IN NOVEMBER, Arlingtonians will go to the polls to vote for President, U.S. Congress, one seat on the County Board and two on the School Board. Voters must also vote on four questions on county bond proposals aimed at providing funds for local schools, parks and improved transportation.
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8), Arlington’s congressman, won his first primary challenge in years. Moran faces two challengers on the November ballot, Republican Lisa Marie Cheney, and independent candidate Jim Hurysz.
Moran, the former mayor of Alexandria, has held his seat in Congress since 1990 and is now in his seventh term. During this year's campaign, he said Wednesday, his constituents are expressing great concern over national issues like the war in Iraq.
"I have never had as many national issues presented to me by my constituents as I have this year," he said. "That's why I think there is going to be a tremendous turnout for this presidential election. My constituents are very upset about the Iraq war. They don't feel we were justified getting into it and they don't know how we're going to get out."
On education policy, Moran said the No Child Left Behind Act, has angered educators in his district who see the standards as unfair.
"People are very upset about this No Child Behind bill," he said. "Teachers are upset because they are being made to teach only to test. We have a lot of limited English proficiency students, a lot of special ed students and they don't feel it's fair."
He added, "The bill hasn't given us the resources to meet the standards.”
In Arlington, Moran said local issues include opposition to the widening of I-66 and the county's surge of high-rise development. Current residents are concerned that new high-rises will contribute to traffic congestion.
"They just don't have any traffic capacity," he said. "There are some going up in Rosslyn that just don't have any ingress or egress."
Moran is also working on a new rowing facility along the Potomac River in Rosslyn. The rowing facility would provide some recreational access to the river. "I want to put in a rowing facility for all the high school clubs and the adults who live there," he said.
The rowing facility will be built on the North shore of the Potomac, facing the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge.
Cheney's campaign is largely centered around national security. The head of a government relations firm specializing in missile defense, terrorism and the 9-11 attacks influence her platform at almost every turn.
"Our area was targeted by terrorists on 9-11 and it would be naive to think that it couldn't happen again," she said in an interview just before the Republican national convention.
Cheney said rather than establishing a rail service to Dulles, the project should employ buses because "a railway would, I think, be an easy target for a terrorist. A rail is much more difficult to secure and it would only take one bomber to disable it. But a busline, if the roadway was hit it could be repaired and the buses can be redirected. A busline would also be safer for the environment."
On the county's diminishing amount of affordable housing, Cheney's stance is to promote home ownership rather than reducing local rents.
"I think we've been on the wrong course with trying to keep rents low," she said. "We should be encouraging ownership. Certainly, I think the federal government could offer some help with mortgage loans. Owning a home also gives families a nest egg for the future."
Cheney added many of her policy standpoints revolve around the idea of helping Americans to help themselves.
"That's how you encourage the spirit of America, by providing people with the tools and resources they need to make life better," she said. "The government needs to be giving people a hand-up and not a hand-out."
Jim Hurysz, an independent democrat inspired to run by one-time presidential candidate Howard Dean, said his bid for Congress is a grassroots effort centered around what he calls "manufacturing quality," thinning out government bureaucracy to better serve Americans in need. Hurysz said the government "shouldn't be solving and resolving the same problems over and over again. Social security, for example, should have a system worked out so that seniors don't have to wade through bureaucracy to get their money. Veterans shouldn't have to take their case to their congressmen just to get the benefits they are guaranteed."
Hurysz said he also wants to codify America's homeland security initiatives to ensure taxpayer money is spent where it is truly needed.
"I want to see some kind of comprehensive plan for the future so that we're not just wildly spending money without knowing what we're really getting for it."
Hurysz, who has run twice for a seat on Arlington's county board, added one local issue he wants to resolve in the house is the noise created in Arlington neighborhoods by government helicopters.
"People I've spoken with in North Arlington have said they are always bothered by the noise," he said. "I would like to address reducing the number of Army flights over the area and I think NASA should look into building quieter helicopters and planes."
The race for Arlington's County Board is split between Democratic incumbent Barbara Favola and Republican candidate F. Landey Patton. Patton, with a background in real estate and retail business, said he is running to challenge a board dominated by Democratic interests.
"There isn't really any balance on the board," he said. "You have five people, all from the same political party and, consequently, controversial issues are more likely to get buried in private meetings."
Patton added that county issues like "affordable housing, the convention center, the potential for a new baseball stadium, things like that don't really get explored as far as they could be and you don't get the kind of creative thinking you might from someone like myself, who has a strong business background."
Favola explained she wants to remain on the board to further her work on issues like affordable housing and the county's development plans. Favola said she wants to "ensure that development in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor happens in a way that is reasonable and doesn't overwhelm the character of our community."
On housing, Favola said she wants to continue passing guidelines to ensure local families find homes at reasonable rates.
"We passed some of the most aggressive affordable housing guidelines under my watch," she said. "If a new high-rise is built now, for example, 10 percent of the units within it have to be earmarked for families making 60 percent or less of the local median income."