Below is the text of a letter sent today by County Board Member Chris Zimmerman in support of Melissa Bondi for Arlington County Board. I share his thoughts and sentiments and urge you to take a look for yourself.
I came to run for office in Arlington as a neighborhood and community activist. I still believe that is the best preparation for a County Board Member. We want people making the decisions to know what it is like to be on the other side of the table. We want someone who knows what it is to come home from your job in the evening and then go to meetings for which you are not paid to work with your neighbors to get the attention of County Officials over a problem. To sometimes face-off against the high paid lawyers who represent development interests and craft solutions that will be taken seriously, and will be a better deal for the community.
It is not an easy thing to do. The fact that Arlington has been able to call forth dedicated and talented citizens who are willing to contribute their time and talents this way is why this community is the great place to live that we enjoy. That’s the kind of person we need on the County Board. Melissa Bondi is that kind of person.
Melissa Bondi is a candidate who at once exemplifies the fine Arlington tradition of extensive civic service to the community, and at the same time represents a new generation of leadership. She would be the first person elected to the County Board born after 1970, and will bring a fresh and new perspective to County government. She has been a leader on the neighborhood level, and on County-wide matters. She has been an effective spokesperson for her civic association and a trusted advisor to policymakers. She has in-depth understanding of the institutions and processes that are the focus of local government in Arlington, from the site plan process that is such a substantial component of the Board’s work, to fiscal matters, to service delivery. She has invested time and energy working across all the issues that are central to the work of the County Board, including land use planning and development, affordable housing, services for the elderly, and environmental protection. And, she has already proven her ability to get things done, both here in Arlington and beyond.
Her leadership was a significant factor in some of the most important advances in Arlington’s housing policy in the past decade, notably the key role she played in the 2005 development of the historic site plan ordinance and statute, and in the effort to preserve the Buckingham community. Melissa’s extensive knowledge about environmental issues reflects many years of professional experience on the national, state, and regional levels. She combines tremendous understanding of complex technical issues and of the players involved. One of the strengths she will bring to the Board is that she already knows and is respected by so many stakeholders across the region and throughout the state.
Her greatest strength, however, is not the extensive knowledge she has about substantive issues and policy processes, but those qualities of character that have distinguished her career as a professional and as a volunteer. For me and for so many others, the most important reasons to support Melissa are things that don’t appear on a resume.
Those who have worked with her are impressed not simply by how much she knows, but by how she works with people of all kinds and all opinions. She is able to establish relationships of trust among people who may disagree very strongly with one another. They quickly recognize that she is a person of unimpeachable integrity, who can be counted on to treat everyone fairly. This is a quality of incalculable value for a prospective member of the County Board.
First, she listens. Then, she works to bring people together around a solution. They may not agree with each other. They might not even like each other. But Melissa is able to get them to work together, to find a basis for agreement, and to unite around a common solution. I have seen her accomplish this many times. As GreaterGreaterWashington said in their endorsement this week, “Bondi has the instincts of a great board member who can listen to input from citizens and other stakeholders and reach compromises that benefit everyone.”
Melissa is that rare person who is exceptional both at being a team player, and at stepping forward to lead when it is needed. She improves the quality of every meeting she participates in, and the effectiveness of any organization in which she is involved. As an elected official, I believe that Melissa Bondi will be a tremendous asset to the Board, and to the community it serves. As a an Arlington voter, Melissa Bondi is the kind of person I want to represent me.
Melissa Bondi is the person who will best serve us all as a County Board Member. I urge you to vote for Melissa this week at the Democratic “firehouse primary,” either on Thursday evening at Washington-Lee High School, or Saturday at Kenmore Middle School. You can find information about voting on my website, www.chriszimmerman.org.
Member, Arlington County Board