Arlington, VA

Last week, we invited the three candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington School Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is the unedited response from Symone Walker:

I am Symone Walker, an APS parent, and education activist, having served on various PTA and school committees for the past decade. I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Arlington NAACP Education Committee. As the parent of a gifted child and a child with special education needs, my passion for education activism stems from my own struggles in seeking equitable access to special education and differentiated instruction for my children. I am running for the school board to be an instrument of change because a lot needs to change. The opportunity gap has not closed in decades; our reading curriculum is leaving students further behind and widening the gap. Struggling students are graduating semi-literate; unable to read well enough to fully participate in our democratic society, and unable to write well enough to navigate the rigors of college-level writing without remedial classes or tutors.

For too long, the school board has mostly focused on capacity, boundaries, and buildings, and neglected curriculum and instruction to the detriment of our students. Our Black and Latino students’ academic performance stagnates at 20-30 points below their Caucasian and Asian counterparts, and they are performing below the state average, which is a low bar. For a school district as well-resourced as Arlington that spends almost 20K per pupil, far exceeding neighboring jurisdictions, APS’s inability to close the opportunity gap is incomprehensible. To still have no comprehensive equity framework in place in 2020 is unacceptable. And to have schools that are still segregated 66 years after Brown v. Board of Education & 61 years after desegregating Stratford Jr. High is highly problematic.

I am laser-focused on closing the opportunity gap which, as a result of COVID-19, will widen exponentially and require a multipronged approach to close it. To that end, we must screen for and identify learning differences and disabilities as early as Kindergarten, and every student beginning in elementary school must have access to an evidence-based, structured literacy curriculum that is rooted in the science of reading, a robust evidence-based writing curriculum, an evidence-based, multisensory math curriculum, and timely intervention for struggling students. Further, our schools need to become trauma-informed, depressurized, authentically inclusive, race-conscious, restorative rather than punitive, and reflective of the diversity of our community so that the whole child can flourish.

Having served two decades as a federal government attorney in a number of practice areas, I am prepared to overcome challenges that seem insurmountable such as the challenging times we are now facing with the impending reopening of schools. I am a strategic thinker, adept at forecasting risk, and implementing mitigation strategies to avoid catastrophes. I can handle curveballs and navigate steadfastly through uncertainty and unpredictability with sound judgment. My LL.M. in litigation and dispute resolution and 15 years of experience as a mediator have prepared me to effectively manage conflict, build coalitions, and find common ground. These are the leadership skills I will bring to the school board.

You should vote for me because I am the only candidate in this race with an equity focus steeped in curriculum and instruction, and in improving students’ learning experience. I am the only candidate in this race who has drafted state legislation to improve literacy because I firmly believe literacy is a civil right. I am the only candidate in this race with over a decade in the trenches of school advocacy. Finally, I am the only candidate in this race who has garnered broad, grassroots, community support and is not beholden to any political organization or special interest groups. I am not running for the school board to climb the political ladder on the backs of our children. I am running for the school board solely to be a voice for each and every student because I believe that when we uplift the students in the margins, all students will benefit. I am asking for your vote before or on November 3rd. Visit my website at symoneforstudents.com to learn more.

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Last week, we invited the three candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington School Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is the unedited response from David Priddy:

I am David Priddy and I am one of two candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party (Cristina Diaz-Torres is the other), running for the Arlington County School Board. Like you, I am passionate about achieving a quality 21st-century education for all of our children in Arlington.

I am a native Arlingtonian, and attended Arlington Public Schools (APS): Long Branch Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Wakefield High School. I graduated from James Madison University in 1996 with a degree in History.

With my wife Melanie, we have been following our sons through the APS system as they attend Alice West Fleet Elementary and Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Through coaching basketball, baseball, and soccer, I also have an appreciation of the rich sports programs available to our children. As part of my commitment to all parents and children in Arlington, I have had the opportunity to serve on various local committees and organizations. This has given me greater insight into the concerns of the Arlington community as a whole.

As a product of Arlington County Public Schools, I am pleased to see my children benefit from a quality education here. I have had the privilege of growing up in Arlington, and raising my family here has given me a front-row seat to four decades of positive changes, as well as to the challenges that Arlington County Schools face.

