Meet the Candidates: Arlington BOA Q&A

Last month, The View 38002 contacted the 12 candidates running in the municipal or school board elections in Arlington. In each race, each candidate was sent the same questions and instructions.

Three of the candidates are unopposed: Cheryl Pardue in Alderman Position 2, Scott Benjamin in School Board Position 1, and Dale Viox in School Board Position 5.

Participating candidates were given a 400-word limit for their responses. The responses printed here are unedited, except for formatting that does not change the content or intent of the answer.

The responses are grouped alphabetically by position, as that is the way that they will appear on the ballot.

In Arlington, voters will choose from candidates for Board of Aldermen positions 1, 2, and 3. Only the top vote-getter in each position will be elected to a four-year term.

At The View 38002, we believe that educating the public on the election and candidates helps individuals make informed decisions. While there certainly are many issues that are not touched upon in these questions, we encourage our readers to contact the candidates for more information on their platforms and campaigns.

Position 2

Cheryl Pardue
Home Educator (former Marketing Account Manager)
FB Page – Cheryl Pardue, Position 2 or email cherylpardueforalderwoman @gmail.com
Why are you running for office?

Let me start by saying that I am not running on a certain agenda, nor has anyone asked me to run. After being active in our community for several years, especially in the political scene, I felt it was time for me to exercise my civic responsibility to run for this position.

How many board or committee meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years?

I believe attending the monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings is an important step in understanding how our local government operates. Therefore, I have attended nearly every meeting for the past 7 years. For the past couple of years, I have shared notes from these meetings on my personal Facebook page to help others to be informed and knowledgeable about what is going on in our community.

I have voted in every election and brought my children along to each one so that they also understood the importance and excitement in exercising our right to vote.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth? 

I equate small town with being family-friendly. I have lived in Arlington for 14 years and have seen the tremendous changes in residential and commercial growth during that time. I have seen how Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) allow each neighborhood to be a community within itself thus promoting family-friendly environments throughout the town. Our town has done a good job in maintaining the small-town atmosphere by keeping it family-friendly with these PUDs and events like the Annual Christmas Parade, Arlington in April, Arlington Fireworks, Music on the Square, the Library’s Summer Reading Program, and so many more.  It is wonderful that we still have the Rachel K. Burrows Museum and Post Office located in and maintaining the identity of Depot Square. Encouraging small businesses to locate and stay in Arlington is a key factor in growing retail business while maintaining the small-town feel. Continuing to support these events and incorporating this family-friendly atmosphere throughout the residential developments and commercial growth will be paramount to maintaining the small-town atmosphere that we all enjoy.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

Now that Arlington has grown to the size that it is and others see the gem that we have, more residents and businesses will want to locate here. Therefore, we have the challenge of making sure future growth stays consistent with our identity and that we maintain the infrastructure and public services to support it. The duty of the town will also be to ensure growth is in the best interest of the residents.

 

Position 4

Oscar L. Brooks Sr.
Plant Operations Lead @ Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital
Follow my campaign on Facebook @ Re-elect Oscar Brooks Alderman Position 4

Why are you running for office?

I am seeking re-election to help steer Arlington through what I believe will be a commercial growth like we’ve never experienced yet. I also feel the residential growth will continue at the same pace as we’ve seen the past couple of years, if not pick up somewhat, and we must do it in a manner that will not damage existing home values. I see the south side of 40 becoming an area of focus and the bar needs to be raised just a bit. We have a land use plan in place and some very stringent guidelines to follow.  As long as we stay the course, things will work out to everyone’s liking.

How many board meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years?

I attend all BMA meetings. I missed one Planning Commission meeting (family vacation), and attended all but a couple of Park and Recreation meetings (work related). I have attended a hand full of other committee meetings that I do not hold a seat on, plus any required training and work sessions. B) Yes.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth?

