To the editor:
I would like to thank city council candidate Dak Hardwick for taking the lead in an important and necessary process in any election season – the process of differentiation.
In his letter to the editor in the Feb. 15 Alexandria Times, “Amazon would help diversify city’s economy,” Hardwick made it abundantly clear exactly what he would strive for should he be elected – namely a denser, less affordable, less diverse and more corporate Alexandria. That, of course, is the exact opposite of what attracted many of us to Alexandria in the first place.
Is our area hurting so bad economically that we need to offer some set of undisclosed, likely pricey incentives to a corporate behemoth to jam 40,000 to 50,000 new workers into our city of 153,000 people — the densest jurisdiction in Virginia?
Northern Virginia has a strong economy. Our city’s enviable 2.7 percent unemployment rate as of September 2017 is one indication of that. As the New York Times and other media outlets have reported, there are real concerns about Amazon’s workplace culture. Is that the culture we want to be the dominant work culture in Alexandria?
What exactly was offered to Amazon, anyway? Tax breaks are a consistent feature of these types of incentive packages. How much tax “relief” was offered to Amazon? What kind of infrastructure improvements were offered? If Amazon gets a tax break, who would pay for these incentives? Alexandria’s already taxed-to-the max residents?
And what would the presence of Amazon do to housing prices and Alexandria’s cost of living? Actually, we don’t have to guess what the impacts would be because we can look at the impact that Amazon’s existing headquarters has had on Seattle’s cost of living, its real estate prices and its homeless population – all have skyrocketed.
Do the current council members, and aspiring new ones, like Hardwick, value diversity? Maintaining our racial, ethnic and economic diversity is something that is at odds with the kind of unchecked high-end development this council is trying to push.
Here is a news flash for people like Hardwick and the current council – being able to afford housing and not be pushed out of our homes by insanely high taxes and rents is a real concern for many of us. More and more, it feels like our own elected city gov – ernment is doing its darned – est to trade in its current residents for richer ones with lower livability standards.
In conclusion, Hardwick has done a service to Alex – andria voters by letting us know where he stands. Will the rest of the candidates be as forthcoming as Hardwick, and will any of them stand up for Alexandrians and our city’s livability?
-Bonnie Petry, Alexandria