Here are 5 reasons to vote for me:

  1. With one son in Elementary School and one in Middle School, I bring a perspective to the Board that currently is not represented. The policies that are enacted by the School Board affect my sons and their teachers on a daily basis. As a result, I have the ability to see through the lens of the teachers, students, and community. I am passionate about ensuring that my children and all Arlington children have the same positive, enriching, and diverse set of experiences through the APS system that I did. Arlington needs a representative who will listen to the community and bring fresh solutions to continue to provide the best academic environment for our children.
  2. With a professional background in the Vertical Transportation industry managing branches in Burbank, Santa Barbara, and Northern Virginia, I have first-hand experience in managing multi-million dollar budgets, operations, dealing with labor unions, and construction projects. This is much needed experience when dealing with $700 Million budgets and the potential budget shortfalls due to COVID-19.
  3. Equity has been an important issue for this election, and critical part of my platform. I have a four-step action plan to promote and achieve equity listed on my website:
    https://priddyforschoolboard.com
  4. Transparency and accountability are pillars of my campaign. I will bring back the faith and trust in the School Board that the community has lost in recent years by making certain that stakeholder’s voices are heard and valued.
  5. I have served in a variety of community organizations, and recently completed my tenure as the president of TJ Middle School’s PTA. My active engagement with these organizations during these uncertain times caused by COVID-19, ensures that the perspectives of parents, teachers, students and APS staff will be considered as APS makes difficult decisions around the safe return to school.

I would like to serve on the Arlington County Public School Board because I believe we can do better. I’ll help continue to build a stronger foundation for education in our county with greater transparency, a true collaboration with teachers and the community. I would like to help forge the outstanding Arlington School system that awaits us. It is with dedication and humility that I seek one of your two votes for the Arlington County School Board.

Facebook: @priddyforschoolboard
Instagram: @priddyforschoolboard
Twitter: @PriddyAPS

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Last week, we invited the three candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington School Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is the unedited response from Cristina Diaz-Torres:

Hello, Arlingtonians! I’m Cristina Diaz-Torres, a former teacher and education policy specialist running as one of your two Democratically endorsed candidates for Arlington School Board because I believe all students have a right to succeed — no matter their background, race, ability, family context, language, or legal status.

I began my career as a high school math teacher. Being a teacher was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It was also the most challenging. My district faced severe systemic barriers to student success. On my first day of school, I walked into my classroom and saw 54 students but only 48 desks. My students were there to learn math, while our leaders across the state, county, and school district were failing at basic arithmetic. I used my time in the classroom to work with parents, community members, and colleagues to overcome these systemic barriers and improve outcomes for my students.

This is why I’m running for Arlington School Board. I know firsthand that student outcomes improve when all stakeholders have a seat at the table–and I’m running to bring an educator’s voice to the decision-making process.

Since leaving the classroom, I have worked to create more equitable and efficient systems at all levels of government. As an Education Policy Specialist, I work with states, districts, and education organizations across the country to create evidence-based systems that meet the needs of all students, no matter the circumstances. Over the last few years, this work has included helping educators from my home island of Puerto Rico get back to school in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria; conducting landscape scans to support social and emotional learning across the state of Delaware, and, most recently, helping states rethink education in the context of COVID-19.  

The ongoing pandemic has unearthed systemic challenges that have long plagued APS–and leaves our community wading through uncharted territory without a specific roadmap to guide us to better outcomes. We must interpret this crisis as a call to action! Now is the time to build a collaborative framework for governing education that gives voice and power to all community stakeholders so that we can adapt and build back a better, more equitable Arlington Public Schools. We’ll do this by focusing on:

  • Equity: We must make every decision based on this promise: all students have a right to succeed no matter their race, gender, background, learning or physical ability, family situation, legal status, or zip code. Our budgets must afford educators the resources necessary to prepare students to thrive in college, career, and life.
  • Improved & Transparent Data: We must improve how APS collects, analyzes, and shares data–ensuring the process is more transparent, provide action-ready insights, and is accessible to all stakeholders. APS must dismantle data silos by connecting the dots that show inequities and inefficiencies wherever they are.
  • Supporting our Educators: We must support teacher-driven, evidence-based professional development, and advocate for competitive compensation that allows our staff to live in the community where they work. Interest-Based Bargaining can empower education professionals to advance the needs of all students in every Arlington classroom.

If elected to the Arlington School Board, I will rely on these core principles and work with all of you to develop a more community-appropriate, equitable, and adaptable public school system. To read more about my vision for APS, visit my website www.cristinaforarlington.com or follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I am asking you to vote for me and my other Democratically-endorsed colleague, David Priddy, on November 3rd.

