by ARLnow.com — November 6, 2015 at 10:10 am 0

"Peacock" tree in Bailey's Branch Park (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Task Force Recommends TJ Site — Ten months after the Arlington County Board nixed a proposed new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, a working group appointed by the Board has concluded that the site is, in fact, the best one for a new school. The group also recommended that the School Board starts planning for a second new South Arlington elementary school, most likely in the Pentagon City area. [InsideNova]

Election Day Bar Crawl Was a Bust — Organizers of an election day bar crawl in Clarendon say they have learned “that people are not up for celebrating democracy on a Tuesday night of a work week.” Despite giving out 65-70 bracelets for the crawl, which was to encourage younger people to vote, one of the participating bars — Whitlow’s — didn’t see a single customer wearing the bracelets. [Washington Post]

‘Suburban North Arlington Is Going to Develop’ — The urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington says that development is inevitable for Lee Highway. The website is encouraging residents of the car-oriented corridor to participate in a county-led planning process for Lee Highway that’s currently underway, including a “visioning charrette” this weekend. [Greater Greater Washington]

Ray’s Maintains Steak Supremacy — Despite an influx of flashy new steakhouses in the District, Ray’s the Steaks in Courthouse still has the best-tasting steak around, and for a lot less than the newcomers, says food critic Todd Kliman. [Washingtonian]

W-L, Yorktown Rivalry Game Tonight — Yorktown will face Washington-Lee in a cross-county rivalry game with playoff implications. Both football squads could make the playoffs with a win tonight. A win also comes with the unofficial distinction of being this year’s Arlington County champion. [Washington Post]

M.J. Stewart Back at UNC Following Suspension — Former Yorktown standout M.J. Stewart is back leading the University of North Carolina’s secondary, after an off-campus altercation led to an assault and battery charge and a suspension from the team. [Daily Tarheel]

Tuckahoe 5K Road Closures — The annual Tuckahoe 5K race will take place Saturday. Arlington police will close portions of Williamsburg Blvd, Little Falls Road, 26th Street and Underwood Street between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. to accommodate the race. [Arlington County]

Dems Captured All But One Precinct — The two Democratic County Board members-elect nearly swept every voting precinct in the county during Tuesday’s election. Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey together captured all but one precinct in Arlington. In the Madison precinct of North Arlington, a “bastion of Republicanism in an otherwise true-blue community,” Republican-endorsed independent Michael McMenamin finished second to Christian Dorsey. [InsideNova]

Jury Duty Questionnaires Due — If you were among the seven percent of Arlington and Falls Church residents who received a juror qualification questionnaire in the mail last month, it’s likely past due by now. Recipients are required by law to return the form within 10 days of receiving it. [Arlington County]

Development Forum Next Week — Registration is closing at noon today for a forum on development in Arlington County. Speakers at the event, scheduled for Nov. 10, include Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins, Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick and Shooshan Company COO Kelly Shooshan. [CREW Northern Virginia]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

by ARLnow.com — November 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Democrats' victory party at P. Brennan's on Columbia Pike

Local Republicans see a silver lining in the lopsided defeat of Mike McMenamin in Tuesday’s Arlington County Board. But one local political watcher says it signals that the narrow window of opportunity to elect conservatives to local office in Arlington has passed.

McMenamin, an independent candidate with the endorsement of the local GOP, garnered 19 percent of the vote to 36 and 34 percent respectively for Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol. Perennial candidate Audrey Clement, who ran as an independent after several elections under the Green Party banner, received 10 percent of the vote.

Democrats say they were pleasantly surprised by the election results.

“It turned out much better than I predicted it to be,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Kip Malinosky. “I think people responded to an inclusive, welcoming message.”

“We always took [McMenamin] seriously,” Malinosky continued. “We knew he had a good record of public service. But we didn’t hear a positive vision for Arlington from Mike. Voters heard a lot of ‘no.'”

Matt Wavro, Chair of the Arlington County Republican Committee, sees things a bit differently. Via email, he told ARLnow.com that all four candidates in the race ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility — a victory of sorts, even though the GOP’s favored candidate did not win.

Mike ran a solid independent campaign. The Arlington GOP was very proud to endorse his independent candidacy. Mike’s earnest desire to bring people together to solve issues facing the county should be acknowledged by everyone involved in politics in Arlington.

