But after the audience went home and the microphones were turned off, that wasn’t the end of the candidates’ work.
Attendees submitted written questions to the candidates throughout the evening, but due to time constraints, they could not all be answered. So with Election Day just two weeks away, ARLnow collated the unanswered questions and emailed the three County Board candidates for their responses.
(A similar article with responses to follow-up questions for the three School Board candidates will follow in the near future.)
Candidates’ unedited responses are below.
1. What are the challenges you would tackle in the area of affordable housing?
The biggest challenge would be to convince my fellow Board Members to:
1) amend the tax code to create Housing Conservation Districts (HCDs) where landlords would be given incentives to rehab rather than tear down existing affordable housing; and
2) loosen accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations to allow renting space in private homes, while limiting the impacts of such rentals on residential neighborhoods.
While Arlington is a great place to live, it’s undeniably getting harder and harder to put down roots here and stay rooted if a smaller home is what you need as your family shrinks. Housing affordability is a critical component of the progressive values I espouse; it is also an essential component of a strong middle class in Arlington.
As a County Board Member, I will follow a multi-point plan that includes: (1) the creation of medium density “missing middle” housing along our major commercial corridors, (2) modernization of the our zoning ordinance to enable home sharing and facilitate aging-in-place, (3) tireless support for the 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan, and (4) continued annual funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and Housing grants. I will also continue the existing, strong partnerships with non-profit housing providers as well as others in the non-profit community who provide services to Arlington residents living in affordable housing.
As detailed in my “missing middle” housing proposal, Arlington cannot subsidize our way to mass affordability, instead we must unlock the potential of the market to deliver the housing we need. The good news is that there is ample opportunity in Arlington for us to create the neighborhood-scale housing and retail areas known as “missing middle.” The missing middle framework uses market forces to diversify our housing supply and responds to the needs of residents both young and old. These modestly scaled lofts, stacked flats, co-ops, and micro units are designed to preserve neighborhood character and can fit into the edges of single-family neighborhoods and along commercial corridors, with ground floor retail and restaurants to serve adjacent homes.
In the area of affordable housing, I would tackle these three main challenges:
Ensuring that developers pay their fair share:
- Increase the zoning fee for apartment developers who forego affordable units, as it is currently just 1/3 of the fee allowed under state law.
- Shift housing assistance funds to direct housing grants in order to support more residents earning less than 40% of the area median income.
Approaching certified and market rate housing with a multifaceted approach:
- Incentivize the development of multifamily structures designed to address senior mobility needs, as well as co-living spaces designed to meet the needs of young professionals.
- Ensure accessory dwellings become a viable option for housing while not contributing to parking and density concerns.
- Explore Housing Conservation Districts as a way to maintain larger-scale areas of market rate affordability with careful caution not to unintentionally make these areas into suburban ghettos.
Providing housing affordability programs to address the needs of low- and middle-income Arlingtonians:
- Develop new homeowner affordability programs to support community/developer partnership models like community land trusts and low-equity housing cooperatives.
- Bolster existing homeowner assistance programs that enable our teachers and first responders to live in the communities where they serve.
As a progressive, independent voice on the Arlington County Board, I have the ability to advocate for a variety of reasonable housing affordability solutions that “Put People First” instead of defaulting to developers’ demands.
2. What skills from your day job would you bring to the County Board?
For the past twenty plus years I’ve been employed as a statistical programmer on a contractual basis by various federal government agencies. My job is demanding. It not only requires technical skill, it also requires analytical ability to assess client needs and offer optimal solutions.
These latter two skills are directly applicable to local government administration, particularly as it pertains to oversight of the budget process, and I look forward to applying those skills on the Board, for the betterment of Arlington’s citizens.
In addition I have a Ph.D. in Political Science from Temple University in 1993 with a focus on American voting behavior, as well as experience working on the Hill. Thus I have the political know how to lobby for and implement policies beneficial to all Arlingtonians.
Owning a small business has given me the opportunity to wear many different hats. On any given day, I am human resources director, chief financial officer, or network engineer. I have to understand legal contracts, taxes, and regulatory requirements. My knowledge, skills, and experience in all the facets of a business has grown as my company has grown to 10 employees.
