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Audio: PW County Supervisor Says the Quiet Part Out Loud, Argues When You Build Apartments, “you’re not getting Joe Republican moving in”

Pete Candland: "and you wonder why the eastern end of the county has not just gone Democrat [sic], it's gone solidly blue"


Clearly, Republicans prefer certain housing types (e.g., single-family homes with large lots in suburban/exurban sprawlsville, which tend to be heavily white and vote/contribute heavily Republican) over other housing types (e.g., high-density, transit-oriented housing types such as condos, townhouses and apartments, which tend to be highly diverse and highly Democratic). But usually, they are careful not to “say the quiet part out loud” on this topic – namely, that Republicans don’t want, uh, certain types of housing…the types that attract, er, you-know-who. Which is why the following audio, of Prince William County Supervisor Pete Candland (R-Gainesville) is so striking.

These Republicans are slitting their own throats approving these apartmentswhen you put these apartments in, you’re not getting Joe Republican moving in to these apartments….and you wonder why the eastern end of the county has not just gone Democrat [sic], it’s gone solidly blue…It’s my hope we can take a little bit of a right turn at least…”[Professor Emeritus] Stephen Fuller [of GMU] came in and said…if you want to get high-value jobs here in Prince William County, you need to build high-value homes. You’re not going to get high-value jobs by building apartments and condos.” 

Uhhh..where to even begin with this?  First of all, Candland *is* correct that high-density/transit-oriented development patterns tend to be much “bluer” politically, and much more diverse racially and ethnically than sprawl/car-dependent/single-family-home development patterns. Which should be a good thing, but clearly isn’t for folks like Candland. Also note that transit-oriented/high-density development has both environmental and economic advantages (e.g., see Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time) over sprawl development patterns (e.g., see Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream).

As for what Professor Fuller said (or, more accurately, what Candland claims Fuller said), that seems debatable, as there’s evidence for high-density development patterns being valuable in “creat[ing] the conditions for income gains that can help end poverty.” In the northern Virginia area, take a place like Arlington, which is relatively dense and transit-oriented, and is doing very well economically. Or cities like New York or Boston or Seattle or wherever.

So why are Republicans like Candland so devoted to the sprawl/single-family-home model? A lot of it, clearly, is the fact that the political and financial power bases for exurban Republicans like Candland depend heavily on big, expensive homes in sprawl patterns of development, and with a low percentage of African Americans, Latinos, etc. So at least Candland’s being honest, although note that he talks about that part in a hushed tone, as he clearly senses that it’s not wise to “say the quiet part out loud,” which…he just did, as you can hear in the following audio. Keep in mind, of course, that we don’t usually get audio like this, of Republicans admitting what *really* motivates them in decisions like these. But it’s helpful now and then to get a glimpse of their actual thinking, and to keep that in mind as they argue disingenuously against progressive policy choices…such as not wanting, uh, certain types of housing and, er, certain types of people moving in to their counties.

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