My View: Why I’m running for city council

My View: Why I’m running for city council
Councilor Mo Seifeldein (Courtesy Photo)

By Mo Seifeldein

Alexandria, energy is contagious and our leaders, in their least effective form, should serve as a symbol of hope. The national energy can trickle downstream and infect us unwittingly in these challenging times. However, as gatekeepers in Alexandria, we can collectively
come together and refine negative energy into a positive one. My name is Mo Seifeldein,
and I’m a first-time candidate for Alexandria City Council.

Before I tell you why I’m running for city council and ask you to vote for me in the Democratic primary on June 12, I would like to tell you about my journey and the obstacles I overcame to become an attorney, mentor and small business owner. I was born in Sudan – I came to the United States at a young age, leaving behind a country ravaged by war, drought and economic instability.

America was and is still the land of opportunity. After my sixteenth birthday, I started working at a fast food restaurant alongside my siblings and mother to make ends meet. I worked and put myself through college and law school, which involved the help of many unsung Virginia public school teachers.

I grew up valuing community services and devoted myself to giving back to others; it is a debt that I owe. After a brief externship championing human rights at The Hague, I returned home to put my law degree to use in support of the community. I worked as a court-appointed attorney for clients who could not afford to pay for legal representation. I volunteered to prosecute unfair billing practices, recovered unpaid wages and protected clients from creditors. I have mentored students through the T.C. Williams senior internship program. I served as an election observer with the DNC and served as an election officer with the city.

I’m running to bring meaningful change to the city and restore the public’s confidence in our ability to tackle the hard issues. I have taken a pledge not to take donations from developers and corporations — and I publicly invited all city council candidates to join me in taking that pledge.

The long-term interest of the city is far more important than the short-sighted approach to build and build. Development is inevitable, but it must be done responsibly and proportionately to our resources. That is why I will fight to ensure that the environment and residents’ property rights are protected from irresponsible developers.

I will fight to make sure that the city’s future plans substantially account for emerging technologies and industries — we must provide the resources to execute the fast transit lanes. The city and region should explore tunnels as an option. I want to make sure that our transportation vehicles are electric and environmentally friendly. I will fight to make sure that our schools have the resources they need in order to prepare our children for a digitally based market.

The poverty rate in the city has increased since 2013, and it is no surprise that the majority of public school children are eligible for free and reduced meals. I will fight to balance these inequities and serve all of our residents. I will fight to make sure that our aging adults’ services are protected and our health department is adequately resourced. I will tackle the issue of affordable housing and protect resolution 830.

I know that this is a tall order, but Alexandria is blessed with well-educated and resourceful residents. Together we can bring meaningful change. I’m counting on your support on June 12.

The writer is a Democratic candidate for Alexandria City Council.