Metro Workers’ Union Threatens Strike — The rail service’s largest union could launch a three-day strike, as it continues to tangle with GM Paul Wiedefeld. The union provided no timeline for when the strike might occur, but workers have launched two previous actions in recent weeks. [Washington Post]
School Board Candidate Levels Racism Accusations — Independent Audrey Clement, a frequent candidate for Arlington offices, accused the School Board of using the debate over the renaming of Washington-Lee High School to “dredge up Civil War history to divert attention” from the school system’s other problems. She’s squaring off against incumbent Democrat Barbara Kanninen this fall. [InsideNova]
Arlington Democrats Honor Longtime Activist — The county’s Democratic committee plans to name Herschel Kanter as the “senior Democrat of the year” on Sept. 30. His fellow Democrats say the move was a “no-brainer.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Alexandria High-Rise Fire Hospitalizes Three — A blaze broke out at a high-rise along the 5000 block of Holmes Run Parkway around 2 a.m. this morning. [WTOP]
Photo via @thelastfc
Primary Voting Underway — It’s an election day in Virginia. On the ballot in Arlington is the Democratic race for County Board, between Chanda Choun and Matt de Ferranti, and the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, with candidates Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas and E. W. Jackson. Voting will continue through 7 p.m. [Twitter]
Post-Parade Party in Courthouse — Those heading to the Capitals Stanley Cup victory parade downtown today can head on back to Arlington for an afterparty at Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill, hosted by the Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks. The event starts at 3 p.m. [RMNB]
Final Issue of ‘The Citizen’ — Arlington County’s “The Citizen” newsletter is publishing its last issue this week. The county-run publication is ceasing its print issues due to budget cuts. The move was lamented by the Sun Gazette, which wrote that The Citizen provided “information that, most likely, many local residents will now not get, despite the government’s plethora of online-centric public-relations efforts.” [InsideNova]
Clement: Strip Washington from W-L Too — Independent Arlington School Board candidate Audrey Clement says it is “hypocrisy in the extreme” for the “Lee” in “Washington-Lee High School” to be removed without also removing “Washington.” Wrote Clement: “Had not George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson — all Virginia native sons and all slave holders — greased the skids of institutionalized slavery by agreeing to write it into the U.S. Constitution, Lee would not have taken up arms against his own nation.” [Audrey Clement]
Apartment Building to Get Free Broadband — “Arlington’s Digital Inclusion Initiative, announced in December 2017, will leverage the County’s fiber-optic network, ConnectArlington, to bring free broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income households in Arlington, including those with school-age children. Arlington Mill Residences, a low- and moderate-income residential development, will serve as the demonstration project for the initiative.” [Arlington County]
Paving on Lorcom Lane — Crews are paving Lorcom Lane between N. Fillmore and Daniel streets today. [Twitter]
Nearby: Second Northside Social Opens — The new Falls Church outpost of Clarendon cafe Northside Social has opened in the Little City. “The business itself will offer a menu similar to its Clarendon location, but a basement that allows for a commercial-sized bakery and chef Matt Hill’s creative inklings will provide new lunch and dinner options.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Clement to Face Kanninen Again — “The 2018 Arlington School Board race is likely to be a rerun of 2014. Audrey Clement and incumbent Barbara Kanninen have qualified for ballot access, county elections chief Linda Lindberg told the Sun Gazette, setting up a reprise of their campaign from four years ago.” [InsideNova]
PenPlace Sketches Released — JBG Smith has released new sketches of its planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City. The development includes “two seven-story apartment buildings totaling 300 units, 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a future park.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Palooza Set for Saturday — The second annual Arlington Palooza,”a free outdoor program for all ages with live music, art, games and more,” is set to take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Alcova Heights Park. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Arlington Historical Society Getting Donation — Per a press release: “The Arlington Historical Society will receive a significant donation this spring as Arlington welcomes National Capital Bank to the Courthouse/Clarendon area on Wilson Blvd. National Capital Bank President Randy Anderson, who grew up in Arlington, called to inform AHS President Johnathan Thomas that the Society was chosen as one of the charities the Bank will support with a grant award.”
Real Estate Inventory Crunch — “Long & Foster says… the number of houses and condos on the market, in D.C., Loudoun County and Arlington County was down 22 percent in March compared to a year ago.” [WTOP]
Live Construction Cam in Ballston — The new 672 Flats apartment building (an ARLnow.com advertiser) in Ballston set up a live camera to track the construction progress. The camera is viewable online and shows an aerial view of the apartments and a portion of the neighborhood. [OxBlue]
It would be — by our count — either the eighth or ninth run for local office for the repeat candidate, who most recently ran for County Board. The Yupette blog suggests Clement would focus on fiscal restraint as a School Board candidate.
“The School Board will be increasingly focused on giving APS parents more Taj Mahal schools with every conceivable amenity that they’ve historically demanded,” it says. “So A.Y. is happy that a candidate with fiscal sanity who’s not addicted to Smart Growth is considering running for School Board.”
But not everyone thinks another campaign is a good idea for Clement. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey opined this morning on his blog that it is “time for a perennial candidate to call it a day.”
