FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arlington Green Party Candidate Releases Platform
(Arlington, VA) August 30—Green Party candidate for Arlington County Board, Josh Ruebner, released today his platform for the November 7 general election.
The platform focuses on confronting Arlington’s gentrification and affordable housing crisis; advocating for effective mass transportation options to ease Northern Virginia’s gridlock; proposing ideas for improving Arlington’s environment; promoting a living wage, civil liberties, and universal health care in Arlington; tackling Virginia’s lack of local democracy and the corrosive effect of corporate contributions on the electoral system; and implementing ordinances and resolutions to promote human rights.
Ruebner stated that, “I want Arlington to be an inclusive and diverse community where residents of all economic levels are welcome. Although the County Board, under the leadership of Chris Zimmerman, pays lip service to this goal, in reality it works hand-in-glove with developers to gentrify Arlington and drive working-class people out of the county. If we want to preserve what remains of Arlington’s diversity, we need to change the county’s leadership and give someone else a chance to implement new ideas.”
Ruebner is a nine-year resident of Arlington and Secretary of the Carrington Village Home Owners’ Association.
The full text of the platform is below.
Affordable Housing & Gentrification
Over the last five years, we’ve lost more than half of our affordable housing stock in Arlington as developers have bulldozed apartments and single-family homes to build luxury condos and McMansions. Over the last six years, homeowners have seen their real estate tax increase by more than 100%.
The loss of affordable housing & increased tax rates are driving working class people from Arlington, making it a less diverse community. As a member of the County Board, I will work to impose a moratorium on the loss of affordable housing and greater real estate tax rebates for working class Arlingtonians. I will also work for more creative solutions to Arlington’s affordable housing crisis, including encouraging tenants to form co-ops and establishing a public housing authority such as Alexandria and Fairfax have.
Creating new roads is not the answer to Northern Virginia’s transportation problems. As a member of the County Board, I will vigorously oppose the widening of I-66 even as the federal government continues to pour money into “studying” the issue. Widening I-66 will reroute a bicycle path, put more cars on our streets, and further degrade air quality. Instead of creating more roads, we need to look at options to extend and upgrade Metro and other mass transportation options.
The County Board has taken steps to build a $120 million trolley on Columbia Pike despite failing to secure a source of revenue to fund this boondoggle. The trolley would create dangers for bikers and pedestrians and slow down car and bus traffic. Many people currently ride the buses that service Columbia Pike, despite County Board member Jay Fisette’s out-of-touch assertion that “I know a lot of people that won’t get on a bus…It may be irrational, but it is a fact.” The proposed trolley is not a serious plan to deal with transportation on Columbia Pike, but part of the planned gentrification of the area being supported by the County in partnership with the “Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization”, which is funded by developers and the County to remake Columbia Pike into an upper-income community.
Environment & Smoking Ban
Localities around the country are not waiting for the science-denying Bush Administration to take action on global warming before it is too late. Major US cities such as Chicago and Portland have already taken steps to voluntarily implement Kyoto Protocol emissions-reduction standards in their communities. As a member of the County Board, I will work to pass a resolution in favor of Arlington voluntarily complying with the Kyoto Protocol to improve our environment.
As a member of the County Board, I will also work to pass a resolution banning smoking in public places in Arlington, as localities such as the District of Columbia and Takoma Park have already done.
In 2003, the Arlington County Board passed a commendable ordinance that requires contractors doing substantial business with the county to pay their employees a living wage. The adoption of this ordinance represents a good first step toward Arlington being a community where employers pay their employees living wages. However, even many employees of the county–police officers, librarians, and teachers–still cannot afford to live in Arlington and many service-sector employees are paid degrading, poverty-inducing minimum wages. As a member of the County Board, I will work toward passing a comprehensive living wage ordinance which would make it possible for all people who work in Arlington to live here as well.
Civil Liberties & Civil Rights
Civil liberties and civil rights are under assault in the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the United States. I oppose the proposed Virginia constitutional amendment to make illegal any type of domestic partnership other than heterosexual marriage. The proposed amendment also makes it possible for the Commonwealth to strip domestic partners of health care benefits, visitation rights at hospitals, and other rights enjoyed by married couples. This discriminatory proposed amendment is a retrenchment of civil rights.
As a member of the County Board, I will also work to pass resolutions signifying the intent of the county not to comply with unconstitutional federal measures to spy on citizens through accessing their phone, business, and library records and state measures that discriminate against undocumented workers in the provision of social services.
Universal Health Care
Health care is a human right, yet studies estimate that 11% of Arlington residents have no health care insurance. As a member of the County Board, I will work toward adopting a single-payer universal health care program for Arlington residents, similar to what is being proposed in places such as California.
The Green Party supports grassroots democracy and believes that “every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another.” The “Dillon Rule”, whereby local jurisdictions in Virginia are not empowered to take decisions without the specific authorization of the state legislature, is fundamentally anti-democratic. The “Dillon Rule” prevents Arlington from taking effective action on a host of issues, from enacting real affordable housing guidelines to enacting a smoking ban, which would be beneficial to our community. As a member of the County Board, I will work with local officials statewide to pressure Richmond to weaken the anti-democratic “Dillon Rule” and give local jurisdictions the powers they need to resolve problems in their communities.
Corporate contributions are having a corrupting effect on all levels of government in the United States. Both Democratic and Republican elected officials are taking more and more money from corporations and representing their profit motives rather than the concerns of the people they are elected to serve. Unlike the Democratic and Republican parties, the Green Party does not accept corporate contributions. I pledge to take no corporate money in my campaign and urge my opponents to take a similar stand and reject the corrupting influence of corporate money in our electoral system.
The US occupation of Iraq is having a devastating impact on our community, our country, and most of all, innocent Iraqi civilians. The war has cost Virginia $8.3 billion, money that could have been spent instead to build more than 72,000 affordable housing units. As the host of the Pentagon, Arlington has a right and responsibility to speak out on issues of national security. As a member of the County Board, I will work to pass a resolution to support the troops by bringing them home now and to make it more difficult for military recruiters to operate in Arlington’s schools.
Human Rights Contracting
As a member of the County Board, I will work to pass a human rights contracting requirement to ensure that corporations which profit from human rights violations don’t receive business from our county. Corporations such as Caterpillar, which profits from Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes, should be banned from doing business with the County. As a County Board member, I will also look into stripping the business licenses of corporations headquartered in Arlington that violate human rights, such as CACI, based in Ballston, which allegedly provided some of the mercenary torturers of Abu Ghraib infamy.