A Q&A With A Candidate For Arlington County Board
Responses by Peter Fallon, Candidate for Arlington County Board
Responses received May 1, 2017
America’s Future Workforce (AFW) aims to bring together elected officials, candidates and interested stakeholders for an in-depth conversation on policy affecting citizens and policy shaping the future economic and social landscape of Arlington County, Virginia. Below are the questions and the corresponding answers from the candidate, Peter Fallon.
Why is economic justice and economic opportunity such an important topic for the residents of Arlington County?
America was built on the concept of equality and opportunity – where anyone willing to work hard can create a better life for themselves and their family. Both my parents were immigrants to the US who came for these very reasons. In the past few decades, we have seen the gains of previous generations erode. Access to good paying jobs, retirement benefits, ability to own your own home, and send your children to college (without assuming crushing student debt) are slipping away. This is not acceptable for a society built on the founding principles of the US. Growing income inequality, and the concentration of enormous wealth in the hands of a few, is inconsistent with a progressive and just society. Today’s college graduates are hampered by student debt, taken on in the pursuit of higher education, and then must compete in the workforce for good jobs. Arlington is home to thousands of families and young people facing these problems. It’s directly in the best interest of Arlington County to tackle these issues here.
What actionable resolutions can the Arlington County Board take to fight for economic justice?
The Arlington County Board is a legislative body which can pass ordinances (subject to the limits on local government imposed by the state through the “Dillon Rule”), and make public policy that can work towards economic justice. My record of 30 years of community involvement, deep community roots, and strong record of advocacy demonstrates my commitment to economic justice. I am committed to maintaining our community-level social safety network to help the most vulnerable in our community. I am opposed to efforts to discriminate against our fellow citizens based on immigration status. I am committed to the Arlington County living wage program. I will advocate with our state delegation to obtain the necessary enabling legislation from the Virginia General Assembly to raise the minimum wage locally and statewide. I am committed to expanding our supply of affordable housing (rental and purchase) throughout Arlington. As the parent of young children (4 year old and 8 year old), I know we need more affordable childcare options to help working families and single parents be able to work. There are several zoning tools already available including density exclusions which can be used more effectively to increase the supply of childcare options. While childcare needs to be regulated for the safety and welfare of the children, I believe this can accomplished without imposing additional costs upon the childcare providers which in turn are passed along to the parents. The County Board can also pass resolutions of support, but while a valuable first step, county government needs to be focused on action.
How can we prepare children enrolled in the Arlington County Schools for the workforce?
I view a strong public education as the great social equalizer. Children from different family income levels, at-risk populations, parent’s education levels, immigration status, and non-native English speakers are given the strong education to reach their full potential in life. These children don’t start life with the same advantages that wealthier or more educated parents can provide. Strong, well-funded schools, with ample resources can help to level the playing the field.
I am running for county board in part, to continue to be a champion for our public schools. APS needs to prepare students for both the demands of college, but also provide skills based education to our students aspiring to join the workforce immediately after graduating high school. As a county board member, I would advocate for increased funding to the Arlington Career Center programs and expansion of certificate offerings. I would also advocate for partnerships with local area businesses to provide meaningful (and paid) internships to provide real work experience to interested students. I would seek to provide opportunities for students to gain experience working part-time or seasonally in county government.
Do you think the workforce development center for Arlington County should be revamped to help train people for in-demand jobs?
Certainly! If the training is outdated, or the jobs are being exported overseas, we need to make changes. Working with large employers, we can identify the training that workers needs now and in the future to meet the demands of a changing and global economy. As we diversify our local economy, we should be recruiting employers that will bring high quality and well-paying jobs for our current residents, too. I would make job training, and working with our students, a requirement in exchange for financial incentives to recruit companies to Arlington. It isn’t sufficient that they help to increase the tax base. Companies receiving incentives should be able to demonstrate an ability to give back to our community that justifies the financial incentives they receive.
How can you bring more opportunity to the in-need residents of Arlington County?
I have a long record of advocating for people in Arlington. This includes advocating (and getting results) with more affordable housing, access to open space and parks, social services, transit services, helping the disability community, and more. I recognize that our problems are in fact, regional problems. We need to work with our neighbors to find solutions that work with each other. I support further expanding our partnerships with the local housing, human services nonprofits, and other community organizations. Arlington can continue leveraging these organization’s donor and volunteer networks and subject matter expertise to effectively deliver services to our residents. We need to bring new organizations, including America’s Future Workforce, into this community partnership.
America’s Future Workforce aims to heighten the awareness of the issues affecting Arlington County and its citizens. In compliance with all 501c3 regulations, all candidates were contacted and asked to partake in this Q&A.