In her new book, published today, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) complained about living in “a soulless suburb” when she first left New York for Congress.
That suburb? Arlington.
In the passage of her book that casually bashes Arlington, quoted by the Web site ARLnow.com, Gillibrand says she and her husband found more happiness by moving from Arlington to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C.
Arlingtonians, of course, aren’t taking the snub lightly.
Hey @SenGillibrand Saw in your new book you refer to Arlington as a soulless suburb. Citizens disagree! We are vibrant, diverse and alive.
— kimwhelan (@Kim_whelan) September 9, 2014
Was annoyed at first. Then I realized she would know what soulless looks like, being a member of Congress and all: http://t.co/axHOfumWmU
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) September 9, 2014
Kristen Gillibrand says my home is a "soulless suburb". So glad she's not my senator!
— ellisbeeee (@ellisbeeee) September 9, 2014
Gillibrand did not respond to requests for comment through her Senate office and her publisher. She tweeted an apology that did nothing to clarify her feelings on whether all of Arlington is soulless, or just the neighborhood where she lived.
Sorry, Arlington, didn't mean to hurt your feelings. #OffTheSidelines
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 9, 2014
“I’m not sure what she was referring to. Maybe somebody got in front of her at the supermarket or something like that,” Arlington County Board member J. Walter Tejada said. He said that Arlington is not an “old-style suburb” built only for car travel but a walkable community — and with all that sole, comes soul.
“You can be in those quiet single-family residential neighborhoods, and then a two-block walk over and you find the bustle of the restaurant scene, families having a night out, light entertainment and comedy. We’ve got quite a lot of soul.”
Tejada also mentioned Arlington’s diversity: According to the Census Bureau, 23 percent of the county’s residents were born outside the U.S., and almost 29 percent speak a foreign language at home, making the county twice as diverse as the rest of Virginia. Arlingtonians are also more than twice as likely as other Virginians to have a college education — seven out of every 10 adults in the county holds at least a bachelor’s degree.
And lest anyone forget the county’s historic importance, Arlington Cemetery is the resting place of more than 400,000 souls.
“I’m going to issue a challenge to Ms. Gillibrand,” Tejada said. “Come spend some more time in Arlington. I’d be happy to escort her and see what she thinks. Maybe she ought to bring her nice comfortable shoes, because we’re going to be walking and biking.”
Carol Morello contributed to this report.