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Mary Kadera poses with her family (Photo via Mary Kadera for School Board)

Right before the pandemic began, I had the chance to visit P.S. 172 in Brooklyn, New York. P.S. 172 is a public elementary school serving 540 students, 72% of whom are Latinx and 22% of whom are English learners. More than a third are students with disabilities and 81% of the student body receives free or reduced-price meals.

It was one of the most peaceful, purposeful and well-functioning schools I’d ever visited–and over my career in education I’ve visited many.  Among the things I liked:

  • There are no “resource rooms” for students with disabilities because of the school’s full inclusion model. Each class is co-taught and push-in services including OT and speech are provided in the regular classroom setting.
  • The school’s master schedule is intentionally designed to allow grade-level teams to meet for 90 minutes one morning each week for team-designed and -led professional learning (students attend specials during this block of time). This is above and beyond the common planning time that teachers enjoy 4-5 times each week.
  • The school’s Leadership Team is a group of families (50%) and staff (50%), with members rotating off every two years.
  • In the school climate survey, 100% of the teachers reported they trust the principal, 95% of teachers reported that they trust each other, and 97% of families responded that the school works hard to build relationships with them.
  • The school significantly outperforms more affluent schools on standard measures of academic achievement.

P.S. 172’s building won’t win any awards: on the day I visited with a colleague in December 2019, the old heating system warmed some rooms to 80+ degrees. The furniture was older and the rooms felt small.

But the state of that building mattered so much less than the important and exciting work happening inside it. This was an incredible school that was truly engaging its staff, students and families–and it has the results to show for it.

I’ve visited other places like P.S. 172 and have been really inspired and energized by the ways that many communities are improving their schools. As a member of the Arlington School Board, I’ll bring a fresh perspective, a creative mindset and examples of what’s working elsewhere to strengthen APS.

In Arlington, we’re doing the hard work of reopening our schools and recovering–but I want us to dream bigger and think about reimagining our schools. I want us to have pride of place and know that we are providing a truly transformative, highly relevant and appropriately challenging curriculum to every one of our students. The world doesn’t look like it did 50 years ago and neither should our schools. I’m calling for:

I’m an APS parent and a community volunteer with deep experience in K-12 education, including time as a classroom teacher and a leader with national education nonprofits. It would be my privilege to serve you as the newest member of Arlington’s School Board. To learn more about me and my campaign, please visit www.maryforschoolboard.org or email me at [email protected].

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Democrat candidate Del. Alfonso Lopez running for the 49th District (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the three candidates running in the general election for House of Delegates race for the 49th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Alfonso Lopez: 

It has been an incredible honor to serve our community in the Virginia House of Delegates for the last ten years. Over that time, I hope you believe, as I do, that our Commonwealth has changed significantly for the better.

When I was first elected by my neighbors and the citizens of the 49th District, I pledged to be a champion for our values in Richmond. I pledged to fight to improve our schools, protect our environment, increase transportation/transit funding, expand health care, empower small businesses, improve economic development, protect workers, increase job opportunities, protect immigrants and New Americans, create more affordable housing, build our social safety net, pass sensible gun violence prevention measures, and address issues of social and economic justice. Simply put, I promised to work tirelessly to build a Commonwealth that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.

Working with my colleagues, I’m proud to say that I’ve kept my promises to you.

When I was first elected, Republicans held the Governor’s mansion, the State Senate, and they had a veto-proof supermajority in the House. During that time, they remained the “Party of NO” regularly defeating efforts to protect the environment, expand health care, protect workers, reform the criminal justice system, support teachers, and pass gun safety measures. Instead, they pushed for radically invasive policies like trans-vaginal ultrasounds, tried to make it easier to ban books in schools, and used the power of the Attorney General’s office to target immigrant communities. This unfortunate list of policy initiatives could go on and on.

