Photo: Steve Thurston
County board candidate Audrey Clement came out swinging in her opening remarks at a candidate forum Wednesday night, and it looked like the night might have had some fire to it.
“Libby Garvey will tell you that the $100 million-plus construction costs for the the Washington and Lee High School built under her watch was not excessive. Add to that another $50 million needed to pay for additional classrooms, and the the total cost for a school that was built over budget and under capacity is $150 million,” the Green Party candidate said. She attacked county board “white elephant” projects that she says Garvey, a Democrat, would most likely support, then turned her guns on Mark Kelly, the Republican in the race.
“Mark Kelly says that he wants fiscal responsibility, but he’s...the legislative director for a Tea Party congressman that’s peddling toxic legislation that would bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, particulates and pesticides, and the national labor relations board from supervising union elections,” she said, adding, “In advocating these reckless policies, Mark is clearly out of touch with county voters.”
Responding to Clement, Kelly said, “I would probably not describe [my boss] in the same way, but we don’t have time in the opening statements to get into all of that.”
Kelly is the legislative director and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas). Kelly said he works on budget analysis for his boss. He said this was his second race for county board, with the first in 2010 against incumbent Chris Zimmerman, that he has lived in Arlington 12 years, and his three, school-age children are in Arlington Public Schools, with a fourth not old enough for school yet, so he will have a vested interest in the schools for 15 years.
Too much of the county’s economy is dependent on the federal government, so it is time to focus on the needs of small businesses and lower barriers that slow business owners, he said.
“We need to grow our local economy, even moreso now than ever … Look at our zoning, look how this is administered … We should do all we can to streamline and eliminate those barriers,” Kelly said.
Garvey was the last to give opening remarks, and by then, the fireworks were over.
“I think we’re at a pivotal time for Arlington,” she said. She repeated a theme of her campaign: she will focus on strategic planning and “managing change,” meaning that her position on individual projects is somewhat less important than how she will critically analyze projects overall and how she will set-up analysis and monitoring systems for projects at the county level.