Q&A with County Board candidate Barbara Kanninen

Q&A with County Board candidate Barbara Kanninen

Q&A with County Board candidate Barbara Kanninen

The Voice requested that all candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for the County Board submit answers to a series of questions. Ms. Kanninen's responses follow. For more information on all the County Board candidates, please visit the Candidate Page https://arlingtondemocrats.org/vote/candidates/

Q: What is an important issue that you believe does not get enough attention? How will your past work inform your approach to that issue in the County Board?

As a School Board member, I have brought a laser focus to understanding the numbers of our Schools and County government, and after six years on the Board, I have a deep knowledge of our budgets, capital improvement plans, and future projections. This is an important strength right now, especially given our budget struggles in the COVID-19 environment, but it is also important going forward, as we seek to prioritize the many needs and opportunities we face, including not only support for our schools, but ensuring quality parks and green spaces, affordable housing, transportation choices, and amenities in every neighborhood all across Arlington.

My hard work on the School Board will pay off for our County Board. I have engaged with our full community – in every neighborhood across Arlington. I know our history, I know our numbers, and I will bring a holistic mindset to the work. I will not be “just” a School Board member on the County Board. Instead, because of my experience, I will be a County Board member who understands our community’s growth, changes, and needs.

Q: The COVID-19 health crisis continues to have unforeseen impacts on County revenues and expenditures.  What thoughts do you have about how the County budget should be adjusted to respond to them?

The County Board made smart choices in their final budget. What was expected to be an “easy” budget year, with revenues increasing substantially, has turned out to be extremely difficult. I support the County Board’s allocation for small business emergency grants to ensure that small businesses can remain afloat and continue to pay their employees during this time of crisis. I also support the addition of emergency and contingency funds to address future needs, such as food, housing, and social services.

Arlington County has had to make difficult cuts to keep our budgets balanced. Consistent with the rest of Northern Virginia, both School and County Boards were forced to eliminate our planned compensation increases for our professional staffs, impose a hiring freeze, and delay the opening of capital projects. I strongly support using some reserve funds – a local version of Keynesian economics: in tough economic times, we need to invest in our workers and community to get back on our feet as quickly as possible.

Q: What is one quality or experience that sets you apart from your fellow candidates? How will that quality or experience influence your perspective as a member of the County Board?

Protecting our Democratic values is my passion. I have fought alongside the Arlington Dems for many years to champion causes and candidates at the local, state, and federal levels. I fought the “War on Women,” supported labor unions, organized for common sense gun law reform, and stood up for human rights. I have hosted canvasses and fundraisers, registered voters, collected signatures, and shaken hands at festivals and famers’ markets all over Arlington. In 2016, I served as co-chair of the Arlington Dems’ Joint Campaign, and in 2012, I actively supported President Obama’s re-election campaign by organizing Arlington Women for Obama. That year, I was honored to win election as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention. 

As a “Charley Conrad Democrat,” I believe that positive, constructive community engagement and a focus on getting things done are fundamental to our success, not only when campaigning but, also, when governing. I have demonstrated my collaborative, inclusive approach for six years on the School Board and will continue to apply my long-held Democratic values and can-do spirit on the County Board.