The future of the Arlington GOP is strong. Our goals of cancelling the streetcar, reducing the cost of the Million Dollar Bus Stop, ending the subsidy of the Artisphere, preventing a property tax rate increase, and turning back the plan to build subsidized housing in our parks enjoyed and continue to enjoy wide community support.

With the exception of a firm commitment that subsidized housing should not be built in parks, every candidate for the County Board campaigned on our issues. Even the candidates who were leveling partisan attacks against Mike were trying to appropriate the very issues we considered as the basis for endorsing Mike.

Democrats on the County Board were very effective in 2015 at clearing the decks of issues that highlighted how out of touch narrowly partisan Democrats were from their more rational and reasonable neighbors of all political persuasions.

“Looking out at the issues that are likely to be taken up in the next year, our platform will continue to be a consensus-building counter-point to the partisan Democrat group-think we saw from our County Board members in 2013 and the decade prior,” Wavro added.

Despite Wavro’s optimism, one veteran Democratic campaign operative and election watcher thinks the result shows a return to normalcy in heavily-Democratic Arlington after a brief flirtation with center-right politics.

“It’s back to normal in Arlington,” Ben Tribbett told ARLnow.com. “The voters Tuesday were strongly Democratic, where they’ve always been.”

Tribbett, who correctly predicted the demise of Arlington’s streetcar project on the night of independent County Board member John Vihstadt’s election last November, said McMenamin’s defeat is “embarrassing” for Vihstadt.

“Vihstadt’s endorsement [of McMenamin] had no legs, voters basically ignored it,” Tribbett said.

The center-right flirtation was made possible by the streetcar, the Long Bridge Park aquatics center and other poorly managed, big-ticket projects that drew voter ire. With those out of the way, and with all candidates calling for some degree of fiscal responsibility, voters returned to other issues as deciding factors — issues that favored the Democrats.

Katie Cristol with Libby Garvey at Democrats' victory party at P. Brennan's on Columbia Pike(Other political watchers have suggested that it wasn’t just the streetcar that propelled Vihstadt to victory, arguing that he was a uniquely strong candidate with a long history of community involvement, thoughtful debate performances and well-tuned political acumen. There are no other Vihstadt-like candidates on the Republican-slash-Independent bench, some say.)

The Arlington electorate seems to have “lost their appetite for reform-type candidates,” Tribbett contended. That, he said, could signal trouble for Libby Garvey, who’s up for reelection in 2016.

Garvey, a Democrat, went against the party by speaking out against the streetcar and endorsing Vihstadt last year. She could face a tough primary challenge this coming spring as a result.

by ARLnow.com — November 5, 2015 at 9:30 am 0

Aerial view of the Pentagon (Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman)

Highest Voter Turnout in N. Arlington — The Arlington neighborhoods north of I-66 had the highest concentration of voter turnout for Tuesday’s election. Arlington’s high-density Metro corridors and neighborhoods south of Columbia Pike generally had the lowest turnout. [Twitter]

Eric Cantor Buys House in Arlington — Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has purchased a $1.8 million house near Pentagon City. Cantor, who works for an investment banking firm in D.C., formerly lived in the Representative condominium on Arlington Ridge, overlooking Pentagon City, while serving in Congress. [Washington Business Journal]

Sport & Health Closing in Crystal City — The Sport & Health Crystal Gateway club at 1235 S. Clark Street has told members that it will close Dec. 4, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. The health club is set to be replaced by a new Earth Treks Climbing Center.

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

by Heather Mongilio — November 3, 2015 at 8:25 pm 0

(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) There will be two new faces sitting on the County Board come January — Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.

Dorsey led the race the entire night, taking approximately 36 percent of the total vote. Ticket mate Cristol followed closely, garnering about 34 percent of the votes. The two Democratic candidates effectively boxed out independent candidates Michael McMenamin and Audrey Clement.

Today’s election was a historic one for Arlington. For the first time in years, voters were asked to select two new County Board members after Board Chair Mary Hynes and Vice Chair Walter Tejada decided to retire. After electing independent John Vihstadt last year, Arlington residents resumed voting for Democrats by giving Cristol and Dorsey the two seats.

“Now it’s time to get to work fulfilling the promise of the campaign, which was bring Arlingtonians together to talk about issues,” Dorsey said.

