Letter to the Editor: People’s mayor versus developers’ mayor

Letter to the Editor: People’s mayor versus developers’ mayor
Democratic mayoral candidates former Mayor Allison Silberberg and incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson.

To the editor:

The June 12 primary offers a stark choice for all voters as to how far the Democratic Party in Alexandria has drifted away from the values and priorities that once dominated in the era of former mayors Patsy Ticer, Jim Moran and Chuck Beatley.

Then, Alexandria’s Democratic leaders weighed issues fairly, and the views of neighborhoods, citizens, taxpayers and the underrepresented were held in special esteem and the outcome of controversial votes reflected that ethos. And the city prospered.

It was also a time when city elections were held in May, and the results were always a bipartisan city council, albeit led by Democrats.

But for nearly 20 years since, a wing of the party has slowly emerged ever bolder, reflecting a slavishness to anything the Chamber of Commerce and its largest members want or do not want – such as no special commercial tax to support transit (as Arlington and Fairfax have implemented). That regrettable decision has cost the city tens of millions of dollars in revenue – and increased the burden on homeowners.

The Chamber wing also pushed moving city elections to November, when the possibility of a bipartisan council became a bridge too far given Alexandria’s political demographics.

The Chamber wing of the Democratic Party was led and nurtured by mayors Kerry Donley and Bill Euille. Under them, taxes and debt increased even as the city added housing units and grew more dense; low-income housing was voted away and new zoning procedures restricted citizen input.

And now the Chamber wing has a new champion in Vice Mayor Justin Wilson. It’s no coincidence that his first endorsements were offered by Donley and Euille.

That is especially sad because of Wilson’s early background in civic affairs.

But I cannot recall a single development proposal that Wilson has questioned or sought to alter in the past several years even as citizens clamored for such leadership.

Wilson has been a rubber stamp for developers and openly derisive during council meetings of citizens with differing points of view.

Your newspaper has chronicled those citizen-versus-developer votes. The stories are in your archives. Voters might want to refresh their memories.

If one didn’t know any better and removed Wilson’s party label, you’d swear you were listening to a traditional Republican prescription for civic governance that favors business interests over citizen concerns.

This is the real election for mayor.

So what’s it going to be, another term for a “people’s mayor” in Allison Silberberg, who listens to community concerns?

Or the return to an era where developers in pursuit of density have a mayor once more rotely doing their bidding?

-Rod Kuckro, Alexandria