With the announced retirements of two Arlington County Board members – Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes – and with the filing deadline for candidates just one week away, the race to succeed them is heating up. And, although a Republican-pretending-to-be-an-“Independent” won a board seat last year in two weird/unique elections, the advantage in overwhelmingly “blue” Arlington still goes to the Democratic nominee(s). Which is why the Democratic primary on June 9 could very well determine who the next two Arlington County Board members will be.
Note that this election comes at an important time for Arlington, with economic challenges we haven’t seen in many years due to sequestration, Republican “drown government in the bathtub” policies, and increased competition from surrounding jurisdictions (e.g., the District, Tysons). This election also comes after a tumultous couple years for Arlington County, with rancor and conflict the likes of which I can’t recall in the nearly 30 years that I’ve lived here. Today, after heated battles over a number of issues, first and foremost the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar project, and with a Board that soon will have just one member (Jay Fisette, elected in 1998) who’s been there more than three years, the future direction of this county is very much at stake.
In short, as Walter Tejada has asked:
Will smart, progressive, long-term planning continue to be the hallmark of Arlington County, or is that now on life support (or worse)? Will Arlington continue to be a diverse, progressive, inclusive community or not? Can Arlington recover the credibility it’s squandered (with neighboring jurisdictions like Fairfax County, as well as with the state and federal governments) over the past year? Is Arlington going to become a “tale of two counties” geographically (north and south), economically, etc?
These are just a few of the many questions confronting Arlington at this time, and they’re not easy ones to figure out. Which is why, at this time, I believe we need to elect someone to the County Board who has deep, detailed knowledge about Arlington, as well as a demonstrated commitment to working on thorny issues over many years, and finally a strong, progressive vision of where we need to go. On all those counts, I believe that Peter Fallon is the right person for the job.
First, though, here are quotes about Peter Fallon from two people I greatly respect: Delegates Patrick Hope and Rip Sullivan.
Del. Hope: “Arlington is losing a lot of experience on the County Board this year. Peter Fallon has the planning expertise that the Board will need. He knows this community well, and that’s why I support Peter’s campaign and strongly encourage Arlington voters to give him one of their two votes for County Board this year.”
Del. Sullivan: “Peter Fallon lives and breathes Arlington. He has a record of deep commitment and significant contribution to the Arlington community. He’ll make a terrific addition to the County Board.”
I strongly agree with both of those statements, and am endorsing Peter Fallon in large part for the same reasons: Peter “lives and breathes Arlington,” having gained tremendous expertise from his many years of service on…well, you name it. For instance, Peter knows all about the intricacies of planning, zoning, and other stuff that make my eyes gloss over (heh), from his years on the Arlington County Planning Commission (from 2004 through 2013, including Chair in 2009). Peter knows transportation inside-out, with three years of service on the Arlington County Transportation Commission, plus service on the Master Transportation Plan (MTP) Plenary Group and the Long Bridge Park Master Plan and Design Advisory Task Forces, etc. Peter knows neighborhoods, as a past president of the Donaldson Run Civic Association. Peter knows long-range planning, which is desperately needed right now, having served on the Long-Range Planning Committee. I could seriously go on all day, and that’s kind of the point here: why wouldn’t we want someone with this enormous amount of expertise and experience in so many areas of Arlington County serving us on the Board?
Finally, I’d argue that although Peter has a reputation as being a bit “prickly” at times, I’ve personally found him to be highly responsive, open, and engaging in his communications with me over several years — far more so than most members of the County Board, frankly. I’ve also found him to have a great deal of doggedness, determination, dedication, and a dry/wry sense of humor that will serve him well on the Board. But again, most importantly, I’m endorsing Peter Fallon because he’s got the knowledge, experience, and expertise for this job, combined with strong Democratic and progressive values that most of us want to see in Arlington moving forward.