It’d be her second bid for that post, and she’s run either six or seven times for County Board, as well. Just about every time, she’s either garnered (if she was the lone non-Democrat on the ball) or shared (if there were more than one) the roughly 30 percent of votes cast against the dominant political party in A-town.
I say this as one who likes Clement and thinks she brings valuable points of view to the community conversation: It’s time for her to stop running for office.
If past track record is any indication, the odds will be overwhelmingly against Clement, who would be running to unseat incumbent Barbara Kanninen. On the other hand, uncontested elections are rarely a good thing in a democracy, and Clement has added to the civic conversation whenever she has run.
In your opinion, should Clement run again, or is time to hang it up, at least for now?
Arlington Startup to Appear on Shark Tank — SmartGurlz, an Arlington-based company that makes “a line of dolls that ride robotic scooters, controlled by an app built to teach girls to code,” is set to appear on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank next month. At least one other Arlington startup has pitched investors on the show, successfully: Zoobean received an investment from Mark Cuban after appearing on the show in 2014. [Washington Business Journal]
Pop-Up Food Venue to Open in Crystal City — What was once an unassuming concession stand in the Crystal City Water Park on Crystal Drive has been renovated and is reopening on Wednesday, Nov. 1 as “The Stand,” featuring a “rotating lineup of pop-ups from the hottest local food vendors.” Among the vendors expected to take up temporary residence are La Columbe coffee, Cookie Dough & Co., B Doughnut, Capital Chicken & Waffle, Timber Pizza Company and Pinch Chinese dumplings. [Eater, The Stand]
Arlington Launches New Tourism Website — Arlington County has relaunched its tourism website. Per a press release: “The new website has the latest features, including responsive design… an enhanced regional events calendar integrating community events from Virginia.org and EventBrite; persistent mapping tied to local business listings; intuitive social media integration; HTML5 full-screen video and more.” [Arlington County, StayArlington]
Gutshall Endorsed by GGW — The urbanist website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Democrat Erik Gutshall in the upcoming Arlington County Board general election. “Erik isn’t just for smart growth, he has deep experience and a strong track record from his time on Arlington’s Planning Commission and Transportation Commission,” the website wrote. “He’s a strong advocate for missing middle housing, bike infrastructure and transit-oriented development.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Clement Supports ADUs at Board Meeting — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement spoke in favor of loosening regulations on Accessory Dwelling Units at this past weekend’s Board meeting. “As a tenant in one of the few remaining affordable garden apartments in Westover Village, I welcome the prospect of moving to an ADU as opposed to a flat in an outlying suburb once my building is demolished,” Clement said. [Audrey Clement]
‘Breakfast With the Chief’ — Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr will be hosting a breakfast for member of the local business community Monday morning in Rosslyn. “The event will provide information on the police department’s engagement with the business community to resolve public safety concerns, crime prevention and safety tips and a presentation by the FBI Cyber Security Task Force,” said ACPD. [Arlington County]
But after the audience went home and the microphones were turned off, that wasn’t the end of the candidates’ work.
Attendees submitted written questions to the candidates throughout the evening, but due to time constraints, they could not all be answered. So with Election Day just two weeks away, ARLnow collated the unanswered questions and emailed the three County Board candidates for their responses.
(A similar article with responses to follow-up questions for the three School Board candidates will follow in the near future.)
Candidates’ unedited responses are below.
1. What are the challenges you would tackle in the area of affordable housing?
The biggest challenge would be to convince my fellow Board Members to:
1) amend the tax code to create Housing Conservation Districts (HCDs) where landlords would be given incentives to rehab rather than tear down existing affordable housing; and
2) loosen accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations to allow renting space in private homes, while limiting the impacts of such rentals on residential neighborhoods.
While Arlington is a great place to live, it’s undeniably getting harder and harder to put down roots here and stay rooted if a smaller home is what you need as your family shrinks. Housing affordability is a critical component of the progressive values I espouse; it is also an essential component of a strong middle class in Arlington.
As a County Board Member, I will follow a multi-point plan that includes: (1) the creation of medium density “missing middle” housing along our major commercial corridors, (2) modernization of the our zoning ordinance to enable home sharing and facilitate aging-in-place, (3) tireless support for the 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan, and (4) continued annual funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and Housing grants. I will also continue the existing, strong partnerships with non-profit housing providers as well as others in the non-profit community who provide services to Arlington residents living in affordable housing.
As detailed in my “missing middle” housing proposal, Arlington cannot subsidize our way to mass affordability, instead we must unlock the potential of the market to deliver the housing we need. The good news is that there is ample opportunity in Arlington for us to create the neighborhood-scale housing and retail areas known as “missing middle.” The missing middle framework uses market forces to diversify our housing supply and responds to the needs of residents both young and old. These modestly scaled lofts, stacked flats, co-ops, and micro units are designed to preserve neighborhood character and can fit into the edges of single-family neighborhoods and along commercial corridors, with ground floor retail and restaurants to serve adjacent homes.
In the area of affordable housing, I would tackle these three main challenges:
Ensuring that developers pay their fair share:
- Increase the zoning fee for apartment developers who forego affordable units, as it is currently just 1/3 of the fee allowed under state law.