Voter turnout was relatively low, following the trend of most off-year elections in Virginia. Arlington election officials estimate that around 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot today, compared to 26 percent turnout in a comparable election four years ago.

The relatively low turnout is a sign that the county needs to do better with communicating how important local elections are, Cristol and Dorsey said.

“As much as I would love Arlington to be special and different, it’s tough when the County Board race is at the top of the ballot,” Dorsey said.

Cristol and Dorsey led the race for County Board with a large gap between them and the independent candidates. The unofficial results are:

  • Audrey Clement: 10.08%
  • Katie Cristol: 34.41%
  • Christian Dorsey: 35.71%
  • Mike McMenamin: 19.03%


by Heather Mongilio — November 3, 2015 at 3:50 pm 0

A group of more than 40 people in yellow shirts has been knocking on the doors of homes in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts the past few days in hopes of increasing voter turnout today.

The group is part of the Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement, an organization that supports social justice causes like affordable housing and that strives to increase the amount of people who actively engage in local politics.

As of 9 a.m. this morning, Nov. 3, VOICE members had talked to almost 600 people who pledged they would vote, said VOICE spokeswoman Marjorie Green. Arlington residents are voting for two new County Board members, making this an election that will set the direction of county policy for years to come.

“Even if only a third of those voters actually go to the polls, we figure we will have contributed to a more than 20 percent increase in voter turnout, a pretty significant figure in an election in which, as I just heard, the county registrar is saying turnout thus far is only about 15 percent,” Green said.

VOICE’s goal with its “Get Out the Vote” push is to engage with 2,000 people in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts in hopes of raising voter turnout by 5 percent, the group said in a press release. The Glebe voting district includes the Nauck neighborhood, and the Arlington Mill district is made up of people in Columbia Pike and Arlington Mill areas.

VOICE is targeting the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts because people living there have historically skipped voting in off-year elections, like today’s, Green said. They have also raised concerns of their voices not being heard by county officials, said Rev. James E. Victor, Jr., the pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington View and a VOICE leader.

Residents in the Glebe voting district can vote at the Drew Recreation Center (3500 23th Street S.) and those in the Arlington Mill district can vote at Campbell Elementary School (737 S. Carlin Springs Road).

VOICE members stood at bus stops this morning encouraging people to stop by the two polling places and to cast their votes, Green said, adding that the organization will also be calling people throughout the day in hopes of getting more people to vote.

by ARLnow.com — November 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm 0

Despite one of the most consequential and competitive County Board races in recent memory, relatively light turnout has been reported at the polls in Arlington so far today.

Linda Lindberg, Arlington County’s top elections official, said turnout was around 12 percent as of 12:45 p.m.

“It’s been pretty light,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com “Some precincts are doing quite well and others are very, very slow.”

Lindberg said turnout is similar to the 2011 election, when 26 percent of registered voters went to the polls. She expects the final turnout today to be around that figure. The number of absentee ballots submitted this election cycle — 2,200 — is also comparable to 2011.

“I would have thought that we would have done a little better this time, because we do have a more competitive County Board race,” Lindberg said.

No major problems have been reported at the polls, which opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Arlington County is using paper ballots this year, a throw back to the mid-20th century. Most recently, Arlington had been using electronic voting machines that were later revealed to have serious security flaws.

Some voters who required assistance using the ballot reading machines have complained that poll workers could see who they voted for while demonstrating how to use the machines.

“We’re going to iron out those issues,” Lindberg said.

The Arlington County elections office will be tweeting County Board election results live tonight after polls close, via its @arlingtonvotes Twitter account.

Registered voters who have not yet cast ballots can find out more information about the candidates via the League of Women Voters voter guide.

by ARLnow.com — November 3, 2015 at 9:30 am 0

Autumn leaves and the American flag (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

It’s Election Day — Arlington voters are heading to the polls today to vote in a number of state and local elections. The most closely-watched and competitive of these is the race for County Board. Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey are facing off against independents Mike McMenamin and Audrey Clement for two open seats. Other races include largely non-competitive races for county constitutional offices, House of Delegates and state Senate seats, and the Arlington School Board. Local polling places are open until 7 p.m. [Arlington County]

DJO Standout Profiled — Standout Bishop O’Connell High School linebacker Landan Word has been profiled by the website Scout.com. Word, who has committed to the University of Virginia, is “physical [and] smart in way he plays,” the sports website says. [Scout]

Beyer Gets Spelling Kudos from POTUS — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) received a handwritten note from President Obama congratulating him on his recent National Press Club spelling bee victory. The president called the win “seriously impressive” and noted “I use spell check.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — November 2, 2015 at 10:35 am 0

Multimodal transportation along I-66Democrats say independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin’s stance on I-66 would ” threaten the quality of our parks.” McMenamin says that his opponents are “purposely distorting his position.”

