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by ARLnow.com November 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.

Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Charles McCullough:

I’ve lived in South Arlington for over ten years. Drawn to Arlington’s safe, vibrant, and diverse environment, it felt like the right place to purchase a home. I’ve come to know all our neighborhoods as wonderful places to live, work, raise children, play, pray, and grow old. While living here I’ve started my own small business, volunteered on county and school committees, and chaired the board of the US Postal Service Federal Credit Union where I advocated for family-friendly lending.

I’m running because Arlington residents need a seat at the table.

I am a progressive independent running for office because I believe the “Arlington Way” is broken. Significant decisions impacting citizens are either predetermined or made without meaningful community consultation. Developers are running roughshod over affordable housing options, displacing people and open spaces. Commercial vacancy rates remain high as the county gives multimillion-dollar tax breaks to billion-dollar companies.

We won’t fix Arlington’s problems by continuing to elect party insiders with similar résumés and experiences. If elected, I will be an independent voice on the county board. I’ll look beyond party politics and focus on “Putting People First.”

“Putting People First” is my commitment to involving more viewpoints in a meaningful way.

Effectively addressing the issues facing Arlington requires county board members to go beyond staff recommendations and be more deeply and personally present in our neighborhoods. That is why I will serve as a full-time board member, working every day in our communities to be a voice you can trust on the Arlington County Board.
I will prioritize housing affordability, schools, local business development, transportation, and open spaces and do so with community input, before decisions are made.
As a progressive independent I promise to lead with an Arlington CAN attitude.

  • I will push for a multifaceted approach to housing affordability. Going beyond new construction, Arlington must grow certified affordable housing for those in need by making sure developers are paying their fair share to fund these programs. I will work to grow market rate affordable housing for the rest of us by encouraging cooperatives, co-living spaces, and community land trusts, all of which reduce rent, mortgage, and property tax costs.
  • I will seek to expand early childcare options in Arlington so students don’t start the first day of school with a learning deficit. Not only should we provide greater cost efficiency in building schools, but we should also make sure schools are resourced to educate the whole child through a Cradle to Career & College Pipeline.
  • I will help local businesses thrive by addressing one-size-fits-all regulation schemes that make it hard to open and grow local businesses.
  • I am proud to be the only candidate for Arlington County Board that is on record for saying NO to a new regional tax for Metro that would unfairly burden Northern Virginians. Metro should only get dedicated funding if it commits to greater accountability. We need multimodal transportation solutions that get individuals to work in an efficient and cost effective manner. I will also be an advocate for providing better bus service in places like Columbia Pike.
  • I will prioritize the preservation of existing parks, dog parks, and biking/jogging trails that make Arlington a great place to live. I will advocate for maximizing our limited land and public facilities through deeper government and schools partnerships as well as long-term planning for land acquisition.

To achieve these things I will demand that we budget in a way that reflects our vision for Arlington while preserving our bond rating. Having had previous responsibility for crafting multimillion-dollar budgets in the public and private sector, I know how to plan for growth in times of fiscal austerity. As you explore my full platform at http://votemccullough.com/issues, note that many of my plans save Arlington taxpayers and businesses money or generate revenue from new sources.
If you believe the county has fallen short in its commitment to our communities, taxpayers, businesses, or the environment, voting for Charles McCullough is the most powerful message you can send to the Arlington County Board that your voice matters. Together we can restore the “Arlington Way.”

by ARLnow.com November 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.

Here is the unedited response from Democratic candidate Erik Gutshall:

I’m Erik Gutshall, life-long Democrat, proud father of three wonderful girls, an award-winning small businessman, and the current chair of the Arlington County Planning Commission.  I am focused on the future, and I am asking for your support to be the next member of the Arlington County Board.

Arlington has a storied tradition of meeting challenges with inclusive collaboration between the community, elected officials, county staff, and the private sector.  I have joined in this tradition as a civic association president, non-profit board member, and member of our Transportation and Planning Commissions.  Working side-by-side with you to solve complex challenges for the last 15 years has ingrained in me the Arlington values of inclusiveness, collaboration, and long-term vision.  While the successes of our past are remarkable, running a small business has taught me that if we don’t innovate, we will stagnate.  Our success has brought new challenges; and while our values haven’t changed, our solutions have to.  While some argue that our success is the problem and plot a course of retreat, I see the challenges of today as opportunities to remake our vision for the next generation, and I’m asking you to join me.

