Arlington, VA

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

Here is the unedited response from Republican challenger Arthur Purves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Last week, we asked the two candidates in the 49th District House of Delegates race to write a 750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 5 general election. 

Here is the unedited response from the Democratic incumbent Del. Alfonso Lopez. 

When I was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, I pledged to be a champion for the Arlington values that have made our community such a welcoming place for people from all over the world. I also pledged to fight to improve our public schools, increase transportation/transit funding, expand health care, address issues of social and economic justice, and protect our environment.

Standing with my House Democratic colleagues, I’m proud to say I’ve kept my promises to you.

Over just the last two years, we’ve fought to end the school-to-prison pipeline by limiting long-term school suspensions, increased teachers’ salaries by 5%, secured a dedicated source of revenue for the Metro system, worked to address criminal justice reform, renewed the Green Jobs Tax Credit, and–perhaps most importantly– expanded Medicaid to almost 400,000 Virginians across the state, including 5,600 of our neighbors in the 49th District.

I believe in a Commonwealth that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.

As your Delegate, I’ve been a champion for our values in Richmond and I’m proud of the work I’ve done to find common ground and get things accomplished.  Along those lines, I’ve worked to build coalitions of legislators, advocates, and activists in order to pass bills that move Virginia forward. In fact, since 2012, I’ve been the Patron, Co-Patron or Chief Co-Patron of 115 bills signed into law–49 of which were bipartisan efforts. Among other things, these bills include laws strengthening tenant protections, improving small business procurement, expanding healthcare to immigrant mothers and children, protecting passports and military IDs from identity theft, and incentivizing the use of solar and other renewable energy sources across Virginia.

As our community continues to grow, many of our neighbors have concerns about the impact that growth will have on housing. Indeed, housing is becoming more and more expensive–preventing many young people from becoming homeowners and leading to fears that lower-income residents are being pushed out of communities they may have lived in for decades.

Addressing our region’s housing affordability crisis has always been one of my top priorities as Delegate. In 2013, the General Assembly passed my bill creating the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund (VHTF)–an important tool used by the state to provide funding to projects dedicated to preserving and building affordable housing, as well as addressing homelessness. In the years since its creation, the VHTF has already helped create housing for thousands of Virginians–including hundreds of families in the 49thDistrict.

I’m proud of that progress, but it’s clear that we need to do much more to properly address this issue–not just in Northern Virginia, but in towns, cities, and rural areas across the Commonwealth. I am fully committed to this fight and will not rest until our state is investing the resources we need.

I believe we need to invest in our infrastructure, and in our workforce, and, most of all, in our children. Going forward we must focus on jobs and the economy, education, and the needs of working families. I pledge to continue fighting for better schools, long-term transportation solutions, environmental safeguards, small businesses, economic development, and the Arlington values of embracing diversity, tolerance, and compassion that we all hold dear.

On November 5th, every seat in the General Assembly is up for election and, for the first time, Virginians have the opportunity to send a progressive Democratic legislature to Richmond. We are on the cusp of electing a General Assembly that will finally act on sensible gun violence prevention measures, protect a woman’s right to choose, ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and properly fund our schools.

Make sure you have a plan to vote on Tuesday! Then call up a friend or family member and make sure that they have a plan, too. Working together, I know we can create a community and a Commonwealth 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 5th. www.AlfonsoLopez.org

Editor’s note: Lopez’s opponent, independent candidate Terry Modglin, did not submit an essay by last night’s deadline. 

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Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Last week, we asked the four candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington County Board to write a 750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 5 general election.

Here is the unedited response from the Arlington County Board Chair and Democratic incumbent Christian Dorsey.

At a Glance

Since being elected in 2015, I have been an effective leader for Arlington and a recognized leader on transit, housing and other issues in the National Capital region.

Arlington

  • County Board Chair in 2019
  • County Board Vice Chair in 2018

The Region

  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board Vice Chair
  • COG Smart Region Task Force Chair
  • National Association of Regional Councils Board Member

I have influenced the Council of Governments to adopt Housing Affordability and Equity as regional priorities.