The chief skill that runs through almost everything I do on a day to day basis, however, is communicating with people. Being an effective leader, whether business, or civic requires excellent communication. I enjoy being able to communicate technical information to my clients, and nuanced customer requirements to my employees. It’s rewarding to see that light bulb go off when someone truly understands. On the Planning Commission, I try to be a voice for the community when I think that a developer, or county staff doesn’t understand. Of course, great communication is fundamentally two-way, which requires that I be a good listener first. I have found this to always be true – with my wife, my customers, my employees, and with citizens.
Three of my strongest skills from my day job that I would bring to the county board are decision making, strategic planning, and relationship building.
- I know how to make balanced decisions. As board chair of the US Postal Service Federal Credit Union, I led the organization to implement new financial services providing economic relief to members in Arlington and beyond while maintaining strong reserves.
- I know how to conduct inclusive strategic planning that results in cost-effective responses to long-term societal challenges. As an attorney, I led the development phase of a multimillion-dollar, Gates Foundation-funded initiative to improve education quality.
- I know how to build mutually beneficial relationships that attract new businesses to communities desiring economic growth. As an embassy staffer, I helped forge partnerships between cutting-edge tech startups and Fortune 500 companies.
These skills and my well-rounded background will help the board craft policies that anticipate and address the challenges facing Arlington.
3. What is your vision and strategy for addressing the opioid addiction crisis?
This question came up at a recent School Board forum. First, I would pursue a strong drug avoidance educational program as part of hygiene instruction in our public schools. Reaching our student population is crucial, and I am sure parents and caregivers would appreciate that, too.
As for adult opioid users and abusers, enforcement of existing drug laws is paramount, with an emphasis on jail time for traffickers and rehabilitation for users.
I am gravely concerned that opioid addiction has the potential to overwhelm our human services infrastructure with devastating consequences much as the crack epidemic of the late 1980’s gutted many communities with consequences still reverberating today. As we learned at the recent Opioid Community Town Hall, this crisis is not limited to the urban poor, this one is right in our own living rooms.
Recognizing that the most successful response will be coordinated across multiple agencies, the most important role of the County Board in addressing the crisis of opioid addiction is to ensure that the Department of Human Services, Courts, Police and Fire Departments, Arlington Public Schools, hospitals, and our non-profit partners all have the resources, data, and action plans they need. I also support designating a Deputy County Manager to lead our coordinated response, the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative.
As a parent with teens and tweens, I am grateful our schools have taken necessary initial steps and are ready to play a crucial role in educating our youth and their parents of the dangers, warning signs, and treatment options for opioid abuse. I support efforts to prioritize treatment over prosecution for addicts while also assigning detectives to an FBI Task Force to specifically target opioid distributors. I have confidence that our highly professional non-profit and medical providers will train and follow updated best practices for prevention and treatment of addiction. Finally, Arlington has the wherewithal to collect, analyze, and share real-time data to optimize our response across stakeholders.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to a crisis deeply imbedded in larger national issues, but Arlington must act swiftly and decisively to save lives of our children, parents, friends and neighbors.
I envision an Arlington that has effectively implemented a national model for addressing the opioid crisis, returning opioid overdose rates to precrisis levels within one year and eliminating opioid overdoses in the county by 2021.
As an educator, attorney, and son of a police officer, I recognize opioid addiction as a public health emergency which Arlington must address with a three-pronged strategy:
- Through education initiatives Arlington should work with schools, community groups, and houses of worship to educate the public on the proper disposal of enabling medications and to assist those showing signs of addiction.
- Through outreach programs targeting addicts and their families, Arlington should offer treatment plans and training on how to use Nalaxone to prevent overdoses.
- Through partnerships with other local law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and national grantmakers, Arlington should continue to evaluate and refine the existing Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative to ensure the use of best practices, cost efficiency, and access to additional non-taxpayer-based funding.
4. What, specifically, will you do to improve the quality of life for seniors in Arlington? (Note that last few years, 2 senior centers have been closed.)
Probably the greatest challenge for seniors in Arlington County is their tax burden. If elected, I am going to say no to tax rate increases for the foreseeable future.
