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Morning Notes

Beyer to Host Helicopter Noise Forum — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting a forum about “excessive noise from military helicopters” at Abingdon Elementary School in the Fairlington neighborhood on Jan. 16. [Associated Press]

Arlington Buying New CNG Buses — Arlington Transit is buying 13 Xcelsior compressed natural gas (CNG) forty-foot, heavy-duty transit buses, according to a press release from Minnesota-based manufacturer New Flyer of America. [New Flyer]

Recounting Jay Fisette’s Career — “It was pure chance that led Jay Fisette to Arlington in 1983. A college friend had rented a cheap, spacious apartment in Pentagon City, and a nearby unit was available. So Fisette found a roommate among his college swimming buddies and began hoofing the ‘cow path’ — open land that would become the Pentagon City mall — and hopping the Metro to his new job downtown.” [Washington Post]

Northam Re-Appoints Two Arlington Residents — Arlingtonians Richard Holcomb and Jaime Areizaga-Soto have been re-appointed to their state posts under the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Ralph Northam. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Podcast: Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette

After 20 years on the Arlington County Board, chair Jay Fisette is retiring, to be succeeded by fellow Democrat Erik Gutshall.

And having presided over his last meeting earlier this week (Tuesday, December 19), Fisette was in a reflective mood as he looked back at his tenure, but said he is excited for the future of the county.

Fisette won re-election four times after first winning a seat on the Board in 1997, and rotated in as chair in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2014 and this year. He also briefly flirted with a run for Congress in 2003.

On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Fisette about his memories of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, Base Realignment and Closure, Metro, development and the nixed Columbia Pike streetcar, among other subjects. He also had some advice for his colleagues remaining on the County Board.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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Morning Notes

Chamber Calls for Pause on Housing Conservation District — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is calling for the Arlington County Board to pump the brakes on a proposed Housing Conservation District policy, set for a vote at tomorrow’s Board meeting. The Chamber says the policy would affect more than 450 privately-owned properties. “The County’s failure to provide any notice to property owners that would be affected by the Framework is inconsistent with Arlington’s established government process and the level of transparency the community has come to depend on,” said Chamber President Kate Bates. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Carlin Springs Bridge Work to ResumeDemolition of the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over George Mason Drive was curtailed by winter weather last weekend, but is set to resume this weekend. Drivers should expect a number of detours in the area. [Twitter]

Fisette Tribute Packs Local Church — “A Dec. 13 tribute to departing Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was about 90 percent heartfelt thanks for his 20 years of service in elected office. And about 10 percent celebrity roast.” The event was so well-attended that the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was filled to capacity by those whom Fisette has not yet convinced to take the Car-Free Diet. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Gossip: Britt McHenry Back on Local Airwaves? — A noted local Twitter user who goes by the name “Clarendon Bros” shared some local TV gossip last night, claiming that Britt McHenry was seen auditioning for a job at Fox 5. McHenry at one point lived in Arlington — it is unclear if she still does — and had a well-publicized run-in with local towing company Advanced Towing. [Twitter]

Fox Leaves Crystal City BID — “After more than a decade running the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Angela Fox is stepping down. The BID’s board of directors announced Fox’s departure Thursday, but has not named a permanent replacement.” [Bisnow]

Local Homebuilder Getting Bigger — “Arlington-based homebuilder CalAtlantic Homes is purchasing Home South Communities, a privately held homebuilder based in the Atlanta area. CalAtlantic itself is in the midst of a $9.3 billion merger with Miami’s Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), expected to close early next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Realtor Group Extends Clothing and Food Drive — “Despite the weather, the first community wide drop off for the Arlington Realtors Care (ARC) initiative, held on Saturday, Dec. 9 was a great success. ARC is sponsoring a second community wide drop off date scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 at RGS Title.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

More on Axios Staying in Arlington — Media startup Axios, which just inked a 10 year lease in Clarendon, is getting a $60,000 performance-based “Gazelle Grant” from Arlington County. It is the fourth company to receive the economic development grant, joining Stardog, VideoBlocks and Phone2Action. “Axios is an excellent example of a Gazelle tech company here in Arlington — fast-growing and a leader in Arlington’s robust media industry,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Axios’ decision to remain here in Arlington as it grows and expands is the true purpose behind the Gazelle incentive program and demonstrates how Arlington’s assets are truly paying off. We are thrilled to continue to work with Axios as a partner in our business community.”

