Last month we asked the two Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the June 14 primary.
Here is the unedited response from County Board Chair Libby Garvey:
I have been privileged to serve you on the County Board for the past four years, following fifteen years on School Board, and I am seeking your vote for a second full County Board term. Our work together has helped make Arlington a great place to live, work, and play, but we have the potential to be better. I am running for reelection to the County Board to help Arlington achieve our potential. County government can do that by providing excellent customer service, expanding civic engagement, and helping residents build our community.
We must make sure all our services work well for all people. We recently introduced e-filing of building permit applications so residents no longer have to pay for costly printed drawings and wait to hand them in. In my next term, I will work to continue improving processes and tools like these. I will also work to make it easier for people to get around, including realizing premium bus service on Columbia Pike and throughout Arlington and the region. Regional cooperation is particularly important for transportation because so many of us travel from Arlington to DC, Alexandria, Fairfax, and even Maryland. In my years in office, I have built the relationships we need with leaders around the region to improve Metro and to build new regional transit to benefit all of us. Similarly, I will use my experience to support our School Board as they work to solve our capacity crunch.
Many talented Arlingtonians want to participate in our community processes, but cannot through our traditional, very time-intensive ways of involvement because of family and work commitments. We need to try different ways of connecting so that everyone who wants can interact with their local government. This year, the County Board started webcasting our work sessions so residents can follow our work without having to sit in long meetings. This simple solution makes it easier for everyone to participate. I will continue to push for online tools that allow easy access to public data so residents know what’s happening. I will also work to explore how we can use technology to create new channels for residents to connect with each other and to provide feedback to their government.
We need to make sure Arlington is a place where it is easy for everyone to live and work. This year, I supported dialogues to bring people together on different sides of issues like Fire Station 8 and the Stratford school driveway to discuss options openly before moving forward. Everyone can’t have their preferred outcome, but the people involved tell me that they feel like they are finally being heard and can contribute to the ultimate decision. We still need a strategic plan to bring all of our specific master plans together. Coming up with an overall strategic plan will take time and must include everyone; and we must design a process that brings us together to ensure we hear everyone’s voice and perspective. I look forward to focusing on this process in my next term.
Together with residents and businesses, Arlington County government can be a force for bringing out the best in our community. I ask for your vote on Tuesday to continue serving you to work to realize our full potential.
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]
Nearly two weeks of continuous single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston, on the Orange and Silver Metro lines, begins tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
Major travel disruptions are expected during Metro’s maintenance “surge,” dubbed “SafeTrack.” WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, along with Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey, held a press conference this afternoon at the East Falls Church Metro Station to discuss preparations.
“We are going to make this work, it is a team effort,” said Garvey, touting Arlington’s plans to assist commuters and ease congestion. “We’re all working together.”
Metro riders can seek commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting. Free shuttle buses between Ballston and East Falls Church and Ballston and West Falls Church will be offered during the project. Additional Capital Bikeshare stations are being installed at the East Falls Church station in preparation for the work.
The single tracking will last for 13 days, ending on Thursday, June 16.
According to Wiedefeld, the worst impacts on the Orange and Silver lines will be west of Ballston. Orange Line trains will run only every 18 minutes between Vienna and Ballston, while Silver Line trains will run every 18 minutes. Additional trains will be placed in service east of Ballston.
The biggest effects will be felt during rush hour — riders are being told to expect “extreme crowding and delays” in each direction.
“Remember, the reason we are doing this is to make the system more reliable and safer,” said Wiedefeld.
The track work is just the first of numerous SafeTrack projects planned over the next year, many of which will impact Arlington riders.
Arlington County streamed a video of the press conference on Facebook, and yesterday released a video discussing SafeTrack (below).
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Libby Garvey and I ran against each other in 2012. At the time, Libby was still undecided on the Columbia Pike streetcar issue. A point I made to everyone I met on the campaign trail who was against the project. Libby won the fairly (for Arlington) close race and eventually came down on the right side of the streetcar issue – becoming the sole dissenting voice on the County Board.