Transit

  • WMATA (Metro) Principal Board Member
  • Northern Virginia Transportation Commissioner
  • Transportation Planning Board Member (2018)

I am the first WMATA Board Member chosen to represent all Northern Virginia Metro jurisdictions.

Four years ago, I promised progressive, principled and inclusive leadership. I seek your support for reelection with the confidence that I have delivered on that promise.

At that time, Arlington’s economic engine was stalled, and high commercial vacancy rates created significant budget pressures and shifted a larger share of tax responsibility on residential taxpayers.The rate has since fallen to 16.6% from over 21% and is poised to move even lower.

I have worked to control costs of our capital projects, and our operating budgets now grow less than the regional average. This has allowed us, even during times of fiscal stress, to invest in our community and in our people.

I am proud to have created a consumer protection office that helps our residents and businesses fight back against fraud and unfair business practices. And, Arlington was the first Northern Virginia jurisdiction to fund legal services to immigrants threatened by the Trump administration’s policies.

To address our most persistent policy challenge, I am proud that during my tenure we have preserved and improved Arlington’s stock of existing affordable units, and that among the many hundreds of units approved over the last four years, several hundred will be within walking distance of Metrorail. We have also identified areas that require a distinct focus like the approved development to serve the needs of our military veterans.

I was honored to be the first individual selected by other Northern Virginia jurisdictions to represent all our interests as a voting member on the WMATA Board. Helping Metro along the path to being safe, reliable, and useful has been critical in meeting our comprehensive goals.

I am proud of the progress we have made, but I am by no means satisfied. My passion for guiding Arlington to become even stronger remains. This year, I introduced equity as a lens through which decisions are to be made. Arlington should not continue, unwittingly, through systemic discrimination, to negatively influence the outcomes of its residents based on their social characteristics.

Arlington, as part of an increasingly interconnected region, cannot pursue policy and investments in a vacuum if we are to achieve the best possible outcomes. I have earned the trust of our neighbors in leading on coordinated policy approaches to transportation and housing, while ensuring that anticipated economic growth is equitable and inclusive.

Under my leadership, in conjunction with Mayor Justin Wilson, Arlington and the City of Alexandria have developed principles to guide a coordinated effort to reduce the involuntary displacement of vulnerable residents and businesses in our communities and to connect traditionally marginalized groups to business and employment opportunities resulting from new investment.

As we were reminded this summer, no greater imperative exists than making Arlington more resilient in the face of climate change. Our immediate focus should be to accelerate investments in stormwater mitigation projects and to develop land use policies that induce infill redevelopment with more pervious surfaces and less intensive water runoff.  For the long term, our recently adopted Community Energy Plan provides a blueprint for Arlington to achieve a carbon-free future.

I am confident that my experience, leadership, and willingness to implement innovative solutions over these four years will help Arlingtonians successfully persevere through our immediate and long-term challenges. And, together, we will make substantial progress toward our shared vision of a community that is climate-resilient, environmentally and economically sustainable, and with suitable housing affordable to all earners. And together, we can work to see each person has the tools and the opportunity to thrive.

I have been humbled by the opportunity to serve and am grateful to engage in the practice of public service. I hope to earn your support and trust with one of your two votes for Arlington County Board.

www.christiandorsey.org 

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Independent County Board candidate Arron O'Dell (Image courtesy of Arron O'Dell)

Last week, we asked the four candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington County Board to write a 750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 5 general election.

Here is the unedited response from independent incumbent County Board candidate Arron O’Dell.

A vote for O’Dell is a vote to keep Arlington, Arlington. I will fight to preserve single-family neighborhoods and push for zoning and building code changes to reduce the number of teardowns, and ensure new construction meets or exceeds our goals for a greener and more sustainable county. I will work to direct new housing to existing commercial areas where asphalt can be replaced by taller structures surrounded by green spaces. Adding people to key locations will allow more frequent buses and shuttles to transport people without cars to help Arlington reach its carbon neutral goals.

