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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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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 incumbent Alfonso Lopez:

When first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, I promised to be a progressive champion for the Commonwealth’s most diverse district. That pledge included expanding access to health care, protecting a pregnant person’s right to make their own health care decisions, passing sweeping criminal justice reform, advancing the fight against climate change, and improving quality of life and community safety.

I am proud to say I’ve delivered on my promise and humbly ask for your vote for re-election.

As part of House Democratic leadership, I’ve helped us grow our majority and set a bold progressive agenda in order to build a Virginia that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.

We started by expanding Medicaid to over 500,000 Virginians — including 45,000 in Northern Virginia. This sets us on the path towards finally securing healthcare for everyone and the assurance that no family has to choose between putting food on the table or paying medical bills.

Our progress continued on health care. One of the proudest moments of my legislative career came in 2020, when I co-patroned and helped pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act. This eliminated barriers to reproductive health access across the Commonwealth and kept health care decisions exclusive to a pregnant person and their doctor.

Following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I worked with Majority Leader Charniele Herring and Delegate Luke Torian to pass sweeping criminal justice reform legislation banning no-knock warrants, chokeholds and the militarization of police departments. We also enacted my legislation to finally enable the Attorney General to act against police departments with a history of constitutional rights violations.

With 30 years of environmental advocacy experience, I’m proud to be the founder of the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus and to have seen many of my bills in this area signed into law. I recently secured $800 million for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and was the chief co-patron on the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which transformed Virginia from among the worst states on climate change to one of the best.

This bill laid the groundwork to pursue a Green New Deal, bold legislation that I’ve co-patroned and voted for twice.

Improving quality of life and making our communities safer have been my priorities. In 2013, I created the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) and have fought every year for increased funding. This past session we secured $125.7 million – a significant increase over past years. The AHTF has helped alleviate housing instability and homelessness across Virginia and served as the backstop for eviction prevention and rental relief during the pandemic. Moreover, it has provided housing for hundreds of families here in the 49th district.

Providing housing was only one element of improving our communities; another was passing common sense gun laws. A key first step was requiring background checks for all firearms purchases, but that’s not enough. This past session, I helped close the “Charleston Loophole” and extended the period state police have to complete a background check to ensure we keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

These accomplishments are among the highlights of over 150 bills I’ve authored, chief co-patroned, or co-patroned that have been signed into law. Others include securing in-state tuition for DREAMer students, repealing Virginia’s ban on project labor agreements, and creating the first LGBTQ+ advisory board in the South.

I’ve never lost touch with the people I represent and have used my role in leadership to produce outcomes that greatly improve our community. I successfully kept the DMV on Four Mile Run, and this past session I passed the Purple Lounge Bill to increase local oversight of ‘bad actor’ establishments.

Perhaps most importantly, considering housing affordability concerns in the 49th, I voted against Amazon’s HQ2 and refuse its campaign contributions.

My record speaks for itself: I’m a progressive Democrat who delivers results and works to improve lives in the 49th district and across Virginia.

I’m proud to have earned the endorsements of numerous organizations, activists and legislators, including:

  • S. Senator Tim Kaine
  • Congressman Don Beyer
  • Julius “J.D.” Spain – 2019 primary opponent
  • Emma Violand-Sanchez – former Arlington School Board Chair
  • Virginia Education Association
  • NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia
  • Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and
  • Every Organized Labor group in this race.

They understand — as I do — that politics is about improving people’s lives.

Together — there is much more to accomplish.

I hope to also earn your support for re-election in the upcoming June 8th primary. To learn more, please visit www.AlfonsoLopez.org.

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Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the Democratic primary for the 45th District House of Delegates race to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (June 8).

Here is the unedited response from incumbent Mark Levine:

For the past six years, I have had the honor of representing South Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax in the House of Delegates. I now ask for your vote as I seek to serve all of Arlington, and all of Virginia, as your Lieutenant Governor.