Well my opinion of “small- town atmosphere” and everyone else’s opinion may differ just a bit, but to maintain it we need to continue to have, and promote events that get people to come together and mingle with their neighbors. i.e. Music on the Square, Arlington in April, Arlington’s Star Spangled Celebration, Christmas on the Square/ Christmas tree lighting, Annual Christmas parade, A Taste of Arlington etc. I’m sure there are a few events I have missed. I also feel that the Depot Square area should remain a focal point. But the one thing in my opinion that encourages interaction with your neighbors would be more front porches and less privacy fences.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

I think the biggest challenge will be managing a good balance of commercial and residential growth and making sure we can provide the necessary services without placing any addition financial burden on our citizens.

 

Position 4

Thomas Reyes
Civil Engineering Technician/Civil-Safety Public Service
Facebook page: Elect Thomas Reyes for Arlington Alderman Position 4
Email: Tommyreyes333@icloud.com

 

Why are you running for office?

My family and I moved to Arlington in 2008, being our number 1 choice to raise a family. With Arlington having the best schools, small Town charm and superb quality of life, made the choice easy. Since living here I have seen the Town grow rapidly. I have watched developments come before the Town seeking zoning changes and guideline variances that impacted many of the citizens of Arlington. I have attended, standing room only, board meetings that ended up siding against the will of the people. Example dropping the business entertainment district. In my opinion, this was a rushed decision that hundreds petitioned and many spoke against. This one variance alone has upset the balance provided by the Town’s Master Plan. If elected, I will work my hardest to assure your voice will be heard.

How many board meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years?

I have attended practically all of the board of mayor and alderman meetings over the past 5 plus years. I have also attended several planning commission and school board meetings as well.

I have voted in all of the past 5 years elections.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth?

Town guidelines and zoning have been in place for several years. As mentioned above, many of us moved here because of the small-town charm, excellent schools and quality of life. Adhering to reasonably strict guidelines, laid out by the Town Master Plan, by not allowing adverse variances that affect the citizens of the Town. Properly controlled growth will benefit citizens and businesses alike. That is what I feel will achieve this goal.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

Insuring our infrastructure, publics works, fire and police protection are adequately staffed and funded all while maintaining a low tax rate. With Arlington growing at such a fast pace, I feel we need to be ahead of the growth in providing these basic services in order to maintain a quality and safe place to live.

Position 4

Marshall Veitenheimer

Why are you running for office?

To all Arlington residents: I, Marshall Veitenheimer (veitmx@gmail.com), would like to take this moment to inform you that I am no longer interested in being elected for Alderman Position 4.  Other matters have arisen in my personal and professional life that could impede serving the community to the degree that it deserves.  Additionally, with two new candidates running for position 4 it only serves to split the popular vote.  Unfortunately it’s past the deadline to remove my name from the official ballot so I would ask you to support another candidate.

However, my ideology would have been to provide an innovative, relevant and cohesive perspective to town government while furnishing the community an actual voice on matters that directly affects their lives.

How many board or committee meetings have you attended in the past year?

Not relevant.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth? 

My supporters have voiced they do not want major commercial growth in the form of architecturally unsightly shopping centers, multi bay office blocks, or any additional warehouse or vehicle sales lots.  Locally owned small or niche businesses are fine.  High density residential developments –whether apartments or closely packed single family homes, are a special negative concern to them.  As myself, most moved here to escape the likes of other close proximity cities or towns where traffic congestion and crime increase daily resulting in plummeting property values and an overall sense of endangerment.  It is time to look towards sustainable, sensible growth that preserves our small town feel.  Rapid or over growth –whether commercial or residential, overwhelms the existing town infrastructure which only leads to a feeling of community discontent.

In my community’s voice, a Board Member’s goal –in part, should be:

  • Deter insertion of national or global big box retail chains
  • Recruit privately or locally owned retail and restaurant businesses
  • Deter residential over building –especially multi-family or high density residential housing
  • Recruit high quality, innovative, eco-friendly home builders
  • Deter desire to build just for building sake -build to the need instead
  • Promote our quality school system, our community safety, and our small town atmosphere
  • Repel unsightly or disquieting establishments that detract from a desirable community appearance
  • Preserve Arlington’s Historic Square by requiring new construction to emulate the historic period style
  • Invest in innovative methods that retain and reward our Firefighters, Teachers, and City Employees

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

Preventing too much growth too fast resulting in overwhelming our current town’s infrastructure.  This will jeopardize the safety of the community through increased congestion and crime and puts residential property values at risk.

