Your View: Kerry Donley would be the best leader for Alexandria as mayor

Your View: Kerry Donley would be the best leader for Alexandria as mayor
Vice Mayor Kerry Donley

By Bernard S. Cohen, former delegate; Karen Darner, former delegate, Claire Eberwein, former city councilor; Richard R. G. Hobson, former delegate; Michael Jackson, former city councilor; Marian Van Landingham, former delegate; Sheriff Dana A. Lawhorne; Lonnie C. Rich, former city councilor; S. Randolph Sengel, former commonwealth’s attorney; David G. Speck, former city councilor and delegate

To the editor:

We represent a collective 123 years in local and state elected office. It would be accurate to say that we have seen a wide range of personalities and abilities among those with whom we have served, but this year Alexandria is blessed to have three candidates for mayor who
hold in common something very important — a passion for Alexandria.

So, when it is time to decide among them on June 9, it may be a difficult choice for some. For us, it is not. Kerry Donley is our choice to be the Democratic nominee for mayor, and to be elected Alexandria’s next mayor in November.

Our city is confronting some very serious structural financial problems, and fixing them is not going to happen simply by wishing for it. For the eighth year in a row, Alexandria is spending at a faster rate than its revenue is growing. That is not a sustainable model — for the city, for a business, or in one’s personal life, and the consequence of that is an increasingly greater burden on residential taxpayers.

In fact, the average increase in real estate taxes over the past two years is nearly $500. This is a disturbing trend that leads us closer to a point where taxes can become punitive, and they may already be at that point for some citizens.

But if the city cannot create alternative sources of revenue, especially from appropriately located and designed, transit-oriented commercial development, the delivery of fundamental municipal services like education, health, safety and public works will decline. Unfortunately, that has already begun to happen. We think Donley is the candidate best prepared and most capable of acknowledging these issues and undertaking the process of fixing them.

When we elect someone as mayor, we are not just casting a vote based on a particular position on a few issues of which we are currently aware. Rather, we are voting because we trust that person’s judgment, maturity, common sense and goodwill. Our mayor must possess the qualities of leadership, accessibility, and rootedness in the community that inform good decisions and lead others to collaborate and vote together on the wide range of issues that we cannot even imagine coming up over the next three years.

And leadership cannot simply be telling people what they want to hear or transferring responsibility to study groups and task forces in the hope that universal happiness will occur, as it never does. We elect leaders to lead as well as to represent us.

We think that Donley has demonstrated in countless ways a willingness to engage the broad community on all of the critical issues facing our city, to lead city council in reaching consensus and making wise decisions about our future, and to always consider the needs of the entire city when dealing with critical matters, regardless of what neighborhood they are in.

There is an old saying in politics that some people run to be something and some people run to do something. We know why Donley is running and we strongly urge your vote for him on June 9 to be the Democratic nominee for mayor and to be elected Alexandria’s next mayor on November 3.