When deciding which candidate to support, I encourage voters to focus on two things: the record of what a candidate has done in the past and their vision for the future. I have a strong record of accomplishment, including doing some things everyone said were impossible to do. I also have a unique vision of being the first candidate in Virginia history to propose to transform the office of the Lieutenant Governor into a full-time job and to travel all across Virginia to bring your voice to Richmond.

My Record

To know what someone will do, look at what they’ve done. I have led the way on issues of affordable healthcare, economic opportunity for all, justice reform, strengthening democracy, and preventing domestic violence, sexual violence, and gun violence. I am the only candidate running who chairs two very important subcommittees (Public Safety and Constitutional Amendments)

Some of the dozens of laws I have spearheaded include:

  • Common-sense gun safety measures
  • Comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ Virginians
  • Virginia’s only body-camera law
  • Protections for children in homes with domestic violence
  • Protecting the right to vote and making it easier to do

(A full list of the 47 bills I introduced last year, including the 23 of them that became law, is found here: Mark’s 2020 Session Letter)

I have also delivered results beyond new laws by:

  • Leading the effort to have Arlington relegate “Jefferson Davis Highway” to the dustbin of history
  • Mandating the live-streaming and archiving of all the General Assembly’s proceedings and recording all our votes, as the leader and co-founder of the bipartisan Transparency Caucus
  • Keeping Arlingtonians informed about testing of COVID-19 and vaccination efforts by organizing early town halls with public health leaders
  • Securing funding for Northern Virginia’s first program to make emergency medical assistance available 24/7 to survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence

To understand what I have yet to do, here are my “not-yet-successes.”

  • Banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Guaranteeing Paid Family and Medical Leave for all Virginia workers
  • Reforming the Electoral College so we elect the President by National Popular Vote
  • Campaign finance reform, including capping political contributions at the federal contribution limit
  • Requiring police officers to report their fellow officers’ misconduct

My progressive principles have guided my work. The 2021 Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network’s review graded me as having the second most progressive voting record in the House of Delegates in 2021. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia named me a Champion for reproductive freedom on their 2021 scorecard, and the League of Conservation Voters of Virginia named me as one of their 2020 Legislative Heroes for my work to protect our environment.

My Vision

I’m running to transform the office of Lieutenant Governor into a full-time, year-round job. The Lieutenant Governor – the only person in all of Virginia government that serves both the executive and legislative branches – can play a meaningful role as the connective tissue Virginians desperately need right now.

We need a leader who will take action to protect Virginia from the scourge of gun violence – a fight I’ve led in the House of Delegates and will continue to lead as Lieutenant Governor.

I also want Virginians to feel connected to one another and know that their government cares about and works for them. That’s why I have hosted Mark’s Monthly Meetup every single month since I was first elected in 2015. Many of the bills I’ve championed, like my successful bill banning the inhumane tethering of pets or my broadband initiative have arisen directly from conversations with voters at these meetups. I will continue this tradition as Lieutenant Governor. I have pledged to visit every one of Virginia’s 133 localities to talk with Virginians about the issues that matter to them.

To learn more about my campaign, please visit LevineforVirginia.com. You can also read more about my biography and vision here.

My record and my vision are why I want to keep serving you in any capacity I can. I hope I earn your vote on June 8th.

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Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the Democratic primary for Arlington County Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (June 8).

Here is the unedited response from incumbent Takis Karantonis:

Last year I ran for office not in spite of, but because of the extraordinary and demanding circumstances, in the middle of a pandemic that was ravaging our community and our economy. Fifteen years of civic engagement, community leadership and deep-rooted community relationships motivated and prepared me for assuming the responsibility to make difficult decisions while carefully listening to what Arlingtonians told me during the campaign and while in office.

Last year 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 action 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.

In other words, I believe that we are successful when we work together and leave nobody behind.

