PRESS RELEASE: Yes, Virginia. Arlington County Has a Spending Problem

October 7, 2017

Arlington County Board just voted to approve the design of a new Lubber Run Community Center with a whopping $47.9 million price tag. On top of that, the new Wilson High School is currently estimated to cost $100 million.

By comparison, the town of Vienna recently completed renovating its community center for just $6.5 million, and the cost of a new high school under construction in Loudoun County is $81.7 million —- much less than the projected cost for our new Wilson school.

And take a look at this …. It costs $18,957 per pupil per year to educate our children in Arlington, but, at the same time, it costs only $14,432 per pupil for Fairfax County School District to teach their kids.

Isn’t that ridiculous ??

It’s obvious that Arlington taxpayers are paying a lot more for the same public services than elsewhere in Northern Virginia. This is not only wasteful, it may also prove to be unsustainable.

Arlington County needs new leadership to reform the way our local government is administered. It needs Independent leadership!!!

As an Independent candidate and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow, I am qualified to fill that role.

I advocate long range needs-based planning, not tricky fiscal bookkeeping fixes that the current County Board concocts to hide its funding for pet projects and programs.

You can help turn that situation around by electing an
Independent to Arlington County Board who will be accountable to the voters.

Arlington currently has one Independent on County Board, who is well respected among County residents. Let’s make it two!!!

To find out more about my campaign, visit my website. Better still you can make a difference by endorsing my candidacy, donating to my campaign, or volunteering to help me on Election Day.

Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

PRESS RELEASE: Tax Gouging In Clarendon

September 5, 2017

I’m an Independent candidate in the race for an open seat on County Board in November, and I seek your endorsement.

If elected I hope to stop the exodus from Arlington of small businesses that have been hard hit by a byzantine permitting process on the one hand and draconian tax increases on the other.

In fact, in 2016 ARLNow reported the closure of no less than six Clarendon eating/drinking establishments: including American Tap Room, Boulevard Woodgrill, Brixx Pizza, Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, Hard Times Cafe, and Park Lane Tavern. The Irish Pub closed in 2015 and Sehkraft Brewing followed in 2017.

Increased taxes are undoubtedly factor in these closures. Of the failed businesses ARLNow reported, the Arlington property search database reports tax assessments for six of the properties housing them during the nine years between 2008 and 2017.

During this period, the average annual tax assessment increase for the Clarendon properties was 13 percent. The overall average nine year increase in taxes was 194 percent. It’s likely that the landlords of these properties passed their tax increases onto their commercial tenants in the form of rent increases. Compare these numbers with the Consumer Price Index, which reports an average annual increase of 1.85% and and a nine year increase of 14.5 percent, and a picture emerges of flagrant tax gouging.

Consistent with that view is the fact that no less than three of these businesses, American Tap Room, Hard Times Cafe and Irish Pub, are chains that continue to operate similar establishments outside the county. In other words, these businesses did not fail on their own.

If elected to County Board, I’m going to ask the County Auditor to issue a formal inquiry to the Department of Real Estate Assessments to determine why assessments on restaurant establishments have increased so dramatically in the past ten years. I’m also going to ask the Board to seek testimony from those restaurant owners, so it can hear what they have to say about the reasons they closed or left.

If elected, I also pledge to:

  • Seek ongoing tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 13-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in political science and service as a Congressional Fellow–I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

Arlington currently has one Independent on County Board, who is well respected among County residents. Let’s make it two!!!

To find out more about my campaign, visit my website. Better still you can make a difference by endorsing my candidacy.

Together we can make the "Arlington Way" more than an empty phrase.

PRESS RELEASE: Just Say No To Business As Usual On Arlington County Board

July 8, 2017

I’m an Independent candidate in the race for an open seat on County Board in November, and I seek your endorsement.

Although my Democratic opponent Erik Gutshall claims to be a progressive, he was nominated in a “firehouse” caucus, imposed by party insiders that required all voters to sign a pledge that they

“do not intend to support, endorse or assist any candidate who is opposed to a Democratic nominee in the ensuing election.”

It’s bad enough that the “Caucus” was meant to stack the deck in favor of Gutshall, the insiders’ favorite. What’s even worse is that the pledge itself infringes on your right to vote your conscience when you go to the polls in November. How arrogant! Any candidate who benefits from this undemocratic process is progressive in name only.

Politics aside, Arlington County is facing major challenges, including:

  • a 20 percent office vacancy rate;
  • an estimated 3,000 students in trailers;
  • major future Metro shortfalls; and
  • the likely disproportionate impact on Arlington businesses and residents of anticipated federal budget cuts this fall.

Meanwhile Erik’s record as a longstanding member of the Planning Commission and its current Chair, indicates that he is content with business as usual.

In fact a survey of recent Planning Commission decisions shows Gutshall endorsed every site plan development project submitted since the beginning of 2016–expressing little concern about the impacts on transportation, schools, parks and other public services.

If you are complacent about the future of Arlington County and content with someone who goes along to get along, then Gutshall is your man. If you feel as I do, that Arlington’s uncertain economic environment requires a more proactive form of leadership–INDEPENDENT LEADERSHIP–then I am your candidate.