Thankfully, Democrats built a coalition of voters across Virginia that recaptured the Governorship and then the General Assembly. And look at the amazing things Virginia Democrats have been able to achieve in just the last few years:

  • Expansion of Medicaid, which has provided life-saving medical coverage to over 500,000 Virginians.
  • Reproductive Health Protection Act, which repealed decades of restrictions that made it extremely difficult to access abortion care in the Commonwealth.
  • Significant criminal justice reforms, including bans on no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and the militarization of local police departments. Virginia became the first Southern state to abolish the death penalty. The General Assembly also passed my legislation empowering the Attorney General to investigate and act against police departments with a history of constitutional rights violations.
  • Virginia Clean Economy Act, which has transformed Virginia from one of the worst states on climate change to one of the best and put us on the path to a 100% renewable energy economy.
  • Virginia Voting Rights Act, the first of its kind in the South, and major expansions in voter access and early voting opportunities.
  • Free community college for low- and middle-income students in high-demand fields, in addition to significant reforms I championed that expanded in-state tuition and college financial aid access to Dreamers.
  • Common-sense gun violence prevention measures, like universal background checks and a red-flag law to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who are a threat to themselves or others.

This is just a snapshot of all the ways Virginia Democrats have fought to move the Commonwealth forward and make it a better place for all.

Unfortunately, as opposed to moderating their approach, Virginia Republicans have only further embraced Donald Trump’s far-right message and movement. Indeed, we’ve seen campaign after campaign where Republicans have leaned on racist dog whistles to make their case to Virginians, rather than policies that would benefit us all.

Rest assured, if Virginia Republicans retake control of Richmond they are planning to reverse all of the progress we’ve made. Moreover, they are already planning to push a litany of far-right legislative initiatives, including voting rights limitations and ugly, divisive Texas-style abortion restrictions.

With this in mind, I ask that you vote for Virginia Democrats up and down the ballot. Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, and Mark Herring need your support to fight Trump-style policies and continue our sensible, progressive reforms in Virginia. Please vote!

Together, let’s keep building a Virginia that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.

My name is Alfonso Lopez and I ask for your support and VOTE on Election Day, Tuesday, November 2nd. www.AlfonsoLopez.org

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Republican candidate Tim Kilcullen for the 49th District (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the three candidates running in the general election for House of Delegates race for the 49th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Tim Kilcullen:

I am a lifelong populist activist, having worked on campaigns across the country advocating for individual liberties, responsible governance, and tax relief for working families. I never saw myself as someone who would run for office myself, but this changed after I fell in love with the friendly, welcoming, and diverse community of Crystal City. Our home is under attack by the Amazon corporation, and it is time that we fight back.

While they were hiking your taxes, Northam’s Legislature gave Amazon $750 million in tax credit subsidies to erect their hideous, traffic-clogging HQ2 in Crystal City. Construction on the taxpayer-funded monstrosity has continued even as our local businesses were subjected to arbitrary lockdowns and crushing “covid” regulations.

We have already seen how the Amazon corporation rewarded this generosity. It censored anti-lockdown writers, because the counterproductive closures and stay-at-home orders were making it rich. It silenced President Trump across its numerous platforms, because it knew his tax reform and pro-America, anti-Red China trade policy empowered its competition. It slandered American patriots with its unlicensed, unregistered superpac, The Washington Post. It resorted to bribery to try to secure the Pentagon JEDI contract. It ignored every campaign finance and antitrust regulation Virginia businesses followed, and it blatantly exploited and abused its workers.

Now, most disturbingly, Amazon is imposing its left-wing agenda on our education system. This year, it ‘donated’ a critical race theory curriculum to Arlington Public Schools, even paying to distribute a book by noted hate-leader Ibram X. Kendi.

Terry McAuliffe, who boasts “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” is thrilled to see Amazon push its Seattle values on Crystal City. I am certain that there are many Dem leaders in Richmond who are secretly terrified at his idea of remaking Virginia in the dystopian vision of Jeff Bezos, but they are too scared to speak. This is wrong. There are numerous solutions the next Virginia governor and Legislature should take to ensure our Commonwealth works for everyone.

