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Chris Zimmerman for Arlington County Board

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.

He pressed for real-time information through the platform signs in Metrorail, as well as NextBus (here too). He's advocated for installing more bicycle facilities at Metrorail stations.

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.

Michael Perkins serves on the Arlington County Transportation Commission, though the views expressed here are his own. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two children. 


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I have to disagree with you here. One party government is never a good thing and we need to start breaking up the groupthink that occurs on the Arlington County Board. Very telling in the county manager affair, where the board initially lied about the county manager's departure, and then came clean not to the public but to the Arlington County Democratic Party. It reminded me of the Soviet Union, where the leadership must justify themselves only to the party central committee, trusting that the voters will just do what they are told.

by ksu499 on Oct 21, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

He was also among the conspiring liars about the recent firing of Michael Brown, who they claimed left for personal reasons even though it was painfully clear to everybody else that they botched his hiring process to the cost of several hundred thousands of dollars of Arlington's money. Which just added to the county deficit that he has also overseen. We need to vote on bond referendums in November to get money to pave county roads. Debt financing for maintenance: It's the new Arlington way.

But go ahead out on that limb and endorse him.

by Pete on Oct 21, 2010 4:24 pm • linkreport

The Brown affair was bad news, but Zimmerman is a leading voice for good urbanism among the region's officials, fighting for us day in and day out.

by Gavin on Oct 21, 2010 4:39 pm • linkreport

Chris Zimmerman has been an outstanding public official. I wish we could clone him and run him for the Montgomery County Council.

by Casey Anderson on Oct 21, 2010 6:17 pm • linkreport

The proposed Columbia Pike streetcar, whose construction is now estimated to cost $336 million, would be an unmitigated boondoggle. The Pike trolley would improve neither the speed nor frequency of public transportation along Columbia Pike, just waste $336 million replacing 8 or 9 *existing* Metrobuses with the same number of equally slow streetcars, while the trolley tracks in both curb lanes put cyclists in mortal danger. Meanwhile, the opportunity costs of such wasteful public investment would *impede* desired urban revitalization and much-needed bus service improvements.

by Allen Muchnick on Oct 21, 2010 11:34 pm • linkreport

Not to mention his stewardship over Metro's current (poor) state of affairs. Where to begin....

"without reservations"? Either shilling or ignorance.

by Lou on Oct 21, 2010 11:54 pm • linkreport

I did not know that one board member could single-handedly run Metro. Can he also void all the union contracts there?

by Fred on Oct 22, 2010 7:39 am • linkreport

I look forward to renaming this blog "Greater Greater Arlington"

by charlie on Oct 22, 2010 8:49 am • linkreport

Why are you all giving them so much flak over this endorsement? It makes sense. He advocates for the issues pushed on this blog.

by Mike on Oct 22, 2010 9:26 am • linkreport

I've discovered that endorsements almost always seem to bring out a number of comments saying that this blog has clearly jumped the shark or compromised its principles for its support for whomever. As here, this happens even if the candidate is fairly obviously aligned with what we support.

Clearly politics brings out strong feelings. I don't anticipate us stopping doing the endorsements, however.

by David Alpert on Oct 22, 2010 9:36 am • linkreport

Seriously, I understand if you're upset with the Arlington County Board and the Metro Board of Directors, but the way to fix them is not to get rid of arguably the most reasonable, common-sense guy on both boards - and that's Chris.

Mark Kelly's a good guy, against the right opponent I'd vote for him, but not when he's running against Zimmerman.

by Chris S on Oct 22, 2010 12:00 pm • linkreport

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