington).
In a letter to legislators on Friday afternoon, Commissioner Holcomb commented, “I want to particularly thank Delegate Alfonso Lopez for his able assistance with initiating discussions that resulted in negotiations of an extremely favorable deal for the Commonwealth to remain in South Arlington.”
According to the letter, the new lease includes a substantial rent reduction, money for tenant improvements, a more equitable facility maintenance structure, and a parking lot study/redesign.
News that the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles office on S. Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington will be moving to Fairfax County next year has stirred up controversy in both locales.
DMV and elected officials in Fairfax are planning a community meeting on Thursday to discuss the DMV office’s move to a busy shopping center along Columbia Pike, reports the Annandale VA blog. Locals there have expressed concern that the new DMV will cause traffic and parking problems in the area.
In Arlington, meanwhile, some residents are unhappy with the idea of having to trek out to Fairfax County to get a drivers license. In order to address the concerns of Arlington residents, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) will be hosting a town hall meeting with DMV officials this weekend.
From a press release:
Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) is hosting a town hall meeting with Senior DMV Officials to discuss the relocation of the DMV Customer Service Center on Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington. The meeting will take place on Sunday, December 6th from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at the Walter Reed Community Center. The meeting will be an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions and learn more about the decision.
WHO: Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Senior DMV Officials
WHAT: A town hall meeting to discuss relocating the DMV office on Four Mile Run Drive
WHEN: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
WHERE: The Walter Reed Community Center’s multipurpose room (2909 16th St S, Arlington, VA 22204)
Cheap Gas in Arlington — Just in time for your Thanksgiving vacation, there are a number of gas stations in Arlington at which you can fill up for less than $2.00 per gallon. At $1.97 per gallon, the BP station at the corner of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Walter Reed Drive, pictured above, isn’t the lowest in the county: that honor belongs to Arlington Auto Service on Columbia Pike, with its $1.87 per gallon gas. [Gas Buddy]
County Warns of Sewer Backup Risk — One thing that could ruin your Thanksgiving feast would be a sewer backup. Arlington County is warning residents that that could happen if they’re not careful about disposing of fats, oils and greases (FOG). The proper ways to dispose of FOG is to empty it into a container, like an empty can, and throw it in the trash — not rinsing it down the drain, where it could cling to and clog pipes. [Arlington County]
Suspicious Package Calls Up Since Paris Attacks — Calls for suspicious packages and suspicious circumstances are up in Arlington since the Paris terror attacks. That’s according to Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr, who spoke to reporter Pete Williams during a segment on last night’s NBC Nightly News broadcast. The county has set up an online form for reporting possible terrorism-related activity, in addition to receiving such calls via the police non-emergency line: 703-558-2222.
Airport Workers Rally for Higher Wages — As hordes of passengers head to Reagan National Airport for holiday travel, airport workers are going on a hunger strike, pushing for a living wage. Tipped workers at the airport, like baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants, make as little as $3.77 an hour. [WUSA 9]
Lopez Named House Minority Whip — Arlington’s Del. Alfonso Lopez has been named the new Minority Whip of the Virginia House of Delegates Democratic Caucus. In a statement, Lopez said we will continue to work for “our vision of a Commonwealth that prioritizes public education, invests in transit and transportation infrastructure, protects our environment, preserves our social safety net, and grows a new Virginia economy to expand opportunity for all Virginians.” [Patch]
Van Doren Running for Reelection — Arlington School Board member Nancy Van Doren has announced that she will be running for reelection in 2016. Van Doren replaced Noah Simon on the School Board after a special election last year. She will be seeking her first full term. [InsideNova]
APS Elementary Schools Get Top Marks — Ten of the top 11 public elementary schools in Virginia, as ranked by Niche.com, are in Arlington. “A high ranking indicates that the school is an exceptional academic institution with a diverse set of high-achieving students and faculty, and the students are very happy with their experiences,” the website said of its 2015 list. [Niche]
‘Blue Moon’ County Board Race — The upcoming Arlington County Board election will be the first in four decades in which two seats are open at the same time. That has led one political watcher to dub the race a “blue-moon” election. [InsideNova]
Fraber House Garage Moved — The detached garage near the historic Fraber House was moved closer to the home yesterday. The Fraber House was sold to a private homeowner after being designated historic by the county in 2013. The garage was not on the land that the county sold, but it allowed the homeowner to move it to the property. [Preservation Arlington]
Lopez Small Biz Legislation Passes — Del. Alfonso Lopez’s small business bill, HB 1901, has unanimously passed the House of Delegates. The legislation updates the definition of a small business in Virginia, which would in turn affect certain state purchasing contracts intended for small businesses. Currently, 95 percent of all businesses in Virginia meet the state’s definition of a small business: having 250 or fewer employees or annual revenue up to $10 million.
