On May 19, I sent all four Democratic Arlington County Board candidates Blue Virginia Qs & As and asked for responses by April 5. I told the candidates I’d post responses in the order received, which for the record was: Erik Gutshall‘s at 9:27 pm, Vivek Patil‘s at 10:10 pm and Kim Klingler‘s at 10:14 pm (the other Democratic candidate, Peter Fallon, told me yesterday that he’d have his responses back by today). Voting is on May 9 (7-9 pm at the Key Elementary School), May 11 (7-9 pm at the Drew Model School) and may 13 (11 am-7 pm at Washington-Lee High School). With that, here are Kim Klingler‘s responses.
- Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the Democratic candidates to serve on the Arlington County Board?
I believe Arlington County needs a County Board Member who:
- Has a wide range of perspectives and experiences, can represent all Arlingtonians, and leads by example;
- Has demonstrated the ability to think and plan strategically;
- Can hit the ground running and work with County Board members and County staff to make Arlington more efficient, competitive, and collaborative.
- A) I will represent all Arlingtonians:
I live, work, play, volunteer, and have built relationships across all 26 square miles of Arlington. As a volunteer EMT, I have responded to calls and treated patients across Arlington and the region. Over the years, my day job has given me the opportunity to work for and alongside businesses off of the Orange, Silver, Blue, and Yellow lines. My townhome, which I have lived in for 10 years, is on Lee Highway; I am in my third term as the President of the Leeway Overlee Civic Association and am a member of the Lee Highway Alliance (composed of 16 civic associations).
In South Arlington, I have volunteered with the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) for over seven years and I have volunteered with the Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) for over eight years. In addition, I am an active member of the Shirlington Run Club and belong to the Energy Club. I participate in Rooftop Tabata frequently, and make time to take my dogs to Shirlington and the Four Mile Run trails often.
- B) I am a proven strategic planner:
As a Senior Manager with Deloitte Consulting and now a Division Director with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), I have participated in and lead strategic planning initiatives, including vetting, socializing, approving, and implementing strategic plans. I have been trained by some of the most experienced planners in the industry and I have used and continue to use this training in both my professional and volunteer roles. Arlington currently has nine separate master plans, and while there are areas of overlap and alignment, there are also areas of contradiction. I am excited about the possibility of leveraging this experience on the County Board.
- C) I am very familiar with our local government and have demonstrated that I can effect meaningful change:
As the Chair of the Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission (EPAC), its liaison to the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission (FAAC), and a past member of the Capital Maintenance Task Force (CMTF), I am very familiar with some of our county planning, zoning, permitting, and budgeting processes. Over the course of the past decade, I have identified areas for improvement, have been able to influence change and improvement in some of these areas by highly encouraging new policies and metrics, recommending and implementing new priorities and processes, and rethinking what constitutes operational, paygo, capital, and leftover funding.
As it relates to EPAC, in collaboration with fire, police, sheriff, public safety advocates, and the unions, we were able to obtain and gain budget support for minimum safe staffing on all fire apparatus. In addition, we worked across these stakeholders to develop pointed questions that are driving some of the first sets of meaningful, outcome-based, inter-departmental metrics.
As it relates to FAAC and the CMTF, we were able to push for an inventory of all County facilities and land, and began to understand their current state and projected useful lives. Through this activity, we were able to begin to project what our future capital maintenance expenditure needs would be, advocate for and gain approval for necessary capital maintenance in both the operating budget (as appropriate) and the capital budget.
- How would you describe yourself ideologically – “progressive,” “moderate,” “liberal,” or something else? How does your record of votes, endorsements, employment, and other activities reflect your political ideology?
I am a progressive; I like to push the envelope.
I believe that government (the public sector), in partnership with the private and non-profit sectors, has the ability to sustain and improve the lives of their residents. I believe that government has a duty to keep its residents safe and educated. I believe that government also has the responsibility to work with the private and non-profit sectors to develop tools and programs that can assist residents in improving themselves and provide additional continuing education programs.
Professionally, I have worked in the private, public, non-profit sectors (currently in non-profit). I have worked, and continue to work, to build relationships between these sectors, so that collectively we can: implement Electronic Health Records to improve patient care, develop new Medical Home policies to reduce the cost of healthcare, and launch clinical trials that are sponsored across sectors, using donated biomarker targeted therapies, to find new ways to treat cancer.
In my volunteer efforts, I have challenged the local government and partnering entities to understand what the status of their current state of affairs is, what are their true underlying needs, and collectively what our future state should look like. Whether it is finding new ways to engage those living in my civic association and neighboring civic associations, ensuring all of our volunteer firefighters and EMTs have completed Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) training, or working with local charities to minimize the number of food-insecure residents, I have consistently challenged local government and their partnering entities to reexamine what their missions are and if their current approaches/methodologies are fulfilling their mission.
- Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite Arlington County politician, present or past, and why?
Favorite: Ellen Bozman. Although I did not know her long, each time I spoke with her I was inspired, and her work and her legacy continue to inspire me. As reiterated by many of her colleagues and the community, Ellen not only spoke about civic responsibility, but she lived it. This is something that I strive to do every day.