County Giving Away Free Snow Shovel — Updated at 11 a.m. — As part of a social media promotion, the Arlington County Dept. of Environment Services is giving away a free snow shovel, courtesy of Twins Ace Hardware in Courthouse, to one lucky winner who “describe[s] to us [on Twitter] or on DES Facebook your favorite phase of Arlington snow treatment and why.” [Twitter]

Public Invited to Gutshall Swearing-In — “The public is invited to join the Arlington County Board on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 for the swearing-in of Board Member-elect Erik Gutshall… The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m., and will be followed by a reception outside the Board Room, Room 307 in the County Office Building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA, 22201.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Morning Notes

Fisette Has To-Do List for Final Months — Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette has a number of items left on his to-do list as he nears retirement from the Board at the end of the year. Among the items with some momentum is a plan to name the county government headquarters after long-serving Board member Ellen Bozman. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Purple Ribbons on ACPD Cruisers — “During the month of October a purple ribbon, donated by [local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families], will be displayed on many Arlington County Police Department vehicles in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Gets Press for Security Clearance Letter — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is getting some national media attention for his continued push — alongside Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) — for the Trump administration to revoke the security clearances of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. [CNN]

History of Sushi Zen — Sushi Zen, a Japanese restaurant on N. Harrison Street, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by holding 20 fundraisers for local nonprofits. But the path to success for the sushi spot was bumpy. The family-owned restaurant struggled in its early years and enlisted the help of Georgetown MBA students to help turn things around. [Connection Newspapers]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Fisette: Arlington County Should Eventually Become a City

Jay Fisette, the most senior member of the Arlington County Board, has less than six months to go until his retirement. And while it will not happen during his tenure, there’s something Fisette wants for Arlington, eventually: for it to become a city.

In Virginia, local governments are divided into two top-level classifications: counties and independent cities.

Arlington is the fourth-largest county in Virginia by population — after Fairfax, Loudoun and Henrico — but by far the smallest, at only 26 square miles. In fact, Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. (Mathews County, on the Chesapeake Bay, is the second smallest in Virginia, at 86 square miles.)

Fisette says Arlington has more in common with Virginia cities, like neighboring Alexandria and Falls Church, than it does with counties. And, he says, it makes sense that an increasingly urbanized place like Arlington should be governed as a city.

Additionally, many already refer to Arlington as a city, and for population-counting purposes the U.S. Census Bureau includes Arlington in its list of Virginia towns and cities, an exception the Bureau only makes for Arlington and for places in Hawaii, which has no incorporated cities.

A change to city status, however, would require action by Virginia’s state legislature.

“I have come to believe that Arlington County should ultimately become the City of Arlington,” Fisette tells ARLnow.com. “In 1846, we became Alexandria County — because we were much more rural than the City of Alexandria or DC. Then in 1920, we became Arlington County, in order to cause less confusion with our neighbor — the City of Alexandria.”

“Today, we are the geographically smallest, and most densely populated self-governing county in the U.S. and my experience is that we have much more in common with cities than counties,” Fisette continued. “I have not looked into this in a while, however, I know the change to a city would require General Assembly action. While I am not clear what they are, there may be some further changes that would be automatic with a city designation.”

In 2010, an attempt to change Arlington’s form of government, to one in which County Board members are elected by districts rather than at-large, failed to gather enough valid petition signatures.

Fisette didn’t reveal any plans to take action on changing Arlington from a county to a city, but did say he hopes it is “considered” by county leaders moving forward.

Fisette discussed the idea last month at the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s annual meeting. At the meeting, he also expressed his belief that the “City” in “Crystal City” should be lopped off and the neighborhood renamed simply “Crystal.”

