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by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Monique O’Grady:

Arlington Public Schools is at a crossroads. APS is short on seats, short on money, and short on the time to fix these problems before they reach a crisis level.  It’s time to bring new ideas with a fresh perspective built on years of experience.

As a former PTA president, community volunteer, schools advocate, and parent of three children who attended five public schools in Arlington, I will bring my 19 years of experience advocating for our schools to bear on the challenges facing Arlington Public Schools.

I firmly believe our children should not just like school, but develop a lifelong love of learning.  Our kids go through the school system only once; they only get one shot at success.  We owe it to them to fight for our schools–and all too often our School Board hasn’t been up to the task. We can and must do better, by focusing on the ABCs:

Academics

We need a renewed focus on academics, putting as much emphasis on school instruction as we do on school construction, and a real strategic plan that ensures our teachers have the training and resources needed to help all children succeed.

We must balance using technology to foster innovative ways of learning with tried-and-true teacher-student personal interaction.  Finally, we can’t keep “teaching to the test” and expect our students to learn and grow; rather, we must ensure each child receives the comprehensive education she deserves.

Boundaries

School boundary decisions should respect communities while also embracing diversity.  Our students won’t take an SOL in multiculturalism; that test will come in life and those who learn in diverse settings will be best prepared to succeed in a multicultural world.

Our schools must be open and welcoming to all students, and it is imperative that we ensure that every child under our care feels safe and secure.

Capacity & Communication

Arlington is growing fast, and our public schools are facing a capacity crisis.  For too long, the School Board and APS have failed to get in front of this challenge, resulting in overcrowded schools and a series of band-aids when we really need solutions.

The answer is not, however, to create a “mega high school” that crams 4,000+ students into Washington-Lee, as some on the School Board have suggested.

Rather, we need a fourth comprehensive high school, whose students can enjoy the same amenities and opportunities to learn as those enrolled in the other three. We need creative solutions that don’t overburden neighborhoods or existing schools.

But we can’t stop there. We must find innovative ways to make use of our community’s limited resources and space while still maintaining the high educational standards Arlington families expect and deserve.

As a leader on the South Arlington Working Group to site a new elementary school, I did just that: my creative proposal, adopted by APS, leveraged the building of a new elementary school while also addressing several other capacity challenges.  It is just this new, outside-the-box thinking that we need if we are to finally get in front of the capacity crisis.

Lastly, we must rebuild trust between the School Board and parents, students and teachers.  We must communicate better, with data and enrollment projections we can rely on, an open door policy for constructive criticism, and commitments kept when made.

Arlington Public Schools is indeed at a crossroads, but our challenges are not insurmountable.  I will fight every day to meet them head on, and to ensure a love of learning for all Arlington children.  I hope I will earn your vote for Arlington School Board on May 9th, 11th or 13th.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Maura McMahon:

My husband, Michael, and I chose to live in Arlington largely due to the reputation and quality of Arlington schools. We have a daughter in the 4th grade at Barcroft Elementary and a son in the 6th grade at Jefferson Middle School.

My school and community involvement has grown over the past seven years and has fueled my passion for education in Arlington – particularly for the future of Arlington Public Schools.  We have much to be proud of, from our awarding-winning schools to our innovative instructional programs. But we are also facing considerable challenges.

I have served as PTA Vice President, as Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator and in other volunteer roles, and as representative to the County Council of PTAs – for which I currently serve on the executive board.  I also have had the privilege to be part of both the Thomas Jefferson and South Arlington Working Groups.  These experiences have given me a deep appreciation for the diverse needs of our community, the strength of collaboration, and the need for fresh, innovative solutions and long-range planning.

I am the only candidate or board member with the point of view of a current elementary school parent – a valuable perspective absent from the Board and missing in its decision-making.  I know our problems first-hand. I am focused on the future and how we can maintain the quality of all of our schools as we continue to grow.

I will bring focus to the broader issues challenging our schools today: educational equality and opportunity, ways to foster diversity beyond “choice” and boundaries, and County policies as they impact APS’ needs and ability to serve its students–housing, transportation, development.  My advocacy efforts in our community are evident in the County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan and in a number of policy recommendations currently being considered as the School Board revises APS’ admissions and transfer policies.

I will provide the leadership APS needs to:

  • implement a vision for instruction, but focus on managing the infrastructure, resources, and tools our teachers need to engage students in the joys of learning;
  • solve our capacity crisis cost-effectively through long-range planning, including a 4th comprehensive high school, and thoughtful growth of option programs to maintain students’ access to opportunities;
  • develop a network with County departments, community groups, and businesses to increase available resources and streamline services in ways that mutually benefit APS and the broader community;
  • establish an Academic Partner School program that brings students of different backgrounds and abilities together to understand the benefits of diversity firsthand rather than learn about diversity from books and special presentations;
  • foster PTA collaborations for joint-programming, fundraising, and advocacy efforts.

I will be a strong advocate for our school system by:

  • making sure our County leaders understand how their decisions impact APS;
  • ensuring schools are an integral component of the community’s overall planning;
  • pushing the County to resolve existing traffic and student safety problems along Carlin Springs Road and in other places to enable the most efficient use of APS properties;
  • working with the County now to plan for the additional facilities we expect to need and how we are going to pay for them.

