Home Local Politics Blue Virginia’s Arlington County Board Interviews: Melissa Bondi

Blue Virginia’s Arlington County Board Interviews: Melissa Bondi

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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 this morning. The first interview, with Arlington NAACP President Elmer Lowe, is available here. The second interview, which you can read below, is with community activist Melissa Bondi. The rest will follow in coming days as soon as possible. Thanks to Mr. Lowe and Ms. Bondi for returning their Blue Virginia surveys (on time is an added bonus! :)), and 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 want to serve on the County Board to engage our community in resolving major questions about Arlington’s future.

I love Arlington. As a County Board Member, I would bring my experience as a neighborhood leader, my professional policy expertise, my collaborative style and a ten-year track record of resolving challenges in my own neighborhood and across Arlington. I believe I am the only candidate who would bring all these assets to the County Board.

Arlington’s prime location next to our nation’s capital and its visionary planning around Metro in the 1960s and 1970s has led to enormous success. However, these factors alone will not carry us through the next 50 years. We need a community conversation to update our vision. I want our community to consider life beyond the Metro corridors, and to consider the next generation of our economic, social and environmental sustainability. 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 that fit our neighborhoods and shared goals.

As a County Board Member, I would also lead new efforts to preserve and pursue additional committed affordable housing, and to ensure our outstanding schools, parks and other capital investments, our triple-AAA bond rating and excellent transportation choices and systems. I would stand up for equality and further pursue equitable, social justice no matter one’s age, income, race, ethnicity, physical ability or orientation. I would work with all of the Arlington community to continue to achieve success while maintaining our values and welcoming new ideas.  

A sample of my credentials and qualifications is listed here. My full bio is available at my website:

I was president of the Lyon Park Citizens Association in 2006 and 2007, and also served as the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee representative; I am a past member of the Lyon Park Board of Governors and longtime member of the executive committee. I was a major contributor to the Clarendon Sector Plan Review Process, and chaired the parks subcommittee. I have participated in dozens of site plan projects, zoning ordinance amendments and long range plan reviews across Arlington, from Lee Highway to Shirlington.

I have advocated for groundbreaking policies like Public Land for Public Good. I contributed my own ideas and collaborative style to help in writing 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.

I’m a current member of the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association, and I serve as a delegate to the Civic Federation, including as a member of the Planning and Zoning Committee. I’m a member of the Arlington Economic Development Commission and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Community Action Committee. I’m a member of the Committee of 100 and the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance. I am a founding member of Keep Clarendon’s Character and was an active member of the Coalition for Arlington Good Government. I am a member of the Sierra Club (Mt. Vernon) and the VA League of Conservation Voters.

Professionally, I have built my career in regional nonprofit public policy and advocacy, specializing in the environment, community development and the needs of vulnerable and low-income populations. I have led numerous initiatives on local, state and federal budget, affordable housing, urban planning, and community development issues.

For seven years I worked on national environmental policy issues. I also served as Housing Director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, researching, developing, and promoting best practices throughout the Washington Metropolitan region in the areas of planning, zoning, transportation and transit, walkability and pedestrian safety, parks, trails and open space, small business retention, and community participation in local decision-making. As a federal housing policy consultant for Smart Growth America, I led research, analysis and recommendations for federal housing policy for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, including brownfields development, federal housing financing instruments, and other housing initiatives.

Currently, I’m a Project Coordinator for the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, focusing on improving the ability of nonprofit partnerships to partner with government to deliver safety net and related services to local residents. I served as director for the regional Think Twice Before You Slice campaign, a joint initiative of the Nonprofit Roundtable and the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, which emphasized analysis, education, and community engagement on the impacts of local and state budget decisions across the Metropolitan area on low-income and vulnerable populations. I also helped to create the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in 2006 as a consultant to the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

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

In my opinion, the top three challenges facing Arlington County right now are:

1) Mitigating the continued threats to, and losses in, Arlington’s affordable housing stock. Having an adequate supply of affordable housing aids the stability of our local work force, frees up personal income to achieve other economic goals, and increases the efficiency of our transportation networks. A significant portion of our diverse Arlington population, from immigrants to seniors to persons with disabilities and young families need access to safe, decent affordable housing. Unfortunately, Arlington has lost ~10,000 units of market-rate affordable housing in the years between 2000-2010, through redevelopment, condo conversion and market rent increases. The economic recession has not ended the risk of more families losing access to affordable housing.

