To the editor:
I’m compelled to write in response to two recent articles about contributions to Alexandria’s mayoral candidates. The first was a letter written by Jack Sullivan that ran in the April 19 Alexandria Times, “Wilson has short memory about campaign contributions.” The second is an article titled “Defining ‘business before council,’” written by Missy Schrott, that ran last week.
Both articles called into question the timing of contributions I have made between 2009 and 2017 to Vice Mayor Justin Wilson and business my dealership had before council at various times. First, let me be clear, the suggestion that I made these contributions for some nefarious reason is absurd. I’m a citizen of Alexandria just like anyone else. I’ve lived here most of my life. I’ve raised my son here, and I’ve created a strong business here that employs more than 200 people.
Second, nothing that has been before city council in the time frame of your article related to my business had a single person speaking in opposition, so let’s keep the record straight. Here’s what my business asked for and was approved for over the eight years these articles referenced:
2014: An amendment to the development special use permit for the operation of the dealership that sought to change the hours of operation of the service department. This was to change week day hours from 8 to 9 p.m. and to allow Sunday hours of operation. No one objected to the application.
2012: Extension of the previously approved DSUP for a parking garage and detail building in the rear of the dealership (originally approved in 2008, when the market crashed). I asked for three more years to commence construction. Extension applications are regularly approved by council, without much discussion. No one objected to the application.
2008: Amended a previously approved development special use permit, which originally proposed the construction of a five-story parking structure with an internal car wash facility. The amendment eliminated the parking structure and proposed a detail building and auto lifts, a less intensive proposal than what was originally approved. No one spoke against the application.
It bears stating that making minor changes to your business means taking significant time to go before council in order to amend your special use permits. These minor matters that these articles referenced had no controversy and were supported by everyone who voted on the planning commission and city council – everyone.
Unfortunately, I believe monetary contributions are a necessary component to win elections. I support members of council because I am a citizen of Alexandria and want to make sure my city continues on a positive track for myself, my business and my employees, just like everyone else. On that note, I have prided myself on contributing to the campaigns of those who want to run for city council, regardless of whether I will vote for them. If they have asked, I have contributed. As far as I am concerned, it is like serving your country.
Midway through responding to these articles, I got the news that Donald Simpson Sr. passed away. Simpson was a good friend to both my father and I. Donald’s and Donnie’s campaign contributions were called into question in these articles, just as mine were.
When I came to Alexandria in 1973, the first person my father wanted me to meet was Simpson. I feel a particular kinship with the Simpson family for a variety of reasons. Clarence Simpson, Donald’s father, was born on Aug. 6 as was my mother, myself and Donnie Simpson’s son. My father told me that if you want to learn how to conduct business and politics, learn from the Simpson family.
I learned to find things I am interested in within the city to support such as nonprofits, scholarship funds, youth sports organizations and youth facilities. Members of council that read this, please don’t take this wrong, but we business people hate giving money to city council, and would much rather give it to organizations as I described. However, we understand that it takes money to win elections, and that is just the way it is.
This one’s for you Donald – thank you for the advice.
-Jack Taylor, owner, Alexandria Toyota