As our school system continues to grow and evolve, our leadership needs to adapt to our changing needs.  Our past ways of thinking and problem-solving no longer fit APS today.  We need a new voice, a fresh perspective, and a different approach.

I have stepped outside my comfort zone as a parent and advocate to run for school board because I feel so passionately about the critical issues our schools face today.

I appreciate the contributions each of my fellow candidates has made to our community over the years.  But I will bring the fresh perspective, proactive thinking, and the voice our schools need today.

Please join me by making me your first-choice candidate in next week’s caucus.  For more information, visit mauramcmahon.org and follow me at facebook.com/mcmahonforarlington.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from incumbent James Lander:

I’ve been honored to serve as your Arlington School Board member for the past seven years. I am seeking reelection to ensure that Arlington Public Schools will continue to provide a world-class education that empowers every child to succeed, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, language, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Arlington Public Schools needs an experienced, seasoned leader. I am that leader. It’s no secret that our schools are growing. We have averaged 1000 new students a year during my seven years on the School Board. The challenges in meeting the needs of this rapidly expanding school system are many, including: changing the landscape of instruction to meet the needs of all students; implementing plans to address our enrollment growth; and continued successful collaboration with the County Board on a long-term strategy to ensure every student has a seat to learn while maximizing our limited resources in ways that benefit the whole community.

I am passionate about educating our children; it is the key to everything. My work on the school board has prioritized quality instruction, high expectations for all students, and educating the whole child. Working with you to provide our children with the resources and tools they need to be successful in life will continue to be my sole focus.

As your School Board member, I have successfully completed eight budget cycles to fully fund the school system, implemented the 2011-2017 APS Strategic Plan, and oversaw more than $600M in Capital Improvement Projects, including award winning designs for sustainability. While serving as Chair, I lowered the cost per pupil spending by hundreds of dollars, redesigned the School/County revenue sharing agreement, and provided salary increases for teachers and staff in each of the past seven years. I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the AEA-PAC representing Arlington’s educators, for my work on the school board.

I offer to you my School Board service as evidence that I am best situated to lead continued Arlington Public School progress. Finally, I have been a responsive, engaged, thoughtful voice on the school board. This is the type of leadership that has made Arlington Public Schools an outstanding school system that attracts diverse families and remains a foundational driver of our local economy.

You have honored me with your trust on two previous occasions and I thank you for your support and encouragement along this journey. I ask you now for your support and your vote to continue my elected service to our wonderful community.

Voting begins, Tuesday, May 9th from 7p-9p at Key Elementary School, Thursday, May 11th from 7p-9p at Drew Elementary School, and Saturday, May 13th from 11a-7p at Washington-Lee High School.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the four Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Vivek Patil:

My name is Vivek Patil and I am an engineer, entrepreneur, and community builder. As a leader at a global life science company and founder of two biotech startups, I have consistently faced seemingly impossible ideas requiring innovative thinking and persistence to make a reality. I’ve put this perspective into practice since my appointment to Arlington’s Economic Development commission, where I lead an advisory group exploring innovative and disruptive economic development ideas with the potential to transform Arlington.

In my experience, an equitable economy cannot be built without buy-in from all stakeholders. That is one of the reasons why I co-founded Building Bridges, a community outreach group that has built meaningful relationships with communities across Arlington. Our mission has been to reintegrate the diverse voices and visions of community stakeholders into our political and community processes through persistent outreach, listening, and engagement. In conversation, I have heard wonderful things about our progressive values, our inclusive and welcoming community, and Arlington’s remarkable livability. However, I have also heard stories of fading economic opportunity and housing affordability, a growing divide in incomes as well as our community issues and interests. I felt compelled to run for County Board to incorporate these voices into our ‘Arlington Way,’ and facilitate civic engagement that seeks out our community’s broad range of perspectives and collectively addresses school capacity, housing affordability, transportation infrastructure, and the fostering of economic opportunity.

This campaign is about re-imagining a bold, new economic vision for Arlington; one that transforms our community by creating a green and clean tech innovation economy. While nurturing our current business infrastructure, Arlington possesses the ingredients to build a green energy innovation hub rivaling Boston’s biotech space or Silicon Valley’s information technology economy. This new economy emphasizes our region’s talent, expertise, geography, and financial and strategic resources and it speaks to our progressive values of compassionate capitalism, equitable economic opportunity, and environmental protection.

Constructing this economy will require a regional DMV-area partnership that leverages our globally competitive green tech anchor companies and federal energy expertise to attract new entrepreneurs and startups. It will require strengthening of our university consortium along Fairfax drive and creating high-tech incubators to house and nurture new technologies and innovators. Older buildings in Crystal City and the metro corridors could be redeveloped through creative financing and cooperative investment models to house new companies as well as future entrepreneurs, employees, and families.

The green and clean tech sector is unique in that it requires an innovate-build-manufacture economy, utilizing both skilled and unskilled labor at each step of the way. A skilled workforce of engineers can design the next generation batteries or solar panels and trained workers can build them in facilities in Arlington or across the Commonwealth. It creates an economic opportunity continuum, bridging divisions between Virginia’s counties by advancing prosperous yet equitable growth.

Our schools and universities are indispensable to this economic transformation. I propose stronger collaboration between the County and School Board focused on preparing our children to be globally competitive in this innovation economy. Programs like Arlington Tech that offer project-based learning can partner with universities and employers, providing an applied learning construct with career opportunities for our high-school, career center, community college, and four-year university graduates. After all, Arlington only succeeds when all Arlingtonians succeed.