The latest skirmish involving a County Board candidate started when an automated call from Del. Rip Sullivan (D) started ringing in thousands of Arlington homes Sunday.

Sullivan’s recorded voice ripped into McMenamin for suggesting that he would support adding an extra lane to I-66 within the existing VDOT right of way in Arlington, tying that position into an issue near and dear to many Arlingtonians: parks.

Hi, this is Delegate Rip Sullivan. I have served on a Park Authority and Transportation Commission, and I’ve got an important message for you about the use of parks and green space in Arlington.

Independent-Republican for County Board, Mike McMenamin, supports widening I-66, which would threaten the quality of our parks at Madison Manor, Bon Air, Thrifton Hills, McCoy, and other parklands across the County. It would also threaten the quality of the Custis Trail. To protect parkland throughout Arlington County from development, join me in supporting Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol. If protecting Arlington’s parks and green space is important to you, then vote on Tuesday, November 3rd for the two candidates committed to protecting parks and green space: Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol.

Paid for and authorized by Christian Dorsey for County Board and Katie Cristol for County Board.

McMenamin responded in turn by accusing the Democrats of tying to “hide their weakness on parks.” From a press release:

Mike McMenamin today accused Delegate Rip Sullivan of making an 11th-hour attack purposely distorting his position on I-66.

“It shows that the political establishment in Arlington is worried about losing,” said McMenamin, who is running as an Independent for the County Board.

In a robo-call to thousands of voters on Sunday, the Democratic delegate said that McMenamin’s support for widening the interstate freeway would threaten the quality of various county parks.

McMenamin countered that he would only tolerate widening the highway within the current right of way and no further. Such widening, he said, would not take away any parkland at all.

“My opponents have been unwilling to say that they won’t build affordable housing on parkland, a position they know is unpopular, so they are trying to muddy the waters with these dubious attacks,” McMenamin said. “In fact, I am the only candidate committed to not building on our parks.

The Independent candidate said he is committed to keeping parkland and trails intact. “If any VDOT proposal would negatively affect any parks in Arlington, I think I would be the most effective voice for the neighborhoods.”

“While I don’t like the idea of having to widen 66, I fear the State is inevitably going to do just that,” he said. “After all, VDOT owns the road. So, I have taken the position that Arlington must strike the best deal possible.”

McMenamin also opposes tolls for I-66, saying it will lead to more surface traffic in nearby neighborhoods.


by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm 0

County Board candidate Mike McMenamin

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Mike McMenamin:

Somewhere along the journey, “the Arlington Way” got off track. A county once revered for its innovative but prudent growth let the spending spigot flow too freely at the expense of homeowners and businesses.

The County Board built a million-dollar bus stop. Then there was the “well-intentioned” but ill-fated Artisphere. Arlington was all set to build an extravagant streetcar for Columbia Pike. Another pool, this time for Long Bridge Park, turned out too be overly expensive.

Last year, Arlington voters came to their senses by selecting another Independent, John Vihstadt, and signaled that Arlington County was through with such excessive spending. Still, bloated projects come our way. Take the $350,000 the county just gave Dutch contractors for an art project on the fence of a county sewage plant.

As Civic Federation President, Maywood Community President and a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have seen where the county spends our money. Sure, some of these projects are nice ideas. But they crowd out other projects that I consider more important. We need to get back to basics and spend our tax dollars on core government services, such as paving our roads, updating our infrastructure, schools, and parks. We must properly fund neighborhood conservation, so that neighborhoods can build the projects they need, e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalks, and storm water drainage.

Too much of the burden of costly projects falls on homeowners in Arlington County. We need to proactively draw in more tax-paying companies by filling the vast amounts of vacant office space caused by overbuilding and the departure of government agencies. By doing so, it will provide the much needed tax relief for homeowners.