I am also going to try to curtail rising property assessments while, at the same time, working to expand the number of affordable market rate housing units in the county. And for those seniors who are renting, let’s remember that property tax increases have the unwanted side effect of forcing landlords to increase rents. If we can limit those tax increases we can keep rent increases to a minimum. That’s a win-win for everyone.
Another challenge for seniors is their ability to get around in an increasingly congested county. If elected, I am going to address that concern by requiring an impact analysis for every major site plan development project, in order to determine its actual benefit to the people of this county.
Let me be clear. I am going to insist that the Board get serious about mitigating the impact of development on our streets, schools, parks and public safety.
Creating a healthy community calls for an Arlington that is livable for all ages. We need to accommodate the needs of Arlingtonians of all ages, and implement initiatives to improve housing, walkability, health care access, tax burdens, lifelong education and inter-generational social connections. Focusing on older adults is especially important because the gift of increased longevity means that these older residents have years of productivity ahead of them.
Please see my full issue statement on Arlington’s older adults at my website. Here are some highlights of what I would do on the County Board; I will:
- Encourage and incentivize homeowners and builders to make homes adaptable by creating flexible spaces to accommodate changing needs and physical abilities, and
- Simplify zoning and practical requirements to make it easier for older adults to share their homes and create space for caregivers.
- Support and strengthen Arlington’s Real Estate Tax Relief (RETR) program
- Advocate for Safe Streets, making crosswalks more visible, adding pedestrian islands in the middle of busy streets, and shortening the distance to cross busy roads.
- Support services such as Super Senior Taxi and encouraging companies (ex: Red Top Cab) that provide older adults with discounts or other workable options.
- Promote health care and other services that enable aging at home, help fight isolation and support caregivers.
- Work with Arlington Neighborhood Village, George Mason University, Virginia Hospital, Goodwin House, innovative startups, and others on new public policy and initiatives to promote older adults’ health.
- Support Arlington County services such as adult day programs, nutrition programs, mental health support and personal advocates.
- Promote good quality of life through inter-generational interaction, recreation, art and music, lifelong learning and community participation. Staying physically active, enjoying new experiences, and being part of a social network help all of us as we age.
- Co-locate senior programs with our schools to leverage the talent and wisdom of older adults to the benefit of young students eager to learn.
- Support Arlington programs (ex: Encore Learning, 55+) that offer appealing classes and experiences for a range of older adults.
Arlington’s seniors are a growing, vibrant, and active community. Arlington should work more closely with our senior community to harness their creativity, knowhow, and wealth of experience so that they can age-in-place with dignity. To improve the quality of life of seniors, Arlington must focus in the following areas:
Preparing health and human services for the future:
- Fund and plan for the growth of existing housing, health/dental, and transportation programs that enable seniors on a fixed income to afford the costs associated with independent living.
- Expand programs that develop our own first responders and attract trained first responders from other jurisdictions to prepare for increased demand for emergency services.
Creating programs to address senior needs:
- Utilize a joint-use facility model for senior centers to maximize space as well as more efficiently provide access to health and human services.
- Develop companionship-building initiatives, such as regular meals and senior-only areas in facilities, that address depression among seniors.
Maximizing opportunities for seniors:
- Update and develop a more comprehensive Elder Readiness Master Plan to address how the county intends to coordinate and advertise services.
- Revise one-size-fits-all business regulations to make it easier for seniors to open small businesses for supplementary income or as a second career.
With Election Day less than a month away, candidates for the Arlington County Board and School Board are honing in on their final pitches to voters.
And at a forum Wednesday night at Marymount University hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100, the six candidates clashed on a range of issues, from how to engage more millennials in county government to closing the achievement gap in Arlington Public Schools.
The format varied from previous forums, as each candidate was able to ask a question of their opponents before taking further questions from the audience.
Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady, who were victorious in the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s caucus earlier this year for County Board and School Board, respectively, both touted their experience in county issues.
Both agreed that while Arlington is largely on the right course, it can do better. Gutshall, who is the current chair of the Planning Commission, said the county must not make too many concessions to developers on proposed site plans.
