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by ARLnow.com — March 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm 0

School Board candidate Tannia Talento Courtney Hill, the former campaign manager of Arlington School Board candidate Tannia Talento, is planning legal fight after she said Talento didn’t pay her what was owed in her contract.

Hill is a community activist who serves on Arlington’s Commission on the Status of Women and on the steering committee of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. A single mother of two, Hill says she’s being evicted from her home after Talento refused to pay her. She is suing Talento, who refutes the allegations.

“At the onset of my campaign, Ms. Hill was employed as my campaign manager,” Talento told ARLnow.com, in a statement. “Shortly after we began our work together, I realized we had different expectations for the direction of the campaign. Her employment was eventually terminated and unfortunately we had a contractual disagreement which will be settled judiciously in our court system.”

The two parties are scheduled for a hearing in Arlington General District Court on April 11. The eviction proceedings against Hill were filed Feb. 16. It’s the second case against Hill filed by an Arlington landlord in three years, according to court records.

“Because of this unfortunate breach of contract and disheartening chain of events, I am now facing an eviction and will have to uproot my daughter who’s in middle school,” Hill wrote. “The past few years have been very difficult for my family, and I cannot imagine having to upend/end all of the things I’ve worked so hard for. This is not right and should not be supported by anyone who purports they are advocates for women, children, families and minorities.”

Hill said she worked as Talento’s campaign manager from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31. She said Talento “attempted to bully” her into changing the terms of her contract, but she refused due to provisions that would have prevented her from working on other campaigns and would have imposed a confidentiality agreement. Talento then refused to pay her full contract, according to Hill.

“Working on campaigns is what I do and how I pay my bills,” she said. “How dare she threaten and try to dismantle my livelihood?”

Hill, who is black, also accused Talento of an “unwillingness to meet with black leaders,” saying she was “constantly questioning the black community’s concerns/issues in regards to equal and quality education.” She further accused Talento of “having [a] very poor work ethic” and not doing “much of the leg work required to run an effective campaign.”

“I am running for the Arlington School Board, because I firmly believe in advocating for quality education and the success of every student in Arlington Public Schools,” countered Talento, who is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants. “It is important that we ensure equitable education for every child regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion or gender. My vision will ensure a continued focus on the Whole Child and will make strides in closing the achievement gap. Therefore it is unfortunate that Ms. Hill is undertaking this present course of action.”

Talento has picked up the endorsement of a number of current and former elected officials, including Del. Alfonso Lopez, former County Board member Mary Hynes and retiring School Board Chair Emma Violand Sanchez.

“Tannia has demonstrated integrity and passion for advocating all students in Arlington,” Sanchez said in a statement today. “I firmly believe she is one of the most ethical leaders that I know, and she will be an exceptional School Board Member. I am disappointed that these false allegations are being spread to discredit a highly qualified School Board candidate.”

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by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2016 at 9:25 am 0

"Sun's Out, Guns Out" sign in Ballston

APS Mulls Background Checks for Parents Who Work in Schools — Arlington Public Schools is considering requiring background checks for parents who provide enrichment services in schools. The School Board has sent back a staff proposal, however, which calls for parents who are paid for their time to receive background checks. Parents who volunteer would not get such screening. School Board members said the amount of staff supervision, not money, should determine who should gets background checks. [InsideNova]

Clarendon Eatery Offers 50 Percent Off for Military — Through the Sunday, Brixx Pizza in Clarendon (1119 N. Hundson Street) is offering 50 percent off food for those with a valid military ID. [Facebook]

Arlington Dems Predict Landslide Against Trump — If Donald Trump is  the Republican nominee for president, local Democrats believe they could run up a 50,000 vote margin against him in Arlington alone, perhaps enough to win Virginia. Arlington Democrats also believe it’s possible that nationally, a Trump nomination could swing Democrats back into the majority in the House of Representatives. [InsideNova]

Arlington Home Show Returns — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo is back for 2016. The huge hometown event will take place Saturday, April 9 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center. [Arlington County]

Introducing Our Newest Columnist — Meet Thomas C. Block, our newest columnist. Tom’s column, Around the Financial Block, begins this afternoon. [MassMutual]

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2016 at 6:45 pm 0

Tiffany Joslyn (photo via Facebook)Tiffany Joslyn, an attorney and Arlington resident, was killed in a car crash in Rhode Island on Saturday.

Joslyn, 33, and her 28-year-old brother, Derrick, were killed after a car driven by Derrick’s wife was reportedly sideswiped on I-95 near the city of Pawtucket. The initial collision caused the Joslyns’ car to lose control, strike the center median and roll onto its roof. It was then struck by a van, reported TV station WPRI.

Tiffany is being remembered as a strong advocate for progressive and LGBT causes. She was on the board of local LGBT group AGLA, was a past president of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC, and was active in the Arlington Young Democrats and the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Friends, acquaintances and local organizations alike have been posting tributes to Joslyn on social media.

