(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would help fix Memorial Bridge and the Metro system if she is elected president, local congressman Don Beyer said today.
Speaking at a brief press conference outside the Courthouse Metro station, Rep. Beyer (D-Va.) said Clinton would make it a top priority in her first 100 days in office to break through Washington’s gridlock and make the biggest investment in jobs and infrastructure since World War II.
Her economic plan would add jobs to the economy via investments in U.S. infrastructure, Beyer said, including Northern Virginia’s “two great priorities” — Memorial Bridge and Metrorail.
Without more investment, Metro’s long-term capital budget and the deteriorating bridge — which just received a federal grant — would continue to suffer, he said.
“We know the incredibly important role that infrastructure plays in job creation, economic development and raising incomes,” Beyer said. “In Virginia, we expect our leaders to enact policies that help our economy thrive. Hillary Clinton is committed to building an economy that works for everyone in Virginia and America, not just those at the top.”
Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief economic adviser, who joined Beyer and Del. Charniele Herring (D) at the news conference, said Clinton’s plan would have economic benefits for everyone.
“Hillary Clinton’s vision is an inclusive vision where economic growth benefits not just those at the very top, but middle class and lower-income households as well, where investments are made not simply in the bank accounts of those at the very top of the scale, but in people across the income scale,” he said.
According to the Clinton campaign, an analysis by Moody’s economist and former McCain adviser Mark Zandi suggests that Clinton’s economic plan would create 271,000 jobs in Virginia, compared to a projected loss of 89,000 jobs under Republican nominee Donald Trump’s economic plan. (Trump updated his plan in a speech today.)
Not everybody was impressed with the mid-morning press conference. An ART bus driver, picking passengers up at a nearby bus stop, asked a news photographer what was going on. Upon hearing that it was a pro-Hillary press conference, and that the candidate would not be attending, the driver said he was voting for Trump, before driving off.
Dems Press Advantage in Arlington — Have you encountered voter registration volunteers in Clarendon and in Arlington’s other Metro corridor locales? They’re likely part of the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s effort to deliver votes for Hillary Clinton this fall. Heavily Democratic Arlington is key to Democratic candidates in statewide races. The ACDC is trying to boost turnout among those who live in apartments and condos to reach the goal of a 50,000 vote margin of victory. [InsideNova]
Groundbreaking for Courthouse Office Building — The groundbreaking for a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse is likely just days away, after its anchor tenant, Opower, confirmed that it will be moving forward with its lease. Opower was recently purchased by tech giant Oracle, throwing plans for the building — and for Opower staying in Arlington — in doubt. [Washington Business Journal]
Citizen’s Police Academy Accepting Applications — The Arlington County Police Department is now accepting applications for its 19th Citizen’s Police Academy this fall. The program “is designed to create better understanding and communication between citizens and the police through education,” ACPD said in a press release. “Some of the topics of discussion include: police hiring, legal considerations, use of force, vehicle operations, community engagement, K9, SWAT and mental health crisis intervention.” [Arlington County]
Arlingtonians Fascinated By Chinese Bus — ARLnow.com has been bombarded with tweets and emails from readers about a new “elevated” bus in China that straddles and drives over traffic. Is it cool? Absolutely. Is it a possible transit solution for Columbia Pike? Probably not — the new Freedman’s Bridge that carries traffic on Washington Blvd over the Pike almost certainly doesn’t have enough clearance. [Jalopnik]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Clement, a perennial candidate who is running as an independent this year, after formerly running under the Green Party banner, says that she shares the “disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed,” a still touchy subject among some Democratic voters.
“I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values,” Clement says in a press release, below. “I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.”
Clement later says that her opponent, incumbent County Board Chair Libby Garvey, has gone back to “rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda” after splitting from party leaders over the Columbia Pike streetcar.
The full press release:
I’m Dr. Audrey Clement, Independent candidate for Arlington County Board.
I applaud the efforts of all those Arlington voters who worked hard to make Bernie Sanders the Democratic Nominee for President, and I share your disappointment that Senator Sanders did not succeed.
I happen to share a lot of Bernie’s values, among them a sincere interest in good government. As an Independent, I will place meeting the needs of all Arlington residents first and the wants of wealthy special interests last on my agenda when elected to County Board.
So I’m asking you to join my campaign in order to make progressive changes locally that you tried to make nationally.