I want to see workforce housing for teachers and employees included in new county construction projects, because the people that work for Arlington should be able to afford to live here too.

I will look for ways to use our tax dollars better. We spend millions of dollars building and upgrading parks and playgrounds that are good, while spending nothing to encourage and remind people about the spaces that are already there. For less than the cost of one park upgrade, we could have events year round reminding us to visit the under-utilized spaces around the county. Markets, live music, food contest, marshmallow roasts, etc. would cost next to nothing and would bring back a sense of community that has been slowly disappearing.

I want to see better usage of libraries by introducing cafes and special event nights. Why do we not have more local writer meet and greets or book signings?

Did you know that Arlington rents office buildings at Court House? Unless the county government is planning on leaving Arlington, this is an obvious situation that must be addressed before the lease is up for renewal again. I would ask that unspent funds be set aside for the county to buy a permanent home.

If I am elected, unlike my opponents, I will make the county board my primary job. I will go and spend time in the neighborhoods, listening and learning from you. I care about Arlington ,and my only agenda is to keep it a place we can all enjoy. As an independent, I can not only vote against the rest of the board when it is the right thing to do, but I can speak up and speak out when they start talking about the next trolley before money is spent and the plans start getting drawn up.

As one fifth of the board I don’t have to be right, I just need to let you know when they are wrong.

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Last week, we asked the four candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington County Board to write a 750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 5 general election. 

Here is the unedited response from independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement.

I’m Audrey Clement, Ph.D., Independent candidate for Arlington County Board — a 15-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist, and member of the Transportation Commission. Why am I running? Because my opponents indulge in constant doublespeak.

Katie and Christian say they want to preserve trees. Yet in 2018 they allowed a developer to chop down a 75-year-old state champion Dawn Redwood near a Potomac watershed in North Arlington, replacing it with a McMansion in contravention of the Chesapeake Bay Ordinance.

On September 24, they approved a deal to cede a VDOT acquired parcel of land at the Rosslyn Holiday Inn site to a private developer contrary to a prior pledge to preserve it as parkland.

My opponents claim to support affordable housing. Yet, they’ve permitted dozens of market-rate garden apartments in Westover Village to be razed, replacing them with luxury townhouses, tree denuded lots and flooded streets.

True. County Board approved a deal to purchase and renovate some of the Westover properties as committed affordable units, but at the expense of half the existing tenants, who were thrown out because they weren’t income qualified.

For over 3 years, Katie and Christian have been sitting on a citizen petition to preserve the remaining buildings as historic, preempting a legally required public hearing on the matter.

Katie and Christian say they can provide more affordable housing by upzoning single family neighborhoods. This is an illusion. When North Arlington is upzoned, there will be 2 to 4 new town homes priced a $1 million each for every single family tear down.

At a recent candidate forum, Christian Dorsey refused to recuse himself from union business on the WMATA Board even though unions contributed the bulk of his campaign funds this year–$10,000 alone from the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Christian says he doesn’t have a conflict of interest in accepting union money as a WMATA Board member, because WMATA doesn’t deal with union matters. Yet WMATA Board minutes indicate that it has approved 4 union contracts since September, 2018.

If you’re tired of Board member’s doublespeak, it’s time for a change. If elected, I will do what I say and say what I mean. I will also:

  • Say NO to tax-rate increases and pay grabs by County Board
  • Insist that developers pay their fair share for public infrastructure;
  • Develop a flood prevention and mitigation program;
  • Install renewable energy on County-owned buildings; and
  • Provide a voice for all taxpayers on County Board
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Last week, we asked the four candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington County Board to write a 750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 5 general election.

Here is the unedited response from Democratic incumbent County Board member Katie Cristol.