I am the only candidate who is a small business owner in Arlington, so I know firsthand how difficult and expensive it is to run a business in the county. Quite frankly, opening a new business in Arlington is a marathon process. It takes a great deal of time to navigate the byzantine permit process, which planning and zoning staff have not made easy. This needs to change.

A major issue for the next board is the growth in the school-age population. As parents of two children who have attended Taylor Elementary, Swanson Middle School, Washington & Lee High School and H.B. Woodlawn, my wife and I know just how good our schools are. The board must work with the school board to find cost-efficient solutions in locations that do not disrupt neighborhoods. For instance, we should look to expand our schools by building them up instead of out.

I feel that the time is ripe for another Independent on the county board. I am proud to have gotten the endorsement of John Vihstadt and the Arlington Sun Gazette, among others. So I ask for your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm 0

Katie Cristol

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Katie Cristol:

Thank you, ARLnow readers, for your time spent reading about the candidates for Arlington County Board.

It’s an honor to offer my experience and perspective for consideration for one of two open seats on the Board. My community experience in Arlington’s commission process and as an appointee on the School Board’s Advisory Council on Instruction, as well as my professional experience as an education policy advisor, afford me the necessary background and insights to serve on the County Board. I believe I can pair this background with an ability to look at issues differently and a genuine openness to community ideas.

Across the past ten months of door-knocking, candidate nights and neighborhood coffees, I’ve heard a common theme: Responsibility. Arlington is unmistakably entering a period of difficult decisions regarding land use and expenditures. We’ll need County Board leaders who can demonstrate not just fiscal responsibility, but responsibility for the whole of Arlington and its long-term future.

I’m committed to bringing to the Board both good judgment and a critical eye towards major new expenditures, honed through my experience working with resource-challenged localities. But Arlington’s complex challenges cannot be met by a ‘back to basics’ ideology alone. Meeting the needs of more students and more seniors, for example, will require innovation in how we think about public facilities. For example, improving joint use agreements for recreational facilities between schools and County; building vertically and undergrounding parking to protect green space; and constructing facilities that can evolve in use over their multi-decade lifetimes. Economic redevelopment, too, will require adaptability, such as more flexibility in the permitting and signage processes that business interests cite as common barriers to locating in Arlington.The Board will need to foster a climate of experimentation — such as extending the terms of our interim use ordinance –as we transition from reliance on federal agencies to new sectors.

By contrast, Independent candidates in this race have promised appealing but less-than-responsible solutions: Cutting taxes on businesses while spending more on streets and parks, with few specifics about how to balance the remaining budget. Taking pledges on land use that will tie the Board’s hands in considering recommendations from the citizen task forces that study countywide needs.

Here is what I can — responsibly — promise: To approach Arlington’s challenges analytically, and with a fresh perspective. My approach to affordability is an example. I believe we need to look more expansively at land use solutions to affordability issues. Revisiting the restrictions around accessory dwelling units can unlock market rate affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods throughout the County, while enabling seniors to age in place with on-site caregivers or additional rental income. Pursuing childcare centers as first-floor retail-equivalent uses and negotiating with developers to commit affordable rent for childcare providers can help address the lack of childcare supply that so challenges our young families. Either way, deliberate planning for a diversity of earners is not “a nice to have” luxury that we put off for flush times. A diverse workforce is a precondition for Arlington’s economic competitiveness, which is why the recent Affordable Housing Master Plan was supported by Arlington’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission as well as all five current County Board members.

I am proud to have received the endorsement of theWashington Post, which described my policy positions as “clear and balanced” this week and my candidacy as “serious and substantive” in its primary endorsement, as well as that of the Sun Gazette. I’m also pleased to be supported by Arlington’s teachers, firefighters, and twenty of our elected leaders.

I hope you will join these community members and leaders in their support. I’d be honored to earn one of your two votes on November 3.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm 0

Christian DorseyLast week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Christian Dorsey:

Arlington is at a crossroads. With challenges like a rapidly rising school enrollment and high commercial vacancy rates, we need leaders who can bring people together and get to work on day one. Serving on the County Board requires the ability to govern, paired with the temperament to provide leadership on a wide range of issues, from unsafe sidewalks to long-term capital investments. And now, perhaps more than ever, Board members must bring practical experience, strategic thinking, a commitment to inclusive decision-making, and thoughtful independence to realize what I believe is our shared vision–a strong and sustainable community.

