Barbara Odom-Wesley, Candidate for District 8
1. Term Limits – please respond by March 14, 2019
Last November, voters approved term limits for the Arlington City Council. What is your opinion of these term limits?
I support the term limits amendment passed by residents. This is the will of the people. Philosophically, I believe in term limits for federal, state and local elected officials. I think it is important for our elected representatives to be responsive and accountable to the electorate. “Career” politicians tend to become less and less responsive or accountable. Also, new ideas and perspectives can help assure that a community does not become stagnant or unbending.
2. Transportation – please respond by March 21, 2019
Please describe, including price maximums to taxpayers, your thoughts on public transportation.
I believe all citizens of Arlington would benefit from more public transportation options. Public transportation increases access to work, healthcare, schools and universities as well as entertainment and other amenities.
Additionally, public transportation would help ease traffic congestion and reduce harmful emissions.
Currently, Arlington offers VIA rideshare program, MILO autonomous shuttle, Entertainment District shuttle and Handitran. All of these serve only a small segment of the population in need of transportation. We must identify and implement a solution that serves all segments of the city and is accessible by every citizen. Even though three proposals have been defeated by the voters, (1980, 1995, 2002) and the city has tried several pilot projects, transportation still remains a top concern for citizens. Arlington is viewed as a transportation desert.
NCTCOG is working on 2040 mobility goals for the region. Arlington has representation on the Metropolitan Transportation Committee and must insure we are connected to the entire region.
I do not come with a pre-conceived plan but a willingness to study best practices from similar cities, and work to improve the quality of life by designing a mobility plan that works for Arlington. The critical component is public input throughout the process.
The time has come to bring transportation back to the voters to adopt a workable plan, vetted and based on data, along with funding options.
3. Communications – please respond by March 28, 2019
If a constituent e-mails you a question or comment on an issue where you disagree and asks you for a response, will you respond to the constituent? Why or why not?
Yes, I will always respond to constituents even when we disagree. I believe everyone’s voice should be heard. In order to be an effective representative I plan to listen to all residents for understanding about their concerns and opinions.
4. Taxes (Part I) – please respond by April 4, 2019
Currently, Arlington has 1/4-cent of sales tax that could be used, but is not used. What, if anything, do you see yourself approving to place in front of the voters, for uses for the 1/4-cent of sales tax? Why?
As I visit with residents, I consistently hear the lack of public transportation is a concern and oftentimes, it is a problem. The 1/4 cent sales tax yields $15 million per year. I would support allocating this 15 million to develop and implement public transit options that effectively connect people to jobs, healthcare, education and entertainment. The report produced in September 2017 by the 31 member citizen advisory committee provides several innovative options. I am open to exploring all toward meeting the needs of our citizens. We must all work together to consider our regional placement, funding options and solutions that work for Arlington.
5. Taxes (Part II) – please respond by April 11, 2019
Currently, Arlington is experiencing almost double-digit property tax evaluation increases. What do you feel is the appropriate tax rate that should be levied upon the citizens: 1) a rate a little below the rollback rate, 2) the effective tax rate, 3) the same tax rate (even if above the rollback rate), or 4) something else? Why?
The City of Arlington will lower its property tax rate for a third consecutive year because of rising property values. Arlington’s property tax rate, which remained flat for 14 years, has dropped by 1.32 cents overall since 2016.
This rate exceeds the lower of the effective or rollback tax rate. The rate is really dependent on city priorities and what we want to accomplish.
6. Issue – please respond by April 18, 2019
What is the most important issue the city council is facing? Why?
In my opinion, The most important issue is really not an issue but an attitude. It is imperative that Arlington citizens feel they have ample opportunity to participate in their city government. I will work to increase inclusiveness at every opportunity.