The Arlington County Board runs a billion-dollar budget. The need for financial literacy is critical. We have just seen a County Board member publicly share that they have filed for bankruptcy. Did he need to share that information? No. He did not. Rather, he played the martyr, “But I made a choice to do public service, and that sacrifice means my income dropped.”
I don’t know about you, but I have seen a lot of jobs that look interesting. However, after reviewing the salary, it became clear I could not pay for the needs of my family on that salary and I chose another option: to keep a job that paid the bills. Paying the bills is a fundamental role to contributing to a well-run society. Let’s be clear, as a graduate of Georgetown University, it isn’t like he wasn’t set up for success.
Is it unfortunate that the individual had to declare bankruptcy? Yes, it is. There are a million reasons that could have led to him not being able to pay the bills and in the end, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he could have made another decision and dropped out of the race in October and focused on providing for his family. On resolving his financial obligations to his debtors. But, he didn’t. He stayed in.
Then this same politician was reprimanded for not reporting campaign donations by a union. With a power position on one of the most important decision-making bodies in the region, he squandered it, and Arlington’s influence, by not paying attention to the details and then not recusing himself in a vote that impacted those same donors.
The County Board is not directly responsible for managing the dollars but, the board members certainly are in the power seat with allocating the dollars. Arlington County residents need officials who have demonstrated financial literacy in their personal lives, who can manage the details of a campaign, and who are in a position to make good decisions on behalf of all of Arlington’s residents – current and future.
Will he step down and focus on being a good citizen by doing the basics and paying his debts?
In an ideal world, he would have stepped down in October. But, he didn’t and now the citizens will have to make a decision on whether to put pressure on him to do the right thing and open up the seat for a newly elected official. This does mean that the state (AKA your tax dollars) will have to pay for a special election and perhaps, we will find an official who can put the county before their own ego.