When you volunteer as a firefighter/emergency medical technician, you tend to see things through a different lens, says Arlington County Board candidate Kim Klingler.
You sometimes see elderly people who may have to section off one room in their home to be able to afford to heat it, or others who may have fallen ill only to be found days later. It’s not the Arlington most people know, but it’s a segment of the population Klingler believes could benefit from a more proactive county government.
“I see some things that occur in Arlington that I’m not necessarily proud of,” Klingler said. “And it’s not that we don’t have the money. We do. And it’s not that we don’t have the services. We do. But we need to make sure we’re connecting them to the right people.”
Klingler, a 34-year-old health care IT consultant, is one of five Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in this week’s special election caucuses. And she’s the only candidate to organize a series of runs to meet with voters.
Klingler grew up in a military family, moving around a lot. She settled in Arlington in 2001 and was able to join with two friends to take out a shared mortgage on a townhouse near Lee Highway. It was a creative way to become a homeowner here, she said.
In public appearances, Klingler often promotes herself as someone who would be “an independent voice … on a board some may think is becoming too insular.”
Her top priorities include preparing for the new Silver Line, fostering collaboration between the county board and Arlington Public Schools that is “pre-planned” and “consistent” in order to better deal with issues like school overcrowding and putting in place an initiative to have the county’s EMS and Department of Human Services work better together to provide those in need with existing services.
Planning for the Silver Line, in particular, is critical for the county’s future well being, Klingler said.
“Tysons has a plan. Reston has a plan. I have friends who are part of the chambers of commerce out there. They’re telling me that some of Arlington’s larger businesses are beginning to look at potentially moving,” she said.
“Our cost per square footage is going up. So unless owners such as Vornado and others decide to negotiate with the federal government, the federal government may look to go further out on the Metro line where the cost is lower. I’m not saying this will happen, but we don’t have plans in place to mitigate this or to prepare for it.”
Klingler also believes the county needs to make it easier for small businesses to start up here.
“We need to have expectations better known, a check sheet, and make sure inspectors are all looking for the same thing,” she said. “I’ve heard too many stories where one inspector says one thing and another says something else.”
Since moving to Arlington, Klingler has begun establishing roots – being active with her local civic association, participating in Leadership Arlington and becoming a member of the local Kiwanis Club. She began having conversations about running for the county board a little more than a year ago.
“I believe we need a new, independent Democratic voice who won't rubber stamp current proposals, but rather begin conversations by listening to the community,” former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Peter Rousselot said in an email to Patch. “For example, Kim is prepared to vote to fast-track a solution to our schools capacity issue – even if that means delaying action on, or even cancelling, other expensive capital projects.”
In addition to her service as an emergency responder, Klingler volunteers at the Arlington Free Clinic and is a member of the county’s Capital Improvement Plan Working Group.
She is single and has no children. She has two dogs that take up much of her spare time, and she enjoys soccer and gymnastics.