2) Addressing the current and projected rising public schools capacity. This includes assessing and evaluating alternatives for adding capacity on Schools (and possibly County) property. It also includes budgeting the appropriate resources and creating a realistic timeline for increasing schools capacity to achieve important education outcomes, and delivering the highest-quality K-12 learning environment for all students. It also includes determining the resulting additional costs for educators and other staff, utilities and other program support for new classrooms, and working through how those resources will be paid for, and over what period of time. The challenge also includes balancing schools needs with other important Arlington capital priorities, and the need to maintain natural areas, play fields and other green space on schools sites.

3) Ensuring the ongoing operational, maintenance and capital health of our Metrorail system, on which our economy, environment and community depends. This includes the more than $7 billion in estimated capital costs for maintaining the current Metro system and its existing capacity. Accommodating projected rider demands for service is estimated to cost nearly $4 billion more in capital needs (from adding more buses to escalator service.) Metro also is experiencing back-to-back years of operating deficits that Arlington and other participating jurisdictions must work together to address while balancing overall local budget needs and priorities.

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?

I will review each and every one of my contributions and do my best to limit those which would reasonably trouble Arlington voters.  With a broad donor base coming from many sources, I hope Arlingtonians will see that I can be objective in my decision-making on the Board. I believe the solution to this issue is candidates exercising good judgment, disclosing contributions to the public, and letting voters decide if they agree.

I will not take contributions from developers in Arlington, and from others whose businesses (such as taxi and towing companies) are extensively regulated by Arlington.

I also reserve the right to turn down other campaign contributions that, due to their size or because of other circumstances, might lead voters to question my objectivity on any important County Board decision.

The set-up of Virginia’s state campaign finance, whether we like it or not, has very few rules. Contributions must be disclosed, but there are no legal limits on the amount anyone can collect from almost any source, and likewise few limits on how campaign money can be spent.  This means it is up to candidates and voters to decide, voluntarily, what contributions are appropriate.

As a local government entity with broad regulatory power over land use, the County Board makes decisions that touch almost everyone who lives, works, or even plays here.  From time to time, almost any citizen, business owner or visitor could potentially have “business” before the County Board.  For example if the County Board is to consider a permit for live entertainment and amplified music at a restaurant, the restaurant owners, patrons, nearby neighbors, and even competing restaurants may choose to write to or speak to the County Board.  

I think it is often appropriate for members of our community to become active in volunteering for or otherwise contributing in modest amounts to County Board campaigns. Therefore, I have not adopted a blanket rule of foregoing contributions from anyone who may have “business” before the County Board, since that definition is broad enough to include every person in Arlington.

Developers and other County-regulated businesses come before the Board not just once in a lifetime, but over and over, with high financial stakes.  Their interests may be different, not merely from a set of individual neighbors, but from Arlington’s voters as a whole. I will not accept contributions from such persons.

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

Yes, I believe the Code of Ethics is one appropriate guide for Board members’ conduct. One of the greatest barriers to citizen participation in government is loss of trust in the process and in elected officials themselves. It is essential that elected officials always act in accordance with what they believe is the best interests of the community. As a civic activist, I’ve tried to model the goals of personal integrity and ethical treatment of all people in my own work. While people may sometimes disagree with policy decisions the Board makes, those decisions should never be at risk of being questioned on the basis of conflicts of interest or bias.

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 achieve the most environmentally friendly and most progressive community (e.g., in the areas of human rights and immigration) possible?

Under the Dillon rule, the power of local governments is limited to those specifically granted by the Commonwealth. Local initiatives not expressly authorized require state legislative approval. This poses constraints on environmental initiatives that Arlington County might otherwise be inclined to take. For example, a ban on plastic bags or a bag tax, as the District of Columbia recently implemented, would require state approval, and a bill to allow that (HB 1498 Ware-D) failed in the 2011 legislative session.

