Mark Kelly is the Republican candidate for the Arlington County Board. This interview took place at Northside Social in Clarendon during the week of March 12. The interview was recorded.
The answers shown here are edited for clarity and brevity. The answers are quoted verbatim with "ahs" and "ums" taken out. If something more substantive was removed, we indicated that with an elipsis (…). A pause or sudden change of direction is indicated with a double hyphen (--); double hyphens do not indicate omitted words. If we inserted something for clarity we used square brackets [like these]. --Editor
Arlington Mercury: Talk a little bit more about your idea for an inspector general, or some sort of auditing person in the county.
Mark Kelly: Sure, my whole philosophy behind it is we need more accountability. And, because it’s been a one-party board for so long, I think it’s important to go back and bring somebody in who’s independent of the board and have them look at the books. Whether that ends up being a full-time county person which--…the federal government does it where they kind of wall the inspector general off, I think that would certainly be appropriate.
But I think by doing that, by providing that annual accountability, you’ll find things in the budget pretty quickly where it’s not just me saying it, or it’s not just some outside group saying it. But it’s somebody with some authority saying, “We should do these things differently. We could find real savings.”...
AM: You’re not against it being a full-time employee as opposed to a contracted auditor?
MK: I’m not. I don’t think they would need to have a real expansive staff or anything.…I think with over 3,000 employees, we could probably find a couple FTE [full-time-equivalent] slots for an inspector general’s office.
AM: What would an IG find that should be taken away?
MK: I would think they would look at a project like the homeless shelter that’s being proposed. For a fraction of the cost, you could go in and retro-fit the old facility.
[The county is in the process of buying through eminent domain the Thomas Building at 2020 N. 14th St. That building would be used for a year-round homeless shelter and for government offices. The current homeless shelter is in a building a couple blocks from the proposed site.--Editor.]
Right now, they’re talking about spending $25 million on the purchase, plus $10 million to retrofit the new building. And I’ve heard estimates as little as $2- or $3 million to go in and retrofit the old facility, make it year-round...