First, legislators should work to pass a common carrier law for digital platforms like AWS, Amazon marketplace, and Amazon Twitch. This means so long as tech companies claim immunity from liability and disclosure requirements, they will have to respect the Fourteenth Amendment and stop silencing dissident voices.

Next, the Commonwealth can ban all future lockdowns and covid restrictions from being imposed, be it from Richmond or at the municipal level. These regulations were presented as necessary for public health, but were simply a redistribution of wealth from our communities to West Coast tech moguls.

Furthermore, Virginia can and should ban critical race theory from poisoning our public schools. Bigotry, socialism, and anti-American hate have no place in modern education.

Finally, we need a tax code that treats Virginian families and Virginian businesses with the same respect given to Amazon. This begins by forcing Amazon to repay the $750 million it stole.

Please take a stand against Amazon’s agenda when voting in this critical election. We can take Virginia back!

For more information on my platform, please visit kilcullenforvirginia.com or email me at [email protected].

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Democrat Patrick Hope, candidate for the 47th District (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the general election for House of Delegates race for the 47th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Patrick Hope:

It has been a privilege serving as Delegate to the 47th District, representing Arlington since 2010 and I would be honored to continue serving the people of this District.

As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is so much opportunity to build on the results Democrats have delivered over the last two years. In particular, I’m greatly concerned about the increase in mental illness and substance abuse. We need to significantly increase funding for community-based services to prevent children and adults from going into crisis.

Likewise, we’ve seen the devastating impact this pandemic has had on the residents of nursing homes, assisted living, and other congregate living settings. We are having a workforce shortage in all these areas like we have never seen before and we need to begin to make investments in our public and private insurance infrastructure to take care of our most vulnerable residents – the elderly and people with mental and physical disabilities.

As Chair of the House Public Safety Committee, I have overseen the passage of legislation requiring background checks, extreme risk protective orders, reinstituting the one-handgun-a-month law, and prohibiting firearms in public buildings, polling places, and the Virginia Capitol.

I believe we have a moral obligation to make our society a better and more inclusive place. It is who I am at my core. As Hubert Humphrey said “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life–the sick, the needy and the handicapped”. I believe the government can and should take care of those most in need and as long as I represent the people of Arlington, I will continue to make good on this belief.

Maintaining our House Democratic majority and electing Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala, and Mark Herring, is the only way Virginia can continue to move forward. We can continue to lead the nation in tackling gun violence, protecting our environment, bringing clean energy jobs to our state, investing in our teachers and our children and so much more – but only if we go out and VOTE.

As your Delegate, I am proud of the progress we’ve made over the last two years, and I know that we have so much more work to do together. I sincerely hope to earn your vote on Tuesday, November 2nd. For more information or to contact my office, please visit my website at www.HopeforVirginia.org and visit iwillvote.com to find your polling place.

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Democrat candidate for the 45th District Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the general election for House of Delegates race for the 45th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Elizabeth Bennett-Parker:

My name is Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and I’m the Democratic nominee for Delegate in the 45th House District, which includes the precincts of Aurora Hills, Oakridge, Fairlington, Shirlington, and Abingdon, as well as parts of Alexandria and Fairfax.

Both of my parents were in the Navy, and they instilled in me a sense of service to our community and our country. My mom used to always tell me that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. I’ve applied that to my entire career.

I worked at the National Governors Association with Democratic and Republican governors on bipartisan policy solutions to help move our country forward. I also started a small business to fight food waste and now co-lead a nonprofit that serves women returning from the criminal justice system, women experiencing homelessness, women surviving abuse, and more. In turn, that experience inspired me to run for the Alexandria City Council, and I currently serve as the Vice Mayor.

I have a proven record of service and delivering results for our community. Working with my colleagues, we have increased access to early childhood education, which will be one of my top priorities in Richmond. I also led the effort to: invest an additional $1 million for affordable housing this year; declare a climate change emergency; and reform public building standards to reduce emissions and fight climate change. We’ve also banned firearms from public buildings and parks, amended our human rights code to include gender identity as a protected class, and passed collective bargaining for our employees. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve and the ways I engage with our community. I knock doors outside of campaign season to ask for input on upcoming votes or issues, and I started Volunteer with the Vice Mayor events to bring residents together in service at local nonprofits.