Our outdated zoning has created a difficult choice between increasingly unaffordable single-family homes and high-rise living, and many of our friends and neighbors have simply moved elsewhere.  We must not throw up our hands and accept this as inevitable. To keep Arlington affordable for the middle class, I will use my planning and zoning experience to create market-driven, neighborhood-scale  “Missing Middle” housing along our transportation corridors so that young families starting out, seniors aging in place, and everyone in-between can afford to live here.

Solving the school capacity crisis is critical to Arlington’s future.  The fact that more and more families are invested enough to put down roots here despite the high cost of housing speaks volumes about the community we have built, but pitting community needs against each other is a recipe for failure.  The School Board and County Board must work together to squeeze the most out of our limited space and dollars.  I will champion the work of the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) to find innovative solutions for the school and community facilities we need, while balancing the preservation and expansion of parks and open space.

As a small business owner, I passionately believe that the future of Arlington’s prosperity is in the hands of our entrepreneurs and innovators.  Our small businesses are the “heart and soul” of our community with deep roots as they hire locally and invest locally.  My first priority to restore Arlington’s reputation as a great place to start and grow a business will be to foster a “Get to Yes” culture of customer service so that our businesses can spend more time on their customers, and less time dealing with frustrating bureaucracy.

Inclusive, transparent, and collaborative problem-solving guided by progressive values yields innovative, durable solutions.  That is the secret sauce of Arlington’s success.  I’ve been working with you for the last 15 years, and with your support, I’ll be honored to do it for the next four as your board member.  For detailed issue statements on my focus on the future of Arlington, please visit Erik4Arlington.com.  Find your polling place and photo ID requirements at ARLVotes.com and please vote for me, Erik Gutshall, on Tuesday, November 7.

by ARLnow.com November 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.

Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Audrey Clement:

 Arlington County needs new leadership. Here’s why.

Although it is one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., Arlington is paying corporations millions in taxpayer subsidies to stay here, small businesses struggle, and too many longtime residents are being gentrified out of their homes.

At 18 percent, Arlington’s office vacancy rate is unacceptably high, as federal agencies move to cheaper digs elsewhere in Northern Virginia.

The County has recruited some high profile corporate tenants, and shaved a percentage off the vacancy rate. But small businesses are hurting and are likely to hurt even more should the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts go into effect.

In fact the George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis predicts that 10,000 federal sector jobs may be eliminated from Northern Virginia should Congress adopt the president’s budget.

http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/economist_proposed_trump_budget_could_cost_northern_virginia_up_to_10000_jo

This could spell hardship for Arlington County, which depends on tax revenue generated from federal jobs.

County Board increased the property tax rate this year even as it estimated a surplus. That was unfortunate, since neither the government workers who live in the County nor the local businesses that rely on their patronage needed another tax grab while facing the prospect of an economic downturn.

Arlington County also has a spending problem. County Board just voted to approve the design of a new Lubber Run Community Center with a whopping $47.9 million price tag. The new Wilson High School is currently estimated at $100 million.

By comparison, the town of Vienna recently completed renovating its community center for just $6.5 million, and the cost of a new high school under construction in Loudoun County is $81.7 million —- much less than the projected cost for Wilson High.

It’s obvious that Arlington taxpayers are paying a lot more for the same public services than elsewhere in Northern Virginia. This is not only wasteful, it may also prove to be unsustainable in the long run.

Clearly the current County Board is too complacent to change course now. It will continue to ignore the need for belt tightening. In the face of economic uncertainty, independent leadership is needed to constrain spending while optimizing services provided to County residents.

As an Independent candidate and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow, I am qualified to fill that role.

As an independent voice on County Board I pledge to:

  • Seek tax relief for both residential and commercial taxpayers.
  • Save our parks, not pave them over.
  • Use bond money to fund schools–not Taj Mahals for some students and trailers for others.
  • Stop recycling garden apartments into luxury town homes and cutting down our precious tree canopy for more parking.
  • Stop the back room deals that too often govern the decisions made by County Board.