 

Position 5

Harry McKee
Retired Packaging Plant Manager Riviana Foods
www.facebook.com/voteharrymckee

Why are you running for office?

I have always considered it a privilege to serve our great Town and all of its citizens. I have had the opportunity to serve as Alderman for the past 12 years, and my peers on the Board have selected me to serve as your Vice Mayor for the past 10 years. I have also served as Chairman of the Finance Committee, Chairman of the BZA, and as a member of the Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation committee.  I have worked with the Board and various committees to put Arlington in a position for controlled growth but to maintain the small town feel we all love.  I would like to continue serving to ensure we follow our regulations and standards and that we do not lose our focus.

How many board or committee meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years? 

I have attended every BMA meeting except one (vacation), and I attend all special called meetings, work sessions and most all Planning Commission and School Board meetings and some Design Review meetings. I make it a priority to vote and have done so in every election for the past five years.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth? 

Arlington is no longer Shelby County’s best kept secret. Many residents and businesses want to be a part of this great community. As a board, we have worked hard to follow our land use plan and to enact building regulations that will continue to give Arlington our “small town feel”. That is why I worked hard to help start the Star Spangled Spectacular fireworks event and Music on the Square, serve on the BBQ FallFest committee and helped build the Playground of Dreams.  As we continue to grow, it will be important to find more ways to keep our citizens involved and to provide ways to encourage more family-centered community events.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

The biggest challenge(s) over the next 12 months and beyond will be to ensure smart controlled growth with both commercial and residential development. As we continue to grow, we will have to continue to be mindful of our budget and keeping taxes low. As Chairman of the “Vote Yes” committee that helped bring Arlington Community Schools to fruition, I am very aware of why families move to our wonderful town, and our schools are the number one reason. We will continue to find ways to support ACS as well as providing safety and security via the essential services that our citizens expect.

 

Position 5

Mark Strausser
Radiation Oncology Sales, Varian Medical Systems Inc.
Owner, SportsCare Daycare
Owner, V3fights LLC
www.markstrausser.com

 

Why are you running for office?

I am running for Alderman in order to provide leadership and a fresh perspective on the issues that are facing Arlington. After spending time at community events, it is apparent to me that some citizens feel unheard about important issues. I intend to actively listen to their opinions and perspective. I want to ensure that we are doing the right thing today so that we are proud of the Arlington that we leave our children. This is the right time for me to run for office and I am excited about the opportunity.

How many board or committee meetings have you attended in the past year?

The short time that I have lived in Arlington, I have traveled the country extensively with my work in radiation oncology sales, lived in Brentwood, TN and Denver, CO. I recently changed positions in order to be more present with my family. I recently attended the Planning Commission meeting and have remained current by following the meeting minutes.

Have you voted in every election in the past five years?

No. I have lived here three years.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth?

I struggle with this issue as a husband, father and resident of Arlington.  It is delicate and has captured the attention of the residents.  As my family has become more rooted in this town, I have begun to understand both sides of the issue.  I believe with measured growth Arlington can grow while offering amenities and resources such as parks and recreation to the residents. There is a lot to be done for the town to grow in a way that we don’t lose our small town charm. Businesses both big and small that want to call Arlington home see something unique in this town and will provide funding that allows for more amenities. I believe we are poised for growth in Arlington, and that growth can be carefully planned, strategic and selective.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

Great question and one that is on all of our minds. We have many things that must be considered, decided on and moved into action over the next year. Our next moves in several areas are critical to long term safety and sustainability. I will share one area that has me particularly concerned is the emergency response system we have in place. We need to address the fact that Arlington is in dire need of a second fire company. I can’t imagine the stress this puts on our current firefighters and I firmly believe that this needs to be addressed.

 

Position 6

Jeremy Biggs
Senior Loss Control Consultant
www.facebook.com/electjeremybiggs/

Why are you running for office?