Arlington has found ways to achieve progressive policy goals notwithstanding the Dillon Rule by using its assigned powers in creative ways, leading by example as an organization, encouraging voluntary action, and by successfully working with others to make changes to state law. For example, Arlington has successfully used its explicit land use regulatory powers to achieve LEED certifications, affordable housing, and transit demand management programs. These processes provide a great opportunity for improving the look, feel, and efficiency of new buildings, promote smarter growth and transit use, and improve our environment.

Similarly, Arlington has been able to use its procurement policy to promote a living wage for employees of county contractors. Other programs like the Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions (Fresh AIRE) and the Green Home Choice Program enlist the support of Arlington citizens while avoiding Dillon Rule prohibitions. We should continue to use all these sorts of tools in the future, as new opportunities are identified.

In my work with the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Nonprofit Roundtable and as a Board member of the Virginia Housing Coalition, I have worked successfully at the General Assembly level in partnership with the Arlington and other Northern VA legislators and local government officials, and other advocates to pursue sound progressive housing, human services, land use and transportation policy. I’ve also partnered occasionally with statewide entities like the Virginia Municipal League, the Virginia Realtors and other allies to build stronger coalitions, with more bi-partisan credibility, to pursue better policy results than would Arlington on its own. In many cases I had to work across the aisle with Republican legislators and the Governor’s staff to pursue good policy outcomes and/or to mitigate undesirable outcomes.

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? If not, why not?

Yes. I strongly support the incorporation of energy efficiency and other ‘green’ standards in our commercial buildings, and have been at the negotiating table on dozens of site plans around the County to advocate for, and to review the specific elements of, the energy efficiency and other LEED scorecard provisions in commercial buildings. I have also advocated for the use of EarthCraft standards in residential construction, including in the construction of affordable housing, to reduce costs for tenants as well as to reduce our consumption footprint and dependence on fossil fuel-generated utilities.

Arlington’s standards for building design, especially in Metro corridors, includes many provisions that are also worth points on the LEED scorecard – from underground parking to building near transit, many Arlington buildings would be achieving these goals anyway. So the additional effort to get to the minimum Certified standard is not much of a leap. We have approved Silver, Gold and Platinum buildings in Arlington, and as a County Board member I would continue to push for higher levels of achievement in site plan projects. My priority would be to pursue the energy conservation- and source- related metrics, since those choices have some of the greatest impacts on our environmental foot print.

In 2003, when this incentive was most recently updated, the many marketing, economic return and other benefits of LEED certification were still not yet commonly understood by developers. I believe today we are in a different place. It’s clear that the level of interest in our environmental practices and the degree to which building owners recognize their ability to recover the cost of their investment is increasing.

I have also advocated at the state level for the Virginia Housing Development Authority to adopt a stronger LEED & Earthcraft point system for awarding competitive affordable housing tax credit financing to affordable housing projects. VHDA is the premier housing financing agency in Virginia, and their adoption of higher environmental expectations would improve our energy and environmental footprint across the state, while also rewarding jurisdictions like Arlington that have adopted many best practices into all aspects of planning and development already.

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

All across Arlington, our small businesses define our sense of place and neighborhood identity – from Galaxy Hut to Westover Beer Garden. They add greatly to the vibrancy and appeal of our community while contributing significantly to our local employment and tax base. Small businesses often invest significant resources to build, maintain and update storefronts, navigating through regulations and public opinion.

I believe Arlington has achieved success in promoting a culture of small business, but we have room for improvement.

I think Arlington’s government is not of just one character when it comes to small businesses: when it comes to regulations, in some areas I think the County is not friendly enough; in other areas, overly permissive, and in some places I think we are just about right. And outside of the regulatory area, I think there is more we can do to support and promote the small businesses that make Arlington such a great place to be.