As you head to the polls this upcoming Tuesday, I ask that you consider casting one of your two votes to return me to the Arlington County Board. Over the past four years, I’ve sought to collaborate with residents and regional partners to find and implement smart, balanced solutions to hard problems and to position this community to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

Together, we’ve made real progress for Arlingtonians:

  • We adopted a comprehensive strategy to address child-care accessibility in Arlington that’s working: My colleagues and I approved hundreds more quality spots in the first year of the strategy, and within just a couple of months of new ordinance changes taking effect this July, nearly three dozen providers had submitted proposals to expand.
  • We’ve made critical progress on our high rate of commercial vacancy with new and renewed office tenants. Arlington has made international headlines with Amazon, but we also welcomed tech start-ups, national nonprofits and renewable energy companies to fill or redevelop our empty office buildings.
  • We’ve added over a thousand new committed affordable homes for our lower- and moderate-income neighbors, acted to preserve garden apartments, and expanded opportunities for new housing types. As a result, there are now more homes affordable to our neighbors making less than 60% of area median income than there were four years ago – even at a time of increasing rents.
  • We’ve tackled what looked impossible for our regional transit system. As a leader in multiple regional transit bodies, I’m proud to have been part of the coalition that achieved the extraordinary milestone of dedicated capital funding for Metro: a first in the system’s many-decades history.

We’ve made Arlington a more compassionate, effective place for those who need support: creating a legal services fund for our immigrant neighbors – the first in Virginia – and expanding services for survivors of sexual violence, including a comprehensive medical, counseling and justice response.

Importantly, I’ve endeavored to achieve these and other breakthroughs for our community while exercising good fiscal stewardship. I’ve supported needed capital projects in the County, while significantly reducing their costs. We’ve reduced use permit conditions and duplicative community processes to help Schools keep their projects on time and on budget. During my chairmanship last year, the Board held the tax rate flat, though it meant difficult program cuts, to avoid shifting the burden of lost commercial revenues to residential payers.

And I’m running for reelection because we have many more big things to do, together. If I earn your support on November 5th, I will prioritize:

  • Increasing moderately-sized ownership housing in neighborhoods throughout the County, through the study and legalization of alternative forms.
  • Planning for community infrastructure, specifically:
    • A long-term plan for siting future schools facilities beyond the ten-year horizon of our Capital Improvement Plan; and
    • Collaborating with our Northern Virginia partners to realize a truly interconnected transit system across the greater DC region.
  • Protecting our global and local environment by aggressively implementing public and private efforts in our updated Community Energy Plan; and prioritizing “Biophilic Cities” principles and practices for Arlington to prioritize natural spaces in our commercial corridors.

To learn more about these and other priorities ahead of the election, please visit www.katiecristol.com/issues. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this extraordinary community, and for your consideration on Tuesday, November 5th.

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the State Senate race for the 31st District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Barbara Favola:

Why you should vote for me.

It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia State Senate. I am enthusiastically running for a third term to continue to fight for our Democratic values in Richmond. I am an effective lawmaker and recognized leader on progressive issues. My colleagues frequently refer to me as a pragmatic progressive.

My fourteen years of experience as an Arlington County Board member and a three-time chair of that body instilled in me the importance of governing in a pragmatic fashion while honoring the principles of equity and opportunity. Even though the General Assembly has been controlled by Republicans during my entire time in Richmond, I have passed over 40 bills that have improved the quality of life for Virginians.

My proudest accomplishment was requiring Virginia to participate in a Federal program to assist former foster youth between the ages of 18 and 21 continue with their education or job training. These youths were often left homeless and vulnerable to drug dealers and human trafficking. My legislation enables them to find a pathway forward that recognizes their talents and sets them up for success.

I have worked tirelessly to increase teacher pay, create smaller class sizes and reduce the number of SOLs. My efforts have resulted in fewer standardized tests, a more comprehensive approach to assessing academic progress and recognition of the contributions project-based learning provides. Going forward, I want to build on my record of passing anti-bullying legislation and bringing mental health services into the schools. I proudly carry the endorsement of the Virginia Education Association.

This past session, I introduced a bill that would provide debt-free community college for high-need workforce tracks. This idea garnered a lot of buy-in, but more discussions are needed to iron out the details. Our friends in organized Labor applauded the debt-free opportunity as a tool for helping families achieve the equity and opportunity that is often times missing in society. I am also a big supporter of increasing the minimum wage, preventing wage theft and requiring paid family leave. Once again, I enjoy the endorsement of all the organized Labor groups that are weighing-in on the 31st Senate primary race.