In addition, if elected, I will:

  • Require a fiscal impact analysis for every major site plan development project to assure that it actually benefits the County.
  • End the County’s pursuit of wasteful vanity projects.
  • Redirect funds to basic needs like streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Consolidate housing programs and other public services.
  • Install renewable energy on County owned buildings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

I am a thirteen year Arlington resident with a ten year track of civic activism. With a Ph.D. in Political Science and experience on Capitol Hill, I have both the commitment and political know how to translate policy into practice.

Visit AudreyClement.com to find out more about my campaign for a better Arlington and donate to my campaign.

Let me know if you want to volunteer at the polls on Election Day and remember to vote for me, Audrey Clement, Independent, on November 7.

by ARLnow.com November 6, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.

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 should also 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.

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 high schools. 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 November 7.

by ARLnow.com November 6, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.

Here is the unedited response from Alison Dough:

A couple years ago, I had a serious issue with my son with special needs at his elementary school.  It could not be resolved at the school and I did not hesitate to contact my elected school board officials and the superintendent and his staff.  Not a soul from the school board responded.  At that point, I realized as a parent, I did not have a voice when an issue arose that could not be resolved.  The people I had voted for and elected were not my voice on the school board.  I can write my congressmen at the state and federal level and receive responses within 3 days – silence was my response from the school board.

I believe the unresponsiveness stemmed from disengagement – members of the school board who even have children – their children have aged out or are aging out of the system.  What is their reason to be engaged?  Parents with children in the school system should have a voice – they need a voice.  I have a vested interest with two elementary school children and one in diapers.  I have a vested interest in the here & now of what is happening and what will happen in my children’s future.

My priorities are as follows:

  1. Inclusion. Arlington needs to catch-up with the rest of the state of Virginia and move towards an across the board inclusion policy. This issue is near and dear to my heart. Studies show students coming out of isolated programs cannot function in normal society and have trouble learning a vocation. Studies show inclusion benefits the special needs children and studies show inclusion benefits the general education students just as much teaching them communication skills, to accept others with special needs as peers, compassion, empathy, and prepares them to be better members of society.  Including special needs children up to 80% of the time is a win-win for all involved.  I would push for full inclusion (up to 80% of the day) to be implemented over a 2-4 year timeframe basing on best practices of other school systems in Virginia.
  2. With a county so rich in culture and language – why does Arlington only offer Spanish immersion? Why don’t we offer Mandarin, French, Arabic, Hindi or other languages?  Children have so much more ability than adults to learn these languages.  We know we have overcrowding in certain areas of Arlington.  Why not give parents a reason to want to move schools instead of redistricting them and battling over boundaries?  I would send my child across the county in a heartbeat if she could participate in a French immersion program.
  3. Increased recess. Recess time has disappeared after the “No Child Left Behind Act”.  Lack of recess has shown to have a negative impact on classroom behavior, learning, health, and social development. Studies show that when kids and teens get more exercise, they are better focused and also have less anxiety.
  4. Year-round school. I think we need to take a look at the benefits of year-round school. Year-round school helps to keep the kids and teens engaged.  Also, with several working families in Arlington, parents are burdened with the costs of expensive summer camps.  I know, as a full-time working mother, I could more easily schedule time off intermittingly throughout the fall, winter, spring and summer than trying to take several weeks back-to-back off in the summer tp spend with my children.
  5. Parent teacher partnership. Parent involvement is imperative in our children’s education. So many parents don’t know what is going on and they want to know.  There needs to be a partnership between parents and teachers and between parents and schools.

Parent involvement is a key to the success of our children.  We need to be involved.  We need to be running for the school board.  This is our board and we need to take ownership of it. I hope that as a fulltime working mother with three young children, I inspire others to seek this office as well. To paraphrase JFK as parents: we should ask not what your school can do for you – ask what you can do for your school.

Give our children, parents with children, and parents with special needs children an engaged and vested voice on the Arlington County School Board. Vote Alison Priscilla Dough for Arlington County School Board.

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.

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