As examples of how we currently overburden small businesses, I would point to substantive rules, such as the (recently-repealed) ban on umbrella signs and limits on parking signs, as well as the message sent by the manner in which some rules get enforced, which has struck some business owners as excessively mechanical and unappreciative. At times, small businesses have also felt legitimately burdened by permitting processes that are overly complicated, time-consuming or bureaucratic. As a County Board member, I would strive to enact clear rules that businesses can easily follow, but also allow for flexibility (through appeals to the Board, e.g.) when special conditions arise.

At the same time, I have seen other areas in which the County has gone too far in the other direction, by, for example, failing to prevent so much encroachment of restaurant activity into the public sidewalk that pedestrians and persons with disabilities could no longer safely and comfortably travel.

In still other areas, I believe we have actually struck a pretty good balance for small businesses. For example, our use permit approach to restaurants and bars has led to some important compromises between neighborhood residents and businesses to address live entertainment, security, parking, trash and other nuisance complaints. In general, when we have ensured businesses and neighborhoods were working together to find solutions that can work for all parties, we have had long-term success. But even here, I have seen room for improvement in the government’s ability to set appropriate expectations for how that conversation will ultimately play out – in order to invest effectively, businesses need to be able to better predict what they will ultimately be allowed to do.

We can and should also continue to look for ways to actively support small businesses in our County. I think Arlington has been innovative in thinking about the physical form of retail to maximize flexibility for future tenants, and working to secure a variety of retail floor-plate sizes so that small, start-up businesses can both afford and find space to accommodate their scale and business models. I have also worked on project negotiations in Clarendon where businesses displaced by new development would receive assistance with relocation and be offered space in the new building upon its completion.

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?

Yes. As a volunteer, I worked to help create this policy in the Streets element of Arlington’s Master Transportation Plan, adopted in 2011 (see Policy 14.) The County reinforces this in its other planning documents (see Rosslyn as one example.) I believe our storm water management planning will be greatly enhanced as modern permeable paving technologies are employed in residential, commercial and other public sites. As a Board member, I would vigorously implement these plans.

Besides natural soils, grass and plantings, there are many forms of man-made permeable pavement products – from gravel and pervious concrete to open-jointed blocks and porous/synthetic turf (as is being employed in Arlington play fields today.) Some technologies are better than others at handling heavy vehicle traffic, and all may wear down or require maintenance over time to retain their maximum permeability. I take seriously the recommendation of disability advocates who urge caution in choosing the appropriate technology to ensure accessibility and even surfaces for people who use wheelchairs, canes or other mobility aids.

As a Board member, I will continue to pursue innovative strategies to promote permeable pavement based on the topographical location, the volume of car, pedestrian or other users and the relative purchase and maintenance cost. Analysis has shown significant long-term economic and environmental benefits to employing permeable pavement, grass, gravel and other measures.

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?

One of the primary roles of local government is land use planning.  Government has an obligation to ensure not only that our infrastructure (such as roads, trains, utilities and public safety services) is sufficient for the intensity of development, but also that those who wish to live, work and play in our community can do so in a way that is compatible with their neighbors.  Even though all of Arlington is centrally located entirely within the Beltway and sits adjacent to our Nation’s capital, it has designated majority of its land area as limited to single-family home development, with additional limits on height and lot coverage.  While some would say that this is an excessive limitation on density for such a close-in area, I believe these limits are largely appropriate to maintain Arlington’s historic neighborhood character and the ability to attract residents and employers who like what they already find here.

Similarly, I believe that there are reasonable limits on building form and design in the denser portions of our community. Not every transit node in Arlington should or can be planned to resemble Rosslyn, Ballston or even Clarendon. We should have variety to meet the varied needs and desires of Arlingtonians in their built environment. In fact in Rosslyn the allowed building heights have reached the point where federal authorities have expressed cautions about air navigation.  To me, this is a sign that Arlington is actually willing use building height to its outer limit as a planning tool.

When I served on the Clarendon Sector Plan Task Force, I worked successfully to include building height and taper requirements that preserved neighborhood character, a pleasant urban environment with extensive ground-level activity and architectural respect for historic structures.  One of the lessons we learned in Clarendon was that height was not the same thing as density, and we were able to include density incentives for affordable housing (among other goals), while still being able to control building form and height in a manner that enhanced the community vision.