As Delegate, I will continue to engage with residents and work to keep Virginia moving forward on these issues and other critical issues for Arlingtonians, such as expanding access to affordable health care, ensuring quality public education for all of our children, protecting reproductive choice and voting rights, advancing criminal justice reform, supporting workers and small businesses, and making sure that our Commonwealth is an equitable and inclusive place for all.

I am the only candidate in this race who will support common-sense gun safety legislation, make sure our local governments have funding to increase pay for teachers and first responders, fight to protect reproductive choice, and vote for paid family and medical leave.

I have been endorsed by:

  • The Virginia Firefighters Association
  • The Virginia Education Association
  • The League of Conservation Voters
  • The Sierra Club
  • Virginia NOW
  • Planned Parenthood
  • The AFL-CIO
  • Virginia LGBTQ+ Democrats
  • The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors
  • The Virginia Farm Bureau
  • Congressman Don Beyer
  • Senator Adam Ebbin
  • Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti
  • Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol
  • Arlington County Board Member Libby Garvey
  • Christopher Meloni, Actor, Law and Order
  • Billy Crudup, Actor, The Morning Show, and more.

My experience as a local elected official, nonprofit leader, and small business creator will ensure I’m an effective advocate and leader in Richmond for this district. Residents should vote for me because I am the only candidate in this race with a record of delivering results for our community and an agenda focused on progress for all.

I hope I can earn your vote now through October 30th or on Election Day. Learn more about me on my website and visit IWillVote.com/VA to find your polling place.

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Republican candidate for the 45th District Justin “J.D.” Maddox (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the general election for House of Delegates race for the 45th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Justin “J.D.” Maddox:

I’m J.D. Maddox, and I’m the first centrist candidate for the 45th District House of Delegates in more than ten years.

I’m a small business owner, an adjunct professor at George Mason University, and a member of Alexandria’s IT Commission. I’m also a former CIA branch chief and a veteran of US Army Special Operations. My wife Lisa and I have lived in Alexandria for 21 years, and we have two young daughters. Our family loves this community for its amazing diversity of people and opportunities.

For a decade, District 45’s representative went unchallenged, pursuing a political agenda at odds with our District’s real interests.

The negative results of this one-party rule are visible everywhere. Our schools are failing. Our police have gone unsupported while crime has increased. Our population has grown to be the densest in the state, but our infrastructure does not support it. Housing is increasingly unaffordable. Dangerous flash flooding now regularly overwhelms our sewers, and human waste flows freely into the Potomac River when it rains. Yet, we pay more taxes than ever.

These are astonishing failures. My only guess is that the 45th District hasn’t had a choice other than to blindly follow the “party line” on the ballot. We have elected and re-elected politicians who take our support for granted, while they do little to address the problems we face every day. Each time we step into the voting booth, we allow them to continue, despite their failures.

If you’re an open-minded voter, I ask you to vote for me on November 2. I’ve offered concrete and specific solutions to the challenges that face our community and the Commonwealth.

I’ve developed the “4FOR4” program, which will offer free 4-year college degrees to qualified Virginians who commit to service jobs in Virginia for 4 years. I’ve submitted a 1-percent cap on homeowner property tax. I’ve offered a specific new model for affordable housing. I’ve committed to pursuing new funding to pay for sewer fixes, and I will address climate change for what it actually is.

“But I can’t vote for a Republican,” an Arlingtonian may say. And they wouldn’t be the first. The Republican Party has lost its moral high ground. It’s suffering a crisis of conscience. But while many are fleeing the scene, I’ve chosen to run toward the fire.

My proposal to you is simple: We must reassert moderation into our political system. Virginia is not all red – nor all blue. We need politicians that can bring communities together to challenge the false narrative that our government is composed only of extremes. I know that’s what the silent majority of Virginians want – and if elected, that’s what I’ll do for you.

