Q&A with County Board candidate Chanda Choun

Q&A with County Board candidate Chanda Choun

Q&A with County Board candidate Chanda Choun

The Voice requested that all candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for the County Board submit answers to a series of questions. Mr. Choun's answers 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?

Managed Growth.  My broad skillset and unique experience will deliver on a creative, forward-thinking, progressive platform that will keep Arlington an attractive, livable community for people of all backgrounds and stages of life.  I will work to ensure that Arlington’s growth is well-managed and sustainable while advancing a better quality of life and services for every resident. Let’s preserve our small town charms amidst big city amenities.

Good Government 101: Focus on customer service and core infrastructure (electric, water, transportation, digital) to make sure Arlington itself is operating quickly, efficiently and smartly.

• Big Picture Decisionmaking: Incorporate more Community Feedback, comprehensive Impact Assessments and proper Long-Term Planning.

• Budget Management: Increase revenue via business, tourism and state/federal support; reduce the burden of taxes and fees on residents.

• Schools: Work closely with Arlington School Board and staff to share resources, resolve the students capacity crisis and meet critical budget 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?

Our primary focus needs to be making sure that everyone is safe, housed, and fed.  The immediate County budget adjustments should be hiring freezes, putting new projects on hold, and delaying the opening of facilities under construction such as the Lubber Run Community Center and Long Bridge Aquatics Center.

The freed up and found monies should be diverted to COVID-10 response:

• Universal coronavirus testing, PPE/Masks for all workers and residents, Contact Tracing

• Rent, mortgage, and property tax relief

• Small business support

• Leasing empty motel and hotel space to temporarily house first responders, healthcare workers, and the homeless

• Premium pay for frontline workers

• Emergency food assistance for residents in need

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?

I am an adaptive, agile, security clearance-holding Technology Professional. The world will be radically changed after the COVID-19 pandemic ends with fundamental trends in society accelerated. In this new environment, we will need to get Arlington back to work, back to school, and back to living.

• Economy:  The forced shift to remote working for many employers will not suddenly reverse after the public health crisis passes.  Many companies will rethink whether they need large office spaces anymore, thus presenting a clear threat to Arlington’s already high office vacancy rate and pressuring key commercial tax revenues.  My focus areas for Arlington Economic Development will be federal government agencies and contractors (especially classified work that cannot be done remotely), higher education (expand Arlington campuses for GMU, Marymount, Virginia Tech), and healthcare (education, research/development, services).

• Education:  10% of Arlington households are essentially disconnected (no broadband internet).  This digital equity gap means that children fall behind on  their schoolwork, adults cannot easily work or access public services, and older adults are even more isolated and uncontacted.  The scope of my first digital equity project would include the collection and distribution of old, refurbished electronic devices and providing internet connectivity to the underserved through direct subsidies or public-private partnerships.

• Life:  The stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements of the pandemic have forced people to limit the radius of their activities to their immediate neighbors and establishments.  Let’s not let this newfound sense of local identity and pride go away after COVID-19 becomes a memory.  As an elected local leader, I will set a goal that every Arlingtonian join a nearby civic, service, or hobby group, cultivate a culture of care, friendship and empathy that breaks down the anxiety and loneliness of today’s segregated, digital-dependent world, and foster a unique arts, culture, and entertainment scene.