Ellen was also a holistic thinker. Although she focused in on some key areas that are very near and dear to me, she took the time and the energy to learn all the other competing and sometimes complementary areas, and she was able to integrate them into her approach.
She had a vision, which in many ways have created the transit oriented and smart growth approach we work to further implement and sustain in Arlington every day.
As a healthcare professional and a volunteer educator, I was especially impressed with Ellen’s commitment to developing programs and services that not only cared for children after school, but also began the process of creating and maintaining long-term care facilities (nursing homes) in Arlington.
Least Favorite: My least favorite Arlington County politicians are those who get so focused in on one area that they neglect to step back, see the big picture, set priorities, and work with their fellow board members and the community to create a holistic vision for Arlington.
- As a County Board member, what would your approach be to improving housing affordability in Arlington? Would your emphasis be more on providing subsidies for dedicated “affordable housing” units, more on increasing the supply of housing via zoning and other changes, or some other method(s)?
Whether an Arlingtonian makes below 60% of the Annual Median Income (AMI), or above 60% of the AMI, living affordably in Arlington is out of reach for many, and especially for those in the middle, above 60%, but below 120% AMI.
For those at or below 60% AMI, I support including dedicated funding for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund as part of the annual budget cycle so that we have a stable investment fund to draw from when affordable housing opportunities arise. I also support continued partnership with community non-profits, which is a successful model in Arlington for many community needs, and has worked well for affordable housing construction and maintenance. I will also examine the possibility of including committed affordable units where possible in site plans across the county.
In order to create affordable options for those above 60% AMI, we need to look beyond our current set of tools, investigate options being used by our regional partners and those across the US. Some potential starting places are:
- Reinstating the Middle Income Purchasing Assistance Program (MIPAP)
- Revisiting current and develop future “Live Where You Work” programs
- Revisiting Arlington’s policies on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- Utilizing zoning changes to create more affordable multi-story condos, townhomes, etc along off-Metro corridors, such as Lee Highway
- Given the potentially draconian cuts we could see in coming months and years from the Trump administration and Republican Congress, what could/would you do to protect Arlington in general, and Arlington’s most vulnerable residents specifically?
First of all, we need an accurate inventory/assessment of how many federal dollars Arlington is currently receiving. When I have posed this question to people familiar with/in County government, I get different answers.
We need to know where our current funding streams are vulnerable, and then we need to evaluate whether or not the current program is effective and if it should be continued. If it should be continued, we need to develop options: are there other public options (at the state level), private, or non-profit options?
Specifically, if we look at the Arlington Free Clinic (AFC): When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented, AFC was able to graduate a significant percent of their patient population to the ACA. As a volunteer at AFC, we taught these graduates how to sign up and navigate the ACA; once they did so, AFC was able to accept new patients. AFC is actively working with the county and developing options for re-accepting former graduates.
- As you know, Virginia is a strong “Dillon Rule” state. How best can Arlington operate within these constraints in order to “push the envelope” on progressive and pro-environmental policies while not getting slapped down by a Republican-controlled General Assembly?
When I discuss environmental policy with my colleagues, friends, and family members, the one thing we all can agree on, regardless of how we identify politically, is that government must do what is most cost effective and economically viable and sustainable.
As Democrats, we can reframe our values and priorities when selling them to others, highlighting the virtues of these ideas that would appeal to less progressive decision-makers. For example, our Maryland neighbors are convincing homeowner communities to lease solar panels, at little cost to the homeowner, with return on investment to the homeowner, panel supplier, power company, and it benefits the environment. Virginia Democrats could take a similar approach when considering policy tools to help protect our environment.
- What is your position on adequate funding for Metro? Would you support a dedicated revenue source? Increasing Arlington’s contribution to Metro? Other options?
I absolutely support dedicated revenue sources to help fund Metro. Arlingtonians rely on Metro to get around the region, and around Arlington. Having a transit system that is safe and reliable must be top priority for the region’s lawmakers. Especially with continued projected population growth, if we want to continue to reduce congestion on our roads, we need a transit system that meets rider’s reasonable expectations of service and is fully funded.
Currently in the FY18 budget, Arlington is proposing a significant contribution to Metro in order to keep SafeTrack improvements and related maintenance funded, and to support Metro’s continued operations.
However, Arlington will not be able to sustain these contribution levels indefinitely. I support Governor McAuliffe’s recent appointment of Ray LaHood to head an independent panel to study Metro and make recommendations to address Metro’s financial and structural problems.
- Arlington officials like to refer to the county as an “urban village.” Is your long-term vision for Arlington to move in a more “urban” direction, to remain more “village”-like, or what?
I would like to see Arlington continue to evolve as it has, and is planned to in the future, and particularly support initiatives such as that for Lee Highway. I support continuing the highest density in the Metro corridors, and a medium density mix (like two-to-six story apartments, condos, and townhomes) in the off-Metro thoroughfares that link to the Metro system, like Lee Highway. This would also serve as a transition zone between the high density Metro corridors and the single family neighborhoods, which I also want to preserve.
- Given development pressures and the lack of strong environmental protection laws in Virginia, how would you protect – and preferably enhance/increase! – Arlington’s tree canopy, streams, natural areas, parks and biodiversity?