In contrast, my opponent has demonstrated that she’ll just lead us further apart – pushing more extreme positions in the Statehouse. The Sun-Gazette recently dropped its endorsement of her – an amazing statement of disapproval – because she’s “running further out in front on the ‘woke’ scale even than some of Northern Virginia’s other increasingly loopy local governments.”

Their retraction comes after she stood by her decision to defund the Alexandria police – removing School Resource Officers from schools. Her decision ignored the recommendation of the Alexandria School Board, and contributed to a spike in violence at Alexandria City High School including an incident involving a student with a fully loaded gun on school grounds.

That is not the only time she has chosen to ignore her constituents. She chose not to participate in four candidate forums this year. These events are the only chance that voters have had to see and hear from both candidates for Delegate. I attended each one with the intent to have a principled debate, and exchange of ideas. I never got the chance, and I found her unwillingness to answer questions from our community disappointing.

As you enter the polling booth this Tuesday, consider the values of your Delegate candidates….

If you are looking for someone to reorient us politically, and to bring us back to the center, I’m your candidate.

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Independent County Board candidate Adam Theo (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the four candidates running in the general election for a seat on the County Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Adam Theo:

Hello, I’m Adam Theo (aka “Theo”), an independent progressive libertarian running for Arlington County Board.

I’m an 8-year resident of Arlington currently living in Ballston, where I’ve enjoyed our excellent parks, access to transit, and how safe the county is. I’m proud to serve my community as Secretary of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association as well as voting delegate to the county Civic Federation. Since 2018, I’ve been the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia where I’ve more than tripled the active volunteer base, expanded the organization into Loudoun County, and lead the establishment of dedicated teams for communications and policy task forces.

I’ve been an avid hiker, cyclist, computer nerd, photographer, fan of good historical biographies, and have an undeniable weakness for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. As a fairly straight-to-the-point, fiscally responsible, policy-wonk kind of person I have lot of criticisms of the current County leadership and local politics.

My background and experience bring a unique experience to Arlington’s politics. I would be the only veteran on the county board, with 9 years in the Air Force Reserves as a structural civil engineer. I’ve also lived both sides of law enforcement, with 9 years as a communications consultant within the Department of Homeland Security working alongside police and other first responders across the country but had also served 4 months in county jail down in Florida during 1999/2000 when, as a teenager, I got into a lot of foolish trouble for myself. Finally, I’ve been homeless twice — first for a few months during a Florida summer in my 20’s, then again in a DC winter through the “Snowmageddon” of 2009.

This time in the criminal justice system is where I first saw problems and became an advocate for reform including ending the “War on Drugs”, abolishing Qualified Immunity, providing greater civilian oversight of law enforcement, and de-militarizing our police forces. And while experiencing homelessness I saw firsthand there’s no single root cause — but instead dozens (if not hundreds) of factors — each requiring their own solutions.

There is no “silver bullet” for any of our community’s problems, but there are proven ways to improve them. That’s why as a county board member — in addition to the above police reforms and taking on homelessness — I’d also push for:

  • Smarter spending that prioritizes public safety, helping local businesses, and our environment over luxury amenities or tax breaks to Fortune 500 companies.
  • Zoning and permitting reforms for “Missing Middle” housing as well as change how we handle affordable housing by using Community Land Trusts.
  • Accountability and transparency of our government by fully funding, empowering, and expanding the County Auditor’s office while adopting changes to how local officials are elected.
  • Protecting our parks and environment with better market incentives for green development, solar programs, and park expansion.

I’m Adam Theo – an independent progressive libertarian for Arlington County Board. Find and follow me at TheoForArlington.org and as @TheoForARL on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to join my email list to get key information first. I’m using 2021 to establish my campaign’s organization with needed infrastructure and to introduce myself to the residents of Arlington that I’ve not yet met. I will then be running in 2023 or 2022 to finally bring much needed independence to the County Board.

