This is an extremely important election in our history as a County. I identified three priorities coming into this election, naturally the most important was tackling climate change, as I’m an environmental studies minor. The other two priorities were keeping housing affordable and getting more community engagement in decision making. I appreciate all the candidates for their willingness to run but from the outset, because I’m a liberal, I narrowed the field to just Susan Cunningham and Takis Karantonis. That’s not to say that Bob Cambridge didn’t have any good ideas. Below is my reaction to Takis’s and Susan’s response to one question from the Eco Action Arlington candidates forum from a few days ago.
Question: “The Arlington County Board adopted a sweeping update to the Community Energy Plan in 2019 that sets Arlington on a path to becoming carbon neutral by 2050...what, if any, actions and policy changes do you propose for implementation.”
Takis said that “the County cannot accomplish this plan alone, we need to partner with the Federal government, State government, nonprofits, the business community and developers in particular”. I don’t know if he was saying that we should work with developers in particular out of everybody on that list, if so, my sirens are going off; we don’t need to be giving all or most of our ear to developers! The Board should work with developers but they need to have the majority of their focus on us Arlingtonians. On another point he said that he would like to implement a European environmental program and lead the rest of the Commonwealth in implementing it. I like the spirit of Takis making a community that sets an example!
Susan said that 80% of Arlington’s energy use comes from buildings and that’s the place to move the needle; she’s data driven, you can see that. She went on to say she doesn’t want to sacrifice LEED standards for density. Initially I was against that, as someone who believes that making more housing units is a great way to keep all housing affordable, I was willing to allow buildings to slack on environmental standards in order to have as much density as possible. However, I realized that these standards are important for improving our environment and we shouldn’t sacrifice them. Instead, our Board should be forced to navigate the tedious, but in the end rewarding, line of keeping housing affordable and buildings environmentally friendly. It will take creativity but I believe that Susan is up to the task.
Based off of what I saw in the debate and my own research Takis definitely has more robust ideas for keeping housing affordable. Ok, he won me over for that priority. When it comes to both reaching out to the community and tackling climate change Susan Cunningham won me over. For the former, she has bolder steps in engaging the community on her campaign website than Takis does on his. For the latter, her Mechanical engineering major has a focus on the environment and she has had several jobs in the environmental field. Two is greater than one so I voted for Susan. She is believable, she is rooted in facts, her ideas and personality are refreshing and exciting, and she seems like a bold leader. Takis is also bold, very engaged, smart, and more but he narrowly fell behind Susan when it came to those two priorities. Honestly, I’m excited to have Takis and Susan in the race at the same time. It was a difficult choice, but Susan came out on top for me.
Alistair Watson is a rising Junior at Goucher College outside Baltimore; a Philosophy Major and Environmental Studies Minor. He is a lifelong Arlington resident and attended Claremont, Gunston, and Wakefield.
Check out the forum mentioned in this article on Arlington Independent Media! It will be showing on Wednesday July 1 @ 6pm, July 3 @ 5pm, and July 5 @ 10am & 9PM. Watch live at https://www.arlingtonmedia.org/ or on TV on channel 38 (Verizon) and channel 69 (Verizon).