- Shift housing assistance funds to direct housing grants in order to support more residents earning less than 40% of the area median income.
Approaching certified and market rate housing with a multifaceted approach:
- Incentivize the development of multifamily structures designed to address senior mobility needs, as well as co-living spaces designed to meet the needs of young professionals.
- Ensure accessory dwellings become a viable option for housing while not contributing to parking and density concerns.
- Explore Housing Conservation Districts as a way to maintain larger-scale areas of market rate affordability with careful caution not to unintentionally make these areas into suburban ghettos.
Providing housing affordability programs to address the needs of low- and middle-income Arlingtonians:
- Develop new homeowner affordability programs to support community/developer partnership models like community land trusts and low-equity housing cooperatives.
- Bolster existing homeowner assistance programs that enable our teachers and first responders to live in the communities where they serve.
As a progressive, independent voice on the Arlington County Board, I have the ability to advocate for a variety of reasonable housing affordability solutions that “Put People First” instead of defaulting to developers’ demands.
2. What skills from your day job would you bring to the County Board?
For the past twenty plus years I’ve been employed as a statistical programmer on a contractual basis by various federal government agencies. My job is demanding. It not only requires technical skill, it also requires analytical ability to assess client needs and offer optimal solutions.
These latter two skills are directly applicable to local government administration, particularly as it pertains to oversight of the budget process, and I look forward to applying those skills on the Board, for the betterment of Arlington’s citizens.
In addition I have a Ph.D. in Political Science from Temple University in 1993 with a focus on American voting behavior, as well as experience working on the Hill. Thus I have the political know how to lobby for and implement policies beneficial to all Arlingtonians.
Owning a small business has given me the opportunity to wear many different hats. On any given day, I am human resources director, chief financial officer, or network engineer. I have to understand legal contracts, taxes, and regulatory requirements. My knowledge, skills, and experience in all the facets of a business has grown as my company has grown to 10 employees.
The chief skill that runs through almost everything I do on a day to day basis, however, is communicating with people. Being an effective leader, whether business, or civic requires excellent communication. I enjoy being able to communicate technical information to my clients, and nuanced customer requirements to my employees. It’s rewarding to see that light bulb go off when someone truly understands. On the Planning Commission, I try to be a voice for the community when I think that a developer, or county staff doesn’t understand. Of course, great communication is fundamentally two-way, which requires that I be a good listener first. I have found this to always be true – with my wife, my customers, my employees, and with citizens.
Three of my strongest skills from my day job that I would bring to the county board are decision making, strategic planning, and relationship building.
- I know how to make balanced decisions. As board chair of the US Postal Service Federal Credit Union, I led the organization to implement new financial services providing economic relief to members in Arlington and beyond while maintaining strong reserves.
- I know how to conduct inclusive strategic planning that results in cost-effective responses to long-term societal challenges. As an attorney, I led the development phase of a multimillion-dollar, Gates Foundation-funded initiative to improve education quality.
- I know how to build mutually beneficial relationships that attract new businesses to communities desiring economic growth. As an embassy staffer, I helped forge partnerships between cutting-edge tech startups and Fortune 500 companies.
These skills and my well-rounded background will help the board craft policies that anticipate and address the challenges facing Arlington.
3. What is your vision and strategy for addressing the opioid addiction crisis?
This question came up at a recent School Board forum. First, I would pursue a strong drug avoidance educational program as part of hygiene instruction in our public schools. Reaching our student population is crucial, and I am sure parents and caregivers would appreciate that, too.
As for adult opioid users and abusers, enforcement of existing drug laws is paramount, with an emphasis on jail time for traffickers and rehabilitation for users.
I am gravely concerned that opioid addiction has the potential to overwhelm our human services infrastructure with devastating consequences much as the crack epidemic of the late 1980’s gutted many communities with consequences still reverberating today. As we learned at the recent Opioid Community Town Hall, this crisis is not limited to the urban poor, this one is right in our own living rooms.
Recognizing that the most successful response will be coordinated across multiple agencies, the most important role of the County Board in addressing the crisis of opioid addiction is to ensure that the Department of Human Services, Courts, Police and Fire Departments, Arlington Public Schools, hospitals, and our non-profit partners all have the resources, data, and action plans they need. I also support designating a Deputy County Manager to lead our coordinated response, the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative.
As a parent with teens and tweens, I am grateful our schools have taken necessary initial steps and are ready to play a crucial role in educating our youth and their parents of the dangers, warning signs, and treatment options for opioid abuse. I support efforts to prioritize treatment over prosecution for addicts while also assigning detectives to an FBI Task Force to specifically target opioid distributors. I have confidence that our highly professional non-profit and medical providers will train and follow updated best practices for prevention and treatment of addiction. Finally, Arlington has the wherewithal to collect, analyze, and share real-time data to optimize our response across stakeholders.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to a crisis deeply imbedded in larger national issues, but Arlington must act swiftly and decisively to save lives of our children, parents, friends and neighbors.
I envision an Arlington that has effectively implemented a national model for addressing the opioid crisis, returning opioid overdose rates to precrisis levels within one year and eliminating opioid overdoses in the county by 2021.
