Audrey Clement, who has spent much of the past decade seeking elected office in Arlington, believes the county government should attempt to invoke an executive order, issued by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, to pressure federal-government agencies to maintain and expand their footprint in Arlington.
The executive order (which is still in effect) directs federal agencies to give first consideration to locating in “a centralized community business area with adjacent areas of similar character.” By one reading, that would mean the District of Columbia as well as Arlington, rather than more suburban locales.
“If elected, I will lobby to keep federal agencies located here to stay here, and federal agencies with expired leases to relocate here, as per the requirements,” Clement said in an e-mail to supporters.
As for the deja-vu part: In 2017, civic activist Bernie Berne pressed the Arlington County Board to do essentially the same thing, invoking the executive order in an effort to stem an exodus of federal-government agencies to communities where (let’s be blunt) rents were lower.
The then-county attorney, Stephen MacIsaac, praised Berne for “coming up with something creative,” but said Carter’s executive order had never been binding on the federal government, and that Arlington wouldn’t have legal standing to challenge decisions made by the General Services Administration or other procurers of federal-government office space.
Clement has qualified for the November County Board ballot as an independent.