Jay Fisette Named Arlington County Board Chair

Published on January 03, 2017

  • Outlines priorities

  • Katie Cristol named vice chair

  • Focus on inclusion, facilities decisions, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, civic engagement

  • Board names Joint Facilities Advisory Commission members

  • Board creates Transportation Choices Committee to work on APS transportation options

The Arlington County Board today named Jay Fisette its Chair for 2017. Fisette, first elected to the Board in 1998, has served as chair four previous times. The Board named Katie Cristol vice chair.

[caption id="attachment_10771" align="alignright" width="201"]Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette[/caption]

"This year is likely to bring dramatic, unsettling changes in our national government and on the international scene," Fisette said. "Arlington will feel some effects. But we'll respond as we have before in times of turbulence and periods of more gradual change: with sensible actions inspired by a shared community vision and shaped through thoughtful dialogue and open debate." He stated that, "no longer can we rely on the federal government to guide and support us with allegiance to shared purposes and our common humanity."

Arlington, Fisette said, "can serve as a model for how progressive social policies can work in tandem with conservative and responsible fiscal policies."

Commitment to act

Fisette said he will focus in 2017 on the need for facilities, including schools, within the constraints of limited land; strengthening the County's economic competitiveness; housing affordability; environmental sustainability; helping the region find a "sustainable path forward" for Metro and "staying true to our vision and values."

The Joint Facility Advisory Committee, appointed by the County Board today, "will get to work immediately," to "keep us moving forward in implementing the recommendations of the Community Facilities Study," the chair said. Another newly created Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices, a joint effort with Arlington Public Schools, will "help maximize transportation choices for students, parents and employees within the school system."

Affordable housing "has become a bellwether issue that expresses the soul of our community," Fisette said. The County will review and update its accessory dwelling unit ordinance this year, Fisette said, and also will consider tools "for preserving our attractive and affordable garden apartments." Arlington must also be a leader in environmental sustainability. "New public buildings should strive to the net-zero standard set by our own Discovery School," and "at least three public buildings should host large solar arrays through private purchase agreements," the chair said. "Finally, Arlington must continue to treat our foreign-born residents with the respect and human dignity they deserve. Our young Dreamers deserve special attention and protection. I want to reassure Arlingtonians of all stripes, hues and homelands that Arlington will remain a welcoming and safe community.  We value diversity and embrace people's differences as a source of this community's strength." Read Jay Fisette's full remarks.

Outgoing Chair Libby Garvey, after congratulating Fisette on being named Chair, said that County government must continue to improve. "Government works pretty well in Arlington, but it can and must get better …one of my goals for 2017 is that by this time next year, you will be able to pay for permits online."  Garvey said she also looks forward "to continuing to expand our use of technology to connect with people. Read Libby Garvey's full remarks.

Call to action

Vice Chair Katie Cristol issued a "call to action for my fellow residents: in the year ahead, we will work to ensure that Arlington will still be a home for all economic classes. We will work to demonstrate that we are still a place that is capable of empathy even in the face of resource pressures. We will still be a County that models pluralism and democracy." 2017, Cristol said, is also, for her, a year to act on the issue of childcare affordability. The Board has a range of policy options before it and "my goal is to have initial guidance for consideration by my colleagues and the community as part of our FY18 budget process," she said.

[caption id="attachment_10770" align="alignright" width="232"]Katie Cristol in blue dress, scarf Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol[/caption]

Facing an "unprecedented number of facilities siting and land acquisition decisions for one year," Cristol said she hopes "our advocates and residents will join me in my new year's resolution to be more empathetic in these debates in 2017…let's strive to create the kind of trust and mutual respect that will allow us to meet our siting needs creatively and jointly." 2017, Cristol said, "will be a year to redouble our efforts to engage voices in new ways. "Working with our new Director of Communications and Public Engagement, I look forward to launching a series of coffees focused on "big picture' issues targeting young Arlingtonians in particular, as well as exploring other models to tap the brainpower of Arlingtonians across different walks of life." Read Katie Cristol's full remarks.

Hard choices in 2017

Board Member Christian Dorsey spoke of the budget strains posed by increasing school enrollment and Metro's increased funding needs. "Make no mistake — millions more will be required from Arlington," for Metro, "a number that requires our making hard choices and perhaps delaying or forgoing other priorities." Dorsey said he looked forward to progress in planning efforts for Four Mile Run Valley, and Lee Highway, and accelerating revitalization goals along Columbia Pike through public investments or public-private partnerships. To help address the issue of housing affordability, Dorsey said, the County must "become permissive of and encourage lot designs and housing types that create market affordable units." Noting that "the docket of priorities…are beyond our capacity to sufficiently address all at once," Dorsey said the County will need to prioritize the allocation of resources, "fit infrastructure and uses where there may be initial neighborhood resistance and delay or decline action on projects where in a better world, we would commence right away." Read Christian Dorsey's full remarks.

