Providing Good Stewardship of Our Money

As Civic Federation President, Maywood Community President and a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have seen where the county spends our money.  Based on my experience, I believe we need to get back to basics and spend our tax dollars on core government services, such as paving our roads, updating our infrastructure, schools, and parks.  Properly fund neighborhood conservation, so that neighborhoods can build the projects they need, e.g. curb, gutter, sidewalks, and storm water drainage.

Given our current economic challenges, we need to eliminate extravagant and wasteful spending, e.g. million dollar bus stops.  Find affordable transportation solutions, rather than unneeded alternatives such as the streetcar.

Yes, we need better bus stops, scheduling tied to actual demand patterns, accelerated fare collection and boarding; and reduced fares for regular riders.  I believe that we can achieve this in an affordable efficient manner to meet our transportation needs as a community.


Growing Our Economy

I am the only candidate who is a small business owner in Arlington, so I know firsthand how difficult and expensive it is to run a business in the county.

Quite frankly, opening a new business in Arlington is a marathon process.  It takes a great deal of time to navigate the byzantine permit process, which planning and zoning staff have not made easy.  This needs to change.

We also need to find incentives for start-ups to come to Arlington by exploring tools that will attract new businesses.  For instance, we should look at Business/ Professional/ Occupational/ License (BPOL) fees – perhaps lowering the rate overall, perhaps looking at a grace period where a business new to Arlington would be totally exempt from BPOL for some period of time.

Currently, we have 10 million square feet of unoccupied commercial real estate.  We didn’t get where we are overnight.  It took the 2008-2009 recessions, BRAC, sequestration, both GSA and the private sector lowering their utilization rates, the opening of the Silver Line, and some new construction done completely on spec to get our vacancy where it is today.

I would take a hand on approach and identify businesses that should move to Arlington, e.g. Marriott Corporation.

I’d also like to convene a sit-down with our larger landlords, to get their ideas as well.  Let’s see what they think local government’s role is here.

As vacant office space refills, our local tax revenue increases – I want to look at foregoing some of that revenue increase for some period of time to attempt to accelerate the process.  As we’re painfully learning, our location just across the river from DC is simply no longer enough to keep our office space fully occupied.

My goal is to ensure that we maintain a healthy balance between commercial and residential tax base, as it funds:  Schools, Parks, Infrastructure, Affordable Housing, Arts, and our quality of life.



As a parent of two children who have attended Taylor Elementary, Swanson Middle School, Washington – Lee High School and H.B. Woodlawd, I know just how good our schools are.  Like many of you, my wife and I decided to raise our family in Arlington because of the school system.

We must continue to ensure that our school system is adequately funded.  The revenue sharing agreement between the schools and the county is broken.  We need to take a fresh look at the agreement and come to a consensus on proper funding for our schools and other county priorities.

The County and the School Board must work together to solve the overcrowding issue that the school system faces today and into the future.  Only by working together can we face the realities of new schools and possibly larger schools.  In addition, we need to ensure that we have the bonding capacity to solve the overcrowding issue and keep our AAA bond rating.


Protecting Our Parks

Parks are a very important part of our quality of life in Arlington.  For years, I made recommendations to the county on the budget as a member of the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee.  Every year, parks were under funded, but the fees to use them for recreation and sporting events continued to climb.  To me, parks are a core government priority that should be maintained, enhanced and expanded in instances that make fiscal sense, so that our parks sufficiently meet our recreational needs.

I do not support using County parkland or community center sites for housing, schools or other purposes.  We have a limited amount of Green Space in the County and I would make the preservation, maintenance and enhancement of our parks a priority.

Land is becoming more expensive and harder to find in the county, so once park space is taken for other uses it will never be replaced.  I would also work to ensure that a portion of the Quincy Street property that the county just purchased would be used for Green Space.

I am committed to finding more creative ways to deal with school expansion and affordable housing needs that will not take away from our County’s limited amount of parklands.  For instance, we should look to expand our schools by building them up instead of out and providing swing space for students until these projects are finished, e.g. use of the Edison site.  In so doing, we would preserve the surrounding lands around the schools for play and activities.


Affordable Housing

I agree that affordable housing is a worthwhile goal in Arlington County. A diverse community is a strong community. The region’s shortage of housing for low and moderate income residents is well understood. Arlington has continued to commit substantial resources and various strategies to preserve and add to the affordable housing stock within the County for years. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, the County budgeted $54.7 million to support affordable housing—that is up from $34.6 million in (FY) 2006 and accounts for a 60% increase in funding. Today’s funding for affordable housing represents roughly 5% of Arlington County’s annual operating budget.

The Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP) will add roughly 15,700 new committed affordable housing units. The County has not projected the full cost of this program, but we know, based on past history and current spending, that the cost will be very sizable even without taking into account the costs of building and maintaining new schools and other infrastructure needs to serve this new population. Adding this level of affordable housing will have a significant impact on County expenditures.

In sum, I believe the AHMP will not best serve the overall needs of the County today because it prioritizes affordable housing at a time when we have a student enrollment crisis and loss of parkland. The County’s business tax base must become more robust before we venture forward with such an ambitious program whose full costs are unknown. If we don’t, the majority of new affordable housing costs will be borne by homeowners through their property taxes. Parks, schools, transportation, and affordable housing are all very important to a vibrant business and social community and our quality of life. Our fiscal priorities must be balanced among all these important programs.