If elected to the County Board, I will act expeditiously and decisively to facilitate this bold new vision, well aware that it will require strategic collaboration, community engagement, and patience. A more sustainable, equitable, and diversified economy will help us generate the wealth necessary to fund our 21st century multi-modal transportation system, develop globally competitive schools, nurture our burgeoning arts infrastructure, and create a more biophilic and energy-efficient urban infrastructure. Arlington is uniquely qualified to lead this sector and I stand ready to lead our community in meeting this challenge. I hope you join me in achieving this innovative vision and I ask for your vote at the Democratic caucus on May 9th, 11th or 13th.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Last week we asked the four Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Editor’s Note: A county employee listed as someone who endorsed Klingler has requested that his name and job title be removed from this post. ARLnow.com has honored that request. Below is the otherwise unedited response from Kim Klingler.

Arlington is a great place to live, and that is why I have grown roots here and have been a volunteer and leader in our community for the past 15 years.

Arlington is experiencing a time of transition, growth, and constrained budgets. We can no longer rely upon many of the things we have relied on in the past: from being able to live in an affordable manner, to Metro reliability and sustained funding, and having enough seats and qualified teachers in our schools.

Yes, Arlington is changing, but our values continue to remain the same.

And that is why I am running to ensure we keep Arlington safe, diverse, and forward thinking.

Having served as a volunteer firefighter/EMT and as the current Chair of Arlington’s Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission (EPAC), I know first-hand that Arlington needs more highly trained paramedics and emergency radios that work in all County buildings and schools. We must ensure our county has the technology and resources so that when you or a loved one dials 911, emergency services arrive and are ready to respond in 4 minutes or less.  As our density and our population continue to grow, our public safety needs grow too and we must keep up.

The Arlington chapter of the International Association of Firefighters (Local 2800) have honored me with their endorsement in recognition of my boots-on-the-ground experience and policy leadership. My background also gives me with a unique perspective to understand the community’s needs. I will use this perspective as I examine and develop future policies that address public safety and also inform how we plan for density, how we protect our school children, and how we enable our seniors to age in place.

I have stayed in Arlington because I love our diversity in all of its forms.  However, our diversity is at risk.  We have schools in Arlington where 2% of students receive free or reduced lunch and we have schools where almost 80% do.  These statistics keenly demonstrate that we are not distributing affordable housing around the county, which is essential if we truly value our diversity.  We are also struggling to maintain and develop housing that meets the needs of those who make more than 60% of area median income, and don’t qualify for committed affordable housing, but not enough to afford Arlington’s market rate housing.

This isn’t just about housing, it is about attracting and maintaining residents who are professionals, young families, seniors on fixed incomes, or public servants.  As a member of the Lee Highway Alliance, I support taking action to reinstate and deploy the Middle Income Purchasing Assistance Program (MIPAP), putting more emphasis on “Live Where you Work” programs, and updating and balancing our zoning decisions to allow for mid-range housing options, e.g. – townhomes, duplexes, multiplexes, etc. along Lee Highway, Columbia Pike, and other non-Metro thoroughfares. This is my challenge, too, because I went into a business partnership with friends to buy a townhome so we could afford to live in Arlington. We are now looking to go our separate ways, and like many Arlingtonians, I seek more options to remain in the community I love.

I am incredibly proud to have received the endorsements of Ingrid Morroy (Commissioner of the Revenue), Theo Stamos (Commonwealth’s Attorney), Cord Thomas (local entrepreneur and small business owner), and [redacted]. These leaders have endorsed me because of my community and civic leadership and my proven professional background in strategic planning, organizational and change management. I am committed to listening, understanding everyone’s needs, and then working collaboratively on forward-thinking solutions. I will build partnerships in Arlington and across our region to meet shared goals.

As a member of the County Board, I will continue my mission of keeping Arlington safe, diverse and forward-thinking. I will work to keep us safe by making sure our first responders have the resources they need. I will prioritize keeping Arlington economically and culturally diverse through smart zoning decisions. I will advocate for creative, forward-thinking business solutions so Arlington can be more competitive in attracting entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes to set up shop here. I ask you to help me on this mission, starting with your vote in the caucus on May 9th, 11th or 13th! For more information about my campaign, and where to vote, please visit www.kim4arlington.com

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the four Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Erik Gutshall:

I’m Erik Gutshall, I’m focused on the future, and I’m asking for your support to be the next member of the Arlington County Board.  There are four strong Democrats running for the board, but I believe that I have the perspective and experience that uniquely qualify me to get the job done.  When my wife and I moved to Lyon Park in 1995, we didn’t expect to stay long, but like many of you, we quickly fell in love with our new community.  Impressed by what Arlington and its schools had to offer, we put down roots, and are raising our three wonderful daughters here.  We learned that Arlington’s success story was written by ordinary citizens, with shared values, working together to tackle the challenges of their day.  Wanting to give back, I volunteered with my civic association, a local family shelter, and eventually our planning and transportation commissions.  I have met so many great people that I know we can tackle the challenges of tomorrow if we work together.

