Tejada Ramps Up Priorities As Leadership Post Nears


(Tuesday, November 28, 2006 6:52 AM EST)

Walter Tejada is likely to be tapped next month as Arlington's incoming County Board vice chairman, making him the highest ranking Latino official in the state.

And Tejada already is lining up his priorities for the coming year: Improving fitness among county residents, gang intervention, immigrants' rights and civic involvement by youth.

Board members traditionally don't divulge who will serve as chairman and vice chairman for a coming year until the preceding December. But, in all likelihood, current vice chairman Paul Ferguson will be elevated to the chairmanship, while Tejada will slide into Ferguson's slot, when the board convenes for its traditional organizational meeting on Jan. 1.

In an interview, Tejada said that improving the health of Arlington residents is one of his greatest priorities.

“Fitness Arlington will be a big initiative next year for the entire community,” he said. “I want to come up with a high-profile strategy for exercising - I want to bring to the forefront the numerous wellness and health-conscious activities that we have in Arlington.”

Tejada, who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador at age 13, said he will also continue advocating for Arlington's immigrants. He said he wants to defend the diversity of the county, and to highlight the positive contributions that immigrants bring to the region.

“I've always had an emphasis on helping people assimilate,” Tejada said. “I think one of the focuses next year, and always, is to highlight making immigrants citizens, and to embrace the foundation of this county.”

Gang intervention is another issue Tejada has tackled in the past. He will address it next year through a program called “Attention to Prevention.”

With the support of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th, Tejada secured a grant for the program.

“We want to work with community organizations in an effort to prevent kids from joining gangs,” Tejada said.

During his time on the County Board, Tejada has pushed to get young adults (in their 20s and 30s) involved in civic activism, and 2007 will be no different.

“It will continue to be a very important focus for me next year,” he said, declining to give details until Jan. 1.

Tejada was elected to the County Board in a special election in March 2003, filling out the term of Charles Monroe, who died in January of that year. Tejada won a full term on the board in November 2003.

The seats of both Ferguson and Tejada will be on the ballot next November.


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