Home Local Politics Blue Virginia’s Arlington County Board Interviews: Elmer Lowe

Blue Virginia’s Arlington County Board Interviews: Elmer Lowe

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Arlington is gearing up for a special election to replace Senator-elect Barbara Favola on the County Board, with the caucus dates now set for 2/2 and 2/4 (at the NRECA Building and Kenmore Middle School, respectively), and with numerous candidates announcing at this past Wednesday’s ACDC meeting (see videos of their speeches here). I recently sent out questionnaires to all the announced Democratic candidates, with a deadline of tomorrow morning, latest. The first response comes from Arlington NAACP President Elmer Lowe. The rest will follow in coming days. Thanks to Mr. Lowe for returning the Blue Virginia survey, and also to the other candidates in advance for their responses as well.

1. Why are you running for Arlington County Board and what makes you the most qualified candidate at this time?

I am running for Arlington County Board and I feel that I am the most qualified candidate at this time because of my experience in organizing, planning, management, and knowing how to solve many of the difficult problems of today.  My Leadership experience with over 24 years of active duty in the US Military and 19 years as a Deputy Sheriff in Arlington County speaks for me.  I was also the Executive Director for “Friends of Guest” a home for non-violent female ex-offenders in Alexandria, Va. I was the second male to be appointed to this position.  In this position, I had to set strict rules and enforce them.  In my present position as President of Arlington Branch of the NAACP, my management and supervisory skills have truly been tested.  

2. What would you say are the top three challenges facing Arlington County right now?

The top three challenges facing Arlington County right now are affordable housing, unemployment and immigration problems.  In that order and I believe they all can be resolved.

3. What rules do you believe should apply to Arlington County Board members with regard to campaign contributions from donors with past, present, or upcoming business before the board? In general, do you believe that Arlington County Board members should conform to the Arlington County Code of Ethics, including items such as “Adhere to conflict-of-interest rules and avoid activities with real or perceived conflicts of interest?”

The conflict of interest rule should apply to Arlington County Board members with regard to campaign contributions from donors with past, present or upcoming business before the board.

4. Do you believe the Arlington County Code of Ethics should be revised? If so, what specific changes should be made to them?

The Arlington County board members, all elected and appointed officials and employees of Arlington County should conform to the Arlington County Code of Ethics.  The code should be revised to state such.

5. How, in your view, should Arlington County best work within the constraints of the Dillon Rule and a state government dominated by Republicans in order to be the most environmentally friendly and most progressive community (e.g., in the areas of human rights and immigration) possible?

The Dillon Rule is used in interpreting state law when there is a question of whether or not a local government has a certain power.  Dillon’s Rule construes grants of power to localities very narrowly.  The basic idea is that if there is a question about a local government’s power or authority, then the local government does not receive the benefit of the doubt.  Under Dillon’s rule, one must assume that the local government does not have the power in question.  I feel this is a very technical legal question.  Not being a lawyer, I would say change the rules to get the power first and there could be no question of not receiving the benefit of the doubt

6. Do you support requiring, or at the minimum strongly incentivizing, all new commercial buildings constructed in Arlington County being constructed to the highest possible energy efficiency and “green” standards (e.g., LEED Gold or Platinum) possible? If you favor incentives, what specific incentives do you favor?

I strongly support all new commercial buildings constructed in Arlington County being constructed to the highest possible energy efficiency and “green” standards possible.  I especially support water use reduction, materials and resources.

7. At the present time, do you see Arlington County as not friendly enough to small business, just about right, or overly permissive?

I have a small business myself, and feel that Arlington County is as friendly as possible to small business

8. Would you support putting strong incentives in place to encourage homeowners, businesses, and county facilities to install permeable pavement and other measures to prevent runoff of water?

I would support putting strong incentives in place to encourage homeowners, businesses, and county facilities to install permeable pavement and other measures to prevent runoff of water where needed and if it is proven to be cost savings compared to typical storm water drainage system.

9. When the county orders the height of new residential buildings near Metro reduced in the name of aesthetics, what benefits do Arlingtonians see, and does that benefit offset the resulting reduced availability of housing?

When the county orders the height of new residential buildings near Metro reduced in the name of aesthetics, Arlingtonians should see the artistic beauty within the alignment and style of new residents which would create an area of beauty for residents and visitors to the county.  

10. What is your definition of “The Arlington Way,” do you believe our county’s been living up to it, and what can be done to strengthen it?

My definition of “The Arlington Way,” is when all persons in Arlington are respected and treated fair and equal regardless of race, creed, color, gender and or sexual preference.  I must say “NO” our county has not been living up to it.  However, I must say that things are improving in Arlington.  To strengthen it, we all must remember “treat    and respect others as you would desire them to treat and respect you”.

11. Do you believe Arlington has the best possible process for determining which new capital projects to undertake and which to defer? If you believe this process could be improved, which specific improvements do you recommend and why?

I believe Arlington has the best possible process for determining which new capital projects to undertake and which to defer.  However, there is always room for improving. Leaders must always remember that you can not always satisfy everyone.  

12. What is your vision for the optimal Arlington County in the short term (5 years or less), medium term (10-15 years) and long term (20 years and out)?  How would you go about achieving that vision?

My vision for the most desirable Arlington County in the short term is that we will find a way to decrease real estate tax, decrease crime whereby more middle income persons would be able to live and enjoy the county.  In medium term, the same.  In long term, Arlington County would be the place where every one would love to live here and visitors from all parts of the world would come to visit.  I would work hard with the present residents and governments officials to achieve this vision.