Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Jonathan Dromgoole was unable to meet in person but happy to do a phone interview.
Dromgoole is the Senior Manager for Political Appointments at the LGBTQ Victory Institute, and works on getting LGBTQ people appointed to federal positions. He has lived in Arlington for 7 years.
Arlington Connection (Q): What single thing prompted you to run for County Board?
Dromgoole (A): Housing affordability and adding diversity: 30 percent of Arlington are Latino: I want to represent my community: renters, Latino, immigrants, millennials, LGBTQ.
Q: What is your position on lot coverage? (Many Arlingtonians have voiced concern about the ratio of building to land in new housing development in Arlington.)
A: We need to take a look at what current lot coverages are. I am a supporter of affordable housing. I believe where we can increase housing, we should. But I grew up in Austin,Texas which is a place where green space was valued. Sprawl happens: we need to make sure we preserve green space too.
Q: What is one County Board decision you would not have voted for in the past few years?
A: I support Missing Middle (MM) but wish it would include affordable housing, like increase the cap of 58 units, but make ten percent affordable. Arlington is slow to pick up on those kinds of policies.
Q: How would you define the Arlington Way and do you think it remains a strong element in the county?
A: Everyone has their own interpretation of what that is — if we want to continue a strong commitment to engage and have people participate, then it has to bring in those communities who aren’t engaged. The Arlington Way 2.0 is the next step: the current way doesn’t include enough renters or diverse voices.
Q: Rising crime in Arlington: what is one thing you would do to assure residents Arlington remains a safe place to live and work?
A: We need to take a look at where the crime is happening. Is it Arlington born and bred or is it part of a regional issue? We need more data. It’s not just a certain demographic. County staff must look more closely; it’s not kids not having enough to do after school.
Q: Should the county be more willing to invest in the rescue of historic homes than they have recently with the Fellows, Broyhill, and Rouse mansions?
A: It’s not something I am really aware of - broadly speaking I want to make sure we are doing it for the right reasons. Making some spaces more public would be a good reason to preserve an area.
Q: How familiar are you with the stormwater management issues in the County?
A: Somewhat familiar. I know we have invested in buying some homes that are affected by this. There are concerns with increased housing covering land - we have technologies and ways to avoid just covering the whole area in cement. It’s one of our more natural concerns that we are facing.
Q: Are there areas where Arlington County could cut costs?
A: If you look at a lot of the positions in county government which have been vacant for a long time. If they are vacant for a long time, what can be done to minimize those. I want to be mindful of how much we are asking of our Arlington staff - we need to be tactical. Do a little less “let’s do another study.”
Q: What is the single best thing about Arlington that attracts people to live here?
A: The single best thing: props to our public education system. I did the public education system in Texas. We are miles above that here.
Q: No matter the outcome, what will you take away from running for the board?
A: As a first time candidate, this opens your eyes and gives you a perspective of the multiple needs of our county, the need for better representation. I feel by running I am continuously chipping away at the standard representation. Nearly 1 in 5 Arlingtonians are Latino, 2 in 5 are millennials with the average age being 35, 3 in 5 are renters. So where are the Latinos, millennials, or renters on the Board?
So just by running, I am highlighting the lack of broader representation. If I don’t get elected, I will still feel like we made progress towards getting more diverse representation down the road. But I will also say, getting to run with such a qualified group of candidates was really great. We have genuinely gotten to know each other and we wish all six of us could just hop on the board together even though we don’t always agree.
Q: What is one question I didn’t ask that you wished I had?
A: Do we feel renters are adequately represented on the Board? I’ve lived here for 7 years. I foresee renting for the next 7 years. What is the role of renters overall in civic life? Where do we move to if rents go up? As one of our candidates said, young people are moving to Richmond because we can’t live here. How are we going to help normal people in Arlington? How is normal defined?
More at https://www.jonathandromgoole.com/