All gun control bills proposed by Democrats that went before the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee yesterday were defeated. Among the legislation struck down was a bill from Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) that would have made it illegal for parents to allow a child 4 years old or younger to use a firearm.
Another bill, from Sen. Barbara Favola (D), would have prevented those convicted of stalking or sexual battery from carrying a firearm.
More than a dozen bills that would restrict everything from who can purchase guns, which convicted criminals can carry guns and how many guns one person can buy were all struck down by the committee. The bills’ defeat was not a surprise considering Republicans control the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and the GOP has long opposed any legislation viewed as restricting Second Amendment rights.
“Handing a child under the age of 4 a gun, the adult is no longer in control of the situation. Simply requiring adult supervision, even with careful instruction, cannot guarantee the safety of anyone nearby,” Del. Alfonso Lopez, who proposed similar legislation to Ebbin’s bill in the House of Delegates, said in a speech before the General Assembly. “If it’s illegal to hand a gun to a person with the mental capabilities of a 4 year-old, why would you hand a gun to an actual 4 year-old?”
Ebbin’s major legislation was an omnibus gun bill that restricted the use of and ability to carry firearms when drinking, at restaurants, and leaving loaded firearms around minors among a litany of other proposed regulations. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the large bill “took longer to present than it did to debate and vote down.”
Before the committee met, Ebbin spoke with ARLnow.com about gun control measures, and he was optimistic that some reforms could pass.
“I’m not sure how much consensus we’ll reach, but gun violence is going to be a big discussion we’re having,” Ebbin said. “I have a thick skin and a positive attitude. Too many people are dying to not press forward on it.”
Favola’s bill to prevent stalkers and those convicted of sexual battery from possessing firearms was originally reported out of committee — meaning it would go before the state senate — and the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Thomas Norment, was heard voting “aye” for Favola’s bill. Hours later, on the legislature’s website, the bill was reported defeated, leading to outcry from senate Democrats.
“This smacks of back-room politics,” Favola told ARLnow.com. The bill will be reconsidered by the committee tomorrow afternoon, according to Favola’s office.
In contrast to the legislation that was shot down, a bill advanced out of committee that would allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry guns on school property when there are no school activities happening. It’s unclear if that, or other pro-gun rights laws, will be vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
With former Gov. Bob McDonnell starting to serve a prison sentence on Feb. 9 after being convicted of federal corruption charges, Arlington’s state legislators are taking aim at the state laws surrounding political gifts.
Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has introduced SB 1289, called the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act. If passed, the bill would establish an independent commission on ethics, which would review all government disclosure forms, conduct random audits of legislators and grant waivers for certain gifts. It would also limit “tangible” gifts to $100 and intangible gifts, like flights and meals, to $250.
“Having a commission gives real teeth to our efforts and shows we’re serious about enforcement,” Ebbin said yesterday. “I’ve been working on this for a few years, for common sense ways to increase transparency and to penalize things that are beneath the standards of our public officials.”
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of receiving more than $177,000 in impermissible gifts from a high-profile donor, and the former governor and attorney general was sentenced to two years in prison. Despite the conviction, McDonnell wasn’t charged with corruption in any state case.
“You can drive a Mack truck through Virginia’s ethics laws,” Del. Alfonso Lopez said.
ARLnow.com spoke to several Arlington state legislators yesterday, and all of them pegged ethics reform as the biggest issue the General Assembly will face in its 2015 session. McDonnell’s conviction has helped drum up efforts for reform on both sides of the aisle.
“I’m confident there will be bipartisan support for increased reform, it’s just a matter of the details, and I’m a pretty detail-oriented guy,” Ebbin said. “I’m going to work hard to make sure the most effective elements of this legislation are adopted, I’m going to do everything in my power.”