“If we don’t stick to our plans and our negotiations… and we don’t stick to our values, then we’ve lost,” he said.
Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement pointed to her regular attendance at the body’s monthly meetings as relevant experience.
And fellow independent Charles McCullough II said that beyond his involvement in the South Arlington Working Group among others, he would represent a fresh face with new ideas if elected to the County Board.
“We need to have other ideas, other experiences,” he said.
On the budget, Clement criticized the Board’s practice of spending closeout funds from higher tax revenue than anticipated. She said that the money should be paid forward to the following year to relieve the tax burden, rather than directed to “pet projects to satisfy its particularized constituencies.”
McCullough argued that developers in Arlington must pay their “fair share” to help make up budget shortfalls, while Gutshall said that rising property values must not be treated as a “blank check” for increased spending.
Among the School Board candidates, there were some sharp differences. O’Grady and fellow candidate Alison Dough agreed that the Arlington Career Center represents a “good opportunity” for a fourth comprehensive high school. But Mike Webb, running for School Board after an unsuccessful tilt at Rep. Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, disagreed.
Instead, he said, School Board members should focus on ensuring instruction is as good as possible, and that no students are left behind.
“Before we build another high school, we have to think about the achievement gap that affects all our students,” Webb said.
And on the subject of the upcoming boundary changes in Arlington Public Schools, Dough said that more immersion schools where classes are taught in more than one language could help relieve the capacity pressures on other buildings.
Dough, who said her special needs child inspired her to run for School Board, suggested more language programs, like immersion in Chinese, French or Russian to help APS students embrace new cultures.
“Let’s look at the boundary issue differently and give our parents a reason to switch schools,” she said.
And with the nationwide opioid epidemic also touching Arlington, O’Grady said parents and students alike must be educated on the risks and solutions.
“It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our communities,” she said. “Let’s come together to learn how to deal with this.”
All six agreed on the need for elected officials to encourage more county residents to get involved, and help uphold the so-called “Arlington Way.”
“We need to be opening that door,” Webb said. “We have to build that pathway to leadership.”
The candidates will face off in another forum Sunday (October 15) hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street).
ACPD Sending Supplies to Houston — The Arlington County Police Department is sending relief supplies to Houston Police, “who have been tirelessly serving those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” the department announced yesterday in a tweet. [Twitter]
More on County Board Debate — At Tuesday night’s Arlington Civic Federation debate, the two independent candidates blasted the County Board for supposedly being too pro cozy with business interests. Charles McCullough “several times ripped the county government for extending millions of dollars in ‘payola and corporate welfare’ in an effort to win economic-development successes,” while Audrey Clement “portrayed Arlington leaders as sharing a matrimonial bed with the development community, rubber-stamping new projects to reap the tax revenue they generate.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Encouraging Vanpools — Arlington County, via its Arlington Transportation Partners program, is encouraging commuters to join a vanpool, touting savings of up to $10,000 a year compared to solo commuting. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
Arlington Free Clinic Women’s Health Program — Grants from the Susan G. Komen foundation are funding a women’s health program at the Arlington Free Clinic and in turn saving the lives of breast cancer patients who otherwise could not afford their healthcare costs. Among those who beat breast cancer with the clinic’s help is one of its employees, a mother of three who found a lump while attending a breast health event in 2003. [WJLA]
Nearby: Rabid Raccoon Found — A raccoon found in an Alexandria park has tested positive for rabies. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
The three candidates for Arlington County Board agreed on the need for more affordable housing at a forum Tuesday night, but offered differing methods on how to achieve it.
Speaking at a forum hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation at Virginia Hospital Center, the traditional kick-off for the fall campaign season, Audrey Clement, Erik Gutshall and Charles McCullough all argued more can be done.
McCullough, an independent endorsed by the Arlington Green Party, said the county must expand its use of rental assistance programs, especially for the likes of teachers and public safety workers like firefighters and police officers.
Democratic nominee Gutshall argued that the county should use its existing Affordable Housing Master Plan to create what he described as “missing middle housing” like apartments and townhouses for middle-income residents near Metro stations and along major thoroughfares.
“It’s a great formula to redefine our development paradigm and creates housing for the middle class,” he said.