I am running for Alderman because I see the need for transparency and integrity.  4 years ago I noticed a developer, a home builder, and a Real Estate PAC were financing some candidate’s campaigns.  This same builder and developer would then come before the board to ask for rezoning or to change a planned and approved development.  I feel strongly that something should be done to ensure our elected officials are not influenced by special interest groups, and Arlington resident’s interests are put first.  This is why I have fully financed my own campaign.  I will be indebted to no one if elected and will always vote for what I believe is best for Arlington.

How many board or committee meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years? 

In order to better understand the needs of our town, I’ve attended four Board and Alderman Meetings, two Planning Commission meetings, and four Parks and Recreation Committee meetings.    I’ve voted in every election in the past 5 years.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth? 

I believe by enforcing extremely high standards for new commercial and residential development we can maintain our small town feel and at the same time have the convenience of quality local businesses.  We must preserve and enhance Arlington’s small town charm by enforcing Arlington’s Design and Review Guidelines.  By allowing some builders to deviate from the DRC Guidelines, we fail to protect our small town feel and enhance existing home values.  We must not make accommodations for builders or developers, but instead be patient and wait for developers and builders that meet our rigid requirements.  Our strategy needs to be slow and strategic with what we approve.  We also need to prepare for new development by ensuring our roads are capable of handling an increase in traffic prior to the start of construction.  Congested traffic is not conducive to a small town atmosphere.  I’m also committed to supporting proper commercial growth in the Depot Square.  Any new businesses being developed in this area must follow the Depot Square Overlay District Guidelines to maintain the historical presence of the area.   I’m also committed to ensuring that any new residential development has adequate green space that includes trees, similar to the Preserve subdivision.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

As Arlington continues to grow our challenges become more evident.  We must ensure that our town infrastructure is in place to handle the future commercial and residential growth.  This is not only sewers, roads, etc., but also ensuring that our town government is adequately staffed.

Position 6

Brian Thompson
Enterprise Account Executive for C-Spire Cloud Solutions
www.votebrianthompson.com
www.facebook.com/votebrianthompson

Why are you running for office?

It is an honor and privilege to serve the Town of Arlington, its citizens, and my community, whether as Alderman, Chairman of the Design Review and Finance Committees, or as coordinator of the various community events in which I participate. I firmly believe it is vital to keep qualified and passionate people in positions of leadership to maintain the success and progress we have achieved to date. Arlington is poised for further economic growth and development, and I want to ensure that the plans, regulations, and guidelines we have worked hard to establish are maintained and enforced for the next 4 years.

How many board or committee meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years?

As Alderman, I have attended every Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting for the past year. I have also attended every Design Review Committee meeting serving as its Chairman. I am currently Chairman of the Finance Committee and attended every planning meeting for the 2017-18 annual budget. I have attended a handful of Planning Commission and School Board meetings over the past year as well. And, I have voted in every election the past five years.

How do you look to balance the desire of many residents to maintain a “small-town atmosphere” in Arlington with increasing commercial development and residential growth?

Arlington is a special place with its own unique character and sense of community. These attributes, in addition to our geographical advantages, high property values, and quality schools, make our town an attractive place for families and businesses to locate. By maintaining our smart planning initiatives, strategic zoning, attractive architecture and design guidelines enforcement, we will draw interest from the types of development that are the best fit for Arlington. Our small-town atmosphere will be preserved thru our various community events, a vibrant Depot Square area, parks and recreation facilities, and the many people who work hard to make Arlington a great place to live.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Arlington at this time or within the next 12 months?

The biggest challenge facing Arlington for the foreseeable future is to properly control the increased growth and development that we are beginning to see and to do so without sacrificing our town’s unique charm and character. As Alderman and chairman of the Design Review Committee for 10+ years, I have played a vital role in the development and adoption of our Design Guidelines Manual, Land Use Plan, and Zoning Ordinances. These documents are important tools in determining the suitability of development in Arlington, and I will continue to ensure that our design guidelines are enforced in a consistent manner. We must also be sure to remain fiscally responsible with the additional tax revenue this growth will generate.

 

 

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