Regardless of whether you agree with her, speaking out against four other fellow Democrats on a signature big ticket issue like the streetcar was an act of political courage.
The streetcar project was emblematic of what the County Board had become — an insular echo chamber. In spite of escalating costs, the project’s questionable transportation benefits, and the failures of the similar D.C. project across the Potomac, the other four Board members were marching forward. They were relying on a years-old “decision” rather than honestly re-evaluating the plan based on current facts and circumstances.
Many Board watchers, including this one, knew that to shake up the status quo, it would require a seismic shift. Only if it was proven a Democrat could actually lose an election in Arlington, would there be an impetus for a change.
Libby seemed to put her finger on pulse of the community. And at the risk of her own career, Libby reached out to support John Vihstadt when he ran as an Independent candidate in late 2013 after Chris Zimmerman’s resignation.
Vihstadt not only won the Special Election, but he handily won the full term in November 2014. The streetcar project was shelved shortly thereafter.
Since that time, Vihstadt and Garvey have worked together on a number of issues to reflect the concerns of a majority of people in Arlington who want to see more fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability from the County Board. Late last year, they even raised concerns about the tens of millions of dollars spent in the closeout process being done with virtually no public comment.
Libby’s decision, however, was not without political consequences. Her willingness to think independently of her party earned her a primary challenge from a fellow Democrat this spring. The case for his candidacy is nothing more than Garvey’s decision to dare to upset the apple cart in 2014.
I offer no endorsement in this race for two reasons. One, I have never endorsed a Democrat. Two, it probably would cost a candidate votes in an Arlington Democratic primary.
I do offer a question. I have often heard Democrats say they want to find Republicans who are willing to work across party lines. Now that they have a fellow Democrat willing to work with an Independent, will Democrat primary voters toss her overboard for doing so?
Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
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.
W-L Soccer Advances to Semis — The Washington-Lee High School boys soccer team notched a 2-1 quarterfinal victory last night, to advance to the 6A North region semifinals next week. [Washington Post]
Dodgeball Tourney Next Weekend — For the second year in row, a pair of Yorktown High School students are organizing a free dodgeball tournament. The event, for ages 8 and up, will be held at Marymount University on Saturday, June 4. Proceeds from donations made by participants will be donated “to help support schools in need of better playground and physical education equipment.” [Arlington Dodgeball]
Arlington GOP Stops Short of Supporting Garvey — At a meeting on Wednesday, the chair of the Arlington County Republican Committee put the kibosh on a member’s proposal for Republican voters to support Democrat Libby Garvey in her County Board re-election effort. “We’re about Republican candidates,” said Jim Presswood. [InsideNova]
Plane Makes Emergency Landing at DCA — An American Airlines flight taking off from Reagan National Airport had to turn around and make an emergency landing after a bird struck and disabled one of its engines. The incident happened around noon on Tuesday. No one was hurt. [NBC Washington]
That’s a Lot of Parking Tickets — Arlington County issued some 109,000 parking citations last year. The two most ticketed spots in the county: the county-owned surface parking lot in Courthouse and the county-owned parking strip next to Northside Social. [WJLA]
Vihstadt Pens Statement of Support for Garvey — County Board member John Vihstadt (I) writes of Board chair Libby Garvey, who’s facing a challenge in the Democratic primary: “While we don’t agree on everything, she continues to be my ally on key priorities like championing open, accessible and transparent County government, adequate schools funding, robust transit solutions on the Pike and elsewhere, and streamlining our business processes.” [Libby Garvey]
GGW Endorses Gutshall — Urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Erik Gutshall, who’s challenging County Board chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary. Writes GGW: “Overall, Gutshall has demonstrated a strong grasp of the challenges facing Arlington and an ability to work with others to find solutions. Libby Garvey, his opponent, has not demonstrated these qualities.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Paving on Columbia Pike — Crews are repaving the westbound lanes of Columbia Pike between S. Glebe Road and S. George Mason Drive, through Friday. [Twitter]
Raising Funds to Help Baby Hear — An Arlington resident has launched an online fundraiser to help pay for travel expenses and medical expenses associated with his baby daughter’s participation in a clinical trial that will help her hear via an auditory brainstem implant. [GoFundMe]
After months — maybe even years — of constant “harassment” from an anonymous neighbor, North Highlands resident Mary McCutcheon had enough, as did the rest of the community.