I live in affordable housing that’s in danger of being bulldozed for million dollar townhomes, displacing seniors, students, the disabled, and the working poor. I want affordable housing preserved and new affordable housing built that’s actually affordable for everyone in Arlington.
I’ve ridden a bicycle everywhere for decades. But bicycles shouldn’t be Arlington’s only transportation alternative to more parking for thousands more single-occupant vehicles.
And it’s time for on-site renewable energy installed throughout our County.
It’s time for electric vehicles throughout our County, charged by renewable energy sources.
It’s time to put a moratorium on Smart Growth — which is just a euphemism for gentrification — until there’s a comprehensive evaluation of where Smart Growth is taking our County.
Who wants to live in a County that is unaffordable to anyone who earns less than 100% of area median income, or $110,000 per year?
My opponent says she’s “progressive”. She initially voted against the Pike Streetcar and the most extravagant excesses of the Democratic Old Guard.
But, having been challenged in a primary election by an Old Guard Democrat, she’s gone back to rubber stamping the Arlington Democratic Party’s agenda.
With your help we can have better, more diverse, County Government at less cost.
Please visit my website — www.AudreyClement.com — to volunteer, donate and/or comment on issues of concern to you.
Visitors Gathering at Khan Grave — The grave of an Army Captain who died in Iraq in 2004 has become something of a destination for visitors at Arlington National Cemetery. Flowers and American flags are being left on the grave of Capt. Humayun Khan, whose parents spoke out at the Democratic National Convention against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on Muslim immigration. [WJLA]
What’s Next for County Parcel Near Marymount? — Officials are beginning the process of deciding the future of a county-owned parcel of land near Marymount University, after the County Board nixed a plan to permanently move Fire Station 8 there. Possibilities for the seven-acre parcel at Old Dominion Drive and 26th Street include a small park, a new salt dome, a large mulch pile, a fueling station and a temporary home for the fire station. [InsideNova]
Richard Thompson Dies — Longtime Arlington resident and “Cul de Sac” comic strip creator Richard Thompson has died at the age of 58 after a battle with Parkinson’s Disease. [Washington Post]
Body of Missing Maryland Man Found — The GW Parkway was shut down for a period of time after a body was found in the area of Donaldson Run. Police say the body was that of a missing Maryland man. [WJLA]
Charles Hernick AMA — The Republican challenging Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in November’s congressional race recently conducted an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. Charles Hernick sparked a vigorous debate among users after saying he supports a cap and trade system to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and “clean coal” regulations. [Reddit]
What Is Old Is New Again — A 1965 issue of the Northern Virginia Sun newspaper included two hot topics of the day that should sound familiar to anyone following local news over the past couple of years: a “crisis in low-cost housing” in Arlington and complaints about aircraft noise from National Airport. [InsideNova]
It’s August — Today is the first day of August. Summer doesn’t officially end until Sept. 22, but get ready for plenty of indicators that fall is around the corner: back to school sales, Oktoberfest beers on store shelves and pre-season NFL games.
Residents near Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and in the Lyon Park neighborhood near Clarendon would get new precincts, according to a proposal the Arlington County Electoral Board and elections director have recommended to the County Board. About a half-dozen other adjustments to boundaries and polling stations also would happen under the election officials’ plan.
The voting district near the Pentagon City mall would come out of the Virginia Highlands Precinct, with a polling station at the new Bartlett apartment building (520 12th Street S.).
The precinct in Lyon Park would form from the Lyon Park Precinct, with a polling station at Garfield Park Apartments (925 N. Garfield Street).
The other proposed precinct and polling station changes are online.
The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on whether to hold a public hearing on the revisions in September.
