Level of Effort: Choose Your Own Adventure
Deadline: Tue 6/18 7pm

Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County is endorsing Tenley Peterson for your first ranked vote in the June 18, 2024 election for the Democratic nomination for Arlington County Board.

We appreciate the responses to our questionnaire from all five candidates and are excited about the level of support we see for sustainable mobility across all candidates.  Tenley's answers, public statements, and actions as a member of the Planning Commission demonstrate a level of commitment, understanding, and drive that we do not see from the other candidates which earned her our endorsement.  Wanting to acknowledge the strong responses across the field, and that Arlington is not a single-issue electorate, we have ranked the complete field based on their responses, past actions, and public statements in an effort to assist our members in deciding who, if anyone, to rank beyond Tenley.

We require candidates to fill out our questionnaire to be considered for an endorsement. Following their submissions, our Board of Directors examines the candidates’ questionnaire answers, public statements, and actions, and makes an endorsement decision that they believe will advance Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County’s policy goals.

#1 Tenley Peterson

  • Tenley understands issues related to sustainable mobility, in part because she regularly uses it - she was a car-free household in Arlington before having kids and continues to walk, bike, and take transit in Arlington.
  • Tenley has a proven track record.  On the Planning Commission she asks good questions, seeks strong community benefits for people walking, biking, and taking transit during development review, and pushes for planning documents that support sustainable mobility.
  • Tenley's answers show commitment - her answer to the trade-offs question, for example, endorses road diets not just in general, but on Carlin Springs Road specifically.
  • Tenley's answers show deep understanding. Rather than simply supporting the performative climate goal on transit (electrification) she demonstrates a deeper understanding - that transit's environmental superpower is giving people a compelling alternative to single-occupancy vehicles and until electrification can move forward without endangering that, it's a secondary priority. Her support for the Missing Middle shows a strong grasp of how land use impacts transportation & the importance of allowing more people to live in Arlington where we have access to most of life's necessities via walking, biking, transit, or a short car ride (which is more sustainable than a long car ride).

#2 JD Spain

  • We greatly appreciate JD's strong commitment to making the hard trade-off choices required to build solid sustainable mobility infrastructure.
  • JD's support for Missing Middle Housing reflects a strong understanding of the connection between transportation and land use.
  • JD's answers sometimes show a lack of deep understanding of the issues.  For example, his call for a "comprehensive review of Arlington's transit needs" fails to reference or critique Arlington's recently updated Transit Strategic Plan. His answer to our trail question highlights some truly backward thinking about hairpin turns and unsafe drop-offs as "traffic calming" for bikes and no understanding of the role of trail lighting in trail safety, attractiveness, and usage across genders.
  • We worry about JD's infrequent use of sustainable mobility modes. While understandable in his situation, there is no substitute for first-hand experience walking, biking, and taking the bus in Arlington to understand what is needed to make these options safe, efficient, and attractive.

#3 Julie Farnam

  • Julie has a first-hand perspective on many sustainable mobility issues, in part because she has regularly used it.  She was a car-free household in Arlington until two years ago.
  • Julie's answer to our trade-offs question makes us question how deep her support for sustainable mobility goes.  An "it depends" answer is often what we get from candidates on this question, but hers is particularly scarce giving any assurances that her support would stand up to any NIMBY opposition.
  • While we appreciate Julie's response that public transit in Arlington is a "necessity", her responses on what transit needs seem superficial at best.  ART and MetroBus service ARE coordinated - if you are calling for better coordination you must be able to outline what is lacking in the current coordination between the services. Calling for advertising on buses is exactly the kind of high-effort, low-benefit initiative that often distracts from the core business of running fast, frequent, reliable transit.
  • Julie's opposition to missing middle housing shows a superficial understanding of the connection between transportation and land use and her support for requiring more parking in new development is even worse.  Subsidizing the production of car parking undermines all that Arlington is doing to promote non-car transportation.

#4 James Devita

  • Outside of his opposition to Missing Middle housing, James' stances appear to be largely in line with our own.
  • Unfortunately, all of his answers are simplistically short and shallow, limiting our ability to determine whether they are backed by real understanding and an understanding of what actually needs to be done to effect change.
  • James' usage of non-car modes appears to be largely limited to MetroRail which limits his first-hand knowledge of other important sustainable mobility options in Arlington like biking and buses.
  • James' opposition to Missing Middle housing shows a superficial understanding of the connection between transportation and land use.

#5 Natalie Roy

  • Natalie regularly walks and bikes giving her important first-hand experience with those modes and it shows in her emphasis on a complete network of protected bike lanes and comprehensive sidewalk planning.
  • Nearly all of Natalie's answers to our questions this year are a step (or more) backward from her answers last year.  Somehow Natalie has gone from "I would work diligently with all stakeholders to support a balanced approach that creates an improved and better-connected bike network, safer sidewalks and dedicated safe transit lanes" and "I want it to be as easy and safe to ride from my home in Lyon Park to Shirlington or Lee Heights, as it is to get on the Rt. 50 bike path to travel to DC" to "Arlington is well served by" its existing infrastructure and "I don’t see the need to remove trees or to reduce driving lanes along other routes".
  • Some of Natalie's answers express a very shallow understanding of the policies being discussed.  For example, she declares that e-bikes are "expensive" when they are significantly cheaper than what they are generally replacing, which is a car.
  • Despite being active in the community for years and biking as part of her business, Natalie has been notably absent from public meetings and other opportunities to improve biking and other forms of sustainable mobility.