Last month we asked the three candidates for Arlington County Board to write a sub-750 word essay describing why the county’s residents should vote for them on Election Day (Nov. 6).
Here is the unedited response from Matt Wavro (R):
I am running for the Arlington County Board because we need to elect a new voice to make sure that all voices are heard. Arlington residents deserve a County Board Member who will stand up and ensure their concerns are fully considered by the County Board. Arlington faces significant challenges and I will work to make sure that everyone has a voice in local government and not narrowly rely on a one-party echo chamber to guide governmental decisions that have a wide ranging impact on our community’s future.
I am an Eagle Scout, 100 Homes for the Homeless Survey volunteer and a Junior Achievement volunteer instructor. I am an active member of the community and am running to be the County Board Member that brings people together on the tough issues and fights for everyone to be heard. I will build a consensus around common-sense and ensure a level of governmental accountability that allows for meaningful public engagement and planning processes that are responsive to specific and practical community concerns.
Leadership, in my view, means providing a voice for residents. Leadership isn’t a matter of taking to the bully pulpit and arguing with elected officials. Rather, it is about including and applying a different perspective to the public policy process that makes sure the information important to the community is included in the decisions instead of the current practice of only including the information that confirms the decision that members of the County Board seek to make from the outset.
I am the only candidate in this race who has a plan to move the County Board to a better plan for Columbia Pike than the trolley. I will re-engage the public process by hosting town halls, building the case for a better plan, and convincing all the members of the board that the Columbia Pike Trolley project is not what is best for Arlington. Re-engaging the public input process is even more important after a current County Board member, having taken the untenable position of abstaining from voting on the trolley, walked away from the public process that included the efforts of citizens to respond within the formal comment process, attend the Alternatives Analysis meetings, and provide additional public comments at the County Board meeting.
I firmly believe that residents deserve a voice for fiscal responsibility. In previous years the County Board has increased tax rates on top of increased assessments. In doing this the board raised taxes on top of already increasing tax bills, spending more and more while providing the average tax-payer less and less value for their tax dollar. And renters shouldn’t think they are exempt from these property tax increases. Every year that the County Board increases property tax rates, renters see the increase as part of the next year’s rent increase on top of the rent increase from the current year. Included in any fiscally responsible approach to county taxes would be the use of close-out funds from this year to provide tax relief in the next year.
Part of electing a voice for fiscal responsibility means having a county board member who stands up against a capital spending plan that locks the county into raising additional revenues through ever increasing taxes each year for the next ten years, leaving little room for tax relief and the ability to respond to legitimate community needs as they arise. I would pursue a more responsible approach, funding more Neighborhood Conservation Fund projects and synthetic field conversions that cost less, but do more to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Improving our neighborhoods is a much better investment than the exorbitantly priced luxury aquatics center.
Active and engaged leadership includes providing a professional and independent review of governmental operations to the County Board and the community. When elected, I will work to establish an Office of Inspector General to provide this much needed governance reform. If the current County Board continues their insistence on a structural lack of accountability on tax, budget and spending issues, I will raise donations myself to fund an analogous position via a non-profit entity.
Arlington County faces fiscal, development, transportation and management challenges. I will work to meet our challenges in ways that best serve the entire community. I love Arlington and am proud to call it home. I want to see Arlington and all of us that call Arlington home prosper. Thank you for your consideration in this election. I ask for your vote on November 6th.