In 2003, I saw an opportunity, and took a risk to start my own business with only a supportive wife, a savings account, and my own determination to rely on.  Fourteen years later, I’m proud to say that with hard work, great employees, and more than a few sleepless nights, I’ve built an award winning small business that clients can depend on, and provides for my family and employees.  This experience is why I know down to my very core that if you don’t innovate, you stagnate.  Our values haven’t changed, but our solutions have to.

While my perspective will be unique on the board, my story is not.  It is shared by thousands in our County and if we are going to build an economy that works for all, we must empower our innovators and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive.  I will demand a “Get to Yes” customer service culture so that our small businesses – the heart and soul of our community – can spend more time on their customers and less time dealing with frustrating bureaucracy.  I know our county government can do this, but they need a leader on the board who will make it a priority.  I will be that leader.

As a parent of three APS students, I know how important solving the capacity crisis is to Arlington’s future.  Last year I lobbied for the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JAFC) because the School Board and County Board must work together to squeeze the most out of our limited space and dollars.  On the board, I will champion the JFAC’s work to develop creative solutions that consider every opportunity, whether school, county, or commercially-owned, to build the schools and multi-purpose facilities we need.

I also know the anxiety of a parent who wonders if his daughters will be able to afford to start their families here.  I will use my experience as Chair of the Planning Commission to create neighborhood-scale “Missing Middle” housing along our transportation corridors.  Modernizing our old-fashioned zoning code will allow private investors to create this housing without taxpayer money to help young families starting out, empty nesters, and everyone in between from being priced out of Arlington.

Being a part of Arlington’s civic dialog has been an honor and a privilege, and facilitating that conversation is a deep expression of my progressive values.  Ensuring that all parties have a seat at the table isn’t a box-checking exercise; it is the antidote to divisive issues that can pit neighbors against each other.  That consensus-building process is the only way we can hammer out a plan that balances the needs of schools, parks and open space, and community facilities while redeveloping our transportation corridors to provide “missing middle” housing.  I know we can stop bouncing from one ad-hoc decision to the next because I’ve been working with you to solve complex challenges for the last 15 years.  With your support, I’ll be honored to do it for the next four as your board member.  To learn more about what I’m focused on for the future of Arlington, visit Erik4Arlington.com and please vote on May 9, 11, or 13.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Last week we asked the four Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Peter Fallon:

I am running to get things done for the people of Arlington, just as I have for 25 years as an active member of my community. I am running because in this crucial time for our county, we need someone with the knowledge, experience and reputation for action to meet this moment.

There are many things I believe that make me different. First of which, I am a parent of two children in APS. My daughter Alexandra is finishing up second grade this year, and my son Andrew will be starting kindergarten in the fall. With more than a decade of schooling ahead of us, you bet that the future of our school system weighs heavily on my mind. I share the concerns of many of my fellow parents about overcrowding and maintaining a high quality learning experience with small class sizes. That’s why I am so committed to working with our School Board to build new schools, including a fourth comprehensive high school, which I think is needed urgently.

The second thing that makes me different is that sense of urgency. Arlington is beset by two large, seemingly intractable problems that threaten our prosperity and great quality of life. Those issues are Metro and the rising price of housing. Arlington staked its future on Metro decades ago and it has paid off tremendously. Our unique blend of walkability, city and suburban feel, and attractiveness to employers depends on Metro. However, Metro is no longer safe and reliable. This is a regional issue that affects Arlington directly. We need to take the lead on solving this problem. We need more people on the board who will work with our regional bodies to get Metro fixed and back on track.

It is Arlington’s attractiveness that is pushing the cost of living higher every day. We need County Board members who are committed to protecting and growing our affordable housing stock. As the Planning Commission’s liaison to the Housing Commission, I was able to make this happen. I played a significant role in creating over 1,000 units of affordable housing for our residents. How do you did I do it? You have to stand I stood firm in negotiations with developers. As well, my background in accounting helped me get the maximum return for every tax dollar. I believe we have to aid our citizens at every stage of life deal with this affordability issue. That means helping families get affordable childcare as well as helping our seniors age-in-place. These are citizens who contribute so much to our community, and it is wrong for them to be priced out of the home they love. As a County Board member I will fight to expand programs that help our seniors, families, first-time home buyers and young people stay in this great community.

The final thing I believe makes me different is my way of doing things. I am a “listen, engage, decide, get it done” type of person. If you and I talk, you’ll see. You’ll get 100% of my attention because I want to hear you. I want to understand your issue, and once I do, I make it mine. I ask a lot of questions, but that just means I care enough to fully grasp what’s going on. Once I’ve decided to support your cause, rest assured I am with you until the end. My parents ingrained in me at a young age the importance of speaking up for the little guy and sticking your neck out there to do the right thing. As your County Board member, you’ll always have a friendly ear on the board, no matter who you are or where you live. I do this because I believe in action and getting results for the people of Arlington.

For more information about my campaign you can visit my website, FallonforCountyBoard.org. I would be honored to be your first choice vote on May 9th, 11th or 13th.

by ARLnow.com June 9, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

Erik Gutshall debates at an Arlington Young Democrats eventLast month we asked the two Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the June 14 primary

Here is the unedited response from Arlington Planning Commission Vice Chair Erik Gutshall:

As the June 14 Democratic Primary nears, I ask you for your support and your vote.