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Last week, we invited the two candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington County Board to write a post on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is the unedited response from the Arlington County Board Chair and Democratic incumbent Libby Garvey.

I appreciate the opportunity to say why ArlNow readers should vote for me.  Strong, experienced leadership is always important, but during the difficult year ahead as we move through the pandemic into recovery, it is more important than ever to have good leadership on the County Board.  I am the candidate most able to provide that leadership.

During the 15 years I served on the School Board I focused on equity and helped close the achievement gap by over 50%. I focused on wise spending and helped renovate or build new almost every school building in Arlington on time and on budget, including the first LEED certified school building in Virginia.

In my 8 years on the County Board, I have continued to focus on equity, wise spending and the environment.   I have helped  increase support for affordable housing and programs for our elderly residents so they can stay in their homes and stay part of our community.  I’m proud the Board adopted an equity resolution last year and hired our first chief equity officer this year. The planet and our own environment have always been a focus for me.  I have helped improve parks throughout the County and support their maintenance and protection.  We adopted our Community Energy Plan last year, setting a goal for 100% of our electricity coming from renewable sources.  We are well on track to meet that goal.  This past March we joined the global Biophilic Cities network which fosters connections with nature.

Since my time on the School Board, I have continued to focus on wise spending, halting unwise projects like the streetcar and the too-expensive aquatics center which was redesigned and now is being built within budget. I helped bring in project management practices that ensure against cost overruns. I helped bring Amazon HQ2 here with conditions that are very favorable for Arlington.

Having come to Arlington in 1977, raised two daughters and now with grandchildren growing up in Arlington, my roots are deep in our community.  Nevertheless, while I helped build the Arlington we have today and know our community pretty well, I continue to learn new things every day. It is one of the many things I love about my job.

Another thing I love is how I am able to use the regional networks I’ve built over the years to help Arlington. The pandemic has shown everyone how very interdependent we are across Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC. Over the next year or two, we will need to work even more closely with businesses and our regional colleagues to recover in a way that leaves us stronger, more equitable and more resilient than before.

This year, as Chair of the County Board, I often found myself thankful for the years of experience I could draw on to help lead our County through one of the most difficult years I think any of us can remember. Looking forward to the next 4 years, I believe the focus area themes of equity, innovation, and resilience that I set out in January will continue to serve us well.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve you.  My lifetime of experience, relationships, values, and commitment will continue to serve you well as we face an uncertain future.

I hope I will have your vote and support so I can continue to work on the County Board to make Arlington a community where everyone can thrive.

For more information about my service and positions go to libbygarvey.com.

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Last week, we invited the two candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington County Board to write a post on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Audrey Clement.

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board. As a 16-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist who serves on the Transportation Commission, I’m running because Arlington deserves better.

My opponent, long-time incumbent Libby Garvey, has promoted harmful policies resulting in overcrowded schools, congested streets, massive tree removal on public property, gentrification, and most importantly, a ten year average annual real estate tax rate increase that at 4 percent is twice the rate of inflation.

Now, she is pushing Missing Middle upzoning, which will inflate land values, hike tax assessments, displace existing residents, and build housing unaffordable to anyone earning less than area median income, which is about $126,000 per year.

The County under Ms. Garvey’s leadership has packaged upzoning as the solution to racial inequality despite the fact that few minorities will qualify for mortgages on upzoned lots. In a recent press release Garvey emphasized the Board’s resolve to address “historic and ongoing patterns of discrimination,” implying that homeowners in predominantly white, single family neighborhoods are racist. Yet the County has produced no evidence to support that contention.

Meanwhile the chair and executive director of Alliance for Housing Solutions (AHS), Arlington’s principal advocate for upzoning, own homes in Arlington assessed at over $1 million. Thus they stand to profit from the densification of their neighborhoods. It also appears that newly elected County Board member Takis Karantonis, who serves as vice-chair of AHS, has a serious conflict of interest, which Garvey herself denies.

The County’s COVID response has also been uneven: too little funding to deal with an impending eviction crisis, no guaranteed child care for essential workers, and adoption of a sidewalk ordinance to prevent congregating near bars and restaurants that was unfair to Clarendon business owners and ultimately repealed.