Ebbin says his bill would aim to curb “unlimited dinners” for lawmakers and “private jets to golf tournaments,” which he finds “reprehensible.” There would be opportunities for public officials to get waivers if trips are educational or fact-finding, he said.
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) knew his work trying to secure in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants wasn’t over last spring when Attorney General Mark Herring declared some “DREAMers” eligible for in-state tuition immediately.
The decision allowed children of undocumented immigrant who are legal residents because of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to receive in-state tuition if they meet other state residency requirements.
In this legislative session, there are bills in the House of Delegates and the state Senate that aim to undo Herring’s action. Lopez had previously introduced bills every year to do what Herring did in one fell swoop; now, he’s moving to block the new bills.
“We knew we’d have to defend against Tea Party attacks,” Lopez told ARLnow.com yesterday. “We assumed it would come. We hoped it wouldn’t, but now it has.”
The bills are HB1356, introduced by Loudoun County’s Del. David Ramadan (R), and SB722, introduced by Sen. Richard Black (R), also from Loudoun. Ramadan is himself an immigrant: he was born in Beirut, Lebanon, before immigrating to the United States.
Both bills declare that DACA-protected immigrants “do not have the capacity to remain in Virginia indefinitely,” and therefore are ineligible for in-state tuition. The bill applies to DACA children, those with temporary protected status — political refugees from foreign countries — and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.
“To think that Sen. Black would want to take the refugees of civil wars and deny them an opportunity of education… that is a huge step backwards.,” Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) told ARLnow.com.
Republicans control both houses in the General Assembly, and with a 67-32-1 advantage in the House of Delegates, so Lopez knows he faces a steep climb in trying to beat the bills.
“We’ve talked to the attorney general’s office, we’ve talked to the governor’s office,” Lopez said. “We also are organizing through education and religious groups, getting them to lobby in opposition against these bills. There are many groups around the state making calls who are saying this is the wrong attack to take, not only from a fairness and a moral issue to take, but also an economic development and job growth [perspective].”
“I think we’ll either be successful and able to defeat these bills in subcommittee or there will be a heck of a fight on the floor of the Senate and the House,” Lopez continued. “Even if by some miracle these bills pass, I don’t believe the governor will sign them into law. I think he’ll veto, but I don’t know.”
Lopez said the issue impacts “my family, my friends and my neighbors,” and highlights the importance of providing in-state tuition for the state’s economic growth. Arlington residents will directly be affected, like Dayana Torres, a student at George Mason University in Fairfax who commutes to school from Arlington.
“I see being able to pay the in-state tuition rate as an essential benefit for my education that my parents and I have paid into through taxes,” Torres said in an email to ARLnow.com. She is the president of the Mason Dreamers and co-founder and former president of Dreamers of Virginia. “I affiliate with the Republican party in many key political topics, so it is always difficult for me to see Republicans in office actively trying to reverse decisions that benefit my family and I since we have been paying taxes and desperately need the in-state-tuition rates.”
The three state senators and four delegates that represent Arlington in the Virginia General Assembly have sent a letter to state Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne in support of the Columbia Pike streetcar project.
The letter calls out County Board members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt for their continued opposition to the project. On Friday, Garvey laid out alternative uses for the hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local transportation funding that are being directed toward the streetcar.
“We strongly disagree with the efforts of Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt to deprive Arlington of those state funds dedicated to the streetcar project,” the letter states.
The letter also cites the return on investment study the county funded that predicted more than $3 billion in economic impact in the first 30 years of the streetcar system. It refers to the support the streetcar has already received from state officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The letter was signed by state Sens. Janet Howell, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez, Patrick Hope, Rob Krupicka and Rip Sullivan.
The full letter is posted, after the jump. (more…)
Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
As a member of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation and long-time resident of neighborhoods along Columbia Pike, I have been a strong advocate for implementation of the Columbia Pike Neighborhood Plan adopted after many years of planning and community involvement — a fundamental component of which is a modern streetcar system.
I am pleased that our governor, after receiving broad approval (nearly 72 percent) from Arlington voters as a candidate, has strongly supported key transit projects like the streetcar.
Virginia’s Transportation Secretary has repeatedly praised the streetcar as a sound example for leveraging transportation investments to enhance economic competitiveness, noting that implementation of a seamless streetcar system between Columbia Pike and Crystal City will provide significantly more mobility benefits than enhanced bus service.
