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An Emotional Tribute and Unfinished Business

If I have yet to personally thank you for your email, card, phone call or other message in the wake of the election, apologies. I?m still catching up!

AN EMOTIONAL TRIBUTE

Meanwhile, I?m sharing with you the link to our?Saturday, December 15 County Board meeting, where my colleagues Katie Cristol, Christian Dorsey, Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall hosted a?remarkable and very generous tribute?to my years of service. Nearly two dozen speakers provided heartfelt encomiums and accolades, with hundreds more in the audience and at a reception immediately following. I spoke, as well, in particular noting that, even in Arlington,?partisanship maintains an increasingly toxic grip on full participation in community affairs?and too often discourages talented and qualified people from even considering a run for County Board or School Board.?Watch what happened.?The tribute begins at about the 1:30 mark (or go directly by tapping Item IV. Additional Items under the video).

County Board Tribute of John Vihstadt

County Board Tribute of John Vihstadt

 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

In my letter to you of last month, I briefly reprised my?proudest accomplishments?in my four years and eight months on the County Board, including the?independent County Auditor,?turning away from extravagant, ill-conceived projects, a renewed emphasis on?basics like schools, public safety and community infrastructure, and, just this fall, a?carryover of 75% of our FY 2018 budget surplus?for holistic consideration in the next fiscal year, rather than the usual custom of immediately spending it all on certain favored projects with barely any debate.

But I?ll be frank with you. Unfortunately, with my?County Board exit on January 1, 2019, I?m no longer in office to pursue to fruition several other initiatives for which I fought so hard. To name a few:

  • In 2016, I led a 3-2 Board majority to consider?commercial advertising on Capital BikeShare and Arlington?s ART bus system, with the proviso that all revenues generated be invested to maintain and expand the regional bicycle program and ART. Unfortunately, because of turnover in our procurement office and signoffs needed by other localities for a regional sponsor, the BikeShare advertising plan?is way behind schedule.?Advertising on ART is even further delayed, while Metro rakes in millions a year through selling advertising on trains, buses, in stations and on bus stops.?I?ll do what I can from the outside to push this revenue generator along, but it?s proving to be a long slog.
  • As part of the Board?s adoption in June 2018 of our FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), I secured the unanimous support of my colleagues to direct the Manager to form a working group to?rethink Arlington?s Neighborhood Conservation (NC) Program,?which especially of late has been beset by cost overruns, construction delays, failed delivery deadlines and quality control issues.?The Manager is about three months behind where he pledged to be in appointing this group of citizens and experts to better ensure that Arlington delivers sidewalks, curbs and gutters, water and sewer projects and other community infrastructure?on time, on budget, efficiently and equitably across our 26 square miles.?It?s essential that the group make recommendations for County Board action in sufficient time to inform the next CIP that will be considered in 2020.
  • Just hours before the stroke of midnight on December 31, the Manager returned to the Board with a response to the direction that I spearheaded in May 2018 for staff to craft?models for cost/benefit studies for our development decisions.?While new commercial and residential projects bring ?jobs, amenities and housing, it?s critical for our future?especially with Amazon looming–that we truly understand?and address?the?cost and consequences of development?on our?infrastructure, schools, green space, tree canopy and more.? I?ll be watching to see how the Board acts in response to the Manager?s findings and recommendations.

If you?re still interested in hearing from me,?notwithstanding my commoner status, please be on the lookout for my next missive to your inbox, or visit my website,?for?Vihstadt?s Voice, the perfect place to catch my brief thoughts on issues of the day, and?where you can share what?s on your mind, as well.

Thank you again for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving you on the County Board since April 2014.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy and calm New Year!

John Vihstadt
info@voteforvihstadt.com

P.S.? Consider amplifying your voice by joining your?neighborhood civic association?or attending an?Arlington County Civic Federation?meeting.