County Board candidate Melissa Bondi tonight addressed the December meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) at what had been billed by ACDC as a county board candidate kick-off. Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson introduced Bondi, who outlined her vision for the office and sought the support of Arlington Democrats.
Bondi’s remarks in full are below:
Fellow Arlington Democrats,
It is wonderful to be with you at ACDC again this evening. I have stood before you many times, but never before as a Democratic candidate for office.
My name is Melissa Bondi, and I am running to serve you on the Arlington County Board.
When I moved to Arlington in 1999, I fell for the charm of places like the Flying Dutchman, the Queen Bee, and Java Shack. Welcoming neighbors soon invited me to ‘events,’ which I quickly discovered is a euphemism for ‘meetings.’
In more than a dozen years here, I have become deeply connected to Arlington.
As your County Board member, I would bring my professional expertise, my collaborative style and a ten-year track record of solving problems using my own, fresh ideas. I believe I am the only candidate who can offer all these assets to you as a County Board member.
Tonight, let me share with you my vision for Arlington:
I am committed to investing wisely in our outstanding schools, in public safety and preparedness, in services and infrastructure. With limited capital, I believe everyone should be involved in setting priorities, and informed about the true costs and benefits of alternatives. We should all understand how final choices are made, and how we’ll measure success. That’s what I’ve done at the Nonprofit Roundtable and Commonwealth Institute, analyzing the regional impacts of budget choices on residents, and expanding public participation in decision-making. I know both what it takes to manage our fiscal needs for the long-term, and what Arlington can learn from its peers.
Next, I believe that when residents ask for help to solve problems, they should be treated as an integral part of the solution. I’ve seen repeatedly that some of our best ideas come from the public. I will work to ensure they have adequate resources to broaden community conversations and to forge tailored solutions. At Civic Federation and as president of Lyon Park, I’ve worked together with residents and businesses to resolve the sometimes contentious issues outside their front doors, from parking to street lights. Government won’t have all the answers, but working together we can find the solution to any problem.
I believe that, as our county becomes more complex, we must elevate our principles. Since we live in a regulatory society, Arlington’s many policies are written to prescribe what we like, and to prohibit what we loathe. Some are very successful, but here in real life, I’ve worked with stakeholders on dozens of planning, transportation and long-range projects from Lee Highway to Shirlington where we tried to determine what a plan “meant.” Great planning is about more than the rules. We must better explain the principles behind our plans, so that we can decide if someone’s new idea is a creative solution or an unwelcome distraction. Here in Arlington, and at the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Smart Growth America, I’ve used my land use, transportation and housing expertise to define principles and best practices. As your County Board member, I will help Arlington write plans that get us the communities we want.
I am dedicated to protect Arlington’s natural resources and environmental health, having worked for these goals as a member on the Climate Change Advisory Committee, the VA League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, and as a longtime professional in environmental policy. In 2008 I gave up my car, and know first-hand the importance of having access to transit and safe routes for walking and biking.
I stand firmly for equality and social justice, advocating for groundbreaking policies like Public Land for Public Good. I helped to write our landmark Affordable Housing Ordinance and our 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. As chairman of the Housing Commission, I worked to preserve our diversity and create hundreds of units of affordable housing, and tenant protections from Buckingham to Columbia Pike. I’m also a member of the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance and the LGBT Caucus of Virginia, and have pursued Elder Readiness and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, all to ensure that every Arlingtonian has a safe community to call home.
Finally, I am committed to making Arlington’s economy more competitive and resilient by attracting a new generation of diverse employers in clean technology, health care, tourism and the arts. Through my service on the Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce, I also understand how innovative nonprofits, small businesses, and social entrepreneurs will contribute to our 21st Century economy.
It’s no surprise that my progressive vision is tied to my Democratic ideals. I have volunteered extensively on 25 Arlington political campaigns, from Obama to School Board. Here at ACDC I have served you since 2005 on Joint Campaigns, JJ Dinners and on the Steering Committee.
For more than ten years, I’ve used my own ideas and energy to push our community forward. In my public positions and testimony, I’ve urged the County Board to take specific action. I’ve helped to create many new policies, and I’ve never been silent when anyone in office disagreed with or voted against my recommendations.
I am honored to have earned so many supporters across Arlington who know my track record of accomplishment and public advocacy.
I am also proud to have earned the endorsements of Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson, School Board member James Lander, Delegate-Elect Alfonso Lopez, and County Board members Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman.
Arlington has a long tradition of community engagement and ambitious, forward thinking. Together with your help, we can begin a new generation of ideas and excellence here at home.
My name is Melissa Bondi, and I ask for your support and your vote on February 2 and 4.