Why I'm Running

    In 2014, you took a chance on me. Against the odds, I leveraged over three decades of community service and leadership to win a seat on the Arlington County Board as an Independent.  Voters across the political spectrum came together to forge a rainbow coalition in every sense of the term. They demonstrated that Arlingtonians want their local officials to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of local government—core services such as education, public safety,  community infrastructure, transit, our social safety net and neighborhood quality of life—not wasteful and extravagant projects. We Arlingtonians have a wonderful place to call home. Let’s make it sustainable for all of us!

    Arlingtonians expect their government to deliver these essential community services, programs and facilities on time and on budget. In my nearly four years of serving you, our wonderfully diverse communities have made clear to me that residents expect their Board members to know their communities and to focus on problem-solving, not partisan politics.

    I am keeping my commitments to you that I pledged four years ago.   But while we have made progress, we still have a way to go.  At the County Board’s annual New Year’s organizational meeting on January 2, 2018, I presented my vision for Arlington’s community-centered government by focusing on three key areas:

    • Managing Arlington’s growth, through new partnerships with our public schools and with the private sector.   It’s high time we implement a cardinal recommendation of the recent Community Facilities Study—cost/benefit fiscal impact analysis of every new development, including a study of the consequences for our schools, parks and tree canopy, infrastructure, traffic and more.  Other localities do this.   So can we.   And we must foster still greater collaboration with our schools, higher education like Northern Virginia Community College and our businesses to meet our classroom capacity needs on a timely basis and ensure that our children are educated for a 21st Century economy.
    • Ensuring greater openness, transparency and accountability in County government, through reform of our community engagement processes, with citizens and stakeholders involved from the start and not as an afterthought.  While we’ve made progress, too many of our dozens of County advisory commissions still lack the diversity that Arlington embraces.  We should expand the wording of our County ballot proposals to give voters more details on big-ticket items when they are asked to support millions in new spending.   And the Manager’s Open Data initiative must be true to its name by ensuring that the data that drives our decision-making be accessible to the public in a timely manner and available without someone having to file a FOIA request to get it.
    • Instilling a stronger sense of fiscal discipline and efficiency in the way we do our work.  Cost and value must be a key component of every conversation from the start.  I made securing an independent County Auditor my top priority.  Working with Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope, we gained unanimous legislative authority from the Virginia General Assembly to obtain the ability to do so, and then-Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law.   Moreover, the County now has a Financial Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline and employee whistleblower protection.  But we must build on this success by conducting thorough performance reviews of County programs on a regular basis, and we need effective management and procurement reforms to eliminate the cost, workmanship, delivery and coordination issues that too often plague our work.

    As the only Independent, I’ve brought balance to the County Board. I need your help to keep it there. And I ask for and appreciate your vote. Thank you.

    John Vihstadt