Last week we asked the six Democratic Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them during the June 9 primary. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.
Here is the unedited response from Andrew Schneider:
When you run for office and knock on doors, you start to hear the same questions over and over. Why are you running? What are your priorities? How are you different from the other candidates?
Why am I running?
I am running because Arlington is facing two concurrent challenges that must be addressed aggressively and creatively. The first is our rapidly growing school population. Where we put these kids and how we pay for them is fundamental to the future of our County. The second challenge is what’s happening with our economy – the high vacancy rates, the impact of BRAC, increasing regional competition, and the changing nature of office space and work. As an Arlingtonian and as a candidate I have thought how these issues are interconnected and how I can make a difference in each of these areas.
- Stronger collaboration with the School Board in budgeting, school location and construction, and forecasting.
- To pay for schools, we must aggressively work with our partners in the business community and Arlington Economic Development to lower the vacancy rate and to invigorate the commercial sector in key areas like Rosslyn and Crystal City.
- To attract businesses we must have great customer service and make it easier to interact with the County. This goes for residents as well as businesses whether it’s applying for a permit, submitting a site plan, or reporting a pothole.
- We can’t do any of these things if we spend our time playing “sandbox” politics. From day one, I have focused my campaign on One Arlington, One Community. We have to stop pitting different parts of our community against one another – Schools vs. Parks, North vs. South, Housing vs. Parks, and Business vs. Residents etc.
How am I different than other candidates?
The candidates that I am running against are all good people and we share many of the same values. I like to answer this question through three criteria 1) Values 2) Experience and 3) Leadership style.
- Regarding our values, the fact that we are all Democrats means that many of our core values are similar and, frankly, there isn’t a huge amount of policy separation between us. This fact has been born out in nearly every policy question asked of through the campaign.
- Regarding experience, each of us brings different skills and experiences to the table. Some of my colleagues argue that this is the defining differentiation. I believe that my experience as an Arlingtonian, Civic Association President, and member of the Lee Highway revitalization effort has partially prepared me for this office. I also believe that my MBA, work in the private sector, having run a Chamber of Commerce, and my work in the public sector has also prepared me. I am a sum of my experienced and I believe that my resume and my record of leadership and of civic engagement have prepared me to serve our County.
- Regarding my leadership experience, I offer myself as a leader who listens and works to build consensus. I will not present myself as someone who has all the answers but rather I will work tirelessly every day to learn and act on behalf of the community that we all love so much.
From day one of this campaign, I have run as a candidate who will listen, work hard, and do what I can to address the challenges that we face as a County. I promise to never talk down to voters, to always have an open mind, to always think creatively and innovatively, and to always reply to funny, snarky, and creative GIFs in the comment section of arlnow.com
To learn more about me, see a list of Arlingtonians who have endorsed me, and to watch my campaign videos, please visit www.andrewforarlington.com
I’d be honored to earn your vote on Tuesday.
Parents Located After Boy Found Wandering — A social media post helped Arlington County Police located the parents of a boy found wandering along on 4th Street N. Saturday afternoon. The parents said they both assumed the boy was with the other parent. [WJLA]
Whipple Endorses Schneider — Former County Board member and state senator Mary Margaret Whipple has endorsed Andrew Schneider in the Democratic County Board primary. [InsideNova]
History Center Profiled — Interested in Arlington history? Not too surprisingly, the place for you is the Center for Local History at Arlington Central Library. The center has books, photographs, oral histories, permit records and other local historical resources. [Washington Post]
The Alliance for Housing Solutions asked each candidate — Katie Cristol, Christian Dorsey, Peter Fallon, James Lander, Andrew Schneider and Bruce Wiljanen — about their priorities and solutions for the county’s rising cost of living and rapidly shrinking stock of residences affordable to middle class families.
Each candidate, in their responses, declared affordable housing a strong priority, and vowed solutions to make it easier for lower-income individuals to find a home in the county. Many of the responses touched on the same themes — public-private partnerships as a solution, the county’s lack of land as an obstacle — as the candidates try to distinguish themselves for the two open seats on the Board.
Cristol, the youngest of the candidates, said she would advocate for creative solutions, like the planned WeLive space in Crystal City and making it easier to build additions in single-family homes. The Columbia Pike resident also vowed to protect the affordable housing policies already on the books, like the Affordable Housing Ordinance, which requires developers to contribute affordable units or money to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund if they want to build more density than otherwise allowed by zoning.
“Over the past decade, the Affordable Housing Ordinance … has been critical in linking affordable housing to economic redevelopment across the County,” Cristol wrote. “I believe the approach of the Affordable Housing Ordinance is a key mechanism to mitigate the loss of our market-rate affordable stock in the decades to come, and I will champion its protection.”
Dorsey said his affordable housing priorities would be to expand the stock of committed affordable units alongside market-rate affordable units and he, along with the other candidates, argued that a mix of housing prices was key for the county’s long-term economic prosperity.
“Employers consider a community’s ability to house its workforce a critical factor in determining where to locate their business,” Dorsey wrote. “Moreover, since housing is the biggest line item in the budgets for most families, reducing housing costs yields increased income that can be spent on goods and services–increasing demand and thus business sustainability.”
Peter Fallon, who is trying to capture the Democratic nomination for County Board for the second time after losing to Alan Howze in the special election primary last year, said part of the problem with implementing affordable housing problem is the messaging — many people don’t understand why it’s a key issue.
“We need to be honest about the perception of affordable housing in Arlington,” he wrote. “Some residents view affordable housing residents as ‘takers’ who don’t add to the economic vibrancy of the community. As a County Board member, I intend to be a voice for all Arlingtonians, and that means correcting misperceptions about residents of affordable housing — many of whom are long time residents and the same young, middle-class families who make Arlington a top destination for new residents.”
School Board Chair James Lander said he wants to “implement key components” of the Columbia Pike Neighborhood Plan — which calls for the preservation of 6,200 affordable units along the corridor — as a way to spur the development of mixed-income neighborhoods throughout the county.
“Neighborhoods with residents of mixed income levels directly impact the goals of diversity, inclusion, and economic sustainability,” he wrote. “Neighborhoods with residents of mixed income levels directly impact the goals of diversity, inclusion, and economic sustainability. Prioritizing these shared values ensures that our teachers, construction workers, seniors, hospitality and service employees all have increased opportunities to make Arlington their home.”
Andrew Schneider said the county’s current strategies are not enough to maintain the desired mix of housing in the county. He said that despite the county’s best efforts, there are still more affordable housing units being taken off the market every year than there are being added.
“We need to be innovative and creative in finding new solutions to stubborn problems,” Schneider wrote. “This innovation can range from zoning changes, to utilizing/converting existing space for housing, to grants and credits, to creative partnerships … Every level of the County has to encompass and practice a vision of possibility and flexibility. If not, we will either drive potential projects away or inadvertently work at cross purposes.”
Bruce Wiljanen, the last candidate to declare his intention to run in the primary, said maintaining a diverse housing stock “should be our highest priority,” citing the economic viability factors as the other five candidates.
“A healthy county economic life relies upon having a complete spectrum of residential and workforce participants,” he wrote. “Our largest employers, whether it be the public school system, the hospitality and healthcare industries, or the federal government and military, all should be able to source housing for their employees within Arlington.”