THE ARLINGTON WAY: Civic Engagement Makes this Our Arlington
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: A Home for Everyone
BUDGETING RESPONSIBLY AND EFFICIENTLY: Our Budget Reflects Our Values
CIVIL RIGHTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A Safe Place for All
OUR WORKFORCE: Quality Counts!
EDUCATION: Head of the Class
NETWORKS: We are Not Alone
SUSTAINABILITY AND GREEN SPACE: Supported and Taught
TRANSPORTATION: The Road Ahead
The Arlington Way very simply means we solve our problems as a community: active citizens who are engaged, inquisitive, and solution-oriented make Arlington a wonderful home. That’s who we are. We work best when we rely on the involvement of the community in setting goals, helping to plan to reach those goals and helping out as we do our work.
Effective communication is crucial to representing this community and to the Arlington Way. When I was first chair of the School Board, I started open office hours to make it easier for people to talk with their School Board. In the school community I work to make sure parents and community members are informed of challenges, setbacks and progress in our school system, and involved in moving forward. Programs and departments are regularly evaluated with reporting to both the Board and our public. I plan to take that approach on the County Board.
Finally, I’ve learned that the earlier the community is involved and the clearer people are about the extent of a problem, and the more involved they are in setting the criteria for the solution — the better it goes. That is the Arlington Way.
Maintaining and increasing the supply of affordable housing is crucial for the Arlington that we know and love to survive.
We must ensure that we support our core services and safety net as Arlington grows and develops. The safety net includes affordable housing, which is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge. It will be one of my top priorities.
We must preserve Arlington as a diverse and vibrant community; people of all income levels must be able to live and work here. Since 2000, affordable housing has declined by two thirds. People like our police and firefighters—who are the backbone of our community—are deeply affected. Many of us who raised families in Arlington find that our own children cannot afford to live here, or struggle to do so.
My work over the past 15 years has made me quite aware of this issue. Our schools, the heart of the community, are more affected than any other sector by these changes. The redevelopment of older multi-family dwellings is destabilizing and stressful for students and their families. Housing costs affect school employees as well. Our newer teachers especially have a difficulty finding an affordable place to live and, as a result, commute long distances to work. At some point, employees find it just too expensive to work and live in Arlington.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools the County can use to address this priority. First, we must renew our commitment that this is a priority in the county in an overall strategic plan. There are two main parts to our commitment: preserving existing affordable housing stock, and creating more affordable housing in new development; both are important to maintaining the culture of Arlington.
We must work both sides of this equation to be successful, and that means supporting organizations like the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, and local churches like Macedonia Baptist that work within our community to maintain affordable housing. And it means working with property owners through tax incentives and credits, or loans, so that they can maintain affordable rates.
It also means working with developers as we have —for example swapping density requirements for guarantees of affordable units or contributions to the revolving fund to support affordable housing—and it means monitoring to make sure we are getting as much benefit as it appropriate.
And, to get different results than we are getting, we need to do something different: either do more of what we are doing or something different all together: probably both. As always, policies and planning to help meet the need for affordable housing must involve citizens. And beyond the planning, there must be transparency in monitoring to see if we are progressing toward our goals as efficiently as possible As a member of the County Board I will work to find innovative ways to meet this important need and to be clear about our priorities in this area.
A key component of my vision for sustained excellence is fiscal accountability. Since I came onto the School Board, reviews of programs and departments for efficiency and quality have been set on a clear schedule. My part in the oversight of Arlington’s nearly $500 million school budget prepares me well to address the even broader demands for budgetary effectiveness shouldered by the County Board in these difficult economic times. I have helped lead a school construction program that has been on time and on budget for over a decade.
Budgets are statements of priorities. On the County Board I will work to set clear overall priorities as a county so we make create long term financial goals for the county. I also will work to have a regular thorough evaluation program so we are constantly looking at how we can provide quality services more efficiently. Knowing where we are and where we are going will help us use our resources in the most efficient way possible.
Ensuring Arlington is a welcoming community for all is a very important issue for me. Our diversity enriches our community, and especially our schools. While on the School Board, I helped initiate policies that assured the safety of every child every day. Our award winning anti-bullying policies are monitored to make sure they continue to improve. We provide translation services to families that need them. We are at the forefront on this issue for schools in Virginia with non-discrimination policies including gender preference. I am committed to preserving Arlington as a welcoming community for everyone.