“Tiffany was an incredible advocate for progressive candidates,” wrote Democratic activist Ben Tribbett, “even though she didn’t always like the politics because she really cared about the issue outcomes and the real impact policy has on people’s lives.”

Joslyn’s name could often be found among the list of endorsements for local candidates. Among the candidates for elected office she endorsed were former Delegate Rob Krupicka, former state Senate candidate Jaime Areizaga-Soto and Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt.

Professionally, Joslyn worked as a deputy chief counsel for a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

A friend of Joslyn’s, Stephanie Clifford, has created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for her family and for her cat. The cat was injured in the crash and may need to have her leg amputated, Clifford wrote. So far, nearly $6,000 has been raised.

Below is a video of Joslyn speaking about LGBT causes at County Board member Jay Fisette’s house in 2011. The video was originally published by the Blue Virginia blog.

“At the end of day we are partisans,” Joslyn told the gathered crowd, “but equality is a non-partisan matter.”

Photo (top) via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2016 at 11:10 am 0

Voters line up at the Democratic caucus at Washington-Lee High School (Jan. 2012)

Arlington Democrats will have four School Board candidates to choose from at an endorsement caucus in May.

The “unassembled caucus” — also referred to as a “firehouse primary,” with an instant run-off voting process used to determine the winners — will be held over two days:

  • Thursday, May 19 from 7-9 p.m. at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.)
  • Saturday, May 21 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street)

There are two School Board seats in contention, one of which is up for grabs with the retirement of School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez. The candidates vying for the Democratic endorsement are:

Prior to the caucus, a candidate debate will be held at the Arlington County Democratic Committee monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).

by ARLnow.com — February 4, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Memorial Bridge mid-winter (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Ballston Company Raises $100 Million — Ballston-based Snagajob has announced a $100 million funding round. The company is planning to hire at least 150 new employees for its Arlington and Richmond offices and make some significant acquisitions. [Tech.co]

Democratic Challenger Launches Campaign — Small business owner and Planning Commission member Erik Gutshall formally launched his campaign to unseat Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Gutshall’s primary pitch to Democrats is “responsive, progressive leadership that you can trust.” Garvey upset many Democratic voters by endorsing independent Board member John Vihstadt and campaigning (successfully) to kill the Columbia Pike streetcar project. [InsideNova]

Bikeshare By the Numbers — Critics of Capital Bikeshare are pointing to some system stats to suggest that it’s inefficient and serves a narrow segment of the population, though the reality is a bit more gray. Capital Bikeshare lost 30 cents on the dollar — rider revenue covers 70 percent of operating costs. But that’s not too shabby compared to other transit systems. In terms of operating costs per passenger-mile, Bikeshare is between Metrorail and Metrobus. Critics also point out that 84 percent of Bikeshare members are white while the District’s population is only 44 percent white (and Arlington’s population is 64 percent white). [Daily Signal]

DESIGNArlington Winners Revealed — The 11 winners of the annual DESIGNArlington awards for architectural and landscape projects have been announced. Among the projects receiving a “Merit Award” is the somewhat controversial sewage plant fence art project entitled “Ripple.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo via Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot via Crowdpac.com

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

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

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

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

From a press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

by ARLnow.com — December 4, 2015 at 8:30 am 0

Early flight at Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Dems Vote For Redskins Team Name Change — The Arlington County Democratic Committee voted Wednesday to officially call on Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s “offensive” name. Some Democrats opposed the vote, suggesting that “nobody would take the resolution particularly seriously.” [InsideNova]

New Trend: Karaoke Leagues — Team karaoke leagues and costumed karaoke competitions are all the rage in Arlington, D.C. and New York City, according to a Wall Street Journal trend piece. [Wall Street Journal]

Kudos for Local Chinese Restaurant — Peter Chang’s restaurant in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center is “the best neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Washington,” according to food critic Tom Sietsema. [Washington Post]

Marymount Tree Lighting Ceremony — The public is invited to attend Marymount University’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony tonight. The ceremony will take place in front of Marymount’s Lodge building starting at 6 p.m. and will feature music from the Randolph Elementary School Choir.

Arlington Tech Co. Raises $4 Million — Rosslyn-based LiveSafe has raised $4 million in a new venture round. The company makes mobile campus safety software for universities, large companies and government agencies. [DC Inno, Washington Business Journal]

Winners of Startup Competition Announced — Arlington County has announced the winners of the U.S. round of the Dongsheng/AC Bridge Entrepreneur Competition. The global competition is a partnership between Arlington Economic Development and China-focused investment company Dao Ventures. [Arlington County]

New Patch for 74-Year-Old Marathon Runner — Retired Marine Al Richmond, who at the age of 74 recently completed his 40th Marine Corps Marathon, has been presented with a special patch at a ceremony at his Arlington home. Richmond said he plans to keep running and improve on this year’s performance. [CBS Local]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — December 3, 2015 at 9:20 am 0

