Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Endorsements: McMenamin, Tejada

Let me just say first that I think at least four of the five contenders for the county board’s two seats this year would do a fine job on the board. The fifth is Joseph Warren, who I have only met briefly and was unable to reach for a candidate forum this year. He might be a wonderful man and perfect for the board, but I just do not know him well enough.

That said, I had to pick two, and I was surprised when I read that my two are the same as the Washington Post’s picks. I’ll even admit that I like Mr. McMenamin for many of the same reasons that Scott McCaffrey mentioned when he endorsed Mr. McMenamin in his paper earlier this week.

But here are my reasons, and I’ll start with Walter Tejada, Democrat, first.

Mr. Tejada was instrumental in the Buckingham Villages redevelopment, helping to save at least some of the community’s open space and the community of people. It is clear that he knows the neighborhood and its people very well. He knows what groups meet here, and what a good number of the issues of the neighborhood are.

I am a sucker for politicians who show up. Although I feel a little burned with Chris Zimmerman, who I endorsed last year, I do not fear that as much with Mr. Tejada who has too strong an interest affordable housing and issues of justice and diversity to disappear from this neighborhood for too long.

This endorsement is not without its reservations. I have heard from people in the party and in the county government about the county’s budget problems. Mr. Tejada’s reputation is one that leans toward saying yes to a project and then thinking of the money. Frankly, I was not thrilled with his answer to the budget question I put to him during our interview on Friday. As well, I am hoping that we will see him at some of the other Buckingham events, such meetings of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, too.

Still, he, like the rest of the candidates, is approachable and knowledgeable, and I think we should send him back for another four years.

Mike McMenamin, Republican, is working on his second run for the county board, and his campaign last year and this year focused on tighter fiscal management of the county’s budget, and closer attention to neighborhood concerns. Tighter fiscal management has become a plank on all the campaign platforms this year, and I think that may partly be thanks to Mr. McMenamin’s push last year.

Mr. McMenamin is very knowledgeable about the county’s workings, its budget and organization. As the outsider, he will be in a stronger position to question board actions. I am a big fan of vigorous debate, and, with his background, Mr. McMenamin is in a place to provide it.

This, too, comes with its problems. During his “Meet-n-Greet” he focused quite a bit on the need to look at the schools’ budget. He mentioned other budget cutting ideas, but if he focuses too much attention on the schools, he and we may be disappointed.

I want to say one piece about the other two candidates who I have gotten to know. The Green Party candidate Josh Ruebner is a smart, nice man who has a long life ahead of him in county politics if he wants it. He needs to get more involved in the county processes, joining commissions and attending more meeting for my taste. Still, I agree with his take on the Columbia Pike street car mess, but less so with the idea of a Housing Authority. I may come around on the Housing Authority as I hear details over the coming year.

If I lived in a different neighborhood, I might just have picked Mary Hynes over Mr. Tejada. She is smart, and loved by the county; it is very hard to find bad news about her in the local papers. My choices leaned to Mr. Tejada because of his attachment to this neighborhood, and to Mr. McMenamin because I think we need a truly alternative voice on the board. I did not choose Ms. Hynes mainly because there are only two slots to fill.

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Wow. Hynes is 0-for-3 and McMenamin is 3-for-3 in endorsements I've seen so far (you, Post, Sun-Gazette). I like Mary too. I wonder if she's getting scapegoated for some of the Arlington Democratic Party's recent un-exciting-ness.
Correction, Hynes is 1-for-3 (Sun-Gazette endorsed McMenamin and Hynes)
I have absolutely no doubt that Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada will win the next election for County Board. They are both Democrats. They are putting up the most signs and sending out the most mail of any local politicians. Many (if not most) Arlingtonians consider nothing else when they vote, regardless of the issues and the personalities involved.

That's why we have a one-party government in the County. Fortunately, the two-party system is alive and well at the state and national level.

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