To help prevent continued losses of such housing, Clement said the county should designate more areas as Local Historic Districts to capture architectural heritage and be tougher on developers.
McCullough agreed that developers should be held to a higher standard and compelled to provide more affordable housing and other amenities.
“For too long, development has meant displacement,” McCullough said. “That should not be the way, but unfortunately that has become the Arlington Way.”
Talk of the so-called “Arlington Way” of engaging with residents and gathering extensive community feedback came up when the candidates discussed how to get more people involved in local issues.
Clement argued that the Democrat-dominated County Board deters participation, as does a sense that controversial agenda items are left to the end of monthly meetings.
“It is really an endurance contest and that is really what discourages public participation,” Clement said.
Another emphasis of Gutshall: helping more small businesses open and operate more easily in Arlington. That follows reports of businesses having difficulty navigating the county’s permitting and inspection bureaucracy.
Earlier in the forum, Gutshall argued that he would go beyond party politics, and that the county’s progress has been not down to Democratic values, but “Arlington values.”
Gutshall emphasized that he was not a “hand-picked choice” of his party, after Democrats’ use of a caucus to pick their nominee was criticized as undemocratic by Clement. Both independents argued they would be unencumbered by any need to play “party politics” if elected to the Board.
“I tend to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and that’s where the voters are,” Clement said, noting that she previously was a member of the Greens but became “disillusioned” after it veered too far left.
“We need to be able to have an unencumbered voice for the issues we have right now,” McCullough added.
Also participating in Tuesday night’s forum was School Board candidate Monique O’Grady, who earned local Democrats’ endorsement at the caucus in May.
She was the lone candidate debating, after Mike Webb was barred from participating for allegedly not turning in the correct paperwork, while a third candidate, Alison Dough, was absent. Webb was in the audience and met voters before and after the forums.
In her remarks, O’Grady said she would focus on keeping standards high in academics, ensure any redrawn school boundaries respect the county’s diversity, address Arlington Public Schools’ rising capacity and ensure there are more open channels of communication.
On the latter, she said she would be open to having more conversations with teachers and students, either candidly in their schools or at School Board meetings. But O’Grady said with APS having added 1,000 new students in one year, the Board must act quickly and decisively.
“We’re short on money, we’re short on seats and we’re short on time to fix this problem,” she said.
The candidates are set to debate several more times ahead of Election Day on November 7, including on October 11 at a forum hosted by the Arlington Committee of 100 at Marymount University.
It may appear overshadowed by this year’s statewide races and political strife nationally, but the three Arlington County Board candidates are hard at work preparing for the fall campaign season.
Things get into high gear as the Arlington County Civic Federation hosts its first candidate forum, the traditional curtain-raiser on the final few months before Election Day. The forum will be held on Tuesday, September 5 in Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel Auditorium ( ive).
And the candidates — Democratic nominee Erik Gutshall, and independents Audrey Clement and Charles McCullough II — said they are looking forward to getting into the campaign’s final stages and winning over more voters in upcoming debates.
“It’s also education of people, because I think there can be misconceptions about what I stand for and where I come from and those that don’t know me real well… might believe things about me that are flatly untrue, demonstrably untrue,” Gutshall said. “People getting a chance to see who I really am and what I stand for, I think could happen from those forums to the extent I’m able to reach people who didn’t participate in the Democratic caucus process.”
First-time candidate McCullough said he welcomed the opportunity to keep putting his progressive message forward and introducing his policy ideas to more and more people.
“What’s nice about getting in front of folks, just like I’ve been doing this entire time, what’s good is to be able to present that inclusive vision of Arlington and what it means to have a putting people-first attitude of policymaking,” he said. “[When] I’m able to forward that vision, the momentum is going to grow.”
Clement, a perennial candidate, said she is hopeful of picking up more votes as the statewide races come into the spotlight more and more. In last year’s election against Libby Garvey and on the same ballot as the Presidential race, Clement received just over 27,000 votes, something she put down to the high-profile nature of that race.
She said after the violence in Charlottesville at a white supremacist rally, Virginia’s elections take on added significance and that could help her.
