The Arlington County Board held its traditional New Year's Day morning organizational meeting today. Here's some video and a few highlights.
Newly-elected Board member Katie Cristol (D) joined others in first expressing thanks to outgoing Board Chair Mary Hynes (D) and outgoing Vice Chair Walter Tejada (D). She said that 2016 will "certainly be a year of change for the Arlington County Board," but when it comes to policy priorities, "follow-through is the new innovation." According to Cristol, "land use remains our greatest challenge." Cristol also talked about increasing the "availability of entry-level, affordable ownership housing and child care, which I believe are two of the utmost priorities for this board in the next few years." Cristol emphasized that "we MUST follow through on a comprehensive transit plan for Columbia Pike this year; residents and business owners have waited too long for what's next for this corridor...2016 has to be the year in which we get specific about what state-of-the-art bus service on Columbia Pike means." Finally, Cristol talked about "maintain[ing] our moral center by taking care of our most vulnerable."
For his part, newly-elected Board member Christian Dorsey (D) talked about his vision of "sustainable growth," namely "how we meet our present needs and overcome our current challenges without compromising the ability of current residents and future residents to enjoy our great community; how we take care of our present needs without kicking the consequences down the road, that must be borne in a most expensive and inefficient way by later boards and later residents in the community." Dorsey emphasized the "urgency toward our presenting and implementing a transit plan for Columbia Pike...This is an absolute prerequisite for sustainable growth." Dorsey said he's looking mostly to produce "singles and doubles," but wants to "swing for the fences" in "how we engage with the Arlington community...restore the faith that public participation is valued and valuable."
P.S. Also see remarks by new Vice Chair Jay Fisette (D) and new Chair Libby Garvey (D) on the "flip."
To me, the key words by Jay Fisette were towards the end: "I also, however, do believe in making smart investments for the future...What has always distinguished Arlington and made us a great community is our conscience and compassion that motivate us to stretch beyond the standard services -- to value the arts; to help people...with intellectual disabilities; to assist seniors on a fixed income with housing and services; or create a homeless services center for those living on the streets; to do our part to protect the environment and provide quality recreation, trails and parks. Moreover, we value diversity and embrace people's differences as a source of this community's strength. These core progressive values fuel our pride and our passion for Arlington, and should not be diluted or dismantled; they are what makes Arlington, Arlington."
(Note: Libby Garvey is Chair for now, but she faces a potentially tough Democratic primary race from businessman and former President of the Lyon Park Citizens Association Erik Gutshall, so we'll see what happens the next few months...)
And last but definitely least, hard-core/Big Liar Republican (who claims to be "Independent") John Vihstadt.