As chairman of Arlington’s Housing Commission, I also worked on groundbreaking state and local legislation that allowed Arlington to dramatically increase the rate of development contribution to affordable housing.  The formula we arrived at recognized that not all of our affordable housing goals can or should be met through on-site units in new construction (although some of it certainly should). Rather, the formula recognizes that preserving existing historically affordable housing, especially near where new construction is occurring, can sometimes be the best way to simultaneously preserve neighborhood character and ensure diversity in our community.

And so I believe there are a variety of valid reasons to limit building form and height, in addition to “aesthetics;” I believe density is more important than height to the economic considerations underlying the creation or preservation of affordable housing; I believe density regulations must be related to the infrastructure support we have in place to support that density; I believe that Arlington can and should use its land use regulations to achieve all its goals, including both affordable housing and place-making; and I believe that there is not a serious inherent conflict between regulating building height and achieving our affordable housing goals.

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?

I see “the Arlington Way” as a description of our citizen-based policy development process.  Because our population is always growing and changing, the Arlington Way, too, must adapt and change to meet the abilities and resources of our citizens, and the scale and scope of the County’s policy challenges. My experience is that the Arlington Way is a sort of social contract in which members of the community are willing to invest time, passion, thought and values into educating themselves about the community and the back-and-forth of joint decision-making, and in return the government takes citizen input as its starting point for action.  The Arlington Way takes advantage of Arlington’s unique and incredibly diverse, educated and experienced community members.

I believe that, while still strong, the Arlington Way is under some pressure at the moment. First, I am concerned that our County staff sometimes have lacked the capacity to engage in citizen-based policy-making. From time to time, I have seen staff fail to make the additional investment of time and energy to properly reach out to affected stakeholders, educate them about the important considerations, and support them in reaching their own compromises and creative policy solutions.

Another pressure on the Arlington Way comes from a generational shift in how citizens expect to work with institutions. Traditionally, community education, discussion and feedback occurred predominantly at large and small, but frequent in-person meetings and assemblies.  Increasingly, citizens today are not getting as involved in formal organizations with regular meetings, but rather are using blogs, social networking, and other methods to conduct their civic business.  In many ways, these can enhance our community discussion, for example, sites like Blue Virginia and ArlNow have clearly provided many Arlingtonians with both information and a venue for discussion that is more convenient and open to the public than traditional meeting formats.  At the same time, there is now more difficulty communicating with citizens today via traditional mail, phone and even door-to-door outreach, and so formal groups like civic associations are finding it increasingly hard to maintain their membership and resources.

I believe the County government must move in multiple directions simultaneously to address these shifts. First, there must be more emphasis within the government to proactively and consistently seek to involve the public in every policy discussion at the earliest possible stage, to recognize when citizens have invested the time and energy to send in a single e-mail, and certainly if they go so far as to attend a meeting. Second, the government must do more to formally support organizations, such as civic associations, upon which it relies for community education and feedback. And third, Arlington must continually be prepared to adapt to new media strategies that will notify and involve citizens in decision-making, for example, by monitoring and participating in blog discussions where citizens commonly ask for official information.

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?

Overall, Arlington’s capital program has led to important, valuable investments in our community, including new schools, parks, community centers, Metro, streetscape and traffic management, the wastewater treatment plant, fire stations, libraries, and storm water management projects. Some of these are important to public safety; some are key amenities that make Arlington such a desirable place to live and do business; others directly contribute to the strong economic base that generates revenue that helps to fund public services and relieve the burden on homeowners.  

At the same time, Arlington has consistently achieved the Triple-AAA bond rating and saved significant costs in paying for capital projects. The borrowing limits imposed by the Board in the last decade were important measures for fiscal prudence that should be maintained.

Under the current CIP review process, the County Manager releases her recommendation based on input from relevant departments, some Commissions (like Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee) and other relevant citizen councils (like Civic Federation,) and of course the Schools, which conducts its own process. Then the County Board holds a hearing so that the public may weigh in on the Manager’s proposal, and later votes to adopt a final capital improvement plan.

