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Getting to Know Larry Mayer

Larry Mayer is the new president of the Arlington Civic Federation.

<bt>Number of years in the community?

I bought a house here in 1986. So 20 years.

Family?

My wife died last Oct. 20. She had breast cancer.

Education?

I have an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. an MBA from Harvard in 1973.

Current job/primary occupation?

My wife would say I'm retired but I actually do investments. I went to work at American Management Systems when we moved here. Then I left them and went out on my own in 1990.

Achievements:

Civic involvement is my greatest achievement because I've been doing that since 1990 right after I retired. I was president of Lion Park Citizen Association. I am still involved with them as well as the Clarendon Alliance, as well as the Arlington Civic Federation for a long time, although I've been more in the background of that until recently.

Activities/Interests/Hobbies?

I deal heavily in computers and computer systems, finance and I'm an avid reader. I have a winter house in Florida which I unfortunately haven't be able to visit in three years.

Favorite local restaurants or place in the community?

I have a number of them. Once a week I tend to show up at El Pollo Rico. I like to frequent restaurants in Clarendon because they are only a short walk from the house.

What are your community concerns?

My focus, and it's not because I don't have concerns in other areas, has been planning and zoning because I have been heavily involved in those areas in the civic federation. Prior to that I was involved in the Clarendon sector plan. I have concerns, in the civic federation, about increasing diversity. Both from a standpoint of minorities as well as age. Age is probably the hardest to deal with because younger people who may have kids can't get out as much at night. It's something that we have to do in the civic federation. If you're trying to be the civic voice of Arlington you need to try to reflect as much as possible what the civic community is composed of. Our aspirations are high but we are realistic so we know it will be a long process. The other aspiration is to foster a better communication with county staff and county managers and the Board. These are all things that I was doing as chairman of the Executive Committee last year.

How are you going to improve communications between the Civic Federation and the County Board?

Like anything, it is a slow process. This year we are going to extend the one meeting to quarterly meetings. We recognize we are not the only people talking to the board also and we respect what other people say and their input. We're trying to improve the communication. We're taking the onus on ourselves to help do that.

What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community?

The Civic Federation through its various committees tends to be involved in most if not all aspects of the community. I will follow their lead. They are very, very smart people that I don't always agree with personally but they are thorough and come to the best conclusion.

What brought you here?

When I graduated Harvard I moved here from Cambridge and I lived in McLean. My second wife could not drive so we needed to find a place that was close to the Metro. That's when I left McLean and started looking for apartments and houses out in the Arlington area of Northern Virginia, and we moved to Arlington. And am I glad we did because Arlington is like a small community and I really love that aspect of it.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was born and raised in Omaha in Nebraska. I always viewed myself as a businessman. My father was a businessman and I viewed myself as such. The rest of my family didn't follow the same path; my sister worked for The Washington Post and my brother is a college professor.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I really don't know. As long as I have interest in the Federation, I will stay involved. It is really interesting and a good group of people. As long as I feel comfortable with that I'll stay involved. To a degree that we can bring in a younger cadre and get them involved, then I can back off because you need to let new people move on. I'm not a power grabber or a politician. I'm just focused on getting things done.

What are the goals for the Civic Federation this year?

They are to continue the direction and emphasis we started ā€” maintaining and increasing our involvement; maintaining and increasing our communication and significantly increasing our diversity.

Are you taking any dramatically new directions this year in the Federation?

Probably not, though we could. At the beginning of last year we probably wouldn't of mentioned diversity. It's something personally I believe strongly in and others in the Federation do too, but it just hadn't been brought up yet.

Any new events coming?

We're going to have our usual events. We're heavily involved with many events in Arlington. We are planning to be aligned with many events. We've started to go to Walter Tejada's Hispanic round tables, which are great events. Also, where it makes economic sense to get involved, we will.