I am running for the future of Arlington, not for the past. I want Arlington to stay wonderfully diverse and inclusive. This campaign is about how we go forward together — about seriously getting ahead of our sky-rocketing student enrollment, about addressing housing affordability creatively with a focus on the “Missing Middle,” about providing more ways for people to move around our community, and about a commitment to ensure sufficient open spaces and access to nature — building on Arlington’s successes and our progressive vision to ensure a sustainable future for our kids.

I want to take this opportunity to share my vision, and in the process, hopefully dispel some things about me you may have heard!

On School Overcrowding: It’s time to get ahead of school overcrowding. Enough is enough! The Community Facility Study recommendations give us a blueprint for moving forward. We need to implement them yesterday. With three kids in APS, I am committed to working tirelessly with my School Board colleagues to get this done.

On Fiscal Responsibility: I would be the only small business owner on the County Board. I launched my business right here in Arlington and, in 2012, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce recognized us as the Small Service Business of the Year. I must balance budgets and make payroll and I know the difference between an expenditure and an investment. There will be no $1M bus stops on my watch! I will demand that every tax dollar be spent wisely while ensuring we make smart long-term investments focused on Arlington’s sustainability.

On the “Democratic Establishment”: A year ago, I thought ACDC was a rock band! Though a life-long Democrat, my prior partisan activities were knocking on doors for President Obama and hosting coffees for local candidates. My civic resume includes civic association president, soccer coach, board member for Doorways for Women and Families, and Transportation and Planning Commissioner. I am proud to have earned the support of Arlington leaders representing more than four decades of public service and as a member of the County Board I will answer only to Arlington voters.

On Transportation: The streetcar is dead. I have never proposed bringing it back. I’m not interested in re-litigating the past or dividing us further. I support forward-thinking transportation solutions. From Columbia Pike to I-66, we must invest in enhanced bus service, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian paths. Our focus has to be on moving people, not just vehicles. We must invest in our transportation network, the lifeblood of our economy, to ensure we do not lose our competitive advantage.

On Development: On the Planning Commission, I’ve pushed back against developers, fighting for community benefits like open space and parks to ensure that redevelopment adds value to surrounding neighborhoods. The Planning Commission is a voice for our residents, balancing our adopted policies/plans and the legitimate needs of businesses. We must be careful as we grow. I will ensure that physical changes to our community fabric add to, not degrade, our quality of life. I will make sure Lee Highway is an opportunity for smart planning where we get ahead of and guide development to create the future the surrounding community desires.

On My Mailings: Some have raised concerns with the tone and imagery of my seniors mail piece. I agree that the overall message could have been communicated without such emotional imagery. It’s become a distraction from our continued disagreement on this important policy issue. I remain confident that my mailing content is factual and encourage people to review the citations on arlingtonfacts.com. As 11 current and former elected leaders stated, “We believe that Erik’s well-documented discussion of the issues in the County Board race falls well within the bounds of robust healthy democratic debate.”

I’m proud to have earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, Arlington Educators, Take Action Virginia (a coalition of labor organizations), Greater Greater Washington and 22 current and former Arlington officials.

I am ready to engage with our community as we work collaboratively and creatively to address our challenges.

Arlington Democrats have a very clear choice for the future of Arlington. Let’s turn the page. I ask for your vote in the Democratic Primary for County Board on June 14th. Vote at your regular polling place between 6AM and 7PM.

by ARLnow.com June 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Libby Garvey debates at an Arlington Young Democrats eventLast month we asked the two Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the June 14 primary

Here is the unedited response from County Board Chair Libby Garvey:

I have been privileged to serve you on the County Board for the past four years, following fifteen years on School Board, and I am seeking your vote for a second full County Board term. Our work together has helped make Arlington a great place to live, work, and play, but we have the potential to be better. I am running for reelection to the County Board to help Arlington achieve our potential. County government can do that by providing excellent customer service, expanding civic engagement, and helping residents build our community.

We must make sure all our services work well for all people. We recently introduced e-filing of building permit applications so residents no longer have to pay for costly printed drawings and wait to hand them in. In my next term, I will work to continue improving processes and tools like these. I will also work to make it easier for people to get around, including realizing premium bus service on Columbia Pike and throughout Arlington and the region. Regional cooperation is particularly important for transportation because so many of us travel from Arlington to DC, Alexandria, Fairfax, and even Maryland. In my years in office, I have built the relationships we need with leaders around the region to improve Metro and to build new regional transit to benefit all of us. Similarly, I will use my experience to support our School Board as they work to solve our capacity crunch.

Many talented Arlingtonians want to participate in our community processes, but cannot through our traditional, very time-intensive ways of involvement because of family and work commitments. We need to try different ways of connecting so that everyone who wants can interact with their local government. This year, the County Board started webcasting our work sessions so residents can follow our work without having to sit in long meetings. This simple solution makes it easier for everyone to participate. I will continue to push for online tools that allow easy access to public data so residents know what’s happening. I will also work to explore how we can use technology to create new channels for residents to connect with each other and to provide feedback to their government.

We need to make sure Arlington is a place where it is easy for everyone to live and work. This year, I supported dialogues to bring people together on different sides of issues like Fire Station 8 and the Stratford school driveway to discuss options openly before moving forward. Everyone can’t have their preferred outcome, but the people involved tell me that they feel like they are finally being heard and can contribute to the ultimate decision. We still need a strategic plan to bring all of our specific master plans together. Coming up with an overall strategic plan will take time and must include everyone; and we must design a process that brings us together to ensure we hear everyone’s voice and perspective. I look forward to focusing on this process in my next term.