As an educator, attorney, and son of a police officer, I recognize opioid addiction as a public health emergency which Arlington must address with a three-pronged strategy:
- Through education initiatives Arlington should work with schools, community groups, and houses of worship to educate the public on the proper disposal of enabling medications and to assist those showing signs of addiction.
- Through outreach programs targeting addicts and their families, Arlington should offer treatment plans and training on how to use Nalaxone to prevent overdoses.
- Through partnerships with other local law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and national grantmakers, Arlington should continue to evaluate and refine the existing Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative to ensure the use of best practices, cost efficiency, and access to additional non-taxpayer-based funding.
4. What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for seniors in Arlington? (Note that last few years, 2 senior centers have been closed.)
Probably the greatest challenge for seniors in Arlington County is their tax burden. If elected, I am going to say no to tax rate increases for the foreseeable future.
I am also going to try to curtail rising property assessments while, at the same time, working to expand the number of affordable market rate housing units in the county. And for those seniors who are renting, let’s remember that property tax increases have the unwanted side effect of forcing landlords to increase rents. If we can limit those tax increases we can keep rent increases to a minimum. That’s a win-win for everyone.
Another challenge for seniors is their ability to get around in an increasingly congested county. If elected, I am going to address that concern by requiring an impact analysis for every major site plan development project, in order to determine its actual benefit to the people of this county.
Let me be clear. I am going to insist that the Board get serious about mitigating the impact of development on our streets, schools, parks and public safety.
Creating a healthy community calls for an Arlington that is livable for all ages. We need to accommodate the needs of Arlingtonians of all ages, and implement initiatives to improve housing, walkability, health care access, tax burdens, lifelong education and inter-generational social connections. Focusing on older adults is especially important because the gift of increased longevity means that these older residents have years of productivity ahead of them.
Please see my full issue statement on Arlington’s older adults at my website. Here are some highlights of what I would do on the County Board; I will:
- Encourage and incentivize homeowners and builders to make homes adaptable by creating flexible spaces to accommodate changing needs and physical abilities, and
- Simplify zoning and practical requirements to make it easier for older adults to share their homes and create space for caregivers.
- Support and strengthen Arlington’s Real Estate Tax Relief (RETR) program
- Advocate for Safe Streets, making crosswalks more visible, adding pedestrian islands in the middle of busy streets, and shortening the distance to cross busy roads.
- Support services such as Super Senior Taxi and encouraging companies (ex: Red Top Cab) that provide older adults with discounts or other workable options.
- Promote health care and other services that enable aging at home, help fight isolation and support caregivers.
- Work with Arlington Neighborhood Village, George Mason University, Virginia Hospital, Goodwin House, innovative startups, and others on new public policy and initiatives to promote older adults’ health.
- Support Arlington County services such as adult day programs, nutrition programs, mental health support and personal advocates.
- Promote good quality of life through inter-generational interaction, recreation, art and music, lifelong learning and community participation. Staying physically active, enjoying new experiences, and being part of a social network help all of us as we age.
- Co-locate senior programs with our schools to leverage the talent and wisdom of older adults to the benefit of young students eager to learn.
- Support Arlington programs (ex: Encore Learning, 55+) that offer appealing classes and experiences for a range of older adults.
Arlington’s seniors are a growing, vibrant, and active community. Arlington should work more closely with our senior community to harness their creativity, knowhow, and wealth of experience so that they can age-in-place with dignity. To improve the quality of life of seniors, Arlington must focus in the following areas:
Preparing health and human services for the future:
- Fund and plan for the growth of existing housing, health/dental, and transportation programs that enable seniors on a fixed income to afford the costs associated with independent living.
- Expand programs that develop our own first responders and attract trained first responders from other jurisdictions to prepare for increased demand for emergency services.
Creating programs to address senior needs:
- Utilize a joint-use facility model for senior centers to maximize space as well as more efficiently provide access to health and human services.
- Develop companionship-building initiatives, such as regular meals and senior-only areas in facilities, that address depression among seniors.
Maximizing opportunities for seniors:
- Update and develop a more comprehensive Elder Readiness Master Plan to address how the county intends to coordinate and advertise services.
- Revise one-size-fits-all business regulations to make it easier for seniors to open small businesses for supplementary income or as a second career.
With Election Day less than a month away, candidates for the Arlington County Board and School Board are honing in on their final pitches to voters.
And at a forum Wednesday night at Marymount University hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100, the six candidates clashed on a range of issues, from how to engage more millennials in county government to closing the achievement gap in Arlington Public Schools.
The format varied from previous forums, as each candidate was able to ask a question of their opponents before taking further questions from the audience.
Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady, who were victorious in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s caucus earlier this year for County Board and School Board, respectively, both touted their experience in county issues.
Both agreed that while Arlington is largely on the right course, it can do better. Gutshall, who is the current chair of the Planning Commission, said the county must not make too many concessions to developers on proposed site plans.
“If we don’t stick to our plans and our negotiations… and we don’t stick to our values, then we’ve lost,” he said.
Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement pointed to her regular attendance at the body’s monthly meetings as relevant experience.