Just this past week, Virginia’s Director of Rail and Public Transportation told the Washington Post that the state remains “fully committed” to providing $65 million from a state funding stream dedicated solely to fixed guideway rail projects. This brings the total state streetcar investment to more than $200 million.
Why is the Pike Neighborhood Plan and streetcar component important? It is how we will:
- accommodate anticipated growth along Columbia Pike;
- protect Pike neighborhoods and affordable housing units;
- create important links to Crystal City/Pentagon City on one end of the Pike and Bailey’s Crossroads on the other;
- create a “main street” feel with appropriately scaled buildings and dining/retail options;
- provide street-level transit options for people to visit restaurants, libraries, community centers, shopping outlets, and office buildings;
- and generate economic development and tax revenues we will need to build schools and acquire open space.
The streetcar system will not just create additional commuting options. It will foster livable and healthy communities with robust businesses, create destinations easily accessible to Arlingtonians and revenue-generating tourists, and improve our quality of life.
I am disappointed that the carefully-planned and long-needed investments along Columbia Pike are now being treated as a political football. That is why I oppose the Garvey-Vihstadt plan announced on ARLnow.com that would cause Arlington to forfeit millions of dollars of state funding.
And I am disappointed that the Garvey-Vihstadt plan would similarly renege on commitments that Arlington County has made to help revitalize Crystal City after the poorly-planned federal decision to move thousands of military jobs to Mark Center and Fort Belvoir with the attendant losses of many more private sector jobs.
In the name of saving some unspecified amount of money on the streetcar by using inferior bus service, the Garvey-Vihstadt plan suggests that we can instead fund major Metro improvements. That makes no financial sense.
The Metro expansion projects alluded to in the Garvey-Vihstadt plan would, according to the long-range strategic plan released last year by Metro, cost many billions of dollars — many times the streetcar’s cost. A new Rosslyn Metro station — $1 billion. A second Potomac tunnel — $3.3 billion. An Orange/Silver express track to a second Rosslyn Metro station — $2.3 billion.
These may all be worthy projects, but suggesting that even Arlington’s share of the cost would become feasible merely by killing the streetcar is irresponsible. (more…)
The bill addresses “the growing problem of notaries who practice law without a license” in immigrant communities. It does so by prohibiting notaries who are not attorneys or otherwise accredited from offering legal and immigration advice.
“In many Latin American countries ‘notario publicos’ (notary publics) provide legal advice, but U.S. notaries who are not also attorneys are not authorized to share this role,” explains a media advisory about the bill signing. “In Virginia, there have been cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice.”
Two of the chief sponsors of the legislation, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) are expected to join McAuliffe at the bill signing ceremony, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the new Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) announced this afternoon that he’s ending his campaign for Congress.
Lopez was one of nearly a dozen candidates in the race to replace the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) His campaign issued the following press release today.
Thanking supporters and pledging to continue his work to expand opportunity, Delegate Alfonso Lopez announced today the end of his campaign for Congress:
“I got into this race because even though on paper the economy is doing well, too many people are still struggling to make ends meet. Everyone deserves the opportunity to build a better future.
I am proud of how my campaign resonated with many voters in the Eighth District, especially new Americans, and that we assembled a coalition of many generous supporters. However, after we closed the fundraising quarter, I took the time to evaluate, with my team, the position of my campaign. It is clear to me that I do not have the resources necessary to run the campaign we wanted and that the people of the Eighth District deserved. With that in mind, I do not want to ask my supporters to continue to make the sacrifices of time, treasure and talent that they have so generously made thus far.
Although my campaign for Congress comes to an end today, my work to expand opportunity for all Virginians continues. In the coming weeks, I will lay out a new plan for my work to expand opportunity here in Virginia. We must do more in Richmond to ensure that everyone has a chance at the American Dream.
The voters of the Eighth District have many qualified and talented candidates to choose from on June 10 — many of whom I know well. I am confident that our next representative will fight for the progressive values of Northern Virginia.”
Lopez’s fellow local Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Del. Patrick Hope, is also running for Moran’s seat. Hope issued the following statement this afternoon regarding Lopez’s decision.