VDOT Awards I-66 Contracts — VDOT has awarded $61.3 million in contracts to build tolling infrastructure on I-66 inside the Beltway. “The work is expected to begin by late summer with all construction completed no later than mid October 2017.” [WTOP]
Stop Arm Camera Enforcement Resuming — After having to pause enforcement and seek a legislative fix in order to issue tickets to violators, Arlington’s school bus stop arm enforcement program will resume July 1. Drivers who drive by a stop sign on a school bus will face an automatic $250 fine. [Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools]
Clinton Opening Arlington Office — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is reportedly opening a new office at 6035 Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills shopping center. That’s the same shopping center in which American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was shot and killed in 1967. [Patch]
Local Latino Leaders Talk Trump — At a press conference on Columbia Pike yesterday, former County Board member Walter Tejada said presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may regret his rhetoric on immigration come November. “In a tight election, the Latino community can decide who wins,” Tejada said. “To Mr. Trump, we want to declare a message that hate will not win.” [Washington Post]
Hernick Calls on Trump to Tone Down Muslim Remarks — Republican congressional candidate Charles Hernick, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), wants Donald Trump to tone down his “divisive rhetoric” on Muslims, saying it “won’t help us unite with peace-loving Muslims against our common enemy.” He continued: “We need to stand together against hatred, violence and terrorism.” [InsideNova]
Local Startup Expanding — Fast-growing Arlington-based startup ByteCubed, a government tech consulting firm, is expanding with a new office in Crystal City for its now 150 employees. [Technical.ly DC]
(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey has won the Democratic County Board nomination, despite a tough challenge from within the party.
With all precincts reporting, Garvey had 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent over challenger Erik Gutshall. The final vote tally was 8,362 to 6,878.
Today’s County Board primary featured typically low turnout for a local race — 11 percent of registered voters — although it was notably higher than last year’s primary turnout of 8 percent.
Voters who spoke to ARLnow.com outside the polls today said they admired Garvey’s willingness to go against “establishment” Democratic orthodoxy. It was Garvey’s fight against the Columbia Pike streetcar project and her endorsement of independent John Vihstadt over a Democratic candidate in the 2014 County Board race that was perhaps the biggest impetus for a primary challenge.
During the race, Gutshall — a small business owner and member of the Arlington Planning Commission member — criticized Garvey’s leadership, Democratic bonafides and her supposed lack of effective long-term planning.
Gutshall amassed a long list of endorsements from current and former Democratic elected officials, including state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Dels. Alfonso Lopez and Rip Sullivan, County Board member Jay Fisette and former Board members Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman.
Fisette was among those who stopped by Garvey’s victory party at a Columbia Pike restaurant Tuesday night.
“It’s a really high bar to run against an incumbent,” Fisette told ARLnow.com, citing Garvey’s name recognition from nearly two decades as an elected official. “I couldn’t be prouder of [Erik] as a candidate. I have great respect for him and I think he ran a great campaign.”
Fisette said he expects the Board to continue to work well together. In a press release, Arlington Democrats were quick to unify, with Gutshall endorsing Garvey.
“Tonight I endorse Libby Garvey for County Board and look forward to voting for her in November,” said Gutshall. “Now that the primary is over, it’s important that we come together as Democrats to ensure we keep Arlington blue, from the White House to the School House.”
“Libby Garvey is already a consensus building Chair of the County Board and we are honored to have her as our nominee,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) Chair Kip Malinosky.
Among those in attendance at Garvey’s victory party were Vihstadt, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Arlington Treasurer Carla de la Pava, former School Board member Abby Raphael and former ACDC Chair Peter Rousselot.
Going precinct-by-precinct, Gutshall’s strongest support was along the Columbia Pike corridor and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
All precincts in- Garvey (winner) precincts in green, Gutshall precincts in blue: pic.twitter.com/2QpdkjeERG
— (((Ben Tribbett))) (@notlarrysabato) June 15, 2016
“I worked the entire county [but] there’s only so much I could do,” Garvey said of the Columbia Pike vote. “I’m going to continue to serve the entire county and in four years I hope to have everyone’s vote.”
“This is about all of us… diversity is our strength,” she said. In a statement, Garvey said she looks forward to continuing her work on the Board as a Democrat.
“I am proud to go on to November to represent you as the Democratic nominee for County Board. I have based my campaign, as I have my service, on my idea that Arlington is a great community, but we have the potential to be even better. It means working together to support each other in friendship, knowing that together we can achieve so much.”
Garvey will face independent candidate Audrey Clement in November’s general election.
Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and former Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada will be among those speaking at an Arlington press conference on “Donald Trump’s Year of Hate” tomorrow.
The press conference is being held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Atlacatl Restaurant (4701 Columbia Pike).
Machado, who won the pageant in 1996 as a contestant from Venezuela, became a U.S. citizen in May, prompting a congratulatory tweet from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Machado is an avowed opponent of Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, accusing him calling her “Miss Piggy” after she gained 50 pounds within months of winning the crown.
On Wednesday, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta will join People For the American Way (PFAW) to mark the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and launch PFAW’s new campaign, ‘Donald Trump’s Year of Hate.’