On Thursday, McCutcheon organized a neighborhood meeting in front of her house — in the small community just north of Rosslyn — to discuss a neighbor who was constantly calling Arlington County to report supposed violations of zoning codes in local yards. It was enough of an issue that even County Board Chair Libby Garvey showed up.
“The county enforces some of the property maintenance and zoning codes in response to complaints and almost never in a proactive way,” McCutcheon told ARLnow.com. “This wouldn’t be bad except it effectively deputizes the small number of complain-o-holics around town with a great deal of power.”
Over the last couple of years, McCutcheon has constantly battled Arlington County over her plants. The owner of three properties in the neighborhood, she has received numerous violation notices as a result of complaint-driven code enforcement. In a letter to the editor sent to ARLnow in 2014, McCutcheon described in detail an instance in which an Arlington County inspector deemed her in violation of a weed-related ordinance following a complaint.
And she’s not alone. Someone, it seems, does not like the aesthetics of other nearby properties, either. And neighbors are fed up with it.
“Finally there is a critical mass of people who have been complained about,” she said, of the meet. “We have approached the County Manager and the County Board and the higher-ups in zoning and code enforcement.””
Some 20 neighborhood residents attended the meeting, along with Garvey and the county’s new Resident Ombudsman, Robert Sharpe.
At the meeting, McCutcheon displayed the offending items including her overgrown rose bushes, a fence surrounding the property and a small library she kept in front of her home.
“I think that complaint-driven code enforcement has so many inherent evils that we must put an end to it,” said McCutcheon. “We must have codes in this county that are enforceable and will be enforced and are worthy of being enforced, otherwise rewrite them. When code is enforced capriciously like this, I hope the county stops accepting this type of complaint.”
Garvey seemed sympathetic, agreeing that the code should have room for interpretation in situations where the perceived violation is not a threat to safety or other people’s property.
“There are situations where things should apply where they shouldn’t and there ought to be a way to exercise judgment,” said Garvey. “This property is beautiful but it doesn’t fit the narrow definitions of what we have had. I’m not sure what the solution is because I can’t say we’re not going to enforce our code but maybe there is a way of giving the code a little judgment or some situational awareness.”
McCutcheon was not the only one there who experienced the passive aggressive wrath of an anonymous resident.
One resident mentioned an incident where her babysitter received an threatening letter from an anonymous source due to her parking her car in the wrong location. The letter contained profanity and other threats and it was signed “The County Board.”
McCutcheon claimed the harassment began after she took down a white mulberry tree that was on public land near her house. The white mulberry is known to be an invasive species, crowding out native species. After removing the tree, McCutcheon says that a particular neighbor immediately became hostile, claiming that the tree was the only thing blocking his view of townhouses in front.
After the initial event, she described how this neighbor — a particularly grumpy British man — would become increasingly aggressive and rude to her in later encounters on the street. Soon after, she began receiving calls from county officials about the complaints, which she assumed came from the same person.
“One time I was walking my dogs and he was walking backwards just to scream at me. I was so scared I wrote a letter to Adult Protective Services but I never sent it,” said McCutcheon.
Other residents shared their own experiences, suggesting that the prickly Brit was the source of the complaints.
While she was describing the chronology of events, the neighbor in question exited his house and quickly became upset with the gathered group. He also began aggressively questioning the presence of a reporter, an ARLnow.com intern, and threatened to call the police after another resident tried to intervene.