And fellow independent Charles McCullough II said that beyond his involvement in the South Arlington Working Group among others, he would represent a fresh face with new ideas if elected to the County Board.
“We need to have other ideas, other experiences,” he said.
On the budget, Clement criticized the Board’s practice of spending closeout funds from higher tax revenue than anticipated. She said that the money should be paid forward to the following year to relieve the tax burden, rather than directed to “pet projects to satisfy its particularized constituencies.”
McCullough argued that developers in Arlington must pay their “fair share” to help make up budget shortfalls, while Gutshall said that rising property values must not be treated as a “blank check” for increased spending.
Among the School Board candidates, there were some sharp differences. O’Grady and fellow candidate Alison Dough agreed that the Arlington Career Center represents a “good opportunity” for a fourth comprehensive high school. But Mike Webb, running for School Board after an unsuccessful tilt at Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, disagreed.
Instead, he said, School Board members should focus on ensuring instruction is as good as possible, and that no students are left behind.
“Before we build another high school, we have to think about the achievement gap that affects all our students,” Webb said.
And on the subject of the upcoming boundary changes in Arlington Public Schools, Dough said that more immersion schools where classes are taught in more than one language could help relieve the capacity pressures on other buildings.
Dough, who said her special needs child inspired her to run for School Board, suggested more language programs, like immersion in Chinese, French or Russian to help APS students embrace new cultures.
“Let’s look at the boundary issue differently and give our parents a reason to switch schools,” she said.
And with the nationwide opioid epidemic also touching Arlington, O’Grady said parents and students alike must be educated on the risks and solutions.
“It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our communities,” she said. “Let’s come together to learn how to deal with this.”
All six agreed on the need for elected officials to encourage more county residents to get involved, and help uphold the so-called “Arlington Way.”
“We need to be opening that door,” Webb said. “We have to build that pathway to leadership.”
The candidates will face off in another forum Sunday (October 15) hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
Wakefield Student Sang National Anthem — Wakefield High School junior Samantha Rios sang the national anthem before Sunday night’s Redskins-Raiders game. Rios, who previously competed on a Spanish language version of The Voice, was seen by a national TV audience as controversy swirled over players kneeling in protest during the anthem. [WUSA 9]
Officials to Compete in Trivia Battle — County Board Chair Jay Fisette, state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope and former County Board members Mary Hynes and Joe Wholey will compete in a “housing trivia battle” next month, testing their knowledge of Arlington history, particularly as it relates to housing issues. [Arlington County]
Clement Blasts Daycare Approval — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement said in a new email to supporters that the current Board places the interests of developers ahead of that of residents. As an example, she cited the recent approval of a new daycare center on Lee Highway, despite concerns about traffic among some local residents. The approval “will likely engender cut through traffic on an adjacent one lane street off Lee Highway that has already experienced major traffic accidents,” Clement wrote. The daycare had the general support of the local civic association. [Audrey Clement]
Gun Control Group to Host Fmr. ATF Agent — The local chapter of the pro-gun-control group Moms Demand Action is hosting a special event on Wednesday, featuring a former ATF special agent. The event will include discussion of the “the challenges facing gun violence prevention.” It is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library. Moms Demand Action had a booth at Clarendon Day this past weekend and signed up nearly 100 new volunteers. [Facebook, Medium]
Nearby: One Guy is Holding Up Development in D.C. — One persistent activist is holding up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in the District. Chris Otten has succeeded in delaying numerous developments by rallying a group of neighbors and filing court challenges. [Bisnow]
ACPD Sending Supplies to Houston — The Arlington County Police Department is sending relief supplies to Houston Police, “who have been tirelessly serving those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” the department announced yesterday in a tweet. [Twitter]
More on County Board Debate — At Tuesday night’s Arlington Civic Federation debate, the two independent candidates blasted the County Board for supposedly being too pro cozy with business interests. Charles McCullough “several times ripped the county government for extending millions of dollars in ‘payola and corporate welfare’ in an effort to win economic-development successes,” while Audrey Clement “portrayed Arlington leaders as sharing a matrimonial bed with the development community, rubber-stamping new projects to reap the tax revenue they generate.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Encouraging Vanpools — Arlington County, via its Arlington Transportation Partners program, is encouraging commuters to join a vanpool, touting savings of up to $10,000 a year compared to solo commuting. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
Arlington Free Clinic Women’s Health Program — Grants from the Susan G. Komen foundation are funding a women’s health program at the Arlington Free Clinic and in turn saving the lives of breast cancer patients who otherwise could not afford their healthcare costs. Among those who beat breast cancer with the clinic’s help is one of its employees, a mother of three who found a lump while attending a breast health event in 2003. [WJLA]
Nearby: Rabid Raccoon Found — A raccoon found in an Alexandria park has tested positive for rabies. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
The three candidates for Arlington County Board agreed on the need for more affordable housing at a forum Tuesday night, but offered differing methods on how to achieve it.
Speaking at a forum hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation at Virginia Hospital Center, the traditional kick-off for the fall campaign season, Audrey Clement, Erik Gutshall and Charles McCullough all argued more can be done.