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Morning Notes

Superintendent Gets New Contract — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has received a new four-year contract after a 3-2 vote by the Arlington School Board on Thursday. “We need stability and strength,” said School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, who voted ‘yes’ with James Lander and Tannia Talento. “We have a lot of issues we have to deal with. Dr. Murphy has gotten the job done.” [InsideNova]

APS Medicaid Reimbursement — Arlington Public Schools received a much lower reimbursement from Medicaid for the 2015-2016 school year than neighboring jurisdictions like Alexandria and Fairfax County. [Arlington County Taxpayers Association]

Fisette: Schools Are Not the Only Priority — Last week, at his final State of the County address and during a work session, retiring Arlington County Board member addressed the capacity crunch facing Arlington Public Schools. Fisette suggested predictions of the student population reaching 40,000 are “not accurate,” said APS needs to find ways to trim per-student spending and said APS priorities must be weighed with the needs of other interest groups. [InsideNova]

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Jay Fisette Reflects on Legacy, Future Challenges in Final State of the County Address

In his final State of the County address before he retires at year’s end, Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said he is proudest of providing stable leadership during the county’s transformation.

Fisette, in his fifth annual address before the Arlington Chamber of Commerce as chair since coming onto the Board in 1998, said he believes his legacy will be the way Arlington has become more urbanized and expanded its population while staying true to its values.

“For me, it would be helping to guide the 20-year transformation of the community into an urban success story that we are,” he said. “Change is hard, and doing that in a way that has resulted in a community that’s a model in so many areas of public life, while at the same time protecting the connectedness and the compassion of a small town. There are a lot of things that have to happen to make that kind of recipe work.”

In his remarks before more than 100 business leaders, elected officials and other attendees Wednesday morning, Fisette touted various successes in his tenure as the current Board’s longest serving member.

He noted the 9.5 million square feet in new office space and 2.5 million square feet in new retail space, 2,700 additional hotel rooms, more than 29,000 new homes and other indicators, all while the unemployment rate stayed largely consistent at 2.5 percent, among the lowest in Virginia.

“In short, the state of the county is really good,” Fisette said. “In my view, Arlington works.”

But, Fisette said, Arlington faces numerous challenges, including on affordable housing, Arlington Public Schools capacity and an 18 percent office vacancy rate among others. He said the county has faced problems on his watch, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the loss of thousands of jobs through Base Realignment and Closure, but has always come through.

And despite those challenges, Fisette said the relationship between the business community and the county government remains strong, “[e]ven when our relationship is one where we don’t agree,” like the recent spat between the Chamber and Board over proposed changes to the towing ordinance.

Fisette had 10 recommendations for county leaders, after the jump:

  1. Be welcoming and compassionate. “In this difficult period in America, being so divided, and our immigrant community feeling threatened, we have to maintain our values,” Fisette said. “Our most vulnerable residents will be feeling more pressure, our nonprofits will be called upon, but this is the soul, and without the soul, none of the rest works.”
  2. Collaborate to use the county’s limited land wisely
  3. Emphasize long-term planning
  4. Keep being a regional leader, especially on Metro, which Fisette said needs a new dedicated funding source by the spring to avoid jurisdictions having to pay even more than they do already
  5. Invest in new tools to protect the county’s affordable housing stock, which has added 5,200 units but lost around 17,000.
  6. Never put the county’s Aaa/AAA/AAA bond ratings at risk
  7. Facilitate broader and more constructive civic engagement
  8. Keep moving forward with environmental sustainability practices
  9. Stay “nimble” to adapt to the changing business environment
  10. Make sure government works for everyone and is accessible

For the future, Fisette advised County Board members to continue to be forward-thinking and prepared to make hard choices.

“Stay true to a vision of values, ground yourselves in solid planning and policy, listen and lead,” he said. “Finally, respect and be informed by the past while continuing to be open to new and creative ideas for the future.”

Chamber CEO Kate Bates said she is excited to see what Fisette does in the community after he retires.