Sharpe arrived soon after, temporarily defusing the situation as he took the man aside to discuss the issue.
After speaking with the man, Sharpe recommended that for the short term, McCutcheon comply with the directives to trim her rose bushes in order to avoid further conflict while the county comes up with a more permanent solution.
The mystery, however, deepened after the meeting adjourned.
In a later email, McCutcheon notified ARLnow that after speaking with Sharpe, it was confirmed that the neighbor was not, in fact, the source of the complaints.
“[He] is still a nasty man,” McCutcheon said. “But it is someone else who is complaining.”
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to defer implementation of the “blue ribbon panel” it voted unanimously last month to create.
The six-person panel was intended to advise the County Board on strategic priorities. The rushed vote to establish the panel on April 19, and questions about what exactly it is intended to accomplish, led to criticism from some community groups.
Its principal backer, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, has also faced criticism of the panel on the campaign trail from Democratic primary challenger Erik Gutshall, who has raised it as an issue of government transparency. Garvey defended the idea and clarified the intent of the panel at Tuesday afternoon’s Board meeting.
Jay Fisette, who was critical of the plan last month but voted to support it nonetheless, created the motion to defer its implementation. His motion was supported unanimously.
Fisette issued the following statement about his motion to defer.
Since we voted on the charge for this Blue Ribbon Panel in April, I have been inundated with questions and concerns. Many in our community are either angry at how this happened or confused about what actually happened. I was challenged to explain how I could vote for something after having publicly expressed significant concern about it. I had no good response.
This Board has received letters of concern from groups such as the Alliance for Housing Solutions (an umbrella group representing over 35 Arlington non-profits, churches and other organizations), the Planning and Urban Forestry Commissions and Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement.
The letters raised concerns with the process. One stated, “There was virtually no notice that the Board would adopt the Charge and the language was not available for public review and comment. This flies in the face of repeated messages by many Board members of the need for greater transparency and adequate public advance notice of Board actions.”
And another remarked, “When the Board takes action in this manner, abrogating its own stated commitment to transparency and accountability, it seriously undermines the importance of citizen engagement that should be the goal of everyone in the County.”
Others spoke to the panel’s charge itself. One commission was concerned that “the Panel’s charge is largely duplicative of the responsibilities of the Planning Commission as outlined in the Code of Virginia” and that “it was unclear from the Panel’s charge how members of the public would participate in its meetings or contribute to its work.”
And one letter summarized the concerns of many, “In short, the panel is duplicative; the charge is murky and invests far too much power in 6 people to potentially dramatically alter priorities resulting from the involvement of many Arlington residents already; and the Board’s action in creating it seriously undermines the good governance goal of encouraging and valuing citizen engagement. Thus, we urge you to rethink the panel.”
Clearly, the community has said that our April vote to approve this Panel without public notice was flawed, and today’s vote is a step toward rectifying that action. I very much appreciate my colleagues’ support for taking a step back and asking for feedback from some key stakeholders as well as from the larger community.
My support for this step should not be taken as support for the Panel. I remain skeptical, yet I am glad that the process will be opened, and I am willing to see if the purpose can be clarified and made useful.
Finally, we must thoughtfully consider the recommendations of the Community Facilities Study Committee (CFS Committee) and their relationship to the charge of this Panel. Many of the members of the CFS Committee have been unhappy with the lack of action on their recommendations, which was further inflamed by the creation of the Blue Ribbon Panel.
Honestly, if anything deserved the Blue Ribbon monikor, it was the CFS Committee. It was a model process with compelling and serious recommendations to guide our future. It was a true collaboration between the schools and the county, with a clear charge and broad representation, and it concluded within the established 10-month timeline.
To remind us, the CFS Committee was tasked to identify the principal strategic challenges that Arlington faces, point out the barriers to overcoming those challenges and recommend ways to address them.
And the key recommendation they made for responding to these challenges was to establish, “A new system for more open, systematic and coordinated County and School Board decisions about setting priorities for future facility budget and location decisions.” And they told us exactly how to do this.