"Health is everything" sign in front of Dunkin' Donuts sign at Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

APS Sweeps Top 16 of Best Elementary School List — The top sixteen schools on a new list of the best public elementary schools in Virginia are all Arlington public schools. Moreover, 19 of the top 20 are Arlington schools. [Niche]

Deal on Historic Designation for Stratford Nears — The Arlington County Board, School Board and NAACP appear close to striking a deal for the historic preservation of the Stratford building, the current home of H-B Woodlawn and a future middle school. Stratford was one of the was the first public school in Virginia to integrate, in 1959. Meanwhile, the Arlington Civic Federation is debating whether the middle school should retain the “Stratford” name, which pays tribute to the plantation where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was born. [InsideNova]

Group Reaches Cemetery Wreath Goal — The group that places wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery around the holidays has met its fundraising goal thanks to last-minute donations. Just a few days ago Wreaths Across America was 30,000 wreaths short of its goal of placing wreaths on each of the cemetery’s 230,000 headstones. [WTOP]

Garvey Back in Black at ACDC — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey has formally been welcomed back into the good graces of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, more than a year after she endorsed Republican-turned-Independent John Vihstadt in his successful bid for County Board. Garvey is up for reelection next year and there are rumors that she will face a Democratic primary challenge. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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

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

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

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

Democrats say they were pleasantly surprised by the election results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by ARLnow.com — September 9, 2015 at 9:30 am 1,488 0

Car storage in Ballston (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Why Car2Go Can’t Cross the Border — Car2Go car-sharing service is launching in Arlington on Sept. 19, but users won’t be able to drive from Arlington and park in D.C., or vice versa. The District, which also has Car2Go service, is worried about traffic congestion and a loss of parking spaces to Arlington Car2Go users. Arlington officials have also expressed concern about allowing D.C. users park on Arlington streets, but appear more receptive to opening the Car2Go border. [Washington Post]

Arlington Kid’s Letter Read on Tonight Show — As part of a “Kid Letters” segment last night, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon read a letter from Caroline, who said she lives in Arlington. Caroline had a joke for Jimmy: “Which planet is God’s favorite planet? Saturn, because he put a ring on it.” Caroline also confessed that she has a crush on Fallon. [NBC]

APS Menus Now Online — Arlington Public Schools has put its breakfast and lunch menus online. The menus allow students and parents to review detailed nutritional information and to add funds to a prepaid meal account. Today, at Washington-Lee High School, students will have the choice of a 440 calorie chicken sandwich, a 324 calorie stuffed shell and breadstick meal, or a 304 calorie autumn fruit salad. APS also has a food-focused Twitter account. [Arlington Public Schools, Nutrislice, Twitter]

Nonprofits Moving from D.C. to Crystal City — Property owner Vornado has scored another new lease in Crystal City: the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Thanks to lower office rental rates, and generous concessions, Vornado has been steadily winning nonprofit tenants and reducing its vacancy rate, which soared due to the loss of military agencies following the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure plan. [Washington Business Journal]

Dems Select Winning Chili — Del. Alfonso Lopez and his legislative assistant, Jason Stanford, were the big winners at Monday’s annual Arlington County Democratic Committee Labor Day Chili Cookoff. Stanford’s “Fighting 49th” chili featured ingredients from the Columbia Pike farmers market and a secret seasoning blend that was inspired by the staffer’s Louisiana roots. The chili cookoff was held this year at the Barcroft Community House, due to construction on the usual venue, the Lyon Park Community Center. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com — August 10, 2015 at 9:20 am 1,734 0

"Fun Slide" at the Arlington County Fair (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Little Change to Office Vacancy Rate — There was little change to Arlington’s high office vacancy rate in the second quarter of 2015, compared to one year prior. On a neighborhood level, the vacancy rate was up significantly in the Clarendon and Courthouse area but down in Virginia Square. [InsideNova]

Metro Offers Credits for Friday Mess — Metro is issuing a SmarTrip credit to riders who travelled on the Blue, Orange or Silver lines between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The credit is being issued automatically, as an apology for major delays caused by a track power issue near the East Falls Church station, among other Metro snafus last week. [WMATA]

Move-In Date Delayed for New Apartments — The move-in date for the new Verde Pointe apartments on Lee Highway has been delayed. Originally planned for Aug. 1, the building opening is now reportedly expected to take place within three weeks. Would-be residents are being told that building safety inspections are still taking place. [NBC Washington]

Dems Move Chili Cookoff — The annual Labor Day chili cookoff organized by the Arlington County Democratic Committee has been moved this year. The event will be held at the Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) rather than the usual venue of the Lyon Park Community Center, which is in the midst of renovations. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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 Ethan Rothstein — April 7, 2015 at 10:30 am 2,256 0

Katie CristolThe six Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board are all pushing plans to increase affordable housing and encourage more mixed-income neighborhoods in the county.

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.

Christian Dorsey“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 FallonPeter 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.”

James LanderSchool 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.”

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