“I know Jay will stay involved in the county, and am excited to see what he does next,” she said.

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County Signs Nationwide Pledge To Uphold Paris Climate Goals

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington County just announced that it has joined other counties, cities, businesses and colleges in signing an open letter pledging to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

President Trump announced last week he will withdraw the United States from the pact to help preserve American jobs and avoid placing heavy burdens on the country’s taxpayers. The decision brought swift condemnation from local elected officials.

County leaders joined on Monday (June 5) an open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement entitled, “We Are Still In.” The letter promises that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will continue, regardless of federal policy.

“Arlington stands with communities across our nation and around the globe who recognize that climate change is real and that we must, both on the local and on the global level, meet its adverse effects with strong, effective action,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “Just as we joined the Compact of Mayors in 2015 and agreed to set goals for reductions in greenhouse gases, so do we join the effort today of local communities that are pledging to uphold the Paris Agreement, even if the federal government does not.”

The District of Columbia has also signed on to the pact and Virginia joined a similar state effort this week.

In light of President Trump’s decision, the County Board will consider a resolution at its June 17 meeting reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change.

In a press release, the county touted its efforts already in the fight against climate change:

Arlington County adopted a forward-thinking Community Energy Plan (CEP) in June 2013, as an element of our Comprehensive Plan. The award-winning plan is a long-term vision for transforming how Arlington generates, uses and distributes energy. Its goal-setting and methods of achievement are consistent with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda and the Paris Accord. Arlington’s CEP aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2050, and greenhouse gas emissions already have fallen 18 percent in Arlington between 2007 and 2015.

In 2015, Arlington signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Energy and Climate, sponsored by the Compact of Mayors – open to any city or town in the world willing to meet a series of requirements culminating in the creation of a full climate action and adaptation plan.

In 2012, Arlington exceeded our goal of reducing government-wide energy usage by 10 percent, using the year 2000 as a baseline. Currently, we’re competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge to reduce municipal building energy usage by 20 percent by 2020.

Our Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps our community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. County government buys more than 30 percent of its electricity as certified green power and buys carbon offsets against 100 percent of its natural gas use. Arlington is home to Discovery Elementary, the largest “net zero energy” elementary school east of the Mississippi River.

At its meeting in June, the County Board will consider a resolution reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change and to the goals of our Community Energy Plan.

Arlington will continue to work to make our County more prosperous, healthful, safe and secure through its efforts to rethink energy and protect the environment.

For more information about Arlington’s environmental initiatives and efforts to reduce energy usage and energy costs, visit the County website.

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County Celebrates Opening of Crystal City Multimodal Center

Representatives from the county and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority came together this morning to celebrate the Crystal City Multimodal Center‘s completion.

The center on 18th Street S. between S. Eads and S. Clark streets — next to the Crystal City Metro station — now has more bus shelters for use by local and regional buses, wider sidewalks, improved lighting, bike lanes and a kiss and ride zone where shuttle buses can also load and unload.

Funding for the $3.4 million project came a $1.5 million grant from NVTA, a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, a developer contribution and money from the Crystal City tax increment financing area.

“With these infrastructure improvements, Arlington is making it easier and safer for people travelling to and through Crystal City — whether they are arriving by bus, Metro, on foot or by car,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said. “It’s the latest example of how the county continues to invest in Crystal City and continues to build on the community’s vision of enhanced access and connectivity.”

NVTA funds projects across four counties and five cities in Northern Virginia, and officials said improvements such as those in Crystal City help the entire region. NVTA board chair Martin Nohe gave the example that a stopped train in Arlington at 7 a.m. can cause parking problems in Woodbridge at 8 a.m., and the center will help ease congestion worries.

“The people of truly every Northern Virginia jurisdiction are benefitting not just from this project, but every other project throughout Arlington,” Nohe said.

Fisette said that such projects and an emphasis on transit helped Arlington be recently named the best city for millennials. Without planning and the community’s input combined with bodies willing to help with financing, projects like these could never come to fruition, he said.

