A straightforward answer to a straightforward question is hard to get from any politician these days.
But the three contenders vying in the July 7 County Board special election appear to be taking the non-answer syndrome to new heights in local politics.
Latest example: The Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) asked the trio what they believed Arlington’s ideal population would or should be.
The current population stands at about 235,000, and has been on the rise in recent years. That growth has brought both positives and negatives to the community.
While the candidates gave lengthy, albeit frequently nebulous, responses to how they would address the growth of the population, none actually got around to answering the question with an ideal population target.
But generalities were in abundance:
• “We can’t stop growing, but we can be much smarter about it,” said independent Susan Cunningham. “The County Board must ensure that any future growth is both practical and proactive.”
• “I support intentionally planning for growth in Arlington and managing it using robust civic engagement,” Democratic nominee Takis Karantonis said.
At least Republican nominee Bob Cambridge took the time to acknowledge he was dodging the question. “Ideal population density is a rather subjective term,” he noted in his response.
“Arlington’s population is growing, and that growth can easily be characterized as fast,” Cambridge noted.
Refusing to get pinned down seems to be a theme of this election – candidates have studiously avoiding taking too specific a stance on the future of single-family zoning, and have opted not to be drawn into potentially contentious issues like who should receive top priority for affordable-housing support.
The election was called in the wake of the death, in April, of County Board member Erik Gutshall. The winner will serve the remaining 18 months of Gutshall’s term.
In a questionnaire, ATAG also quizzed the candidates on matters related to the future of the tree canopy in Arlington; the need for environmental assessments on county-government projects; and the preservation of natural resources when considering issues ranging from stormwater to traffic.
For information, see the Website at https://arlingtontreeactiongroup.org.