This year I am focusing on Equity, Innovation and Resilience. I chose these three areas because they are interconnected, overarching and crucial to helping Arlington thrive in this time of political upheaval with rapid technological and environmental change.
Here, I discuss what each means to me; touch on some progress I’ve helped Arlington make in each area; and my plans for 2020 and beyond if I am re-elected. Arlington County has made great strides in many areas during my tenure on the Board. If you’d like to know more than this brief summary, I encourage you to visit our County Board website: https://www.arlingtonva.us/
EQUITY : Good government provides residents with the government services they need to reach their full potential. This sounds simple, but throughout history, some people get more than others from their government. And, it is not usually according to their need, but according to their influence.Some of What We’ve Done
On the School Board I helped close the gap in achievement between different racial groups of students by over 50% on some measures. It took years of focused effort. I’ve continued to support racial equity while on the County Board, but expanded my focus to include equity for all populations. I’m proud of what Arlington County has done to provide better mental health services, to help end homelessness, to provide a safe place for women and children fleeing abuse, to provide nutritious low-cost food to those in need, and to help our older residents with programs and support.Looking Forward
This year as Board Chair, I will help make the answers to the four questions from our Equity Resolution part of our decision making.
Who is burdened?
Who is missing?
How do we know?
Data has shown that we have as much as a 10-year difference in people’s life spans depending on where they live in our County. The Board will use the “Destination 2027” report to tackle the underlying circumstances that create this health disparity. Also, we will work to make sure that decisions in areas like zoning and transportation do not sustain racial and other inequities.
INNOVATION : Innovation is more than cool technology, although that is part of it. Innovation to me means removing barriers that keep us from seeing solutions. Our natural inclination to avoid risk and do things the way we’ve always done them is one of the biggest barriers to innovation. An emerging challenge to innovation with technology is coming in the form of backlash to certain abuses of privacy. I think it’s important to work through this and other challenges together.Some of What We’ve Done
In 2019, we amended the County Code to allow the installation of small antenna facilities on County-owned poles in the public right-of-way. This opened the door for the expansion of the next generation of wireless technology — 5G — in Arlington. As Board Chair, I will encourage pilot and demonstration projects to show what can be done with this capability, while working together to shape our policy around new challenges such as maintaining privacy.
Our Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) is an example of innovative thinking. The goal of ARI is to raise safety standards for restaurants that serve alcohol with training rather than arrests.
Traditionally there are not many women working in public safety. Camp HERricane introduces young girls to public safety careers and empowers them to handle emergencies.Looking Forward
Challenging our staff to consider approaches different than “the usual” is important. I am encouraging our County Auditor to incorporate equity into his audit objectives and to use audits to support innovations. I’m also encouraging pilot demonstration projects like using light poles to charge electric vehicles and biophilic projects incorporating nature into design.
RESILIENCE: Resilience is the ability to recover quickly and well from shocks and crises. This means both physically and socially. A well-maintained infrastructure, energy efficiency and robust emergency services are all important to our physical resilience. Good schools, skilled employees, libraries, parks and a public prepared for emergencies are important to our social resilience.Some of What We’ve Done
I’ve supported energy-efficient buildings since my time on the School Board, and our schools are model designs. On the County Board, I’ve worked to provide increasingly strong incentives for private developers to do so, too.
Preparing for unexpected events from extreme weather to attacks like 9/11 is also crucial for resiliency. I’ve long supported such preparation locally and regionally as a member of the Council of Governments Emergency Preparedness Council.Looking Forward
Major cities around the world recognize equity and community engagement as crucial components of social resiliency. Throughout my career in elected office, I have promoted both. As a County Board member, I continually work to make it easier for more people to engage, by pioneering new ideas like open office hours, citizen roundtables and on-line streaming of Board work sessions.
The torrential July 8, 2019 storm showed that our 20th-century stormwater infrastructure is not resilient enough for the 21st-century storms we are experiencing. I have encouraged our staff to bring the Board new answers for stormwater management. I expect to support solutions like large cisterns to capture rainwater. They can slow the runoff, and should we have times of drought, act as important water reserves.
Equity, innovation and resilience keep our community better connected, more forward thinking and the place we all want to call home.