It is this recommendation, that provides guidance on how to set priorities for much of our community’s future capital needs, that deserves our immediate attention and should be top of mind as we reconsider this Panel. I am especially interested in the feedback that we have requested of the CFS Committee in this regard.
Gutshall, who is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey for the Democratic nomination, is, according to APAC, “a consensus-builder, with an eye to transparency and engagement all along the way.”
Garvey formerly served on the Arlington School Board.
From a press release:
APAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association, has recommended Erik Gutshall for the County Board seat to be contested in the Democratic primary June 14th. The APAC Steering Committee was impressed with Mr. Gutshall’s vision for the county, viewing his ideas as both far-sighted in scope and inclusive of all segments of the community. APAC Steering Team co-chair Gerry Collins noted that Gutshall has applied his knowledge of the county and experience at the planning level to lay out some well-considered ideas on housing, transit, schools and revenue streams.
Collins added, “Erik Gutshall approaches decision-making as a consensus-builder, with an eye to transparency and engagement all along the way. We support his view of the schools as both institutions of opportunity for our students as well as assets for community activities and events, and are encouraged by his support for school funding.”
Gutshall, Garvey and independent candidate Audrey Clement will face off during an Arlington Chamber of Commerce candidate forum tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Rosslyn Hyatt (1325 Wilson Blvd). The event is being moderated by ARLnow editor Scott Brodbeck
Two Add’l Endorsements for Gutshall — Democratic County Board Erik Gutshall has picked up two more endorsements. The campaign announced this week that Gutshall was endorsed by Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson and former county treasurer Frank O’Leary. [InsideNova]
Garvey’s Idea for I-66 — In an interview with the urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who is running for reelection, talked about her belief in more Bus Rapid Transit service as a transit solution and her plans for making Arlington a “great” place to live. Among her ideas: building large decks over I-66 to provide more parkland, more bus parking and to “knit our community back together.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Barley Mac Grand Opening — Barley Mac in Rosslyn is holding its grand opening celebration this weekend: “The party will kick off each night at 8:00 p.m. and go until 2:00 a.m., and we’ll serve [complimentary] passed appetizers and light bites in the bar from 8:00-10:00 p.m.” [Facebook, Rosslyn BID]
Native Species Returning to Arlington — The removal of invasive species from Arlington’s parkland is paying off. A number of plant and animal species once thought to be gone for good have started returning to the county, including certain frogs, otters, foxes and turkeys. The county announced this in a press release with the alliterative headline “Nurtured Nature Nets New Natives.” [Arlington County]
Inexpensive Local Art on Sale — The Arlington Artists Alliance is holding an art show and sale later this month where every work of art is priced at $95 or less. [Patch]
Real Housewives Filming in Clarendon? — An episode of the Real Housewives of Potomac was reportedly being filmed at Oz restaurant in Clarendon last night. The restaurants is owned by cast member Ashley Darby and her husband. [Twitter]
County Board Contenders Debate — The two Democratic contenders for Arlington County Board, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall, debated who would be the most transparent and the best agent of change last night. Gutshall criticized Garvey for the lack of action on new transit options for Columbia Pike and for supporting the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” to study county priorities. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Residents Concerned About Sex Offender — Some residents in the Bluemont neighborhood and the area around Bon Air Park are concerned about a registered sex offender who recently moved to the area. There have been reports of the man watching children’s soccer games and leaving balloons in the backyard of a family home. Police say they’re investigating. [Fox 5]
Vornado Attracting Millennials With Cool Restaurants — “Vornado has carefully curated its retail in Crystal City and Pentagon City to appeal to creative Millennials, bringing in tenants like DIY design and fabrication space TechShop and hip restaurants like We The Pizza, Sweetgreen and Taylor Gourmet, which just opened Monday. That’s not to mention the Whole Foods anchoring the retail section of Vornado’s The Bartlett, a trendy ‘city within a city’ with nearly 700 residential units.” [Bisnow]
Chinese News Agency Profiles Arlington’s Tech Scene — Xinhua, the state-run news agency that’s said to be the largest and most influential media organization in China, has published a feature story that discusses how Arlington has become a “hot spot for tech startups.” The story notes that in addition to a robust talent pool and the availability of investment capital, “government has also played a vital role in the development of startups in Arlington.” [Xinhua]
Outdoor Lab to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — The Arlington Outdoor Lab, a nonprofit facility that hosts more than 9,000 students annually for outdoor and environmental education, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an event in Ballston next month. [Arlington Outdoor Lab]
Flickr pool photo by James L.