Since June 16th of last year, when he infamously described Mexican immigrants as “rapists” at his campaign launch, Trump has only increased his attacks against immigrants and Latinos. Starting on Thursday, new Spanish-language ads from PFAW will run for four weeks, highlighting Donald Trump’s campaign of hate thus far.
The press conference on Wednesday, co-hosted by CASA in Action (Virginia), will include more details on the ad launch. At the event, Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe winner, will share her story about why she’s becoming a citizen to vote against Donald Trump. She will discuss her personal interactions with Donald Trump, including how he derogatorily referred to her as “Miss Housekeeping” and “Miss Piggy.” Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and is a board member of PFAW, will discuss the importance of the Latino vote and speak out against the hate Donald Trump has displayed over the last year. Virginia leader and former elected official J. Walter Tejada will focus on the Latino vote in Virginia, and leaders from PFAW and CASA in Action will speak about their stand against Trump’s bigotry.
“Slow and steady.” That’s how the voting in today’s Arlington County Board Democratic primary is being described.
As of noon today, precincts around Arlington had recorded only about a 5 percent turnout. Election officials are expecting an approximately 10 percent overall turnout by the time the polls close at 7 p.m., compared to a 8 percent turnout in last year’s local primary.
By contrast, a whopping 46 percent of Arlington’s registered voters cast ballots in the March 1 presidential primary — 29 percent for Democrats, 17 percent for Republicans.
Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said things have been “pretty smooth” so far today. The biggest problem has been people showing up and asking why the presidential candidates aren’t on the ballot, she said.
Most voters who talked to ARLnow.com said they voted out of a moral obligation, stating that it was their civic duty to get out and vote.
“It’s a civil duty but its almost an obligation and everyone who can vote should vote,” said one voter at a polling station near Clarendon.
Of the voters willing to reveal who they voted for, the majority said they voted for incumbent Libby Garvey, citing as their main motivation her willingness to do things outside of the expected “establishment” Democratic norms.
“I voted for Libby Garvey because I don’t like the idea of ultra orthodox anything, politics or any other realm,” said a voter. “I don’t like the idea that somebody has to adhere to a certain line when they’re presented something.”
Another voter felt that having an independent voice was important.
“One of the reasons that I voted for Libby Garvey is because her own Democratic colleagues… have turned against her because they wanted a unified bloc of voting,” he said. “Since when has unanimity been the goal? You want some sort of discussion and dissent. I think many Democrats were disappointed that the Board does not allow dissent. It’s almost dictatorial in its approach. She didn’t think she had to vote with the entire group of Democrats just because she’s a Democrat and that upset a lot of people.”
One voter interviewed decided to vote for challenger Erik Gutshall, citing his experience and the desire to have a fresh perspective on the County Board.
“I ended up voting for Erik Gutshall. I read all of the propaganda from both of them that came in the mail and he’s been doing a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about him before a week and a half ago but he seems to be very active on the Lyon Park [civic] association, Planning Commission and all that and I think it would be interesting to give him a shot at it. I had saved all the things I received in the mail including six from Libby Garvey and they all had the same exact four points with one sentence on each. Not much substance.”
Most of the voters were older, although there were some younger people seen at the polls. When asked about the lack of younger voters, one voter shared his opinion on the matter.
“Older people are probably more invested in voting than most young people who are blissfully unaware,” he said.
When asked about the relatively low turnout, voters and staffers gave a number of reasons including the fact that it was a summertime election, the prevalence of absentee ballots and the more local nature of the election. One man using an ATM outside of a polling location was not even aware that there was an election going on at the moment.
Additional reporting by Adrian Cruz. Photos by Omar DeBrew.
With the Arlington County Board primary fast approaching, Democratic candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall took to the airwaves in their final debate before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
The candidates went on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU-FM radio show, The Politics Hour, Friday afternoon.
Some of the topics covered included the capacity crunch in county schools, affordable housing and the ongoing battle with aircraft noise.
The full debate can be viewed above. Here are some highlights:
Garvey on what she wants voters to know about her time serving Arlington
“I think over the past 20 years I’ve done a pretty good job serving Arlington. Fifteen years on the School Board help make our schools among the best in the country. And in my 4 years on the County Board I’ve done quite a bit to make our government more responsive and more transparent. One of the things we just started to do was video streaming our work sessions. Up until then if you wanted to watch the board actually getting work done at work sessions, you had to sit in the room and that was hard for a lot of people to do.”