“We can’t do it all ourselves,” Fisette said. “We have to partner to make things like this happen…That’s what makes a community good. You can’t do the last part [delivering a project] without the first part [money], and you can’t do the first part without the community and the vision.”

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McAuliffe Signs Bill Overriding County’s Towing Changes

Local businesses will not have to authorize each individual tow from their property after Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed a bill ending the would-be practice.

HB 1960 overrides Arlington County’s towing regulations that required a so-called “real-time authorization” of each tow during business hours. The county’s regulations were set to come into effect on July 1.

The bill, introduced by Del. Tim Hugo (R-40), prevents any jurisdiction in Northern Virginia from requiring the authorization, also known as a second signature. The first signature is the contract that authorizes a company to tow from a particular property.

Having previously railed against the requirement, Arlington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kate Bates praised McAuliffe’s decision.

Bates said in a statement:

The signing of this important legislation into law is a huge win for the Arlington business community. Arlington businesses rely on being able to provide clear, available parking for customers, employees and visitors in order to stay viable, and HB 1960 empowers and protects these businesses so they can continue to do just that. By removing the ability of local lawmakers to force businesses to adhere to a second authorization towing requirement, this legislation returns the decision-making power about the removal of illegally parked vehicles back where it belong: in the hands of private property owners and business owners.

McAuliffe said in an interview on WTOP this morning that he signed the bill after having conversations with representatives of local chambers of commerce and small businesses.

“I always will come down on the side of the small business community, so I signed the bill,” McAuliffe said.

County Board chair Jay Fisette told ARLnow.com he was “disappointed” at McAuliffe’s decision, after he initially tried to amend the bill. Fisette said the second signature is necessary to prevent predatory towing.

“For us, it’s important because predatory towing has gotten worse over recent years, and an increasing number of people are affected by it,” Fisette said. “There is a better balance that can be struck to reduce the number of tows that occur in the first two minutes that somebody parks in a space.”

Fisette said he hopes the Chamber and county can now work together to find a way to address both parties’ concerns.

One minor change requested by McAuliffe, concerning fines for towing operators in Northern Virginia that will apply each time they make an improper tow or violate certain towing regulations, was made to the final bill by the legislature. The bill also calls for towing operators to notify the local animal control office when a car is towed with a pet inside.

Local Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48) spoke forcefully against the bill on the floor of the House of Delegates during the General Assembly’s reconvened session earlier this month to discuss McAuliffe’s amendments and vetoes.

He said the fact that other localities like Virginia Beach and Stafford County have a second signature provision shows inconsistency. He said the General Assembly should have “left well alone” for jurisdictions to decide.

“My big concern with this bill is I don’t quite understand why having granted this authority to localities over a decade ago, Northern Virginia is being now carved out and this authority to pass ordinances like the one Arlington did is being stripped away in some localities but not others,” he told ARLnow.com. “There are other localities that do use this authority and apparently it works well without any hue and cry and uproar.”

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Progressive Voice: Jay Fisette’s Two Decades of Progress

Larry RobertsProgressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Lawrence Roberts

This May, Arlington Democrats will participate in a caucus to nominate the Democratic candidate for County Board. The winner of that nomination will, in all likelihood, have the opportunity to be sworn in for a four-year term commencing January 1, 2018.

The new Board member will be succeeding Jay Fisette, the current Board Chair who has served as a County Board member since 1998. Jay has chaired the Board on five separate occasions (2001, 2005, 2010, 2014 and 2017).

It is sometimes hard to notice progress, and even history, when it is occurring. But as Jay is about to enter the final nine months of what will be 20 years of service on the County Board, I think it is important to remember the odds that Jay overcame to become the first openly gay elected official in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and to reflect on how Jay has served as a “progressive voice” in Arlington and on the Board during a time of great change and progress in the County.

When I first met Jay, he was serving as the Director of the Northern Virginia AIDS Project of Whitman-Walker Clinic, a nonprofit community health center that was a leader in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. He had previously served as an auditor with the U.S. General Accounting Office.