If elected, I also pledge to:

  • Seek ongoing tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 13-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in political science and service as a Congressional Fellow–I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

Arlington currently has one Independent on County Board, who is well respected among County residents. Let’s make it two!!!

To find out more about my campaign, visit my website. Better still you can make a difference by endorsing my candidacy.

Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

PRESS RELEASE: Evictions Ongoing in Westover

Comments at County Board Meeting on May 20, 2017.

As a Westover Village tenant since 2004, I find it ironic that Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), which portrays itself as a champion of affordable housing, now comes before you asking permission to evict half the tenants whose buildings it saved from probable demolition in 2016. Continue reading

PRESS RELEASE: Metro Responds to Climate March By Shutting Down Stations

May 1, 2017

On April 29 tens of thousands of people from all over the U.S. converged on Washington, DC, to protest the Trump Administration’s climate change denial policy. By all accounts the event was a success. While slogans denouncing Trump were everywhere, the defiant crowd never got out of hand, testimony to the professionalism of both the organizers and the DC police.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Metro, which actually stopped trains from running between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle. If the purpose of the service disruption was to prevent protesters from overcrowding the stations, the solution would have been to simply run trains past the stations, not stop running them through the stations.

As it was, thousands of protesters, tourists and Nationals baseball fans were unnecessarily inconvenienced. One wheel chair bound marcher told me he was forced to change trains three times to get to his car parked in Vienna. Not only that but Metro ran trains on a regular Saturday schedule fifteen or twenty minutes apart, even though the stations that remained open were deluged with commuters.

I learned from a DC sports fan that Metro categorically refuses to add trains or extend hours to accommodate major sports events.This is the same Metro that has jacked up fares and announced plans to cut service on dozens of bus lines, even ones that meet its own performance metrics. No wonder Metro has a cash flow problem. Hiking fares while decreasing service and turning a deaf ear to paying customers does not promote ridership. It cripples it.

There’s a plan afloat to provide Metro with a dedicated funding stream by imposing a one percent regional sales tax to pay for its operations. It’s time for elected officials to stop throwing money at Metro and insist that it operate like a regional transit provider instead of a bus shuttle service. Metro should get dedicated funding ONLY if it agrees to extend train service as needed for major sports and other high attendance events.

Metro safety includes more than repairing infrastructure. It means getting commuters to/from their destinations with a minimum of service disruption and platform overcrowding. If elected to County Board, you can be sure I will insist on that. If elected, I also pledge to:

  • seek ongoing tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers

PRESS RELEASE: County Board Candidate Audrey Clement Calls for County Government to Accelerate Street Paving

I’m Audrey Clement, Independent Candidate for Arlington County Board in the 2016 General Election.

As a long-time bicyclist and patron of public transit who doesn’t own car,  I ask Arlington County Government to accelerate street repair operations across the County.

There are way too many pot holes and cracked and broken pavements for Arlington residents to drive or walk safely to work, school, or shopping centers—let alone to bike. Moreover, Arlington residents in the mobility-disabled community tell me that they are afraid of deteriorated sidewalks and crosswalks.

Even after a major street repaving effort last November right before the election, major arteries like Clarendon and Wilson Blvds. have deteriorated badly over the winter. Arlington needs to maintain its streets not just before the election but all year round.

When elected to County Board, I will make basic infrastructure maintenance and upgrades my first, not my last priority. Isn’t it time we had a County Board member who works for YOUR needs, not for vanity wants like a $20 million gondola and a $40 million swimming pool? It’s time for corporations, non-profits, and special interests to fund vanity programs and projects, not demand more from already-stressed taxpayers.

Please visit my Web site at: www.AudreyClement.com.  Let me help you make Arlington County a better place to live. A greener Arlington is a better Arlington, and that’s my pledge to you, the citizens of Arlington County.

VDOT Must Sway Opponents of Tolling I-66

I’m persuaded that Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is genuinely interested in addressing concerns about the traffic impact of tolling I-66, which I support. Nevertheless I’m concerned that VDOT has not responded effectively to the concerns raised. For example, Delegate Jim LeMunyon recently trashed VDOT’s plans to toll I-66 inside the Beltway. Continue reading

Asking the Fox to Guard the Hen House

The McKinley Elemenatary School expansion project is supposed to be the poster child for what’s right about the Arlington Public Schools (APS) More Seats for More Students program, in contrast to the Ashlawn project, which is a tree hugger’s nightmare.

Yet when you look at the details, there’s not much difference. The Ashlawn project demolished a tree lined hill overlooking Bluemont Park and removed 100 mature trees to put in a parking loop. The McKinley project will take out 77 mature trees, including a “significant” red oak to put 20 additional parking spaces.
Continue reading

Arlington Greens Pay Tribute to Don Rouse

Arlington Greens are mourning the death of prominent Green and talented jazz musician Don Rouse, who passed away on Tuesday, September 10. A long time resident of Arlington County and retired government employee, Rouse was a party activist and ardent supporter of the Move to Amend resolution, which was adopted by the Green Party of Virginia in 2012 in the wake of the 2010 Citizens United decision, that all but eliminated the prospects for advancement of third parties in the United States. Continue reading