Gutshall on why he’s running
“I’m running because I think I’m better qualified to make sure that we are meeting the challenges that we face today with solutions for tomorrow.
We’ve got to make long-term strategic investments. We have a capacity crisis in our school that’s in our sixth year and we still don’t have a plan for getting out in front of rising student enrollment. We have to make sure that we’re making investments in our transportation infrastructure and we’re dragging our feet in moving forward with the capital improvement plan for doing that.
We’ve got a major issue in Arlington County of housing affordability. It’s the issue that’s going to define our time, our day. We are not moving forward in the way that we need to and the way that I believe Arlingtonians want to in order to make sure that the middle class does not get squeezed out of Arlington.”
Garvey on her long-term plan for handling the school issue
“My long-term plan is to be supporting the School Board. I’ve been on the County Board for four years. That’s really the School Board’s job to come forward to us with plans.
I will say that little over a year ago, the School Board came to the County Board asking to build a school on the Thomas Jefferson site. Four of my colleagues unfortunately thought that it needed more of a community process. I was the one vote to go ahead and move forward with that. A year later, the whole board moved to move forward and we lost a whole year in the process. I have always been supportive of moving our schools forward and getting the work done.”
Gutshall on balancing the seat numbers with the growing student population
“I would hope it wouldn’t wait until I took office on January 1 to move forward with the implementation of the Community Facilities Study. Moving forward, what we need to do is we need to make sure that we’re having a conversation with the School Board and we’re going to miss the opportunity on this CIP now. We need to move forward on laying out a comprehensive plan where all seats, elementary, high school, middle school, all neighborhoods, north, south, east and west are accountable.”
Gutshall on housing and development
“What we have here is a problem that’s created by our success. Everybody wants to be here, that’s a good thing. Rising property values, that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that we are keeping an eye on what we can do for the problem and risk of squeezing out the middle class. What I’ve been talking about is what’s called the missing middle: the idea where you have medium density, not the high rise density of our Metro corridors and not the low density in our single family neighborhoods, but in between that, the missing middle for example along Lee Highway and Glebe Road and other major arterials served by transit where right now you might see a lot of old strip malls, used car lots, basically underutilized land.
We can look at our zoning ordinances. We can open up opportunities for developers to come in and create different housing choices for young families just starting out, for seniors who want to age in the community.”
Sun Gazette Endorses Garvey — County Board Chair Libby Garvey has picked up the endorsement of the Sun Gazette newspaper in her re-election battle against Democratic challenger Erik Gutshall. “[Garvey’s] efforts, however inelegant at times they have been, to press needed reforms on an elected body too long aloof from the public should be rewarded,” the paper wrote. [InsideNova]
Gutshall Holds Education Press Conference — Erik Gutshall held a press conference with former School Board Chair Elaine Furlow and others yesterday evening. Gutshall called on his opponent, Libby Garvey, to “stop dragging her feet” on the County Board and implement the key recommendations of the Community Facilities Study in order to more quickly add needed school capacity. [Blue Virginia]
Gutshall’s Hyperlocal Mailers — Erik Gutshall’s campaign is sending postcard-sized mailers to potential primary voters, targeted by neighborhood and printed with the names of supporters in that neighborhood. [Twitter]
CivFed Aims to Plant 100 Trees — The Arlington Civic Federation, which turned 100 this year, is celebrating its centennial by encouraging the planting of 100 trees around the county. The Civic Federation was formed in 1916, four years before Arlington was even called “Arlington.” [InsideNova]
Garvey Out-Raises Gutshall — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey out-raised Democratic challenger Erik Gutshall by more than $20,000 in April and May. Garvey raised $57,143 to $36,751 for Gutshall. Both candidates received donations from about 300 people. [Washington Post]
More People Biking to Work — The traffic woes and Metrorail headaches caused by Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance work is apparently pushing more people to commute to work via bike. On Monday, Arlington’s “Bike-o-Meter” near the Key Bridge recorded 2,325 bike trips, double the normal number for a Monday around this time of year. The pleasant weather probably helped, too. [WJLA]
Outdoor Lab Exceeds Fundraising Goal — Saturday’s fundraiser for the Arlington Outdoor Lab shattered the $50,000 fundraising goal, garnering pledges of $84,000 for the educational facility. [Falls Church News-Press]