McCullough, an independent endorsed by the Arlington Green Party, said the county must expand its use of rental assistance programs, especially for the likes of teachers and public safety workers like firefighters and police officers.
Democratic nominee Gutshall argued that the county should use its existing Affordable Housing Master Plan to create what he described as “missing middle housing” like apartments and townhouses for middle-income residents near Metro stations and along major thoroughfares.
“It’s a great formula to redefine our development paradigm and creates housing for the middle class,” he said.
To help prevent continued losses of such housing, Clement said the county should designate more areas as Local Historic Districts to capture architectural heritage and be tougher on developers.
McCullough agreed that developers should be held to a higher standard and compelled to provide more affordable housing and other amenities.
“For too long, development has meant displacement,” McCullough said. “That should not be the way, but unfortunately that has become the Arlington Way.”
Talk of the so-called “Arlington Way” of engaging with residents and gathering extensive community feedback came up when the candidates discussed how to get more people involved in local issues.
Clement argued that the Democrat-dominated County Board deters participation, as does a sense that controversial agenda items are left to the end of monthly meetings.
“It is really an endurance contest and that is really what discourages public participation,” Clement said.
Another emphasis of Gutshall: helping more small businesses open and operate more easily in Arlington. That follows reports of businesses having difficulty navigating the county’s permitting and inspection bureaucracy.
Earlier in the forum, Gutshall argued that he would go beyond party politics, and that the county’s progress has been not down to Democratic values, but “Arlington values.”
Gutshall emphasized that he was not a “hand-picked choice” of his party, after Democrats’ use of a caucus to pick their nominee was criticized as undemocratic by Clement. Both independents argued they would be unencumbered by any need to play “party politics” if elected to the Board.
“I tend to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and that’s where the voters are,” Clement said, noting that she previously was a member of the Greens but became “disillusioned” after it veered too far left.
“We need to be able to have an unencumbered voice for the issues we have right now,” McCullough added.
Also participating in Tuesday night’s forum was School Board candidate Monique O’Grady, who earned local Democrats’ endorsement at the caucus in May.
She was the lone candidate debating, after Mike Webb was barred from participating for allegedly not turning in the correct paperwork, while a third candidate, Alison Dough, was absent. Webb was in the audience and met voters before and after the forums.
In her remarks, O’Grady said she would focus on keeping standards high in academics, ensure any redrawn school boundaries respect the county’s diversity, address Arlington Public Schools’ rising capacity and ensure there are more open channels of communication.
On the latter, she said she would be open to having more conversations with teachers and students, either candidly in their schools or at School Board meetings. But O’Grady said with APS having added 1,000 new students in one year, the Board must act quickly and decisively.
“We’re short on money, we’re short on seats and we’re short on time to fix this problem,” she said.
The candidates are set to debate several more times ahead of Election Day on November 7, including on October 11 at a forum hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100 at Marymount University.
It may appear overshadowed by this year’s statewide races and political strife nationally, but the three Arlington County Board candidates are hard at work preparing for the fall campaign season.
Things get into high gear as the Arlington County Civic Federation hosts its first candidate forum, the traditional curtain-raiser on the final few months before Election Day. The forum will be held on Tuesday, September 5 in Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel Auditorium ( ive).
And the candidates — Democratic nominee Erik Gutshall, and independents Audrey Clement and Charles McCullough II — said they are looking forward to getting into the campaign’s final stages and winning over more voters in upcoming debates.
“It’s also education of people, because I think there can be misconceptions about what I stand for and where I come from and those that don’t know me real well… might believe things about me that are flatly untrue, demonstrably untrue,” Gutshall said. “People getting a chance to see who I really am and what I stand for, I think could happen from those forums to the extent I’m able to reach people who didn’t participate in the Democratic caucus process.”
First-time candidate McCullough said he welcomed the opportunity to keep putting his progressive message forward and introducing his policy ideas to more and more people.
“What’s nice about getting in front of folks, just like I’ve been doing this entire time, what’s good is to be able to present that inclusive vision of Arlington and what it means to have a putting people-first attitude of policymaking,” he said. “[When] I’m able to forward that vision, the momentum is going to grow.”
Clement, a perennial candidate, said she is hopeful of picking up more votes as the statewide races come into the spotlight more and more. In last year’s election against Libby Garvey and on the same ballot as the Presidential race, Clement received just over 27,000 votes, something she put down to the high-profile nature of that race.
She said after the violence in Charlottesville at a white supremacist rally, Virginia’s elections take on added significance and that could help her.
“Last year, even though basically Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly took the county, I got a very sizable number of votes because the turnout was so high,” Clement said. “That’s not going to happen this year, but the Charlottesville incident has probably increased interest in the Governor’s race and that should help me. Insurgents always benefit from increased turnout.”
McCullough’s campaign received a boost in late June, as the Arlington Green Party announced they were endorsing him in the upcoming election after meeting with him several times.
The Greens do not have a nominee in this year’s election, but have previously endorsed Clement and John Vihstadt, who sits on the County Board as an independent after a long association with the local Republican party, which also endorsed him. Arlington Greens chair John Reeder said McCullough is very impressive on issues like small business, curbing development, helping ease school capacity worries and adding more affordable housing.
