What’s Ahead for Arlington

What’s Ahead for Arlington

Two County Board members outline upcoming political issues.

Things are changing in Arlington. Demand is growing on the schools and Metro in excess of funding levels. Populations continue to rise throughout the county. Two County Board members, a Democrat and an Independent, outlined what they see as the top political issues for the Arlington County.

Libby Garvey was elected to the County Board in 2012 after 15 years on the School Board. She was chair of the board in 2016.

Some of the upcoming issues from her perspective include:

  • Pace of Development: The pace of development and its effect on traffic, parks and green space, tree canopy, etc.

  • Schools: The need for more school facilities for the burgeoning school population — where to locate them, how to pay for them, their effect on traffic, green space etc.

  • Confederate Icons: The naming issues that have become clear after the terrible events in Charlottesville. Does the county keep or change the names of roads named after Confederate leaders (especially Lee Highway and Jefferson Davis Highway), or of Washington-Lee High School, and how to handle other monuments in the county? If names are changed, what would they be changed to?

County Board member John Vihstadt, an Independent, was elected to the County Board in 2014. Before that, Vihstadt had served on Arlington’s Planning Commission, Housing Commission, and Advisory Commission on Aging. Vihstadt says the county struggles with finite resources and a limited availability of land, all of which factor into the challenges the county will face over the next few years.

Some of the upcoming issues from his perspective include:

  • Schools: Meeting schools’ capacity challenges and the educational needs of children. Need to bring schools construction costs under control while still providing more seats for more students. Need greater future collaboration with School Board counterparts towards these key goals.

  • Transit: Shoring up the troubled Metro system through a combination of administrative, managerial, enhanced oversight and employee productivity reforms, along with a new, permanent, dedicated funding stream provided by all participating jurisdictions. Metro is Arlington's circulatory system, and its economy and environment depends on safe, reliable and sustainable public transit.

  • Managing Growth: Shaping and managing growth in an era of rising population and increased demand for both programmed and non-programmed green space, parks and fields.It is time to act on a key recommendation of the 2015 Community Facilities Study: require a cost-benefit analysis for every new site plan project, whether commercial or residential. The county should also launch a conversation about how to enhance and diversify its community benefits process to better provide for the schools, community centers, and other public facilities.