ARLINGTON, Va. - The new year brought a change of the guard in Northern Virginia - not only politically - but generationally.
For the first time the Arlington County Board is being led by a millennial after 32-year-old Katie Cristol was sworn in as the board's new chairperson.
While millennials are often painted as being self-obsessed and easily offended by older generations, Cristol said she hopes to prove that stereotype wrong as she takes the highest-ranking office in Arlington County politics.
“This is a generation that is actually incredibly passionate about having jobs with purpose, volunteerism and the sense of wanting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and I think that when you give young people opportunities to plug into local government in a purpose driven way, they flock and rise to the occasion” the Democrat said.
Cristol said she’s aware that patterns of her own generation aren’t always the healthiest thing for local governments. Apathy about politics is one thing she sees changing, thanks in large part as a reaction to the Trump presidency. But economically though, the group poses challenges to a local government’s tax base.
Property taxes are where local governments make most of their revenue. The federal reserve says 67 percent of people between 18 and 34 years old are living independently, but the Pew Research Group found they are less likely to be home buyers than previous generations.
Cristol says one of her biggest goals is getting millennials who are now renting in Arlington County to become homeowners in Arlington County.
“That is something that is so important that we take into the next generation, and frankly, one of the reasons I talk so often about affordability of rental housing and also of affordability of ownership housing, because I want see that story continue,” Cristol said. “To have the next generation of homeowners is really important.”
Heading into 2018, Cristol takes over as Arlington County struggles with mass transit needs and with threat of cuts in federal spending, which is a mighty challenge for anyone to handle regardless of age.