Together with residents and businesses, Arlington County government can be a force for bringing out the best in our community. I ask for your vote on Tuesday to continue serving you to work to realize our full potential.

by ARLnow.com May 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

Arlington School Board Vice Chair Nancy Van DorenLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from incumbent candidate Nancy Van Doren:

I am seeking re-election to the Arlington School Board and ask for your vote during the School Board Democratic Caucus May 19, 7-9 pm, at Drew Model School and May 21 at Washington-Lee High School from 11 am-7 pm.

Since joining the Board in 2014, I have brought family and community voices to the table to ensure that APS maintains the highest educational standards while expanding capacity for its growing student population.   In recognition of this work, I have been endorsed by A-PAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association.

Last summer, my Board colleagues elected me to serve as Vice Chair. In this leadership role, I have maintained my focus on instruction and educational excellence. My primary goal is to prepare every student to be successful in our 21st century economy. To this end, I have ensured an increase in specialized interventions for struggling readers, expanded opportunities for students with disabilities to succeed alongside non-disabled peers, ensured high expectations for English language learners, and supported the expansion of foreign language classes at all elementary schools. I continue to support APS’ digital learning initiative, which provides all students with access to technology to strengthen their learning. I fully support the launch of Arlington Tech, a new STEM-centered high school program that includes hands-on learning, industry credentialing, and dual enrollment classes for college credit.

To meet APS’ growing capacity needs, I supported the internal renovation project at Washington-Lee High School that added 300 seats. I will support similar projects at Wakefield and Yorktown High Schools. I voted for additions and renovations at Stratford, Abingdon and McKinley Schools as well as for a new secondary school in Rosslyn and elementary school in South Arlington to be built and opened by fall 2019. I served as the School Board liaison to the APS/County Community Facilities Study, which developed recommendations to better coordinate County and School facility resources. I strongly support funding in APS’ 2016 Capital Improvement Plan to complete needed current and future projects on time and within budget. I will advocate for funds to increase high school and elementary school capacity as soon as possible, so APS can meet the needs of what will be a 30,000 student school system by 2022.

Today, my priorities remain clear:  build a strong infrastructure to meet the needs of our expanding school system while maintaining a keen focus on educational excellence for all our students.

Before joining the School Board, I volunteered on various APS committees covering instruction, transportation, and special education.   I served as Jefferson Middle School PTA president, founded the ArlingtonADHD and ArlingtonReading parent support groups, and co-founded the Arlington Latino Network.

Prior to moving to Arlington, I lived overseas with my husband, Jack Zetkulic, in Serbia, Sweden, and Switzerland. We have lived in Ashton Heights with our four children since 2004.  In addition to my Arlington school system experience, I had previously worked in business and communications. I spent 12 years in the private sector with Connecticut National Bank, The Travelers Companies, and The Hartford Courant in Hartford, CT. and then at Newsday in New York. I am a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and have a Masters in Management from The Hartford Graduate Center/ Rensselaer. I lived in Spain and Nicaragua and am fluent in Spanish.

by ARLnow.com May 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board candidate Tannia TalentoLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Tannia Talento:

Thank you to ARLnow.com for the opportunity to engage Arlington voters on the issues facing Arlington’s schools.

I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe I am the candidate best equipped to provide a voice for our students who are underserved and for our students who are looking for options after high school that may not include college. I want to ensure our students are not only college ready but career ready. I believe our school system is in a position to make sure every student is able to access a productive path to their dreams on graduation day, whether it includes college or something else.

I have campaigned all over our county this spring talking about issues that are on the minds of parents, students, community members and teachers: increasing access to mental health resources and education by working closely with existing county resources; closing our achievement gap by looking at our students individually and not in wide-ranging categories, so we can deploy our resources in a targeted and effective manner; and how we address our capacity needs with a growing student population and a tight fiscal environment while continually engaging our community earnestly and sincerely.

These issues are incredibly important to our students, parents, teachers and community. We have a great school system and the challenges we face today are born from the success of our schools and the success of Arlington’s smart growth policies. We should meet these challenges head on with the full engagement of our community; however, this requires a leader who understands the perspective of our underserved communities as well as the greater community and understands how to engage all of our community members including community members who are not traditionally engaged. I am that leader.

As a first generation American, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to advocate in our school system. My parents, who both immigrated from Guatemala, worked hard to provide everything they could, but still did not understand how to advocate for us in school. I faced many challenges and finished high school on an untraditional path. I moved to South Arlington and worked full-time in Crystal City at a law firm and worked my way up in my profession to become a legal secretary, while taking night classes at NOVA Community College and starting a family. While I didn’t finish college, I cultivated a trade and worked hard in my career, ultimately achieving success. I re-married and now have a blended family of 5 kids. I became actively involved in our schools 5 years ago, working on issues on curriculum through ACI, the Math Advisory Committee, and the Superintendent’s Master Planning Working Group; capacity issues through the Facilities Study Committee in 2015; and advocacy issues working on the ESOL/HILT Committee among many others which you can read on my website.

As a leader in our community, I want to make sure we are engaging every stakeholder where they live and work by pushing for open office hours which rotate between schools. In ensuring all corners of our community have a voice, we can arrive at the best solutions for everyone.