As an immigrant I hold these core-beliefs 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, ethnic, cultural and socio-economic diversity and an unwavering commitment to community involvement.

If 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 unfettered access to critical services such as broadband for all.
  • 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 permeates 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 enhance Housing Grant eligibility; focus on corridor development while continuing pursuing longer term policies aiming to enhance housing choices that fit the needs of all Arlingtonians.

I believe in democratic values, collaborative leadership and inclusive planning expressed in the four pillars of my platform: equitable governance; fiscal sustainability and resilience; environmental sustainability; and principled and inclusive long-term planning.

I am proud to have earned the endorsement of all my colleagues on the County Board and on the School Board, as well as the endorsement of most 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; 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 and the opportunity to serve you as a County Board member on June 8.

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Last week, we invited the two candidates running in the Democratic primary for Arlington County Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them next Tuesday (June 8).

Here is the unedited response from Chanda Choun:

People always ask me why do I run for elected office.  As a 15-year Army Reserve veteran, business manager and technology professional, I continue to believe that I am the best person to provide missing skills and experience in local government that will lead us successfully into a post-pandemic new world. Each run adds to our collective story and forces changes, both large and small. But there are also other fundamental reasons.

As a Christian by way of the church that sponsored my family as Cambodian refugees to America during the Vietnam War era, I believe that giving my life to others is the ultimate act of love.

As a Buddhist by way of my family heritage, I believe that we are accountable for all that came before us and bear the responsibility for all who will come after us.

Thus, we have a system that needs fixing and wrongs that need righting.  My Freedom and Justice Plan for Arlington, a culmination of five years of community campaigning and study, calls for fundamental changes to local power and policy. It will:

  • Secure the local economy amidst the remote work revolution.

  • Be aggressive, adaptable, accountable with vaccine rollout.

  • Close the Digital Divide by ensuring that all Arlingtonians will have universal access to fast, affordable internet by 2023.

  • Protect our middle and working class.

  • Grow our diverse communities.

  • Update the local form of government to become more representative and responsive.

With me:

  • We can take a stand on what Arlington will look like 20 years from now.

  • We can get on a path that is sustainable — financially, environmentally, and socially.

  • We can get back to work, back to school, and back to living.

Folks, I’m not a flash in the pan.  This isn’t the first time I’ve run for local elected office.  This is the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time depending how you count it (see campaign platform again about updating local form of government).  My initial run last year got wrecked by the pandemic and then emergency Arlington County Democratic Committee party candidate nomination rules created in response to the special election, which only allowed little more than 200 party officials and current electeds to choose the Democratic nominee.

The people deserve a fair open election, and now they are getting one this June 8. I believe in the lower D democratic process.  I believe in the civic process: the Arlington Way.

I’ve been an officer of my civic association in Buckingham for many years.  I’m a delegate to the Arlington County Civic Federation and formerly on its Board of Directors.  I’m a current Arlington County Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commissioner and Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families Out of School Time Councilmember.  I’m also a member of the John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150 located off of Lee Highway near Mom’s Organic Market.

For Arlington County, will we own up to our current transformative developments and challenges?

  • The lost diversity of people in both race and economic class the past 20 years.

  • The lost tree cover and historic neighborhood floods in the face of development pressures.

  • The increasing taxes and fees on residents by thousands of dollars year-after-year to close never-ending budget gaps.

I will be the transformative Arlington County Board Member that fundamentally takes on these challenges.  Vote for the Freedom and Justice Plan this June 8, and let’s have a good election.  It’s the democratic thing to do.

(Name pronounced CHAHN-duh CHOON): https://chandachoun.com/meet-chanda/

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

Here is the unedited response from Symone Walker:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the unedited response from David Priddy:

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

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

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

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

Here are 5 reasons to vote for me:

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

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

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

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

Here is the unedited response from Cristina Diaz-Torres:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the unedited response from independent candidate Audrey Clement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If elected, I plan to:

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

If you share my agenda, then:

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

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

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