Ms. Garvey has also embraced a plan to change the Arlington logo, which she indicates must go because it depicts the Greek columns of the former Lee mansion at Arlington House.  No matter that Greek columns are ubiquitous throughout the South and that much more pressing issues confront people of color than cultural symbols.

For example, the Black student achievement is wide and growing, with Black high school student pass rates more than 20 percentage points below their White counterparts throughout the County. Focused on symbolic solutions to racial injustice, County officials’ efforts to address the achievement gap have clearly failed.

If elected, I plan to:

  • Act sensibly to curtail COVID spread.
  • Oppose upzoning and displacement of existing homeowners.
  • Seek immediate relief for all taxpayers.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Visit my website at AudreyClement.com
  • Support my candidacy, and
  • Donate to my campaign.

Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

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Arlington businessman Xavier Warren is basing his campaign for lieutenant governor of Virginia on a pledge to lead a statewide economic recovery while focusing on the job market.

Warren is a partner with Congressional Partners, a bipartisan organization that helps nonprofits and corporations secure federal grants. He also works as a sports agent and serves as a NFL Players Association contract advisor.

Warren announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor in September.

He is among a sizable group of candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor that includes Del. Elizabeth R. Guzmán (Prince William), Del. Hala Ayala (Prince William), former Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, and Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman.

Additionally, Del. Sam Rasoul (Roanoke) filed paperwork Tuesday to allow him to start raising money for a potential lieutenant governor campaign, according to the Washington Post.

Republican candidates include former Del. Timothy D. Hugo (Fairfax), Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. (Virginia Beach), Fairfax County business consultant Puneet Ahluwalia and Lance Allen, a national security company executive from Fauquier County.

Each candidate is vying for the role that will be vacated by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who is running for governor.

Warren points to the state’s current economic condition as his primary reason for running. He specifically seeks to address the unemployment rate that has risen as a result of COVID-19.

“The reason why I am running is to focus on jobs, support small businesses and workers, and helping every Virginian have a job with a livable wage,” Warren said.

“COVID is literally hurting, and has killed, small businesses,” he told ARLnow. “Small businesses are closing on a weekly basis. And hundreds of thousands of people are out of work. Even truthfully speaking, people were hurting pre-COVID, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and now those people are extremely hurt.”

His understanding of the lieutenant governor job is as a “business position” that sets the basis for a platform focused on reviving the job market. If elected, Warren looks to advocate for job growth while working with boards such as the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Tourism and Virginia Resiliency.

“What I plan to do is to be our spokesperson and really market Virginia for jobs to come in, to bring in high-wage jobs, new jobs, and that will also support small businesses,” Warren said. “When you put money into workers’ pockets, they then go spend it in retail, go spend it in restaurants, spend it at shopping centers.”

Warren lives in Arlington, but he grew up in Danville and attended Hampton University before earning a master’s degree from Georgetown University. With his experience living and working across the state, he acknowledges that each region of Virginia comes with its own unique challenges.

His plans for the position include tailoring the economic efforts for each region based on its specific needs, whether that’s improved health care, education, supporting public schools, or whatever each community may face.

“Obviously, at the state level, economic development is different across the board,” Warren said. “Every person in every region is unique. So it’s not a one-size-fits-all for everyone. You take in a personalized approach to helping get each region together to really uplift all Virginians.”

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This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Independent candidate Susan Cunningham.

I am running for Arlington County Board as a progressive Independent. As a community advocate, mother, and business owner, I know Arlington needs experienced, practical, and effective leadership right now. Professionally, I have led business, government, and nonprofits through crises and change. Here in Arlington, I have worked closely with every County and School Board member, while leading the Hamm Middle School construction (BLPC) and the Historic Interpretation Committee for the Stratford Junior High site, and as a founding member of both the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) and the Lee Highway Alliance.  Grounded in 25 years of professional and community experience, I will ask good questions, bring people together, and get the right things done for Arlington.

