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Vote of No-Confidence Resolution Passes Overwhelmingly in Arlington County, VA Amid 100 Page Report of Governance Issues

Resolution to Restore the Public’s Confidence in Arlington County Governance

Members voting on Public Confidence Resolution

Resolution reflects the growing public discontent with decision making and the lack of transparency, accountability, and inclusivity by the County government.

ARLINGTON, VA, USA, March 22, 2023 / -- On March 14, 2023, the Arlington County Civic Federation, composed of 79 community organizations across the county, approved the Resolution to Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County Governance to hold the 5-member elected County Board and County Manager accountable regarding concerns over serious governance issues. A 70% majority voted in favor of the most strongly worded and detailed option. Over one-hundred delegates participated in one of the largest rebukes in recent years.

The Resolution reflects the growing public discontent with how decisions are being made, and the lack of transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in the way the County is conducting its business. It calls for Arlington County to make extensive changes over a wide range of areas, such as
- Transparency in its processes, meetings and decision-making, including improving access to public records, recordings, upzoning impact analysis and the accounting and enforcement of community benefits, etc.
- Making data and information readily accessible to residents including the same information available to county staff, eliminating the need to request excessive and costly Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fees to access basic county information and improving the open data portal.
- Responsiveness by ensuring that public participation is an integral part of the decision-making process with unbiased and equitable engagement methods.

The Resolution stems from a 100-page report with over 700 footnoted documented examples of residents’ experiences in engaging with Arlington County and other concerning governance practices. Even after the report was published, residents continue to contribute more examples of practices reducing their confidence via the independent site

Examples in the report include not addressing safety concerns and approving sweeping development plans such as the Pentagon City Sector Plan, Amazon HQ2 PenPlace site and the county’s current proposal to end single family home zoning under the branding of “Missing Middle” with little to no impact analysis nor assurance of adequate infrastructure and facilities. The report describes tactics to suppress dissent and substantive criticism, such as artificially inflating consensus for policies, manipulating data to achieve preferred results, and implementing obstacles and tactics to avoid publishing public records, that appear to be increasing. Recently the county preemptively filed a lawsuit against residents who asked the Board of Zoning Appeals to review possible policy violations by the county (County Board v. Meiers et al, 2022, Arlington County Circuit Court, Case No. CL22002001-00).

To date, the elected five-member County Board; Katie Cristol, Christian Dorsey, Matt de Ferranti, Libby Garvey and Takis Karantonis and and County Manager Mark Schwartz have not provided a detailed response to the passage of the Resolution. However, Board Chair Dorsey did acknowledge public notification of the Resolution’s passage at the following Saturday County Board meeting, with a response largely dismissing the need for change, yet expressing a willingness to work with “those who want to engage in good faith, not simply complain about past decisions."

Time will tell the extent to which the County acknowledges the issues raised about how it's conducting its activities and making its decisions, and whether it implements the improvements necessary to match the detail and breadth outlined in the Resolution.

See the full Resolution, the report examples and more at

Pat Williams
Restore Confidence in Arlington Initiative
+1 703-239-7655
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