It is critical for elected officials to consider the opinions and attitudes of everyone we represent. In order to be effective, we must hear the voices of everyone in order to accurately reflect them.
I am a strong proponent of inclusive opportunities for all citizens to participate in city government. Therefore, I reinstituted telephone town halls so more citizens could be heard on the issues confronting us. Previous in person town halls had low attendance with less than 50 people. I was able to hold two town halls (districts 2 and 5) before the pandemic. Each one had an attendance over 500 residents. This certainly gives me a better idea about the thoughts of our residents, as an at large representative. It also opened this opportunity for participation to many more residents.
In addition to citizen input, I think my responsibility is to gather additional information from experts, best practices and collaboration with colleagues and city staff to reach the best decision for the city.
Arlington’s current public transportation system consists of VIA’s rideshare program and Handitran for the physically disabled. VIA expanded citywide in January, 2021. Unlike other rideshare companies, VIA does not provide door-to-door service. However, the rider satisfaction rates are outstanding.
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.
Three (1980, 1995, 2002) transportation proposals have been defeated by the voters, and the city has tried several pilot projects. A 31-member citizen advisory committee studied transportation in 2017 and provided guidance and concerns going forward. However, transportation still remains a top concern for citizens.
I have served on the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) and the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition (TRTC). There is much planning for regional connectivity and research on innovative transportation modes.
I am willing to work regionally to study the best mobility options 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.
After being elected in 2019, I began work on making our city government more inclusive. I think it is important to invite participation from all segments of the city. I believe our city leadership and services should reflect the rich diversity in Arlington, which is the 10th most diverse city in the country. Unfortunately, a person’s zip code is more of a determinant of health and longevity than the genetic code. We need to work to change this.
Additionally, I developed an equity resolution based on the model from the National League of Cities (NLC). Through my work on the Racial Equity and Leadership Council (REAL), I learned steps to eliminate racism and discrimination in our city. My Council colleagues and City staff embraced the idea. In the midst of this process, COVID hit and we experienced the George Floyd incident. The Council adopted two equity resolutions unanimously. One focused on equity in general and one was specific to our response to the COVID pandemic and allocation of resources.
I suggested naming a “unity” council. I thought this name focused on the desired outcome and not the problem. The Council appointed residents to serve on the Unity Council with five subcommittees: health & wellness, economic disparities, education and training, and policing & social justice. We look forward to implementing the recommendations and advancing racial equity in Arlington so that it can become THE DREAM CITY FOR ALL.