Two months ago, I started this campaign with clear priorities around accountability, collaboration, innovation, and practical investments. But the last eight weeks have taught me much more about what Arlington really needs in a new County Board Member. I have talked with Arlingtonians who come from very different places – geographically, politically, demographically, and economically. I’ve listened to their concerns, contemplated their advice, and learned even more about what Arlington needs and wants. And so now, just days before this election comes to a close, I want to share with you what I’ve learned and what I will focus on as your next Arlington County Board Member:

  1. Arlington needs to prioritize our core services. Schools, infrastructure, transportation, housing, and health must be at the top of every agenda during our recovery and beyond. In particular, we must bring APS and County together to innovate and deliver. If we don’t get these right, our future prospects are in peril.
  2. Arlington wants to reconnect our communities. We have to focus on both the visible connections and those that impact our daily lives in other ways. We must physically connect through planning and transit, economically connect through support services, and emotionally connect through facing tough realities about racial equality and justice.
  3. Arlington needs to simplify. For both residents and businesses, our community engagement process is burdensome and unequal for too many. We need to streamline, ensure more representative participation, utilize virtual meeting options, and actually heed community input instead of moving forward with predetermined outcomes. We have innovated during COVID to make it easier to do business — shifting permits online and helping restaurants with grab-and-go parking, signage, and outdoor seating — and should continue to innovate all of our government services for greater ease and efficiency.
  4. Arlington wants bold leadership, during COVID and beyond. Instead of upholding the status quo, I will bring to the Board a focused eye and an open mind. Drawing on decades of experience leading change in government and business, I will challenge our County Board to think differently, hold staff accountable, and be more fiscally responsible and results-oriented in its deliberations and action. Arlington has a $1.4 billion annual budget — we deserve professional management and professional results.
  5. Arlington needs to move away from one-party control. This is the biggest thing I’ve heard — the issue that many blame for an increasing deafness from the County Board and a reluctance of highly qualified candidates to run for local office. Every elected official in Arlington today has been blessed by a single party. This encourages groupthink and discourages tough questioning and drilling down on the details. As an Independent, I will challenge the status quo, probe assumptions, and prioritize critical infrastructure and fiscal discipline over gold-plated projects.
    I am confident I can deliver all of these wants and needs as your next County Board Member. My campaign is heading towards the finish line with incredible momentum, widespread support, and a real shot at upsetting what many assumed would be a predictable sleeper race. Arlington deserves better than a predictable outcome and I’m willing to put in the work to make us better. I humbly ask for your vote on July 7th.

Please join me at susanforarlington.com to volunteer, donate, or find your polling place.

Thank you.

Susan Cunningham

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This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Republican candidate Bob Cambridge

Bob Cambridge has been an Arlington resident for over 40 years. He has had a varied background, Captain in the US Army (Military Intelligence Branch), three years with the Central Intelligence Agency as an information science instructor, and over 40 years as an attorney, both corporate and as a litigator. Ideas developed over that period appear to be relevant to a lot that is going on now, and the opportunity to run for Arlington County Board was an opportunity to get those ideas out where they might do some good.

My website, https://BobCambridge.com, has articles which provide more detail supporting what I will say here. I invite you to check that site out too. I read a lot, and my website brings together several ideas I have shamelessly plagiarized to support other ideas I wanted to share that may be useful.

The website refers to the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant which illustrates the fact that people often disagree without necessarily disagreeing about the same thing. My experience has also been that we all have different perspectives about just about everything. The website refers to a book by Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, which offers some interesting suggestions for why there was male dominance for so long and why the recent emergence of a more balanced (and rational) arrangement should not be surprising. The website also provides observations that support the argument that we do better together because different perspectives properly solicited and actually considered can be a powerful tool for doing almost anything better. Please see https://bobcambridge.com/we-do-better-together/.

The one-party County Board we have had for forty or so years has not had incompetent or narrow-minded members. But that one-party board could have easily been better. Complaints I am hearing now often emphasize a perceived unwillingness of the Board to effectively consider a broader base of ideas. I hear of waiting three hours to speak two minutes at a Board meeting only to see no apparent effect that speech had on anyone. Promises are made, such as budgeting more for parks and Arlington’s tree canopy, only to see nothing actually budgeted and requests for information about that stonewalled by Board insistence that a Freedom of Information Act request be submitted. FOIA requests can be expensive and when our tax dollars pay for a study, why should we pay a second time to see the results of what we paid for?