Gun Safety is an issue that must be addressed. However, real progress can only happen if the Democrats gain control of both Houses. I have repeatedly introduced or supported legislation that would require background checks wherever firearms are sold, ban high capacity magazines and stop the manufacture and sale of bump stocks in Virginia. Fortunately, I was able to pass a bill that requires an individual who violates a protective order to forfeit his firearms. The NoVA chapter of the Brady Group has endorsed me because of my tireless work on gun safety issues.

I am passionate about tackling climate change, including efforts to reduce carbon emissions and diversify our energy sources. Because of my work to facilitate the capture of solar energy and enable residences or businesses to sell excess solar back to the grid, I earned the Energy Freedom award from the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club in 2018. Much more progress is needed but rest assured, I will continue to fight for sensible environmental policies.

As chair of the Women’s Healthcare Caucus in the Senate, I will continue to work to codify Roe vs Wade in Virginia. It is incredibly important that women be allowed to exercise their constitutionally protected right to privacy when making reproductive healthcare decisions.

I believe Senator Kaine captured the essence of my public service in his statement endorsing me. “I know Senator Favola will serve with our shared values of fairness and justice in mind, I’m proud to endorse Senator Favola’s candidacy for a third term in the Virginia Senate.”

Given my experience, leadership and ability to work across the aisle, I am best positioned to provide a pathway forward for the change we want. I respectfully ask for your vote on June 11.

Sincerely,

Senator Barbara Favola (D 31)

Representing parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun

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Last week, we asked the two Democratic candidates in the House of Delegates race for the 49th District to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them in the June 11 primary.

Here is the unedited response from Alfonso Lopez:

It has been the greatest honor of my career to serve the residents of the 49th District as your Delegate in Richmond. Our district, which runs along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads and then up Route 7 to Seven Corners, is one of the most vibrant and diverse places in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Moreover, I am reminded every day that we live in a special community that believes in lifting everyone up and leaving no one behind. Indeed, those are the core values that have guided my legislative agenda in the General Assembly.

When I first ran for the House of Delegates, I made a pledge that I would be a champion for the progressive values that have made our community such a welcoming place for people from every corner of the world. These values have come under attack by a far-right element of the Republican majority that has sought year after year to overturn Virginia’s progress by gutting the social safety net, eliminating reproductive freedom, and demonizing the immigrant community.

In the General Assembly, I have worked to build coalitions of legislators, policy advocates, and community activists to successfully defend against far-right legislation and to pass common-sense bills that will move Virginia forward. I am proud to have been able to patron, co-patron, or chief co-patron 115 bills over the last eight years that were signed into law–49 of which were bipartisan efforts. These include bills strengthening tenant protections, expanding healthcare to immigrant mothers and children, protecting passports and military IDs from identity theft, and incentivizing the use of solar and other renewable energy sources across Virginia.

One of my top priorities in the House of Delegates has been addressing our region’s housing affordability crisis. As someone who grew up in Fairfax County and now lives along the Columbia Pike corridor, I have witnessed first-hand the changes our community has seen over the last few decades. As our region continues to grow, housing is becoming more and more expensive–preventing many young people from becoming homeowners and leading to fears that lower-income residents are being pushed out of communities they may have lived in for decades.

This is an issue I’ve been focused on for many years. In 2013, the General Assembly passed my bill creating the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF)–an important tool used by the state to provide funding to projects dedicated to preserving and building affordable housing, as well as addressing homelessness. In the years since its creation, the VHTF has already helped create housing for thousands of Virginians–including hundreds of families in the 49th District.

