- Nationally recognized “New Urbanism” leader
- Resignation in early 2014
- Moving on to national Smart Growth leadership position
ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington County Board Member Christopher Zimmerman today announced that, after nearly two decades of service, he will be stepping down from the County Board in early 2014. Zimmerman, who was re-elected to a fifth term in 2010, is the second-longest-serving Board member in the County's history. He said he is stepping down to become Vice President for Economic Development of Smart Growth America, a national non-profit organization.
Zimmerman's announcement, made in the County Board Room, was broadcast live by the County's cable television station, ATV. A special election will be held in Spring 2014 to fill Zimmerman's seat for the remainder of his four-year term.
“Much has been accomplished” in the County since he joined the Board in 1996, Zimmerman said. “And I am proud to have been a part of it.” Still, he said, “I never planned to be a County Board member indefinitely.”
“Arlington is fortunate to have had an extraordinary public servant in Chris Zimmerman, who provided and dedicated his time and energy to improve our quality of life,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “Arlington has made tremendous strides under Mr. Zimmerman's leadership and his departure is a loss for Arlington, but happily, he remains an Arlington resident and a leader in the Smart Growth community.”
A record of accomplishment
During his tenure on the County Board, Zimmerman noted, Arlington has become a model “for communities around the nation and beyond,” for “our pioneering Smart Growth, with sensible planning that integrates land use and transportation; our strong commitment to the value of diversity and to social equity; our thoughtful and practical approach to public policy.”
Since 1996, Zimmerman continued, Arlington has extended its Neighborhood Conservation program throughout the County, introduced traffic calming and safe routes to school and made the community far more pedestrian friendly. The County launched Arlington Transit (ART), its successful local bus system that now carries 2.5 million passengers a year, and invested more than $200 million in financing for committed affordable housing units.
He cited the transformation of Clarendon from the home of used-car lots to “the dynamic heart of a world-famous transit corridor,” and similar transformations underway or completed in Potomac Yard, Pentagon Row, Shirlington and Columbia Pike, where the County plans to build a streetcar and has committed to preserving the entire existing stock of affordable housing, among the County's many accomplishments. Read his entire statement.
Joining Smart Growth America
His new position at Smart Growth America will build on his experience in Arlington, Zimmerman said. The organization, he noted, is dedicated to promoting sustainable practices in land use and transportation at the local, state and federal levels, through research; technical assistance and training; advocacy, and coalition building. “Its mission on a national level aligns perfectly with the principal goals and focus of my service as a local official here,” Zimmerman said. “It's a great opportunity to use the skills and experience I've gained to advance the cause upon which I believe so much depends for the future of our country.”
In a statement, Smart Growth American President Geoffrey Anderson said that Zimmerman will focus on the relationships between smart growth strategies and the economic and fiscal health of communities. He will lead Smart Growth America's Policy Development and Implementation team, and will also serve as Director of the Governors' Institute on Community Design.
“Arlington's commitment to smart development has been a central component of the county's enviable combination of robust economic growth and low taxes,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Chris has been a key part of the team of Arlington leaders who helped make the county so successful, and we're excited to help him share that expertise with other communities around the country.”
Zimmerman, a resident of Arlington County since 1979, has been a civic activist for nearly a quarter of a century. A former civic association president, he served on the County's Planning, Parks and neighborhood Conservation Commissions before being elected to the County Board in 1996. He served as chairman of the County Board in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. He and his wife, Mary Beth, have three adult children, two of whom live in Arlington. Read Mr. Zimmerman's full bio.