Jay’s public service was inspired by the martyrdom of Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, who was assassinated while serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 1993, he decided to run for the County Board and joined a field that included future County Board members Charles Monroe and Chris Zimmerman as well as School Board member Darlene Mickey.

Although Jay won the March 1993 caucus to the surprise of much of the Democratic establishment, he lost a special election that May by 206 votes. His opponent did not raise Jay’s sexual orientation as a campaign issue, but there is little doubt in the minds of those of us who worked for Jay’s election that even in Arlington many voters were not yet comfortable with electing a gay public official. Only two years later with another candidate, Democrats easily won back the seat in a general election.

Jay’s loss did not deter him from remaining active in electoral politics and he won many friends and additional supporters as he re-dedicated himself to Democratic politics and community service.

As Arlingtonians became more progressive in their views about sexual orientation, the electoral climate became more favorable. Jay ran again in 1997 and made history with his election to the Board – winning nearly 62 percent of the vote in the November election.

It is a testament to Jay’s successful tenure on the Board that the history he made is now almost an afterthought while he paved the way for many LGBT Virginians serving in elective office and as community leaders.

Speaking of his own future, Jay has said that he wants to work on “embracing and advancing a set of progressive values that are so important; values we have championed here in Arlington…” That serves as an excellent description of Jay’s tenure on the County Board.

He has been a consistent champion of environmental and open space initiatives, smart growth planning initiatives, multimodal transportation options, affordable housing, inclusiveness, and a strong social safety net. At the same time, he has been integral to the County’s sterling fiscal reputation and performance, maintaining its low crime rate, and the County’s increasing attractiveness to families, millennials, and seniors.

In recent years, Jay has worked to help Arlington to respond to increased competition to Arlington’s economic successes and to promote cooperation between the County Board and School Board to keep the Arlington Public Schools system among the best in the nation.

Jay will be remembered by those who lived through the experience for his steady leadership as the County and its public safety agencies responded to the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

He also has gained respect around the region and the Commonwealth through his many leadership positions in organizations such as the Virginia Municipal League, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

Jay will accomplish even more before stepping down at the end of the year. But as people campaign to succeed him, it is a good time to consider his many accomplishments for Arlington County.

Larry Roberts has been active in civic and political life in Arlington for nearly 30 years and is an attorney in private practice. He chaired the Arlington County Democratic Committee, a successful Arlington School Bond campaign, two successful statewide political campaigns, and served as Counselor to the Governor in Richmond.

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Four Democrats Vying to Replace Jay Fisette on County Board

Four local Democrats are in the running to replace Arlington County Board chairman Jay Fisette, just over a week after he announced he will not seek reelection.

Peter Fallon, Erik Gutshall, Kim Klingler and Vivek Patil are vying for the Democratic nomination to replace Fisette. The local party will hold a caucus in May to select its nominee for the November general election.

Three of the candidates addressed a packed house at the monthly meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee on Wednesday night, hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington.

And the man they will replace, 20-year board veteran Fisette, said he was grateful to serve the county, having moved to Arlington in 1983. Fisette has previously said he will stay involved in public life in some other form when his term on the board expires in December.

“It has truly been a privilege to be able to represent you and Arlington over the past 20 years,” Fisette said. After his remarks, he received a standing ovation.

Gutshall is currently the chairman of the county planning commission, and lost in the Democratic primary in 2016 against incumbent board member Libby Garvey.

Gutshall praised Garvey for helping local Democrats unite after the primary, and said he is prioritizing schools, smarter growth and economic development in his campaign. Gutshall added that he will work closely with the recently-established Joint Facilities Advisory Commission that he said he lobbied for last year to develop “innovative solutions” to the county’s facility needs.

On Wednesday morning, Fisette endorsed Gutshall’s candidacy.

“For me, the board will benefit from Erik’s years of civic and community leadership, his knowledge and expertise in planning and environmental sustainability, and his experience as a small business owner and parent,” Fisette said in a statement. “Further, Erik has a strong character and serious vision for what he wants our community to be in the future. I would feel especially confident in Arlington’s future with Erik on the County Board, and I couldn’t be prouder to endorse his candidacy.”