As a member of the House Democratic leadership team, I have strived to use my voice to amplify the concerns and needs of the many working-class families and marginalized communities that call the 49th District home. We have worked to end the school-to-prison pipeline by limiting long-term school suspensions, increased teachers’ salaries by 5%, secured a dedicated source of revenue for the Metro system, worked on criminal justice reform, expanded no-excuse absentee voting, and–perhaps most importantly– expanded Medicaid to almost 400,000 Virginians across the state, including 5,600 of our neighbors in the 49th District.

Nothing has been more rewarding, however, than the work my office has done to provide direct assistance to the constituents of our district. As a Delegate, my most important role is that of being a liaison and advocate for constituents and their needs with state and local government.

For example, when VDOT announced the pending closure of the DMV on Four Mile Run, my office and I worked quickly to organize a community meeting to allow residents to express their concerns about the impact the closure would have on low-income residents and the elderly. By amplifying voices from the community and facilitating intense negotiations between community leaders and state officials, my office was able to keep the DMV in Arlington where it continues to serve thousands of our neighbors to this day.

Our Commonwealth and our community have made a number of great strides in the past few years, but it’s clear that we still have much work to do. Going forward, I am determined to continue pursuing an agenda that is focused on social and economic justice for all of Virginia’s families. As your Delegate, I will always be committed to creating a community and a Commonwealth that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.

I ask for your support and vote on June 11th!

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Candidate Essay: John Vihstadt

Last week, we asked the two candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them on Nov. 6.

Here is the unedited response from independent John Vihstadt:

In 2014, you took a chance on me. Against the odds, I leveraged over three decades of community leadership – in our public schools, our neighborhoods, and our advisory commissions – to win a seat on the County Board as an Independent. This foundation enabled me to be an effective County Board member from Day One.

Arlingtonians want their local elected officials to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of local government. They expect their local government to deliver essential community services, programs and facilities, effectively, efficiently, on time and on budget.

I am keeping my commitments to you that I pledged four years ago.

I can’t take full credit, but we are moving away from extravagant and unsustainable capital projects. The streetcar was cancelled, there are no more $1.6 million dog parks or million-dollar bus stops. The former ArtiSphere is now on the tax rolls, and the Olympic-sized aquatics center was downsized.

We’re giving renewed focus to core services, like new seats for new students, shoring up Metro and Columbia Pike transit, augmenting our parks, fields and green space, improving public safety pay, speeding our street paving and holding up our social safety net.

I teamed up with Delegate Patrick Hope to obtain Arlington’s authority to hire an Independent County Auditor. We now have a Waste, Fraud & Abuse Hotline, and protection for employee whistleblowers. Yet while we’ve made progress, more must be done.

Going forward, I’m focusing on three key areas:

  • Growing our economy, while managing Arlington’s growth in a fiscally responsible, environmentally sustainable way. As we diversify our economy across all sectors, we must also ensure a reasonable tax and regulatory climate and user-friendly permitting and approvals for businesses big and small and individuals alike.  It’s time we get ahead of the curve on new public facilities rather than always playing catch-up.  At my urging, the Board has directed the Manager to craft models for cost-benefit studies for new development, and we need authority to direct some developer contributions to address impacts on schools, green space and more.
  • Ensuring greater openness, transparency and inclusion in how we work. With my leadership, we’ve expanded the wording of County bond explanations to give voters more details on big-ticket items. It’s essential we strengthen our Open Data policy by bringing real-time online transparency to the data that drives our decisions. While we’ve made progress, I’m committed to ensuring that our County advisory commissions reflect our diversity, and that we continue to be a welcoming community regardless of who you are. And while there will always be emergencies, a “no-surprises” community engagement process for all initiatives is critical.
  • Instilling a stronger sense of fiscal discipline in County operations. Current County expenditures outpace revenues by 1.5%, so we need new thinking. My repeated effort to ensure that most of our annual budget surplus not be spent, but saved and carried over to the next Fiscal Year, is finally gaining traction with colleagues. At my leadership, the Manager is appointing a reform group to address the cost, timing and coordination issues that often plague our infrastructure projects, and, as Audit Committee co-chair, I’m working with APS to control schools construction costs. This spring, I led the 3-2 Board majority in holding the line on the property tax rate.