To realize that vision, we must:

  • Make it easier for small businesses to thrive in Arlington and address our high commercial vacancy rate so that homeowners are not forced to bear a disproportionate tax burden;
  • Ensure adequate school capacity so that schools can focus on instruction;
  • Expand and protect our community’s open space;
  • Prioritize the nuts and bolts, like fixing potholes and sidewalks, and enhancing pedestrian safety;
  • Improve Arlington’s affordability to ensure that seniors can stay in their own homes and more first responders, teachers, and young families can afford to live here;
  • Foster a more inclusive, responsive, and transparent government, where community input isn’t seen as a box to be checked, but rather a critical step in the decision-making process;
  • Create opportunities for growth by improving and enhancing public transportation.

As a more than twenty-year Arlington resident, Arlington Public Schools parent, and appointee to the Tenant-Landlord and Planning Commissions, I understand the challenges we must confront as a County. I have also served on the boards of directors of several of our community organizations, like the Arlington Free Clinic, Arlington Committee of 100, A-SPAN, and Arlington Independent Media.

Professionally, I work as a macroeconomic policy expert. I develop budgets that promote broadly-shared prosperity while maximizing value to taxpayers. Previously, I have served as the CEO of several non-profits that: delivered literacy support for low-income children; pioneered a pop-up social services center in South Arlington; and developed a model diversity education and inclusion program for students.

Arlington’s future can be bright, but it will require hard work and smart choices in these changing times. It will require people to come together to address Arlington’s challenges, and someone to foster a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, rather than a culture of tear-down, divisive politics. That’s why I have earned the support of all five County Board Members–four Democrats and one Independent. Along with the Washington Post, Arlington Education Association, Firefighters and Paramedics, Realtors, and Working Families Coalition, all five board members believe I have the requisite experience, passion, commitment to service, and independence to build a better, stronger, more sustainable Arlington County.

I ask for your vote on November 3rd so that, together, we can take Arlington to new heights. For more information, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], or visit my website at www.christiandorsey.org.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

Audrey Clement

Last week we asked the four Arlington County Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. Two County Board seats are up for grabs this year.

Here is the unedited response from Audrey Clement:

As an Independent candidate for the Arlington County Board, I, Audrey Clement, ask for your support in making Arlington County government more responsive and more accountable to the people it serves.

Having lived in Westover and worked alongside many other dedicated Arlingtonians for over 11 years, I have devoted significant time and energy to advancing fiscal responsibility, promoting a sustainable environment, and supporting fairness and equality in our community.

Today, we must confront serious challenges — ones that require independent and innovating thinking, reality-based planning, and a commitment to using limited resources wisely.

Free from partisan constraints and beholden to NO special interests or groups, I can meet these challenges and help put our county back on a more solid footing in the years ahead.

At over 20%, Arlington’s office vacancy rate remains stubbornly high. Each percentage represents millions in lost commercial revenue, which places a greater burden on homeowners. Several federal agencies — including the National Science Foundation, Fish and Wildlife Service and TSA — are relocating or have recently relocated due to escalating rents driven, in part, by higher taxes.

Our ongoing school enrollment crisis results from the County and School Boards’ failure to plan realistically for a future that appears to include relentless residential growth. In 2014, the School Board itself predicted a 2,500-classroom seat deficit even after approving a $450 million capital budget.

The County Board plans to fund the new Affordable Housing Master Plan — mandating 15,800 new committed affordable units (CAFs) in the next 25 years — but refused to insist that staff provide a thorough analysis of the plan’s costs and impacts on county services. Ultimately, no plan can be implemented successfully without a thorough understanding of the costs and how to pay for them.

Though the County pays lip service to the environment, it lags behind neighboring jurisdictions in installing renewable energy infrastructure in public buildings, and it enthusiastically supports development that increases impervious surfaces, reduces the mature tree canopy, and further degrades our environment.

The Arlington County Board talks a lot about the so-called Arlington Way while routinely ignoring citizen input and dismissing our concerns. For example, the County Board already had a signed, undisclosed letter of intent (LOI) in place with developer Penzance when it convened the West Rosslyn Area (WRAPS) citizen’s group — whose assigned task was to consider what should be built on the site.

The result? That neighborhood will lose public parkland even as its population doubles, and the historic Wilson School will be demolished.

The County also unilaterally decided to relocate historic Fire Station #8 and sell the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont Park until neighbors rebelled. These are a few of the recent examples of County Board’s insular and autocratic decision-making style.