In an accompanying statement, Gutshall praised Fisette for his leadership and said he is “humbled” to have his endorsement.

“Arlington is a better place as a result of Jay’s thoughtful, responsible and progressive leadership on the County Board,” Gutshall said. “Jay was a trailblazer in more ways than one, and his election paved the way for countless other Virginians to pursue public service. I am humbled to have Jay’s support and intend to honor his legacy by articulating a forward-looking vision for Arlington County that builds on our community’s success.”

Klingler ran in 2012 for the Democratic nomination to the County Board and currently serves as chairwoman of the county’s emergency preparedness advisory commission. She said that keeping residents safe must be the No. 1 priority, as well as making government operate more efficiently.

Further, Klingler said the county’s diversity must be preserved, including making sure that people of all income levels can afford to live in Arlington and own their own homes.

“If we truly value and promote diversity in our county and schools, we must change the way we look at affordable housing,” she said.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos told ARLnow.com Wednesday morning she is supporting Klingler’s candidacy.

Patil is a first-time County Board candidate. He moved to Arlington in 2015 and is a biotech professional entrepreneur. He said he is hopeful that the county can be an incubator for high-tech business, and suggested forward thinking like being the first jurisdiction in the country to have the infrastructure for driverless vehicles.

Patil also said he has been determined to build relationships across the county’s different neighborhoods and among different people, having canvassed for the ACDC in previous years. He said he will look to reach out to underrepresented portions of the county’s residents and help them.

“I am running because of those people,” he said. “I want to be a voice for those people. I want to take their stories to the County Board.”

Fallon was not present for the meeting due to prior commitments, but announced on his official Facebook page he will run for the nomination. Fallon has previously run in the 2012, 2014 and 2015 County Board primaries and caucuses.

On his Facebook page, Fallon wrote he “is running for the Arlington County Board to bring expertise, fairness and effective governance for every Arlingtonian.”

The Democratic caucuses for the school and county board will take place on May 9, 11 and 13 at Francis Scott Key Elementary School, Drew Model School and Washington-Lee High School, respectively. The caucuses will take the form of a so-called “firehouse primary,” in which participants arrive at a polling place, cast a secret ballot and then leave.

Also in the race, competing in November’s general election, is independent Audrey Clement. Others have until March 30 to announce their candidacies.

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JUST IN: Jay Fisette Will Not Seek Re-Election

County Board member Jay Fisette

(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will not seek re-election this year, capping two decades of service on the Board.

Fisette, who first took office in 1998, is currently the longest-serving Board member. In a phone interview today, he said he has been weighing for months whether to run for another term.

“It’s really a complete honor and a privilege” to serve on the Board, Fisette said. “I still love the place, I’m just ready for a new challenge… a new way of working on the progressive values that we’ve embraced and that I’ve championed here in Arlington, that are at some level threatened at this moment.”

Though he has not decided what exactly to do next, Fisette said it will not be in elected office.

Fisette said he is especially proud of the Board’s long-term vision for Arlington — a “broad commitment to policies regarding the long-term sustainability of the community,” like transportation, housing, land use and the environment.

That was possible, Fisette said, because he “had the luxury, during most of my time here,” to make decisions based on community and professional staff input, and based on what he felt was best for the county.

“I worked really hard to treat people with respect and be fair,” said Fisette. “I could vote my conscience and best judgment with very little [consideration for] political or short term expediency.”

Fisette added that he hopes his successor continues to “stretch and aspire” without becoming “too political at the expense of good policy,” while at the same time emphasizing community engagement and “building toward a consensus.”

So far no candidates have filed to run in the upcoming Democratic County Board caucus, according to the Sun Gazette. With Fisette’s announcement today, a number of Democrats are now expected to throw their hats in the ring for the May 11 and 13 caucus. Whoever wins will face perennial independent candidate Audrey Clement in November.

In an Arlington County press release today (below), Fisette said that as an openly gay man he likely would not have been embraced by many communities like he was in Arlington when he ran for Board in 1997. He was Virginia’s first openly gay elected official.

Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said today he has decided not to run for re-election to the Board this year.

“I just returned from a trip abroad, where I gave this a lot of thought,” Fisette said. “I have decided that it’s time to find a new platform and seek new ways of protecting and advancing some of the progressive values that are so important to me, values we have championed here in Arlington that are threatened by the current administration. I will not seek a sixth term on the County Board. Stay tuned.”

His nearly 20 years of service on the Board “have been an honor and a privilege,” Fisette said. “I have often said that I am not sure I would have run for office in many other places, yet Arlington always felt like a great fit for me. This community has such a strong tradition of policy-based good government where community involvement is encouraged and matters.”

Arlington, he said, “embraced me as a gay man long before such an endorsement could be presumed, long before it became the norm.” He has fought hard, Fisette said, to ensure Arlington has remained an inclusive and welcoming community.

Fisette, first elected to the Board in 1998, said he has found it “exhilarating to work with visionary Board members, some of the most talented professional staff anywhere, and a deeply civic-minded community to transform Arlington in a way that has made it one of our nation’s most dynamic, desirable places to live,” Fisette said.

“It has been gratifying to help create a vision and then work to actually bring that vision to life – we have proven that you can be both fiscally responsible and progressive. I hope that Arlington continues to aspire and inspire.”

Fisette cited his decades of work on long-term sustainability issues, including smart growth urban planning, strong environmental policies including adoption of the Community Energy Plan, a multi-layered transportation system that includes Metrorail, bus and Capital Bikeshare, and a robust local affordable housing program, as among the accomplishments of which he is most proud.

Fisette’s impact has stretched well beyond Arlington through extensive work in regional and statewide bodies, including leadership roles with the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, Transportation Planning Board, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Housing Development Authority.

“I believe in the power of collaboration and regionalism to make a difference,” he said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this work and will continue to do so through December,” he said. “And then others will continue the important work of planning and serving our community. Part of the challenge, and the satisfaction that comes from this job, is that the work is never done – that our community can and will always get better.”

Fisette has lived in Arlington since 1983 and has owned a home in Ashton Heights, with his husband, Bob Rosen, since 1987. The couple will stay in Arlington, he said. “We love Arlington and it will always be our home.”

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Morning Notes

Snow on brick in Fairlington 1/7/17

Beyer Warns of Obamacare Repeal Ramifications — “The Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act will have disastrous consequences for Virginia,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said Friday, citing recent studies. “Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors will lose life-saving, affordable health coverage. The state also stands to lose as many as 100,000 jobs, $30 billion in gross state product, and $50 billion in business output. This is unacceptable and irresponsible.” [House of Representatives, Commonwealth Fund]

Will Startup’s Growth Add Arlington Jobs? — Just before the new year, president-elect Donald Trump said that Rosslyn-based OneWeb will be creating 3,000 jobs as it prepares to launch hundreds of satellites to deliver broadband internet around the world. Will those jobs be coming to Arlington? An Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman said the agency was not sure, while a OneWeb spokesman told ARLnow.com only that it was opening a new office in McLean.

Op-Ed Warns ‘Ignore Arlington’s Bad Example’ — The Arlington County Board’s recently-passed home sharing regulations are a “bad example” for other Virginia localities considering similar rules, since Arlington prohibited renters from renting their homes on Airbnb and other platforms. “The opportunities created by the sharing economy shouldn’t be restricted to only those few who are deemed worthy,” says a fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in an op-ed. [Richmond Times Dispatch]

County Board Members Take Regional Roles — “Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will serve as 2017 Vice Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol will serve as chair of the Northern Virginian Transportation Commission’s Legislative Committee, and has joined the leadership of the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board.” [Arlington County]

New Year, New Offer for New Advertisers — Join dozens of satisfied advertising clients and get your business’ message out to the greater Arlington community with ARLnow.com. Learn more about our advertising options and check out our new winter deal for new advertisers: book at least a month of advertising and get another month free. [ARLnow]

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