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John Vihstadt Weighs In on Proposal for Public Vote on Columbia Pike Streetcar

"Not a penny more of taxpayer dollars should be spent on promoting, planning for, or in any way implementing Arlington streetcars until such a referendum is held and Arlington voters have had their say once again."

John Vihstadt, Arlington County Board Member; Vihstadt photo
John Vihstadt, Arlington County Board Member; Vihstadt photo
Newly elected Arlington County Board Member John Vihstadt (R) weighed in Thursday night on a proposal to put to a public vote a controversial Columbia Pike streetcar proposal.

His statement followed earlier ones from Del. Patrick Hope and Alan Howze, who are calling for a public vote on the project. Both are running for office — Hope in the Democratic primary for the 8th congressional District and Howze for the county board seat. Vihstadt recently won a special election against Howze. 

The following is a statement from Vihstadt:

"I am pleased to see that Alan Howze now agrees that Arlington taxpayers should have a voice regarding the County Board’s misguided proposal to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to install streetcars in Arlington.

I regret that Mr. Howze still believes that streetcars are a good investment for Arlington. Many people have already stated that my election on April 8 with 57 percent of the vote was referendum enough on the wisdom of Arlington streetcars.

Yet, if a further specific streetcar voter referendum is to be truly meaningful and anything beyond a gimmick or a political tactic, it is imperative that the County Board direct the County Manager immediately to cease all County expenditures relating to streetcars, as I attempted to do at our April 16 County Board work session.

Not a penny more of taxpayer dollars should be spent on promoting, planning for, or in any way implementing Arlington streetcars until such a referendum is held and Arlington voters have had their say once again.  

Accordingly, I call on Delegate Hope and Candidate Howze, as well as my Board colleagues, to support my and colleague Libby Garvey’s efforts to ensure that:

(a) no funds shall be expended in the FY 2014 or FY 2015 operating budgets for the purpose of furthering a streetcar on Columbia Pike or anywhere else in Arlington, except to the extent that such expenditures are required to meet contractual or other legal obligations entered into by the County prior to the date of this motion;
(b) no funds be included in the FY 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for similar purposes and that
(c) any referendum question on streetcars to be included on the general election ballot in Arlington in 2014:  

• be clearly worded to specify in detail the estimated total costs for all proposed Arlington streetcars,  
• detail the proposed financing plan for all of them, and  
• not combine streetcar financing with any other project so that it is clear to voters precisely on what subject they are voting." 

Also read:
Read: Arlington Pols Call for Public Vote on Columbia Streetcar Project
Libby Garvey Resigns from Arlington Democratic Committee

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