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Democrat County Board candidate Takis Karantonis (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the four candidates running in the general election for a seat on the County Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Takis Karantonis:

Last year I ran for office in the middle of a pandemic ravaging our community and our economy. I pledged to remain rooted in civic engagement and to bring the voice of our diverse communities to the County Board. I kept and I continue to keep this promise. COVID-19 and our national reckoning on racial inequity in the wake of the murder of George Floyd revealed Arlington’s multifaceted and challenging disparities. My vision for Arlington, my actions and my voting record are firmly centered on equity, inclusivity, transparency, fairness and responsiveness and the belief that we are a successful community when:

  • We care for the health and safety of ALL, especially of those lacking access or coverage.
  • We care for economic resilience, especially that of small businesses and working families.
  • We care for social and racial justice and fairness on all levels, from policing to housing to education to equitable access to natural and recreational resources and beyond.
  • We share the sense of urgency and common cause to confront the climate emergency.

I believe in democratic values, collaborative leadership and inclusive planning expressed in the four pillars of my platform: equitable governance; fiscal sustainability and resilience; environmental sustainability; and principled and inclusive long-term planning. As an immigrant I hold these values very close to my heart as they guide my thinking, my politics and my work for an Arlington that works for ALL: a community of safe and walkable neighborhoods; with excellent public schools; great public places and facilities; accountable, ethical and fiscally sound governance; friendly and responsive public services; ethnic, cultural and socio-economic diversity; and an unwavering commitment to community involvement.

If re-elected, I will,

  • Use the lessons learned during the pandemic to address the inequalities that COVID has revealed; strengthen our local social safety net; eliminate food and housing insecurity; enhance access to health and mental health services; and provide fair and equitable access to critical services such as reduced transit fares, affordable childcare and broadband.
  • Deepen and accelerate our local response to the climate emergency; electrify our transportation; prioritize safe walking and biking; decarbonize new construction and retrofit legacy buildings; invest in stormwater infrastructure; protect and enhance our tree canopy and our natural resources; and -most importantly- make climate resiliency and sustainability a ‘whole-of-government’ policy.
  • Ensure that racial equity and accountability permeate all activities and policies of our government, and progress is transparently measured and reported.
  • Prioritize support for our small businesses; support them with a revolving micro-loan and technical assistance program; reduce costly red-tape and treat them as the job-creating, innovative community partners and stakeholders they are.
  • Address our housing crisis, which continues to displace Arlingtonians; invest in the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and expand Housing Grant eligibility; focus on corridor development while continuing the pursuit of longer-term policies aiming to enhance housing choices that fit the needs of all Arlingtonians.
  • Continue to fight for livable wages and fair labor conditions for working people and families.

I am proud to have earned the endorsement of all my colleagues on the County Board and the School Board, as well as of Arlington’s elected constitutional officers and representatives in the General Assembly; professional organizations; citizen-led advocacy groups and community leaders (representing our Black Community; Latino and Immigrant communities; Senior and Young Democrats; supporting multi-modal, cycling and sustainable transportation; public education; affordable housing; environmental sustainability; planning; and mental health services). These endorsements are the result of years of working on Arlington issues and a testament to my passion for good, responsive and responsible local governance.

I hope to earn your vote on November 2nd (or earlier), and the privilege of continuing to serve you as a Member of your County Board.

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Last week, we invited the four candidates running in the general election for a seat on the County Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement:

I’m Audrey Clement, Ph.D., Independent candidate for Arlington County Board. As a 17-year Westover resident, long time civic activist, and former member of the Transportation Commission, I’m running for County Board because it has pushed harmful policies resulting in:

  • overcrowded schools,
  • gentrification,
  • loss of green space, and
  • a 10-year average annual effective tax rate increase that is more than double the rate of inflation.

