Who am I?
Raised in Colorado, I am an ardent proponent of public recreation and environmental sustainability. I spent much of my youth outdoors (or on ice rinks) and I continue to cycle, hunt, fish, paddle, and skate. I also completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in Colorado- B.S.B.A. at Denver University and PhD (Economics) at Colorado State University.
Before completing my PhD, I served in the US Peace Corps in Latvia. I then worked as a financial economist in the Office of Market finance at the US Treasury. After completing my doctorate, I worked for the AFL-CIO in the Public Policy department in Washington, DC. This introduction to labor issues is reflected in the scholarly research I published while teaching economics in New Paltz, NY and Newcastle, Australia.
For the past five years I have worked as a labor economist at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission testifying in the litigation of employment discrimination cases brought on the basis of age, gender, race, and other protected classes.
See Resume at http://boblaj.org/about_bob
Why am I running?
I am running for City Council because I like to fix things!
Although there is plenty to cherish and celebrate in Falls Church, our "fix-it" list is too long. Our City leaders have neglected to invest in vital infrastructure. Our parks, high school and City Hall all need replacing.
The City has been preemptively taxing us and saving the money rather than replenishing our public assets. By simply assuming the same fiscal stance as neighboring jurisdictions, we can improve our quality of life and attractiveness without raising taxes. We can not continue to trade on the reputation of the City and the School system without providing for its basic infrastructure. If elected, I will spend your sequestered taxes on the public good. I will not continue to squirrel away your taxes to appease Wall Street.
We should preserve and foster the “CRAFTINESS" of Falls Church. We have craft beers, arts and crafts, farmer’s market vendors, and many other boutique establishments that differentiate us from our neighbors. We should pursue this type of development rather than giving special treatment to large corporations.
We need balanced development, not hyper-development! What does "balanced" mean? Balance requires public investment in lock-step with private development to avoid public squalor in the face of private affluence. The major initiative of my campaign is to "leverage" the revenues from recent and forthcoming private development projects to improve the equity, livability, and infrastructure of the City.
Having taught at public universities for over a decade, I understanding the individual and societal importance of educating young people to be literate and enumerate citizens. I will use my experience and knowledge of financial markets to ensure that the school system has the infrastructure it needs to achieve superior results. Specifically, there should be no financial hurdle to building a new high school to regional standards. As a former educator, I will work hard to appropriately compensate our school teachers and administrators in order to recruit and retain the best professionals to mentor our children.
Redevelopment should include modest bike lanes and infrastructure (bike racks and stations). We need to improve the City infrastructure for mobility scooters, rollerblades, skateboards and pedestrians. A bicycle and pedestrian-friendly city should discourage drive-through establishments. We should require more underground parking. We should reduce the decal fees for motorcycles as they reduce traffic and parking congestion.
We should use the newly-acquired land to build recreation facilities with enough capacity to be shared between the schools and community groups. In our small city, there is a lot more sharing that could be done to bring about significant synergies and efficiencies. We should relocate the recreation activities of the community center into an enlarged recreational center that includes a pool in West Falls Church.
My DFA Values
Lack of equity in our small city is what motivates me to run. Past leaders have been so focused on private development that they have neglected issues of access for large communities in the city. There is diminished access to libraries, recreation, parks, housing, and other infrastructure.
In addition to major public building projects, I will introduce new affordable housing programs- akin to hose in Boulder, CO.
I support and defend our City and school employee’s right to organize. They need to have a unified and amplified voice in the City’s budgeting process.
I also support a living wage ordinance. This law would mandate that any business contracting with the City pay a living wage to their employees. If Arlington and Alexandria can afford to pay a living wage, why can’t Falls Church?
My Campaign is People Powered!
I am currently seeking the endorsements and assistance of the Seirra Club of Mt. Vernon and the League of Women Voters. Since I have devoted my professional life and academic research to the topic of increased social participation and ecological sustainability, I am confident that I can garner their support and activism.