The Democratic candidates acknowledge a crisis of confidence in County government exists but continue passing the buck with platitudes and promises to do better. I have specific solutions. If elected with your support, I pledge to lobby the County Board to:

  • Reduce the Business/Professional/Occupational Licenses (BPOL) taxes on small businesses, streamline the business permitting process, and consult with the Governor to ask for help in filling the new 30-story office building near the Rosslyn Metro, which still has no tenant two years after construction.
  • Urge that support of County schools be given a greater weight in site plan negotiations with developers for community benefits.
  • Ask the School Board to reduce reliance on trailers by increasing secondary class size by one student per class (bringing Arlington’s student-teacher ratio in line with neighboring jurisdictions), utilize existing land and space more efficiently, and reduce costs.
  • Use housing funds to preserve the County’s remaining market-rate affordable apartment units and renovate them, which can be more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable over the long term than razing existing buildings to construct new units.
  • Encourage developers to incorporate on-site affordable housing into their projects to disperse the units more evenly countywide and reduce costs.
  • Strengthen the County’s efforts to enable disabled and retired citizens (who lived on fixed incomes) to age in place and remain in our community.
  • Install renewable energy on all newly constructed or renovated public buildings and recruit developers who will adopt the LEED Platinum standards and install on-site, solar-driven electric charging stations.
  • Adopt a transparency rule requiring online publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings to restore democracy to County government.

To make County government work better, I ask for your help. Please:

  • Visit www.AudreyClement.com to volunteer or donate.
  • Vote Clement  your Independent candidate — for Arlington County Board on Election Day, November 3, 2015.

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

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

School Board candidate Reid Goldstein

Last week we asked the two Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them on Nov. 3. One School Board seat is up for grabs this year.

We did not receive a response from B. A. “Brooklyn” Kinlay, who’s affiliated with the Independent Green Party.

Here is the unedited response from Democratic-endorsed candidate Reid Goldstein:

Experience and proven leadership are assets I will bring to the Arlington School Board if elected November 3. As an activist for our schools and community for over twenty years, I understand how both APS and the county government function. This is critical now, when the county and APS need to work more together, not in parallel, to address the challenges our schools face.

Growing enrollment magnifies the challenge of maintaining our reputation for high quality schools that makes Arlington such an enviable place to live. Enlarging school capacity requires County Board and School Board collaboration as never before to address the financing necessary for capital construction, and mitigating adverse effects on the neighborhoods. As a civic association president and president of the CPRO board, I have experience working on the design of new buildings to address issues like traffic, parking, building height and density to assure that the design protects adjacent neighbors.

APS’ challenges are not limited to buildings. The key to APS’ high quality and reputation for excellence is our teachers. We need to continue to retain and attract the best teachers, even as enrollment rises and budgets are tight. I am the son of two teachers. One of my two daughters (both educated K-12 in Arlington schools) is also a teacher. Teachers have the single greatest effect on our children’s education, and will be a top priority if elected. APS has a broad range of choices and programs, including immersion, International Baccalaureate at all school levels, the HB Woodlawn program, the Stratford program, Arlington Traditional, Montessori, New Directions, the Career Center, Thomas Jefferson High School, pre-K, special education, high school continuation, and many others. Preserving this variety, designed to meet the individual needs and aspirations of each of our students, is essential to maintaining the quality and appeal of Arlington Public Schools.

Here are some examples of my leadership roles over the years (more information is available at http://www.reidgoldstein.com/ ):

HB Woodlawn PAC. Shortly before the start of the school year, our Parent Advisory Committee chair suddenly withdrew. I stepped in, and served 3 years.

Jefferson Middle School Exemplary Project. Our committee recommended adoption of the International Baccalaureate program. Without needing substantial financial commitments, the program has transformed Jefferson, energized the faculty and engaged the students and parents as never before.

APS Strategic Plan Committee. I worked on the committee that developed, for the first time, a strategic plan for APS.

Family Network. Realizing that PTAs offered programs of interest beyond their own schools, I helped revive a collaborative network among PTAs to share knowledge and resources, inviting all school and civic communities to all PTA programs on family issues including substance abuse, gap year, and students and the law. We did not need funding increases to broaden access to these popular programs, just commitment and collaboration.

Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. As president, I led the board of the organization that has worked to transform a fading collection of strip malls into an increasingly thriving business center, focused on quality of life for its residents.

Douglas Park Civic Association. President of the civic association for Arlington’s most populous neighborhood at a time of transition in the neighborhood and along Columbia Pike.

Housing Commission. Seeing that a stable home environment is the foundation for educational achievement, I worked on preservation of affordable housing for Arlington’s families.

Columbia Pike Land Use Study. I was a member of the steering committee guiding the work to preserve our neighborhoods, including affordable housing, along Columbia Pike, ultimately developing the Pike Neighborhoods Plan.

Glebe Road and Columbia Pike Left Turn Signals. Many will remember the days when left turns at the intersection of two of Arlington’s principal arterials required cutting through neighborhoods. Every government entity felt another was responsible for fixing the issue. With my neighbors, I brought together the county staff, VDOT, the county manager, and elected local officials and state legislators to hold them all responsible for making the solution happen. Successfully, the lanes were built and the intersection improved. But it took commitment, a willingness to hold people accountable, and knowledge of the workings of local government to make it happen.

These are examples of the leadership, experience and commitment I will bring to the Arlington School Board. I would be honored to have your vote on November 3rd.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2015 at 9:30 am 0

Two dogs in Rosslyn who are ready for Halloween (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Sun Gazette Endorses Cristol — After endorsing Michael McMenamin last week, the Sun Gazette is endorsing Katie Cristol for the second open Arlington County Board seat. The paper opined that Cristol had one of the worst campaign kickoffs in Arlington Democratic history, but “very few candidates in recent memory have improved so quickly.” [InsideNova]

Board Candidates Agree on Accessory Dwellings — The candidates for County Board reportedly agreed on one thing at a recent candidate forum: the need to loosen Arlington’s restrictive rules on accessory dwellings, “so that more seniors and young people could afford living in residential areas.” Accessory dwellings are sometimes called “granny flats,” “in-law apartments” or “backyard cottages.” Currently, Arlington approves the construction of no more than 28 accessory dwellings per year. [Falls Church News-Press]

GGW on County Board Race — The urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington has a breakdown of the Arlington County Board race and the stances of candidates on I-66, bike lanes, transit and development. [Greater Greater Washington]

Reminder: E-CARE This Weekend — Arlington County will hold its biannual E-CARE recycling event on Saturday. The event was rescheduled to take place on Halloween due to bad weather earlier this month. [ARLnow]

Walking for Lung Cancer Research — An Arlington woman is walking in a lung cancer fundraiser Sunday in memory of her sister, a nonsmoker and recent mother who died from the disease earlier this year. The event, “Breathe Deep D.C.,” is being held on the National Mall and is raising money for lung cancer research. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

by ARLnow.com — October 28, 2015 at 9:05 am 0

Apples and cider at the Fairlington Farmers Market

Post Endorses Dorsey and Cristol — The Washington Post has endorsed Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol in the race for Arlington County Board. The paper writes of the pair’s opponents: “Both are serious candidates and have attacked what they consider Arlington’s profligate spending… Yet neither has advanced convincing proposals to trim spending or explained why enlarging the stock of affordable housing should not be a priority in a place where the supply of it has diminished rapidly with gentrification.” [Washington Post]

County Board Push Poll Criticized — A “push poll” in the Arlington County Board race is being criticized after two residents say the caller asked misleading questions and didn’t disclose who had paid for it. Board candidate Michael McMenamin said he commissioned a poll but the script explicitly said that it was paid for by his campaign. [Washington Post]

Tour of New 1776 Offices — The newly-refurbished office of tech incubator 1776 in Crystal City is being debuted this week. The office includes a full kitchen, and the incubator is seeking two chefs to cook for its members. [Washington Business Journal]

Kaine Speaking at GMU Arlington Campus — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will give a speech on Congress and war powers at George Mason University’s Arlington campus tonight at 7 p.m. “Kaine has been a leading voice urging the Obama administration to seek a specific authorization for U.S. military action against ISIL while pressing his congressional colleagues to debate and vote on the mission – one he believes goes well beyond the legal scope and intent of existing authorizations from 2001 and 2002,” a press release notes.

Drunk Man Calls 911 for Ride to Arlington — A drunk hotel guest in Vienna, Va. was arrested last week after twice calling 911 to request a ride to Arlington. [InsideNova]


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