The pandemic has challenged residents’ ability to make ends meet, with many businesses shuttered and people out of work or facing eviction. In response other Northern Virginia jurisdictions reduced their tax rates earlier this year. Not so Arlington County Board, which adopted a tax package that together with rising assessments increased the effective real estate tax rate by 6 percent. (See FY 2022 Adopted Budget, Revenue Summary, p. 114)

https://budget.arlingtonva.us/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2021/07/FY22A-Revenue-Summary.pdf

Another Board priority that I oppose is its push for so-called “missing middle” housing–multi-family dwellings in single family home neighborhoods. Contrary to what the County says, “missing middle” is a euphemism for up-zoning that will not make housing more affordable. Instead, it will inflate land values, resulting in higher housing prices, overcrowded schools, more traffic congestion, loss of tree canopy, increased runoff and more air pollution.

The County under my opponent’s leadership has packaged up-zoning as the solution to racial inequality despite the fact that few minorities will qualify for mortgages on up-zoned lots.

Finally, while I agree with the police reforms recently adopted by the General Assembly, I oppose symbolic gestures. The fact that Lee Highway has a new name and the County has a new logo, means nothing to people of color facing inferior employment, housing or educational opportunities.

Changing the name of W&L High School in 2019 did not close the minority student achievement gap. In fact, it helped hide the dirty little secret that the County was investigated by the Justice Department in 2018 for discriminating against English language learners.

The inequitable policies pushed by Arlington County government are the direct result of the fact that it has been controlled by the same political party for decades. Some have criticized the fact that I’m a repeat candidate for public office. I’m proud of my record of challenging the political machine that runs this County, and I solicit your support in defeating it.

If elected, I pledge to:

  • Seek immediate tax relief for residents and businesses.
  • Say YES to affordable housing and NO to “Missing Middle” up-zoning.
  • Preserve Arlington’s cultural heritage. Stop permitting the destruction of historic structures like the Rouse estate that was demolished in March, 2021.
  • Save our parks, streams and tree canopy. Stop clearcutting wooded areas along Potomac tributaries in the name of stream bed restoration.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.
  • Promote real democracy. End one party rule in Arlington County.

If you share my agenda, then:

  • Spread the word about my candidacy.
  • Donate to my campaign.
  • Help make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.
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Independent County Board candidate Mike Cantwell (courtesy photo)

Last week, we invited the four candidates running in the general election for a seat on the County Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (Nov. 2).

Here is the unedited response from Mike Cantwell:

I am running for the Arlington County Board as a moderate Independent. As a retired naval officer, federal government employee, community leader, and parent, I have the skills and experience needed to bring the people of Arlington together and to solve our most challenging problems. As I knock on doors throughout the county and talk to voters, they tell me about their growing frustration with our current County Board members. The voters are frustrated with One Party Rule and the Arlington Way and they want local elected officials who will listen — really listen — to their issues and concerns.

Arlington voters want a candidate who will:

  1. Bring an independent voice to the County Board. Arlingtonians are exhausted with divisive partisan politics. They are looking for a candidate who will think and act moderately and independently. They know instinctively that more political competition will lead to better outcomes. They want an independent voice who will challenge the County Board’s “group think” and bring new ideas to the civic square. The county government was more efficient, more effective, and more inclusive when we had political diversity on the County Board. It is time to bring an Independent back to the County Board.
  2. Focus on core government services. Public safety, streets, parks, recreation facilities, utilities, libraries, and schools are the core government services Arlingtonians expect from their local government. Current County Board members spend much of their time and energies on issues that are unrelated to the services citizens expect from their local government. After I join the County Board, I will seek out and uncover inefficient and ineffective programs and take actions to improve or eliminate them.
  3. Curb Rapid Urbanization.The current county board members continue to encourage rapid population growth and more high-rise construction. I will resist the “upzoning” of residential communities while encouraging moderate density increases along major transit corridors. Over the last two decades, the county government failed to adequately plan and budget for the repair or replacement of our aging infrastructure. Schools, parks, recreation facilities, and utilities are already inadequate and overburdened. The county staff and the County Board must ensure the needed infrastructure is in place before large-scale development projects are approved. Government-run affordable housing programs are inefficient and ineffective and have had little positive impact on housing affordability. The millions of dollars of grants and loans given to affordable housing “nonprofit” developers and backroom “bonus density” deals have opened the door to corruption. The County Board should do more to incentivize the retention of market-rate affordable housing, including single-family homes.
  4. Support small businesses by lowering taxes. Now, more than ever, the County Board needs to prioritize Arlington’s workers and small businesses. If elected, I will work to reduce the tax burden on Arlington small businesses by ending the business tangible property tax. The business tangible property tax is an inefficient tax and an administrative burden for Arlington small business owners and the Commissioner of Revenue’s office and only brings in 4% of the total revenue for the county. Eliminating the business tangible property tax will spur economic activity, reduce the commercial real estate vacancy rate, and create new jobs.
  5. Expand the County Auditor’s office. As a federal government employee in the intelligence community and as a former naval officer, I take pride in the fact that I have always conducted myself in an ethical manner. Currently, the County Auditor’s office is both underfunded and understaffed. I support expanding the County Auditor’s office to ensure the residents of Arlington benefit from an efficient, effective, and fair local government. The county needs more fiscal oversight for its 1.5 billion dollar budget.

