EDITORIAL: Retaining Arnold is the right pick for Novato's county board seat [The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif. :: ]
(Marin Independent Journal (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 11--MARIN SUPERVISOR JUDY ARNOLD has provided her Novato constituents with strong leadership. She should be retained by voters when they cast their ballots in the June 3 election.
Arnold, who is seeking her third four-year term, has earned a reputation for being forthright, hard-working and solution-oriented.
She has her share of critics, one of whom has been running for nearly a year to unseat her. Toni Shroyer, a local real estate agent and a energy-packed community activist, is actually running against the entire Board of Supervisors.
She's criticized the supervisors' handling of its pension fund, the county's $30 million computer mess, the supervisors' controversial "community service" fund, the hiring of costly consultants and the county's failure to challenge Plan Bay Area and its goal of building housing at numbers greater than some believe are appropriate for Marin.
Her broad criticism, however, misses a few points: in particular, those that reflect Arnold's effectiveness at listening to her constituents and taking action.
For instance, Arnold, more so than her board colleagues, pushed for changes in the "community service" fund. The board has reduced the amount of money allocated to the fund, but Arnold recognized the need to make the distribution a lot more transparent and open for public review before the checks were cashed.
It wasn't that long ago, before Arnold was elected, that the fund and its distribution were buried deep in the county budget, far from public review, even after the money had been spent.
Arnold put those changes on the board's agenda and won her colleagues' backing.
Shroyer's criticism of Arnold for the county's embarrassing software debacle also is off target.
Decisions to buy the costly software and contracts as well as expensive mistakes made in deployment and employee training were made before Arnold joined the board. She inherited the mess.
A big part of the county's costs was fixing the bookkeeping problems created by the botched deployment.
Arnold should be credited with solving problems, not the county's starry-eyed selection of an overpowered financial system that created more problems than it solved.
Shroyer also criticizes Arnold and the county board for not opposing Plan Bay Area. She can fairly criticize Arnold for not doing more to object to state housing quotas that Shroyer and others say place an unfair development burden and inappropriate building densities on Novato.
However, Arnold is not going to turn her back on Marin's need to build affordable housing for people who work in our county at jobs that provide paychecks that fall far short of the cost of housing in Marin. Marin's lack of workforce housing is a major contributor to traffic jams on Highway 101 and the air pollution those cars generate.
Arnold has sought solutions and opportunities to Marin's housing problem. She has been forthright in trying to get housing built in a county known for its exclusionary building restrictions. Arnold also recognizes that affordable housing is a major concern for businesses that provide jobs and their ability to recruit workers.
On the board, Arnold also is a constant champion for Marin's economic health. She helped put wheels on the Marin County Economic Commission, a public-private partnership focused on solving problems faced by our local economy.
In 2010, Arnold was re-elected to a second term, without having to face a challenge. That free ride did not do her any favors, as an election campaign is probably the most effective way to connect with voters.
Shroyer says she can bring change and her problem-solving skills to the Civic Center. She hasn't offered much proof or past political experience to show she can deliver.
She raises issues that deserve to be heard and discussed. We hope she stays involved, as an advocate for safe housing and for cost-saving pension reforms that could reduce the county's long-term debt.
Arnold's performance over the years shows she can deliver. As a Novato city councilwoman, as a county supervisor and as a SMART train board member her leadership has reflected her connection to her community and her understanding of how city, county, state and federal governments operate and interact.
Arnold is a proven problem-solver.
We endorse the re-election of Judy Arnold as District 5's supervisor.
(c)2014 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at www.marinij.com
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