It is without reservation that we endorse Chris Zimmerman for re-election to the Arlington County Board. Mr. Zimmerman is one of region’s strongest leaders on sustainable transportation and smart growth issues. His list of positive accomplishments, and consequently this article, goes on and on.
Mr. Zimmerman serves actively on the WMATA board, the VRE board, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, and the Transportation Planning Board. On the WMATA board, he pushed to invest in the system’s future with the Metro Matters program, started the investment in upgrading to 8-car capacity, invested in new and clean buses, bringing down the average age of the bus fleet. He advocated installing bike racks on all Metrobuses.
He’s been an advocate of allowing public access to information by opposing unnecessary executive sessions, pushed for WMATA to release information in open formats, and as a regular rider of both the bus and rail systems, ensures that the policy decisions of the Board take into account the rider’s perspective.
He also expressed frustration when Metro staff would not discuss the causes of the June 2009 accident publicly, complaining that the Board would not be able to effectively advocate for fixing the system if they couldn’t discuss its problems.
Mr. Zimmerman has reached out to Greater Greater Washington, in live chat, and by answering the rest of the reader questions we didn’t have time for. He even came and had a drink with us for a happy hour.
He praised our approach to targeted fare increases rather than the blanket increases proposed by staff. He pushed to ensure that options are not prematurely taken off the table when budget season comes, and he supported the region’s Fare Share for Metro campaign by convincing local Arlington leaders to increase the operating funds available to Metro, avoiding painful service cuts. He has continually argued against the destructive practice of shortchanging the capital investment budget by using it to pay for preventive maintenance, which normally comes from operating funds. He worked with Jim Graham of DC to expand Metrorail hours after midnight on weekends.
In Arlington, Mr. Zimmerman has been the force behind the expansion of the local ART bus service from one route to 13, the Pike Ride high-frequency bus service on Columbia Pike, which is now the model for other high quality transit corridors like REX, and the proposal for constructing rail transit on Columbia Pike. He worked with current Arlington Board Chairman Jay Fisette and DDOT to start the bikeshare program. He has been part of the county’s opposition to the I-395 HOT lanes project, which is the subject of a lawsuit citing a failure to conduct environmental impact studies.
He’s been working with WABA to figure out how to get more bicycles on to VRE trains. He’s currently working with Alexandria officials to extend the planned Arlington transit corridors down Route 1 from Crystal City to Potomac Yard. On a panel about priority bus corridors, he warned about watering down bus priorities by allowing HOV traffic to share and create congestion for buses. When he was Chairman, he started the Youth Transit Initiative, to provide better information and services for teens that use transit.
Mr. Zimmerman was one of the early promoters of Smart Growth, walkable development, traffic calming, pedestrian improvements through the Neighborhood Conservation program, and bike lanes. The Columbia Pike form-based code, which guides developers with build-to lines and requirements to build a transit-oriented complete street that will work well with the streetcar. Here’s Chris giving a walking tour of Columbia Pike, pointing out some of Arlington’s best walkable urbanism.
Mr. Zimmerman helped to save portions of the historic Buckingham Village area for affordable use, and worked on adopting an ordinance that requires affordable housing units or in-lieu cash payments to an affordable housing fund for every site-plan project.
The Sun Gazette endorsed Zimmerman’s Republican opponent, Mark Kelly. Mr. Kelly’s positions on his candidate page are not substantial enough to evaluate, but they appear consistent with the kind of government that would slash funding for services and avoid capital investment in our transportation infrastructure. Mr. Kelly said he opposes the Columbia Pike streetcar system, a major transportation investment in the county’s most popular transit market not already served by rail.
Mr. Zimmerman is also running against a Green Party candidate, Kevin Chisholm. Mr. Chisholm also opposes the streetcar, basically arguing that the existing population there would be displaced and would benefit only “large investors.” The Arlington Connection had a great summary article about the race.
Mr. Zimmerman is one of the local leaders most closely aligned with what we advocate for here on Greater Greater Washington. We strongly urge Arlington voters to again vote for Chris Zimmerman on November 2.