In closing, it’s not big news when members of one party endorse their own for office. That’s the nature of tribal politics. What’s remarkable is that I have the endorsement of ten former School Board members, including six Democrats who don’t have to worry about their next election.  And, I’m supported by three incumbent Democratic officeholders who do: County Treasurer Carla de la Pava, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, and County Board colleague Libby Garvey.

In explaining her support, former School Board Chair Sally Baird said,

I so appreciate the balance and perspective John represents.  His presence ensures a broader dialogue.  At its core, for me, John at the table affirms the most fundamental of Democratic values: inclusiveness.

I hope you agree with Sally that I have brought inclusiveness to the Board, and our community is healthier for it.

Whether it’s pedestrian safety, community infrastructure, school funding or parks, in your neighborhood or elsewhere, I’m working hard for you every day.

As the only Independent, I’ve brought needed balance to the County Board. I need your help to keep it there. Let’s not go back to the echo chamber of unanimous one-party government. I ask for your vote. Thank you.

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Last week, we asked the two candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them on Nov. 6.

Here is the unedited response from Democrat Matt de Ferranti:

I am running for the County Board to bring new vision and fresh ideas to solve Arlington’s biggest challenges–reducing our office vacancy rate, building the schools we need to educate every child, increasing housing affordability, expanding opportunity for all, protecting our environment, and tackling climate change.

Addressing our Office Vacancy Rate

Our office vacancy rate has been hovering at 20% for four years. If we don’t fill the empty offices in Crystal City, Rosslyn and Ballston, we won’t be able to afford the services that make Arlington such a great place to live: our schools, the housing we need so that people can afford to live here, the parks and open space that are so vital for us, our transportation system, and other key services. And we won’t be able to avoid deficits like the one that is projected for the coming year–$78 million–8% of our operating budget.

Leveraging our Talented Residents and New Ideas To Grow our Economy

The tough work of solving this problem is not new to me. I’ve worked on economic development as an attorney for local governments, so I know how to convene and build relationships with thought leaders and businesses. We must focus on the fields of the future: cybersecurity, clean and green-technology, and medical technology. We must leverage our talented workforce–the most educated in the country–to become the intellectual research and development hub for Virginia and the region.

There are a lot of reasons for our 20% office vacancy rate. At some point, though, we need leadership from the County Board to bring it down. I’ve made this issue my top priority from the beginning of this campaign because I know reducing our vacancy rate is critical for our future and our shared prosperity.

Building the Schools We Need to Educate Every Child

I began my career as a teacher, currently work on Native American education, and served as Chair of the APS Budget Advisory Council last year. I helped bring down a $20 million gap without cutting core educational services. And we still provided a step increase for our educators and other school personnel.

I will continue my commitment to educational opportunity and fiscal responsibility by building and funding the schools we need to educate every child. The Arlington Education Association and all five members of the School Board are supporting me because of my commitment to education, and my honest assessment that we must lower the cost of construction per seat.

Addressing Our Housing Affordability Challenges

I have worked for Habitat for Humanity, serve on Arlington’s Housing Commission, and believe deeply that housing must be affordable for middle class Arlingtonians and those working to get into the middle class. Teachers, first responders, and young families must be able to afford to live here. Seniors must be able to age in place. I will work on this issue with creativity and relentless commitment if I have the honor of serving you.

Expanding Opportunity for All, Ending Child Hunger, and Focusing on Equity

Arlington is the fifth wealthiest county in the country, but we have more than 2300 families who seek help from the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) every month. If we work together, we can end child hunger in Arlington by 2022. We are a compassionate community and ended Veterans’ homelessness in 2015. We can end child hunger too.

Protecting our Environment and Tackling Climate Change

Climate change is a threat to our community, nation, and our world. It is an economic issue and a moral issue that Arlington must lead on. We must commit to 100% renewable energy by 2035. I will accelerate our Community Energy Plan, preserve our trees and open space, and protect our environment.

