Letter to the Editor: City officials should stick to local issues

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Kevin Dunne (Courtesy Photo)
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To the editor:

I’m writing to correct a factual misrepresentation by the Alexandria Times of two statements I answered at a city council candidate forum on May 18 hosted by Alexandria’s NAACP chapter, Grassroots Alexandria and Tenants and Workers United.

In your May 24 recap of this debate, “Forum reveals candidates’ true colors,” you wrote: “Kevin Dunne was the only one to express views against eliminating discrimination toward the LGBTQ community.” This is an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of my position.

The exact question was – yes or no – was I in favor of adding “gender identity” to the protected classes in Alexandria. I voted “no,” not because I’m against eliminating discrimination toward the LGBTQ community. I voted “no” because I’m against adding “gender identity” to the charter when the charter is already broadly written to cover sexual orientation and other forms of discrimination.

My candidacy stands for disciplined focus on local – and only local – issues that will deliver the greatest return on our time and expenditures. Adding new wording to a charter that already sensitively addresses the needs of the LGBTQ community will not, in my opinion, greatly enhance either individual liberty or collective fiscal prudence. Show me an organization, especially in government, where increased responsibilities do not result in increased costs.

When asked the follow-up question, “would you fully pursue cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” I had to answer “no” to be consistent, given the addition of the words, “gender identity” that are not currently in the charter.

To be clear, I absolutely would enforce the current charter’s mandates against all forms of discrimination. I stand by my “no’s.” But I want to be clear on their context. They were in response to concerns about broadening government reach and associated expense. They were not “views against eliminating discrimination.”  

While issues like human rights can draw on resources of the entire country for solutions, Alexandria can only draw on what is within its 15 square miles. That should be our focus. While it might be politically expedient to vote for words that feel good on paper, words cost money. When you pay the dollars in one place, you have to lose them in another. That’s not anti-anyone. That’s just fiscal common sense.

-Kevin Dunne, candidate, Alexandria City Council

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