Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey will be sworn in to her first full four-year term at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the County Board Room on the third floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
Garvey, who put forth an exhaustive effort this week to defeat or delay the approval of a new funding mechanism for major transportation projects, took office in late March. She filled the unexpired term of Barbara Favola, who is now a state senator, and ran for office in November on a platform that included opposing the Columbia Pike streetcar.
After a barrage of questions Monday, Garvey told her colleagues allowing the county to use the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act would mean Arlington was "one vote away" from awarding a contract for the controversial streetcar project.
She argued the board spends countless hours debating whether individual residents can build a deck a few feet wider than the zoning ordinance allows, or how many tables and chairs a new restaurant can put on the sidewalk — Why not take more time on something that potentially effects a $250 million taxpayer-funded endeavor?
Ultimately, Garvey lost. The board voted 4-1 on Monday to allow public-private partnerships to be on the table for funding streetcar and other transportation and transit projects.
Garvey, in a subsequent email to her campaign supporters this week, indicated she's not letting go of the issue:
"...I imagine many of you know about my concerns about the Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA) guidelines which the Board adopted Monday night. These guidelines pave the way for unsolicited bids on large transportation projects. I am concerned because the PPTA has been shown, without proper safeguards, to inappropriately shift the burden of risk onto the taxpayer for large transportation projects. Unfortunately, my colleagues did not agree with me that we needed more time to process this issue in the Arlington Way so that our Fiscal Affairs Commission, Transportation Commission and others would be able to study the guidelines and comment.
While many comments were made during the discussion Monday night about the desire to protect the public interest, the fact remains that the guidelines, as adopted Monday, still do too little to protect the public interest as has been recommended by experts in the field. I also have expressed concern about the appearance of a possible conflict of interest due to Chris Zimmerman’s association with AECOM Canada East. AECOM is the company that is the most likely to send in an unsolicited proposal once these guidelines become effective on April 1..."
Today's swearing-in ceremony will feature a Ben Franklin impersonator, Yorktown High School students singing the national anthem and, during the reception that follows, music by the Washington-Lee High School jazz ensemble.