By Glenn Klaus, Alexandria (File photo)
To the editor:
There is a great quote from the TV show “The West Wing” that goes, “If they’re shooting at you, you must be doing something right.” Judging by the venom in the letters to the editor last week, Mayor Bill Euille must be doing something right for the citizens of Alexandria. I feel compelled to set the record straight on some of the untruths.
Among the distortions leveled at the mayor recently are that Euille said that Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg “lacks understanding of complex fiscal matters.” I find it hard to believe that he ever said this. Euille has been cordial and respectful to Silberberg at all times, which is consistent with his positive nature.
The mayor also is accused of not being a man of his word. Euille never made a pledge to support the winner of the Democratic primary. What he did promise to do, like former Mayor Kerry Donley and Silberberg did, was not appear on the November ballot. This can be found in all of the candidates’ statements of candidacy. True to his word, Euille will not appear on the ballot, which is why he is waging a write-in campaign.
Yes, Alexandria’s real estate taxes have risen recently, but it’s not all bad news, nor one person’s fault. The city has increased the property tax rate in recent years to make up for lost revenue during the Great Recession. The tax rate has increased from the lowest in the region to the middle range: higher than Arlington and Prince George’s counties, but lower than Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax.
A bigger factor in taxes increasing is the fact that home values are rising and assessments are going up. That means people want to live in Alexandria. I would argue that this is a better problem to have than the declining home values that are being experienced in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Euille has been accused of somehow forcing city councilors to vote with him. If anyone has ever watched a council meeting or met any of the city councilors, one would quickly realize they are all very intelligent, independent and opinionated people and wonderful public servants. The fact is that Euille has always sought consensus and most of the time been able to build strong coalitions, both on council and in the larger community.
The reality is that Alexandria is on the cusp of a renaissance. The performance of the city is almost universally positive: schools are improving as evidenced in higher test scores; we have gotten ahead of a region-wide school capacity crunch by building three new school buildings over the past 15 years.
We are experiencing the lowest crime rate in 40 years. We are implementing long delayed infrastructure projects that will improve our quality of life. We are attracting new businesses and government agencies to the city, and we are increasing affordable and workforce housing.
City leaders are putting their trust in the citizens of Alexandria, as evidenced by their support of public-private ventures like the Maury Elementary Schoolyard Initiative. Alexandria is increasing open space, expanding and diversifying our tax base, and setting a course for an even brighter future.
Now is the time to stay the course rather than steer our city’s ship towards an uncertain future. I urge you to fill in the box and write-in Bill Euille for mayor and vote for the Democratic candidates for city council. Together, they will ensure continued progress for our city.