“We like what he said about issues that we’ve been really deeply involved in over the past few years,” Reeder said. “He’s young, he’s progressive, we think he’s very personable. So we think he would be a good addition to the County Board.”
And while McCullough emphasized his independence from any party, he said it shows that momentum is gathering behind his campaign.
“It is snowballing, it’s growing,” he said. “I’m grateful for the endorsement. It shows I’m strong on parks and strong on the environment, and what I hope to do is have endorsement from voters across the political spectrum. It’s all about us all being meaningfully included.”
Beyond candidate forums, all three said they are looking forward to stepping up their campaigns ahead of Election Day on November 7. Reeder said the Arlington Greens will provide McCullough support with fundraising and by holding joint events, as well as encouraging party members to volunteer for his campaign.
Meanwhile, Clement said she will look to target millennial voters by having her paid canvasser drop campaign literature in the large apartment buildings in Rosslyn, Clarendon, Ballston and possibly Crystal City.
And Gutshall said his campaign is working to finalize a “listening tour” to get the perspectives of businesses in the county and what the local government can do to help them grow.
Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement criticized the recent demolitions of more garden apartments in Westover to make way for townhomes.
Clement, a frequent candidate for public office, said the demolition of two more apartment buildings in the neighborhood shows that not enough is being done to protect affordable housing, especially as they are replaced by what she described as “luxury townhomes.”
Much of Westover is currently designated as a national historic district, but that hasn’t prevented redevelopment of some properties. Last year, crews tore down a garden apartment building and replaced it with townhouses in by-right development, meaning County Board approval was not required.
At the time, the Arlington Greens called for the Westover apartments to be designated as a local historic district, something the County Board directed staff to study last year. Since 2013, nine garden apartment buildings have been demolished, Clement said.
Clement criticized developers for razing the properties and the county for cashing in thanks to increased property taxes.
“County records indicate that the sale price of the three Westover garden apartments demolished in 2013 was $4 million,” Clement said. “The total sale price of the 20 luxury town homes that replaced them was $16.8 million dollars or more than 4 times the value of the original properties.”
An advertisement for the Arlington Row townhomes that ran on ARLnow.com earlier this year advertised the homes as being priced in the “mid-$800s.” The townhomes feature up to four bedrooms and four baths, plus private garages and “timeless brick architecture.” The first phase of the development quickly sold out.
Clement said designating the units as a local historic district is the “only way” to save the remaining apartments, but she criticized the Arlington Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board for not moving faster on a petition to do so that was submitted last year.
She added that the demolition of affordable housing units in the county causes numerous problems:
For one thing, there’s a fairness issue. A lot of longstanding, hardworking, responsible tenants are now facing long commutes as a result of displacement from Arlington County.
For another thing, there’s a public health issue. The most recent demolitions were put on hold when it was determined that both buildings were insulated with asbestos, making demolition hazardous for anyone in the nearby.
And there’s an economic issue. While the speculative prices commanded by the developers of Westover Village might be attractive to high income wage earners, they drive up assessments overall, spelling hardship and possible foreclosure for people on fixed incomes, single heads of households, and those who find themselves out of work.
In a fact sheet produced last year, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing said it made some headway in 2016 by purchasing 68 Westover apartments in five buildings. But APAH noted that since the county adopted its Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015, 60 apartments have been demolished for redevelopment.
Clement promised to speed up approval of historic districts to protect affordable housing if she wins a seat on the County Board in November.
“If elected, I am going to call upon AHALRB to expedite consideration of petitions for local historic designation to preserve Arlington’s remaining affordable housing and stabilize Arlington’s housing market,” Clement said.
Audrey Clement isn’t going anywhere. This year, Clement is running for Arlington County Board for the sixth time.
Since 2011, Clement has aimed to break through the County Board’s Democratic majority to win a seat as either an independent or Green Party candidate. Since 2011, Clement has always lost. In 2014, she also ran for a position on the Arlington County School Board but lost by 18,327 votes to Barbara Kanninen.
So why does Clement keep coming back?
Clement said she is returning again because she cares. She’s been in the D.C. area since 1989 and has a Ph.D from Temple University in Political Science. Since 2005, Clement has been an environmental activist in Arlington County. She runs under a platform that calls for immediate environmental, housing and tax reforms.
Clement also refuses to give up on her goal of undoing the local Democratic Party’s traditional dominance of the County Board, with challenges from local Republicans fleeting at best. Current Board member John Vihstadt (I) was the most recent to break local Democrats’ dominance when he won in 2014, the first non-Democrat to win a County Board seat in a general election since 1983.
“I think that the two-party system is not serving the vast majority of the Arlington people. I have to make the case that there is the alternative and I have to make this case to the public,” Clement said in an interview this week. She said breaking through the system was what motivated her to run in 2011, and continues to motivate her each year.
If elected, Clement said she wants to redirect the Affordable Housing Investment Fund from its current system of apartment subsidies to a system that provides rental assistance for those who need it.
“I’m concerned with the affordable housing investment fund because the county has been putting its year-end surpluses into that fund,” she said. “I do not believe that the current affordable housing program is economical and sustainable, I would start cutting there. They’re spending way too much on each new unit of so-called affordable housing that they construct. They need to evaluate that program.”