My platform is different because while I definitely have preferences on some issues, I also freely acknowledge that I do not know everything and will not pretend that I do. The best decisions are made by decisionmakers who listen more than they talk. There seems to be a concern that comments and criticism of Board action will not be seriously considered. That concern will definitely act to suppress suggestions, many of which might actually be very effective and actually get us a bigger bang for some of our tax dollars. Five Board members, even supported by the County Staff, cannot provide number or quality of ideas anything near to what the quarter million Arlington residents supported by many more individuals who work in Arlington can provide. My platform, better laid out in my website, https://BobCambridge.com, is not so much support or opposition to specific issues, as to getting more transparency on the part of the Board and more involvement from a broader group of interested individuals. Why? Because that is a management process that has shown significant success in the private sector and it clearly should be used to make our government more successful too. The process is also oriented not to put in place a perfect solution – there is no such thing, promises of politicians notwithstanding – but to start and continue a process that makes unending improvement the goal. That is a goal shown to be achievable. Corporations have done it, continue to successfully do it, and there is no excuse why the Arlington County Government should not implement similar programs.

I ask that you vote for me if you choose, but please check out my website in either case. If you agree with the ideas, please pass them on. If you disagree, or if you can suggest an improvement (an inevitable occurrence) please send comment or criticism to [email protected]. I will do my best to respond, even after July 7.

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This week, we asked the three candidates in the County Board race to write a 750-word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the July 7 special election. 

Here is the unedited response from Democratic candidate Takis Karantonis

My name is Takis Karantonis and I am the Democratic candidate in the special election for the Arlington County Board on July 7. I was born in Greece and emigrated to the United States to join my wife, Lida, upon completion of her Ph.D. studies. Since moving to Arlington in 2007, I have experienced and appreciate the values that Arlingtonians hold important: safe and walkable neighborhoods; excellent schools; great public places and facilities; accountable governance; ethnic and cultural diversity; an unwavering commitment to community involvement; and neighbors who uphold and sustain these values.

My voice, my way of thinking, and my politics are rooted in civic engagement and day-to-day involvement with our community. I am running for County Board because I am proud of what Arlington is and stands for and because I truly believe in the importance of inclusivity of all voices in our governance. During the 60 days of this campaign two larger-than-life issues dominated my actions and thoughts: the permanence of COVID-19 conditions and their long-term effects on every aspect of life and the stark reminder, spurred by the murder of George Floyd, of racial inequity and divides in our community. To make Arlington a just and equitable place for all, I pledge to work with you to tackle inequities in housing, education, health, and life outcomes in our county. We must:

  • use the lessons of the COVID crisis to address the inequalities that COVID has revealed that have led to a disproportionate impact on our marginalized communities and communities of color;
  • actively advocate for a strong local social safety net that helps our less prosperous neighbors and all locally-owned businesses;
  • bring an equity lens to County Board work to identify metrics to chart progress; examine every decision to uncover who is helped, who is hurt, who benefits and who is left behind;
  • prioritize support for our small businesses by instituting a permanent revolving microloan program, which will also leverage private investment to boost small business creation and sustainability in the long term.

I am an economist and urban planner with over 25 years of urban and regional planning experience. I work for a non-profit micro-lender, currently helping Arlington’s small businesses recover from COVID-19. I have been involved with several Arlington non-profit organizations, appointed to advisory commissions and participated in many planning processes affecting progress in our community. My experiences as Executive Director of the ColumbiaPike Revitalization Organization, past chair of Eco ActionArlington and Vice Chair of the Alliance of Housing Solutions add to the vision, practical knowledge and insight I would bring to our Board. Politically, I have been an active and vocal supporter of local, progressive campaigns that challenged and changed the status quo (e.g., Erik Gutshall and Parisa Deghani-Tafti).

This campaign has been like no other due to the compressed timeline imposed by Virginia law and by COVID-19: to substitute for face-to-face conversations, meetings, and debates, I became adept at online media and hosted 20 Zoom-and-Greets covering all neighborhoods in Arlington in 40 days.

I responded to multiple questionnaires that allowed me to express my vision on many issues: arts, education, environment, housing, mental health, and more. The diversity of organizations which submitted questionnaires is just one indicator of the diversity of priorities in our community. As a Board member, I would have an obligation to listen to and provide a seat at the table for all, as we move forward with discussions and policies to equitably address our community needs.

I believe in democratic values, collaborative leadership and inclusive planning expressed in the four pillars of my platform: equitable governance; fiscal sustainability and resilience; environmental sustainability; and principled and inclusive long-term planning. I have earned the endorsement of Arlington’s elected officials from the County and School Boards to the General Assembly to Congress; professional organizations; citizen-led advocacy groups (representing the African-American community, Latino community, Seniors, and the Immigrant community; supporting multi-modal transportation; cycling; public education; affordable housing; environmental sustainability; and mental health services) and more than 200 community leaders. These endorsements are the result of years of working on Arlington issues and a testament to my passion for good, responsive and responsible local governance.

