January 7, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Fisette elected Arlington Board chair

The Arlington County Board, which serves as the Northern Virginia county’s governing body, elected gay Board member Jay Fisette as its chair for 2010 during a Jan. 1 meeting.

Fisette was first elected to the Board in 1997 and previously served as chair in 2001 and 2005. He drew media attention at the board’s New Year’s Day meeting last week when he announced a far-reaching energy saving proposal for the county that calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by residents and businesses.

“Just as we have plans for land use and transportation, we need a plan for energy use,” Fisette said in his inaugural speech. “It is the Arlington way to involve the whole community in the important decisions on our county’s future, and I hope this sets a blueprint for Arlington’s long-term sustainability and competitiveness.”

Under Fisette’s proposal, which the board endorsed, the Board member will lead a 28-member task force that will make recommendations in early 2011 for specific goals and strategies for reducing Arlington’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

In November, Fisette won election to his third four-year term on the Arlington Board. Each member of the five-person board is elected by the residents to a county-wide, at-large seat. The county’s population is estimated at 210,000.

Fisette, a Democrat, has been a longtime advocate for LGBT rights in Virginia on the county and state level. The gay-supportive Arlington County government adopted an ordinance more than a decade ago that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Although he supported losing Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds in the Virginia governor’s race in November, Fisette said he’s hopeful that Republican victor Bob McDonnell will keep his promise of opposing discrimination against LGBT citizens.

He noted that McDonnell claimed in his 2009 campaign to have broken from his record of hostility toward LGBT rights in favor of a policy of “moderation.”

“I’m hopeful that he will be the one he claimed he is in the campaign,” Fisette said. “All I can say is I’m hopeful he will govern as fairly and effectively as possible.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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