Letter to County Board on Hispanic Heritage Month

Committee to Elect Josh Ruebner
1617 10th Street South
Arlington, VA 22204

September 19, 2006

TO: Mr. J. Walter Tejada, Member, Arlington County Board

CC: Mr. Chris Zimmerman, Chair, Arlington County Board
Mr. Paul Ferguson, Vice-Chair, Arlington County Board
Ms. Barbara Favola, Member, Arlington County Board
Mr. Jay Fisette, Member, Arlington County Board

RE: Discussion of Hispanic Heritage Month at County Board Meeting

Dear Mr. Tejada,

Greetings, I hope that this letter finds you well.

I am writing to reiterate to you my comments about Hispanic Heritage Month that I made at the County Board meeting on September 16 since there seems to have been a misunderstanding about my remarks.

During the public comments portion of the County Board meeting, I raised an objection to the press release issued by the County on September 15 entitled “Arlington Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month”. In the press release, County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman is quoted as saying “The Latino community is a vital part of Arlington County,” and that “[o]ur ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity is the core of Arlington’s vision, and Latinos are a vibrant part of that vision.”

As I mentioned at the County Board meeting, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Zimmerman that the Latino community is a vital part of Arlington. I also mentioned that I fully support the County celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and the many valuable contributions that Latinos make to our community.

However, in my comments I questioned the sincerity of the County Board’s “ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity” as the “core of Arlington’s vision”. As I stated during the public comments, the Latino population of Arlington County has plummeted nearly 20% since 2000 because of the hyper-development and gentrification policies pursued by the County Board, which have decimated Arlington’s affordable housing stock and forced working- and middle-class residents and families from our community.

This statistic comes from the US Census Bureau, as reported by the Washington Examiner on August 18, 2006 [“Hispanics Are Leaving Arlington”, David Francis, http://www.examiner.com/a-227790~Hispanics_are_leaving_Arlington.html]. The article cites a drop in the County’s Latino population from 26,108 to 21,397 since 2000.

My point at the meeting was that the County Board should not be sugar-coating the drastic consequences of its gentrification policies and paying lip-service to diversity while at the same time driving that very diversity out of our community. The County Board has an obligation to be honest with the residents of Arlington and level with them that it has deliberately chosen gentrification over affordable housing and economic and ethnic diversity.

Your response to my public comment grossly misinterpreted the intention of my statement. You said that “It’s easy to throw cheap political shots – use the [immigrant] community as a punching bag,” and you seemed to compare me with racist, anti-immigrant pundits such as Lou Dobbs. On the contrary, I am advocating policies so that it will be easier for our immigrant community to remain in Arlington by protecting affordable housing and other vital social services.

You also asserted, contrary to the figures of the US Census Bureau, that Arlington’s Latino population is actually growing rather than shrinking. I would be interested to know if you consider the US Census Bureau figures to be inaccurate.

In any case, I look forward to celebrating with you Arlington’s diversity during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond. I hope that we can work together to implement policies that will save what remains of Arlington’s diversity.

Sincerely yours,

Josh Ruebner
Green Party Candidate
Arlington County Board

This entry was posted in Campaign for Arlington County Board, 2006, Political Campaigns. Bookmark the permalink.