In addition, Clement is determined to resolve what she sees as an impending budget crisis in Arlington.
“The biggest crisis is the anticipated budget cuts coming down from the Trump administration that will impact county residents,” Clement said. “It could be as many as 15,000 people get laid off and this will impact the county tax revenue. If I’m elected I will take a proactive position with regards to retaining businesses and trying to counteract the impact of the anticipated Trump administration budget cuts.”
As to why she hasn’t won a seat after six years of running, Clement blames the limits that come with a small campaign budget.
“Some of my opponents have spent in the range of $100,000 apiece in their elections,” she said. “They weren’t incumbents, so they came into the election with that as their handicap. In that regard, they overcame their handicap by spending a ton of money. I have rarely been able to muster more than $10,000 a race.”
To combat her lack of funding, Clement uses social media. She currently runs a Facebook page with 393 likes and 373 followers. She also runs Facebook advertisements for anyone who does not follow her page to see.
For anyone unfamiliar with Clement, she wants the one thing people to know most about her to be her credentials.
“I have a lot of untraditional political experience,” said Clement. She spent a year as a Congressional Fellow and is currently a government contractor. She also hopes that her time spent as an environmental activist will set her apart from her opponents as she approaches her seventh campaign for a seat on the County Board.
After all of these years, she still remains determined.
“Most political commentators would say, if you haven’t made it the first or second time then quit,” said Clement. “I’m not going to quit.”
Four of the five candidates for County Board argued that county government must be easier for small businesses to navigate in order to better encourage economic growth.
With less than two weeks to go until the start of the local Democratic Party’s caucus to determine its nominee, tax relief and helping new businesses were high on the agenda at a forum hosted last night by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce at Synetic Theater in Crystal City.
Peter Fallon said county staff must be less “zealous” in enforcing rules and become more focused on customer service, while Erik Gutshall argued for a wider culture change in county government.
“When you’re that zealous, you don’t have the flexibility of thinking about what you’re trying to do,” Fallon said.
“The culture of ‘get to yes’ doesn’t exist because it doesn’t have a champion,” said Gutshall. “And I want to be that champion.”
Independent Audrey Clement, on the campaign trail ahead of November’s general election in the race to replace retiring Board chair Jay Fisette, said the best way to help small business is to cut taxes.
She criticized the recent 1.5-cent hike in property taxes, and accused the County Board of “basically hoarding money” by keeping tens of millions of dollars in cash reserves.
Clement added that the Board was “bamboozled” on raising taxes by County Manager Mark Schwartz, who was directed to provide a series of budget cuts to halve his proposed tax rate increase from two cents to one.
The cuts to a variety of neighborhood and other programs brought out droves of local residents to oppose them, and the County Board backed off.
Kim Klingler, a Democratic candidate, said putting those 24 projects on the table for cuts was a mistake given their direct impacts on the community.
“That makes it really hard when you have 24 lightning-rods on the table, and then have to talk about cutting taxes,” she said.
Candidates also said that the County Board should do a better job of ensuring residents’ concerns about development are heard, and that decisions on new projects are not, as Gutshall put it, “baked in.”
“If residents are going to participate in the ‘Arlington Way,’ we need to make sure they are heard, and they have clear expectations set for them,” said Klingler.
In Vivek Patil’s absence, his campaign manager Nathan Saxman read a prepared statement arguing for a “green and clean tech economy” focused on innovation and new industries.
“This is an economic model that places Arlington at the epicenter of job creation in the commonwealth,” said Saxman.
The four Democratic candidates will debate next Wednesday at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting, ahead of May’s caucus.
CarPool Now Closed — A line out the door marked CarPool’s last day in business on Monday. The Ballston bar hosted a large crowd of patrons there to watch the Nationals opening day and the NCAA men’s basketball championship, and to say goodbye to the long-time watering hole. [Twitter]
Clement Opposes Tax Rate Hike — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement says she does not support the proposed property tax hike, which Arlington’s county manager says is necessary to fund Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]
Developments in School Board Race — Former congressional candidate Mike Webb has gathered the petition signatures necessary to get on this year’s Arlington School Board ballot, although he still has a couple of paperwork hurdles before he officially qualifies. Meanwhile, incumbent James Lander has received the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association as he faces two challengers in the Democratic endorsement caucus. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Arlington’s Trees By The Numbers — “The County is proud home to some 755,400 trees of at least 122 species. If you had to put a price on all that priceless foliage, it’d be worth more than $1.4 billion.” [Arlington County]
Tour of the Trades Center — The latest “Around Arlington” video from the county gives viewers a tour of the Arlington Trandes Center near Shirlington, where school buses are housed, police cars get repaired and salt trucks get refilled. [YouTube]
Police Chief: See Something, Say Something — Although the vast majority of calls about suspicious people or circumstances turn out to be nothing, Arlington’s police chief is still encouraging residents to call the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 if they see something out of the ordinary. Said Chief Jay Farr: “Do not hesitate to call us about something suspicious. Some say, ‘I didn’t want to bother you,’ but I say, `Bother us.'” [Falls Church News-Press]