Commissioner, Arlington County Fiscal Affairs Committee; President, Arlington Rotary Club; Managing Partner, Olson Weaver Lighting Design & Install LLC.
Q: If you can pick just one, what is the single thing that prompted you to run for County Board?
A: I am concerned about the vacancy in commercial office space and the stability of revenues coming into the county. We have a record 23 percent vacancy rate and when that happens the property tax assessments drop. We need to bring in more tech companies and expand the allowable uses in commercial space.
Q: What is your position on lot coverage?
A: We need to clarify the ratio of coverage to land, do some research on the allocation. I’m currently undecided.
Q: What is one county Board decision you would not have voted for in the last few years?
A: The process of allowable use for office space needs to be changed in a more substantive way. Every 6-8 months people lobby the board, and there are new allowable uses rather than a substantive overhaul. We need to identify uses not allowed and let other things happen. Currently we have use-tables on what you can do but the problem is that a business model years ago didn’t anticipate things happening today.
Q: How would you define the Arlington Way and do you think it remains a strong element in the County?
A: The Arlington Way is different for different people. Generally there is input from certain groups that have a disproportionate amount of input. They are very interested and active but don’t represent the entire county. We need more active strategic recruitment for our commissions to make sure we include the underrepresented.
Q: Rising crime in Arlington: what is one thing you would like to assure residents Arlington remains a safe place to live and work?
A: We need to look at the police department and how resources are allocated. We need to shift resources from traffic infractions to violent crime.
Q: Would you like to see the County be more willing to invest in rescue of historic homes than they have recently with the Fellows, Broyhill, and Rouse mansions?
A: It should be on a case by case basis.
Q: How familiar are you with the stormwater management issues in the County?
A: Stormwater management is very expensive; it’s a prominent part of the CIP.
Q: What are some areas where Arlington County could cut costs?
A: The first thing I would look at in the budget is the long vacant positions and eliminate them as well as a hiring freeze. But I would protect the DHS human resources budget, especially after the pandemic. When you look at the budget you see that the police and sheriff’s office combined is the third largest expense. It reflects a certain value in our community we should think about.
Q: What is the single best thing about Arlington that attracts people to live here?
A: The public schools, period. When I talk to people who want to settle down here, that’s what it is all about. We need to be careful or we will fall behind Alexandria and Fairfax in teachers’ salaries. It used to be competitive but has been eroded away.
Q: No matter the outcome, what will you take away from running for board?
A: So many things. It’s about learning with all of the organizations that are part of Arlington. It’s super rewarding. You have a certain level of knowledge but it’s humbling. Nothing prepares you for the people you meet knocking on doors.
Q: What is one question I haven’t asked you that you wished I had?
A: I think it’s important to look at my service background and experience. I am President of the Rotary Club which is an organization that really cares about the community. I had an international internship to Argentina with Rotary in high school where I learned so much about their culture and about my own. Rotary provides resources to schools, and we have changed the scholarships from merit-based to means based. Another area of support is funding water resources to needy countries.
More at https://www.tony4arlington.com/