I hope to earn your vote and the opportunity to serve as your next County Board member on July 7.

Photo via Takis for Arlington/Facebook

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Last week, we asked the two candidates in the 32nd District state Senate race to write a 750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 5 general election. 

Here is the unedited response from Republican challenger Arthur Purves.

I am running to end racial inequality in Virginia public schools.  This is my eighth race in 24 years, and every time I have run on the same platform:  to end racial inequality in public schools by bringing back phonics, arithmetic drill, history, the Lord’s Prayer,  and the Ten Commandments, instead of tax hikes, busing, and police.

The minority student achievement gap that is so visible in high school actually appears in 4thgrade reading and math test scores, because reading and arithmetic are not taught successfully in early elementary school.

The most important years in anyone’s education are grades 1-3 because that’s where students are supposed to master reading and arithmetic facts.  If a student has not mastered reading and basic arithmetic by 4th grade, his academic and economic futures are ruined.  He is doomed to poverty, dependency, perhaps crime, and cannot get a good job, afford to marry, support a family, and father his children.  The resulting demand for welfare, Medicaid, and corrections drives up taxes and siphons money from transportation.

The reason for the low minority test scores in 4thgrade reading and arithmetic is the John Dewey (different from the Dewey of the Dewey decimal system used in libraries) “progressive education” that wrecked American public schools about a century ago. Dewey, a socialist and an atheist, taught at Columbia University Teachers College from 1904 to 1930.  He is considered the Aristotle of modern education.  He and his colleagues wanted America to become socialist, and to that end they developed a curriculum to dumb down the American public.

They replaced phonics with “whole word”, which expects children to memorize words without being able to sound them out.  “Whole word” has created a nation of 14 million dyslexics and an epidemic of ADD and ADHD, which are often associated with reading and learning disabilities.  They said arithmetic drill was unnecessary (“drill and kill”); now we have a STEM crisis.  They crowded out history with Social Studies, so Americans today do not know their history.

Dewey wanted the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments to be replaced by secularism, which the Supreme Court mandated the 1960s.  The absence of religious restraint on the human character has resulted in family breakdown, domestic disputes instead of domestic tranquility, 40% of births outside of marriage, and is the underlying cause of violence, including gun violence. Gun violence is prevalent where fatherlessness is prevalent.  Fathers are the best form of gun control, and the Ten Commandments are the only gun control laws that ever worked.

Affluent children, who are generally white and Asian, learn phonics and basic arithmetic from their families.  The families of low-income children, who are generally Hispanic and African American are unable to teach at home what they were counting on the schools to teach, so Hispanic and African American children fall behind.  Thus, racial inequality in America is caused by the public schools’ embrace of “progressive education,” and not by the Founding Fathers. The legacy of “progressive education” is decades of racial inequality.  However, Dewey’s real goal is happening:  Forty percent of Americans support socialism.  To see the fruits of socialism, visit West Baltimore or North Philadelphia.

“Progressive education” has persuaded the public that low-income children cannot learn.  This is false.  They would learn with phonics and arithmetic drill.

The Virginia General Assembly is responsible for public schools.  However, for the 28 years my opponent, Senator Janet Howell, has served in the Virginia Senate, she has failed to “… ensure … an educational program of high quality …” as mandated by Article VIII of the Virginia constitution. Her solution is tax hikes.  She voted to raise the sales tax, a regressive tax, from 4.5% to 6%.  During her tenure, state spending on education increased from $4 billion a year to $15 billion, which was $5 billion more than needed to keep up with population and inflation.  And what has our “investment” in education bought?  Decades of racial inequality.

For 24 years my solutions have been ignored, while racial inequality, tax hikes, and gun violence have prevailed.  It’s time to vote for Arthur Purves Nov. 5, so you can have a voice in Richmond to stop raising taxes and instead fix the school curriculum to end racial inequality in public schools.  Ending racial inequality in public schools will end it in society as a whole.  That is a progressive goal I share with the citizens of Arlington!

Editor’s note: Purves’ opponent, Democratic incumbent Sen. Janet Howell, did not submit an essay by last night’s deadline. 

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