The Choice You Have on Tuesday

I have the support of leaders you trust: Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman Don Beyer, County Board Chair Katie Cristol, County Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey, Delegate Rip Sullivan, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson, and all five Members of Arlington’s School Board. A full list of those who have endorsed me can be found at https://mattforcountyboard.com/endorsements/

Think about these leaders, the challenges I have outlined above, and our pressing needs. Go to https://mattforcountyboard.com to learn more. Then, hire the County Board Member you believe is best on the office vacancy rate, school capacity, housing affordability, expanding opportunity for all, protecting our environment, and addressing climate change.

I would be honored to earn your vote on Tuesday, November 6.

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Candidate Essay: Thomas Oh

Last week, we asked the two candidates for Virginia’s 8th District in Congress, covering Arlington and Alexandria, to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them on Nov. 6.

Here is the unedited response from Republican Thomas Oh:

Dear fellow Northern Virginians,

My name is Thomas Oh, and I am running for US Congress in our 8th Congressional District. I’m an Army Airborne Ranger, hardworking Korean- American, and public servant who would like to continue my service to the people by serving you. I’m a better alternative than my opponent for the following reasons:

1)     I am not a career politician

I’m serious about having term limits. I don’t care what political parties, corporations, or lobbyists want. I just need 6 years to make some real positive changes for our District, and I will act upon my words.

2)     I don’t accept dark money (PAC money from corporations or special interest groups)

Politicians shouldn’t be bought, especially when most politicians are already among the 1%. As a working- class member, I want to give the government back to individual citizens and serve the people. The concept is simple, DEMOCRACY IS NOT FOR SALE!

3)     I’m a voice for:

  • Immigrants

My family immigrated to the United States to seek opportunity, liberty, and freedom. I want to make sure that the American Dream is a dream that works for everyone.

  • Minorities

I attended the Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce forums, while my opponent did not. We need someone who truly cares about the minority communities and will whole heartedly represent them.

  • Veterans

I served 8 years in the Army, and I understand the ultimate sacrifices made by our heroes. My campaign hosted a charity forum for local veterans and donated all proceeds to VFW Post 3150 in Arlington. My opponent refused to attend the forum while Congress was in recess, voted against the Veterans Affairs Accountability & Whistleblower Protection Act, and even continuously votes against the VA Accountability Acts.

  • Individuals with disabilities

I support the Disability Integration Act, alongside ADAPT DC and Coalition for Community Integration. It is a bi-partisan effort that my opponent has ignored 10 times when they reached out to him. I support organizations benefiting the disability community, such as Service Source, and enjoyed my time meeting everyone at their annual picnic when my opponent did not attend.

  • LGBT

Everyone should be treated equally, no matter who they choose to love. I marched alongside the Capital Pride Parade, and I also attended the annual Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance Annual Ice Cream Social. My opponent did not participate in either events.

4)     I want long-term solutions, not short-term bandages

As a 26 year-old millennial, I truly care about our future. My biggest concern is the $21 trillion dollar debt that my opponent has done nothing about, over his past 4 years in office. He even voted against the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act.

5)     I will always put people before politics

I have proven my ability to put politics aside and work across party lines. I am a proud ally of Activate Virginia which was an all Democrat and Green Party organization, until I was the first Republican to join. I do this because I listen to your concerns and want to represent you. My opponent speaks about climate change, yet continues to take over $20,000 from Dominion Energy and not join Activate Virginia.

6)      I am here to serve you, not for social status

If you are an elected official, it means that you have a commitment to serve. I have personally knocked on over 3,500 doors during my campaign. I would like to ask; how many doors has my opponent knocked on? I take running for office as a serious commitment to the people of this district, and that is why I will never miss an opportunity to address your concerns in order to see how I can be your servant. I attended all 11 out of 11 forums scheduled for my opponent and I, while he attended 5 out of 11.

I kindly ask for your vote on November 6. If you would like to learn more or donate to support my campaign, please visit my website at: www.letschangecongress.org.

Campaigning would not be possible if it were not for individual supporters like you! Thank you so much to everyone who have believed in me, and for giving me this opportunity to fight for a better 8th District.

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