I believe that the capital budget process could be improved in order to facilitate greater public involvement and more thorough evaluation of alternatives.

For example, I believe that, just as it does for the annual operating budget, the Board should provide explicit guidance to the County Manager for preparation of the draft CIP. I am pleased that the County Board did so this year for the first time, and I would like to see that become a permanent practice. This will help to focus the Board and the community on priority-setting early on, and will improve the quality of deliberation prior to Board action. It will let everyone know any parameters early in the process, and will provide a starting point for community discussion.

After that, staff needs to generate the kinds of information that enable consideration of the tradeoffs that are involved in the timing of various projects. At or before the time that Manager drafts the CIP, the public should be provided information about the County’s fiscal capacity, and the constraints on capital spending, along with projections and recommendations focusing on long-term needs, highlighting major components, like maintenance capital, government facilities, schools, parks and open space, neighborhood conservation, and transportation (including Metro). These should be presented in a way that makes it possible for the Board, Commissions, civic associations, other organizations and the general public to engage in a dialogue about the choices to be made in addressing capital initiatives over time.  

I also think that planning for a longer time-horizon than 6 years is necessary, and so I applaud the recent decision to formulate a 10-year capital plan.

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?

One of my fundamental priorities as a candidate for the County Board is to initiate a broad, community conversation about what our community priorities should be over our next 50 years. It’s my goal to share my vision and also to engage the public for their ideas and priorities as part of a collaborative decision-making process. So in my opinion, the optimal Arlington hasn’t yet been conceived by those whose opinions would matter most to me in responding to the question.

In the short term, I believe we can begin to make progress on pursuing additional strategies for achieving more committed affordable housing, such as looking at new tools through the Columbia Pike Land Use and Housing Study, and finalizing the implementation elements of the Community Energy Plan and working to achieve other best practices for the environment in our decision-making. We will make decisions on capital needs including a plan to address schools capacity and other priorities, like parks, maintenance, transportation and other programs.

In the medium term, it is my goal to achieve some of the additional communications and civic involvement priorities I outlined above. Also, Arlington would have increased its commitment to the environment through more robust implementation of LEED and EarthCraft building standards. The County Board, working in partnership with allies across the region, would begin to find long-term solutions to Metro’s funding needs and an ongoing schedule of improvements to maintenance and operations for the agency. Arlington would have demonstrated an ability to work collaboratively with our legislative delegation, and allies across the region and the state in its relationship to Richmond on policy and funding issues that have significant impacts on our local quality of life, for example in education, human services and in overall local government control over decision-making.

In the long term, I envision making Arlington’s transportation network even more extensive to accommodate greater demands for transit, walking and biking. I also see Arlington working to make its economic tax base more competitive and resilient by attracting a new generation of diverse employers in areas like science and research, clean/green technology, health care, tourism and the arts. We will also better understand how to capitalize on innovative nonprofits, small businesses, and social entrepreneurs so they will contribute to our 21st Century economy.

  • Commenter64

    So, have the other candidates already submitted their responses?   Do they get to review Melissa’s and Elmer’s answers before posting their own?   Why not just post them all at once?

  • Jason

    I’ll just say that I think the three candidate questionnaires posted so far tell us a lot about the candidates, their level of experience, and their vision for the office.  I’m sure the others will do the same. I can’t wait to read them all as they are posted.  

    Thanks, Lowell, for the forum and for posing these thoughtful questions.

  • independent in arlington

    Its pretty clear that Ms. Bondi has a great deal of practical knowledge about the workings of the Arlington County government, which is obviously a big plus.  I also appreciated her thoughtful answer to question (3) about accepting political donations from individuals and company’s with business before the County.  

    I would also like to hear her views (as well as the other candidates’ views) on how Arlington should pay for what she identifies as priorities, either by spending less on current projects (which ones?  which types?), or by raising additional revenues (how and on whom?).

    People whom I respect speak very highly of Ms. Bondi, so I will look at her very closely.