New Chef at Water & Wall — John Leavitt, previously of Provision No. 14 in D.C., is taking over kitchen duties at Water & Wall in Virginia Square from proprietor and chef Tim Ma. Expect a new menu to roll out next month. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Credit Union Branch Opens in Crystal City — The Lafayette Federal Credit Union has opened a branch at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. The 80-year-old local financial institution will mark the opening of its seventh branch with a grand opening celebration next Thursday, June 16 at noon. [Layfayette FCU]
Unsettled Weather This Weekend — Expect rain today, Saturday and Sunday, says the National Weather Service. On Sunday there’s a good chance of severe storms. [Twitter]
Rosslyn Outdoor Movie Fest Starts Tonight — Weather permitting, Rosslyn’s outdoor movie festival starts tonight with a showing of “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” This year’s Rosslyn movie theme is “Incredible Journeys.” [Rosslyn]
Fisette Mum on Reelection — Jay Fisette, the longest-serving current County Board member, says he will wait until the end of the year before deciding whether to run for reelection in 2017. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Groundbreaking for Hotel Project — Developer B.F. Saul broke ground yesterday on a new hotel project. A 10-story Homewood Suites hotel will be replacing the former Colony House Furniture store at 1700 Lee Highway near Rosslyn. Demolition of the store is now proceeding, five years after it closed its doors. [Washington Business Journal]
Kojo Controversy Defused — Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall wasn’t happy with the choice of political operative Ben Tribbett as a call-in guest for a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment on the County Board race — and the candidate made his feelings known via Twitter. Tribbett had done some paid polling work for incumbent Libby Garvey earlier this year, Gutshall pointed out. In the end, Gutshall himself joined the segment as a call-in guest, along with Tribbett and ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck. [Storify]
Arlington Posting FOIA Responses Online — Arlington County is now releasing its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests online, for all to see. The first posted response is documents and emails related to NOVA Armory. Said County Manager Mark Schwartz: “My overarching goal is to increase government transparency. This is one simple way that we can share information that we have already collected… which already has some interest from the community.” [Arlington County]
Update at 4:30 p.m. — Gutshall’s campaign has published an explanation of its claims here.
Libby Garvey says she’s not “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington,” as alleged in a mailer from the campaign of County Board challenger Erik Gutshall.
The mailer, sent in advance of the June 14 Democratic primary, said that Garvey “wants to eliminate tax exemptions for seniors” and “repeatedly voted against funding for affordable housing.”
(Another Gutshall mailer alleged that Garvey, who formerly served on the School Board, did not act quickly enough to address the capacity crunch at Arlington Public Schools.)
Garvey is firing back at the “putting Arlington’s seniors at risk” mailer, posting a response on her website entitled “Setting the record straight: I want seniors to afford their homes.”
Here’s what Garvey wrote:
I work hard for an Arlington that provides affordable living options for all people, of many income levels and at all stages in their lives. We face many challenges in realizing this vision, and one particularly acute one is how to help seniors whose property tax bills are rising beyond their ability to pay because of the ever increasing value of their property. We need to make sure that they can remain in the homes where they built their lives and helped build our community.
My opponent in this election recently sent a flyer claiming that I am “threatening the ability of our most vulnerable seniors to live in Arlington.” I assure you that this claim is false.
Arlington has two major programs for senior tax relief. One defers taxes until the house is sold, at which time the back taxes are paid from the proceeds of the sale. I believe that we probably should lower the qualification levels for this program so that it is available to more seniors. The second program forgives the taxes entirely. Under this second program, when the home is sold, whoever sells — whether the senior or the beneficiaries after the senior’s passing — keeps the entire proceeds of the sale and never pays the taxes. This can provide quite a windfall to the beneficiaries.
I, along with the entire County Board by a 5-0 vote, asked our staff to study these programs to see if we are publicizing them adequately. We did this to ensure that everyone who needs them is benefiting from them. We also asked our staff to review the criteria for appropriateness to see who is truly benefiting from them. Among the questions we asked our staff to consider is the possibility of eliminating that portion of the tax forgiveness that goes only to beneficiaries, because the program was never meant to benefit beneficiaries — it is meant to benefit seniors. I want our staff to explore whether making this change will free up more money to enable us to expand both programs for our most vulnerable seniors.