“Last year, even though basically Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly took the county, I got a very sizable number of votes because the turnout was so high,” Clement said. “That’s not going to happen this year, but the Charlottesville incident has probably increased interest in the Governor’s race and that should help me. Insurgents always benefit from increased turnout.”
McCullough’s campaign received a boost in late June, as the Arlington Green Party announced they were endorsing him in the upcoming election after meeting with him several times.
The Greens do not have a nominee in this year’s election, but have previously endorsed Clement and John Vihstadt, who sits on the County Board as an independent after a long association with the local Republican party, which also endorsed him. Arlington Greens chair John Reeder said McCullough is very impressive on issues like small business, curbing development, helping ease school capacity worries and adding more affordable housing.
“We like what he said about issues that we’ve been really deeply involved in over the past few years,” Reeder said. “He’s young, he’s progressive, we think he’s very personable. So we think he would be a good addition to the County Board.”
And while McCullough emphasized his independence from any party, he said it shows that momentum is gathering behind his campaign.
“It is snowballing, it’s growing,” he said. “I’m grateful for the endorsement. It shows I’m strong on parks and strong on the environment, and what I hope to do is have endorsement from voters across the political spectrum. It’s all about us all being meaningfully included.”
Beyond candidate forums, all three said they are looking forward to stepping up their campaigns ahead of Election Day on November 7. Reeder said the Arlington Greens will provide McCullough support with fundraising and by holding joint events, as well as encouraging party members to volunteer for his campaign.
Meanwhile, Clement said she will look to target millennial voters by having her paid canvasser drop campaign literature in the large apartment buildings in Rosslyn, Clarendon, Ballston and possibly Crystal City.
And Gutshall said his campaign is working to finalize a “listening tour” to get the perspectives of businesses in the county and what the local government can do to help them grow.
McCullough said in a letter to the County Board and Arlington’s representatives in the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday, August 15 that they must work to rename Jefferson Davis Highway, the name for U.S. Route 1 in the county from its border with Alexandria into Rosslyn. Such a change would require action by the General Assembly.
In doing so, he said, it would condemn racism and bigotry and distance Arlington from the Confederate president.
“Even one more day of Route 1 as Jefferson Davis Highway is 24 hours too long,” he wrote.
The question of whether to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway has swirled for several years, but local leaders have said passing a bill in Richmond to change the name is unlikely.
In Alexandria, a group is soliciting name suggestions for its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway just south of Arlington. A letter from the Virginia Attorney General’s office last year said Alexandria does not need state approval to change the name as it is part of the Urban Highway System, so state bodies do not have naming rights.
McCullough’s full letter is after the jump.
Dear Members of the Arlington County Board and State Delegation:
While we Virginians take time to heal from the events in Charlottesville this weekend, we must also reflect and consider those actions that will turn our good words condemning racism and bigotry into good deeds.
As such, I am calling on the Arlington County Board to finish what it began in 2011 by working with the General Assembly and the communities along Route 1 to rename the Arlington portion of Jefferson Davis Highway in a way that is respectful to all who live and work along it.
This effort should include submitting a name-change request in the Arlington County legislative package, identifying a member of the Arlington delegation to be patron of the bill, and creating an Arlington-based advisory group to solicit and recommend name-change options, including those selected by the Alexandria City Council at the conclusion of its renaming process.
It was easy for the vast majority of Americans to quickly identify and condemn the violent Neo-Nazi and KKK perpetrators of violence this weekend because those expressions of hate burn brightly. There are other expressions of prejudice, small embers, which often go unnoticed but burn just as severely. This is the case with Jefferson Davis Highway, the name attached to Route 1.
For several years the hardworking people of Arlington have expressed good cause for our desire to change this name. On many occasions you all have made some attempt to do so. Now is the time for you, as local and state officials, to summon the political will, stand strong in Richmond, and get it done once and for all.
Even one more day of Route 1 as Jefferson Davis Highway is 24 hours too long.
