ARLINGTON – Barbara Tolbert is seeking reelection to a third four-year term as mayor of a thriving, resilient Arlington, but challenger and lifelong resident Don Vanney Jr. says new leadership is needed that reflects the town’s historical values while at the same time preparing for growth.
The candidates submitted answers to a questionnaire from The Arlington Times. Here is what they shared.
What experience qualifies you for this position?
Tolbert: Currently serving in the office of mayor, previously served the city on the Airport Commission and Economic Development Committee. I hold Certified Municipal Leader and Advanced Certified Municipal Leader credentials.
Vanney: I have 30-plus years in purchasing, contract negotiations, contract writing, as well as budget management and have been involved in many multimillion-dollar projects, all completed under budget and on time. As far as political experience, as I recall, every mayor that has been elected had none, or very little experience prior to being elected.
What are the top 3 issues?
Tolbert: Public safety. We have met crime problems head-on with ordinance changes and new community policing initiatives pairing a social worker with an officer. We reorganized police department management, filled vacant officer positions, added officer positions and a domestic violence coordinator. We updated aging police equipment, increased training for public safety and established direct links for neighborhoods to public safety staff to resolve issues together. This approach resulted in reduced crime overall of 8.3% in 2018.
Managing growth: We live in one of the fast growing regions in the country. People want to live in great communities with good schools, and Arlington offers both. Because our property costs are relatively low compared to other areas in Puget Sound, many people view Arlington as a place where they can afford to live comfortably, enjoy quality of life and have great education for their kids. We must plan as a community for the inevitable growth, protecting our small-town charm while welcoming new community members. Much of our taxes go to the state and federal governments. I will work hard to advocate for a share coming back to our community to work on increased transportation investments.
Fiscal Management: We must continue ensuring that our city is financially healthy and has the resources to plan well for the future. We have developed a long-term financial plan that has restored our rainy-day funds and the city’s credit rating. We need to make smart investments and have the regional and state relationships to ensure our tax dollars are invested in Arlington. I believe we must live within our means and not pass tax burdens onto our families and businesses.
Vanney: The top three issues are:
1) Growth. Growth is something that all of us will have to deal with. I’m all for this growth as long as we plan for the growth properly. I feel we need to look first where we can grow, and once these areas are identified I feel we need to start the discussion with those communities early and involve them with the planning of the growth that will affect them.
2) Infrastructure. I feel that infrastructure needs to be addressed in the planning stages of future growth to ensure parties have a plan in place for development and growth. There needs to be more accountability for planning for growth to avoid the traffic issues we experience today. We must also take more consideration of the water and sewer supply requirements and emergency services.
3) Opiate/homelessness concerns. I am encouraged by the results that we are seeing with the embedded social worker with our law enforcement and would like to see this program fully funded for its continued success. I will offer all the assistance I can to continue this program in efforts to solve our community’s issues in this area.
Why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent?
Tolbert: Together with the City Council we have restored our financial health, increased public safety and helped create a thriving culture. I have the experience as well as state and regional relationships necessary to advocate for the resources to address current challenges
Vanney: Being a lifelong citizen of Arlington, I feel that we need to bring our city back to its historical values while at the same time prepare for growth where families want to raise their children and shop locally for all their needs.