Alfonso Lopez has been a leader for environmentalists, gun safety advocates, and for new Americans in Richmond and during this campaign for the 8th Congressional District. I want to publicly congratulate him for running a strong campaign. I’ve seen Alfonso’s tenacity when we served together in Richmond, and we are lucky to have him as part of the Arlington County delegation. Alfonso has a bright future in politics, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) announced this morning that he will be running for the seat in the House of Representatives being vacated by the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
Lopez is another name in a crowded Democratic field for the seat Moran has held since 1991. By running, he joins state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Virginia Democratic Party Chair Charniele Herring, Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Mark Sickles former Lieutenant Gov. Don Beyer, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and Bruce Shuttleworth. The Democratic primary will be held in June.
Lopez represents the 49th District in the House of Delegates, which covers much of Arlington south of Columbia Pike, including Pentagon City, and the Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners areas of Fairfax County. He was elected to the House in 2011 and re-elected last fall.
In his campaign announcement, Lopez laid out a platform of “equal opportunity,” abortion rights and the environment. Below is his complete campaign press release:
With Congressman Jim Moran’s retirement, Northern Virginia is losing an important and effective advocate in Washington.
When it comes to continuing the fight on Capitol Hill to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans, protect a woman’s right to choose, preserve our environment and natural resources, and improve our quality of life in Northern Virginia, our next representative must be a proven fighter for our progressive values.
With more than 20 years of experience working before Congress, the federal government and at the highest levels of state government on the issues critical to the people of Virginia’s Eighth District, I have the proven track record necessary to get to work on day one.
The son of a public school teacher and an immigrant who came to this country with only $260 in his pocket, I was instilled with the values of hard work, service and that every person deserves a fair shake in life. Those values are what drive me in everything I do.
Those values are why I continue to fight for the middle class family sitting around the dinner table wondering how they’re going to pay for college; the new graduate struggling to get a job in today’s economy; the recent immigrants striving for a better life for themselves and their children; and the single mother who has to work a second job to pay the rent.
That’s why as a delegate, I championed legislation creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund, fought to save critical social safety net programs like the Arlington Free Clinic, worked to preserve funding for Child Advocacy Centers that address the needs of child abuse victims, and helped expand Medicaid coverage for immigrant mothers and children.
That’s why during my time in the Small Business Administration I worked with administration officials and Congress to pass the Small Business Jobs Act, to make sure small business owners had access to the tools they needed to create jobs and lead in innovation.
There are many exciting opportunities ahead for Northern Virginia. I hope to be your advocate in Congress so that together we can continue to make Northern Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.
County Seeks “Great Design” Nominations — Arlington County’s is accepting submissions for great design in new construction, renovations, additions or adaptive re-use projects. It’s part of the biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, which recognizes people who do design work that enhances the county’s built environment. Applications can be submitted online until 5:00 p.m. on December 2. An independent panel of architecture, urban design, historic preservation, public art and landscape design professionals will examine the nominations and select several winners. Previous winners include Northside Social, the Reed School/Westover Library, and the Gleason/Pries residence. [Arlington County]
Preservation Arlington Highlights Bruner Home — This week, Preservation Arlington looks at the Brumer house in its “Preserved and Developed” series. In 1934, Dr. Roland Bruner purchased the property at 2018 S. Glebe Road in the Nauck neigbhorhood. Only two black doctors had been practicing in Arlington at that time, so Brumer opened a private practice in his house to help serve the black community. He worked up until his death in 1978, and a historical marker now stands near his home. [Preservation Arlington]
Close Election Could Benefit VA DREAM Act — Fresh off a victory in Tuesday’s election, Del. Alfonso Lopez plans to make enactment of the DREAM Act his number one priority for the Virginia General Assembly session. It appears the narrow victories of Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe (D) and Del. Thomas Rust (R) may help the prospects for such legislation. Lopez and Rust had combined similar pieces of legislation last year that made it through the House Committee on Education on a 17-4 vote, but stalled because the House Appropriations Committee did not act on the measure before the session ended. If the bill makes it to McAuliffe, he is expected to sign it into law. [Sun Gazette]
Rosslyn BID Collects and Donates Marine Corps Marathon Clothing — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) collected and redistributed 968 pounds of clothes to the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). The clothes were items such as hats, gloves, sweatshirts and pants that runners shed while passing through Rosslyn during the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27. The BID had the clothing cleaned and gave it to A-SPAN to distribute to people in need.
