VIHSTADT CHALLENGES LATEST HOWZE STREETCAR DEFENSE

“Let’s be careful about who is calling whom divisive,” Arlington County Board member and streetcar foe John Vihstadt said today in response to a press release issued Wednesday by opponent Alan Howze. “We have a strong contingent of voters who oppose streetcars, and are ready to vote in November.”

“The fact is that my election on April 8 – by a resounding 57%-41% margin – demonstrated that Arlingtonians strongly oppose the construction of two streetcar lines of 7.4 miles now projected to cost over $500 million dollars and counting,” Vihstadt said.

“Yet the County Board majority is signing contracts and rushing pell-mell to build it with no community consensus, without a public vote and over intense and growing opposition,” he added. “They have also budgeted $650,000 in Arlington taxpayer funds for a massive public relations campaign to ‘sell’ the streetcar despite their refusal to also support a referendum.”

Vihstadt noted: “I’m glad to learn that my opponent is hearing the same concerns that I am in door-knocking and listening to constituents up and down Columbia Pike, along Route 1 and across the County, including deep anxiety about construction time and cost, disruption to small businesses, commuters and residents alike, unsightly and potentially unsafe overhead wires, environmental and energy concerns and more. Unlike my opponent, I believe that the way to deal most effectively with these concerns is not to build the streetcar in the first place!”

“Rather than hurling charges of divisiveness, my opponent’s time might be better spent working to convince the three county board members who have endorsed him and likewise support the streetcar but who oppose a public referendum, to allow this issue to be put to a vote. What are they scared of? Losing, of course.”

Vihstadt concluded: “My opponent’s references to Metro are inaccurate. I support and take Metro every day. The fact is that Metro was put to a vote in the late 1960s and Arlingtonians embraced it. They have voted to continue to support Metro in bond votes nearly every two years since. Metro ties our entire region together across Maryland, the District and Virginia. None of this is – or ever will be – true of a streetcar.”

John Vihstadt
Independent member, Arlington County Board
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