Watch Caps Practice in Ballston Today for Free — The Washington Capitals will be preparing for their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins this morning at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. The Caps’ practice starts at 10:30 a.m. and it’s free to attend and watch. The Iceplex, the Caps’ administrative and training home base, is owned by Arlington County and leased to the Capitals. [Arlington County]
Garvey Turns 65 — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey celebrated her 65th birthday yesterday. Garvey’s reelection campaign wasted little time in using the occasion to ask for donations of $65 as “a special birthday gift.” [Reelect Libby]
Yorktown’s Efforts to Narrow Achievement Gap — Yorktown High School has been working with the Minority Student Achievement Network, a project of the University of Wisconsin, to help it narrow the school’s achievement gaps. The program at Yorktown specifically focuses on minority boys, a relatively small group at the school. [University of Wisconsin]
A near-capacity crowd packed into Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon Wednesday night for a Democratic showdown between County Board member Libby Garvey and primary challenger Erik Gutshall.
The Arlington Young Democrats-hosted debate was perhaps not the battle royale some were expecting, but there were a few pointed barbs from Gutshall and an assertive defense from Garvey of her record.
Gutshall started his line of attack before the debate even started, by CCing news outlets that morning on a letter to Garvey, questioning why former Republican Congressman Tom Davis donated $1,000 to her campaign. (In 2014, Davis also donated $1,000 to the campaign of independent County Board member John Vihstadt, who Garvey endorsed over Democrat Alan Howze.)
“I was shocked to learn that someone running to be the Democratic nominee would so openly solicit, and accept, campaign contributions from someone whose job and mission it was to defeat Democrats,” Gutshall wrote. He asked Garvey to sign a pledge to only support Democratic candidates and to reject campaign contributions from current or former Republican elected officials.
At the debate, Gutshall said it was “not acceptable” that Garvey had not signed the pledge, also citing her decision not to endorse Del. Rip Sullivan during his campaign.
“Absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent I will support the Democrat, period,” Gutshall said.
Garvey, meanwhile, declined to make any absolute promises, saying she would make decisions based on “what is the right thing for Arlington… what is best for the people I serve.”
“Generally, that’s the Democrat,” she said. Her answer was followed by a couple loud boos from the crowd.
Gutshall attempted to re-litigate the streetcar battle, saying that Garvey “has sat on the sidelines” since she and Vihstadt helped to scuttle the project, which would have brought light rail transit to Columbia Pike. (The county has said an alternative transit plan will be coming this year.)
“We don’t have the transit that’s there to meet the needs of density” along Columbia Pike, said Gutshall. “We have the right to expect more and do better.”
Garvey said that until January, when she took over the County Board chairmanship, she “did not have the votes” to push a Bus Rapid Transit plan for the Pike. With the addition of like-minded Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey this year, she said the County Board is functioning well as a team.
“Your board is a very exciting board right now,” she said. “I have done a lot since January. I would like to build on this experience and build on this work.”
Gutshall accused Garvey of abandoning the infrastructure investment mindset that led previous generations of local Democratic leaders to support, for instance, the building of the Metrorail system.
“Progress comes by investing in the future,” he said. “The main reason I’m running here is that I have heard rhetoric that we should turn and look inward and that we cannot afford to meet these challenges.”