This week, we asked the candidates for competitive House of Delegates races in Arlington districts to write a sub-750 word essay describing why residents of their districts should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 5).
Here is the unedited response from 49th District candidate Alfonso Lopez:
I currently have the privilege of serving our community in the Virginia House of Delegates. I represent the 49th District, which runs along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads and up Route 7 to Seven Corners.
Two years ago, I asked for your vote so that I could fight for our values in Richmond, protect the social safety-net upon which my parents and so many others have relied, and address many of the biggest issues facing our community: transportation, affordable housing, education and job creation.
As your Delegate, I have worked to restore funding in Virginia’s budget for Free Health Clinics, such as the Arlington Free Clinic, that provide critical health care for our uninsured neighbors. I was also able to restore funding for our network of Child Advocacy Centers, which bring together health care professionals, social workers, and investigators to address the needs of child abuse victims in Virginia.
Building on the work of former Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, I successfully sponsored legislation creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund and was named the Virginia Housing Coalition’s 2013 Legislative Leader. As a revolving loan fund, the Trust Fund will help create affordable housing and address homelessness throughout the Commonwealth. While we secured $8 million in funding through the budget process, the Trust Fund will need a permanent, dedicated source of revenue in order to effectively meet the needs of Virginians. Over the next two years, finding a steady source of revenue will be one of my top priorities. (more…)
Issues like the Columbia Pike streetcar and the housing authority referendum were at the forefront last night during the Arlington Civic Federation’s annual candidates’ forum.
The debate between County Board member Jay Fisette and Green Party challenger Audrey Clement was the night’s most divisive, with Clement challenging the streetcar project and the Board’s fiscal policies.
“I pledge to raise no taxes,” Clement said, “Repeal last year’s tax increase… and authorize an inspector general for the county’s budget.”
Clement again voiced her support for the referendum to create a housing authority, which Fisette and other Board members oppose. Fisette defended the Board’s actions, asserting that the tax increases were largely to pay for the increase in school enrollment and the streetcar “fulfills the vision of the revitalization of Columbia Pike.”
“I will ensure that Arlington continues to be a community that respects the differences among us,” he said. “I believe that there’s more to do, and I have more to give.”
Six races were represented during the forum: Fisette’s Board seat, James Lander’s School Board seat, and the 45th, 47th, 48th, and 49th District races for the House of Delegates. Lander and Del. Robert Brink (D-48) are running unopposed, and each gave two-minute speeches and took one question from the floor. Del. Rob Krupicka (D-45) did not have an opponent to debate at the forum after it was revealed that independent candidate Jeffrey Engle was not in attendance.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and Libertarian challenger Laura Delhomme — participating in her first debate — fielded questions about affordable housing, wind energy and their thoughts on the Republican state ticket. No Republican is running for any seat, state or local, in Arlington.
“I’m not a socially liberal Republican, I’m not a fiscally conservative Democrat,” said Delhomme, who suggested repealing the state income tax and the Virginia Marriage Amendment.
Hope advocated for transferring more of Virginia’s energy from coal and natural gas to wind power and discussed how difficult it was to make progress in the General Assembly.
“In my first four years in office, I’ve learned that change can be very difficult,” Hope said. “Getting government out of our bedrooms and our doctor’s offices has divided our state and our parties.”
In the final debate of the night, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), running in his first re-election bid, and Independent Green Party candidate Terrence Modglin, showed the starkest disagreement, particularly on abortion. Modglin supports greater restrictions on abortion.
“I think the laws and regulations enacted, the intent of them was to, regardless of what the language was, reduce the number of abortions in Virginia and I think that’s a good thing in terms of public policy,” Modglin said.
Following Modglin’s response, Lopez looked slightly taken aback. He shook his head before he responded.
“A woman’s right to choose is non-negotiable,” Lopez said. “The [transvaginal ultrasound] legislation put up…was a travesty. It made us a laughing stock on the national stage. I will definitely fight these backdoor ways of reducing a person’s access to contraception.”
Election Day is on Nov. 5. The forum, held at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel auditorium, is organized every year as the unofficial start to Arlington’s fall campaign season.