Board Member John Vihstadt said the County must be prepared to tighten its belt "in an uncertain period," while "ensuring that our schools, Metro, parks, public safety and our social safety net have the funds needed to honor our commitments to every single Arlingtonian." He expressed opposition to a proposed "Disney-like gondola to Georgetown."

Vihstadt said he will continue to push for budgetary reform that would allocate any annual budget surplus to true emergency needs first; paying down goring bonded indebtedness second; mitigating the rising tax and fee burden third and fourth, moving the remainder into consideration for the next budget year." He underscored the need to enhance Arlington as a business-friendly location and said he is looking forward to working with civic associations and neighborhood groups to improve neighborhoods. Read John Vihstadt's full remarks.

About Jay Fisette

An Arlington resident since 1983, Jay Fisette lives in the Ashton Heights neighborhood. Before serving on the County Board, he served as the director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic of Northern Virginia from 1990 to 1998. As County board Chair in 2001, Fisette oversaw Arlington's response to the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. He has served on regional and statewide bodies, serving as president of the Virginia Municipal League from 2007-2008. An avid environmentalist, Fisette is an advocate for smart growth and New Urbanism principles, and in 2010 spearheaded the County's development of a Community Energy Plan. Read his biography.

About Katie Cristol

Katie Cristol, an education policy advisor, lives off Columbia Pike. An advocate for women's issues, including reproductive health, political representation and support for survivors of sexual assault, she was appointed to the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women by the County Board in 2012. She is a volunteer member of the Randolph Elementary School community and a reading buddy since 2011. Read her biography.

Joint Facilities Advisory Commission,  Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices

The Board appointed Ginger Brown chair of the recently formed Joint Facilities Advisory Commission and named Greg Greely vice chair. Also named to serve on the commission were:

  • Devanshi Patel

  • Matthew de Ferranti

  • Cicely Whitfield

  • Sue Robinson

  • Todd McCracken

  • Laura Simpson

  • Theodore Black

  • Susan Cunningham

  • Janine Velasco

  • William Ross

  • Jerry Gidner

  • Rachel Silberman

  • Steve Young

  • Katie Rouse

  • Joseph Leitmann Santa-Cruz

  • Gabriel Rubalcava

  • Angelika Goodman

  • Eric Goldstein

Read the charge for the Commission, created in November, 2016 as an advisory body jointly appointed by the Board and the Arlington County School Board, as recommended in the 2015 Community Facilities Study. JFAC is charged with providing input to both Boards on capital facilities needs assessment, capital improvement plans and long range facility planning for County government and Arlington Public Schools.

The Board also adopted the charge for a joint Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices, that will advise the Joint Committee on Transportation Choices, made up of County and APS staff, that collaborates to integrate and expand safe, sustainable and innovative transportation choices for APS students, families and staff. The advisory committee will advise the joint committee on strategies and plans of action to develop and promote transportation choice for APS students, families and staff. The committee will include voting members from the County's Transportation Commission and pedestrian, bicycle and transit advisory committee, as well as parents from elementary, middle and high schools and a parent of a student with special transportation needs, along with teachers, high school students and an APS staff commuter.

Board Members named to regional commissions

The Board also named members to regional commissions:

Metropolitan Region Council of Governments

  • Boards:

  • Christian Dorsey, Board of Directors

  • Jay Fisette, National Capital Region Transportation Planning

  • John Vihstadt, Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee

  • Committees:

  • Jay Fisette, Climate Energy and Environment Policy Committee

  • Libby Garvey, Chesapeake Bay and Water Resources Policy Committee

  • Katie Cristol, Human Services and Public Safety Policy Committee

  • John Vihstadt, Region Forward Coalition

  • Libby Garvey, Region Forward Coalition

Northern Virginia Regional Commission

  • John Vihstadt

  • Libby Garvey

Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

  • Libby Garvey -- Virginia Railway Express Operation Board alternate appointee

  • Christian Dorsey -- Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority appointee

  • Katie Cristol -- Virginia Railway Express Operations Board appointee

Northern Virginia Transportation Authority

  • Jay Fisette