I hope to earn your vote tonight or Saturday. You can vote tonight at Drew Model School from 7pm to 9pm and on Saturday at Washington-Lee from 11am to 7pm.

by ARLnow.com May 19, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Michael SheaLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Michael Shea:

After years of serving on advisory committees to both Arlington Public Schools and the County government, I decided to run for School Board. My intention is to ensure that the high quality education our son has received is available for the students coming after him, as well as to help APS shift in some new directions so we can do even better. I’m an advocate for open data, problem-based learning, and new designs for our school construction.

The “new designs” theme encourages us to plan new schools and facilities in areas such as Rosslyn and Crystal City, even using former office space to convert into classrooms. Arlington has a high office vacancy rate and an urgent need for new school facilities. A continued focus on new construction in the rest of the County will cause us to lose park space and create more traffic.

To advocate for these ideas, I have knocked on thousands of doors all across Arlington. As I expected, I have had many conversations with parents who have had highly positive experiences with Arlington Public Schools. But I have also talked with families who are frustrated that we do not offer a more inclusionary learning environment for students with special needs. I have talked with teachers who are frustrated by excessive testing requirements, poor planning in the program to distribute notebook computers, and decisions where their voice is not heard. I have talked with families who are disappointed by the lack of socioeconomic diversity in many of our schools. And I have talked with parents and teachers who are disappointed that the quality of some facilities has deteriorated while our attention seems to be only on the new construction.

Learning from these frustrations and disappointments has affirmed my view that we can do better. We need to expand the conversations and affirm our commitment to a consistently high quality of facilities all across Arlington, to a more inclusionary learning environment for students with special needs, and to reducing testing time.

I have not been filling up the median strips of Arlington with campaign signs, so my name is not as widely known as some others. But my doorstep conversations with families has filled my life for the past several months. I better understand the problems we face and I thank everyone who took the time to talk with me. I am asking for your vote in the Democratic School Board Caucus to be an advocate for those ways in which we can do better and for protecting the high quality of education so many families have known.

by ARLnow.com May 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Chaz CrismonLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Chaz Crismon:

I am currently a stay-at-home dad of a 1st grader with special needs. I volunteer at Hoffman-Boston Elementary where I see my son happily learning. My talents include teaching Social Studies, speaking Spanish and Portuguese, listening and building trust.

As a young parent, I am a natural choice to work with parents as they make educational decisions for their kids. I will effectively collaborate with parent groups seeking stronger relationships with the School Board. I am the only candidate who will be a PTA parent throughout my four-year term. Our leadership team will build trust with a young parent like me on board.

We should have a licensed public school teacher on the board. I share the progressive Democratic values of our revered departing educator. On a full-time and part-time basis, I have taught Social Studies, English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Elementary Spanish Immersion classrooms. I will make sure we support our teachers so they can continue doing great work! Our current board is losing its best teacher liaison. Our leadership team will build trust with a public school teacher like me on board.

As I listen to citizens, I find many who are happy with our schools. Most trust we will do better. These are my priorities:

We need more fairness in our school system.

I want to revamp the lottery system so it gives all parents of entering students an equal chance of enrolling at a choice school available to them. The current system favors in-the-know codebreakers. Access to quality special education, gifted services, arts, language and science programming should be consistent across all our schools.

We need more space for instruction and creative play.

Our classrooms are spilling into alcoves, workrooms, and auditoriums. We have successfully reconfigured and expanded existing school sites, but we must work with the County Board on better solutions now. I have more than a decade of experience as a real estate professional. We will acquire private land and build a new school in a welcoming neighborhood. We must be aggressive and vigilant, so we can take advantage of buying opportunities. My parents in Arizona gave up a farm to a freeway and two business locations to an arts district. Their properties were never for sale, but Arizona got it done. Arlington can get it done too in a way advantageous to all. It takes time to close such deals, but I will make sure our county leaders do not drag their feet. I will enjoy solving our real estate problems.

We need more inclusion opportunities for disabled students.

Creative staffing solutions are necessary to accommodate the unique needs of students. We must provide more support for students with special needs in general education settings.

We need to close the achievement gap.

We must hire and retain the best teachers and support staff. As we respect and cultivate ties to the home culture and languages of students, the achievement gap will narrow.

I will work to address the unique needs of each child by actively engaging with the community and the superintendent’s office on a fulltime basis. I will work to harness the power of volunteerism to benefit all our schools. We should expand the reach of our existing volunteer networks to bring in more help from people less connected to our schools.

I have run the gauntlet of challenging leadership and academic training, as an Eagle Scout/Boy Scout Leader, an LDS missionary in the Dominican Republic, a Stanford grad, a Marriott credit manager in Peru after 9/11, a Thunderbird MBA, and an entrepreneur. After overcoming a bout of cancer, I wound down my real estate company to devote myself to education. My rigorous teacher training program saw almost 2 in 3 people quit. I completed my program on time even as I dealt with cancer treatment. Today, cancer-free, I am as optimistic as ever that I can make a difference. I have had the tremendous support of my wife, church and Arlington Public Schools to pull me through many challenges. I know the difference a good public preschool and bus service can make for a struggling family. I feel blessed to be able to run hard with the talents and time I have to share. The School Board needs my energetic new parent and teacher perspective to serve students.