Candidate, Arlington County Board
Photo of Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City via Google Maps
Greens Endorse McCullough — The Arlington Green Party is backing Charles McCullough, an attorney who lives in Nauck, in his run for Arlington County Board. McCullough is “a young progressive who will bring new ideas” to county government, said Green Party head John Reeder. [InsideNova]
Arlington Cops Jump Rope with Kids — The Arlington County Police Department’s Twitter account posted photos of police officers hula hooping and jumping rope with kids at the Gates of Ballston affordable housing complex yesterday. [Twitter]
Rosslyn BID Helped to Woo Nestle — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District played a significant role in helping to convince Nestle to move its U.S. headquarters to Rosslyn. In a bit of a departure from typical functions of a business improvement district, the BID “helped coordinate a series of neighborhood tours for Nestle employees weighing whether to move east with their jobs, showcasing the various restaurants and shops in Rosslyn, brokering discounts and exclusives to local restaurants and playing the overall role of ambassador.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Touts State Dept. Lease — “The federal government’s decision to keep its State Department offices in Rosslyn for another 15 years and create a mini campus there is the latest win for what has been an exciting 2017 for Rosslyn and all of Arlington’s business community,” Arlington County said in a press release. “The State Department, long a fixture of Rosslyn’s economic footprint, is keeping its 280,000 square feet in its existing Fort Myer Drive building, and adding 60,000 square feet of space next door at 1200 Wilson Blvd., which it will share with one of its contractors already in that building.” [Arlington County]
A new name will appear on the ballot for November’s Arlington County Board election, as independent Charles McCullough II has thrown his hat in the ring.
McCullough currently works as a consultant, having previously represented the Australian Embassy in D.C. on education policy in the United States and Canada, worked as an attorney for D.C. Public Schools and been part of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
He said one of his main priorities is to ensure residents’ voices are heard. He said the so-called Arlington Way should be restored in their favor, rather than what he said he perceives as a bias towards developers and planning decisions that have already been made.
“What is this Arlington Way that drives these bargains that favor developers, that only call upon certain communities when it comes to decisions being made?” he said. “I hear people say, ‘We’re not actively consulted, we’re not meaningfully consulted.’ I hear from other folks in North Arlington, who say, ‘When I am consulted, the decision’s already been made. What Arlington Way is this?'”
McCullough was especially critical of the county’s decision to woo Nestle to Arlington with a package of incentive-based grants, and suggested instead that money could be invested to help grow and retain small businesses.
McCullough said one of his other major priorities is adding to the county’s stock of affordable housing, and ensuring more seniors can keep living in Arlington and are not priced out. He suggested following other communities’ lead by expanding the housing voucher program, and requiring that new developments have more affordable units than currently called for by county code.
He added that older citizens must be able to stay in the county, and added that maybe Arlington should look at providing more communities for seniors.
“What we need to understand is, there’s a lot of people who have deep roots here in Arlington and when they grow older, they may not want to be in that big house any more, they may not be able to afford to be in that house anymore because of their income, but they still want to stay in Arlington,” he said.
A student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education in the 1990s, McCullough said it is imperative that the County Board work even more closely with the School Board to solve Arlington Public Schools’ capacity concerns.
He said he would look to provide more funding for preschool and other early childhood programs, as “that’s how you really get to closing the achievement gap.” He also said that investing in new facilities is critical, especially ones that are a good quality.
“You have people talk about building a Taj Mahal. I don’t understand what the terminology means,” McCullough said. “Do you mean a beautiful building that will stand the test of time? I want to build that. I’m not going to build a cheap thing… If by Taj Mahal you mean a structure that can adequately hold people, I do want to hold people.”
But with the county’s budget stretched thin, McCullough said there needs to be some creative thinking and an alternative from just raising taxes. The County Board voted this year for a 1.5-cent hike in property taxes, and McCullough said there needs to be more conversation around spending priorities.
“There are fiscal realities,” he said. “You do have to set priorities, and I think that priorities for schools, for our services, that’s definitely what should be there. But I don’t think we should get ourselves into this notion where we just won’t have enough and can’t be creative. We’re Arlingtonians — we can. I don’t know what happened that we lost that.”
In the coming months, McCullough said he will continue to introduce himself and his ideas to voters and community groups. Already, he has met with the Arlington Green Party and Our Revolution Arlington, and said he will look to “have a conversation with all groups that understand the benefits of progressivism.”