Happy New Year!
Last night, the County Board held its annual Organizational Meeting. My colleagues and I each gave our thoughts and spoke about our goals for the year ahead. I built on the themes that I discussed last month at my swearing-in and made my goal for 2017 to connect our government with our people, and our people with each other. I truly believe that when we are all connected, we can solve any problem. You can read my full remarks, or watch a recording of the meeting on the Arlington County website. My remarks begin at the 1:09 mark.
We also unanimously elected our colleagues Jay Fisette to serve as our chair and Katie Cristol to serve as our vice chair in 2017. I congratulate both Jay and Katie on their elections and look forward to working with them throughout the year.
Prior to voting on Katie’s nomination, I nominated John Vihstadt to serve as vice chair, but his nomination failed on a 2-3 vote. I nominated John because he is the next most senior Board member, after our current chair and our past chair. John’s over 35 years of Arlington civic activism and nearly three years on the Board make him well qualified to be in a leadership position, and all of his colleagues made a point last night of commending his hard work on the Board on behalf of the whole community. He is cooperative and collegial with colleagues, staff, and the community at large, regardless of political outlook or identity at the other end of the conversation. I am disappointed that he will not have the opportunity to serve in our Board’s leadership this year.
In this time of deep political division nationally, Arlington needs more than ever to model our shared values, including our openness to different perspectives, with lively and open debates by those with diverse views. Over the past few years, our County Board has shown how we can have lively and open debates on issues, yet pull together towards our shared goals in a respectful and cooperative fashion. I believe that we will continue on that path, and already one local journalist has described last night’s discussion as “more civil than some previous all-Democratic boards have managed on other topics.” I know that our whole Board will continue that balance and through our actions, we will signal to everyone that this Board cares, and is working, for everyone in Arlington.
I will be joining the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, January 21st. I hope that you will consider joining as we peaceably assemble and march across the Potomac to send a message to all levels of government that we stand together in solidarity and we expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families, and their communities.