If you value grit, determination, and experience working with and helping people of all backgrounds and circumstances, then vote Chaz D. Crismon for School Board.

by ARLnow.com October 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

County Board candidate Mike McMenamin

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Mike McMenamin:

Somewhere along the journey, “the Arlington Way” got off track. A county once revered for its innovative but prudent growth let the spending spigot flow too freely at the expense of homeowners and businesses.

The County Board built a million-dollar bus stop. Then there was the “well-intentioned” but ill-fated Artisphere. Arlington was all set to build an extravagant streetcar for Columbia Pike. Another pool, this time for Long Bridge Park, turned out too be overly expensive.

Last year, Arlington voters came to their senses by selecting another Independent, John Vihstadt, and signaled that Arlington County was through with such excessive spending. Still, bloated projects come our way. Take the $350,000 the county just gave Dutch contractors for an art project on the fence of a county sewage plant.

As Civic Federation President, Maywood Community President and a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have seen where the county spends our money. Sure, some of these projects are nice ideas. But they crowd out other projects that I consider more important. We need to get back to basics and spend our tax dollars on core government services, such as paving our roads, updating our infrastructure, schools, and parks. We must properly fund neighborhood conservation, so that neighborhoods can build the projects they need, e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalks, and storm water drainage.

Too much of the burden of costly projects falls on homeowners in Arlington County. We need to proactively draw in more tax-paying companies by filling the vast amounts of vacant office space caused by overbuilding and the departure of government agencies. By doing so, it will provide the much needed tax relief for homeowners.

I am the only candidate who is a small business owner in Arlington, so I know firsthand how difficult and expensive it is to run a business in the county. Quite frankly, opening a new business in Arlington is a marathon process. It takes a great deal of time to navigate the byzantine permit process, which planning and zoning staff have not made easy. This needs to change.

A major issue for the next board is the growth in the school-age population. As parents of two children who have attended Taylor Elementary, Swanson Middle School, Washington & Lee High School and H.B. Woodlawn, my wife and I know just how good our schools are. The board must work with the school board to find cost-efficient solutions in locations that do not disrupt neighborhoods. For instance, we should look to expand our schools by building them up instead of out.

I feel that the time is ripe for another Independent on the county board. I am proud to have gotten the endorsement of John Vihstadt and the Arlington Sun Gazette, among others. So I ask for your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com October 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm 0

Katie Cristol

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Katie Cristol:

Thank you, ARLnow readers, for your time spent reading about the candidates for Arlington County Board.

It’s an honor to offer my experience and perspective for consideration for one of two open seats on the Board. My community experience in Arlington’s commission process and as an appointee on the School Board’s Advisory Council on Instruction, as well as my professional experience as an education policy advisor, afford me the necessary background and insights to serve on the County Board. I believe I can pair this background with an ability to look at issues differently and a genuine openness to community ideas.

Across the past ten months of door-knocking, candidate nights and neighborhood coffees, I’ve heard a common theme: Responsibility. Arlington is unmistakably entering a period of difficult decisions regarding land use and expenditures. We’ll need County Board leaders who can demonstrate not just fiscal responsibility, but responsibility for the whole of Arlington and its long-term future.

I’m committed to bringing to the Board both good judgment and a critical eye towards major new expenditures, honed through my experience working with resource-challenged localities. But Arlington’s complex challenges cannot be met by a ‘back to basics’ ideology alone. Meeting the needs of more students and more seniors, for example, will require innovation in how we think about public facilities. For example, improving joint use agreements for recreational facilities between schools and County; building vertically and undergrounding parking to protect green space; and constructing facilities that can evolve in use over their multi-decade lifetimes. Economic redevelopment, too, will require adaptability, such as more flexibility in the permitting and signage processes that business interests cite as common barriers to locating in Arlington.The Board will need to foster a climate of experimentation — such as extending the terms of our interim use ordinance –as we transition from reliance on federal agencies to new sectors.

By contrast, Independent candidates in this race have promised appealing but less-than-responsible solutions: Cutting taxes on businesses while spending more on streets and parks, with few specifics about how to balance the remaining budget. Taking pledges on land use that will tie the Board’s hands in considering recommendations from the citizen task forces that study countywide needs.

Here is what I can — responsibly — promise: To approach Arlington’s challenges analytically, and with a fresh perspective. My approach to affordability is an example. I believe we need to look more expansively at land use solutions to affordability issues. Revisiting the restrictions around accessory dwelling units can unlock market rate affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods throughout the County, while enabling seniors to age in place with on-site caregivers or additional rental income. Pursuing childcare centers as first-floor retail-equivalent uses and negotiating with developers to commit affordable rent for childcare providers can help address the lack of childcare supply that so challenges our young families. Either way, deliberate planning for a diversity of earners is not “a nice to have” luxury that we put off for flush times. A diverse workforce is a precondition for Arlington’s economic competitiveness, which is why the recent Affordable Housing Master Plan was supported by Arlington’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission as well as all five current County Board members.

I am proud to have received the endorsement of theWashington Post, which described my policy positions as “clear and balanced” this week and my candidacy as “serious and substantive” in its primary endorsement, as well as that of the Sun Gazette. I’m also pleased to be supported by Arlington’s teachers, firefighters, and twenty of our elected leaders.

I hope you will join these community members and leaders in their support. I’d be honored to earn one of your two votes on November 3.

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