We are quickly losing tree canopy due to a variety of factors. (https://environment.arlingtonva.us/trees/how-arlington-rates-trees/). I support ensuring staff have the necessary funds to carry out their plans to correct this problem, as well as preventative efforts.
Our streams and tributaries are largely impacted by Arlington’s use of non-permeable surfaces that allow for street trash, oil, etc. to run into our streams. Arlington needs to continue to work with residents and businesses to increase our use of permeable paving, green roofs, rain gardens, etc.
We must continue to maintain the parks that we have and look more strategically and rigorously into tracking and following through on land acquisition efforts. With this investment, prioritization, and commitment, we will be able to improve our natural areas and therefore enhance our biodiversity.
- How would you define the concept of an “Arlington Way?” Does this actually exist or is it mostly just rhetoric? How well (or poorly) do you think it’s been working in recent years, and what changes would you propose moving forward to strengthen it?
The Arlington Way is the vehicle that promotes two-way dialogue between County staff and elected officials, and Arlingtonians, with the goal of producing policies that best serve the needs of those living and working in Arlington.
Anecdotally, Arlington goes above and beyond to have more community involvement than most jurisdictions.
Statistically, Arlingtonians are some of the most informed, educated, and purposeful people in the nation. Therefore, if the County asks them to lend their talents and sacrifice their time, it must:
- Not ask for input or options on a matter where the decision has actually already been made;
- Convey accurately what the citizen advisors’ charge is from the beginning;
- Provide members with potential viable options for considerations;
- Make sure advisory commissions, task forces, etc. are staffed by qualified and trained personnel;
- Provide data – many times commissions, task forces, etc. are asked to make decisions with little, no, or ambiguous data;
- Revisit ombudsman programs and/ implement single point of contacts, so that community leaders and residents can easily get the information they need, without feeling the need to go through the County bureaucracy to get to the right person.
- What do you think the current Board is doing well? What do you think it needs to improve on? Are there any areas where the Board is doing poorly? How would you propose fixing what’s not working well?
I like the mix of the current County Board, and am generally happy with their work; I would be honored to be given the opportunity to serve with them.
I do feel like there are some key areas that could benefit from some focus:
-Public Safety/Emergency Preparedness;
-Department of Health Services (DHS) and Affordable Care Act (ACA);
-Prioritizing housing affordability and ensuring Arlington is competitive and collaborative.
To address these key areas, I would focus on the following:
Keeping Arlington Safe & Healthy
- As a community, our population and density continue to rise. Therefore, our public safety offices and personnel must keep up with the demand. In order to do this, we must diligently address our backlog and fill these positions with qualified people. We must also make our public safety service more competitive so that we can hire and maintain the additional public safety personnel we will need to meet the planned growth of our future community.
- The ACA has been given a reprieve, and although I wish this were long-term, this reprieve will most likely be a temporary situation. Therefore, DHS, working alongside the Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) and the Arlington Free Clinic (AFC), must find alternative treatment and insurance options in order to care for Arlington residents and prevent unnecessary and very costly emergency transports and visit. Our residents should not have to choose between food and healthcare.
Keeping Arlington Diverse
- Providing services such as those provided by the AFC and VHC will assist in keeping Arlington diverse. But, as I discussed in my answer to question 4 above, in order to maintain diversity in Arlington we must reexamine our housing affordability measures of success and tools.
Keeping Arlington Forward Thinking
- In order to enhance our competitiveness and leverage partnerships/collaborations, as I discussed in 1B above, we must ensure that we are planning and executing together, in a holistic manner. We must also be an efficient place to initiate, stand up, and sustain a business. We can do this by improving and streamlining our permitting, inspection and other processes. We should also revisit, reprioritize, and refine our standard 55 site plan conditions.
- What ever happened to the proposed Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness facility, and do you support moving ahead with it?
The Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness facility got sent back to the proverbial drawing board due to projected escalating costs and a design scope that seemed to go beyond the perceived needs and interest of the community.
I would support moving forward with building an aquatics center if:
1) We have a design that our current CIP can support from a resource and financial perspective;
2) There is a demonstrated community need and we have a business plan in order to fully fund all operating costs;
3) The go-forward decision is made only after re-examining and ranking other budgetary priorities.
- What would you propose to jumpstart Arlington’s Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE)? More broadly, how can we move Arlington to a clean energy-powered county as rapidly as possible?
The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps our community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. However if you look at the published metrics, you will notice that most of the progress that has been made (or at least reported) focuses on homeowner initiatives.
In order for AIRE to truly be effective and assist our county in moving to clean energy, the program must also target and focus on educating, incentivizing, and helping businesses transition to clean energy sources.
More broadly, I will commit to working with our state delegates, senators, interest groups, and corporations to advocate in Richmond for policies that incentivize renewable resources across the Commonwealth. Clean energy is good for Arlington and the new Virginia economy; there is much for the General Assembly to support.
Simultaneously, I will continue to work with the County and its regional partners in reducing emissions and improving safety through improving public transportation, and walk/bike options.
- Anything else we haven’t covered and that you think should be?