Honor, Courage, Commitment, and Respect are my core values. My core values will guide me as I serve the people of Arlington. I hope that you will join me my mission to bring better government to Arlington. Please visit the Mike Cantwell for Arlington County Board website. Donate. Volunteer. Vote. Thank You!

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Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the Democratic primary for House of Delegates race for the 49th District to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (June 8).

Here is the unedited response from Karishma Mehta:

My name is Karishma Mehta and I’m running for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 49th House District here in South Arlington and parts of Fairfax County to be a representative for the working people of this district, not the special interests.

As I’ve knocked doors in this district, I’ve heard stories that remind me of my own. My parents came here from India seeking a better life and they struggled with rent, school lunch debt, and lack of healthcare, all without the protection of a union. After I graduated from college, I inherited these struggles. I worked long hours at jobs that paid starvation wages to help pay down student debt that I still have as a renter on Columbia Pike. When I became a teacher, I skipped meals and avoided the doctor to fund my own classroom while watching my students struggle with the same obstacles that I grew up with. That’s the reason I decided to run, to break that cycle of inequity for my students and their futures.

I’m running in the same tradition as so many amazing women who came before me. I’m a young South Asian woman. To say we aren’t represented in politics is an understatement and after seeing so many courageous women run in Virginia and with our historic passage of the ERA, I knew I was ready to take this step to be the first woman of color to ever represent South Arlington in the General Assembly. My experience as a working person, a woman of color, and daughter of immigrants informs my policy. That’s the type of experience and leadership we need in the House of Delegates during these difficult times.

People in the 49th deserve a leader who will stand courageously with them, not corporations, to take on our racist criminal justice system, an inequitable education system, and an economic system that allows the very rich to keep getting richer, while the rest of us continue to struggle paycheck-to-paycheck. In our district, as corporations like Amazon move in, we need bold representation pushing for the people who live here right now and have lived in Arlington for generations. I will be an advocate for all people in this district, and never be on the side of big business or the corporate landlords like AHC Inc. We need courage to move forward without these interests influencing our politics and pass legislation that safeguards the rights of every Virginian.

That means finally getting our commonwealth to universal healthcare coverage through a single-payer system. That also means passing a comprehensive Green New Deal for Virginia that prioritizes workers and Black and brown folks hit hardest by environmental injustice. That means providing universal Pre-K to all our families.

I’m asking for your vote because to do this we need a delegate who is out in front, fighting for these universal programs, not taking money from the companies who continue to commodify our human rights. I will work alongside anyone to pass legislation for working people and when I go to Richmond, I’m taking the stories and the people of the 49th with me. We have built a movement in Arlington and Fairfax and I’m asking for you to help build that momentum so we can pass a common agenda for all our people. Thank you for your continued support over these 8 months and I look forward to serving you in Richmond.

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