By Jim Roberts. Alexandria
To the editor:
To revitalize democracy in Alexandria, we need a ward system — perhaps as many as 12 — so voters can elect neighbors to represent them. At present, this is a town full of Democrats; it’s the party’s primary that effectively selects local elected officials.
This makes general elections a rubberstamp, and unless there is something else on the ballot to justify a trip to a polling station, it makes voting a waste of time. Worse, it can make the individuals selected by the Democratic Party arrogant. It also can make arrogant the city employees, whom they hire, turning them more into rulers than public servants.
For example, a city official gloated when the city prevailed recently over the residents who are fighting plans to add evermore density to their neighborhood. This senior city employee made clear they lost because they foolishly sought redress from their city planning office outside of normal business hours. No public servant sentiment there.
And there is even less in the officials poised to snatch property owned by a venerable organization, the Old Dominion Boat Club. This organization is a giant fly in the city’s ointment.
A portion of the club’s property is necessary — according to the city — to revamp the waterfront. And our mayor, Bill Euille, wants no further resident challenges to this vision.
The heroes in this contretemps are not our rulers imposing their will, but the residents who are fighting them. They are doing it for the right reasons.
If we had a vibrant democracy with wards wherein residents could elect a neighbor devoid of a political party endorsement, then we’d have more voices and views — not just the narrow few selected in the Democratic Party primary.