To the editor:
There have been suggestions in the press and on social media that City Councilor Willie Bailey lost his bid for re-election because of his leadership on the meals tax. This modest one-cent increase in the tax that diners will pay at Alexandria restaurants to support affordable housing was passed by a four-to-three vote. Two of the four council supporters were re-elected.
Bailey has been a strong advocate for affordable housing, including workforce housing. He actually has put his beliefs into action time and time again on council. Not only did he lead on dedicating about $5 million dollars to affordable housing through the meals tax, but he was key to renovating Ramsey Homes to create additional affordable housing and to providing funding for the Church of the Resurrection project, which will create more than 100 new units.
He has set the bar on this issue for new council members to follow. It is encouraging that virtually every Democratic candidate for council publicly decried the 90 percent loss in affordable housing since 2000 and indicated their commitment to turning back that trend.
Protecting the meals tax dedicated funds for affordable housing from the aggressive repeal campaign being waged by some local businesses will be an important early test for new members of city council. Will they have the backbone to withstand special interest lobbying and stay true to their campaign assertions? I hope so, and I am confident that a great many other voters do as well.