With a Mexican sister-in-law, an Ecuadoran son-in-law and a sister fighting for her and her partner’s civil rights in Kentucky: a welcoming community for all is a very personal issue for me. It is for all Arlingtonians, who are proud of our support for human and civil rights. Our diversity enriches our community, and especially our schools. We provide support and translation services to make sure everyone feels welcome and can participate in their child’s education.
While on the School Board, I helped initiate policies that assured the safety of every child every day. Our award winning anti-bullying policies are monitored to make sure they continue to improve. We provide translation services to families that need them. We are at the forefront on this issue for schools in Virginia with non-discrimination policies including gender preference. I am committed to preserving Arlington as a welcoming community for everyone.
Selecting the right people and then treating them well, that’s the key to top quality service. Arlington County is one of the best managed in the entire country, but we cannot rest on our accomplishments. I will work, as I always have, to ensure that we have a top quality workforce, that employees are compensated fairly, with competitive salaries and benefits. Also, I will support programs that encourage and sustain improved performance. We are an extremely diverse community and that is something we all treasure. I am committed to supporting a workforce that reflects this special character.
An important part of what I can offer as your next County Board member is my experience leading the Arlington school system. After 15 years on the school board and having my children and grandchildren attend our schools, education is clearly a priority for me. As more of Arlington’s economy depends on knowledge-based jobs, the quality of our schools is the key to Arlington’s success, now more than ever.
Our schools account for nearly 40% of the County budget and employ more people in Arlington than any organization except the Federal Government. It is crucial that our County Board members have a deep understanding of our schools and it is crucial that the County and School Boards work closely together as Arlington grows and develops. I understand the needs of our schools and I understand the need to balance those needs with others in the County. I will make sure our schools are adequately supported so that they, in turn, support the future of Arlington.
Cooperation has increased over the time I have been on the School Board, but more can always be done. School facilities, especially, are community facilities and should be available to all Arlingtonians as much as is possible without infringing on student needs.
Governing is all about relationships. In my years on the school board, I worked closely with leadership in the region, the state and on Capitol Hill. I have made many professional friends in those years and learned how to work across district lines in ways that will benefit Arlington.
For example, I worked around the state for several years as Vice Chair of Virginia CARES, which was a group of school board members and superintendents from around the state who were able to come to consensus, lobby the legislature, and improve state funding for K-12 education. I was appointed to the P-16 council by both Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. On the Council of Governments Emergency Preparedness Council, I worked around the region to develop and implement the pilot outdoor alert system for Arlington and Alexandria.
Our future is closely linked to the future of the region, the state and the nation. The more the County Board can work cooperatively at all these levels on issues of transportation, housing, education and more, the stronger we will be.
During my tenure on the Board, our schools became increasingly green. As a member of the County Board, I look forward to maintaining a commitment to an Arlington-wide vision of sustainability.
It’s an issue that I am passionate about. In my time of the School Board we’ve made real progress in sustainability–Langston-Brown was the first LEED certified school building in Virginia, Washington-Lee high school is LEED gold certified, Wakefield High School is on track to be at least LEED gold certified, and with a new innovation, the use of geo-thermal heat/AC systems.
A sustainable community starts with education, it is part of the new mission statement for our schools and it is part of our classroom curriculum. Many schools have school gardens. The Outdoor Lab is a wonderful resource for our students and sometimes the first experience our children have ever had with the outdoors beyond Arlington. We have instituted traffic demand management to encourage everyone to get to school in something other than a private car. Bicycling is part of our PE curriculum. Partnerships with local restaurants and school gardens themselves are providing fresh produce for our school lunches. We have much more to do, but I am confident that sustainability has become part of our school culture for our staff and students.
On a broader level, Arlington needs to determine how far and how fast we will push for environmental sustainability across the County. It involves priority setting, providing a budget for change and community culture building. I am ready to continue that work making our County more sustainable and environmentally responsible in everything we do.
We have done an excellent job so far in Arlington, especially along the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor, encouraging growth around the metro and other local transit options. The more we can weave mass transit into the community, the better we, and the planet, will be. We must work closely and well with regional and state officials in planning and creating efficient, affordable transit options.
But changes and development should make life better for our residents and be affordable. Our transportation decisions, both large and small, affect residents living nearby, and it is crucial the County Board be clear about costs and benefits of these changes so not only County Board members, but residents also easily understand them. Recent large increases in the cost of the Columbia Pike streetcar make this need for a clear statement of costs and benefits for that particular project even more urgent.