On Wednesday, December 7th, Libby announced her intention to seek the party nomination for Arlington County Board at the Arlington Democrats monthly meeting.
Watch her speech here. The full text of the speech follows.
Text of announcement speech:
I’m here tonight to tell you I will not be running for SB again. It’s time to give someone else the chance to serve.
And, I AM running for County Board.
Let’s think for a moment why WE are all here tonight.
We’re here because Arlington is our home and we want the tradition of effective leadership on the County Board to continue.
We share a vision of what we want our County to continue to be: a diverse, compassionate and prosperous community.
But we know Arlington is changing.
We could lose important things in that change.
Who leads us on the County Board matters.
We all want to keep this a diverse and inclusive community that works well and is a good place to live and do business. But everything is growing and changing so fast: buildings sprout up and parking spaces disappear almost overnight. Every year, it takes longer to get around. And it is harder and harder to find an affordable home to rent or buy.
Arlington is facing some big decisions. As we grow, affordable housing is disappearing. The police force hasn’t grown in 10 years. Our student population is growing by a school a year and we’re not sure how we’re going to pay for the buildings we need. Libraries have cut back their hours.
We have limited resources and big challenges. Now is the time to be clear about Arlington’s priorities.
The question for us is: How do we manage change so that, as Arlington grows, it stays the home we all love?
I’ve been leading change for 15 years.
Back in 1996, when my children were young, there were inequities in our school system. Our capital program was a mess: $25M missing from Arlington Schools Capital Fund said the Washington Post headline.
I called for a fair distribution of resources, a focus on student achievement and closing the gap; for better management, and more responsiveness to citizens. I ran for school board.
We have come a long way since.
We have renovated and rebuilt almost every one of our schools largely on time, on budget. We’ve closed the achievement gap by about 50%. Our 4 high schools are in the top 2% in the nation. People like Arne Duncan and companies like Boeing move to Arlington for our good schools.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked with 10 different school board members and hired 2 chief executives. We’ve faced some tough issues. Our school system is complex with a budget of almost a half a billion dollars this fiscal year. We run a large transportation and food service system.
Arlington Public Schools employs more people than anyone in the County except ….the Federal government. I have been Chair 5 times.
I am proud of the progress we’ve made on the School Board and proud of our culture of continuous improvement. We are always trying to get better. My colleagues and I have been through some thorny issues and tough votes, but we’ve always been clear about our first priority: student achievement.
That’s why we’ve come so far. We have clear goals and priorities and we stick to them. We are transparent. We monitor how we are doing and report to our taxpayers – even when the reports aren’t so good.
And we keep looking ahead to work strategically. For example, we pressed forward with getting Wakefield High School designed and built. This meant we were able to take advantage of the low construction costs and save the taxpayers about $30M. It will be an asset to the entire community.
I think this way of working is exactly what we need in our next County Board member. And if you would ask me what my priorities are, I would tell you: our core services of public safety, education, transportation, our infrastructure, and a safety net for our most vulnerable.
On a personal note, as you may know, my daughter Ruth and 2 of my grandchildren live in Quito Ecuador. They visit every summer. The 5 year old asked Ruth the other day “When are we going home?” “You are home!” Ruth said. “No! I want to go to my other home!” Mikaela wanted to come back home – to Arlington!
This is a wonderful home. Our sense of community- of openness, of a place where the system works makes Arlington very special. We’ve got to keep it that way — working for everyone — and keep that sense of community — as we grow and change.
That’s the goal.
What I offer you… to help get us there ….is my 15 years of experience working on some of the county’s toughest issues, leading change. What I promise is to work just as I have for the past 15 years. I will always listen to you, be looking ahead, and make decisions that are best for the whole County.
I hope I will have your support.