Bondi endorsed by school board member James Lander. Photo from Bondi’s campaign website.

Arlington County Democrats will select a nominee this week for an open seat on the county board. 5 Democrats are vying for the slot, vacated by Barbara Favola. Because of her experience, openness to citizen input and dedication to smart urban development, Greater Greater Washington endorses Melissa Bondi in the Democratic primary for county board.

Democrats can vote in the “Firehouse Primary” on Thursday, January 19 from 7-9 pm at Washington-

Lee High School, or on Saturday, January 21 from 11 am to 7 pm at Kenmore Middle School.

Bondi has extensive credentials in smart growth, environmental policy and affordable housing. She has served on numerous citizens’ commissions, which effectively function as the committee system for the Arlington County Board.

She chaired the the Housing Commission, where she helped co-author Arlington’s inclusionary zoning law, one of the first in the region. When on the Clarendon Sector Task Force, she worked to bring smart growth and sustainability to the area.

She worked as housing director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth for 3 years, where she pushed to integrate affordable housing into mixed-use development. She has also coordinated federal housing policy for Smart Growth America and led the regional Think Twice Before You Slice campaign for the Nonprofit Roundtable for Greater Washington, where she educated people on the impacts of budget proposals on low-income and vulnerable populations.

Her experience in Arlington includes dozens of site plan projects, zoning issues, and long range plans. Bondi is qualified for the County Board because she has already been working on the County Board’s business for years.

Discussing the “Arlington Way,” Bondi pointed out a generational shift in how citizen interact with their leaders. Traditionally, people in Arlington have engaged leaders, county staff and fellow citizens at frequent, in-person meetings. But as Bondi noted, people now want to engage with civic affairs though blogs like Greater Greater Washington, social media, and other methods.

Bondi wants the county to put extra effort into involving the public in policy decisions early, and recognizing when citizens want to communicate in ways besides meetings. She’d like the county to participate more in blog discussions, providing important information about issues citizens are discussing.

Community leaders hail her ability to coordinate among varied interests and ability to listen to ideas from stakeholders. Bondi has won the endorsement of former board member and current Clerk of Court Paul Ferguson, current board members Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman, school board member James Lander, and Delegate Alfonso Lopez. Bondi has the instincts of a great board member who can listen to input from citizens and other stakeholders and reach compromises that benefit everyone.

Melissa Bondi is the strongest supporter of the Columbia Pike streetcar among the candidates. She understands its role in broadening Arlington’s high-quality transit network and the challenges that it can present to existing residents in the area. She understands the streetcar’s financial situation, and believes the county must better communicate the reasons for increased cost as well as the benefits to the corridor and the county as a whole.

Other candidates have taken more negative positions on the streetcar, and on urban redesign like in Crystal City. A flyer put out by opponent Libby Garvey stated, “I won’t let runaway development take away what we love most about Arlington.”

In our opinion, the areas in Arlington that have seen development (Clarendon, Court House, Ballston, Shirlington, Columbia Pike) are prime examples of good transportation-oriented development and urban design. Development has more often than not brought what we love most about Arlington rather than taken it away.

Several tax controversies have emerged around Bondi. One involved an IRS tax lien that was unknown to her until it was published on a local Arlington watchdog blog, and another concerns late payments for personal property (car) tax.

Bondi is acting responsibly by working with the IRS to resolve the tax lien, and has properly paid property tax on the car she owned, including penalties for her tardiness. Since these personal finance issues did not involve any public funds or positions of public trust, we feel that Bondi should receive the nomination based on her qualifications and experience.

We encourage Arlington County Democrats to vote for Melissa Bondi in the primary on Thursday evening or Saturday.